The issue of worker rights has become prominent in the negotiation of U.S. FTAs. Some stakeholders believe that worker rights provisions are necessary to protect U.S. labor from perceived unfair competition and to raise standards in other countries. Others believe that worker rights are more appropriately addressed at the International Labor Organization (ILO) or through cooperative efforts and capacity building on worker rights. Since 1988, Congress has included worker rights as a principal negotiating objective in Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) (previously known as fast-track) legislation. The United States has been in the forefront of using trade agreements to promote core internationally recognized worker rights. Worker rights provisions in FTAs have evolved significantly since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), moving from side agreements to integral chapters within FTA texts, along with cooperation and enforcement provisions.
Date of Report: June 18, 2015
Order Number: IF10046
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