The U.S. Government Must Change Its Buying Practices to Protect and Respect Workers' Rights in Its Own Supply Chain

December 23, 2013

Today’s New York Times reported a comprehensive overview of child labor, forced overtime, wage violations and other illegal, dangerous and inhumane conditions at factories that produce apparel for the U.S. government in Bangladesh, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam. As the story reminds us, the U.S. government is a major buyer at the top of numerous supply chains. Just as major brands and retailers that buy from thousands of global suppliers fail to comply with laws, protect workers and respect workers' rights, the federal government’s system for purchasing goods and services has failed to ensure that workers who produce these goods in global supply chains do so free from danger and exploitation. From its workers’ uniforms, to clothes using the logo of its armed forces, to goods sold at large stores on military bases, the U.S. government is the buyer, brand owner or retailer of well over 1 billion dollars of clothes yet it pays virtually no attention to the conditions in the many thousands of workplaces around the world where the goods are made.   

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