Publication Date



[Excerpt] Labor rights advocacy is the most direct challenge to the primacy of a marketplace ideology in which efficiency and profit are the highest values. Labor rights advocates promote values of fairness, justice, and solidarity in global commerce. The battle to achieve enforceable hard law that protects workers' rights in the global economy is an important contribution to the labor movement's revitalization.

Can a beleaguered movement take on multinational companies and the governments that appease them on these varied international grounds when there is so much still to do on organizing, collective bargaining, and domestic political action? There really is no choice. International trade policy is now a battleground for workers' rights, just as national economic policy was the focus of the great reform movements of the turn of the century and the New Deal of the 1930s. The multiple arenas of international labor rights controversy are also forums for labor rights advocacy. The opportunities they present are as varied, and potentially as powerful, as the challenges.


Suggested Citation
Compa, L. (2001). Free trade, fair trade, and the battle for labor rights [Electronic version]. In L. Turner, H. Katz & R. Hurd (Eds.), Rekindling the movement: Labor’s quest for relevance in the 21st Century(pp.314-338). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Required Publisher Statement
Copyright held by Cornell University.