Seattle to Begin Using Sweatfree Uniform Purchasing Policy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
6/29/2010  10:43:00 AM     

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Lisa Herbold, Councilmember Nick Licata's Office, 206-684-5331

Seattle joins nine states, 40 cities, 15 counties, and 118 school districts with sweatfree policies

SEATTLE –The new policy requires sweat-free labor standards and a Code of Conduct for all bidders on City uniform contracts and makes a commitment to protections against slave labor, forced labor, forced overtime, excessive hours, child labor, below-poverty wages, discrimination, harassment, and other types of unfair labor practices. The new policy will be integrated into bid and contract materials and used as contracts come up for new bid.

Every year Washington suffers the loss of several thousand trade-related manufacturing jobs. About the new policy Councilmember Licata said, "When incentives exist for fair business practices, the competitive ability of companies with fair labor practices can increase and this can also level the playing field for regional manufacturers, helping our local Seattle economy retain manufacturing jobs."

The U.S. Department of Labor cites over 50 percent of the sewing shops in the United States as sweatshops violating labor, environmental, and human rights laws and standards. The U.S. federal, state, and local governments spend approximately more than $10 billion annually on apparel procurement. The City currently spends approximately $1.3 million on uniforms for City employees.

As a result of the City Council's unanimous request in 2009, the policy was developed by the Department of Executive Administration in collaboration with the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, the King County Labor Council, the Seattle Women's Commission, and the Seattle Office for Civil Rights. It was presented to Councilmember Licata's Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture Committee last week.

Click here for a copy of the policy.