April 5th, 2011
12:02 PM ET

How California fights trafficking

On October 18th, 2010, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 657, titled “California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010.”

By January 2012, major manufacturers and retailers within the state of California must fully disclose the efforts made to ensure their products have not been tainted by slavery or forced labor at any point within the supply chain.

In an attempt at complete transparency, these companies will be required to post their policies on their own websites, allowing consumers to see for themselves if their purchases are slavery-free.

The California law isn’t only a step forward in the fight against human trafficking; it sets an example for the rest of the nation and the world to follow.

Most importantly the bill gives you, the consumer, the choice and power to be a part of the solution.

How to help: Slavery in the supply chain

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soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Billski

    So how does Calif. and others approach Walmart? and ALL those others who "buy cheap/sell cheap"...how do THEY all do it? Who's going to make this effort endure/continue, and take-off in other states? How can I help you?

    April 5, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Reply
  2. KenX

    The arrests and convictions of trafficking dont support the numbers. In fact, most of the case present dont even have active court cases. Trafficking is very illegal alreay under federal law and has been for over 10 years. I just find it odd that we see all these numbers of poeple running through a secret underground network and we dont notice anything in daily life. I think we have a bunch of 6 figure bureacrats, like this guy above, stoking up the numbers to justify his job.

    April 5, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Reply
    • regertz

      I think his figures are well supported. The reason you don't notice is that you don't care...The companies simply pass the slaves off as illegals or even legal workers.

      Hidden Slaves: Forced labor in the United States (September 2004), Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley, pp. 1, 10, 57.

      U.S.Department of State Releases 10th Annual Trafficking in Persons Report http://www.humantrafficking.org/
      Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Announces Release of 10th Annual Trafficking in Persons Report.


      April 6, 2011 at 6:59 am | Reply
  3. Ed

    1st of all – let me say that slavery is reprehensible – ok – with that out of the way – let's talk... Most countries do not have the same values or standards of living that we in America enjoy and take for granted.. we go and shut down a "sweat shop" that "employs" children and then we leave – we think that kids in other parts of the world should be home playing cops and robbers or with baby dolls – but what actually happes is – when we leave and we are patting ourselves on the back for doing something "good" (in our mind anyway) – that child is then forced to live on the street because we took the only thing that stood between it and a life of crime or prostitution.. in other countries – everyone works or you dont eat and if your not an active money maker – you will probably be sold to some pedophile.. so – the next time you want to pat yourself on the back for shutting that sweat shop down – wait about 6 months and go back and find all the people you put out of work and see just how much the liked you doint it...

    April 5, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Reply
    • Stacie

      Ed – let's talk about how many of those foreign countries are enslaving children with American help. If we refuse to do business with countries who enslave children, and thus the country can't make money, they will be forced to change their way of doing business. I understand in some countries they believe as we used to in this country that children are little adults and they have to work...I don't agree – however, if they must work they deserve to be paid a decent wage – especially for what it costs an American consumer for the product they are producing. Rich CEOs can give up a million or two to the kids, especially since they are avoiding paying American taxes and American's wages because they have moved their business overseas. And don't kid yourself Ed, those poor children working in the factories are still being physically and sexually abused, only they aren't making any money for it!

      April 5, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Reply
    • regertz

      Ed, it merely requires we go to the trouble of making the distinction between an employer who pays low wages because he has to and is not deliberately exploitive and tries within sane limits to provide a decent and safe workplace and most important where the workers are free and able to leave as they wish from a brute who exploits and enslaves his/her workers. It really isn't all that hard if you make a little effort. There are many organizations that have targetted bad employers and the American companies that do business with them and you can always crosscheck with any sane conservative group if you like. The religious ones especially are also interested in combating exploitation so you might be surprised to find the side they take in the fight.

      April 6, 2011 at 7:12 am | Reply
  4. Ed

    lets aso talk about the "California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010" – does anyone want to calculate the cost in investigating every point in a companies supply line? hmmmm – and who gets to pay for this? is the state of california going to? no – of course not – they just pass a bill and go about their merry little way and leave it up to the companies to pay for it.. now – how do you suppose they are going to pay for it? well – the consumer gets stuck with the cost in the form of hight costs.. well – with the economy like it is – do we really need one state adding to the cost of things I purchase in another state? hmmmm – well – i dont think we do – however – california went ahead and did it anyway... way to go – left coast.....

    April 5, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Reply
    • Neil Pastel

      And what state are you from? When your state contributes 400 billion dollars to the federal economy come talk to me. If it wasn't for our contribution to this hillbilly country, you would be a lot worse off. So before you hate on the Left Coast, why don't you learn just exacltly how we are vital to the survival of America. We can go without Alabama or whatever mooching conservative state you are from.

      April 5, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Reply
      • Steven R Vogel

        Neil, I think that was the very best response to someone about the "Left Coast" I've ever read!

        April 6, 2011 at 5:05 am |
      • DP

        Every tax dollar you give the federal government only encourages them. You're trying to convince me to give California credit for the federal government's size and reach, but you're only convincing me of how much it is to blame when the federal government harms liberty.

        April 6, 2011 at 8:49 am |
      • power4things

        Oh, Neil, com'on – without Deep South states to soak up federal money and produce a good supply of 5th-grade-graduate adults named Bubba, the only thing they would have is to produce those pretty girls by unskilled labor. And looking at some of the guys, that may qualify as slave labor. A San Diegan who agrees with you ...

        April 11, 2011 at 1:46 am |
    • BluegrassHoney

      Ed, the company already knows where it sourced out its labor and raw materials supply. As an engineer, I can say they already have this information at their disposal. All it takes it someone in IT/Software Development to create an internal application that contains all the pertinent info when procurement personnel source out a new supplier – and that info is then stored in a database. Its an extra step, but not one that should be that pricey. Those procurement personnel are already supposed to make visits to these places for quality control reasons, so it shouldn't be that much more of a stretch for them to ensure it isn't a sweatshop. Just to give food for thought..I used to work for Kohls. That shirt that goes on the sale rack for 80% off, for a price of $2.99 – Kohls still makes a profit on it.

      April 6, 2011 at 12:21 am | Reply
      • Jennifer

        So...you buy parts that come from a company in, let's say, New York. Do you have in your database where that company got the metal to make its parts? Do you have in your database where the company who produced the metal got the raw ore to make those parts? With every step in the process, the list becomes longer and longer...and most of the companies California corporations (what few of them are left) get supplies from other parts in the country and from other nations, with no actual knowledge of where those parts actually came from – or where the parts for the parts came from, or where the raw materials for those parts came from, etc.

        Think about it – you have to have information on your products from EVERY part of the supply chain – not just the part of the chain you yourself are responsible for. Seriously, think about it.

        April 6, 2011 at 2:16 am |
    • Jennifer

      No worries, California corporations are already or have already fled the state. There won't be any corporations left to provide this information by 2012.

      Between the high taxes, impossible restrictions, draconian reporting requirements, etc. – there's simply no profit in running a business in California.

      April 6, 2011 at 2:13 am | Reply
      • regertz

        Heaven forbid you should be troubled to find out if the people producing your products are enslaved or no. A person like you is not someone I want to buy from. If this legislation puts you out of business all the better. Others will step forward to take your business, including friends of mine who do go to such trouble and still run at a profit. Such arguments as yours have always been used to justify slavery and brutal treatment of workers. But thanks for proving such heinous attitudes aren't solely male.

        April 6, 2011 at 7:04 am |
    • Thomas

      So the extra 50 cents to $1 tacked onto a $1000 suit or $100 pair of jeans would be so repugnant to you that you'd be willing to allow sweatshop slavery to continue?

      April 6, 2011 at 9:28 am | Reply
    • Jlo

      Fair enough. Let's stop investigating where you get your next bottle of cough syrup from. See how upset your are about standards and regulations then...

      April 11, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Reply
    • Denise

      I prefer not to pay higher costs – but I really don't mind being the consumer who pays more, if it means helping to stop forced labor. It is a process. It can be effective if there is enough support.

      January 6, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Reply
  5. Rod C. Venger

    I'm curious...and confused. Is CNN a news media provider or an advocacy group? You can't be both. Objectivity flies out the window if you're doing anything more than observing and reporting what you see. If CNN wants to be an anti-slavery group, I"m all for it...but stop feeding people news. You've already stopped being neutral and objective.

    April 5, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Reply
    • al in memphis

      Rod you seen intelligent enough to understand that a new provider is an advocacy for the truth. So with an injustice like this I would expect CNN to keep reporting facts until enough momentum is in place to keep this inhuman thing from happening. This is about a person life and their right to dignity and pursuit of happiness that they can be proud to share with their family.
      Too often we sit behind our computers and are so out-of-touch with the fact that people are suffering without having any type of voice for their plight.

      April 5, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Reply
      • Fowardblue

        Bravo Memphis, I have been working with children who have lost their parents to slavery, immigration problems, and abandonment for 15 years. I do not make alot, I spend my own money, and put countless hours in every night. I do not understand why the fight against slavery is so under funded, maybe the feds will give us a chunk of the 60 billion dollar arms trade with Saudi Arabia where there are many slaves and brought here to the USA.

        April 6, 2011 at 5:12 am |
    • regertz

      These are facts, Rod. Important ones I want to be kept informed about. Note the businesswoman's comments denouncing the story and whining that legislation against slavery will make her job harder and her profits less. It's very much newsworthy when such people oppose this legislation. Good job, CNN.

      April 6, 2011 at 7:07 am | Reply
    • Jim

      Please clarify Rod. Are you justifying slavery for economic purposes?

      April 6, 2011 at 11:53 am | Reply
  6. Fowardblue

    Why is this happening when we have the ability to stop it. It is an immigration issue and a border issue, but I guess our Civil War was for nothing if we have slavery in the USA and we know where it happens.

    April 6, 2011 at 5:08 am | Reply

    You do know some of these companies will have there suppliers sign off "They don't use slave labor.". Also have a claws that allows them to cancel the contract and not pay them if they are caught.
    And then it is business as usual.

    April 6, 2011 at 8:36 am | Reply
  8. Bugg-1

    I agree with Forwardblue – Why is this happening? Companies certify suppliers in the procurement process; adding an internal audit function (risk management) function to ensure compliance is good business and has negligible costs. The reputation risk involved if a company is found with products using slave labor is disasterous. A company that does not check on its suppliers will take a hit in revenue or the stock price. Just ask Mattel Toys with the lead paint issue in China.

    If a compnay will not disclose it policies with its workers, then they are risk from a business standpoint and one should not business with them. Cutting costs and making money do not trump ethics and corporate responsibility; they go hand in hand. From a social perspective, our Civil War shows how divisive the issues of slavery can be. Our Civil War wasn't about the abomination of slavery, but it was about rich people wanting to keep the right to exploit human beings for economic gain. We ought to ashamed of our legacy; and we sure as heck did not have any advocacy for black folks aafter slavery. The same folks who exploited black people took their land, maintain a "separate but equal" system of access, and still discriminate against people today. How dare we pass judgement on other countries; let's get our house in order!!! Slavery is not just reprehensible, it is a violation of everything this country was founded upon. There is no rationale whatsoever for it; so again I ask the question, "Why is slavery still happening in the 21st century?" Because we allow it, that's why!!

    April 6, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Reply
  9. GOPisGreedOverPeople

    GOP health care plan: Turn the Old and the Sick into slaves since they won't be able to afford health care under the GOP proposed plan. Then whip the Old and Sick people until they are young and healthy. Or until they die. Then turn them into Soylent Green.

    April 6, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Reply
  10. candy

    i say shut down all the shops, take the owners out back burying them a giant hole get rid of them all, bring the little ones and there familes over here and protect them and give them some shelter along with our own, i think sometimes we forget that there is stuff like this happening in our own country and we need to focus on that and open up r own clothing factories, and give them a better life
    i juz sayin.........

    April 11, 2011 at 9:37 am | Reply
  11. fessica

    this needs to stop

    April 15, 2011 at 11:37 am | Reply
  12. Ekam Asibon

    i suggest the super powers focus on eradication of poverty. most of these kids would rather work under those inhuman conditions than starve to death. its so pathetic to know that people spend so much resources on animals, when children of their own specie are deprived & starving to death.

    May 13, 2011 at 11:41 am | Reply
  13. Greg

    California can't even control its own border and it is going to pass a law like this. That should be a crime.

    December 15, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Reply
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