Breaking News
More () »

Big companies must share efforts to stop human trafficking under bill

The bill was written in partnership with a survivor of human trafficking.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Large businesses operating in Washington state would be required to disclose efforts to eradicate human trafficking within their supply chains under a proposed Senate bill.

SB 5541 would require every seller and manufacturer with more than $75 million of worldwide gross receipts to publicly display efforts to remove human trafficking and forced labor from its direct supply chain.

“It really is a way of just telling the consumers, 'Hey, these are the companies that have certified that they're not using forced labor. And these are the companies that have not,'” said state Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-District 45, who proposed the bill.

Dhingra crafted the legislation after speaking with a survivor of human trafficking who told her story to KING 5 earlier this year.

Rani Hong was kidnapped from her family in India when she was 7 years old and forced into labor slavery. She ended up in Olympia after working for a man who ran a cement factory.

"He was using children to make brick and within that, he basically was abusing children, exploiting them for their labor," Hong told lawmakers Monday during a hearing in the Senate Committee on Labor & Commerce. "So I'm bottom of the supply chain."

But under the proposed legislation, companies that choose not to disclose if forced labor was used in their supply chains won’t face any consequences.

“I expect our business community not to be happy. No one likes being told that they have to do more work. Many times the penalties may not be needed if companies step up and do the right thing. And if they do that on their own, we won't need to go there. But it really is going to be a wait-and-see approach,” said Dhingra.

The bill would require the Department of Revenue to share a list of non-compliant sellers and manufacturers with the Attorney General and legislature.

According to the United Nations, forced labor and human trafficking net more than $150 billion in illicit profits annually.

At least one previous attempt to pass legislation surrounding forced labor and supply chains in Washington failed several years ago due to backlash from the agriculture industry.

Before You Leave, Check This Out