It’s easy to say the right thing, but it’s not always easy to do the right thing as a recent investigation by The New York Times reveals. The U.S. government, which encourages companies that buy goods overseas to use their spending clout to push for improved working conditions, is itself spending more than $1.5 billion each year to buy clothing from factories in Bangladesh, where hundreds of garment workers have died on their jobs.
The challenge of putting its money where its mouth is: how to spend the U.S. taxpayers dollars efficiently without supporting companies that abuse their workers. However, cities like Los Angeles and states like Maine have found ways, including requiring companies that bid on their contracts to publicly disclose the addresses of the factories where the clothing will be made.
The Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium maintains that similar requirements could work on a national level if federal agencies coordinate their purchasing decisions more closely and consider conducting joint investigations to ensure they are using only the best factories. In other words, the U.S. government should use its own clout to make a difference.