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San Francisco Mayor Newsom swears in Sweatfree Procurement Advisory Group

Mayor Gavin Newsom swore in eleven members of the Sweatfree Procurement Advisory Group yesterday at City Hall.

Newsom and Supervisor Tom Ammiano introduced a Sweatfree Procurement Advisory Ordinance in June 2005 to ensure San Francisco does not purchase goods produced in sweatshops. The ordinance will guarantee products the City procures are produced under safe, fair, and humane working conditions.

"It's not just a promise on paper," said Mayor Newsom. "It actually delivers real results and ultimately these results will deliver the change we need to see in San Francisco."

According to Alicia Culver, Executive Director of EnviroSpec, a nonprofit organization that works on environmentally preferable purchasing, the ordinance mandates the advisory group to develop preferences to support local manufacturers in San Francisco.

"We spend our money on these name brand goods that are possibly made by the exploited," said Chairman Nicholas Smith of the City of Berkeley Commission on Labor. The City of Berkeley is planning similar legislation.

"It's our responsibility to make sure not only our money, but our government's tax dollars are spent right," Smith added.

The $100,000 procurement budget for the ordinance will go towards hiring an independent monitor who will verify city vendors are sweatfree.

"From a woman's stand point, a lot of the workers that are in the garment industry are women, " said Angela L.Williams, Vice President of the Commission on the Status of Women in San Francisco and one of the eleven members to be appointed.

"And from the commissioner's stand point, we want to make sure that women are treated fairly within the city and country of San Francisco, as well as broader within the United States and the world," she added.

Members of the advisory group include former California State Senator Tom Hayden, Valerie Orth of Global Exchange, and Alex Tom, Campaign Coordinator for the Chinese Progressive Association. Members will serve a two-year term.

All advisory members are volunteers on the commission.

"The populous as a whole will be really happy to know that San Francisco will look deeper in the products that they are buying, to make sure that we're not contributing to poverty and inhumane conditions overseas," said Culver.