St. Louis County Council Approves Anti-Sweatshop Rules, Hears Concerns About Power Plant | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Council Approves Anti-Sweatshop Rules, Hears Concerns About Power Plant

Mar 12, 2013

On Tuesday night, the St. Louis County Council approved changes to its purchasing rules that prevent vendors from supplying it with garments made in so-called sweatshops.

Under the new rules sweatshop practices are defined in part as failing to comply with labor laws of the country where the garments were made and exposing workers to toxic chemicals.

Councilman Greg Quinn was the only member to vote against new procedures, saying the language of the ordinance is unclear, especially with regards to overtime pay.     

In contrast, the bill’s sponsor, Councilman Pat Dolan, said the updated rules will protect the human rights of workers who make clothing purchased by the county.

Under the proposed rule changes, any vender that does not comply will be barred from doing business with the county for one year.  

Power Plant Concerns

Several residents told council members they were concerned about emissions from the Meramec Power Plant in Oakville.  

John Hickey, chapter director of the Sierra Club of Missouri, told the council that sulfur dioxide emissions from the power plant are well above standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“The Meramec Coal Plant puts S02 into air in such concentrations that it causes public health problems like asthma and stroke,” Hickey said.

County Executive Charlie Dooley said that the county would take steps to ensure adequate monitoring of air quality near the plant.

“St. Louis County does not have that responsibility any more, it’s the Missouri Department of Natural Resources,” Dooley said.  “We will write them a letter and indicate that we would like them to monitor air in that area.”

A representative with Ameren, which runs the plant, was not immediately available for comment after the meeting. 

Follow Tim Lloyd on Twitter: @TimSLloyd