ALBANY, N.Y. — Apparel manufacturers and contractors that were severely affected by the terrorist attacks in New York will be given preferential treatment in bidding for clothing contracts with New York state under a bill that is now before Gov. George E. Pataki, after passing both houses of the legislature.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat whose district encompasses the former World Trade Center site, strongly supports the measure.
“In an effort to provide assistance to our apparel industry and the thousands of workers it employs, this bill puts the considerable weight and buying power of the state into struggling companies,” Silver said.
“It has been estimated that over 100,000 jobs in the apparel [and related] industry have been lost,” said state Sen. Guy Velella, a Republican from The Bronx, who also chair’s the Senate Labor Committee and was a sponsor of the bill.
According to Silver’s office, businesses that were forced to shut production because of their location, the loss of access to employees, production equipment, utilities or other factors associated with the aftermath of the attacks will be enrolled in the Sept. 11 Bidders Registry. The registry allows for the companies to propose to state agencies clothing designs ranging from athleticwear to uniforms for police and corrections officers, lab workers and maintenance workers at bids within 15 percent of the next-lowest bidder.
Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, a Democrat from Queens who chairs the Assembly Labor Committee and was a bill sponsor, said it will alter the current State Finance, Labor and Education Laws to not only establish the registry, but also allow state agencies to purchase the clothing from businesses practicing fair labor conditions. The Labor Commissioner will also be required to present annual reports concerning the Special Apparel Industry Task Force.
“By enacting this legislation, we are taking the affirmative step of helping out the apparel industry, while ensuring that state money is well spent and that those getting contracts adhere to fair labor practices,” Nolan said. She added that “the state spends a considerable amount of money on apparel” and that the companies registered will be “the preferred source of apparel for all state entities, including agencies, departments, authorities, SUNY and CUNY.”
SUNY and CUNY refer to the state and city university system.
The New York Public Interest Research Group approves of the bill because it gives New York colleges the power to ask if their clothing suppliers use sweatshops to manufacture the apparel.
The measure mirrors similar legislation adopted by New York City dealing with apparel purchases.