Sweatshop labor bill now law

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AUGUSTA (AP) – Anti-sweatshop activists have won passage of a bill that sets forth a process to discourage state purchases of clothing and shoes made under unsafe working conditions.

A bill that was signed Friday by Gov. John Baldacci sets up a procedure to file complaints against companies supplying clothing and shoes to the state if they fail to meet basic health, safety and human rights standards.

The legislation also sets procedures for the state to work with manufacturers to remedy violations and to cancel contracts with companies that refuse to cooperate with that process.

The bill moved through the Legislature weeks after a fire swept through a textile factory in Bangladesh, claiming the lives of scores of workers, many of them children. Many of the Asian country’s estimated 2,500 textile factories are built in violation of building codes and safety standards.

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