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Migration, modern-day slavery, and the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act

Issues Forced Labor

Across the globe, millions of men and women migrate in order to find jobs. Many of them provide for their families by working in factories to manufacture clothing and footwear for some of the largest international brands. While some of these workers are successful in finding suitable employment, many others face difficulties ranging from homesickness to bad working conditions, and may even be forced into trafficking – otherwise known as modern-day slavery.

The FLA hosted a forum for members, students and faculty at the University of Notre Dame on October 3, to discuss migration and modern-day slavery in supply chains. The event included a panel on the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, and Mufaddal Ezzy, Policy Advisor for the California State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, joined Marsha Dickson (Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Fashion & Apparel Studies, University of Delaware, and President of Educators for Socially Responsible Apparel Business), Marcela Manubens (Senior Vice-President, Global Human Rights and Social Responsibility, Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation), and Lejo Sibbel (FLA) to discuss the implications of the Act on workers, businesses and the state of California.

The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act (SB 657), which goes into effect on January 1, 2012, requires retail sellers and manufacturers doing business in California – with annual worldwide gross receipts that exceed $100 million – to disclose their efforts to eradicate slavery and human trafficking from their supply chains. The expressed aim of the Act is to provide consumers in California, through the power of information, with a tool for leveraging their purchasing power to eradicate slavery and trafficking from product supply chains. In other words, by compelling companies to publicly disclose information concerning their efforts to eradicate trafficking and slavery from their supply chains, consumers can decide from which company they wish to buy or with which they wish to do business.

The FLA has developed a guide to provide members with more information on the requirements of the Act, enable companies to determine if they are covered by the Act, and, if so, how membership with FLA may help in develop­ing the disclosure required under the Act. It also includes a basic guide for developing a disclosure web page that FLA company members may wish to use as a tool when considering how to meet the disclosure requirements of the Act.

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