The Department of Justice has identified St. Louis among the top 20 human trafficking jurisdictions in the United States.
Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery.
The National Council of Jewish Women-St. Louis Section’s held a conference on the subject Oct. 1 at Sheet Metal Workers (SMART) Local 36’s Hall in St. Louis.
The conference, co-sponsored by Communication Workers of America (CWA), Missouri American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Carpenters District Council 6; Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1, SMART Local 36 and the Missouri AFL-CIO, covered tools of the trade, what individuals can due if they suspect someone is being victimized and, perhaps most compelling, a workshop titled “Labor Trafficking: In Your Neighborhood.”
According to the AFL-CIO, human trafficking thrives in an environment of worker exploitation and engenders forced labor, debt bondage and other egregious labor abuse.
State Rep. Jake Hummel (D-St. Louis), secretary-treasurer of the Missouri AFL-CIO, spoke about what can be done to stop trafficking and how to take an active role in sex and labor trafficking awareness.
Bradley Harmon, president of CWA local 6355, also led a workshop on “What We Have, What We Need” which discussed where we are currently in the fight against trafficking and what actions we need to take in order to move forward in putting a stop to these horrific crimes. Some key actions included:
• Prohibiting of destruction, concealment, removal, or possession of any false passport, immigration, or other government documents.
• Requiring hotline postings to provide referrals for victims seeking assistance, tips to law enforcement and general information about human trafficking.
• Reinstating funding for the MO Department of Labor inspectors who look for labor trafficking and other labor related issues. Currently funding allows for only 3 in the entire state.
Being a victim of human trafficking is not a choice; being proactive about the issue is a choice.
The National Council of Jewish Women is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms.