SweatFree Communities

SweatFree Communities aims to support sweatshop workers globally in their struggles to improve working conditions and achieve respect at work. 

This campaign does this by encouraging U.S. cities, states and school districts to adopt policies to purchase goods made in humane conditions by workers who are paid decent wages. By adopting a sweatfree policy, an institution makes a commitment to use its leverage to help improve conditions for sweatshop workers. Sweatfree procurement laws send the message of  "not with their sweat, not with our dollars!"

Localities can take several key steps toward becoming sweatfree. Adopting a sweatfree procurement policy puts in place requirements for transparency and decent working conditions in government supply chains. As part of the policy, governments should join the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium in order to have a bigger impact in their supply chains by pooling resources for policy implementation. In consultation with the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium, the City of Madison, Wisconsin, has developed a cooperative "piggyback" contract with a vendor that has agreed to transparency and anti-sweatshop measures, and supplies a variety of uniforms and other apparel typically purchased with our tax dollars. The contract, which was bid competitively in a request-for-proposals (RFP) process, is available for use by public agencies across the United States.

Sweatfree campaigns can foster sustained local activism and strong coalitions of labor, student, and faith-based groups. Using institutional purchasing as a lever for worker justice, the sweatfree movement empowers people to advance fairness in the global economy through local action.

Where Can You Start?

First, if you are considering bringing this campaign to your community, please contact us so that we can be aware of your efforts and coordinate together. 

If your city, county, or state is listed under the "Policies" tab, that means they already have a sweatfree policy in place. Many of these policies need strengthening in order to achieve their full potential, particularly if the community has not yet joined the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium. (Check the member list, here.) In addition, we encourage public entities to use the sweatfree cooperative contract pioneered by Madison, Wisconsin. Check out our organizing toolkit to get started.


Take Action: Making Your Community SweatFree

The first step is to identify your campaign goal.

Encourage your city to join the cooperative sweatfree procurement contract hosted by the city of Madison, Wisconsin. This "piggy-back" contract is with a vendor that has agreed to key measures for transparency and decent working conditions, including publicly disclosing supplier factories and allowing independent monitors to perform inspections.


If your city does not yet have a sweatfree procurement policy (check the "Policies" tab), or is not part of the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium, then advocate for those actions as well.

It may not be necessary for your city to first adopt a sweatfree policy in order to join the cooperative contract; however, it will likely help with the political will to achieve their participation in the contract.

Once you know where you're headed, use these resources to get started:

Running a Successful Campaign: 10 Steps to a Sweatfree Community

Action Packet: the Madison Cooperative Contract (editable version available for download here)

Sample Letter to a Procurement Officer: the Madison Cooperative Contract

Sample Flier: the Madison Cooperative Contract

If you're starting a new sweatfree campaign, please let us know so that we can be in touch and coordinate together!

Procurement in the United States accounts for 20% of GDP, two-thirds of which is state and local purchasing (13% of GDP), and one-third of which is federal (7% of GDP). The federal government spends over $500 billion on goods and services annually, which is more than the GDP of all but 16 countries. Combined, U.S. federal, state, and local government apparel procurement constitutes approximately $10 billion a year. Any way you look at it, government procurement is a force, one that governments can use responsibly to create good jobs and promote fairness in the global economy.

In 2003, grassroots organizations in Maine, Minnesota, New York, Washington, and Wisconsin formed the national network SweatFree Communities (SFC). Each group had been successful—through mostly volunteer efforts—in achieving groundbreaking new procurement policies with the goal of ensuring that our state and local governments, using our tax dollars, would not buy uniforms and other clothing made in sweatshops. To date, seven states, 45 cities, 16 counties, 118 school districts, and one nationwide religious denomination have adopted such “sweatfree” policies.  SFC supports these local campaigns, develops educational and policy resources, and researches working conditions in supply chains.

At the same time, SFC has worked with leading government agencies to form the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium (est. May 2010), a membership organization for governments to help them act with combined strength and transparency in meeting their goals for sweatshop-free purchasing. The Consortium provides expertise and pools resources to monitor working conditions and enforce “sweatfree” standards.  The Consortium’s goal is to change the rules of competition to favor not businesses that produce the cheapest possible goods at the expense of workers, but those that offer good value while operating transparently, providing humane working conditions, and valuing workers' human and labor rights.

In 2010, SweatFree Communities joined forces with the International Labor Rights Forum, becoming an ILRF program and beginning a new collaboration to strengthen our advocacy efforts to create a sweatfree world. 

Sweatfree procurement policies and resolutions adopted in the United States:
States: 7 
Cities: 45 
Counties: 16 
Dioceses: 4
School Districts: 118
Individual High Schools: 4 
Total: 195

The * indicates that the policy requires factory disclosure. 

To see which public entities are members of the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortiumclick here.  

*State of California 
*City of Berkeley - Resolution to join ConsortiumOrdinance 
*City of Los Angeles - OrdinanceReportContract with WRC
*Los Angeles Unified School District - ReportMotionPolicy 
Port of Los Angeles
*City and County of San Francisco - Amended Sweatfree OrdinanceOriginal Sweatfree OrdinanceFair Trade, Organic
*Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District

Jefferson County Open School

*City of Chicago 
*State of Illinois
Oak Park and River Forest High School

*State of Maine 2001 law2006 law2007 lawvendor fee rules
*City of Bangor
City of Biddeford
City of Orono 
*City of Scarborough
*City of Portland Public Schools 
City of Bangor Public Schools

*City of Boston
City of Fall River 
City of Pittsfield

City of Minneapolis
Minneapolis Public School District 
Saint Paul Public School District
Stillwater Public School District

City of St. Louis
County of St. Louis
*University City

Creighton Preparatory School

*State of New Jersey 
Archdiocese of Newark 
City of Camden 
*City of Clifton 
City of Deptford 
*Township of East Brunswick 
City of Neptune 
*City of Newark 
City of Redbank 
Bergen County 
*Cumberland County 
Essex County 
*Gloucester County 
Hudson County
Mercer County 
Middlesex County 
*Passaic County

City of Albuquerque
*City of Santa Fe

State of New York - Labor Law 213-A 
Albany Diocese
Buffalo Diocese 
Rockville (Long Island) Diocese
*City of Albany
*City of Ithaca
*Village of New Paltz
County of Albany
Suffolk County
Addison School District
Albany City School District
Alfred-Almond School District
Akron School District
Amherst School District
Andover School District
Averill Park Central School District
Belfast School District
Berne-Knox-Westerlo Central School District
Bethlehem School District
Blind Brook-Rye School District
Bradford School District
Brasher Falls School District
Brentwood School District
Brushton-Moira School District
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake School District
Camden School District
Carthage School District
Central Islip United Free School District
Churchville-Chili School District
Clarence School District
Colton-Pierrepoint School District
Cooperstown School District
Duanesburg School District
East Greenbush School District
East Islip School District
East Moriches School District
East Rochester School District
Edinburg Common School District
Eldred School District
Ellenville School District
Ellicottville School District
Elmira Heights School District
Fabius-Pompey School District
Fayetteville-Manlius School District
Fonda-Fultonville School District
Fort Plain School District
Frontier School District
Glens Falls Common School District
Gloversville School District
Gouverneur School District
Greater Amsterdam School District
Guilderland Central School District
Hammondsport School District
Harrisville School District
Herkimer School District
Heuvelton School District
Hoosick Falls School District
Jamesville-Dewitt School District
Jordan Elbridge Central School District
Lancaster School District
Lansingburgh Central School District
Lawrence School District
LeRoy School District
Livonia School District
Little Flower School District
Long Beach City School District
Longwood School District
Moravia School District
New Lebanon School District
New Paltz School District
Newburgh City School District
North Colonie Central School District
North Rose-Wolcott School District
Northport United Free School District
Northport-East School District
Norwich School District
Odessa-Montour School District
Oneonta City School District
Onondaga School District
Onteora School District
Patchogue-Medford United Free School District
Pembroke School District
Penn-Yan School District
Phelps-Clifton Springs School District
Pine Plains School District
Plattsburgh School District
Randolph School District
Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk School District
Red Creek School District
Riverhead School District
Rondout Valley Central School District
Rotterdam-Mohonasen School District
Roxbury School District
Scio School District
Sharon Springs School District
Sodus School District
South Colonie Central School District
South Glens Falls Central School District
Southern Cayuga School District
South Country School District
St. Johnsville Central School District
Taconic Hills School District
Three Villages Central School District
Troy City School District
Valley Stream 13 School District
Valley Stream 30 School District
Voorheesville Central School District
Walkill School District
Waterloo School District
Watervliet School District
Wayne School District
Weedsport School District
Wellsville School District
West Seneca School District
Wheatland-Chili School District
Wheelerville School District

*City of Durham

State of Ohio
City of Bedford Heights
City of Berea 
City of Brookpark
City of Elyria
City of Fairview Park 
City of Lakewood 
City of North Olmstead 
City of Parma 
*City of Toledo
*Cuyahoga County
*Lucas County

City of Ashland: Resolution; Dec. 2008Policy, June 2009
*City of Portland: Resolution, Aug. 2007Policy, Oct. 2008 

*Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: Policy, March 2004 ; Resolution, July 2008  
City of Pittsburgh Ordinance (Dec 2004)Proclamation (July 2006), Resolution (February 2007) 
Allegheny County
Northampton County

*City of Providence

*City of Austin
Travis County

*State of Vermont
Brattleboro Union High School

*City of Seattle: Statement of Legislative IntentPolicy 
*City of Olympia

*City of Madison - ResolutionReportOrdinance
*City of Milwaukee - Ordinance, April 2003Ordinance, Oct 2007 
*County of Milwaukee 
*Milwaukee Public School District

Visit the Worker Rights Consortium website to see its list of affiliate colleges and universities.

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