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US government lags in complying with global labor standards

Re “US retailers should do more for safety in Asian factories”: Your Jan. 13 editorial correctly notes that the big US retailers have been deficient in their response to safety and working conditions following the global wake-up call that the Bangladesh factory disasters presented. There is another big player whose response should be carefully and critically examined.

The federal government buys more than $1.5 billion in soft goods and, as a December New York Times article revealed, is hardly more conscientious than the private firms in its labor standards compliance.

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Attached to the Defense Authorization Act was an amendment that would have required military post retail stores to source from firms that are part of the agreement that the Globe praised. It did not survive in the final bill.

Combined with poor procurement practices, our tax dollars are still supporting sweatshops.

Robert J.S. Ross


The writer is a research professor of sociology at Clark University and vice president of the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium.

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