NEW YORK — In a move to promote domestic apparel production and protect garment workers, New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevy signed an executive order Tuesday requiring all apparel and uniforms purchased by the state for its employees to be manufactured in the U.S.
The order also mandates that suppliers to the state provide decent living and working conditions for its employees and comply with all applicable labor laws. The order also created an Apparel Procurement Board to accept complaints about state vendors and bidders and to investigate potential labor-law violations.
McGreevy signed the order at the New Jersey State AFL-CIO’s legislative conference in Atlantic City.
Charles Wowkanech, president of the state AFL-CIO, said the order will ensure that “tax dollars will not be stained with blood, sweat and tears shed by sweatshop workers.”
As the problem of sweatshops in the U.S. and abroad has returned to the public eye in recent years, a number of states and municipalities have taken steps to make sure government procurement offices aren’t doing business with suppliers that violate labor laws.
In September, New York State enacted a law allowing local school boards to reject contracts with apparel suppliers that violate labor laws, even if they are the lowest bidder. The city of Durham, N.C., and Olmstead, Ohio, have also enacted similar measures.