U.S. Rep. Ken Buck has introduced legislation to require CEOs of American corporations to audit their organizations and ensure there is no use of slave labor in their supply chains, and to report to the U.S. Secretary of Labor the results of the audits.
“It’s time we expose these ‘woke’ executives of American companies who pride themselves on their so-called progressive policies while they outsource supply chains to Chinese concentration camps,” said Buck in a statement. “If Corporate America truly wants to be socially responsible, they must certify that they are slave free.”
At a hearing of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary earlier this week, Buck asked the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google if they could attest to no use of forced labor in their products, which they did.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is sponsoring a companion bill in the Senate. Last week, Hawley accused Nike of using slave labor from the Uyghur ethnic minority in China to make its uniforms. Forbes reported in March that a study linked 83 multinational corporations, including Nike and technology companies, to forced Chinese labor practices.
Buck’s Slave-Free Business Certification Act would apply to businesses with sales in excess of $500 million. They would need to conduct annual audits of their supply chains for the presence of forced labor and report the results both to the labor secretary and on their own websites. Auditors would need to review company records and interview workers and managers. Violations would be disclosed to Congress, and the U.S. attorney general could pursue civil action against companies. There could be fines of up to $500 million for willful violations.
The International Labour Organization, an agency of the United Nations, has found that more than 40 million people were forced into “modern slavery" in 2016, which included 24.9 million people in forced labor and 15.4 million people in forced marriages. For every 1,000 people in the world, there are an estimated 5.4 victims of slavery.