US Accused of Violating International Labor Laws, Forced-Labor Protections

Labor News

Reprinted from The Washington Post by Eli Rosenberg on October 7, 2020.

Leaders representing a large number of US trade unions filed a complaint with the United Nations’ labor agency in early October, arguing that the country under President Trump has violated international labor standards during the coronavirus pandemic.

The complaint was filed by the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO at the Geneva headquarters of the International Labour Organization, a more than 100-year-old institution run by the UN that works to upholds human rights on work-related issues like safety and collective bargaining.

The complaint details numerous ways US labor law and enforcement are failing workers, and spotlights their further weakening under Trump.

And it charges the United States with violating workers’ rights in terms not typically associated with well-off countries, at one point saying the bind many essential workers have been placed in during the pandemic — forced to risk infection or lose their jobs and potentially unemployment benefits — amounts to a system of forced labor. …

Washington Post 10/7

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Jeff Burman served on the Guild’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 2019. He is now retired. He can be reached at