(en)"Stop Sweatshops" Bill Needs Co-Sponsors

Lyn Gerry (linjin@tao.ca)
Sun, 4 May 1997 23:22:28 pst

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------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Fri, 2 May 1997 14:40:57 -0700 (PDT) To: clr From: Mike Rhodes <clr2@igc.apc.org> Subject: "Stop Sweatshops" Bill Needs Co-Sponsors

Labor Alerts/Labor News a service of Campaign for Labor Rights ACTION ALERT!!! "Stop Sweatshops" Bill Needs Co-Sponsors Summary: On January 7, 1997, Congressman Bill Clay (D-MO) and Congresswoman Nidia Velazquez (D-NY) introduced H.R. 23, the "Stop Sweatshops Act of 1997" into the House of Representatives. The bill, which was written by the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile employees (UNITE!), would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 "to provide for legal accountability for sweatshop conditions in the garment industry." A similar bill will be introduced soon by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) in the Senate. The House bill was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce. Background: The Act would amend the 1938 law to hold garment industry manufacturers, and retailers when they act as manufacturers, liable for their contractors' labor law violations, including non-payment of wages and paying below the minimum wage. It provides for civil penalties for failure to keep required payroll records. "To eliminate sweatshops," said National Consumer League President Linda Golodner, "responsibility and accountability must be assumed by retailers and clothing manufacturers. They are the connecting agents between consumers and sweatshops." The Act finds that "The production of garments in violation of minimum labor standards burdens commerce and the free flow of goods in commerce by spreading and perpetuating labor conditions that undermine minimum living standards and by providing an unfair means of competition to the detriment of employers who comply with the law." It also notes that "The existence of working conditions detrimental to fair competition and the maintanance of minimum standards of living necessary for health, efficiency, and general well-being of workers are a continuing and growing problem in the domestic garment industry." By making the manufacturer liable for the labor law violations of the contractor which makes its garments, the Labor Department acquires a new tool with which to combat sweatshops, namely the concern of big-name companies to protect their "good name," to which they assign a quantifiable monetary value, from the corporate campaigns recently organized by human rights and consumer groups along with unions. Among the organizations supporting the Stop Sweatshops Act of 1997 are UNITE, the National Consumers League, Friends of the Earth, the General Federation of Women's Clubs, United Food and Commercial

Workers Union, Laborers' International Union, and the Coalition of Labor Union Women. Representative Clay has pledged to make the bill a major legislative priority for this Congress. He said, "As the 21st century approaches, we have a moral obligation to eliminate this vestige of the 19th century." Action requested: As of the end of April, according to Legislative Aide Solomon Torres in the office of Congresswoman Nidia Velazquez, H.R. 23 had 45 co- sponsors. They are: Clay, Velazquez, McGovern, Andrews, Pascrel, Payne, Owens, Moran, Martinez, Hinchey, Abercrombie, George Brown, Bennie Thompson, Olver, Kildee, Woolsey, Wise, Yates, Dellums, Fattah, Mascara, Gonzalez, Eva Clayton, Sherrod Brown, Danny Davis, Zoe Lofgren, Tierney, Lantos, Lane Evans, Jerry Nadler, George Brown, Holmes-Norton, Robert Underwood, Torres, Stark Rahall, Barney Frank, Marcy Kaptur, George Miller, Kind, Sanders, Waters, Filner, McKinney, Rangel, Oberstar. Torres notes that, with Republican dominance in the Congress, it has been difficult to mount enough pressure on the Committee of Education and the Workforce to get the Bill put on the schedule. Co-sponsors are considering possible tactics that could be used to bring the bill to public notice and put pressure on the committee chair. If your U.S. Representative is not on this list, call or write him/her and ask him/her to co-sponsor the bill. The Capitol Switchboard telephone number is: 1 (800) 962-3524. Address your letters: The Honorable (your representative's name), United States House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515. For more information on the Stop Sweatshops Act, contact Unite! at 815 16th St. NW, Washington, DC 20006, (202) 347-7417, Web site: www.uniteunion.org; or National Consumers League, 1701 K St. NW, Washington, DC 20006 (202) 835-0747. To receive the Campaign for Labor Rights newsletter, send $35.00 to Campaign for Labor Rights, 1247 "E" Street SE, Washington, DC 20003. To receive a sample copy of the newsletter, send your postal address to clr@igc.apc.org or 541-344-5410. We rely on subscriptions to help us provide our many services. Please join! Also check out our web site at http://www.compugraph.com/clr If you would like to stop receiving our Labor Alerts, send an email to clr@igc.org with "cancel labor alerts" in the subject line.

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