David Sirota has an aptly titled post, From the I Shit You Not File: Business Aims to Relax Bans on Products Made with Child & Slave Labor:
Business groups are worried by the potential effects of provisions banning the import of all goods made with convict labor, forced labor, or forced or indentured child labor that were included in a customs bill sponsored by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA)...
These groups are examining the ramifications of the bill's provisions, especially in light of the bill's requirements that a newly created office in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) annually report to Congress on the volume and value of goods made with child labor, forced labor or convict labor that have been stopped at the border.
Business sources say this reporting requirement could cause DHS to more actively seek out imported products made with child labor, forced labor or convict labor...
One source did expect a push from lobbyists closer to the Finance Committee markup of the bill, and speculated that U.S. industry groups and foreign governments could form ad hoc coalitions to help send a united message.
The bill this group is referring to is S.1631, Customs Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Reauthorization Act of 2009, introduced by Senator Max Baucus and co-sponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley.
The provisions being objected to are probably this section:
SEC. 307. PROHIBITION ON IMPORTATION OF GOODS MADE WITH FORCED OR INDENTURED LABOR OR BY BENEFIT OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING.
`(a) Prohibition on Importation- No good may be imported into the United States, if that good was produced, in whole or in part--
`(1) with convict labor, forced labor, or indentured labor under penal sanctions;
`(2) by means of coercion (as defined in section 103 of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7102)), including by means of an employer withholding the passport or other travel documents of a foreign worker in order to compel the production of that good; or
`(3) by 1 or more individuals who, at the time of the production were being subjected to a severe form of trafficking in persons (as defined in section 103 of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7102)).
Did I say corporate lobbyists wish to return to 1897 where we had the super rich with no income tax and the poverty stricken masses, child labor, exploitation of women, no worker protections? Isn't slave labor just the ultimate productivity booster?
On a side note, it seems Senator Baucus is obsessed with snow globes. He has in the Legislative Congressional Record these bills introduced:
- S.1826 : A bill to suspend temporarily the duty on certain glass snow globes.
- S.1828 : A bill to suspend temporarily the duty on certain metal key chains with acrylic mini-globes.
- S.1829 : A bill to suspend temporarily the duty on certain acrylic snow globes.
Baucus also seems to have a special interest in golf bags:
- S.1928 : A bill to extend and modify the temporary suspension of duty on golf bag bodies made of woven fabrics of nylon or polyester sewn together with pockets, and dividers or graphite protectors, accompanied with rainhoods.
(Translation: Do these bills look like special favors from certain private corporate importers or what?)
Special favors aside, this is about the most outrageous effort yet by businesses to undermine labor protections. This action shows strongly how trade is not by the theory of free trade, finished goods and all about the race to the bottom, otherwise known as hunting the globe for the cheapest, most exploitable labor pools.
Great catch watchdog Sirota!