Creating positive change through greater awareness
The South Sound Clean Clothes Campaign is a coalition of Olympia, Tumwater, and Lacey students, union members, people of faith, and
concerned citizens raising awareness about the sweatshop industry, and
challenging individuals as well as public and private institutions to
create positive change by altering their purchasing practices.
Bangladeshi activists visit Olympia
Bangladeshi activists Kalpona Akter and Sumi Abedin spoke in Olympia as part of a 10 city tour. Mayor Buxbaum and Senator Conway spoke in support of Sweatfree Procurement at the city and state level.
Read more about the fires in Bangladesh and listen to Kalpona and Sumi's stories here.
Read about the most recent fire here.
Want to become involved? Join us on the 2nd Tuesday at 7pm of each month at Traditions!
Sweatfree Communities Report Released
To promote the release of Sweatfree Communities current report Subsidizing
Sweatshops: How Our Tax Dollars Fund the Race to the Bottom, and What
Cities and States Can Do, SSCCC conducted a ‘read-in, teach-in’
outside Traditions on July 15th, 2008. We read from the report and
distributed summaries as well as postcards to go to the Governor to
encourage the State of Washington to pass a sweatfree purchasing policy
for state expenditures. This in-depth case study focuses on 12 factories
in 9 countries producing for manufacturers who sell goods to public
entities. The report reveals abuses such as child labor; illegally
low poverty wages; forced and unpaid overtime; verbal, physical, and
sexual abuse; pregnancy testing; excessively long work hours causing
physical ailments; disregard for freedom of speech or association;
and elaborate schemes to deceive corporate auditors. Local vendors
such as Blumenthal sell to the State of Washington and the City of
Olympia goods from manufacturers Fechheimer Brothers Company, Lion
Apparel, and Rocky Shoes, cited in this report. The full report can
be found at www.sweatfree.org/subsidizing or
you can download a summary of
the report here.
A campaign for sweatfree state purchasing
The South Sound Clean Clothes Campaign, an Olympia community group opposing
sweatshops and supporting workers’ rights, asks you to join with
us in a coalition to urge our Governor to join with other State Governors
in sweatshop-free state purchasing.
Governor John E. Baldacci of Maine has taken the initiative to ask of
all State governors to join him in collectively adopting “procurement laws and policies...to stop contractors and vendors that do business with State governments from relying on sweatshop labor as a tool to underbid responsible contractors or to maximize their profits inhumanely.” (Click here to see the full text of his appeal to other Governors.)
The extent of labor exploitation in the production of many products is
amply documented. Here are two recent examples. On February 23, 2006
the KTS Textile Factory in Bangladesh, producing for six U.S. companies,
had a fire where an emergency exit was locked resulting in more than
80 people killed and a toll of missing that may increase the number to
200. The labor force of mostly very young female sewing operators were
routinely working 7 days a week, for 10 1/2 to 14 hours a day, and for
10 to 14¢ an hour. This is less than a third of a non-poverty wage for Bangladesh. Additionally, in May of 2006 a report by the National Labor Committee (www.nlcnet.org) on Jordan catalogs a litany of labor abuses such as human trafficking, no guest workers being paid the legal minimum wage and some earning 2¢ an
hour, involuntary servitude of those workers, and abusive and dangerous
working conditions. Jordan sent over $1.1 billion in garments duty-free
to the U.S. last year.
As Governor Baldacci so powerfully states about sweatshop conditions
worldwide, “Young women and children work long hours for poverty
wages in inhumane conditions until they are worn out and unemployable.
These abuses cause untold human suffering and economic and political
volatility across the globe.”
Public procurement by states, cities, school districts and others offers
a tremendous opportunity to place a different demand upon the marketplace.
Instead of buying goods without an awareness of the conditions under
which those goods are made, a pro-active sweatfree purchasing initiative
can support the right of workers to respect, dignity, and fairness. That
is why a number of jurisdictions are taking those steps. The State of
Maine and a handful of other states have done so. A number of cities,
including the City of Olympia with an initial incremental implementation,
have as well. San Francisco has passed the most comprehensive of such
acts and they are undertaking a parallel campaign to the Maine Governor’s
in urging other cities to join them. (For a list of jurisdictions including
school districts, please go to the Sweatfree Communities site www.sweatfree.org)
The most powerful rationale for urging each State (as well as more cities and school districts) to join in a collaborative effort is that sufficient resources necessary to monitor factories, to investigate sweatshop violations, and to support manufacturers with improved labor conditions can be accumulated with many jurisdictions as contributors.
To support domestic and international workers in their efforts to claim
their rights to safe working conditions and fair wages is to turn away
from the sweatshops that dominate the world’s production of goods.
This initiative to get State governments to sign on to sweat-free purchasing
could be of significant impact in doing that.
If you are willing to join us in this campaign, let us know so that we can add you to the list of supporters. If you would like more information, please contact us in any of the following ways - by e-mail at email@example.com, by mail SSCCC c/o Traditions, 300 5th Ave. SW, Olympia, Wa. 98501, or by phone at 360 705-2819.
Groups in support of this campaign:
Alliance for Democracy - South Sound Chapter
American Friends Service Committee
Friends Meeting, Olympia
Green Party of South Puget Sound
Green Party of Washington State
Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation
Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation Social Justice Committee
Pax Christi Northwest
Rachel Corrie Foundation
Thurston Santo Tomas Sister County Association
Traditions Fair Trade
Washington Fair Trade Coalition
Washington State NOW
Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation