Code of Conduct: There are two types of codes of conduct that are relevant to the sweatfree movement. Each one defines labor standards primarily for assembly factories in the production chain.
• A Code of Conduct adopted by a corporation: Many apparel companies have adopted codes of conduct setting labor standards for their contract factories. However, factories are also under contradictory pressure to lower prices and increase production speed and volume. Both companies and factories often find it convenient to ignore codes of conduct. Workers may not even know that a code exists unless it is posted on the wall in a language that workers can read.
• A Code of Conduct adopted by a consumer institution (like a school, city, or state government): The basis of a sweatfree procurement policy is the code of conduct, which sets labor standards that vendors and contractors must meet in their supply chain in order to have a business relationship with the consumer. SweatFree Communities' model code of conduct aims to prevent sweatshop conditions. Provisions include respect for local and international laws; eliminating child labor, forced labor, and discrimination in the workplace; paying non-poverty wages; prohibiting forced overtime; and allowing workers to form unions.
Consortium: SweatFree Communities is campaigning for a State and Local Government Sweatfree Consortium that will unite states, counties, cities, and school districts in an effort to use their combined procurement power to improve labor conditions in apparel and other labor-intensive global industries. The Consortium will coordinate enforcement of sweatfree procurement policies by developing:
• Best practices and government procurement policies to end tax-payer support for sweatshop abusers.
• Cost-effective and reliable independent monitoring of supplier factories based on the Worker Rights Consortium model currently used by over 150 universities.
• Mechanisms for joint purchasing of sweatfree products.
More information: www.sweatfree.org/sweatfreeconsortium
Contractor: A company that has a business relationship with an institutional purchaser such as a city or state and sells, rents, or otherwise provides products under a contract agreement.
Designated Suppliers Program (DSP): The campaign for the DSP is run by United Students Against Sweatshops and proposes that university logo apparel be made in a set of designated sweat-free factories in which workers are able to enforce their rights through unionization and earn a living wage. Brands that are licensed to make university apparel will be required to produce these garments in factories that meet the following criteria, as verified by the Worker Rights Consortium:
• The factories must demonstrate full respect for the worker rights standards in university codes of conduct.
• The factory must demonstrate full respect for workers’ associational rights through the presence of a representative labor union or other worker representative body. If there is no such body present, the factory must take pro-active steps to ensure that workers can make a free choice about unionization without fear of retaliation.
• Once they are receiving sufficient prices, the factories must demonstrate that their employees are paid a living wage.
• The factories must produce primarily or exclusively for the university market, or for other buyers committed to equivalent standards (including payment of a living wage).
Disclosure: Most corporations hide their factories behind walls of secrecy. Tearing down those walls by requiring government suppliers to report the names and locations of factories where the products they sell are made is a key requirement of a sweatfree purchasing policy. When companies make factory names and locations publicly available, workers can register complaints and human rights organizations can investigate conditions, report any problems, and help to correct violations of labor rights. SweatFree Communities' model policy requires disclosure of factory locations and wages.
Enforcement (of sweatfree procurement policy): Holding companies that violate the sweatfree code of conduct accountable for improving working conditions.
Implementation(of sweatfree procurement policy): Primarily the responsibility of procurement officials, policy implementation includes developing and using appropriate requests for proposals, obtaining affidavits of compliance and factory disclosure information from bidders, and ensuring necessary action in response to complaints of code of conduct violations.
Community members can help make sure sweatfree policies are implemented by staying in communication with the institution that adopted the policy and by educating the community. A sweatfree policy should establish a Sweatfree Procurement Advisory Group, which provides a way for community members and worker rights experts to formally be involved and advise on policy implementation and enforcement.
Independent Monitoring: Investigation of factories by a third-party organization in response to worker complaints and allegations of abuse of worker rights. Independent monitoring is “independent” because it is not funded or controlled in any way by corporations.
According to legislation adopted by the State of Maine in 2006, “‘Independent monitor’ means a not-for-profit organization that is neither funded nor controlled, in whole or in part, by businesses that sell or manufacture apparel, footwear or textiles.”
International Labor Organization (ILO): Founded in 1919 and established as a United Nations agency in 1946, the ILO has identified eight conventions as fundamental to the rights of human beings at work, irrespective of countries' levels of development. The conventions cover the areas of:
• Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.
• The elimination of forced and compulsory labor.
• The abolition of child labor.
• The elimination of discrimination in the workplace.
According to the ILO, these measures “set the basis for social justice in the workplace and provide a framework to ensure that people fairly share in the wealth that they have helped generate.”
Respect of ILO standards is one part of a sweatfree code of conduct.
More information: www.ilo.org
Non-poverty wage: There are several ways to define a non-poverty wage. This is the definition in the SweatFree Communities model policy that has been adopted by several cities and states: In the U.S., a non-poverty wage is the level of wages required for a full-time worker to produce an annual income that at least matches the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ most recent poverty guideline for a family of three plus an additional 20% of the wage level paid either as hourly wages or health benefits. Outside the U.S., a non-poverty wage is a comparable nationwide wage and benefit level, adjusted to reflect that country’s level of economic development in order to raise a family of three out of poverty. Please note that a non-poverty wage is almost always higher than the legal minimum wage, but it may still be less than a living wage based on market-basket calculations.
More information: www.sweatfree.org/nonpovertywages
Procurement: Procurement includes contract, purchase, rental, lease, or allowance and voucher programs. Sweatfree procurement policies prohibit states, counties, cities, and schools from having a business relationship with companies that sell products made in sweatshop conditions that violate workers' rights.
Sweatshop: A sweatshop is a workplace where workers face very poor conditions, including poverty wages, exceedingly long hours, unsafe and unsanitary environments, harassment and discrimination. Sweatshops offer employees few benefits, and frequently fire workers for involvement in unions and in the event of pregnancy or injury. The U.S. Department of Labor defines a sweatshop as a workplace that violates more than one labor law or that repeatedly violates one labor law.
Sweatfree Campaign: A sweatfree campaign is a grassroots campaign aimed at supporting workers' efforts to improve working conditions in their workplaces by encouraging institutional consumers to adopt a sweatfree procurement policy. Sweatfree campaigns are often organized by local coalitions with unions, faith-based organizations, student groups, and other social justice organizations.
Sweatfree Procurement Policy / Law / Ordinance / Resolution / Executive Order / Rules: A city council motion or resolution is often the first step before a city adopts an ordinance, which is an enforceable law and can provide penalties for violations.
In Illinois, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, governors have adopted sweatfree executive orders, enforceable laws put in place directly by the governor. The state legislatures of California, Maine, and New York have all enacted laws for sweatfree procurement. While it may be easier to obtain an executive order from a supportive governor than convince a legislature to pass a law, an executive order can be overturned just as easily: by executive order of a less supportive governor. Creating support for a law is more work, but it is also an opportunity to organize, educate, and create publicity.
It is usually the responsibility of a purchasing department to write the rules that interpret the law. The rules include the detailed procedures the agency must follow, and the documents it must administer, in order to implement the law. The law may itself be more or less detailed, depending on how much flexibility legislators wish to provide the agency. Rule-making is required by law and is a public process.
When we talk about sweatfree policies, we refer to a combination of law and rules.
SweatFree Communities' recommended policy includes:
• A code of conduct binding contractors and subcontractors which includes: compliance with local labor laws; safe and healthy working conditions; non-poverty wage; overtime optional and compensated; no discrimination, harassment, or abuse; ban on child labor; and freedom to form unions.
• Bidders must disclose factory names, locations, and wages before being considered for a contract.
• Joining the State and Local Government Sweatfree Consortium and allocating funding for independent monitoring.
• Establishment of a sweatfree procurement advisory group to oversee and advise on policy implementation.
More information and sample policy: www.sweatfree.org/resources
Universal Scope: While most sweatfree policies apply only to textiles, apparel, footwear, and accessories, some local governments are starting to adopt “universal scope” policies that cover all products that they procure. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the State of California have adopted sweatfree procurement policies with universal scope, which are being implemented incrementally starting with apparel.
Vendor: A vendor is a company that sells products. Vendors often do not make the products they sell but buy them from manufacturers.
Worker Rights Consortium (WRC): The WRC is a non-profit factory monitoring organization created by college and university administrations, students and labor rights experts. The WRC assists in the enforcement of manufacturing codes of conduct adopted by colleges and universities; these codes are designed to ensure that factories producing clothing and other goods bearing college and university names respect the basic rights of workers.
The WRC is consulting with SweatFree Communities on the creation of a State and Local Government Sweatfree Consortium.
More information: www.workersrights.org