Congressional Leaders Are Getting Behind the ‘Fabric Act’

·3 min read

The Fabric act is making headway with Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney introducing the bill Thursday.

Standing for the ‘‘Fashioning Accountability and Building Real Institutional Change Act,” (S4213) the Fabric Act seeks to rebuild domestic apparel manufacturing in a just and sustainable way. The bill originated in the Senate with New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in May, accompanied by a press conference that took place at New York’s Ferrara Manufacturing in the Garment District.

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“I have long been a champion for the New York and American fashion and apparel industries because of their immense economic and cultural benefits to our City and our nation,” Rep. Maloney, (NY-12), said in a press statement. “But all too often the workers are exploited and wages are too low for people to make a living. Cementing the United States as the global leader in manufacturing apparel responsibly by putting forth worker safeguards, increased oversight and transparency of the industry, and creating incentives to bring jobs back to the U.S. will have positive impacts on our nation’s economy and commitment to the American worker for generations to come.”

Along with Maloney and Gillibrand, U.S. Congresswomen Debbie Dingell (MI-12) and Deborah Ross (NC-02) have endorsed the bill that has drawn up comparisons to California’s Garment Worker Protection Act ⁠— that passed a year ago ⁠— for its worker safeguards.

Among its chief elements, the Fabric Act carries tax perks for reshoring, eliminates the piece-rate pay system in exchange for hourly wages and establishes joint liability in the apparel supply chain.

Hoping to bolster a more transparent garment industry, the bill would institute a nationwide garment industry registry in the Department of Labor and offer up a $40 million domestic garment manufacturing support program, as well as a 30 percent tax credit for reshoring, among other aims.

Rep. Debbie Dingell championed the bill as a safeguard for dignified work, which will ensure the U.S. remains a “leader in responsible manufacturing,” while Rep. Deborah Ross, spoke more to its regional prowess, as North Carolina carries a rich textile tradition in the South.

As Ross noted, “The Fabric Act will bring garment manufacturing and textile industry jobs back to North Carolina while improving conditions and compensation for workers in garment factories. I’m proud to introduce this bill with my colleagues, and I look forward to working with them to revitalize and support garment and textile businesses in my home state.”

Though a pro-labor bill, the legislation carries bipartisan elements Gillibrand says both parties can get behind. “The bill is quite simple. It just mandates a fair work environment and fair worker treatment, and it authorizes some resources to do this,” Gillibrand told WWD at a press conference earlier this year. “The combination of that investment plus the fact that it’s asking for broader, better treatment of workers [is] a combination that has appeal, and so we’re going to ask for a vote between now and end of the year.”

Although in early stages, the bill has received vocal support from designers such as Mara Hoffman and labor and advocacy groups like Workers United, Remake, Garment Worker Center, The Model Alliance and more have showed support.

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