Bill Passes State Assembly Judiciary Committee that Will Help Eliminate Slavery in California’s Supply Chains

On June 29th, CAST Survivor Advisory Caucus member, Flor Molina, testified at a hearing in Sacramento regarding the CALIFORNIA TRANSPARENCY IN SUPPLY CHAINS ACT OF 2010 (SB 657-Steinberg), a proposed law that will require big manufacturing and retail businesses in California to disclose their efforts to ensure that slavery and forced labor are not used in their supply chains.

Flor was trafficked into the United States and forced to work in a sweatshop, sewing dresses that were sold in top departments stores across the state. She was locked inside the sweatshop and forced to work in deplorable conditions for over 18 hours a day. She was told that if she tried to escape, her family would pay. Flor was finally able to escape and found help from a community based organization called the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), who referred her to the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), where she received legal and social services, including shelter.

The proposed legislation is authored by Senator Darrell Steinberg and co-sponsored by CAST , the Alliance to Stop Slavery and End Trafficking (ASSET) and the Consumer Federation of California. The Bill simply asks large manufacturers and retailers doing business in California to disclose their efforts on combating slavery and forced labor in their goods they produce and sell. Transparency of their efforts will allow consumers and even other businesses and investors, to make a more informed decision about with whom they do business. SB 657 will enhance projects such as Chain Store Reaction, which has consumers ask companies to disclose their policies on a voluntary basis.

Earlier this year, the Senate version of the bill was passed and it is expected that the recently amended version of the bill will be debated on the Assembly Floor in early August. The bill passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee after the hearing on June 29th where Flor, Kay Buck, CAST Executive Director and Julia Ormond, founder of ASSET providing testimony.

Kay Buck, CAST’s Executive Director says this is the perfect opportunity for all people who care about eradicating slavery by reducing the demand for slave made products to “make your voices heard in demanding to know that your dollars are not inadvertently supporting the heinous practice of forced labor and human trafficking.” She encourages everyone to contact their Assembly Member before the end of July, asking for their “AYE” vote on SB 657. Information needed to contact your Assembly Member, and details about the bill can be found on the CAST website’s main page: www.castla.org.

For survivors like Flor, this bill is very significant. In her testimony, she said “I know that from my experience that even one person can make a difference. If companies post what they do to stop slavery, people will understand that they can buy from these companies and that will help stop the demand for these products.”

“We inadvertently sanction and promote these crimes at home and abroad through the purchase of tainted goods and products,” Steinberg said. “By giving consumers the power of information they can leverage their purchasing decisions to encourage retailers and manufacturers to keep their supply chain free of trafficking and slavery.”

For more information about the bill, and how you can get involved, visit CAST’s website www.castla.org  or send  an email to supplychain@castla.org

Let your Assembly Members know that passage of this bill is an important step toward eliminating the scourge of slavery; forced labor and abuse exist in our supply chains. Click here to look up your California Assembly Member’s contact info: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html