WE ARE PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE:
On Friday, June 29, the Board of Aldermen passed a resolution which builds on standards set forth in (Buy American) Ordinance 62017 for purchasing goods and commodities for the City. The Comprehensive Sweatshop Free Program will require that vendors who are awarded the annual contract for the City of St. Louis’ uniforms report where and under what workplace conditions and labor practices the uniforms are being produced.
The Board acted en banc on the resolution presented by Honorable Craig Schmid, Alderman 20th Ward, Honorable Stephen J. Conway, Alderman 8th Ward, and Honorable Marlene E. Davis, Alderwoman 19th Ward. They worked closely with the Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America, a long-standing St. Louis organization committed to economic and social justice issues.
“St Louis has followed the lead of University City who became a sweatfree community in October of 2010. We now issue a challenge to St Louis County, St Charles, the municipalities of St Louis County and beyond,“ said Marilyn Lorenz of IFCLA, “to assure sweatfree principles are followed in their procurement policies. This vote is about justice for workers.”
The adoption of the resolution is part of a national trend for governmental bodies to insure that tax dollars do not go to companies that abuse their workers. Sweatfree purchasing supports the rights of workers abroad, but it also levels the playing field to allow domestic labor to compete on more equal terms. As of June 2012, nine States, forty-three Cities, fifteen Counties, four Dioceses, 118 School Districts and four individual High Schools (total 192) have sweatfree procurement policies and resolutions adopted in the U.S. (www.sweatfree.org)
Finally the resolution requires the City to conduct the necessary educational, promotional and public relations efforts to assure that the municipal staff, the community and public at large are given ample opportunities to understand and appreciate the rationale for the City of St. Louis’ sweatshop-free buying policies.
Resolution Number 79
A Resolution Pertaining to Sweatshop Free Procurement
WHEREAS, there is ample documentation that abusive sweatshop conditions and practices are widespread in the global garment industry, including serious violations of the wage, health and safety laws of relevant jurisdictions, repeated violations of the core labor rights as defined by the International Labor Organization, as well as universally condemned practices of forced labor and indentured child labor; and
WHEREAS, indiscriminate buying of uniforms by public agencies from vendors at the very end of the garment supply chain easily can and frequently does result in the purchase of uniforms produced in sweatshops, with the unintended consequences that public money is (1) indirectly supporting the inhumane and illegal activity of sweatshops, (2) giving unfair advantage to sweatshop users who can offer products at lower costs than operators who comply with the law and rights of workers and, further, (3) helping to perpetuate the cycles of poverty, deprivation and poor health where sweatshops dominate local economies, thus promoting further social instability; and
WHEREAS, the City of St. Louis Supplies Division and Board of Standardization currently uses standards set forth in Ordinance 62017 for purchasing goods and commodities for the City.
WHEREAS, Ordinance 62017 also provides that the Supply Division of the City of St. Louis shall purchase supplies for all departments, boards, or offices, exclusive of material for public work or improvement, according to standards and specifications, if any, adopted or prepared by the Board of Standardization and by advertising for proposals thereof; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Aldermen is recommending by and through this Resolution that the Board of Standardization require, pursuant to their power to set standards and specifications, that a detailed disclosure form be completed by vendors who are awarded the annual contract for the City of St. Louis’s uniforms so that the City may document where and under what workplace conditions and labor practices the uniforms are being produced; and
WHEREAS, the average annual expenditure in the City the last three years for Uniforms and other similar items (including bedding and shoes) was approximately $530,000 and, thus about $530,000 of annual spending for the City of St. Louis is potentially at risk of supporting a sweatshop operation somewhere in the world—a situation in which the Board of Aldermen find unacceptable and in need of remedy; and
WHEREAS, approximately 14 states, counties, cities and other public entities in the United States have taken steps to begin sweatshop free buying, the Sweatshop-Free initiative stands in need of highly visible and credible leadership among public entities in Missouri and Illinois, as well as nationally, which leadership this City desires to provide and is capable of providing;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Aldermen requests that the Board of Standardization prepare standards and specifications for a Comprehensive Sweatshop Free Program and that such standards include the requirement for the vendor to complete a procurement disclosure form documenting the location of the factory where the items purchased by the City will be manufactured, the minimum base hourly wage of the employees employed by the factory, working hours of factory employees, benefits provided to factory employees and whether the factory is under investigation for any violation of State, Federal or local laws;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of St. Louis may join in the future the national Sweatshop Free Procurement Consortium whose membership is composed of three states and 12 municipalities seeking the most effective ways for governmental bodies to share information and resources to become a single entity powerful enough to positively influence the global garment industry on sweatshop-free issues, including monitoring and certification of manufacturers, and joint purchasing contacts to gain bulk discounts; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the City conduct the necessary educational, promotional and public relations efforts to assure that the municipal staff, the community and public at large are given ample opportunities to understand and appreciate the rationale for the City of St. Louis’ sweatshop-free buying policies.
Introduced on the 29th day of June, 2012 by:
Honorable Craig Schmid, Alderman 20th Ward
Honorable Stephen J. Conway, Alderman 8th Ward
Honorable Marlene E. Davis, Alderwoman 19th Ward
Adopted this the 29th day of June, 2012 as attested by:
David W. Sweeney Lewis E. Reed
Clerk, Board of Aldermen President, Board of Aldermen