International Labor and Employment Policy
The development of international labor and employment policy occurs in an environment and in institutions that are unfamiliar to most U.S. labor and employment lawyers and human resources practitioners. Yet, these policies are having a significant impact on more and more U.S. and multinational employers, especially as more and more businesses now compete in the global market.
In recent years, the U.S. Chamber has again taken a leadership role in educating the employer community and policy makers about international labor and employment policy and its impact on U.S. businesses.
International Employment Policy Primer
The U.S. system of employment and labor relations is unique in the world. The different orientation toward regulating the employment relationship results is a desire for mandates in the form of international labor standards, European Union directives, and multilateral codes of conduct that place restrictions on U.S. businesses operating overseas that we do not have in the U.S. Increased trade agreements containing labor provisions are also likely to have a significant impact on employers operating abroad. To provide an overview of the major institutions responsible for international labor and employment standards, the Chamber has developed a primer outlining processes used by the International Labor Organization (ILO), the European Union (EU), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and others. The primer also includes an overview of how international trade unions and business are involved in the respective international organizations. The primer was developed as part of the Charles H. Smith, Jr. International HR Policy Forum: HR Policy Challenges in Europe and Asia, held on December 1, 2004.
International Institutions Impacting Industrial Relations (PDF)
Labor Provisions and Trade Agreements
Labor protections are often discussed in conjunction with free trade agreements that the U.S. enters into with our trading partners and many trade agreements now include labor provisions. Labor provisions typically contain several elements including cooperative components and a submission process that individuals and others may use to allege violations of the trade agreement.
The Chamber has submitted significant comments with respect to the processes used under the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC or NAFTA labor side agreement) as well as the Labor Department's proposed process under other trade agreements. In general, the comments support the many cooperative efforts but are critical of the ways in which the submission process has been used by some entities who may be parties to a labor dispute in attempts to influence that dispute. We also suggested several methods to improve the process to reduce the potential for such abuse in the future.
Chamber Comments on the Operation and Effectiveness of the NAALC (PDF)
Office of Trade Agreement Implementation Comments (PDF)
Defining the "Employment Relationship"
The International Labor Organization is considering whether or not to adopt an instrument defining the employment relationship. The proposal is very broad and in many cases is inconsistent with U.S. law and practice. The ILO has sent questionnaires to its member nations asking for feedback on various aspects of the proposal. The Chamber has prepared a recommended response to the questionnaire in which we urge the ILO to reconsider its approach. We have shared with appropriate government officials as well as other employer organizations and will continue to reach out to other interested parties as the ILO considers this important matter.