Calling it an "appalling practice," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called on President Obama's administration to stop contracting with foreign sweatshops to produce official federal government uniforms and other clothing.
The Obama administration should strengthen executive orders on procurement to ensure that companies earning profits from U.S. taxpayer dollars do not break labor laws and violate human rights at home and abroad. The administration should ensure transparency by mandating the disclosure of factory locations where workers produce these goods. In addition, the U.S. government should explicitly reward high-road companies that respect labor laws and workers’ rights.
He was responding to a front-page report in Monday's New York Times that said the U.S. spends $1.5 billion to buy clothing at sweatshop factories in Bangladesh, Haiti, Mexico, Vietnam and other countries. Many factories had a "pattern of legal violations and harsh working conditions," the Times said.
Although the federal government publicly opposes purchasing from such sources, the Times report found that the "American government has done little to adjust its own shopping habits."