A bill that aims to protect California warehouse workers from claims of abusive quota systems has landed on the governor’s desk.
Assembly Bill 701, which recently gained approval in the Assembly and Senate, was authored by Assemblywomen Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego. If signed into law, it would be the nation’s first legislation to make companies disclose the productivity requirements and work-speed metrics they set for employees.
It would prohibit workers from being fired for failing to meet a quota that interfered with their ability to use the bathroom or take rest breaks, and it would bar employers from disciplining warehouse employees for being “off-task” when they are complying with health and safety laws.
Amazon in the cross-hairs
The measure doesn’t specifically name Amazon, but supporters and opponents of the bill say the Seattle-based e-commerce giant is clearly the prime target for the regulations.
“Amazon is pushing workers to risk their bodies for next-day delivery while they can’t so much as use the restroom without fearing retaliation,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “We can’t allow corporations to get rich off of the injuries of their workforce.”
Amazon representatives could not be reached for comment, despite repeated attempts.
In a February 2020 interview in The Guardian, an Amazon spokesman said, “Like most companies, we have performance expectations for every Amazonian and we measure actual performance against those expectations.”
The bill would prohibit workers from being fired for failing to meet a quota that interfered with their ability to use the bathroom or take rest breaks, and it would bar employers from disciplining warehouse employees for being “off-task” when they are complying with health and safety laws. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)
The California Retailers Association opposes AB 701, saying it impacts too many companies when the measure is clearly aimed at Amazon.
“If you cast this huge a net to go after one company there will be unintended consequences,” association President Rachel Michelin said. “We already have Cal/OSHA, which has the authority to enforce workplace safety. If the regulations need more teeth, let’s start there rather than creating a whole new set of laws.”
Michelin said the bill would impact distribution centers across multiple industries and would increase the cost of living for Californians, kill good-paying jobs and damage the region’s fragile supply chain.
Fifty organizations, ranging from retailers and food producers to auto-parts manufacturers and ethnic chambers of commerce, oppose AB 701. They are united via noonab701.org.
The rapid uptick in e-commerce buying has created a frantic pace at Southern California warehouses, a trend that has been exacerbated by pandemic-wary consumers who are reluctant to shop at brick-and-mortar stores.
The flow of consumer goods arriving from Asia through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has also fueled warehouse growth — particularly in the Inland Empire. Last year, the two-county region completed 52 million square feet of real estate transactions, the most ever recorded, according to CBRE.
Data from Digital Commerce 360 show consumers spent $791.70 billion online with U.S. retailers in 2020, up 32.4% from $598.02 billion the prior …read more
Source:: Los Angeles Daily News