Campaign Updates

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November 2, 2010 -- Seattle Becomes 12th Member of the SweatFree Purchasing Consortium!

SweatFree WA is pleased to introduce the City of Seattle as the 12th member of the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium and the first city in WA State to join. SweatFree WA has worked for over two years to educate and call for the City of Seattle to use its purchasing power to promote workers rights wherever the city does business. Advocacy by the Martin Luther King County Labor Council, Seattle Women's Commission, Washington Fair Trade Coalition and others led to the Seattle City Council unanimously approving a Statement of Legislative Intent to draft a sweatfree policy for Seattle. This effort was championed by Councilmembers Nick Licata and Tom Rassmussen and created a task force with members from the Sweatfree WA campaign, City Council staff and city purchasing officials.

Through the strong leadership and vision of Nancy Locke, Purchasing Director for the City of Seattle, in June of this year a strong sweatfree procurement policy was adopted by the city. The policy requires vendors to disclose the manufacturing locations for their entire supply chain, to adhere to a code of conduct, to submit to independent oversight, and to work with the City of Seattle to comply with the policy.

Joining the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium makes Seattle a leader in the sweatfree movement, and SweatFree WA looks forward to working with the state legislature and state purchasing officials to pass a sweatfree policy for Washington State in 2011.

July 19, 2010 -- Big Step Forward for Sweatfree DC; DC Councilmember Mary Cheh Shows Support!

This summer the DC Sweatfree Campaign has been busy organizing to get the city to join the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium. Following a commitment from Councilwoman Mary Cheh to make sure that responsible contracting becomes part of how Washington DC does business, the campaign is planning a press conference for Wednesday. Read more...

June 11, 2010 -- Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium is officially launched

The Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium is now official!  Last month the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium was legally incorporated and yesterday the Board of Directors held its first meeting, adopting Bylaws.

 This is a major milestone for SweatFree Communities and sweatfree activists across the country. The Consortium has been several years in the making. Its creation has involved development of relationships with procurement officials, research and education, the writing and rewriting of both visionary and legal documents, hours upon hours of meetings, and most importantly the hope, dedication, and involvement of dozens and dozens of people.

Even though the Consortium was just formally launched, it is already well under way with ten founding members. To build real power it needs many more members. To bring the campaign to your community, please contact us.

June 9, 2010 -- Ithaca to develop a sweatfree policy

Last Wednesday the city council of Ithaca, New York, agreed that the city should have a sweatfree purchasing policy. The council instructed the city attorney to develop the policy language to bring for a vote later this year.

Here's an article from The Ithaca Journal from shortly before the vote.

This action follows on organizing by students and recent graduates of Cornell University.

April 30, 2010 -- DC labor community takes over procurement reform hearing; make case for responsible contracting and a sweatfree DC

If you had walked into room 500 of the John A. Wilson building at 10:30 am on March 23rd to attend the public hearing discussing Bill 18-610 and 18-635, you might have wondered if you were in the right place and if perhaps you had somehow walked into a union meeting instead.  The room was a sea of purple SEIU t-shirts, black AFL-CIO wind breakers, and stickers reading “NO TAX DOLLARS FOR SWEATSHOPS” and “I SUPPORT RESPONSIBLE CONTRACTING.”  The hearing room was literally packed to the gills with workers, organizers, and community members all asking for the same thing: responsible contracting.  In other words, they all want steps in the purchasing process that take labor into consideration which can range from looking at company’s past labor records before giving them a contract to requiring vendors to disclose factory sources so we can know the District is not helping to perpetuate sweatshop conditions.

Continue reading...

April 13, 2010 -- Sweat Free Houston sets new record with 85 local campaign endorsers

Congratulations to Sweat Free Houston for earning the support of 85 local organizations in pursuit of a sweatshop-free purchasing policy for the city of Houston.  Sweat Free Houston (SFH) has set a new standard for what it means to build support for a grassroots campaign.  It was in our March 2010 newsletter that we introduced SFH as the newest local sweatfree campaign - look how fast they've sprung into action! Check out their list of campaign endorsers, get inspired, and find tools for signing up more endorsers for your campaign here.

April 7, 2010 -- Join SFC and allies at the 2010 U.S. Social Forum in Detroit

If you've been considering a trip out to Detroit for the U.S. Social Forum (June 22-26, 2010), we encourage you to come!  In addition to dozens of amazing issue- and skills-based workshops, there's no better opportunity to connect with so many like-minded progressive activists and movement-builders in the U.S.

We've got a great workshop planned with allies from across the movement for economic justice.  Titled "What makes a successful international labor solidarity campaign?," our workshop brings together leaders from Jobs with Justice, Service Employees International Union, Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, and International Labor Rights Forum to identify what has worked, what hasn't, and what we've learned from some of the most dynamic worker rights campaigns out there.  We'll also host a reception for sweatfree activists and allies during the week at a time and place TBA.  Get more info on the USSF and let us know if you're thinking of coming by dropping us a line at


February 28, 2010 -- Sweat Free Houston benefit show Saturday March 6

This Saturday, March 6, 2010 from 8pm to 2am at Mangos, at 403 Westheimer, there are six, count them six awesome bands

playing to raise money for Sweat Free Houston.  The show is open to ALL AGES!  Sweat Free Houston is working to get a sweat free procurement policy passed by the city.  For more information check their “about” page on their website


February 15, 2010 -- Wisconsin joins the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium

The SweatFree Wisconsin Campaign won a major victory in February when the State of Wisconsin became the ninth member of the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium. The State now is developing a sweatfree procurement policy based on Consortium principles. Congratulations to the coalition, which has involved local labor unions, faith-based groups, immigrant rights groups, students, and others, and a special thanks to the Wisconsin Fair Trade Coalition for coordinating the statewide effort. Learn more about the SweatFree Wisconsin Campaign at

As early as 2008, the State responded positively to SweatFree Communities' first report on labor violations in the global uniform industry. "The State of Wisconsin is committed to protecting the rights of workers who produce the products that we purchase," wrote the Secretary of Administration to the state's apparel vendors. "We... expect you will take all appropriate steps to work with your suppliers to ensure that any labor rights and human rights violations are corrected and conditions for workers are improved." We are pleased to continue working with Wisconsin towards this goal.

With Wisconsin, four states and nine government agencies in total have joined the Consortium.

February 10, 2010 -- City of Pittsfield, MA adopts sweatfree procurement policy

Last night, in a unanimous vote, the City Council of Pittsfield, MA adopted a sweatfree procurement policy, becoming the 40th "sweatfree" city in the nation. The policy requires contractors supplying apparel to the city to disclosure factory locations and ensure that factories pay non-poverty wages and respect employees' freedom of association. With the adoption of the policy, the city is also signaling its joining of the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium. We applaud the City of Pittsfield, a former mill town -- where textile mills were replaced with paper manufacturing and later with GE jobs until operations closed in 1986 -- for taking action for the rights of workers who have currently have manufacturing jobs.

Manos Unidas, a multicultural immigrant rights, local community organizing, and arts collective brought the policy proposal to the attention of the City Council.

February 3, 2010 -- Pittsfield, MA Ordinance and Rules Committee passes sweatfree procurement policy

In May of 2009, Sweatfree Communities and Manos Unidas, a multicultural immigrant rights and arts collective in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, co-organized a screening of the documentary Made in L.A. Following the screening, members of Manos Unidas were moved to take action by urging their City Council to adopt a sweatfree procurement policy. The City's Ordinance and Rules Committee voted in unanimous support of the policy on Monday. The policy goes to the City Council for approval on February 9th.

January 19, 2010 -- Milwaukee, WI police contract finally awarded; the work to protect the workers who make them begins now

After a year-long debate over a $1 million Milwaukee police uniform contract extensively covered in local media [Dec. 1, 2008, Dec. 28, 2009, Jan. 6, 2010, Jan. 12, 2010], Milwaukee police and area residents know quite a bit about the origins of the uniforms. The competitive bid featured U.S. union-made uniforms on one side, and Chinese-made uniforms on the other. Two independent preliminary investigations indicated severe labor rights violations in the Chinese factory, including below poverty wages and excessive working hours. To the surprise of many, the bid with the U.S. union-made uniforms came in lower, even significantly lower, than the competition. Also surprising many observers, the city chose the more expensive Chinese-made uniforms, which police preferred.

The city deserves appreciation for studying the labor issues surrounding the production of the uniforms and evaluating evidence of violations. But did the city make the right decision?

Read on...