With millions of people on the move globally looking for jobs, especially from poorer countries to wealthier ones, it’s easy for traffickers to pose as legitimate labor recruiters. It’s a risk for international job seekers everywhere, including those coming to America. Many times, when a person arrives at a job site far away from home, they learn they’ve been tricked – and trapped.
The state of California has said enough!
Last week, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 477, which will provide new protections to foreign-born workers against unethical foreign labor contractors. The bill prevents contractors from exploitative practices, such as charging foreign-born workers recruitment fees, resulting in large debts that workers cannot repay, trapping them in debt bondage. The new legislation will also require that full disclosure of employment conditions be provided in a worker’s primary language and that contractors be registered with California’s labor commissioner.
The new law is the first of its kind in the United States.
It was supported by the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), a coalition that includes Free the Slaves. ATEST and FTS are pushing for similar legislation nationally.
Stephanie Richard, our ATEST colleague at the Coalition Against Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) in Los Angeles, helped make Senate Bill 477 a reality. She says it “will serve as a model for other states and the nation in trying to prevent forced labor in their own backyards.”
ATEST Director Melysa Sperber comments that in addition to being a milestone in the fight to prevent human trafficking, this law “will also help to ensure the integrity of our visa systems.”
Learn more about the new law here.