Clean Clothes Policy – Bangor

Date: 26 Nov 2008 | posted in: governance | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

On October 25, 1999 the Bangor ME(population 33,000) City Council passed a selective purchasing policy, establishing guidelines for buying clothing, footwear and other products from "responsible contractors."

Bidders to supply items such as police and fire uniforms, footwear and recreational equipment will be asked a series of questions: Where are the goods made? Is child or forced labor used there? Has the manufacturing facility been determined to have violated international labor standards? Are unions allowed? What are the wages like? The city then takes this information into account as one factor in deciding who gets the city’s business.

The policy was passed at the urging of the Bangor Clean Clothes Campaign, an organization that promotes the purchase of clothing made under international standards of conduct. In the last 15 years, Mainers have seen almost every unionized mill and shoe factory in the state move to Latin America and Southeast Asia, where sweatshop conditions occur frequently. Among them was Nike’s last American shoe factory, which closed in Maine in 1984.

Theethical purchasing policy follows on the heels of the City Council’s adoption in 1997 of the Bangor Clean Clothes Resolution. This largely symbolic resolution encouraged shops in Bangor to carry "clean clothing", or clothing they could be assured was not manufactured under sweatshop consitions. Many shops in Bangor display window stickers announcing their partnership in the city’s Clean Clothes campaign, meaning they have pledged to look into the circumstances under which their products were made. Partnership does not mean that stores carry only "clean" items, however. Many popular brands, such as Nike, Ann Taylor and Guess? would not pass this test and store owners are reluctant to give them up.

Text of the City Council Policy

Resolution of the City Council of Bangor (Maine)

Resolve, Establishing Guidelines to Address the Purchase of Items of Apparel, Textile, and Related Products from Responsible and Ethical Contractors

WHEREAS, it is in the interest of the City of Bangor to purchase items of apparel, textiles, and recreational equipment from responsible and ethical contractors who provide quality goods and services at a competitive price; and

WHEREAS, certain manufacturers in these industries in the U.S. and around the world have been found to maintain sweatshop conditions which include below-subsistence wages; unhealthy and unsafe working environments; excessively long hours; child, indentured, and prison labor; persistent disregard for local and international labor laws and workplace regulations; and systematic repression of fundamental women’s rights, human rights, and workers’ rights; and

WHEREAS, standards outlining responsible and ethical practices can be found in: the International Labor Organization’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 32.1), I.L.O. Conventions Section 29, Article 2; Section 105, Article 1; Section 87, Article 2; and Section 98, Article 1; the United Nations Declaration on Gender Equity (paragraph 139), the U.N. General Assembly Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Articles 4, 5, 23.1, 23.3, 23.4, and 24).; and

WHEREAS, sweatshops threaten the jobs and wages of workers in (name) and elsewhere, whose companies may relocate for cheaper labor; and

WHEREAS, appropriate government purchasing practices can be effective in combating sweatshop production practices.


Section 1. Whenever possible, the City of Bangor will purchase items of apparel, footwear, textiles, and related products from responsible and ethical manufacturers who operate in accordance with established codes of corporate conduct regarding wages, workplace health and safety, forced labor, child labor, and freedom of association, as embodied in United Nations (U.N.) and International Labor Organization (I.L.O.)conventions.

Section 2. All requests for bid on such items shall include a statement of the City’s policy regarding such purchases.

Section 3. The Purchasing Agent shall submit a series of questions to bidders on items of apparel, footwear, textiles, and related products designed to determine the manufacturing facilities in which the products under consideration are made, to ascertain working conditions at these manufacturing facilities, and to demonstrate that working conditions are of concern in the City’s purchasing decisions.

Section 4. At the time of bid consideration by the Finance Committee, the City’s Purchasing Agent shall provide to the Committee information received on the working conditions of the manufacturers from whom the goods may be received. The source of this information may be the manufacturer, the distributor from whom the goods are purchased, reputable national and international organizations, well documented media reports, and local groups with concerns in this area. The Finance Committee shall take this information into account in evaluating the bids received and making any bid awards.

Section 5. The Purchasing Department shall review its past purchases to determine which goods in these categories purchased by the City over the past year are manufactured or produced by firms that have violated international standards of labor rights or human rights as determined by a suitable and bona fide international body such as the International Labor Organization of the United Nations. Such review may also include pertinent information on the manufacturers of these goods from other reputable sources, including those outlined in Section 5 above. The Purchasing Department shall report its findings to the Finance Committee of the Bangor City Council by February 1, 2000.

Section 6. This Resolve shall remain in effect until February 1, 2001.

Priorto that date, the Finance Committee shall review the effectiveness of this policy in assisting the City in purchasing covered goods from responsible and ethical manufacturers and any impact which this policy may have on the ability of the city to purchase such items at competitive prices.

Passed: October 25, 1999

More Information:

  • Clean Clothes Resource Center – the first U.S. community-based campaign against sweatshops in the global clothing industry, is part of a global campaign to insure that clothing on local shelves is made according to international standards of ethical production. A program of Peace through Interamerican Community Action