Human Trafficking in Our Transportation System

Every day around the world, women, children, and men become victims of human trafficking and are exploited for domestic work, sweatshop labor, or sex. Too often, those exploited arrive at their destination through our vast transportation system. Itís estimated that 27 million people fall prey to modern-day slave traders. And if you think this is not a problem in the United States, you would be wrong. The United Nations tells us that human trafficking is a $32 billion-per-year industry, with half of those profits made in industrialized nations. And in fact, a UNICEF brief explains that the United States is ďa source and transit point for trafficking and is considered one of the major destinations for trafficking victims.Ē

Thatís why the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) is joining the effort to better educate transportation workers about the horrors of human trafficking. Transportation workers are uniquely positioned to help combat this global scourge on humanity. The TTD Executive Committee, made up of leaders of 33 unions with members in the transportation sector, has endorsed the Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking initiative led by the Department of Transportation (DOT) in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), praising Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood for his leadership on this difficult issue.

As part of the DHS Blue campaign, DOT has begun training its 55,000 employees and 20,000 contractors in ways to identify the warning signs of trafficking, and Amtrak, whose workforce is largely represented by TTD-affiliated unions, is training its 20,000 workers on how to recognize and safely report to authorities instances in which passengers appear to be trapped in a trafficking situation. Other employers are following suit and we will cooperate in this effort.

The policy statement adopted by the TTD Executive Committee affirms our commitment to do our part given the fact that traffickers rely on our nationís transportation network to move their victims inconspicuously and hide their crimes in plain view. With modern communications tools and strategic partnering with employers, transportation workers are perfectly situated to spot someone being trafficked and help in the fight to end to this global human tragedy.