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Weekly Trade Spotlight: Labor

Next week marks the 128th Labor Day—a holiday dedicated to the social and economic accomplishments of our nation’s workers. In celebration of Labor Day, we are highlighting USTR’s ongoing commitment to protecting the rights of workers here in the United States and across the globe.

In 1882, the Central Labor Union’s proposed a celebration, envisioning a day of festivity aimed to showcase “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations.” Today, as millions of Americans marvel at Labor Day parades and fireworks displays across the country, that vision still rings true.

It is with those values that the Obama Administration seeks to uphold America’s labor requirements in our international trade agreements. Here at USTR, the Office of Labor Affairs negotiates and implements labor provisions of bilateral, regional, and multilateral trade agreements. Additionally, the office monitors and enforces adherence to workers rights requirements of our trade agreement partners.

Earlier this summer, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced the Administration’s decision to file a case against Guatemala under our trade agreement with Central America and the Dominican Republic for violations of obligations on labor rights. Ambassador Kirk’s announcement was the first of its kind; never before has the United States brought a labor case under a trade agreement.

“With this case, we are sending a strong message that our trading partners must protect their own workers, that the Obama Administration will not tolerate labor violations that place U.S. workers at a disadvantage, and that we are prepared to enforce the full spectrum of American trade rights from labor to the environment,” said Ambassador Kirk.

In Guatemala, as with all of our trading partner nations, USTR is dedicated to advocating for workers and enforcing labor standards. Visit here to learn more about what USTR is doing to ensure workers everywhere the same level of protection and prosperity that America’s labor movement fought to achieve over a century ago.