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M-POWER is a historic global initiative focused on ensuring working families thrive in the global economy and elevating the role of trade unions and organized workers as essential to advancing democracy.

Introduced in December 2021 as a component of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal, M-POWER is now a partnership of governments, global and national labor organizations, philanthropic institutions, and civil society stakeholders committed to working together to uphold workers’ rights, strengthen the capacity of democratic unions to organize and represent all workers, and facilitate conditions for unions to be active participants in a vibrant civil society.

The goals of M-POWER are to ensure that:

  • Worker organizing, unionization and collective bargaining are promoted;
  • Workers shape public policy; and
  • Workers access ILO Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. 

The M-POWER Action Plan includes four pillars:

  • Global issue campaigns supporting local action on worker priorities;  
  • Country-level coordination to advance worker rights;
  • Urgent action to protect labor activists and organizations facing threats; and
  • Strategic communications to elevate worker voice and priorities.

Why is M-POWER important?

Strong labor movements are essential for healthy, inclusive democracies. Independent and democratic trade unions provide workers a voice in the workplace, community, and the political system making it possible for them to defend their rights, advance their interests, improve wages and working conditions, and have a voice in the policies that affect their lives. For global democracy to thrive, the international community must strengthen the capacity of democratic worker organizations, particularly in countries where worker rights and democratic values are under threat.

How Does M-POWER Work?

Working together through a steering committee that balances worker and government voices, through diverse advisory and action committees; and an independent secretariat.

  • Technical assistance projects to support worker rights
  • Diplomatic action to protect and uplift democratic worker organizations
  • New research to demonstrate the impacts of protecting worker rights on democracy and inclusive economic growth
  • Stakeholder engagement to promote labor rights enforcement in trade, global industries, and supply chains

Who are M-POWER Partners?

The initiative convenes a range of partners to coordinate efforts, review progress on commitments and drive action.

M-POWER’s founding co-chairs are the government of the United States and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

The governments of Argentina, Canada, and Spain; the International Domestic Worker Federation; the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU); the AFL-CIO (the U.S. confederation of trade unions); and the Funders Organized for Rights in the Global Economy (FORGE) foundations comprise M-POWER's steering committee. Allied governments, philanthropic institutions, civil society organizations and academic entities committed to workers’ freedom of association and rights continue to build the initiative.1

What is the role of the U.S. Government in M-POWER?

In the context of the Summit for Democracy in 2021, the US Department of Labor, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) came together with ministers of labor from other countries, leaders of trade union movements from around the world, and civil society and philanthropic allies to assert that labor rights, collective worker voice and vibrant independent labor movements are fundamental to promoting -- and defending -- economic and political democracy. U.S. Secretary of Labor Martin J. Walsh delivered commitment to create M-POWER.

A year later on December 8, 2022 at a global event at the U.S. Department of Labor Frances Perkins Building in Washington, DC. M-POWER's founding partners officially launched M-POWER as a multilateral, multistakeholder initiative.

M-POWER is the largest commitment by the U.S. government to advance workplace democracy and support trade union rights in the global economy. As of December 2022, M-POWER includes an approximately $130 million commitment by the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Agency for International Development and U.S. Department of State for innovative technical assistance to empower workers and strengthen worker voice.

1 Partners include the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, South Africa, and Spain; the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU); the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC); the International Domestic Worker Federation, the AFL-CIO (the U.S. confederation of trade unions), the Solidarity Center; Funders Organized for Rights in the Global Economy (FORGE); the Ford Foundation; Fundación Avina; Humanity United; and Open Society Foundations.