The State Department’s Office of International Labor Affairs (ILA) strengthens respect for labor rights and advances workplace democracy in the global economy. ILA initiatives further U.S. foreign policy goals related to human rights, democracy promotion, trade, and sustainable growth. The office, which is part of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), also helps to implement the agenda of the Department’s Special Representative for International Labor Affairs.
ILA efforts to promote worker rights focus on internationally recognized labor rights relating to freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining, and the elimination of forced labor, child labor, and discrimination. In carrying out its work, ILA collaborates with NGOs, trade unions, companies, international organizations, and fellow U.S. federal agencies.
ILA helps to coordinate and support the work of Labor Officers and other staff covering labor issues in U.S. missions throughout the world. DRL sponsors an annual Award for Excellence in Labor Diplomacy, a two-week course at the Foreign Service Institute on Labor Officer Skills, and regional conferences. In 2010, ILA conducted training sessions for officers in Cairo, Bangkok, and Miami.
DRL provides millions of dollars in funding each year for projects that advance worker rights, build the capacity of independent unions, improve labor rights in supply chains, and promote dialogue among workers, employers, and governments.