New bill aims to protect New York models from exploitation

Models walk the runway during New York Fashion Week at Spring Studios on February 16, 2022. Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

New legislation protecting models from exploitation by predatory agencies is expected to be introduced in the New York State Senate today, March 25. with the state. Unregistered modeling agencies could no longer operate.

Currently, the “incidental booking exception” under New York law allows modeling agencies to classify themselves as management companies rather than placement agencies. This designation makes it easier for agencies to bill clients for travel and wallets related to their modeling career. Since New York management companies are not covered by state employment laws, there is also no limit to the commissions that management companies can earn from the models for which they book jobs.

The changes proposed by the Fashion Workers Act signal that scrutiny is being applied to a volatile industry that has long prioritized profit over workers’ rights. “We want to make sure that New York continues to be the fashion heart of the American apparel industry, but does so in a way that protects its employees,” the law’s sponsor said. , State Senator Brad Hoylman, in an interview interview with Bloomberg News.

“When I left my first agency, they just refused to pay me my earnings until I got a lawyer,” wrote Sara Ziff, founder and director of Model Alliance. daily beast. “At every agency I’ve been signed with over my decades of career, I’ve had to repeatedly ask to be paid, and in one case it took 11 years. The time and energy I it took to collect my income often felt like a job in itself.”

Improvements are needed in the fashion industry

The need for improved standards also applies to fashion retailers and manufacturers. The Fashion Workers Act follows the Fashion Sustainability Act, which was introduced in the New York State Senate in January. If passed, the law will require multinational fashion nations doing business in the state to submit reports on sustainability efforts and map their supply chains.

In 2013, Andrew Cuomo, the former governor of New York, signed a bill recognizing models under the age of 18 as child performers. This bill required design houses and photographers to adhere to laws on work permits and child labor hours, but it also drew attention to the fashion world’s reliance on models. miners and underpaid, a phenomenon that has not dissipated much globally in the years since Cuomo’s bill. .

In 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics determined that models in New York earned an average of $48,130 per year. In 2020, the Bureau found that the national average annual salary for models had risen to $54,050 (the estimated average annual salary for New York models was not published).

The Hoylman Bill was introduced on the 111th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory firewhich claimed the lives of 146 immigrant garment workers in Greenwich Village and started a movement to reform conditions for workers in New York.

New bill aims to protect New York models from exploitation

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