Sen. Hawley to Introduce Bill to Hold Corporate America Accountable for Having Slave Labor in Supply Chains

Monday, July 20, 2020

U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is introducing legislation to hold American companies accountable for slave labor in their supply chains. The Slave-Free Business Certification Act (S. 4241) increases corporate supply chain disclosure requirements, mandates regular audits, requires Chief Executive Officers to certify that their companies’ supply chains do not rely on forced, slave labor, and creates penalties for firms that fail basic minimum standards for human rights.

Senator Hawley said, “Corporate America and the celebrities that hawk their products have been playing this game for a long time – talk up corporate social responsibility and social justice at home while making millions of dollars off the slave labor that assembles their products. Executives build woke, progressive brands for American consumers, but happily outsource labor to Chinese concentration camps, all just to save a few bucks.

“If corporate America wants to be the face of social change today, they should have to certify they are completely slave-free. Participate in independent audits to verify it and disclose steps to ensure slave labor won’t become part of the equation later on. And if they refuse to do so, they should pay the price. That’s social responsibility.”

At least 80 global companies have been tied to forced Uyghur labor in China, from sportswear companies like Nike, Adidas, and Puma to tech giants like Lenovo and Samsung. These issues extend beyond China. For example, Starbucks and Nespresso rely on underpaid Brazilian laborers who are denied basic necessities like food and water.

The Slave-Free Business Certification Act

  • Compels companies to disclose the steps they are taking to eradicate forced labor, slavery, and human trafficking from their supply chains
  • Directs major companies to undergo independent audits to ensure they are not complicit in forced labor and trafficking in their supply chains
  • Mandates public reports to the Department of Labor on the results of their independent audits
  • Requires CEOs to certify that their supply chains are free from slave labor or that they have reported all instances of forced labor in their companies