The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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New California Act will take action against human trafficking

In the wake of human trafficking month in January, California issued a new law requiring corporations to disclose online what steps they are taking to prevent forced labor and human trafficking.

Human trafficking, as defined by the U.N., is a crime against humanity. The act involves the recruiting, transporting or receiving of any person through the use of force or exploitation.

The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act will require about 3,200 companies with net worths of $100 million or more to indicate on their home pages where exactly their supplies or goods originate from. Companies that rely on outsourcing also need to post what specific actions they are implementing to promote human rights.

Major consumer companies have faced human trafficking investigations in the past, include Gap Inc. and Firestone. The most recent corporation to combat scrutiny is Apple, which is currently under investigation following a mass suicide threat at their suppliers’ (Foxconn) headquarters in China. Apple is suspected to have hired Chinese slave labor to manufacture iPads under harsh conditions.

Apple declined to comment on its compliance with the new law.

“It’s happening in everybody’s factory,” said Julie Tanner, human rights advocate and director of Christian Brothers Investment Services, in a January interview with the Christian Science Monitor. “That’s why it’s so critical that companies do this kind of risk assessment.”

Jennifer De Maio, CSUN professor of political science, said the new law is a stepping stone in creating further legislation to end human trafficking.

“When diamonds became associated with blood diamonds in Africa, no one wanted to buy them,” De Maio said. “I think legislation like this will make the public more socially aware of the products they buy. Though it’s not the answer to all factors involved, it will certainly make a dent in human trafficking.”

The new law will also create a certification process for suppliers. Once companies post their efforts and comply with existing human traffic laws, they will receive certification that deems their materials free of trafficking and slave labor practices.

Gregory Velazco y Trianosky, CSUN professor of philosophy and business ethics, said certification will not necessarily hinder corporations from resorting to slave labor.

“Corporations are quick to put blame on their contracted suppliers” Velazco y Trianosky said. “They act stunned when investigations like these come out and claim they had no prior knowledge of illegal activity.”

Velazco y Trianosky said corporations set unrealistic quotas for individual supply workers.

“To meet these impossible quotas, workers then start bringing their families and sometimes even their children to help with the work load,” Velazco y Trianosky said. “It only takes a few minutes for executives to see that these quotas are not only being produced, but exceeded. But since profits are so high, they turn a blind eye and don’t question how one supplier can fulfill such extreme orders.”

The act also requires corporations to provide company employees and management with courses and training in human trafficking. As mentioned in the act, the goal of these programs is to educate employees working directly with suppliers in order to prevent human violations.

De Maio said K-12 schools and universities should also implement similar courses in order to inform students of global disparities and explore the cause and effects of slave labor.

“There are millions of human trafficking cases not only in the U.S. but around the world,” De Maio said. “It’s a cycle. The earlier we integrate knowledge of these practices, the sooner younger generations will grasp the situation and grow up to make socially conscious decisions.”

According to the Polaris Project, there are about 12 million people subjected to exploitation and slave labor in the United States. Overall, the Polaris Project estimates human trafficking is a $32 billion industry affecting 161 countries worldwide.

Corporations that do not comply with the new law will be prosecuted by the California attorney general and may be subjected to an undisclosed amount of fines or even imprisonment for executives.

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