The Clinton/Gore Administration: New Efforts to Fight Sweatshops and Child Labor Around the World & Put A More Human Face on the Global Economy

The Clinton/Gore Administration: New Efforts to Fight Sweatshops and Child Labor Around the World & Put A More Human Face on the Global Economy

Tuesday, January 16, 2001

TODAY SECRETARY SUMMERS, ALBRIGHT, HERMAN, & NATIONAL ECONOMIC ADVISOR SPERLING WILL ANNOUNCE NEW ADMINISTRATION EFFORTS TO FIGHT SWEATSHOPS & CHILD LABOR. As part of the Clinton/Gore Administration’s ongoing commitment to the improvement of working standards around the world, the Departments of Treasury and State will announce two new initiatives to protect workers, children, and families from abusive and unfair labor practices. These two new initiatives represent important milestones in the President’s leadership on anti-child labor and sweatshop efforts, and will help strengthen the kind of global partnerships among governments, international organizations, and the private sector necessary to put a more human face on the global economy.


PRESIDENT CLINTON HAS MADE AMERICA A LEADER IN WORKING TO PREVENT ABUSIVE CHILD LABOR AND SWEATSHOPS AROUND THE WORLD. Under President Clinton’s leadership, the United States has been the international leader in advocating the improvement of working standards around the world including efforts to fight sweatshops and abusive child labor. President Clinton’s key actions include:




The Treasury Department and the U.S. Customs Service today announced the issuance of an advisory intended to combat forced and indentured child labor. The advisory is intended to help importers, manufacturers, retailers, and other businesses involved in importing merchandise identify goods that may be produced with forced or indentured child labor.

The Advisory, developed in cooperation with the Advisory Committee on International Child Labor Enforcement, will help promote voluntary compliance with child labor laws. The committee is comprised of industry representatives and distinguished child labor experts from the human rights and worker rights communities.

Abusive child labor is one of the most serious worker and human rights issues facing the world trading community. Child labor is endemic in many parts of the developing world; there are approximately 250 million child workers worldwide. Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 prohibits importing into the United States merchandise produced in whole or in part with prison, forced, or indentured labor under penal sanction, including forced or indentured child labor. The United States Customs Service is responsible for enforcing this prohibition.

The Advisory describes the types of working conditions that may signal the presence of forced or indentured child labor. It presents two sets of indicators, "red flags" and "yellow flags," that importers and others can use in seeking to determine whether specific merchandise is likely to be prohibited from importation on the grounds that it was produced with forced or indentured child labor. The indicators track the kind of evidence that the U.S. Customs Service considers in determining whether merchandise should be excluded.


Fair Labor Association - $750, 000

The Fair Labor Association (FLA) is a coalition of apparel and footwear companies and human rights, labor rights and consumer advocates that represents an innovative strategy to address violations of internationally recognized labor rights in the apparel and footwear industries. The FLA works with member companies to develop their own internal monitoring plans, which in turn are reinforced and verified by a rigorous system of external monitoring. The Anti-Sweatshop funds will be instrumental in enabling FLA to recruit, accredit, and maintain a diverse roster of external monitors around the world.

International Labor Organization – $496,974

The International Labor Organization (ILO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that works to improve labor conditions worldwide. Business and labor representatives, as well as governments, participate in its work. The ILO’s responsibilities include the adoption, promotion and supervised application of formal international labor standards.

Using federal Anti-Sweatshop funds, the ILO will carry out a research project involving several multinational enterprises at the corporate level and their suppliers in developing countries. The research will examine what types of management systems are used by multinational companies to assure compliance with their company’s labor standards (and throughout the company’s supply chain) and what is being done to correct labor conditions that are found to be unsatisfactory.

International Labor Rights Fund - $152,880

The International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF) is a non-profit action and advocacy organization which uses innovative means to encourage enforcement of international labor rights. The ILRF’s activities include research, publications, legal advocacy, and consumer campaigns. ILRF achieves its policy objectives through participation in NGOs and community based coalitions or advocacy groups.

Sexual harassment is increasingly viewed as a form of violence against women in the workplace. Using federal Anti-Sweatshop funds, the ILRF with the help of its local partners will undertake a two-year project to promote increased awareness of and viable remedies for the problem of sexual harassment.

Social Accountability International - $1,000,000

Social Accountability International (formerly the Council on Economic Priorities Accreditation Agency) is a U.S.-based non-profit organization dedicated to the development, implementation and oversight of voluntary social accountability standards. The Social Accountability 8000 (SA8000) standard promotes human rights in the workplace and is based on internationally accepted United Nations and International Labor Organization conventions.

SAI will use federal Anti-Sweatshop funds for public education and consultative projects related to the use of the SA8000 standard, research on and testing of social auditing techniques for ensuring compliance with SA8000, capacity building for trade unions, NGOs, and small- and medium-sized enterprises to participate in audits and institutional development and the promotion of multi-sector collaboration in social auditing.

American Center for International Labor Solidarity - $962,801

The American Center for International Labor Solidarity (Solidarity Center) conducts programs abroad dedicated to the promotion of and adherence to international labor rights and standards. Working through trade unions and other indigenous organizations, the Solidarity Center’s programs help facilitate dialogue among business, labor and government leaders to address workplace conditions and the development and improvement of legal frameworks, institutions and practices for the enforcement of internationally recognized worker rights. Using federal Anti-Sweatshop funds, the Solidarity Center will implement projects in both Central American and the Philippines.

The Central American project, utilizing educational programs and union capacity building pilot projects, will work to improve the rule of law through technical assistance programs provided to workers, government official and academics. The Philippines project will provide the unions and NGOs with tools to make codes of conduct more effective through the construction of verification systems. This project will also enable unions to deepen their engagement with International Financial Institutions (IFI) in order to ensure that IFI programs produce jobs where workers labor in conditions of dignity.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) - $600,000

Programs administered through the "Civil Society Strengthening Program" in the USAID’s Global Bureau Center for Democracy and Governance are designed to advance democratic processes worldwide including the promotion of worker rights and the elimination of sweatshop labor.

Federal Anti-Sweatshop funds will be used to support a cooperative agreement that will provide small grants of between $25,000 and $150,000 to support promising efforts in the field aimed at eliminating abusive labor conditions in factories overseas producing goods for the U.S. market. These Anti-Sweatshop efforts will complement and support other initiatives developed by indigenous NGOs, trade unions, private and public sector enterprises and governments.

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