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H.R. 6262: Stop Rewarding Sweatshops With Government Contracts

Do you believe that workers who make materials for the U.S. Government should work under the following conditions?

(i) the right of association;
(ii) the right to organize and bargain collectively;
(iii) a prohibition on the use of any form of forced or compulsory labor;
(iv) a prohibition on discrimination which has the effect of nullifying or impairing equality of opportunity or treatment in employment or occupation;
(v) a prohibition of the worst forms of child labor, including all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage, serfdom, and forced or compulsory labor, and work which, by its nature and circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety, or morals of children;
(vi) a minimum age for the employment of children that is not less than the age of completion of compulsory schooling
and not less than 15 years; and
(vii) acceptable conditions of work with respect to wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health.

If you support these working conditions for products purchased by the U.S. Government, then you support a sweatshop-free policy. That’s what a new bill, H.R. 6262, strives to attain.

Keeping government contracts out of the hands of sweatshop producers makes good economic sense: in the midst of our long jobless recession, taxpayer dollars should be spent to support solid jobs that can keep families afloat. It also makes moral sense for the U.S. government to stop rewarding factory owners who treat their workers abominably. For some time now, contractors have violated the spirit of earlier pieces of legislation such as the Berry Amendment and the Buy American Act by setting up subcontractors to obtain sweatshop-sourced materials and pass those on to the principal contractor.

H.R. 6262, the Jobs Through Procurement Act, fixes this loophole by declaring sweatshop prohibitions to be “applicable to contracts and subcontracts for the procurement of commercial items.” Contractors that want to sell to the federal government will have to certify that subcontracted products aren’t being made in sweatshops.

H.R. 6262 has been introduced to the House of Representatives this week by Illinois Representative Phil Hare, and has been initially cosponsored by the following members of Congress:

Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA 5)
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ 7)
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL 23)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH 9)
Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME 2)
Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI 4)

If you don’t the name of your member of Congress on that list, send a note and encourage him or her to sign onto the bill today. It’s economically smart for the government to support working families, and it’s the morally right thing to do.

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