Today, President Biden signed the first-ever Presidential Memorandum outlining the Administration’s commitment to worker rights globally. In doing so, President Biden is directing Federal departments and agencies to advance labor rights and worker empowerment in their work abroad.
President Biden is the most pro-worker President in history, and is committed to building a sustainable global economy from the bottom up and middle out. Together, he and Vice President Harris have committed to ensuring high labor standards, bringing workers’ voices to the decision-making table, and enforcing rules against unfair labor practices – not just here at home, but around the world. Upholding common standards and protecting fundamental rights are key for American workers and American companies to compete fairly in the global economy.
Workers and labor organizations are key defenders of democracy. Throughout history, in diverse contexts ranging from apartheid South Africa to communist Poland, Brazil’s military rule, and Myanmar’s coup, trade unions have been instrumental in citizen movements for democracy and inclusion. U.S. actions to support workers’ right to organize will help to preserve and expand civic space and ensure workers’ voices are heard.
The Memorandum signed by President Biden today organizes U.S. actions around the following priority lines of effort:
- Using Diplomacy, Economic Engagement, and Foreign Assistance to Promote Internationally Recognized Labor Rights, Worker Empowerment, and Organizing. The U.S. Government, through diplomacy, foreign assistance and programming, trade, and commerce, will strengthen engagement with governments, workers, labor organizations and trade unions, civil society, and the private sector to protect and promote respect for internationally recognized labor rights, including the prevention of forced labor, child labor, and other abuses.
- Preventing and Responding Swiftly and Meaningfully to Threats, Intimidation, and Violence Against Trade Union Leaders, Labor Rights Defenders, and Labor Organizations. Labor rights advocates and their organizations around the world can become targets for repression. Attacks on labor leaders and advocates are attacks on human rights defenders, and we will publicly, as appropriate, express our concern for the risks faced by those individuals, highlight cases of labor rights defenders on the front lines and under threat as appropriate, and support their protection.
- Strengthening Capacity Across Federal Departments and Agencies to Lead a Global Labor Agenda. U.S. global leadership on labor rights is needed urgently, and we must equip our departments and agencies to redouble our efforts. This will include enhanced training on labor rights across federal departments and agencies, and enhanced cross-agency coordination to advance labor priorities.
- Engaging Multilateral Organizations and Building Coalitions to Advocate for Internationally Recognized Labor Rights, Worker Organizing, and Improved Global Labor Standards. Consistent with President Biden’s commitment to multilateralism, the U.S. Government will seek global cooperation on improving international labor standards and build coalitions to protect internationally recognized labor rights. We will increase our engagement on labor issues in diverse multilateral forums and will invite partners to join us in our efforts.
- Enhancing Trade Enforcement and Other Related Tools to Promote Internationally Recognized Labor Rights. Protecting the rights of workers at home and abroad is an integral part of advancing a trade policy that contributes to inclusive economic growth. The U.S. Government will expand ongoing efforts to promote trade and economic initiatives that advance labor rights, and reaffirms its commitment to using applicable enforcement tools to meaningfully address labor rights violations.
Today’s action builds upon the Executive Order establishing the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment; the Multilateral Partnership for Organizing, Worker Empowerment and Rights that is part of the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal; and the recently launched Partnership for Workers’ Rights with Brazilian President Lula da Silva.
We look forward to working with partners and allies, workers, labor unions, and other labor stakeholders, and with international organizations to realize these goals.