Announcements and upcoming events
The CGWR is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the International Labor Organization's (ILO’s) Declaration of Philadelphia, which in 1944 insisted on the right of working men and women around the world to economic security and political freedom. It also committed the ILO to programs that would achieve, among other ends, full employment and improved living standards for all, along with the right to freedom of expression and of association and the recognition of the right of collective bargaining. Join us for this event in Philadelphia itself, which is free and open to the public:
THE GLOBAL SPIRIT OF PHILADELPHIA:
The ILO, Economic Security, Political Freedom and Labor Rights
in the 21st Century
A Public Conference taking place at the
McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania
May 10, 2014
a fell schedule of speakers will be posted soon.
ALTA GRACIA in the news:
See the recent PBS Newshour piece on the Alta Gracia garment factory in the Dominican Republic, "Can garment factories pay a living wage and still compete in the global economy?"
Alta Gracia Apparel is a groundbreaking clothing line produced at a very unique factory in the developing world that pays workers a living wage -- a salario digno, or wage with dignity. The company puts forth the effort to respect its employees’ rights as both workers and as human beings.
For more, see the website: Alta Gracia, Living Wage Apparel
Past CGWR speakers
Jeffrey Hilgert spoke about his recent book, Hazard or Hardship on February 27.
Hilgert is Assistant Professor in the School of Industrial Relations at the University of Montreal. His book Hazard or Hardship: Crafting Global Norms on the Right to Refuse Unsafe Work (Cornell University Press, 2013) takes a close look at the rights of workers to refuse unsafe work, describing how a movement in support of such rights was generated in the 1970s and spread globally through international labor standards.
Hilgert spent several years as a labor rights and anti-poverty activist in Minnesota and has been the recipient of human rights awards, a Fulbright and an Archibald Bush Foundation fellowship for his efforts. He holds a Ph.D. in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University.
Click here to see photos from the event.
February 7, the CGWR welcomed Gaochao He, professor in the department of political science at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China, and co-director of the International Center for Joint Labor Research. He spoke on “Chinese Labor Unions in an Era of Great Transformation: Challenges and Best Practices in Guangdong.”
Click here to see photos from the event.
Trade Unions and other Social Movements: Between the Challenges and Opportunities of Globalisation.
Graduate Conference 2014
April 1-4, 2014 , Georg-August University of Göttingen, Conference Centre by the Historical Observatory. Organised by the Hans Böckler Foundation in cooperation with the Göttingen Graduate School of Social Sciences (GGG)
For information on the CGWR symposium on precarious work. See: Symposium 2013
"Global Workers’ Rights: Patterns of Exclusion, Possibilities for Change"
PROFESSOR GUY STANDING gave a keynote address on March 20. For a video of this, see Guy Standing's address.
Watch an interview with Standing, Professor in Development Studies at the University of London and co-president of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), describes the idea of a basic income on the show, The Big Picture.
About the Center
The Center for Global Workers’ Rights (CGWR) works to move the research agenda on sweatshops, labor standards, and labor rights forward by organizing academic exchanges and events, promoting research, and creating a network of scholars, practitioners, and activists working on these issues around the world.
Center for Global Workers' Rights launches new MPS in Labor and Global Workers' Rights
For more information, see MPS Workers Rts tab or click here.
The Center for Global Workers’ Rights, in coordination with the Global Labour University, is launching a twelve month MPS program in Labor and Global Workers’ Rights (pending final presentation to the Board of Trustees of Penn State). The program, designed for mid-career US and international labor practitioners, will focus on strategic corporate research and campaigns, international and comparative employment relations systems, and workers’ rights in the global economy. The application deadline is April 15, 2014. It is scheduled to start in August 2014.
A limited number of assistantships will be awarded to qualified applicants in need of financial support. For more information, please see http://www.global-labour-university.org/323.html.
For an overview of the MPS: MPS overview.
For a description of the curriculum: MPS curriculum.
For information on the application process: MPS application process.
Bangladesh labor organizer Kalpona Akter and Reba Sikder, a garment worker and survivor of the deadly Rana Plaza collapse, spoke to Penn State students on Tuesday, February 18th.
Bangladeshi labor organizer Kalpona Akter and Reba Sikder, a garment worker who survived the Rana Plaza collapse, spoke at Penn State on a United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) tour. Rana Plaza, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, came into the international spotlight after a tragic collapse killed over 1000 people in April of 2013. The two women spoke about their struggle to force brands to sign a legally binding agreement to improve apparel factory safety and working conditions in Bangladesh, as well as what students can do to make Penn State sweat-free!
Renwei Liu, Joyce Sinakhone, Rana Plaza worker Reba Sikder, Kalpona Akter from the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, CGWR Director Mark Anner and CGWR Post-Doctoral Scholar Jakir Hossain
Last month, Penn State administrators set forth a requirement that, effective March 31, 2014, any company producing Penn State logo goods in Bangladesh must sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety to help ensure safe working conditions. Failure to sign the Accord by March 31 will lead to termination or non-renewal of the license agreement.
Kalpona Akter (left) and Reba Sikder (right)
Reba Sikder speaks about here experience in this video.
Mark Anner, winner of the James G. Scoville Paper Award by Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA)
Mark Anner’s article “Corporate Social Responsibility and Freedom of Association Rights: The Precarious Quest for Legitimacy and Control in Global Supply Chains.” (2012, Politics & Society 40(4): 604 – 639) was awarded the James G. Scoville International/Comparative Best Paper Award at the Labor and Employment Relations Association meeting in June 2013 in St. Louis. For the paper abstract click here, Anner, Corporate Social Responsibility and Freedom of Association Rights.
Workshop on Strikes, Unions, and Workers in China, Vietnam, and Bangladesh
On February 7, the CGWR hosted the "Workshop on Strikes, Unions, and Workers in China, Vietnam and Bangladesh." Attendees included (from left to right) Johns Hopkins University student Guowei Liang, Professor Gaochao He of Sun Yat-Sen University (Guangzhou, China), CGWR Post-doctoral Scholar Jakir Hossain, CGWR Director Mark Anner, and CGWR visiting scholar Renwei Lui.
East Meets West: The ILO From Geneva to the Pacific Rim, edited by Jill Jensen and Nelson Lichtenstein (Palgrave MacMillan, forthcoming 2014)
Despite much discussion about the emergence of a post-industrial economy, more people labor on an assembly line today than at any other moment in world history, in large part due to the explosive rise of export manufacturing in East Asia, in Central America, and much of Latin America. The production of goods is readily shifted around the globe—even from a country such as China, which has reportedly lost production to other countries, many in East Asia, as a result of rising wages and the implementation of the new contract labor law in that large nation.
Given these dynamics, a labor standards/human rights based model of transnational social regulation as described by the International Labor Organization (ILO) has become essential. East Meets West: The ILO From Geneva to the Pacific Rim (Palgrave MacMillan forthcoming 2014), edited by Nelson Lichtenstein and Jill Jensen, brings together a series of original essays by scholars from various national settings and disciplines to explore the role, influence, and meaning of ILO action for nations of the Americas, Australia, and Eastern Asia. Nelson Lichtenstein is MacArthur Foundation Professor in History at UC, Santa Barbara and Jill Jensen is Visiting Assistant Professor working with the Penn State Center for Global Workers’ Rights.
The Democratization of International Institutions: First International Democracy Report, Routledge – December 2013
This new book, released in December 2013, offers a theoretical assessment of the process of democratization of international organizations through the discussion of a range of global international organizations, including the International Labour Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, and other regional and inter-regional organizations.
For more information on the volume, click here.
Fast food workers fight for workers' rights
Research into the campaigns of low wage workers in the United States
By Joyce Sinakhone
Joyce Sinakhone is conducting her master’s thesis research on the fast-food workers movement, and is assisting the Center in launching its new Master’s in Labor and Global Workers’ Rights program.
In recent months, low-wage workers across the nation have been standing up against exploitative practices and seeking improvements for all U.S. workers, including those often not afforded basic employee protections. The gains made prevent wage depression, the replacement of stable jobs with precarious positions, and eroding working conditions. On August 29, 2013, fast food workers staged a coordinated strike that involved 58 cities, despite being employed in a notoriously anti-union industry. In 2012, most of the 3.6 million workers who earned the federal minimum wage ($7.25) or below worked in service occupations such as food preparation. Recently, however, these low-wage workers have been demanding pay increases and the fair chance to organize with the help of union-backed community groups. Such workers are fighting for a living wage and the chance to form a union without retaliation, and their numbers are on the rise. Job growth during the recession
has been led by low-wage service occupations.
It is yet unclear whether retail and fast food workers around the nation will be able to achieve a living wage, but some companies have already proven that it is possible. Costco famously offers better wages compared to competitors, but fast food companies also profited while paying workers fair remuneration. Detroit-based burger eatery Moo Cluck Moo boasts a starting wage of $15 per hour and In-N-Out offers benefits for part-time and full-time employees along starting wages far above the federal minimum.
Click here for an extended article by Joyce Sinakhone.