Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL) and Congressman Mike Michaud (D-ME) today introduced the Jobs Through Procurement Act. This legislation would put common-sense protections in place for the federal procurement process. The bill is supported by Workers United/SEIU, American Federation of Government Employees, Change to Win, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the International Labor Rights Forum and SweatFree Communities.
The Jobs Through Procurement Act aims to close loopholes in the enforcement of current domestic sourcing requirements (Buy America, Berry Amendment) and ensures that sweatshops are not rewarded with government contracts. It requires common sense fixes to government procurement policy by requiring those involved in the contracting of manufactured goods with government funds be trained on domestic purchasing requirements. Further, contractors will be required to certify that the facility it uses complies with core labor standards. Too often government contracts are sub-contracted to locations outside the United States and outside of our watch, leading to items used by the U.S. government to be made under deplorable conditions.
"Allowing Buy America loopholes to be exploited and standing by while U.S. government products are made under sweatshop conditions is deplorable and we can not tolerate it any longer," said Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL). "Government procurement policies are increasing the downward pressure on wages and working conditions, hastening a race to the bottom which is costing American workers their jobs. It's clear we can do better and we owe it to American taxpayers and workers to make sure that the procurement process works for them. This legislation has the ability to create and keep jobs here at home and help restore the manufacturing base across this country and create a more fair global economy."
"American tax dollars should be used to buy American goods in order to maximize the economic benefits to our communities," said Congressman Mike Michaud (D-ME), the bill's primary cosponsor. "This bill will put safeguards in place to ensure our government does not procure goods made with sweatshop labor and that it maximizes the use of our domestic supply chain. We need to be doing everything we can to push our economic recovery forward and create jobs."
"During these tough economic times, Congressman Hare's legislation would help create jobs -- good jobs that will raise the standard of living of workers everywhere," said Bruce Raynor, President of Workers United, a union that represents apparel workers making government uniforms.
"The Jobs through Procurement Act taps the federal government's purchasing power to hold corporations accountable to the American people," said Bama Athreya, Executive Director of the International Labor Rights Forum. "Ending tax dollars for sweatshops is the right thing to do morally and it's the right prescription for our economy."
"Jobs Through Procurement makes sure our tax dollars are put to work creating good jobs with decent working conditions," said Bjorn Claeson, Director of the SweatFree Communities campaign at the International Labor Rights Forum. "This legislation is sorely needed today and a victory for workers, businesses, and communities."