Sunday, December 6, 2020

Rodriguez-Florez publishes comprehensive and insightful article on 2015 labor petition under US-Peru TPA

A new article published by Maria Eugenia Rodriguez-Florez in the E-Journal of International and Comparative Labour Studies, "Trade Mechanisms as a Way to Improve Labor Rights Compliance and Its Policies. A Case Study from the United States-Peru Free Trade Agreement," fills several key gaps in existing literature on the intersection between free trade agreements and labor standards.

Rodriguez-Florez's article conducts a comprehensive and insightful analysis of the July 23, 2015 petition filed with the US Department of Labor (DoL) Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA) under US-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) Labor Chapter 17. The 2015 petition, which alleged that the Government of Peru failed to comply with its labor obligations under the US-Peru TPA, is under-theorized in comparison to labor petitions filed under the NAFTA labor side agreement and CAFTA-DR Chapter 16 on Labor. 

Utilizing interviews with governmental,  employer, union, and non-governmental actors and observers in Peru and the US, the article:

  • delves into international cooperation efforts several years prior to the filing of the petition;
  • pinpoints conflicting theories on how the decision to the file the petition was made (international versus local Peruvian genesis);
  • discusses the legislative impacts (or non-impacts) of the petition process in the Peruvian Congress; and
  • explores the possible ultimate impacts the petition and the resulting 2016 report issued by the OTLA may have on workers' rights in Peru. 
The 2015 labor petition under the US-Peru TPA contrasts with the 2008 Guatemala labor petition filed under the CAFTA-DR because the Peruvian petition has not been subjected to formal inter-governmental dispute resolution under the free trade agreement. Rodriguez-Florez elucidates not only the cooperative mechanisms utilized by governmental and non-governmental parties to address labor rights issues raised in the petition - but the perspectives of Peruvian government officials on the impact the petition process has had on Peruvian labor policy. The article also includes insights and analysis of Peruvian labor law - as well as the 2013 reform of Peru's labor inspectorate, which was previously a state-by-state mechanism but is now a federal mechanism.

Rodriguez-Florez's article sets the template for a new literature on the impacts of labor provisions in free trade agreements. It is a must read for anyone conducting research and writing in the field - as well as for advocates seeking to utilize FTA labor provisions as tools to improve workers' rights.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

New article by Gabriel & McDonald brings fresh perspective on cross-border migrant advocacy

In a new article published in Third World Quarterly, Christina Gabriel and Laura Macdonald bring a fresh social movements perspective to research migrant worker petitions filed under NAFTA's labor side agreement, the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC).

Published on August 6, 2020, New architectures for migration governance: NAFTA and transnational activism around migrants’ rights compares two migrant worker petitions filed under the NAALC - the 2001 Washington Apple case and the 2013 H-2B Carnival Workers case. The article discusses the different roots of the petitions (trade unions v. legal aid attorneys and cross-border allies) and shows how the petition processes contributed to the development and strengthening of new and existing cross-border advocacy groups.

The article is an important contribution to the growing literature analyzing the use of regional legal mechanisms to advocate on behalf of migrant workers in North America. Definitely worth the read!

Monday, August 3, 2020

Save the Dates! DC LERA has a great line-up of Webinars this fall

Following up on a star performance by AFL-CIO Chief Economist and Howard University Economic Professor William Spriggs back in May 2020, the Washington, DC Chapter of the Labor and Employment Relations Association (DC LERA) has a great line-up of speakers this fall.

Due to less than ideal circumstances as a result of the pandemic, the DC LERA community is unable to meet for its monthly lunch meetings - but this gives us the opportunity to share our great fall speaker series with the rest of the world through a series of webinars to be hosted by the Washington, DC Office of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

This fall, we've got:

September 9Nancy Groce, Senior Folklife Specialist at the Library of Congress, speaking on The Occupational Folklife Project

October 21Jeff Vogt, Director Rule of Law Department, Solidarity Center speaking on The Right to Strike in International Law

November 18Wilma Liebman, Former Chair of the National Labor Relations
Board, President of National LERA, An Evening with Wilma Liebman

And for our sports fanatics,

December 16Mark Hyman, Director, Povich Center for Sports Journalism, at the University of Maryland and Adam Richelieu, NFL Players Association, speaking on Labor-Management Issues in the NFL

Mark Your Calendar and Stay Tuned!

For more information, see our website at or Follow us on Twitter at @DCLERA.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

NAFTA and NAALC: Twenty-Five Years of Trade-Labour Linkage now on Kindle!

NAFTA and NAALC: Twenty-Five Years of Trade-Labour Linkage Second Edition (Compa & Brooks, 2019) is now available on Amazon Kindle!

Great news for people like me who primarily read e-books.

NAFTA & NAALC transition to USMCA with cross-border issues affecting women workers in the foreground

My latest piece in Regulating for Globalization on the recent report issued by the Mexican government on sex discrimination in US work visa programs maps North America's transition from NAFTA and NAALC to USMCA / T-MEC / CUSMA on July 1, 2020 through a report issued by the Government of Mexico in response to a 2016 labor petition filed under the NAALC.

The excellent petition filed by the bi-national organization Centro de los Derechos del Migrante (CDM) was both ground breaking and perfect for resolution under a regional agreement like NAALC or USMCA given the cross-border nature of recruitment and hiring under the US agricultural H-2A, low wage H-2B, and other US work visas, including the NAFTA T-1 visa for professional workers.  The companion petition filed by UFCW Canada about sex discrimination in recruitment for Canada's binational Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) was similarly ground-breaking. Some articles and commentary on the petitions include:

While it does not appear as though a report has been released in response to the UFCW Canada NAALC petition, an early report from UFCW Canada indicated that the union was able to obtain a positive outcome from Mexico's national anti-
discrimination commission Consejo Nacional para Prevenir la Discriminación (Nacional Council for the Prevention of Discrimination - CONAPRED). Under an agreement mediated by CONAPRED, Mexico's labor ministry Secretariat del Trabajo y Previsión Social (Secretary of Labor and
Social Protection - STPS) agreed to eliminate gender discrimination by 2021 (Galvez, Godoy & Meinema, 2019, p. 205). Nevertheless, they note in their 2019 book chapter that the percentage of women in the SAWP has not increased since the original petition was filed. 

Saturday, May 23, 2020

New and updated resources on COVID-19 and global workplaces - Verite, ILLEJ, ILO, ITUC, IFC, Solidarity Center, Ergon

Italian Labour Law E-Journal 2020
There has been a proliferation of excellent resources on COVID-19, global workplaces, and social protection systems tn the two months since the WHO announced that COVID-19 was a global pandemic. Below are some of my favorites:

  • ILO: The ILO's resource website on COVID-19 and the world of work continues to be a great resource on COVID-19 and the workplace, with a 3rd Edition of the ILO Monitor on COVID-19 and Work published on April 29, 2020. One of my favorite new reports on the ILO site is The COVID-19 response: Getting gender equality right for a better future for women at work issued on May 11, 2020. This 11-page report provides data on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on working women. Unlike the 2008 crisis which primarily impacted the economic sectors in which men predominate, the COVID-19 crisis affects those sectors in which women predominate - healthcare, education, retail, food and hotel services, and administrative services. The economic effects of the pandemic are also having a major impact on the 740 million women around the world who work in the informal sector. These women have no access to workplace, income, or social protections when they cannot work due to lockdowns and curfews.
Solidarity Center 2020
In addition to the "Just the facts, ma'am" resources, there are resources that delve into workers' stories and experiences and the effects of the pandemic on specific sectors of workers. Some of these key resources include:
  • Verité: The consulting services NGO Verité has compiled several Reports on Labor-Related Impacts of COVID-19, including reports the global public health crisis has had on agricultural workers, workers and farmers in the cocoa sector, the garment industry, hospitality industry, illegal mining and logging, and migrant workers in the Gulf - just to name a few.
CDC Investment Works & Ergon 2020
There are also some great resources for employers on how to support workers and keep workspaces safe from the risk of COVID-19 infection.

  • International Finance Corporation: The IFC published Interim advice for IFC clients on supporting workers in the context of COVID-19 on April 29, 2020. The 9-page guidance sheet explains the COVID-19 challenges faced by different categories of workers (seasonal workers, women workers, older workers, workers with pre-existing conditions, casual workers, gig workers, migrant workers). It then provides tips and tools for employers to help workers address these challenges in global supply chains. 
  • CDC Investment Works and Ergon developed COVID-19 Guidance for investors and financial institutions on job protection, a 16-page advisory that makes the business case for addressing job protection, then provides guidance for investors and financial institutions on how to address job-related risk in investment portfolios and implement financial measures to protect jobs in times of crisis.
Jobs, and therefore job protection, are a crucial part of this ability to recover. Skills and labour are valuable company resources, and retention of these skills can allow businesses to maintain a competitive edge beyond the crisis, avoiding potentially costly hiring and re-training costs in the future. This is especially relevant if there is likely to be competition for skills and talent in certain sectors once the COVID-19 crisis is over. (CDC Investment Workers, 2020)

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Powerful Wilson Center webcast on the impact of COVID-19 on gender disparities in Latin America

The Wilson Center (2020)
The May 19, 2020 Wilson Center webcast on The Impact of COVID-19 on Gender Disparities in Latin America featured three excellent presentations by experts in Guatemala (Adriana Quiñones), Uruguay (Karina Batthyani), and Washington, DC (Claudia Piras) on the acute challenges faced by women in Latin America during the COVID-19 crisis.

The public health crisis and lockdown are exacerbating existing disparities and challenges women face on a daily basis. These challenges and disparities include unequal access to the labor market, low quality jobs in the informal sector, lack of social protections such as healthcare and social security, occupational segregation, the excess burden of care work in the home, and domestic violence. The speakers highlighted that despite general awareness of the challenges women face on a daily basis, the COVID-19 policies and assistance programs developed by national and regional institutions do not target women to receive benefits - or simply leave them out by adopting eligibility requirements most women cannot meet.

All three of the speakers are doing cutting-edge work that is worth checking out.

The panel was to the point with lots of timely and sobering information packed in. Women in Latin America are suffering during this crisis and policy makers at the national and international level need to act now.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Great resources on global workplace laws and social policies and COVID-19

If you watch the news in the US and missed The Daily Show from Trevor Noah's Living Room recently, you might not realize that COVID-19 affects every country in the world.

Dealing with the pandemic is straining legal and policy frameworks, particularly when it comes to the workplace. These strains shine a cold hard light on the shortcomings in national and international workplace and social policies - whether it is the lack of laws governing telework, lack of an unemployment compensation system in Mexico and other Latin American countries, the absence of a national paid sick leave law and little to no job protection in the United States, or the absence of income or workplace protection for large groups of people around the world who are migrants or toil in the informal sector of the economy.

Some great resources have popped up in the past month to help us begin to understand how COVID-19 is affecting the workplace and how countries are approaching the pandemic in workplace law and policy. Check them out! The articles are short but impactful, shedding light not only on how COVID-19 is affecting workplaces around the world but also on how policy makers and other workplace actors are dealing with the crisis.

1. The International Labor Organization (ILO) has a dedicated web page COVID-19 and the world of work which contains articles discussing how the pandemic is affecting different groups of workers (for example, young workers), country responses to the pandemic, and periodic monitoring reports,  The first report, published on March 18, consists of a preliminary assessment of the impacts of COVID-19 on the world of work and steps policy makers, employers, and trade unions have taken to mitigate those impacts. An updated report was posted on April 7.

2. The Special COVID-19 Edition: ABA International Labor and Employment Law Committee Newsletter published on March 26 covers a variety of countries and regions including Australia, Argentina, Costa Rica, Central America, France, Germany, Mexico, Thailand, Turkey and the United Kingdom (both generally and with regard to immigration). As described by Editor Rick Bales in the Workplace Law Prof blog, "The special edition of the newsletter contains a series of short articles describing how several countries from throughout the world are using workplace laws to combat the spread of COVID-19 and to mitigate its effect on workers and workplaces. Though our survey is not comprehensive, it nonetheless provides a snapshot of the often thoughtful and creative ways that countries are responding to the crisis."

3. The Italian Labour Law e-Journal published Special Issue: Covid-19 and Labour Law: A Global Review designed to be a comprehensive resource written by labor law scholars from around the world. I want to highlight in particular the Editorial in which the Editors wrote, "Although the precautions suggested by the epidemiologic science, like for example social distancing, are the same around the world, national governments and legislators are translating them into specific policies and normative solutions, in different attempts to balance health and economic interests. Hence, it is important to explore differences and similarities, with a view to identifying diverging patterns and common trends."

The ILLEJ editors are hoping to broaden coverage of countries around the world and have issued a call for additional country articles, The special issue "is designed to be 'work-in-progress'. Scholars from the Countries not already dealt with are welcome to submit their contribution. The deadline for new submission is 4 May 2020. Please send your expression of interest beforehand at the following email address:"  Due May 4.