January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and one beverage industry organization is taking steps to make an impact. Last summer, the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) launched the Distributors Against Human Trafficking initiative. The goal: to train truck drivers for beer distributors to recognize signs of human trafficking along their routes. On Tuesday, the organization announced it has trained 6,000 beer delivery people since the start of the initiative.
As reported by Forbes, the initiative started in 2018 when members of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) realized that beer delivery drivers spend a lot of time visiting bars, restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores, and truck stops—all locations that may utilize modern-day slavery or coerced labor or commercial sex. Trafficking is a lucrative trade and much more common than you might think; in fact, the U.S. Department of Defense estimates that operations worldwide make an extra $51 billion a year by using forced labor. That’s why TABC partnered with the state’s beer wholesalers to train drivers to spot and report signs of trafficking. South Carolina beer wholesalers followed suit, and the nationwide initiative began soon after.
According to Forbes, the training isn’t really all that robust—it consists of an eight-minute video, and distributors can claim to be “certified” after having their drivers watch it. The NBWA does also offer additional materials like break room posters to remind employees of trafficking warning signs. Those signs include “fearful, anxious or submissive behavior” and “poor hygiene, malnourishment or fatigue.” While the initiative might not seem like much, it’s starting a conversation that needs to happen. And, as history has shown us time and time again, you should never underestimate a truck driver.