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US Sen. Gillibrand introduces FABRIC Act to support garment workers

By Rachel Douglass

May 16, 2022

Business

Image: Sen. Gillibrand

In support of American garment workers, US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has announced the introduction of the Fashioning Accountability and Building Real Institutional Change (FABRIC) Act, already garnering industry-wide support.

The legislation comes as a response to the increasingly unsafe working conditions often endured by American workers, with a press release from the senator stating that the pandemic has only emphasised these issues further.

To announce the act, Gillibrand visited Ferrara Manufacturing in New York City, where she detailed plans to tackle wage theft and domestic reshoring.

The Democrat politician further stated the FABRIC Act would protect almost 100,000 American garment workers, as it also looks to help in revitalising the garment industry in the US.

“It’s time to take bold action at the federal level to change the fabric of the American manufacturing industry,” said Gillibrand, in a speech. “The US was once home to a booming apparel manufacturing industry, and it’s time to reexamine how this industry has evolved over the past 50 years and change how we treat our workers.”

“So we can not only make American, but buy American…”

Five pillars define the act to address these issues, including the restructuring of pay rates and introducing pay incentives.

The act also aims to establish new liability measures to encourage retailers “to become allies in combating workplace violations”, as well as introducing recordkeeping and transparency measures and incentivising reshoring.

Additionally, the act will also include the creation of a domestic garment manufacturing programme aimed at rejuvenating the industry nationally.

Gillibrand added: “This legislation would thread the needle of protecting workers’ rights putting an end to abusive pay rates, and ensuring equitable compensation for garment workers, while also making historic investments in domestic garment manufacturing so we can not only make American, but buy American.”

The FABRIC Act will amend the Fair Labor Standards Act, which was introduced in 1983 and set the standards for the protection of workers in the garment industry.

Since its inauguration, the renewed FABRIC Act has been met with a cohort of positive support from the industry, including a wide number of designers, organisations and manufacturers that have each expressed their approval of the legislation.

“Fashion Revolution USA is proud to endorse the FABRIC Act,” said Nikki Eclarinal, policy manager of Fashion Revolution USA, in a statement. “As the nation’s first federal fashion bill, the FABRIC Act is rooted in improving the lives of thousands of garment workers, increasing supply chain transparency, and holding brands responsible for unethical labour practices.”

Eclarinal continued: “By supporting the FABRIC Act, we ensure that people, human rights, and dignity are central to fostering a more sustainable and transparent future in fashion.”

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