The Office of International Relations and Economic Research promotes ILAB's mission through both bilateral and multilateral engagement. We represent, coordinate, and facilitate U.S. Government participation in the labor components of all major international organizations that deal with labor and employment issues. We also work closely with the U.S. Department of State to ensure the inclusion of appropriate labor and employment issues in U.S. foreign relations and to keep U.S. foreign policy makers informed of the prominent transnational and governmental labor issues and policies that shape the global political and economic landscape. Finally, we work closely with specialized DOL agencies to inform them about relevant international developments and to ensure that their interests and perspectives are represented and protected in our foreign engagements.
The Office of International Relations and Economic Research leads bilateral engagement with foreign countries to promote worker rights and sound labor and employment policies, share knowledge about international labor and employment to inform U.S. domestic policymaking, and facilitate effective labor diplomacy initiatives, including the labor attaché program, international visitors program, labor officer training, and the labor diplomacy award.
Currently, bilateral engagement includes, but is not limited to:
- Germany: The United States’ Department of Labor maintains a strong working relationship with Germany’s Federal Ministry of Labor, covering the future of work, apprenticeships, youth employment, and supply chains.
- Japan: The United States’ Department of Labor and Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare maintain cooperative activities and an annual labor dialogue regarding workforce development and effective social protection.
- Qatar: The United States’ Department of Labor and Qatar’s Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs established a Memorandum of Understanding in March 2019 for labor cooperation, targeting labor inspection, referral mechanisms and handling for complaints, and domestic workers and employers rights and responsibilities.
- Switzerland: The United States’ Department of Labor, in collaboration with the United States Departments of Education and Commerce, maintains a strong working relationship with Switzerland’s Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research to explore opportunities to provide workers with a pathway to family-sustaining jobs and employers with a skilled workforce in traditional and emerging occupations.
ILAB represents or facilitates representation of the U.S. Government in international organizations dealing with labor issues. These issues can range from the promotion of workers' rights to addressing employment and social protection challenges and the intersection of labor and development.
Learn more about our engagement with the following multilateral fora:
- International Labor Organization (ILO): The ILO is the primary labor standard setting and monitoring organization in the world. ILAB plays the lead U.S. government role in representing the United States at the ILO. The United States is represented at meetings of the ILO Governing Body and the annual International Labor Conference by government officials and representatives of the U.S. labor and business communities.
- G20 Labor and Employment Ministers' process: This process brings together labor and employment ministers from countries representing approximately 85 percent of the global economy to advise G20 Leaders on the most pressing labor challenges. The U.S. Department of Labor hosted the first G20 labor and employment ministerial in April 2010.
- Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC): ILAB heads the U.S. Government delegation to APEC's Human Resources Development Working Group, which addresses labor, employment, education and management issues. The Labor and Social Protection Network, a component of the working group, addresses key labor and employment issues, including labor markets, labor market information, social protection, sustainable employment, and training and technical cooperation.
- Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Employment, Labor, and Social Affairs Committee (ELSAC): This committee serves as a valuable forum for exchanging and furthering ideas on how best to address employment and social problems faced by OECD member states. ILAB represents the U.S. Government at meetings of the Directing Committee of the Local Economic and Employment Development Program and advises U.S. Government delegates participating in other OECD Committee meetings such as the Trade Committee.
- Organization of American States' (OAS) Inter-American Conference on Ministers of Labor (IACML): The IACML is a forum in which the Western Hemisphere's Labor Ministers promote hemispheric cooperation on labor and employment issues. Ministers of Labor in the region meet approximately every two years and adopt a Declaration and two-year Plan of Action that sets out priorities, policies, and programs.
- United States-European Union Working Group on Employment and Labor-Related Issues: Since its establishment in 1996, this working group has sponsored meetings, workshops and conferences that draw expertise from governments, trade unions, businesses, academia, and other organizations.
- United Nations: ILAB provides expertise on employment and labor-related issues for the U.S. Government's participation in UN bodies, including for example the Economic and Social Council, the Commission for Social Development on the Status of Women, the UN Human Rights Council, and the Commission on Sustainable Development.