Today it is estimated that nearly 12.3 million people — equal to nearly one-third of California’s total population — are working in some form of forced labor worldwide.
Across the country, existing state and federal laws make human trafficking a crime, while providing various remedies and supports to victims. Yet, state and federal laws have done little to address the growing markets that consume products tainted with slavery and trafficking.
In September 2009, the US Department of Labor released its “List of Goods Produced by Child or Forced Labor.” The report found nearly 122 goods from 58 countries that are believed to be tainted with forced and/or child labor.
Undoubtedly, many of those goods are consumed in California—home to the 10th largest economy in the world with hundreds of billions of dollars of imports pouring into the state each year. California consumers and businesses—by the nature and scope of their purchasing power—are uniquely positioned to eradicate slavery and trafficking through their purchasing choices.
Two pieces of legislation are pending California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature that will significantly help the effort to curb the demand for products made with slave labor.
The California Supply Chain Transparency Act of 2010 (SB 657) would require all large retailers and manufacturers doing business in California to disclose the extent to which the company uses 3rd party verification to evaluate and address human trafficking and slavery risks in product supply chains, conducts independent, unannounced audits of suppliers to ensure compliance with company standards on trafficking and slavery and maintains internal accountability for employees and contractors failing to meet company standards on slavery and trafficking. With this information, consumers across the country will have better tools to help them make ethical decisions about what they purchase.
The Slave and Sweat Free Code of Conduct for goods sold to the State of California (SB 1231) would amend current the current code to expand the definition of prohibited labor, expand the penalty for noncompliance to 2 years of removal from the State's bidder list, improve the current contractor responsibility program and use the purchasing power of the state of California to reduce the demand for goods made with slave, forced or abusive forms of labor.
Whether you are a resident of California or not, these bills are important for consumers across the country, as they will serve as an example for other states, and influence the large companies doing business beyond California.
California has been in the forefront of taking legislative action against slavery and human trafficking. I am asking you to take another step by signing two bills which will reduce the demand for slave made products, which will in turn reduce the profitability and motive for those whom perpetuate this horrendous crime.
Slavery and human trafficking tie the illegal arms trade for the #2 spot of the largest global criminal activities behind the illegal drug trade. It is estimated that 12.3 million people, equal to nearly one-third of California’s total population are working in some form of forced labor worldwide. Due to many factors, including many ports and borders, California is one of the top four destination states for trafficking victims in the United States. SB 657 and SB 1231 are crucial in reducing the demand for slave made products.
SB 657 provides a tool for consumers, including businesses and investors to better know how products are made by requiring manufacturers and retailers grossing $100 million or more annually in California to post on their website to what extent they make certain basic efforts to make their products without forced labor and human trafficking. This practice will also benefit companies that are struggling to do the right thing while competing against companies that are unfairly and illegally using slave labor.
SB 1231 amends the current Sweat Free Code of Conduct to become the Slave and Sweat Free Code of Conduct. The Code provides that contractors selling certain goods to the State ensure through certification that the goods are not made with sweatshop or slave labor. It supplies missing pieces for the implementation of the Code and extends the penalties for noncompliance with the Code to a two year prohibition of contracting with the state.
SB 657 and SB 1231 are good for:
1. Victims of forced labor and human trafficking;
2. Consumers wanting to make informed decisions,
3. Investors wanting to make responsible decisions,
4. Workers wanting a living wage,
5. Taxpayers wanting state dollars to be spent responsibly and
6. Responsible businesses that otherwise have to compete with businesses using exploited labor.
Help us stop the demand for slave made goods and eradicate modern day slavery at its source and sign SB 657 and SB 1231.