Asm. Torres and Sen. Vargas Sponsor AB 1855

SACRAMENTO – The California Senate voted to support legislation Tuesday that would further protect workers in subcontracted industries.

Warehouse workers from Southern California’s Inland Empire joined Assemblymember Norma Torres and Sen. Juan Vargas in the Capitol Tuesday. The legislation that will extend basic protections to tens of thousands of warehouse workers now moves to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

“Thousands of workers in Southern California will benefit from this law. It’s very important that we protect low-wage workers who are a key part of our nation’s supply chain,” Assemblymember Torres said.

Because they are employed through a complex network of contractors, warehouse workers often have no recourse if they are not paid or forced to work in illegal conditions. It is not uncommon for warehouse contractors to operate out of the trunk of a car with no payroll records.

“Workers are moving goods for corporate giants like Walmart, but through a complex network of contractors and subcontractors, these corporations avoid responsibility. Workers need recourse to ensure their employers, and everyone in the supply chain, follow the law,” Vargas said.

California law already prohibits labor contracts that are financially insufficient to comply with the law in agriculture, construction, garment, janitorial and security. AB 1855, which is sponsored by the California Labor Federation, would extend this protection to hundreds of thousands of warehouse workers.

Last year, the California Labor Commissioner issued massive citations against Walmart subcontractors for stolen wages from warehouse workers. AB 1855 would have made it easier for workers to hold their employers accountable and receive proper payment.

“Fly-by-night contractors dominate the warehousing industry and provide a buffer between retailers like Walmart and the workers who move their goods,” said Guadalupe Palma, a campaign director with Warehouse Workers United, an organization committed to improving warehousing jobs in the Inland Empire. “We have seen it many times where staffing agencies that supply workers in warehouses will disappear overnight and leave workers without a job and without a paycheck. AB 1855 will help end this practice.”

“They made us work for piece rate, up to 16 hours a day, for months and months. There was no time see my family, and if I complained about the working conditions I would have been fired,” said Daniel Lopez, a warehouse worker from Riverside, California who spent Tuesday in Sacramento to support AB 1855.