Bill to Fight Human Trafficking and Slavery Sent to Governor
Large retailers and manufacturers doing business in California would be required to disclose what steps they were taking to end slavery and human trafficking under a bill sent August 30 to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The measure, SB 657, applies only to businesses with $100 million in worldwide sales.
Beginning January 1, 2012 it would force postings on an applicable company’s website “with a conspicuous and easily understood link” describing how much the retailer verifies that its product supply chain does not include slave labor or involve victims of human trafficking.
“California is one of the top destinations for trafficking,” Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, the Sacramento Democrat who carried the bill, told his colleagues. “(Some) 12.3 million people work in some form of forced labor worldwide.
The bill is sponsored by the Alliance to Stop Slavery and End Trafficking, an organization founded by actress Julia Ormond, who won a best supporting actress in a miniseries or movie Emmy on August 29 for her role in the made-for-cable movie, Temple Grandin.
“You’re looking at it in coffee. You’re looking at it in the carpets that you walk across. You’re looking at it in cotton,” Ormond sad at a July 29 press conference in Sacramento touting Steinberg’s bill.
“I don’t want to buy a tee-shirt knowing that some kid has died on the other side of the world in order to let me have it.”
Steinberg says his measure is aimed at drawing attention to slave labor and human trafficking and to encourage California retailers and manufacturers to ensure it’s not part of the supply chain for their products.
Opponents, among them the California Grocers Association, the California Retailers Association and the California Chamber of Commerce, argued that the measure would require them to create policies that would impact entities outside of both California and the United States.
“Grocers do not have the resources to monitor supplier employment practices, nor do they have the authority to enforce state or federal labor law with regard to suppliers,” the association wrote in opposition.
“Further, the bill requires posting of policies on a company’s Internet website but provides no details as to what constitutes compliance with the requirement or how it applies to retailers that do not have an Internet website.”
Republican senators, who traditionally vote against measure opposed by business groups, voted against Steinberg’s bill.
Previously, before being amended in the Assembly, the measure would have applied to a much broader list of businesses – those with $2 million or more in annual sales.
Human trafficking is a crime in California. Its victims can bring a civil action for damages and punitive damages.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger routinely vetoes legislation opposed by business interests.
August 30 is the 61st day of the new fiscal year for which no budget has been enacted. The Legislature is required by the constitution to send the governor a spending plan by June 15, two weeks before the start of the fiscal year.
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