The fight against human trafficking depends on businesses and government working together.
On September 24, 2020, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce held the Transportation Industry Against Human Trafficking forum to highlight what employers are doing to raise awareness and educate the public in the fight against human trafficking.
Stefan J. Marculewicz, shareholder and co-chair, Business and Human Rights Practice Group, Littler Mendelson P.C., is chair of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Task Force to Eradicate Human Trafficking. The task force is an advisory group made up of members who work with the federal government and the private sector to develop commonsense solutions and speak with one voice. Marculewicz introduced Elaine L. Chao, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT), who gave a keynote.
Secretary Chao emphasized that as a member of the president’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. DOT is leading and supporting a range of anti-human trafficking efforts at the state, local, federal, and international levels. The agency has called upon transportation leaders to sign the Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking pledge. She concluded her remarks, saying that “we have over 500 pledges signed by transportation leaders, labor, and non-governmental organizations. The signatories have committed to train over 1.3 million employees to help fight human trafficking.”
Following the keynote, Kendis Paris, co-founder and executive director, Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), and Sherry Sanger, executive vice president, marketing, Penske Transportation Solutions, provided an overview of a partnership formed between their organizations. Penske has committed to certify its 5,500 logistic drivers with TAT-provided training. These individuals receive TAT-provided wallet cards to recognize indicators and when to alert law enforcement. According to Paris, TAT is working with law enforcement, including state patrol and state agencies, on how to identify human trafficking using a victim-centered approach.
Ed Mortimer, vice president, transportation and infrastructure, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, then led a discussion featuring representatives of trade associations and non-governmental organizations about how the transportation sector has developed initiatives to raise awareness. For example, U.S. DOT awarded the inaugural “Combating Human Trafficking in Transportation Impact Award” to United Against Slavery (UAS) to create and complete a national survey of up to 20,000 respondents to measure prevalence. Results are expected to identify existing frontline barriers to recognizing signs of human trafficking and how to improve counter-trafficking efforts.
Elisabeth Barna, executive vice president, industry affairs, and senior adviser to the president and CEO, American Trucking Associations (ATA), spoke about ATA’s Man to Man Campaign. ATA’s 3.6 million professional truck drivers and 7.4 million individuals employed in the trucking industry act as ambassadors who are instructed to contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline when suspicious activity is detected. These drivers are also engaged in ATA’s social media campaign to help communicate the trucking industry’s stand against trafficking.
Lauren Kane, vice president of communications, National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA), described how NBWA developed the distributors against human trafficking awareness initiative training module to reach 142,000 individuals employed by beer wholesalers. The module consists of a video featuring co-chairs of the National Associations of Attorney’s General Human Trafficking Committee and field experts. NBWA is requesting that distributors play this video as part of an employee’s onboarding process. The objective is to reach 10,00 employees by 2022.
Mar Brettmann, CEO and executive director, Businesses Ending Slavery & Trafficking (BEST), said that human trafficking is a global problem as “80% of the victims who were trafficked internationally crossed a border.” Airports and seaports play an important role as a line of defense. She mentioned a survivor that BEST rescued who came to the U.S. as a child with seven siblings from Bangladesh and was not stopped at the airport, even though the perpetrator was a white male. If this victim had been stopped at the airport, then her trafficking could have been prevented. To address the problem at the ports of entry, BEST instituted an online project at the Port of Seattle for the maritime industry and the airport.
Dave McCleary, founder, End HT Now and global chairman, Rotary Action Group Against Slavery (Rotary), stressed that Rotary has unique influence. Rotary formed the Rotary Action Group Against Slavery to align the interests of business leaders, educators, law enforcement, and legislators globally. Rotary has the ability to reach across the aisle to develop legislation and work with firms to reemploy victims. Owing to Rotary’s involvement in Georgia, Delta has hired human trafficking survivors to help get them back on their feet. In the transportation sector, Rotary educates local bus drivers on how to spot trafficking indicators.