Chairman Menendez Introduces Global Labor Rights Legislation
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today introduced the Global Labor Support Act to support and advance internationally recognized labor rights around the world.
The legislation follows the release last year of a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic Staff investigation of the treatment of garment workers, labor rights, and factory safety in Bangladesh. The report, titled “Seven Years After Rana Plaza, Significant Challenges Remain,” found that labor rights in Bangladesh have declined sharply in recent years, with union organizers facing pressure on their ability to associate, organize, and demonstrate. Workers and labor unions across the globe are also experiencing similar challenges.
To respond to this deteriorating environment for labor rights and unions, the Global Labor Support Act authorizes significantly increased funding and support for labor rights programming, including a five-year extension of the Global Labor Program. It further strengthens U.S. engagement on global labor rights by establishing the position of Ambassador-at-Large for Global Labor Rights and requiring a new annual State Department report on the country-by-country status of internationally recognized labor rights. The legislation also specifically addresses the decline in labor rights in Bangladesh by authorizing new funding to support labor unions there and requiring the President to work with the Government of Bangladesh to update that government’s previous commitments regarding labor rights and worker safety.
“In April 2013, the Rana Plaza tragedy showed the world the devastation caused when workers are not able to organize and stand up for their rights. Unfortunately, in Bangladesh and many other countries, the situation for workers has only deteriorated since then,” Chairman Menendez said. “In the face of these challenges, I am proud to introduce the Global Labor Support Act, which authorizes significant increases to funding for labor rights and union strengthening programming and boosts our diplomatic engagement on labor rights through the creation of an Ambassador-at-Large for Global Labor Rights. By supporting labor rights and labor unions, this legislation helps us build a better future for workers around the world.”
At a March 2020 event to unveil the SFRC report investigating the treatment of garment workers in Bangladesh, Senator Menendez was joined by AFL-CIO’s President Richard L. Trumka to discuss the need for a new legislative effort to help advance the global fight for freedom of association and workers’ rights at home and around the world.
Full text of this legislation can be found here.
Key provisions of the Global Labor Support Act include:
Reinforces U.S. Global Labor Rights Programming:
- Establishes the Global Labor Rights Fund to support entities whose main purpose is to protect and promote labor rights, and authorizes the appropriation of $30 million annually for the Fund for each of fiscal years 2022 through 2028
- Authorizes the appropriation of an additional $30 million for separate labor rights programming for each of fiscal years 2022 through 2028
- Extends the Global Labor Program for an additional five years and authorizes the appropriation of not less than $13 million for the Program for each of fiscal years 2022 through 2028
Strengthening Diplomatic Engagement and Accountability on Labor Rights:
- Establishes the position of Ambassador-at-Large for Global Labor Rights to lead and coordinate the U.S. Government’s diplomatic engagement with foreign governments on the promotion and protection of internationally recognized labor rights
- Requires the imposition of Global Magnitsky and 7031(c) sanctions on those responsible for gross violations of human rights of workers
- Requires the Secretary of State to submit an annual public report on the country-by-country status of internationally recognized labor rights and requires that a senior labor attaché position be created at U.S. missions in countries with consistently poor records on labor rights
Supporting Labor Rights in Bangladesh:
- Authorizes the appropriation of not less than $3 million for programming that supports labor unions in order to promote labor rights in Bangladesh for each of fiscal years 2022 through 2028
- Requires the President to work with the Government of Bangladesh to update that government’s previous commitments regarding labor rights and worker safety
- Requires the deployment of a senior labor attaché to Embassy Dhaka
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