December 18th, the City of Portland and labor rights activists will
celebrate a year's work since the passage of the city's sweatfree
purchasing policy with a "Sweatfree Art Show" at City Hall. This
educational art exhibit aims to give a human face to the workers behind
the uniforms of our police, firefighters and other public employees,
and provide resources of local sweatshop free/fair trade purchasing of
uniforms and fashionable clothing. We will have the opportunity to hear
from community organizations, the Portland Bureau of Purchases, the
featured artist, and a former garment worker and union organizer.
When: Friday December, 18th 2009, 5:00-7:00pm
Where: City Hall, 1221 SW 4th Avenue, Portland, Ore.
Featuring free food, beverages, music by Bajo Salario, and ethically produced products from local fair trade/sweatshop-free businesses.
Special thanks go to Mayor Sam Adams' Office for working with Sweatfree Northwest to make this event possible.
To bring the exhibit "Presente: She is here with us" of garment worker paintings by Janet Essley to your city, contact liana(at)sweatfree(dot)org.
At a forum on Capitol Hill on November 6, SweatFree Communities, the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Government Employees, Change to Win, International Labor Rights Forum, the Worker Rights Consortium, and Workers United jointly released a policy paper outlining principles of government procurement reform to ensure decent working conditions for overseas workers who make products or provide services for federal government agencies. Hailed as a “potentially ground-breaking document” by author and human rights advocate Robert Senser, “Principles for International Sweatfree Federal Government Procurement” is designed to address a gaping hole in federal procurement policy. There is currently no procurement rule banning the federal government from purchasing products made under the most heinous sweatshop conditions overseas. The federal government does draw the line at purchasing products made by children in indentured servitude, but even that most basic rule of human decency is not adequately enforced. The policy paper proposes a three-pronged strategy: core labor standards and a living wage requirement for overseas facilities; vendor prequalification requiring contractors to ensure that their own business practices do not contribute to the problem of sweatshops; and a follow-up enforcement program based on transparency, worker education, and independent investigations. Millions of workers can be positively impacted when the federal government harnesses its purchasing power to support global worker rights.
to thank Representative Mike Michaud of Maine and Representative Phil
Hare of Illinois for sponsoring the policy forum. We are also grateful
for the participation of the Department of Labor’s Bureau of
International Labor Affairs, and wish to acknowledge the excellent
contributions of forum moderator, Robert Stumberg, Director, Harrison
Institute for Public Law, Georgetown University, and all presenters (in
alphabetical order): Bama Athreya, Executive Director, International
Labor Rights Forum; Jeremy Blasi, Director of Research and
Investigation, Worker Rights Consortium; Mitch Cahn, Owner, New Bedford
Tactical Gear, Massachusetts; Rini Chakraborty, formerly Executive
Director, Sweatshop Watch, Los Angeles; Bjorn Claeson, Executive
Director, SweatFree Communities; David Madland, Director of the
American Worker Project, Center for American Progress; Miguel Ángel
Ruíz Estrada, General Secretary, CST-JBE, Nicaragua; Marcia Eugenio,
Director, Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking,
Bureau of International Labor Affairs; Albert Torres, Garment Worker,
Propper International, Puerto Rico; and Jordan Wells, Sweatfree
Campaign Coordinator, New York State Labor-Religion Coalition.
We are happy to announce that the City and County of San Francisco and the State of New York have recently joined the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium. In June 2009 a coalition of labor rights groups, including San Francisco-based Global Exchange, wrote to Mayor Gavin Newsom praising him for restoring enforcement funding for San Francisco's sweatshop-free procurement ordinance, and urging San Francisco to join the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium in order to combine strength with other "sweatfree" government agencies. On November 4, San Francisco's Office of Labor Standards Enforcement joined the Consortium as part of the city's ongoing efforts to address sweatshop labor in the purchase of garments and other products. San Francisco has adopted a landmark sweatfree purchasing ordinance; allocated funding for independent factory monitoring; and joined a national Consortium to share resources and coordinate enforcement with other public entities with the same goal. This three-pronged approach remains a national model.
Meanwhile, the Labor-Religion
Coalition of New York State worked tirelessly educating its members and
state government agencies on the benefits of Consortium membership.
Those efforts bore fruit on November 5, when Governor Paterson announced
that "the State of New York is joining the Sweatfree Purchasing
Consortium, and will adhere to its requirements" in a letter to
SweatFree Communities. Governor Paterson stressed the importance of
the work to "harness the power of public sector purchasing to rid the
world of the scourge of sweatshop conditions…" and expressed confidence
that the Consortium "will serve as a crucial tool in creating and
maintaining standards of workplace fairness and safety in our global
summer a new sweatfree campaign kicked off in Louisville, Kentucky.
Volunteers from the University of Louisville, Bellarmine University,
and the Louisville Community have been pitching in their time and
talent to help make great strides. Around Louisville you may find
fliers in windows, pamphlets in coffee shops, and stickers on cars
spreading the SweatFree message. The volunteer-driven campaign has
also been working hard to keep the city councilmembers' inboxes full
with expressions of support for a SweatFree Louisville. As of now, the
campaign has gained the support of at least three city council members
and the interest of a few more. For more information, contact
Sweatfree Procurement Oversight Committee, comprised of labor rights
experts, supply chain experts, uniform wearing public employees and the
Portland Bureau of Purchases met last week to discuss next steps of
implementing the Portland Sweatfree Purchasing Policy. The Bureau Add
Package of $10,000 for sweatfree enforcement was approved including
membership fee to the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium, reserve funds
for independent monitoring of apparel contracts, and a research and
education project for small purchases of uniforms for city agencies
estimated at total of $170,472 in 2006. The goal will be to provide a
resource guide for Police, Fire Fighters and other public agencies
including a list of local sweatfree sources.
The Portland Bureau of Purchases has also launched a new sweatfree purchasing website including the sweatfree administrative rules for vendors, compliance worksheets, public complaint registration form.
For more information, contact sweatfreenw(at)gmail(dot)com.
June 2008-- campaign round-up
Following up on its December 2008 resolution, and thanks to the tireless work of Southern Oregon Jobs with Justice and other local groups, the City Council of Ashland, Oregon unanimously adopted a sweatfree ordinance June 16 and committed to joining the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium. Read Ashland´s policy here.
Anti-sweatshop activists in San Francisco, California made such a big clamor over the city's proposed cuts to sweatfree policy enforcement, that Mayor Gavin Newsom turned right around and on June 19 restored full funding for San Francisco's pioneering factory monitoring work. In a letter to SweatFree Communities, the Mayor’s Office says that they are "moving to ensure...the full amount of funding in the independent monitoring account ($50,000)" for the coming fiscal year. First up for monitoring will be factories supplying San Francisco law enforcement officials.
City officials in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, have some new information to chew on after the Milwaukee Clean Clothes Campaign released a striking new report on a China factory that would make police uniforms for Spiewak should that company win its bid for a major police uniform contract in the city. A China Labor Watch investigation reveals severe violations of Milwaukee's sweatfree ordinance in the factory, including wages below the local minimum wage and regular 12 hour workdays, at least six days a week.
$8.58 is a magic number. That is the first payment the State of Maine has received under its new 1% rule, which requires apparel vendors to pay the state 1% of the contract value so that Maine can monitor its supplier factories. Fittingly, the first vendor to pay the 1% fee is a company called Winterport Boots, an early supporter of the Bangor Clean Clothes Campaign. As Maine's purchasing director told us, the best part about $8.58 is that it establishes a new principle and shows this fee can be collected.
On June 24, the City of Berkeley, California
become the 39th city in the U.S. to pass a sweatfree policy, with the
Council voting unanimously for one of the strongest ordinances yet.
Congratulations to Berkeley's Peace and Justice Commission, Commission
on Labor, the Progressive Jewish Alliances, and allied organizations
for 3 years of powerful grassroots organizing!
As we reported on June 19, a cut to the funding of San Francisco's sweatshop-free procurement ordinance was quickly restored last Friday following deep concern expressed by Bay Area activists and SweatFree Communities.
Today a group of organizations and individuals, leaders in the anti-sweatshop movement, sent a joint letter to Mayor Newsom thanking him for restoring the funding and asking him to bring San Francisco on-board the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium.
City of Berkeley is poised to become the 39th city in the nation to
pass an ordinance mandating that goods purchased by the city be
manufactured free of sweatshop conditions
After over three years of work, the Berkeley City Council will mull the passage of a Sweatfree Purchasing Ordinance, becoming the 39th city in the nation to pass an ordinance mandating that goods purchased by the city be manufactured free of sweatshop conditions. If the ordinance should pass, it would clear the decks for the city to join the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium, which would stop tax dollar support for sweatshop abuses and level the playing field for ethical U.S. businesses. While the City of San Francisco has possessed a sweatshop-free ordinance for several years, the City of Berkeley has yet to pass one despite having committing to join the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium in July 2007.
Representatives from the Berkeley Commission on Labor, the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, and various organizations came together with Berkeley's city staff to create the consensus document going before the Berkeley City Council tonight. The ordinance, if passed, would affect garments purchased by the City of Berkeley at the $25,000 level or above and include provisions that other goods and services may be added over time. The language also makes it mandatory for vendors to disclose manufacturing locations of their subsidiaries and ensure that their workers enjoy freedom of association and a non-poverty wage.
When: Tuesday, June 23, 7pm
Where: Old City Hall, 2134 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, Berkeley CA
Pittsburgh, three university Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) affiliates
are convening regularly to review the WRC recommendations and share
what they have learned about the global apparel industry with others in
Western Pennsylvania. These three universities were recognized with a proclamation
from Allegheny County County on June 16, 2009, which stated that "the
global apparel industry is rife with abuse of human and worker rights"
and commended the universities "for
their efforts to quell human rights abuse and for joining the Worker
Rights Consortium -- an independent, non-profit monitor of workplace
conditions that allows the universities to assure social
responsibility." The Council is inviting them to the policy table to
discuss implementation of the County's anti-sweatshop ordinance.
Members of the Pittsburgh Anti-Sweatshop Community Alliance helped to
organize this group of universities and the Proclamation is intended to
deliver the institutionalized knowledge of the WRC to the Pittsburgh
Pirates via the City/County appointees on the Sports and Exhibition
A week ago we learned that San Francisco's sweatfree future was in jeopardy, the mayor having cut funding for independent monitoring of San Francisco's supplier factories. Today we are thrilled to report the cuts have been rescinded and monitoring will indeed be fully funded.
We are grateful to everyone in San Francisco who took action. You made a difference and you made it quickly. In a letter to SweatFree Communities, the Mayor’s Office says that they are "moving to ensure...the full amount of funding in the independent monitoring account ($50,000)" for the coming fiscal year. First up for monitoring will be factories supplying San Francisco law enforcement officials.
The Mayor's Office also indicates that they will consider doing monitoring jointly with other cities and states, combining strength, sharing resources, and pooling information through the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium. We will continue to advocate that San Francisco should do just that. Ultimately, San Francisco and other cities and states can make sweatfree purchases cheaper and more effectively by sharing monitoring costs, leveraging influence with companies, and making joint strategic decision on monitoring projects.
June 16, 2009-- Spiewak factory labor report
The Milwaukee Clean Clothes Campaign has broken new ground, releasing a report on a uniform factory that would make police uniforms for the city pending the outcome of a contract decision. A China Labor Watch investigation reveals severe labor rights violations in a factory in China that produces for the Spiewak uniform company. Legal violations include:
- Wages below the local minimum wage, far below the non-poverty wage required by Milwaukee, and lower than that disclosed by Spiewak.
- No paid vacation or holidays.
- A regular 12 hour workday, at least six day a week, for at least 72 hours per week.