Newsom Signs Bill That Could Push Amazon to Change Labor Practices – The New York Times

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California on Wednesday signed a bill that restricts warehouse employers from setting productivity quotas that prevent workers from taking breaks or following health and safety laws. The new law could alter Amazon’s labor practices.

The bill, known as A.B. 701, also requires employers to disclose productivity quotas to workers and regulators and allows workers to sue employers to eliminate problematic targets. Starting on Jan. 1, employers will have 30 days to give workers their productivity quotas.

“The hardworking warehouse employees who have helped sustain us during these unprecedented times should not have to risk injury or face punishment as a result of exploitative quotas that violate basic health and safety,” Mr. Newsom, a Democrat, said.

Amazon largely avoided commenting on the measure while state lawmakers debated it, other than to point out that the company bases its productivity targets for individual employees on their performance over time. The company also said fewer than 1 percent of workers were fired for underperformance.

But business groups strongly opposed the bill, arguing that it would lead to an explosion of litigation and hamper the distribution of goods.

“We are disappointed Governor Newsom signed A.B. 701, which will exacerbate our current supply chain issues, increase the cost of living for all Californians and eliminate good-paying jobs,” Rachel Michelin, the president of the California Retailers Association, said in a statement.

Ms. Michelin previously expressed concern that the bill would effectively punish an entire industry for the purported excesses of one company.

Two separate studies, including one by a group backed by labor unions, have shown that the rate at which Amazon workers suffer serious injuries was nearly double that of the rest of the warehousing industry last year.

Industry analysts have said reining in productivity quotas at Amazon is more likely to affect its costs than its famously rapid delivery times, pointing out that the company could simply hire more workers to make up for somewhat lower productivity per employee.