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September 1994, Vol. 117, No. 9
Labor standards in the context of a global economy
Kenneth A. Swinnerton and Gregory K. Schoepfle
A recent symposium sponsored by the U.S.Department of Labor's Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) focused attention on the relationship between intentionally recognized labor standards and global economic integration. The gathering considered the connection between international labor standards and international trade, the perspectives of business and labor, and policy perspectives and future directions for initiatives on international labor standards.
The April 25, 1994, 1-day symposium, entitled "International Labor Standards and Global Economic Integration," also celebrated the 75th anniversary of the founding of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and its work in promoting international labor standards. A diverse group of U.S. and foreign government officials, academes, trade unionists, business owners and managers, and other private sector representatives came together to consider the ILO's work and the policy issues related to a strengthened link between international trade and labor standards. This article presents a summary of the proceedings of the symposium.
U.S. Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich opened the symposium with the keynote address and U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor presented the luncheon address. A special address was given by ILO Deputy Director-General Heribert Maier. The first of three panel sessions, including three academic economists (Michael Piore from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Richard Freeman from Harvard University, and T. N . Srinivasan from Yale University), considered the connection between international labor standards and international trade. The second, which considered the perspectives of business and labor, featured Frank Doyle, executive vice president of the General Electric Co., and Thomas Donahue, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO. The third session, with former U.S. Representative Donald Pease, former U.S. Trade Representative Clayton Yeutter, and Columbia University economist and political scientist Jagdish Bhagwati, considered policy perspectives and future directions for initiatives on international labor standards.
As with any policy initiative, a discussion of labor standards and their role in global economic integration should assess the overall need for action, the specific actions to be taken, and how, where, and by whom they are to be implemented and monitored.
This excerpt is from an article published in the September 1994 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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ILO labor statistics convention: U.S. accepts new obligations. June 1991.
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