The U.S. prison system has been under increasing scrutiny in recent years for issues such as systematic racism, inhumane conditions, overcrowding, and sexual violence. While these issues are extremely pressing, another important issue, forced prison labor, is often overlooked. Therefore, as a labor rights organization, Verité determined that we could most effectively contribute to the critique of the U.S. prison system by lending an international human rights lens to the conversation on prison labor.
Ethical Recruitment Remains Elusive in Global Supply Chains: Learnings From Verité’s Remote CUMULUS Forced Labor Screen™ Platform
Despite the growing awareness of, and commitments to, ethical recruitment, an analysis of CUMULUS data from early 2019 to the present reveals that less than five percent of employers fully absorb the true cost of cross border recruitment, including all recruitment fees and related costs. Instead, those costs continue to be passed on to foreign migrant workers.
Workers who handle waste and recyclables support the health of our communities, economies, and the environment at the expense of their own health and wellbeing. On a daily basis, they may be exposed to hazardous materials, such as household cleaners, pesticides, and medical waste. The COVID-19 pandemic only heightens these health risks, particularly to informal waste pickers who collect the recyclable materials that we throw in the trash.
Migrant workers are frequently confronted with a choice: pay illegal or unethical recruitment fees for employment abroad or go without work altogether. To finance these exorbitant costs, they may take out loans that leave them vulnerable to debt bondage, a form of forced labor. For more than a decade, Verité has worked with global companies in diverse sectors to ensure their suppliers and business partners absorb the true cost of recruitment and prohibit the charging of recruitment costs to workers, in accordance with international standards and regulations.