Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-2005

Abstract

Today, AB 633 stands as a landmark law with great potential — much of it yet to be realized — to fight against the proliferation of sweatshops and corporate abuse in the garment industry, and to serve as model legislation for other low-wage industries across California and around the nation in which workers are denied their most basic workplace rights. In documenting the successes of AB 633, as well as presenting the challenges garment workers still face in recovering their wages under the law, this report seeks to provide an answer to the pivotal question: Has AB 633 fulfilled its promise?

To answer this question, we analyzed a statistically random sample of over 200 AB 633 claims docketed by the state labor agency between March 31, 2001 and February 18, 2004. Our Key Findings illustrate that AB 633 is a powerful tool that has been ineffectively utilized by DLSE and hence ignored by many companies that continue to profit from sweatshop labor. This report concludes with a series of recommendations which the authors hope to pursue with key stakeholders as part of our collective responsibility to realize the promise of AB 633 —and to make sweatshops in garment and other low-wage industries a part of our past, not our future.

Comments

This report was designed by the Garment Workers Collaborative: five California-based organizations that have worked together over the past decade by combining legal advocacy, worker organizing, and policy advocacy to achieve racial and economic justice for California’s immigrant garment workers. The Garment Workers Collaborative is comprised of the Asian Law Caucus (ALC), the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC), the Garment Worker Center (GWC), Sweatshop Watch, and the Women’s Employment Rights Clinic of Golden Gate University School of Law (WERC). Together, we advocate for stronger labor law enforcement in the garment industry and for manufacturer and retailer accountability for sweatshop conditions. We also seek to empower low-income Asian and Latino garment workers to assert their workplace rights, and to ensure immigrant workers have greater access to the government agencies charged with enforcing labor laws.