Member News and Updates

December 8, 2015: Annual Membership Meeting

June 2, 2014: San Francisco Sweatfree Procurement Advisory Group Report

April 24, 2014: Madison to Seek Proposals for Cooperative Sweatfree Contract

December 14, 2013: Invitation! Apparel Vendor Informational Session on City of Madison Pilot Sweatfree Cooperative Contract on January 7, 2014

June 4, 2013: The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh

December 20, 2012: Lessons from the Factory Fires in Bangladesh and Pakistan

December 5, 2012: General membership webinar

August 14, 2012: Saint Louis commits to sweatfree purchasing

August 14, 2012: Santa Fe joins the Consortium

June 5, 2012: Annual membership meeting

June 4, 2012: San Francisco investigates supplier of inmate clothing

For additional news and updates, please check our e-newsletters.


Annual Membership Meeting 2015

The 2015 annual membership meeting featured the following presentations on supply chain monitoring:

Social Auditing or Worker-Based Monitoring?--Estela Marina Martinez, General Secretary, SITRACACOSI garment workers' union, El Salvador

A Swedish Cooperative Procurement Model to Address Labor Rights in Global Supply Chains--Pauline Ghötberg, National Coordinator, Social Responsibility in Public Procurement, Swedish County Councils

The Madison Cooperative Uniform Contract and Why Cities Should Use It--Kathy Schwenn, Purchasing Supervisor, City of Madison, Wisconsin

Los Angeles' Record of Worker-Based Monitoring--Farshid Yazdi, Management Analyst, Supplier and Customer Relations, City of Los Angeles

Download their presentations here.


San Francisco Sweatfree Procurement Advisory Group Report

Posted June 2, 2014

The City and County of San Francisco has long been a leader in sweatfree procurement.  San Francisco's Sweatfree Procurement Advisory Group, which supports the implementatation of its Sweatfree Contracting Ordinance, has released a report documenting progress and ongoing challenges and summarizing the results of five factory investigations during 2012-2103.  The group's recommendations are specific to San Francisco, but of interest generally to those working to strengthen sweatfree procurement initiatives.

Download the report here.


A Piggyback Cooperative Contract For Fire and Police Uniforms that Your Agency Can Use

Posted April 24, 2014

On April 24, 2014 the City of Madison announced that it will seek proposals in early May to establish a cooperative contract for various kinds of clothing worn by its firefighters, police, metro transit and other employees.  This Request for Proposals, to be published shortly after the one-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh, raises the bar for human rights due diligence in government contracting.  It requires:

  • Transparency: Bidders must disclose names and addresses of factories as well as workers’ minimum wages and benefits.
  • Compliance plan to remedy and prevent violations: The winning bidder will work with the City of Madison and the Consortium to implement a compliance plan that includes worker education, a grievance process, responsible purchasing practices, and prevention measures to address health and safety conditions in high-risk areas such as Bangladesh and Pakistan.
  • Independent oversight: Contractor rebates will help to fund independent monitoring of suppliers and factories where there is a high risk of violations.
  • Rigorous compliance review and evaluation:  An independent review panel, coordinated by the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium, will assist the City of Madison and other user agencies in evaluating contractor compliance at the proposal, award, and contract performance stages of the process.  The review panel will include experts in international labor rights and representatives of public agencies that use the contract.

The contract is designed so that other state and local government agencies in the United States can purchase uniforms under the same terms and conditions for the life of the contract. It is scheduled to be awarded in October 2014.

The Consortium and Madison invite you to join in this effort to help eliminate unsafe and illegal working conditions in apparel factories.  To announce your intention of using the contract or for more information: Monette McGuire, City of Madison, MMcGuire AT cityofmadison.com, or Bjorn Claeson, Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium, bjorn AT buysweatfree.org.


Invitation to Informational Session on Janury 7, 2014: City of Madison Pilot Sweatfree Cooperative Contract & Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium Responsible Manufacturer Program

Posted December 14, 2013

When: Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Time: 10:00 AM -- 11:30 AM CST

Method: Via Teleconference.  Call information will be provided to those who RSVP.

Event/type: Presentation and Dialogue

Topics: Draft City of Madison Cooperative Sweatfree Contract and the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium Responsible Manufacturerer Program

Industry: Uniform Apparel Vendors, Manufacturers, Brands, Factories, Labor organizations, Public/Private Entities

Organizer: City of Madison Purchasing Services and Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium

RSVP/Contact:

  • Bjorn Claeson,  (240) 221-1121  email
  • Monette McGuire,  (608) 267-4969  email
Purpose:  Engage the vendor community and apparel industry in discussing new tools and opportunities for cooperation among government institutions, labor organizations, vendors and manufacturers in all levels of the supply chain to influence the working conditions in the global marketplace.
 
Pilot Cooperative Sweatfree Contract:  The City of Madison, in consultation with the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium, is inviting input and comment from potential proposers on the draft Request for Proposal for a Comprehensive Uniform Management Program.
 
Interested bidders are encouraged to review the draft specifically for the following:
  • Ability of proposers to comply with stated sweatfree requirements
  • Language that is unclear
  • Requirements that increase costs

Responsible Manufacturer Program:  A proactive approach towards a sustainable sweatfree solution.  Vendors can demonstrate compliance by working with manufacturers that participate in the program.

The following documents will be emailed to those who RSVP:

  • Information on the Responsible Manufacturer Program (RMP).
  • Draft Request for Proposal for Uniform Management Program for the City of Madison.

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh

Posted June 4, 2013

The Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium notes with sadness the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza factories in Bangladesh, which killed more than 1,100 garment workers.  This follows the fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory in November 2012 where more than 100 Bangladeshi workers lost their lives.  As an organization of public entities, many of which purchase apparel made in Bangladesh, but each of which is committed to sweatfree purchasing, we recognize that factory conditions in the Bangladesh garment industry need to improve significantly.

Following the Tazreen Fashions fire the Consortium proposed five Principles of Social Compliance, including transparency, independent factory inspections, worker empowerment, responsible purchasing practices, and mandatory compliance.

The Consortium welcomes the announcements by more than 40 prominent apparel and retail companies that they have signed the legally binding Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.  The Accord reflects the Consortium’s Principles of Social Compliance.

The Accord requires companies to participate in and fund a program of independent safety inspections, remediation, and worker safety trainings with the involvement of trade unions.  They must maintain commercial terms that enable factories to maintain safe workplaces and finance repairs. The program will be overseen by a Steering Committee consisting of an equal number of representatives of trade unions and companies and one representative of theInternational Labor Organization.  It will be enforceable through binding arbitration.

The Consortium encourages all companies that supply uniforms and apparel to public entities, and that source the production of these goods in Bangladesh, to join this Accord and be part of the solution to the endemic problems in the industry.

Note: This statement is approved by the Consortium Board of Directors, but does not necessarily imply the support of individual public entities for the Accord.


Lessons from the Factory Fires in Bangladesh and Pakistan: Principles of Social Compliance

Posted December 20, 2012

Download this statement by the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium

In the wake of the two recent tragic garment factory fires in Pakistan and Bangladesh that claimed the lives of hundreds of garment workers because of non-compliance with basic safety standards, many stakeholders are searching for solutions to ensure safe workplaces.  The Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium proposes the following principles of social compliance to protect workers and to safeguard fair and open competition for public contracts where no contractor gains an advantage by violating health and safety standards or other requirements of domestic law and international standards.

  1. Transparency is fundamental to a reliable social compliance system. The Consortium’s Sweatfree LinkUp! database shines a light on public procurement supply chains and associated factories, and allows workers to file complaints of safety and labor violations directly to the Consortium or to public agencies that buy products they make. Consortium sponsored factory investigations will be made available as appropriate to the public via the database.  Any investigation that reveals imminent dangers to workers will be immediately shared with organizations that represent workers and appropriate government agencies.
  1. Workers should be empowered to monitor and report on labor violations and safety risks.  Workers can detect and communicate early warning signs of workplace hazards and potentially help to avoid major incidents. The Consortium can help facilitate the appropriate relationships between workers in factories that make apparel and related products for public entities and local trade unions and non-governmental organizations that educate workers on their rights and support them in their monitoring activities.
  1. External factory inspections should be independent of the industry.  They should be conducted by local organizations that possess technical competence and are culturally familiar with the workers.  The Consortium can help facilitate the relationships between workers and organizations appropriate for inspections of factories that make public sector apparel.
  1. Corporate buyers should commit to responsible purchasing practices. Responsible purchasing practices, including adequate product pricing, are necessary for factories to cover the cost of operating in a safe and legal manner and paying wages enough to cover workers’ basic needs. The Consortium looks forward to working with other organizations to promote responsible purchasing practices of companies that supply uniforms and other products to public entities.
  1. Compliance should be mandatory and legally enforceable for factories as well as manufacturers and vendors.  The Consortium is developing a manufacturer compliance program based on the principles of social compliance outlined here. Public entities are ideally positioned to encourage manufacturer participation in this program, and to require compliance with the program as a contractual obligation.

The Consortium looks forward to working with federal, state, and local government agencies, manufacturers, trade unions, labor rights organizations, and others to help ensure decent and safe workplaces for garment workers worldwide.


Buying Sweatfree in Comparative Perspective: From Norway to Portland, Oregon

General membership webinar December 5, 2012

The sweatfree movement is growing in both the United States and Europe.  This webinar featured leading public agencies in sweatfree procurement on both continents: the City of Portland, Oregon,  the South East Norway Health Authority, and the Agency for Public Management and eGovernment in Norway.  The presenters are experts in sustainable public procurement and implementation of supply chain labor standards.  They presented nuts and bolts tools for sweatfree procurement, and discussed lessons learned.

Did you miss the webinar?  Don't worry.  You can download the presentations and accompanying materials here.

Stacey Foreman manages the City of Portland’s Sustainable Procurement Program and is a member of the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium's Program and Compliance Committee.  Stacey is a LEED Green Associate and holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Management and Policy.

Download Ms. Foreman's powerpoint presentation here.

Download City of Portland compliance forms:

Jenny Ählström works as Senior Adviser at the Agency for Public Management and eGovernment (Difi) in Norway. She is project manager of the Socially Responsible Public Procurement (SRPP) project, with the aim to implement the Norwegian government's goal to make SRPP a natural and integrated part of the public procurement process. Jenny holds an M. Sc. in Economics and Business from Stockholm School of Economics and has ten years' experience in the field of socially responsible supply chain management.

Download Ms. Ählström's powerpoint presentation here.

Grete Solli works as a Senior Adviser at the South East Norway Health Authority (Helse Sør-Øst) in Norway. They are in charge of ten hospital-areas and do regional public procurements for approximately 3 billion dollars a year. Grete is head of CSR in the procurement  department.  She is also member of the board at the organization, Ethical Trade Initiative Norway.

Download Ms. Solli's powerpoint presentation here.

Downaload the South East Norway Health Authority's action plan on ethical trade here.


Santa Fe joins Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium

Posted August 14, 2012

The City of Santa Fe, New Mexico, has adopted a sweatfree procurement policy and become the 16th member of the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium.  The policy requires apparel bidders to provide a list of “point-of-assembly” factory locations and declare whether or not those locations are in compliance with the City of Santa Fe Code of Conduct.  Bidders may declare full compliance or delayed compliance in case factories are not fully compliant; in this case, Santa Fe requires a a remediation plan prior to awarding a contract.

The Northern New Mexico Central Labor Council, Interfaith Worker Justice New Mexico, immigrant rights advocate Somos un Pueblo Unido, and others advocated for the Santa Fe sweatfree policy.


Saint Louis commits to sweatfree purchasing

Posted August 14, 2012

On June 29, 2012, the Board of Aldermen passed a resolution directing the city to prepare the standards and specifications for a Comprehensive Sweatshop Free Program that will require vendors awarded the annual contract for the City of St. Louis’ uniforms to report where and under what conditions the uniforms are made.   The resolution also directs the city to conduct educational, promotional, and public relations efforts to ensure city staff and the community at large understand the sweatfree purchasing policy and its rationale, and allows the city to join the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium.

The Board acted en banc on the sweatfree resolution.  They worked closely with the St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America.


Annual Membership Meeting

June 5, 2012

The Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium annual membership meeting on June 5, 2012, elected a new Board of Directors.  Presenters addressed the Consortium's work on the Sweatfree LinkUp! database, the Consortium's  new model sweatfree procuremet policy, and San Francisco's investigation of an inmate clothing manufacturer.

Download meeting minutes here.

Download Professor Robert Stumberg's presentation on the new model sweatfree procurement policy here.

Download the presentation of the City and County of San Francisco and the Worker Rights Consortium on their investigation of I.T.I.C. Apparel, a supplier of Robinson Textiles, here.


San Francisco Investigates supplier of inmate clothing uniforms

Posted June 4, 2012

In 2011, the independent monitoring organization, Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), conducted a full investigation of I.T.IC. Apparel, an apparel factory in the Dominican Republic, and found labor violations in the following areas: wages and hours, freedom of association, harassment and abuse, legally mandated benefits, and occupational health and safety.  I.T.I.C. Apparel is a supplier of Robinson Textiles, which had contracted with the City and County of San Francisco to supply uniforms and inmate clothing.  The WRC conducted the investigation on request of San Francisco, which has established a Sweatfree Contracting Ordinance that sets labor rights standards for production of apparel supplied by its vendors.  According to San Francisco’s Sweatfree Procurement Advisory Group, the goal of the ordinance is to “use our purchasing power to ensure decent wages and working conditions for factory workers who make our uniforms.”

Unfortunately, in this case there is as yet no evidence that working conditions have improved at I.T.IC. Apparel.  According to San Francisco, Robinson Textiles has failed to respond constructively to repeated attempts to engage the company in remediation efforts at the factory where it is the majority buyer.  Instead, in January 2012 Robinson Textiles notified San Francisco it was going to let its contract with the City and County to expire.

The Consortium has invited Robinson Textiles to submit updated reports on labor compliance at I.T.IC. Apparel and to share any audit reports on the factory.

Because Robinson Textiles distributes inmate clothing made at I.T.I.C. Apparel to jails and prisons across the United States, San Francisco has asked the Consortium to help get the word out.  If you are interested in learning more or finding out what your public entity can do, please contact us.