A bill to protect California warehouse workers from abusive quota systems has been signed by Governor Gavin Newsom.
The governor signed Convention 701 Bill on Wednesday, and on the same day he also signed 32 other Convention and Senate bills approved by the California legislature.
“We cannot allow companies to put their profits above people,” Newsom said in a statement late Wednesday. “The hardworking warehouse workers who have helped us in these unprecedented times should not risk injury or be punished for exploiting quotas that violate basic health and safety.”
AB 701, written by Assemblywomen Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, is the first piece of legislation in the country to require companies to disclose the productivity requirements and work speed metrics they set for employees.
The law prohibits workers from being fired for failing to meet a quota that interferes with their ability to use the bathroom or take rest, and it prohibits employers from disciplining warehouse workers for being “off duty” when they comply with health and safety laws.
Amazon doesn’t specifically name AB 701, but proponents and opponents of the law said the Seattle-based e-commerce giant was clearly the target of the regulations.
“Amazon is urging workers to risk their bodies for next day delivery while they can’t even use the bathroom without fear of retaliation,” Gonzalez said recently. “We cannot allow companies to get rich from injuries to their workforce.”
In a February 2020 interview with the Guardian, an Amazon spokesperson said, “Like most companies, we have performance expectations for each Amazon and measure actual performance against those expectations.”
The bill would prohibit workers from being fired for failing to meet a quota that would affect their ability to use the toilet or rest, and it would discourage employers from disciplining warehouse workers for being “off duty” are if they adhere to health regulations and safety laws. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)
The California Retailers Association turned down AB 701, saying that if the move is clearly targeted at Amazon, it will affect too many businesses.
“If you throw out such a huge network to pursue a company, it will have unintended consequences,” said Association President Rachel Michelin. “We already have Cal / OSHA, which has the authority to enforce workplace safety. If the regulations need more teeth, we’ll start there instead of creating a whole new set of laws. “
Michelin said the bill would impact distribution centers in multiple industries and increase the cost of living for Californians, destroy well-paid jobs and damage the region’s fragile supply chain.
Fifty organizations, from retailers and food manufacturers to auto parts makers and ethnic chambers of commerce, are against AB 701. They are united through noonab701.org.
A recent study by Ontario-based Warehouse Worker Resource Center and Human Impact Partners highlighted the harsh working conditions in Amazon warehouses.
“Workers reported that Amazon’s inflated quotas make it impossible to complete the job and make the rate safe,” the report said. “The majority of the employees surveyed stated that they experienced a constant state of stress in order to keep up.”
An information sheet attached to the report shows that Amazon warehouse workers are allowed only six minutes of “free time” per day in addition to their 30-minute lunch break. Employees say the nearest toilet is often more than six minutes from their place of work in the company’s huge warehouses.
“Amazon’s work rates determine a dangerous pace of work that leads to injuries,” the report said. “Research shows that high pace of work is linked to a range of health effects, including neck and shoulder pain, muscle or joint problems, and back problems.”
67 percent of Amazon employees surveyed for the study reported injuries from their work at Amazon, and 75 percent said their required work rate was either “always” or “often” too high to work at a safe pace.
According to AB 701, warehouse workers who believe a quota is unsafe are entitled to 90 days of their personal work speed metrics and quota descriptions to better document violations.
If an employee is disciplined within 90 days of requesting the data or complaining to their employer or any government agency about an unsafe rate, AB 701 creates a presumption that it was retaliatory action.
The following is a list provided by the governor’s office for bills that Newsom signed on Wednesday, September 22nd:
- AB 239 by assembly member Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton) – Winemakers and spirits makers: exercise of privileges: locations.
- AB 262 by Congregator Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) – Trafficking in Persons: Relief for Victims.
- AB 565 by Assembly Member Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) – Interinstitutional Advisory Committee on Education: Homeless Youth and Foster Children.
- AB 624 by Member of Parliament Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) – Young people: Transfer to criminal justice: Appeals.
- AB 700 by Rep. Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo County) – Criminal Proceedings: Indictment and Trial.
- AB 744 by MP Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona) – State roads: State road 83: reduction.
- AB 746 by assembly member Sabrina Cervantes (D-Riverside) – Adoption: Adoption by stepparents.
- AB 784 by Congregation Member Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) – Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District.
- AB 788 by assembly member Lisa Calderon (D-Whittier) – Youngsters: Reunification.
- AB 898 from Assembly Member Alex Lee (D-San Jose) – Criminal Records: Automatic discharge of conviction files.
- AB 941 from Congregation Member Steve Bennett (D-Ventura) – Farm Workers Support: Resource Centers.
- AB 1031 by Congregator Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton) – Government Agencies: Interns and Student Assistants: Employment Preference.
- AB 1157 by assembly member Alex Lee (D-San Jose) – Controller: Transportation Funds: Distribution and Reporting Requirements.
- AB 1247 by Assembly Member Ed Chau (D-Arcadia) – Criminal Procedure: Limitations on Actions.
- AB 1267 by Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo County) – Alcoholic Beverages: Advertise or encourage a donation to a nonprofit charity.
- AB 1275 by Congregation Member Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (D-Los Angeles) – Alcoholic Beverage Control: Minors.
- AB 1281 by Assemblymember Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) – Criminal proceedings: Protection orders.
- AB 1318 by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley) – Deferred entry of the Judgment Pilot program.
- AB 1374 by Congregator Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco) – Driver’s License: Organ Donation.
- AB 1499 by Assemblymember Tom Daly (D-Anaheim) – Transport: Design-Build: Highways.
- AB 1579 of the Judicial Committee – Omnibus Family Law.
- SB 241 by Senator Thomas Umberg (D-Santa Ana) – civil actions.
- SB 315 from Senator Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside) – revocable transfer to death certificates.
- SB 323 by Senator Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) – Local government: water or sanitation: legal action.
- SB 333 from Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton – San Joaquin Regional Transit District: Procurement.
- SB 501 by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) – Claims against public institutions.
- SB 509 by Senator Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) – Optometry: COVID-19 Pandemic: Temporary Licenses.
- SB 548 from Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) – Tri-Valley-San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority: Transport links.
- SB 734 by Senator Ben Hueso, D-San Diego – Remediation Agencies: Passthrough Arrangements: Change.
- SB 762 from Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) – contracts.
- SB 779 by Senator Josh Becker (D-Menlo Park) – California Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act: Acquisition and Learning Programs.
- SB 813 of the Committee on Governance and Finance – Local Government Omnibus Act of 2021.