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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.