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Protection for Warehouse Workers Bill Signed Into Law By California Gov. Gavin Newsom

The legislation to protect warehouse workers from injury by barring production quotas that limit breaks has been signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom

Assembly Bill 701 was signed by the Democratic governor signed on Wednesday. He said this gives warehouse workers “the dignity, respect, and safety they deserve.”

In a statement, Newson said, “we cannot allow corporations to put profit over people. The hardworking warehouse employees who have helped sustain us during these unprecedented times should not have to risk injury or face punishment as a result of exploitative quotas that violate basic health and safety.”

The Senate passed this bill early this month in a 26-11 vote. It obliges the disclosure of production quotas from warehouse companies such as Amazon starting Jan. 1. The bill also prohibits them from using algorithms limiting mandated bathroom or other breaks for workers.

In addition, the law also safeguards workers from getting fired or punished for failure to meet unsafe quotas and allows them to find some relief if they are. Plus, the bill also authorizes the issuance of citations by the labor commissioners and access to data that identifies facilities with higher risks of injury due to potentially precarious working conditions.

Lorena Gonzalez, California Assemblywoman and the author of the bill, said it was the country’s first law that commands transparency prerequisites and safeguards workers against warehouse production quotas.

In a statement, the Democrat governor on Wednesday mentioned the e-commerce giant, Amazon as the frontrunner in the deterioration of warehouse working conditions in its aim to hasten the delivery service of its goods.

“Amazon’s business model relies on enforcing inhumane work speeds that are injuring and churning through workers at a faster rate than we’ve ever seen. Workers aren’t machines,” she said. “We’re not going to allow a corporation that puts profits over workers’ bodies to set labor standards back decades just for ‘same-day delivery.'”

The bill’s passage into law happened amid the controversy surrounding Amazon’s use of production quotas.  

The Strategic Organizing Center’s report found out that for every 100 Amazon warehouse workers last year there were 5.9 serious injuries, this is 80% higher compared to the rates experienced at other warehouse employers.

In a letter sent last week, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand urged the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chair Charlotte Burrows to investigate accusations against Amazon for denying accommodations for their pregnant employees.

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In May, the Democratic New York senator and Amazon critic also called on the e-commerce giant to disclose information regarding reports about the firing of employees who have complained about safety issues in warehouses during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gonzalez said in her statement on Wednesday, that although AB 701 is about “empowering” workers and their safety at work, more still needs to be done.

“As workers are increasingly surveilled on the job and supervised by algorithms, AB 701 is just the beginning of our work to regulate dangerous quotas and keep employers that have operated about the law in check,” she added.

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