Sweatfree Northern Virginia
Much of the world’s apparel is manufactured under sweatshop conditions. Workers in the global apparel industry, which includes children, work long hours in inhumane conditions for wages that are insufficient to pay for their basic needs. Furthermore, sweatshop exploitation threatens global economic and political stability, and undermines efforts by local ethical businesses to compete in the global economy. Arlington and Fairfax Counties have an opportunity to join with other counties and cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Providence, to make a commitment that its apparel will be made under sweatshop-free conditions whether production occurs in the US or around the world.
Our county governments make significant purchases from global apparel producers in order to supply uniforms and other necessities to our police officers, firemen, bus drivers, park rangers, and all other public employees. As taxpayers, we must make sure that our tax dollars don’t support human rights abuses.
Nine of the companies from whom Arlington County purchases uniforms and other apparel have been named as sweatshop producers in one or both the following reports released by SweatFree Communities: Subsidizing Sweatshops (July 2008) and Subsidizing Sweatshops II (April 2009). The companies are Blauer, Cintas, Eagle Industries, Fechheimer, Lion Apparel, Propper International, Rocky Outdoor Gear (includes Rocky Boots and other brands of footwear), Safariland (includes American Body Armor), and VF Imagewear (includes Red Kap).
Eleven of the companies that Fairfax County sources uniforms and other apparel from have been named in one or both reports on sweatshops. These companies are: Blauer, Bob Barker, Cintas, Elbeco, Fechheimer, Lion Apparel, Propper International, Rocky Outdoor Gear (includes Rocky Boots and various brands of footwear), Safariland (includes ProTech and Armor Holding), VF Imagewear (includes Lee, Red Kap, and VF Workwear), and Williamson-Dickie.
LOCAL GOVERNMENTS CAN STOP SWEATSHOPS
Working in partnership with other local governments who have already made the commitment to be SweatFree, Northern Virginia local governments can influence and monitor suppliers to ensure quality of product and the support of human rights. Local governments can:
- Join the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium. Nearly 200 other public purchasers nationwide pool resources to investigate rights violations, monitor factories, coordinate enforcement, and buy jointly from sweatfree factories. Every time a local government makes the commitment, we take one step closer to our goal: that all vendors who sell to local governments adhere to laws and standards established by the International Labor Organization.
- Require vendor disclosure. Local government can require that, in order to qualify for a bid, vendors disclose the locations of their factories and the wages of their factory workers. This will contribute to increased transparency in the supply chain, allowing governments and taxpayers to know the conditions under which their goods are produced.
- Create a community advisory committee. A committee composed of citizens and human rights experts which will ensure that good intentions translate to ethical responsibility and quality products.
WHY NORTHERN VIRGINIA NEEDS SWEATFREE POLICIES
HUMAN RIGHTS. SweatFree policies mean less suffering for women and children workers abroad, and less downward pressure on wages and conditions at home. Supporting ethical workplaces abroad will help end the global race-to-the-bottom and mean more security for Virginian families.
SMALL BUSINESSES. SweatFree policies would ensure that all suppliers of the local governments abide by the international labor standards so that small businesses and ethical businesses can compete in today’s global market.
ETHICAL GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT. SweatFree policies will guarantee that our tax dollars buy only quality apparel products manufactured in ethical workplaces
TAKE ACTION: WHAT YOU CAN DO!
Help us make Northern Virginia SweatFree!
- Talk to your local businesses and organizations and ask them to support.
- Become an individual endorser by emailing Trina Tocco.
The Northern Virginia SweatFree Campaign is supported by local organization and businesses, SweatFree Communities, and the International Labor Rights Forum.
For more information or if your organization would like to become an endorser, please contact Trina Tocco at the International Labor Rights Forum.