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The Labor Department in The Carter Administration:
A Summary Report — January 14, 1981

By Ray Marshall

Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB)

The Bureau of International Labor Affairs caused new recognition and attention to be focused upon the impact of trade and other international policies on American workers and communities.

ILAB's close cooperation with organized labor contributed to the passage of the Trade Agreements Act of 1979, which implemented the Multilateral Trade Negotiations agreements. Negotiations by ILAB outside the MTN framework include: Orderly Marketing Agreements (OMA's) on footwear with Korea and Taiwan; OMA's on color TV's with Japan, Korea, and Taiwan; and multilateral and bilateral negotiations related to the multi-fiber textile arrangement.

ILAB research significantly influenced Executive Branch decisions on and public perceptions of such important subjects as: the impact of foreign direct investment and international transfer of technology on U.S. trade, production, and employment; the effects of changes in tariffs on domestic production and employment; the costs and effectiveness of adjustment assistance programs for workers displaced by import competition; the effects of changes in the international competitiveness of U.S. producers on domestic employment and earnings.

ILAB also played a leading role in making changes in the International Labor Organization (ILO) resulting in the President's decision for the U.S. to rejoin that body.

As required by the Trade Act of 1974, ILAB steered the trade adjustment assistance program for workers through a major expansion of the program.

During the four years, ILAB investigated, and provided decisions on over 8,000 petitions for trade adjustment assistance. More than 3,000 affirmative decisions affected some 1.1 million workers, who were determined to be eligible to apply for benefits.

ILAB also embarked upon a modest information and basic data program to improve the understanding in the United States of international issues impacting upon labor, and to disseminate abroad timely and reliable information on U.S. labor developments.

Additionally, a fundamentally new Department-to-Ministry technique was implemented by the Secretary with his counterparts in nine important countries, with specific joint research and cooperative consultations being carried on with each country.

The Department also intensified its participation in the OECD and worked with the Department of State to strengthen the Labor Attaché program.

These international efforts are very important to the Department's mission. American workers interests are internationalized in a world of modern communications and transportation and the emergence of a more interdependent and integrated world economy. Moreover, information vital to the Department's programs has been developed through international comparisons and joint projects. By helping other countries and international organizations better understand the problems facing workers throughout the world, international labor standards are strengthened, strengthening American worker protections. Our international activities also add a different dimension to better relations between the United States and other countries.

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