Maloney and Smith target slavery, human trafficking and child labor with bipartisan supply chain transparency bill

Jul 27, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) and Chris Smith (NJ-04) today introduced the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2015. The bill requires public companies with over $100 million in global gross receipts to publicly disclose any measures to prevent human trafficking, slavery and child labor in their supply chains as part of their annual reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The introduction follows today’s publication of the State Department’s 2015 Trafficking in Persons report, which stressed the need for governments to “set clear expectations for businesses on human rights issues and adopt policies that promote greater transparency and better reporting on anti-trafficking efforts in supply chains.”

“There is no question that many goods being sold to American consumers are produced with slave labor, and we have a moral obligation to do something about it,” said Rep Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12). “This legislation simply requires businesses to publicly disclose what actions they have voluntarily undertaken to remove labor abuses from their supply chains. It is a good first step we can take to improve reporting and transparency so that we can enforce existing laws against labor abuses and allow consumers to make more informed decisions.”

“Some companies may participate knowingly in human trafficking to pad the bottom line; others are willfully ignorant of where and how their inexpensive products are made; and still others simply do not know,” said Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), author of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), which mandates the annual world-wide trafficking assessment and ranking report. “The bottom line is there is no excuse for a company’s complicity or ignorance in the suffering endured by human trafficking victims hidden away in the supply chain. It is not enough for a company to say they are unaware of human trafficking in their product line; consumers and Congress want to know that companies are actively taking steps to ensure there are no connections between human trafficking victims and their business products and services.”

Maloney first introduced the bill in 2011 as The Business Transparency on Trafficking & Slavery Act (H.R. 2759). Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) plans to introduce companion legislation in the Senate.

Bill Summary:
The Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2015 amends the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to require businesses with over $100 million in global gross receipts to report to the SEC as part of their annual filings what policies they have in place to ensure their supply chains are free of slavery and human trafficking. Disclosures would be prominently posted on SEC and company websites for public access. 

Definitions of “Forced labor, slavery, human trafficking and the worst forms of child labor”:

“Forced labor, slavery, human trafficking and the worst forms of child labor” means child labor in violation of international standards including International Labor Organization Convention No. 182 and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and acts that would violate the criminal provisions related to slavery and human trafficking under chapter 77 of title18 if they had been committed within the jurisdiction of the United States.

Benefits for the Public:

  • Access to disclosure information on SEC and company websites will help consumers make informed purchasing decisions.
  • Companies are accountable to the public for their business practices.
  • Creates market competition to improve how businesses identify and address instances of slavery and human trafficking within supply chains.

Transparency by Companies:

  • Disclosure requires outlining practices employed to avoid use of slavery in supply chain in annual report to SEC.
  • Maintains internal accountability standards, supply chain management and procurement systems, and procedures for employees or contractors failing to meet the company standards regarding forced labor, slavery, human trafficking and the worst forms of child labor.
  • Does not dictate how companies do business.

Summary of findings:

  • Stating the statistics for goods made by forced and child labor, the U.S. role as an international importer and the laws that affect the U.S. in that role, domestic and global labor standards, pro-labor initiatives in the U.S., and domestic and global principles and initiatives to combat trafficking. 
  • Trafficking is deemed the most terrible act that humans commit against each other for commercial profit, and that businesses can help in the fight against trafficking through transparency of their practices.