The California Supply Chain Transparency Act is just one step away from becoming law. SB 657 recently passed both the California Senate and Assembly, and is now awaiting Governor Schwarzenegger’s signature—or veto. If the governor takes no action, SB 657 will become law by default.
As part of the ATEST coalition of seven U.S. anti-slavery organizations, Free the Slaves signed a letter supporting SB 657. Read our statement here (PDF).
Last week, the corporate world joined the chorus of supporters of this bill. A letter, signed by 32 people “representing research firms, institutional investors and faith-based investors” was sent to Governor Schwarzenegger, urging him to allow SB 657 to pass into law. Collectively, the signatories command $40 billion in assets, according to a press release sent out by the Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS), a Catholic, socially responsible investment firm that has co-signed this letter.
Working to eradicate slavery in supply chains is good for business, this letter contends:
“While opponents of the bill have expressed concern about the level and difficulty of disclosure, this type of information is already disclosed by many mainstream corporations operating in California, including apparel companies, manufacturers and retailers such as The Gap, Nike, Target, Wal-Mart, Disney, Levi’s, and Tiffany. These companies, which many of us hold in our portfolios, recognize the growing relevance of global labor standards…
“In addition to helping shareholders and consumers make investment and purchasing decisions, many companies have found reporting on their efforts to eradicate slavery and human trafficking from their direct supply chains to be helpful not only in uncovering human rights issues that have the potential to impact their reputations, but also in revealing opportunities for improvement.”
Read the rest of the letter here (PDF).
Change.org and California-based anti-human trafficking organization Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking just launched a petition calling for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign two pieces of legislation that seek to eliminate slavery in California’s supply chain. As part of ATEST, Free the Slaves has officially endorsed one of these bills—SB 657, the California Supply Chain Transparency Act.
Today it is estimated that nearly 12.3 million people—equal to nearly one-third of California’s total population — are working in some form of forced labor worldwide.
Across the country, existing state and federal laws make human trafficking a crime, while providing various remedies and supports to victims. Yet, state and federal laws have done little to address the growing markets that consume products tainted with slavery and trafficking.
In September 2009, the US Department of Labor released its “List of Goods Produced by Child or Forced Labor.” The report found nearly 122 goods from 58 countries that are believed to be tainted with forced and/or child labor.
Undoubtedly, many of those goods are consumed in California—home to the 10th largest economy in the world with hundreds of billions of dollars of imports pouring into the state each year. California consumers and businesses—by the nature and scope of their purchasing power—are uniquely positioned to eradicate slavery and trafficking through their purchasing choices.