Engaging Workers and Civil Society to Strengthen Labor Law Enforcement

Project Duration
September 2018
September 2023
Funding and Year

Workers and civil society organizations help to supplement and support government labor law enforcement efforts by proactively identifying potential labor violations and filing justiciable complaints with the appropriate authorities.  This project works in U.S. trade partner countries to improve labor law enforcement, as well as compliance with labor-related U.S. trade provisions, by improving the involvement of workers and civil society organizations in this process.

The Problem

Government efforts to ensure that workplaces adhere to relevant labor laws and labor standards can be significantly strengthened by the active involvement of workers to identify violations of labor laws and initiate complaints.  Labor inspectorates often lack sufficient resources to comprehensively inspect all work establishments on a timely basis and also may lack the specialized knowledge of industry-specific structures and strategies (e.g., how subcontracting agreements work) necessary to conduct thorough and effective inspections.  Workers and CSOs can help to fill these gaps by proactively identifying potential labor violations and filing justiciable complaints with the appropriate authorities, regardless of a labor inspectorate’s schedule or available resources.  Workers often have the most information about violations and can play a vital role in effective enforcement in situations where there are too many worksites or where the worksites are too diverse for the government to fully monitor compliance.  This project works in U.S. trade partner countries that have identified labor law enforcement challenges to help support civil society organizations in playing an active role in labor law enforcement, increasing rule of law, improving compliance with labor-related trade obligations to the U.S. 

Our Strategy

This project works both to expand workers’ labor law knowledge and to build worker capacity to understand the applicability of relevant labor laws to their circumstances and conduct their own assessments of workplace violations.  It also works to ensure that this capacity is shared across a broad, evolving workforce and sustained over time.  The project seeks to complement recent government advances in labor law enforcement by providing training to help workers and their organizations more effectively document violations, make strategic use of reporting and enforcement mechanisms, and seek the most appropriate remedy, depending on the specifics of the case and sector.

Solidarity Center
Contact Information:
(202) 693-4900 / Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA)
FY18 Projects