WASHINGTON –The U.S. Department of Labor led the United States’ delegation to the 2024 International Labor Conference in Geneva from June 3-14, 2024, joining over 4,900 delegates for the world’s largest annual conference on international labor rights. The ILC brings together governments, employers and workers from 187 member states.  Deputy Undersecretary for International Labor Affairs Thea Lee led a cross-agency delegation from the U.S. Departments of Labor and State, promoting workers’ rights across two weeks of engagements and negotiations. This year’s conference also highlighted the 80th anniversary of the ILO’s Declaration of Philadelphia which notes: labor is not a commodity, freedom of association and expression are essential to sustained progress and poverty anywhere constitutes a danger to prosperity everywhere. The department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, together with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Office of the Solicitor, participated in negotiations to develop a new International Labor Organization standard to protect against biological hazards in the working environment. The negotiations will continue at the ILC in 2025. ILAB and the Women’s Bureau helped negotiate strong conclusions in a discussion on the care economy, including focusing on the unequal distribution of care work, promoting comprehensive leave policies, addressing all forms of discrimination and highlighting the importance of collective bargaining in the care economy. “We are pleased with our progress at this year’s International Labor Conference in advancing the fundamental principles and rights at work for all workers, particularly the enabling rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining,” said Deputy Undersecretary for International Labor Affairs Thea Lee. “We are also proud to advance negotiations on the first-ever international standard on biological hazards in the working environment, as well as vital new supports for workers in the care economy.”  Discussion on the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work included a review of progress and challenges over the last eight years. The U.S. highlighted the need to give particular attention to freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining. The session’s conclusions reaffirm this and note the importance of action on freedom of association and collective bargaining in attaining the ILO’s strategic objectives.  In the meeting of the Committee on the Application of Standards, which assesses progress and challenges in individual countries, the U. S. made statements on Belarus, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, Turkmenistan and Eswatini. The U.S. delegation also participated in a special plenary sitting on “the situation of workers of the occupied Arab territories.” Deputy Undersecretary Lee and U.S. Department of State Special Representative for International Labor Affairs Kelly Fay Rodriguez also joined over 250 partners at the Inaugural Forum of the Global Coalition for Social Justice and emphasized the importance of freedom of association and collective bargaining to achieving social justice. Learn more about the department’s international work. 

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