Should the City of Berkeley adopt a Sweatshop-Free Procurement ordinance for the City of Berkeley?
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The City of Berkeley purchases goods and services, including garments, uniforms, equipment, office supplies and other essentials necessary for the proper functioning of our city. On March 18, 2009, the City of Berkeley Commission on Labor voted 7-0 to recommend that the City Council hear and adopt the Sweatshop-Free Procurement Ordinance.
The Labor Commission seeks to assure that the integrity of the procurement process is not undermined by businesses that engage in sweatshop practices. The proposed Sweatshop-Free Ordinance protects businesses that are at a competitive disadvantage from companies that underbid because they utilize sweatshops.
Proponents argue that the adoption of the Sweatshop-Free Procurement Ordinance will prove that the Berkeley City Council respects workers rights, taxpayer dollars, and businesses that engage in fair wages and provide humane environmental working conditions. With this ordinance, the City of Berkeley, as a market participant, will respect workers rights and businesses that do not engage in the buying or selling of items of apparel, garments and corresponding accessories, practices.
The City staff argue that Berkeley currently purchases very few items that might be made in sweatshops. Moreover, it is difficult to determine whether or not a suspected item is in fact made in a sweatshop. Everyone agrees that eliminating sweatshops is a worthy goal, however, the proposed ordinance proposes onerous procedures and substantial costs to eliminate an unsubstantiated problem of whether or not the City is in fact currently purchasing or even likely to purchase in the future items made in sweatshops.
The associated report is available here.
Additional reports are also available here and here.
On April 21, Council decided to hold this item over to the May 5 Council meeting at the request of the Labor Commission.
June 23, 2009Read More >