Statement from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on today's decision by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to issue a Withhold Release Order (WRO) prohibiting the entry of cotton-made goods that are linked to the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC):
Today’s decision is an important step in addressing the systematic repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim and Turkic people in China. The XPCC is a state-owned paramilitary organization that has long played an integral part in agricultural and industrial production in the region. It has forced Uyghur and other Turkic and Muslim workers in the region into farming, processing and production facilities. The XPCC and its subsidiaries have been previously included in the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list and linked to numerous companies that in turn have relationships with global supply chains.
The AFL-CIO recognizes this progress but continues its call for a comprehensive response to the systematic human rights and labor abuses in the Uyghur Region. This would provide unequivocal guidance for corporations to comply with already existing U.S. laws on trade in goods produced with forced labor and clean up their tainted supply chains.
The AFL-CIO and other organizations filed a 1307 petition on Aug. 28, 2020, calling for a WRO prohibiting the entry of all cotton-made goods, including from third countries, linked to forced labor in the Uyghur Region. To enforce such an WRO, the CBP should act with maximum transparency and be provided the necessary human and financial resources to ensure that this executive action is effective in ending the trafficking of tainted goods entering U.S. markets and homes and enriching companies that profit by forced labor. To ensure that these measures do not depend solely on executive action, the AFL-CIO calls on the Senate to pass the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act as passed by an overwhelming and bipartisan margin (406-3) in the House of Representatives.
Contact: Carolyn Bobb (202) 637-5018