Portland Sweatfree Campaign

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January 26, 2010-- During the holiday season Portland City Hall celebrated the city's achievements in socially responsible purchasing by holding a Sweatfree Art Exhibit. People came to view powerful social commentary captured through art, enjoy music by Bajo Salario, and do last minute holiday shopping from local sweatshop-free / fair trade businesses tabling at the event.

"Bangladesh" by artist Janet Essley was one of the paintings on exhibit at the Sweatfree Art Show. In Subsidizing Sweatshops, Parmita, an 18-year-old Bangladeshi garment worker, describes what happened one day when she declined to work the night shift: "First the supervisor threatened me. But after dinner break I did not go back for the night shift. The following day when I went to work my supervisor shouted at me and slapped my face. Later I had to stand up a full day as a punishment," (p. 12).

The Portland Sweatshop-Free Purchasing Policy has a clause on "Humane Treatment & Disciplinary Practices" intended to prevent these sorts of abuses, which reads: "Employees shall be treated with respect. Corporal punishment and other forms of coercion, abuse or harassment, whether psychological, verbal, sexual or physical, is prohibited."

Check out the slideshow of photos from the event.

Portland passes the First Sweatshop Free Ordinance in the Pacific Northwest!

Thanks to the collective effort of all sweatfree supporters who fought to make sure their tax dollars do not support sweatshops, the City of Portland has resoundingly supported the passage of the Portland Sweatshop Free Purchasing Policy. This policy is a strong tool for supporting garment workers by requiring contractors to ensure freedom of association and just cause termination as well as prohibiting "cut and run" practices that that allow contractors to dodge responsibly for worker rights violations in an industry where countries compete fiercely by promoting cheap labor and lax environmental regulations.

We expect that this will be the first in a series of victories in the Northwest as a groundswell of sweatfree campaigns organize to make their cities and states sweatshop free! 

Press Release, Oct 15, 2008 


Victory in Portland: Landmark Sweatfree Resolution Passes

August 30, 2007-- Portland's Sweatfree Procurement Resolution unanimously passed yesterday with the three present commissioners. Over 130 sweatfree supporters crowded City Hall, including union representatives, a former sweatshop worker, and community members to testify in support of the Resolution. Speakers included, Rev. Lynne Smouse Lopez, Ainsworth United Church of Christ; State Senator Brad Avakian; State Rep. Brad Witt; former GAP sweatshop worker Chie Abad; James Hester, President of the District Council of Trade Unions (DCTU); Carol Stahlke, President of AFSCME 189; Heidi Carlson, President of Foundation Garments, Inc.; among many others.

The Sweatfree Resolution sets in motion a process to create the City of Portland Sweatshop Free Procurement policy for uniforms and clothing purchases to be fully implemented in 2008. The policy will require disclosure of supplier factory names and locations, provide $20,000 in funding for the State and Local Government Sweatfree Consortium to pool resources for investigations and monitoring of supplier factories, and establish a committee to craft a code of conduct for the city's contractors, subcontractors, and vendors.

Resolution considered by Portland City Council on Aug 29, 2007 (doc)
Ordinance authorizing $20,000 to support the formation of the State and Local Government Sweatfree Consortium; accompanying the Aug 29 resolution


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Resources

SweatFree Communities
Global Exchange
Free Trade and Sweatshops FAQ
Sweatfree Toolkit
Many more resources