Concerned that Milwaukee and other American cities are being flooded with products that are below market rate costs (because of the prevalence of sweat-shop products from other countries), Ald. Zielinski is proposing a number of initiatives to help protect American jobs and human rights.
One of the ordinances he is introducing would prohibit the city from purchasing any sweat-shop produced goods. "Some foreign workers are being taken advantage of by having to work under inhumane conditions and wages," said Ald. Zielinski, "And in turn, the sweat-shop practices of other countries are costing Americans family supporting jobs. If there is to be a level playing field, government must use its purchasing power
to lead the way to social justice."
In addition to city purchases, Ald. Zielinski is also introducing a resolution to have the City of Milwaukee join the fledgling "Sweat Free Consortium." This consortium will be comprised of a number of governmental entities that are committed to purchasing Fair Trade products. The alderman said by pooling resources, governments can have more of an impact on reducing sweat-shop produced goods because of their buying power, and by providing independent monitors who would be charged with the responsibility of verifying that sweat-shop goods are not slipping through the cracks.
"We can pass all the ordinances in the world, but if we do not have a mechanism in place to insure that the products we are purchasing are actually sweat-shop free, then we will not have accomplished anything," said Ald. Zielinski.
Ald. Zielinski is also introducing a resolution that will have the City of Milwaukee join the Fair Trade Town movement. "Not only does this require the purchase of fair trade identified products," said Ald. Zielinski, "But it also encompasses an aggressive outreach and educational campaign to encourage private businesses to purchase fair trade identified products." There are over 300 Fair Trade Towns in Europe and Milwaukee would be one of the first in the United States. Presently cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, Chicago and others are working toward becoming Fair Trade Towns.
"I believe that a wave of the future will be Ethical Consumerism," Ald. Zielinski said. "People will become increasingly aware of how their purchasing power can help protect workers from being exploited and help protect American jobs. Fair Trade promotes a living wage while minimizing environmental impact. It helps prevent the middleman from taking advantage of farmers." Fair Trade Towns have logos and other methods of identifying businesses that engage in selling Free Trade products.
Because Ald. Zielinski is at the forefront of pushing these important initiatives, he believes the 14th Aldermanic District will be on the front line in the fight to protect American workers and human rights, and therefore also benefit from a commercial standpoint.