Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) will introduce new legislation to encourage the fashion industry to move production to the US and regulate worker wages on Thursday, reports said.
The Fashion Accountability and Building Real Institutional Change Act, or FABRIC Act, was the first federal law to specifically address the needs of garment workers. It will expand on the basis established by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and the recent Californian garment workers protection act SB62.
“We need to ban predatory payments through piece rates, but we also need to incentivize these companies to bring manufacturing back to the US or allow them to start here in the first place,” Gillibrand told Vogue.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of industrial jobs in New York City alone has fallen from more than 26,000 to less than 5,000 in just 20 years. By incentivizing fashion brands to produce more in the United States through tax breaks and grants, the senator hopes to revitalize the industry both in the city and beyond.
Gillibrand said bipartisan support for the bill was possible.
“Some of my Republican colleagues are working on bills around imports from China, and the FABRIC Act will support that effort,” he explained.
Ayesha Barenblat, founder and CEO of fashion advocacy group Remake, spearheaded the bill with Gillibrand. He predicts major changes in the fashion industry.
“When you go to Cambodia, Sri Lanka and other places around the world, you will see it [their factories have] move,” he told Vogue. “The grant could allow for the necessary updates that would bring in a larger workforce.”
Gillibrand also believes the bill will have major implications for women in the garment world.
“There are not many industries where women are the core of the workforce, except in the fashion industry,” he said. “By encouraging companies to bring production in the United States, the FABRIC Act is expected to see greater opportunities in the industry.”
After introducing the FABRIC Act to the Senate on Thursday, Gillibrand will hold a press conference on the bill in the Garment District on May 13.