New York Fashion Law Needs Urgent Revision, Critics Say – Sourcing Journal

A group of 20 human rights, labor and fashion sustainability organizations are taking steps to make Empire State the first country where fashion moguls are held legally accountable for their social and environmental impact. I am asking lawmakers in New York to step up.

The issue with the Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act, also known as Congressional Bill A8352, is that in its current form it is primarily focused on disclosure, generating at least $100 million in revenue. Brands and retailers are only violating if companies operating in New York fail to report on various aspects of their supply chain, including greenhouse gas emissions, energy use and wages. guidelines.

The Asian Minimum Wage Alliance, Business & Human Rights Resource Center, Fashion Revolution and Fibershed said the bill, despite its broad scope, now provides redress for damages that businesses have caused or contributed to. We do not require companies to cooperate with us. Human Rights Watch, Remake, War on One, and others, in a letter to Democratic supporters of the bill, State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi and Rep. Anna R. Keres.

The coalition “fully agrees” with lawmakers that it is time for New York, one of the world’s fashion capitals, to take “strong action” to make the industry more ethical and sustainable. However, current fashion laws are “much weaker”. It left the state “not ahead of the curve, but behind” in terms of improving the lives of garment workers and reducing environmental damage over measures passed in California, France and Germany.

“We are concerned that this bill falls short of what is needed to protect people and the environment from the multiple harms caused by the sector,” the organization wrote in its Jan. 14 letter. “Policy failures such as the UK Modern Slavery Act show that disclosure legislation often does not promote corporate accountability or protect human rights and the environment.”

The group’s recommended amendments do not rely on companies’ self-reports, but on indicators that labor groups and human rights experts “perceive as useful” in a form that is publicly accessible and readily analyzable. includes stronger and expanded labor data disclosure requirements to

Instead of requiring companies to disclose how they encourage the performance of their suppliers with respect to labor rights, the fashion law requires suppliers to provide decent jobs to their employees, which is a common commercial practice. The letter says companies should be required to report on whether they allow it. Are companies ring-fencing labor costs to allow for a living wage in order negotiations, or, as the Wage Forward campaign suggests, adding an additional living wage for every order placed? You must also disclose whether you are paying at least 30% of your order upfront to “equalize the risk” between buyers, suppliers and garment workers. need to do it. in the event of a cancellation.

“Does the business conduct reward suppliers for protecting workers’ rights (eg higher prices, repeat transactions, higher value)?” the letter said. “Is there a public commitment to set prices that are sufficient to cover investments in sustainability, decarbonization, water and energy efficiency, safety, and other compliance mandates at the supplier level? Are you publicly committed to addressing concerns and grievances in a manner that prioritizes the human rights of factory workers?”

Equally important, the coalition said, companies must not only report but also perform due diligence and impose penalties for non-compliance. It said the current language of the fashion law “does not hold brands and retailers sufficiently accountable” for potential human rights and environmental harm.

“While the current accountability section includes penalties for failing to report impacts, goals, and due diligence, damages caused, contributed to, or related to brands or retailers, It does not include penalties for brands or retailers who fail to meet their targets. Set,” the letter read. “So brands and retailers, for example, set goals for climate change or waste reduction, set goals to pay a living wage, sell New York consumers a commitment, never meet, stay compliant. It means you can.”

New York, home to 10,000 garment workers, could also draw lessons from the California Garment Worker Protection Act, a joint liability wage theft measure Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed into law. “As written, there is no incentive or protection for our own manufacturing base in New York,” the organization said. “We strongly recommend extending this protection to workers in international supply chains and aligning it with the work of trade unions across Asia.”

“At Remake, we believe our policy must be rooted in serving both the communities most affected by fashion: fashion makers and those who are at the forefront of fashion’s environmental impact. Ayesha Barenblat, founder and CEO of the advocacy group, told Sourcing Journal. “From a decade of mandatory human rights due diligence efforts, we know that to be effective, law must include responsibility and accountability. We have strived to provide fixes that are focused on addressing these effects and providing remedies, as well as improving performance.”

Fashion law sponsors, along with advocates such as the New Standards Institute, said they were open to working with a range of stakeholders to develop legislation that would promote the most powerful environmental and labor improvements. . We have plenty of time. The bill must go through committees in the House and Senate for budget negotiations before it can be put to a vote, possibly in late spring.

“We are delighted with the engagement from a wide range of stakeholders related to fashion sustainability and social accountability legislation. We are working to create legislation that will have a positive impact on the United States,” Keres told Sourcing Journal. “As is often the case with complex and groundbreaking legislation such as the Fashion Act, we have discussed in detail with the authors of this letter and others with whom we have been in contact to discuss their concerns with the final bill. I plan to incorporate it into the

Senator Biaggi also agreed, citing a “common goal” of ensuring that the fashion law “provides the most positive change for those most affected by the fashion industry,” she told Sourcing Journal. “We are grateful for the attention and input we have received from all stakeholders, including this letter, since we announced this bill. I look forward to meeting with as many stakeholders as possible to advance the strongest legislation we can pass.”

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