THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Today, I am pleased to announce new initiatives that build on our efforts to put a more human face on the global economy by protecting workers, children, and families from abusive and unfair labor practices. Around the world, tens of millions of children are deprived of their childhood and subjected to the worst forms of child labor, slavery, forced or compulsory labor, prostitution, pornography, and other kinds of harmful and unsafe work. At the same time, many millions of workers toil under conditions that are deplorable and unacceptable. These Anti-Sweatshop grants and the Customs Advisory on Forced and Indentured Child Labor represent additional tools to help eliminate sweatshops and abusive child labor across the globe.
Over the last eight years, we have made the U.S. a leader in the global fight to stamp out abusive labor practices and open the door to education and opportunity. I am proud that the U.S. was among the first nations to ratify the International Labor Organization's (ILO) Convention 182 for Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor. With the support of Senator Tom Harkin, we have increased our contributions to the ILO's International Program for the Elimination of Child Labor fifteen-fold from $3 million in 1993 to $45 million today. We have doubled to $10 million Customs Service resources to enforce the ban on the importation of goods made with forced or indentured child labor. And last year, we passed a new $37 million Department of Labor School Works program to strengthen educational systems in developing countries, targeted to areas where abusive child labor is prevalent.
I would like to make a special note that one of the Anti-Sweatshop grants being announced today is being awarded to the Fair Labor Association (FLA), a diverse coalition of manufacturers, consumer groups, labor and human rights organizations, and universities dedicated to ensuring that products purchased by American consumers were not made in sweatshops overseas. The FLA grew out of the Apparel Industry Partnership, a coalition we first brought together at the White House in 1996 to combat sweatshop labor. This pathbreaking partnership was given new energy and vitality when Chuck Ruff agreed to be its first Chairman. Chuck used his unique leadership and coalition-building skills to give the FLA a successful start. While Chuck recently passed away, the significant accomplishments of the FLA under his leadership will live on as one of his many contributions to a better, fairer world.