Aug. 19, 2005 – Before ending its session for the summer, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a measure requiring the city to only use contractors that commit to safe, legal work environments and provide fair wages. In addition, the measure calls for companies doing business with the city to deal fairly with organized labor groups, and it enshrines stronger freedom of association rights for workers.
Anti-sweatshop activists applauded Tuesdayâ€™s unanimous decision, with Sweatshop Free Bay Area calling the measure "historic" and announcing an end-of-the-month celebration. The group has spent the last six months fighting for the legislation as part of a coalition of labor, community and human rights organizations.
The ordinance is expected to be phased in later this year, after the supervisors hold a mandatory second vote and Mayor Gavin Newsome signs the law, the San Francisco Examiner reported.
Late last month, Newsome introduced the measure along with eight supervisors. In a statement announcing the legislation, the mayor said, "This landmark ordinance takes a strong stand against such labor practices and will place San Francisco at the forefront in ensuring that products purchased by the city are made in safe, humane and fair workplaces."
Among the workplace safeguards the Sweatshop Free Ordinance requires are prohibitions against child labor, a market-adjusted living wage and the creation of an advisory panel to oversee the implementation, administration and enforcement of the legislation.
According to Global Exchange, a San Francisco-based human rights organization, the city is joining 26 others, plus ten counties and three states in enacting anti-sweatshop legislation over the last several years. California adopted similar rules in 2003, the organization said.
The law affects both city and county government procurement. It will apply only to garments for the first year of existence, during which time the advisory committee will develop plans to fully implement the rules.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, about $600 million of the cityâ€™s yearly goods expenditures will fall under the lawâ€™s regulations.
Global Exchange called the legislation the "strongest of its kind in the country."