Although efforts to adopt decent labor standards through free trade agreements are stymied on the international level, activists in the United States are quietly making progress on the local level. At last count, 39 cities, 15 counties, and eight states have adopted policies expressed under a common banner: No taxpayer dollars for sweatshop goods!Those are the first two paragraphs of an article of mine just published in Policy Innovations, the Carnegie Council’s on-line magazine for a fairer globalization.
These policies are promoted by a nongovernmental network, Sweatfree Communities, founded in 2003 by anti-sweatshop activists who had been working separately in Maine, Minnesota, New York, Wisconsin, and elsewhere. They now work together with a three-prong strategy:
For more than a decade now, I’ve studied the various levers available to advance the human rights of workers in the 21st century’s global economy. The Policy Innovations article is one result of those studies. As I say in the closing paragraph;
“New trade legislation – necessary as it is to safeguard worker rights globally – will not do the job alone. A combination of governmental and nongovernmental levers is needed. One of those key levers is public procurement with a conscience.”
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