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Madison Goes Sweat-Free

Madison Ald. King: Madison Goes Sweat-Free, Unanimously

CONTACT: Ald. Austin King (608) 213-0104 (cell)

City's adoption of purchasing policy means tax dollars won't subsidize sweatshops

(Madison) * At the Common Council meeting of October 11, a new ordinance creating humane standards for city garment purchases was adopted unanimously. The new policy requires garments purchased by the city, like uniforms for Police, Fire, Metro, and Parks, to be made in conditions that respect the economic dignity and human rights of workers, including the right to organize.

"Today, Madison has finally joined the list of responsible governments across the country that have prohibited taxpayer dollars from being used to purchase garments that were made under the deplorable and inhumane conditions of sweatshop labor," said Ald. Austin King, district 8, the sponsor of the ordinance. The Council had previously passed a resolution in April calling for such a policy to be drafted. "I would like to thank the community advocates who contributed to the details of this policy, as well as city staff without whose diligent work this ordinance would not be possible to enforce," added King.

"The City of Madison has an important role to play as a regulatory authority in preserving and improving the quality of life of Madison residents. So too does the City have a role to play as a consumer of goods and services. This ordinance requires Madison to make its garment purchases in a responsible and ethical way," said Liana Dalton, UW-Madison Senior and anti-sweatshop advocate, who played an important role in the drafting process. "In concert with other cities, school districts, counties, and states, Madison can now use its purchasing power to improve the working conditions of some of the most exploited and disadvantaged workers on the planet. It's up to us to ensure that the spirit of this ordinance gets carried out in its enforcement."

The ordinance sets up a process whereby the city can utilize an independent monitoring organization to report back on the conditions of factories where the city's garments are being produced. Ald. King indicated that he was likely to seek a small operating budget amendment to pay for a monitor to assist the city in enforcement. Typical monitoring costs are one percent of the purchasing budget.

"For a city that has typically been out in front of social and economic justice issues, I was shocked to come into office and find that we had no sweat-free purchasing policy. I am grateful that we have finally taken this step, and I look forward to other governments in our area following suit. Ethical purchases are something everyone - conservatives and progressives alike - should support. Last night's unanimous vote was a strong sign of the values of all of Madison," said King. Send this article to a friend