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Natural Awakenings Chicago

Put a Stop to the Sweat Shop

Oct 27, 2014 06:05PM

This summer, Chicago passed a sweat-free ordinance so that tax dollars will not support sweatshops. There is still much work to be done to ensure that this important legislation has an impact on the lives of those that sew our garments.

Sweatfree Communities (Sweatfree.org) research shows that our tax dollars are paying for human rights abuses when our cities and states buy uniforms and other products from exploitative corporations.

This is the human reality of the global apparel industry—young women work long hours under harsh conditions for unfair wages. When this happens, workers’ health, safety and human rights are compromised.

The Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh last year was only the latest in a long history of preventable worker fatalities and injuries in sweatshops that are the norm in an industry that thrives on cutting costs without considering the consequences.

Sweatshop in Brazil (Photo credit: Marissa Oarton)
Sweatshop in Brazil (Photo credit: Marissa Oarton)
​Sweatfree Communities is a U.S. network of grassroots campaigns that recognizes the potential in government purchasing for creating positive alternatives to global sweatshops. Federal, state and local governments combined buy more than $10 billion in apparel annually.

Sweatfree Communities agree to require vendors to disclose the names and physical addresses of their production facilities and to share this information with the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium, which monitors working conditions and encourages significant demand for products made under decent working conditions by workers that earn a living wage.

When the ordinance goes into effect on January 1, 2015, Chicago will join the ranks of over 170 school districts, counties, states and cities like Los Angeles and St. Louis who have already made the Sweatfree Community commitment. The people at Chicago fair Trade believe that our tax dollars should be spent on products made in a humane manner and urge citizens to become involved in making sure that this ordinance is fully implemented.


Learn more and take action at ChicagoFairTrade.org.