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California becomes first in nation to set quota limits for retailers

Amazon is conducting warehouse job fairs across the country today
Posted at 10:48 AM, Sep 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-23 13:50:24-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill making California the first state to bar mega-retailers from firing warehouse workers for missing quotas that interfere with bathroom and rest breaks.

Assembly Bill 701, introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), requires large warehouse distribution centers to disclose production quotas and work speed metrics to employees and the state. It also bans employers from enforcing unsafe production quotas that prevent workers from using the bathroom, taking rest breaks, or complying with health and safety laws.

Businesses cannot fire workers for failing to meet a quota that interferes with their ability to take these breaks as well.

Under AB 701, workers will have access to 90 days of their personal work speed metrics and descriptions of quotas to better track violations if they believe a quota is unsafe. If a worker is disciplined within 90 days of requesting that data, the law presumes that action to be retaliatory by the employer, according to Gonzalez.

The law, aimed at businesses like Amazon and largely in response to the retailer, will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. Businesses will have 30 days to disclose production quotas.

"Amazon’s business model relies on enforcing inhumane work speeds that are injuring and churning through workers at a faster rate than we’ve ever seen. Workers aren’t machines. We’re not going to allow a corporation that puts profits over workers’ bodies to set labor standards back decades just for ‘same-day delivery,’” said Gonzalez. “This bill is simply about giving workers some basic dignity back and empowering them to keep themselves safe. As workers are increasingly surveilled on the job and supervised by algorithms, AB 701 is just the beginning of our work to regulate dangerous quotas and keep employers that have operated above the law in check.”

ABC 10News has reached out to Amazon for comment, and are waiting to hear back.

Amazon recently opened a three-million-square-foot fulfillment center in Otay Mesa that will employ 1,500 people, the company's largest warehouse in California.