Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has introduced a bill that would require the federal government to only buy apparel that is 100 percent made in America.
Brown says the Wear American Act is imperative for a number of reasons. First, shifting production back to the U.S. would boost manufacturing and prevent the nation’s trade deficit from expanding.
Second, it’s an economic stimulus. The federal government currently spends approximately $1.5 billion a year on federal employee uniforms made overseas.
It’s also about worker rights and safety, says the Senator, who explains that the bill allows for waivers in such cases where the items cannot be domestically-sourced, but the government will only be allowed to do business with contractors in compliance with labor, safety and child labor laws.
“It’s bad enough it’s not made by American workers,” said Brown. “It’s five times worse if it’s made by workers who often are children and not treated well. That’s shameful, and that’s the first thing we fix.”
Under current law, 51 percent of federal workers’ apparel must come from U.S. manufacturers. There has been serious concern by the labor movement about the failure and the lack of oversight of the federal government in reaching that benchmark.
Brown says under the bill, federal contractors will be required to disclose the locations of their factories and working conditions to the General Services Administration.