Clothing order makes sense

Published 9:47 am Friday, October 17, 2008

It’s never encouraging to see government on any level legislate things for the public or private sectors that it is unwilling to impose on itself.

As the old saying goes, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

So it was good to see Gov. Ted Strickland sign an executive order to ensure that purchases for clothing made by the state do not support entities affiliated with sweatshops.

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It is a common sense measure because if it is agreed sweatshops are not to be tolerated, it would make no sense for the state to indirectly support businesses that benefit from them.

“Fighting the proliferation of sweatshop conditions is a fundamental human rights issue,” Strickland said. “And this is clearly an issue that affects Ohio workers. We need to make crystal clear that companies can’t simply ship jobs overseas so they can cut corners on environmental and health safety standards.”

The order directs the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) to ensure the state is not buying sweatshop-manufactured clothing, including uniforms and footwear. Director Terry Tyler will draft conditions for the state’s purchase of clothing.

Sweatshops are work places with dangerous conditions that offer little pay and no worker protections from hazards.

Vendors who do not comply with the sweatshop-free terms and conditions are subject to have their state contracts revoked. Non-compliance can also lead to those entities being forbidden from doing future business with the state.

Strickland’s order is expected to get the attention of vendors, but more than that it shows the state will lead by example.

The state could do more to encourage businesses to do what it is doing, that is avoid entities with ties to sweatshops.

Still, the move is a positive one that protects Ohio workers and is fundamentally the right thing to do.