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Maine Governor Launches National Anti-Sweatshop Initiative

Dear all,

This is a very exciting development. The Governor of Maine is calling for a Governor¹s Coalition for Sweatfree Procurement and Worker¹s Rights. If you can help persuade your governor to join this effort, please email or call me (207-262-7277). See Governor Baldacci¹s letter to other Governors: http://www.sweatfree.org/documents/BaldacciLetter022806.pdf

Thanks,

Bjorn

NEWS RELEASE
For immediate release Contact: Bjorn Claeson
February 28, 2006 Tel. 207-262-7277

Maine Governor Launches National Anti-Sweatshop Initiative All Governors Invited to Join Coalition to Stop Tax Subsidies of Sweatshops

Augusta, ME ­ Today Maine Governor John E. Baldacci announced a path-breaking initiative to end sweatshop exploitation in apparel and other industries around the world and in the United States. In a letter sent to all governors on February 28, Governor Baldacci proposes a new collaborative effort to use state government procurement as a tool level the playing field for ethical businesses and advance justice for sweatshop workers.

The State of Maine adopted the nation¹s first sweatfree procurement law in 2001 to end taxpayer support for sweatshop abuses. The centerpiece of the law is a code of conduct requiring state contractors and subcontractors of apparel, textiles, and footwear to adhere to basic international fair labor standards. But ³we can accomplish more together² the Governor noted in his letter to governors.

"There's power in numbers,² said Governor John E. Baldacci, D-Maine. ³We've been doing great work on sweatfree procurement in Maine, but if we team up with other states we'll have even more influence in the global marketplace.

Workers around the world deserve any influence or leverage we can bring to the table."

The Governor¹s Coalition for Sweatfree Procurement and Workers¹ Rights will consider a variety of strategies to end sweatshop abuses including cost-effective and reliable independent monitoring mechanisms of contractor and subcontractor manufacturing facilities. The coalition will also consider forming a purchasing consortium to allow states to leverage purchasing power in support of sweatfree supplier factories. ³The Governor¹s Coalition for Sweatfree Procurement and Workers¹ Rights is an enormously significant initiative in the anti-sweatshop movement,² said Bjorn Claeson, Director of SweatFree Communities, a national organization that supports and coordinates local sweatfree procurement campaigns and maintains an office in Maine. ³Combined with a similar municipal effort led by the Mayor of San Francisco, it has the potential to create a hundred billion dollar market for sweatfree products and services which would completely transform apparel and other industries where sweatshops are pervasive."

In addition to Maine, the states of California, Illinois, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have adopted sweatfree procurement laws, along with over 60 cities, counties, and school districts.

Governor Baldacci's letter is available at:
http://www.sweatfree.org/documents/BaldacciLetter022806.pdf
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Bjorn Skorpen Claeson, Director
SweatFree Communities
30 Blackstone St.
Bangor, ME 04401, USA
ph: 207-262-7277
fax: 207-262-7211
bjorn@sweatfree.org
www.sweatfree.org