December 22, 2005 (from Maine Clean Clothes Alliance) -- MAINE ACTIVISTS WIN DEMANDS TO STRENGTHEN LAW; NEXT STEP IS A NEW LEGISLATIVE ACT -- Thanks to strong grassroots pressure and testimony from worker rights groups in Central America, Hong Kong, and Haiti, the State Division of Purchases has accepted all requests from the Maine Clean Clothes Alliance to strengthen the enforcement of the sweatfree procurement law of 2001. The Division is submitting “An Act To Strengthen the State Purchasing Code of Conduct Law” for the 2006 legislative session. The Act authorizes the Purchasing Agent to employ an independent monitor – defined as a not-for-profit organization neither funded nor controlled by the industry being monitored -- to investigate worker rights violations. The Act also provides for stronger sanctions of non-compliant companies and establishes a working group to investigate the creation and use of an independent consortium to monitor and investigate worker rights violations.
December 20, 2005 (from Pittsburgh Anti-Sweatshop Community Alliance) -- PITTSBURGH ACTIVISTS URGE COUNTY TO ADOPT SWEATFREE POLICY -- Pittsburgh is facing a merger of city and county purchasing departments. To insure that the city's sweatfree procurement policy isn't overridden by the county's lack of a policy, Pittsburgh Anti-Sweatshop Community Alliance is pressuring the county to adopt the city's sweatfree procurement rules. See their letter to the county council.
December 15, 2005 (from Milwaukee Clean Clothes Campaign) -- COUNTY OF MILWAUKEE ADOPTS SWEATFREE POLICY -- Joining the City and School District, which also have adopted sweatfree procurement policies, the Milwaukee County Board voted unanimously this week to adopt a sweatfree purchasing ordinance. This is another triumph for the Milwaukee Clean Clothes Campaign, which also recently opened a downtown fair trade store. Is there a cleaner city in the United States? Read the ordinance.
November 19, 2005 (from Pittsburgh Anti-Sweatshop Community Alliance) -- PITTSBURGH ACTIVISTS PETITION FOR PUBLIC HEARING -- In 1997, Pittsburgh City Council adopted legislation stating that working people around the world should have a safe work place, reasonable compensation, and the same basic rights as expected for workers in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Anti-Sweatshop Community Alliance has reviewed the City's Purchasing Department's records of apparel contracts. Without the required full public disclosure of factory locations and without any adequate means of reviewing worker testimony from factories sewing apparel purchased by the City, Pittsburgh is now out of compliance with the anti-sweatshop ordinance. Activists are requesting a public hearing regarding the implementation of the ordinance. Download the petition here.
November 17, 2005 (from Sweatfree Bay Area Coalition) -- SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR URGES ADOPTION OF SWEATFREE POLICIES ACROSS THE U.S.-- Mayor Gavin Newsom contacted mayors across the U.S. to ask them to join together to ensure that taxpayer money does not subsidize sweatshops. The goal is to get mayors to consolidate their purchasing power and coordinate enforcement to organize a consortium of public jurisdictions to advance sweatfree policies. Read the letter to mayors. [pdf]
October 24, 2005 (from Ethical Trade Action Group, Denver) -- COMMUNITY ACTIVISTS PRESENT SWEATFREE POLICY TO DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS-- On October 20, Ethical Trade Action Group (E-TAG), a grassroots organization in Denver, presented their proposed sweatfree policy to the Denver Board of Education. E-TAG was given 10 minutes to speak about their proposed sweatfree policy. The room was filled with supporters and coalition members who gave thunderous applauses throughout the presentation. It was truly inspiring to see the level of community support for this proposal. Denver residents should call the Board of Education to voice your support for a Sweatfree Purchasing Policy at the Denver Public Schools. To learn more about the campaign, visit www.e-tag.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
October 14, 2005 (from Maine Clean Clothes Alliance) -- NEW RULES PROPOSED; PUBLIC COMMENTS ACCEPTED TIL OCT 31-- The State of Maine’s Division of Purchases has released their latest proposed rules for implementing the sweatfree purchasing law. See the proposed rules and action steps.
October 12, 2005 (from Madison, Wisconsin) -- CITY OF MADISON ADOPTS SWEATFREE POLICY UNANIMOUSLY-- At the Common Council meeting of October 11, a new ordinance creating humane standards for city garment purchases was adopted unanimously. The new policy requires garments purchased by the city, like uniforms for Police, Fire, Metro, and Parks, to be made in conditions that respect the economic dignity and human rights of workers, including the right to organize.
The ordinance sets up a process whereby the city can utilize an independent monitoring organization to report back on the conditions of factories where the city's garments are being produced. Ald. Austin King indicated that he was likely to seek a small operating budget amendment to pay for a monitor to assist the city in enforcement. Full press release.
September 14, 2005 (from Sweatfree Bay Area Coalition) -- IT'S OFFICIAL! SAN FRANCISCO ADOPTS SWEATFREE POLICY! -- The Board of Supervisors held their final vote on the Sweatfree Ordinance yesterday and passed it unanimously. Global Exchange and the Sweatfree Bay Area Coalition are now hard at work selecting an excellent crew from the community to serve on the Advisory Group, which will ensure the successful implementation and enforcement of the ordinance. See news stories covering the campaign. View the policy text.
August 17, 2005 (from Maine Clean Clothes Alliance) -- WE'VE GOT THE LAW: THEY WON'T PLAY BY THE RULES -- The State of Maine’s Division of Purchases has drafted a new set of rules for implementing the sweatfree purchasing law which was enacted in June 2001. The Maine Clean Clothes Alliance (MECCA), a coalition of unions and community and university-based Clean Clothes Campaigns, has enjoyed a good working relationship with the Division, working together to develop procedures of implementation and address contract challenges over several years. MECCA last met with the Division in April of this year, recommending that monitoring by an independent auditor with knowledge of worker rights issues be an integral part of the implementation of the law so that purchasing staff would not have to evaluate the merits of allegations of vendor violations of the sweatfree Code of Conduct. Purchasing staff have neither the expertise nor the resources to fairly and accurately evaluate such challenges. Unfortunately, the Division did not heed the recommendation for independent monitoring. Instead, their proposed rules would significantly weaken the law, investing seemingly total and arbitrary control for evaluating the merits of contract challenges with the State Purchasing Agent.
MECCA will propose a different set of rules that calls for monitoring of factories and enforcement of the law by a non-profit independent monitor at a public hearing on August 25. Full analysis and next steps.
August 16, 2005 (from Sweatfree Bay Area Coalition) -- SAN FRANSCISCO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS VOTE UNANIMOUSLY FOR ANTI-SWEATSHOP GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT LEGISLATION -- The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously today to pass the historic Sweatfree San Francisco Ordinance, which will ensure that the hundreds of millions of city tax dollars spent on purchasing annually will be used to support fair and just labor practices.
Former CA State Senator Tom Hayden and Global Exchange led a coalition of nearly 60 community groups, including Asian Law Caucus, UNITE HERE!, Chinese Progressive Association, Progressive Jewish Alliance, New College of California, Sisters of the Presentation, Organic Consumers Association and Sierra Club, among others, who all worked to set the highest standard in the country for sweatfree legislation.
The San Francisco Sweatfree Ordinance was introduced by Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Tom Ammiano and co-sponsored by 7 other Supervisors. It includes a sweat-free code of conduct to be signed by all city contractors, subcontractors and vendors. The code of conduct mandates that these companies’ workers are paid a living wage, adjusted by labor market, and provided with safe working conditions and a non-discriminatory environment. The code of conduct also bans child labor, and guarantees the fundamental right for workers to join and independent union. In order to ensure that good intentions are translated into good results, funding for enforcement by the city as well as by a non-profit, independent monitor will be included in the city’s budget.
The law also requires that a sweatfree advisory group examine ways to provide incentives for San Francisco garment manufacturers that comply with the ordinance.
"This is a historic moment for San Francisco," said Valerie Orth, Global Exchange's Sweatshop-Free Campaigns Organizer, “It will place our city at the cutting edge in the struggle for global worker justice.” The ordinance passed unanimously today, and will face a final reading and vote on September 6.
For more information, please visit www.globalexchange.org/sweatfreebayarea
August 5, 2005 (from Sweatfree Bay Area Coalition) -- SAN FRANCISCO EMBRACES FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION LANGUAGE AFTER LAST-MINUTE NEGOTIATIONS -- After 36 hours of back-and-forth negotiations, the San Francisco mayor’s office agreed to including freedom of association and collective bargaining rights in the proposed sweatfree code of conduct on Thursday morning. Hours later, a supervisors’ committee hearing recommended the final version to the full board for passage. Over two hundred supporters cheered the outcome.
Only days before, the negotiations faltered over whether freedom of association language would be included at all. At issue was whether the city could “legislate” for other jurisdictions. Advocates for sweatshop workers were adamant that the city, in its role as “market participant”, could attach such conditions to public contracts, and that failure to do so would mean capitulation to repressive states where workers rights are prohibited. Adoption of a meaningful “San Francisco standard” in the marketplace, they said, would require embracing freedom of association. They further pointed out that corporations like NIKE and many universities already had adopted such a standard.
Finally, at ten a.m. Thursday, three hours before the hearing, the mayor’s office drafted language to resolve the impasse. As amended, the ordinance now states: “Contractors and subcontractors shall demonstrate commitment to best practices and continuous improvement in management practices to eliminate sweatshop labor, including the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining. No contractor or subcontractor shall subject a worker to harrassment, intimidation, or retaliation as a result of his or her efforts to freely associate or bargain collectively.”
The mayor’s office also accomodated a continuing concern to include “local preference” in the ordinance, requiring that the proposed sweatfree advisory group examine ways to provide incentives for San Francisco garment manufacturers who comply with the ordinance and report within four months. ...
June 27, 2005 (from Sweatfree Bay Area Coalition) -- SAN FRANCISCO SWEATFREE ORDINANCE INTRODUCED -- Global Exchange and the Sweatfree Bay Area Coalition held a press conference with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Tom Ammiano, the co-authors of the San Francisco Sweatfree ordinance which would prohibit the City from buying any goods (from garment to food) made in sweatshops. ...
Over 100 San Francisco residents and members of the Sweatfree Bay Area coalition (which consists of 56 local labor, faith-based, student, and community groups) attended the public announcement of the nation’s strongest sweatfree ordinance, with accompanying Fair Trade Certified and Organic Certified purchasing resolutions. The City has also promised $100,000 for enforcement of the sweatfree ordinance. ...
At a time when the Walmart Model of government expenditures for corporate welfare is under challenge, the “San Francisco Model” points to a more positive role for government as a market participant.
Nevertheless, the ordinance is a compromise between the sweatfree vision, embraced by the mayor, and cautious pragmatists within the city bureaucracy. It is limited to the garment sector only for the first year of implementation, with a commitment to expand the scope to all procurement in later years, under the influence of a community-based advisory council. The $100,000 will be divided between an in-house monitor under the department of labor enforcement, and an independent monitor charged especially with investigating sweatshop abuses in other countries. For more information, contact Valerie Orth at Global Exchange.
June 14, 2005 (from Tom Hayden and No More Sweatshops)-- LOS ANGELES GIVES WRC $50,000 CONTRACT FOR SWEATSHOP MONITORING -- To enforce its recent sweatfree ordinance, the City of Los Angeles has provided a $50,000 contract for independent monitoring of sweatshop abuses to the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), which has achieved precedent-setting gains for workers in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and elsewhere. This is the first time a city has contracted with an outside independent monitor to review its procurement procedures. The WRC grew out of the campus anti-sweatshop movement of the nineties. Currently over 140 campuses are affiliated with the WRC. ... San Francisco is preparing a similar ordinance for adoption this summer, adding several fair trade and organic provisions. As these cities begin to exercise their market power on behalf of sweatshop workers, the eventual goal becomes the formation of a larger municipal consortium to challenge the power of corporate sweatshops in the global marketplace.
June 2005 (from No Sweat Connecticut) -- CONNECTICUT SWEATFREE BILL PASSES FOUR COMMITTEES -- Thanks to the hard work of students and labor in Connecticut, the anti-sweatshop bill passed four committees, including Higher Education and Appropriations, surviving challenges and opposition. The organizing coalition, No Sweat Connecticut, formed in January 2005, built significant momentum and attracted 39 cosponsors through extensive lobby efforts. Check out the Senate Bill 1148 online.
After the bill passed the committee process it did not have much time to be raised for a Senate vote. Despite pressure, the Senate Majority Leader, a co-sponsor of the bill, did not raise the bill for a vote. He used the excuse that no more bills with fiscal notes could be raised until the state budget was approved. In the last days, the House Majority Leader also said that he would only raise one more labor bill and the sweatfree purchasing bill would not be prioritized.
No Sweat Connecticut will continue the fight in the next legislative session starting January 2006. Congratulations to No Sweat Connecticut for all the hard work and the impressive mobilization!
May 10, 2005 (from Madison, Wisconsin)-- MADISON SWEATFREE BILL PASSES FIRST HURDLE -- The campaign for a city policy passed its first hoop with a unanimous vote in the Board of Estimates. Go, Madison! Currently the campaign is drafting policy language for an upcoming City Council vote. Building off the organizing momentum and education that students in Madison have conducted on the university level, this campaign is going strong. Contact: email@example.com
May 2005 (from San Francisco Sweatfree Campaign) -- SAN FRANCISCO SWEATFREE ORGANIZERS MAKE PROGRESS -- The campaign hopes to win a city and county sweatfree policy this summer. In addition to a strong sweatfree purchasing policy with funding for independent monitoring budgeted, organizers have submitted city bills that set a preference for organic and fair trade products. For more information, contact Valerie Orth at Global Exchange.
January 27, 2005 (from Milwaukee Clean Clothes Campaign) -- MILWAUKEE PUBLIC SCHOOLS GO CLEAN -- The Milwaukee Public Schools Board voted unanimously last evening to adopt the City of Milwaukee Ordinance as its own no sweat Policy. This requires that all contracts for apparel be with responsible manufacturers which agree to follow a solid list of requirements as to working conditions and wages. The vote was the result of two years of ongoing talks with representatives of the Board and Administration and the leadership and personal involvement of Board President Peter Blewett and Director Thomas Balistreri.
This successful action is phase one of a campaign process in that MPS is a very decentralized system which allows dozens of persons to make purchasing decisions for amounts up to $5000. The Procurement office has also instituted an accounting system which requires a special code for apparel purchases so that tracking and analysis of who does the buying and
what and where it is purchased will be made easier. The Milwaukee Clean
Clothes Campaign will work with the Schools to educate staff about sweatshops and where to buy sweatfree items of spirit wear, band and sports uniforms as well as clothing for security and food service staff et al.