AB 701 Passes CA Senate, Heads to Governor’s Desk
CA Senate Passes the Warehouse Workers Protection Act, the first bill of its kind to address algorithmic work.
(Sacramento, CA) Earlier today, the California Senate voted to pass the Warehouse Workers Protection Act, AB 701, the warehousing policy aimed at decreasing worker injury and creating transparency of debilitating quotas from giant corporations, such as Amazon and Walmart.
“Today the California State Senate stood with Amazon workers and all warehouse workers to say their health and safety must be protected and their voices must be heard. It is our collective responsibility to make sure that as this industry changes, we create good jobs with safe working conditions. Thanks to AB 701, warehouse workers at places like Amazon will no longer be fired for simply using the restroom in the middle of their shift. They will finally have better working conditions that allow them to return home safely to their loved ones at the end of a hard day’s work. Workers can finally make a living instead of making a trip to the emergency room. California has once again proven that we are leaders, not followers, in the fight for worker’s rights,” said Ron Herrera, President of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.
Authored by CA Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), AB 701 will protect frontline warehouse workers by requiring employers to disclose quotas and work speed standards to workers and state enforcement agencies. It would also prohibit employers from penalizing workers for time spent complying with health and safety laws.
“We’ve heard disturbing stories of back-breaking working conditions in Amazon warehouses that use algorithms to enforce dangerous work speeds. 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. AB 701 gives workers the tools and protections necessary to be able to speak up and seek real relief against the health and safety abuses they’ve experienced in these warehouses,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego).
Amazon’s own records show that its workers were injured on the job at double the average rate of the general warehousing industry and triple the average rate across all private employers in 2018. In fact, Amazon warehouse workers are injured more frequently than coal miners, lumberjacks, trash collectors, and police officers.
“Warehouse workers deserve to have the dignity and security that comes with a safe workplace. I have personally felt the physical and mental stress this job puts on someone. High work quotas lead to accidents and injuries in warehouses which hurt workers and their families. I am glad to see that our leaders are standing with workers and supporting AB 701,” said Yesenia Barrera, Former Amazon worker.
The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk for final approval. If passed, this bill will be the first of its kind in the nation and will begin to set standards for the future of algorithmic based work.
“It’s good that the California Senate agrees that warehouse workers in California deserve basic protections. We call on Governor Newsom to continue his support for essential workers in this state by signing AB 701. If signed, this bill will create meaningful changes in the work and lives of workers in California warehouses. Safer rates and quotas will benefit all of us,” said Sheheryar Kaoosji, Executive Director of the Warehouse Workers Resource Center.
“Amazon’s punishing system of surveillance puts workers at risk and has led to an injury rate that’s double that of other warehouses. Workers have demanded that Amazon improve its working conditions but Amazon has ignored their calls at every turn. Unless lawmakers take action, Amazon will continue to force workers to submit to an inhumane pace of work and injuries at Amazon will continue to skyrocket. AB 701 takes an important step in the right direction to keep workers safe and protect workers who advocate for safe working conditions. We’re proud to support it,” said Lauren Jacobs, Executive Director of PowerSwitch Action, a member group of the Athena coalition, a national Amazon watchdog group.
About Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO Since 1885, the LA Fed has been a force for progress. We are a federation of over 300 affiliated union and labor organizations representing more than 800,000 members, each with their own unique stories and backgrounds. We stand united in our mission to build a movement for justice committed to protecting the rights of working people and improving the lives of our families and communities.