Van Arsdale Center Offering Residency Exploring "The Global Labor Movement" in Geneva, Switzerland in November

By Thomas Kerr, enrollment specialist, Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies

September 21, 2012

The Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies is offering a mid-November week-long academic residency on "The Global Labor Movement" in Geneva, Switzerland. The November 2012 academic course offering will provide attendees a chance to meet with trade union representatives from around the world, as well as officers and staff of relevant Global Labor Federations (or GUFs) headquartered in Geneva. For more information contact Thomas Kerr, 646-230-1209 or email

The program will coincide with sessions of the Governing Body of the International Labor Organization (ILO), a specialized agency of the United Nations established in 1919 to draft uniform standards, called "conventions," on working conditions around the world. Unique to the ILO among international organizations is its tripartite structure, which includes representatives from governments, worker organizations and employer organizations. Today the ILO has drafted almost 200 conventions covering every occupation from miners to seafarers and workplace issues from hours, wages and health and safety to child, migrant and domestic labor.

To meet the challenges of a post World War II era, the ILO created a Committee on Freedom of Association to monitor two of its most important conventions: the right to form a union and the right to collective bargaining. In fact, one of the most important aspects of this study program will be to hear the reports of this committee as it makes recommendations to the governing body on complaints of violations of these rights from dozens of countries in the world, including the United States.

Today the ILO has greatly expanded its original mandate and is a prominent international partner in the urgent matters of global job creation and sustainable development. It is a sign of its commitment to the global labor movement that the recently elected director general, Guy Ryder, comes out of the trade union movement of Great Britain and was until recently the head of the International Trade Union Federation, the world's largest trade union federation.

The residency program in Geneva offers a singular opportunity to participate in discussions and debates over the condition and future of global labor at the highest levels.

Those attending the residency will travel to Geneva for approximately a week and will have opportunities to meet other labor activists, advocates and educators as well as policymakers, governmental officials and employer representatives from around the world. For those students enrolled in a credit-bearing course, the term will include required readings providing an academic framework for understanding the further development of the ILO and the international labor movement. The course and trip will be lead by long-time Van Arsdale Center instructor Anne D’Orazio, who has traveled to ILO functions with members of her Westchester Community College courses for many years.

The residency is open to non-students as well.

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Article Contributors
  • Helen Edelman
  • Jessica Estremera
  • Kameylah A. Hakim
  • Diana Hawkins
  • David Henahan
  • Thomas Kerr
  • Vickie Moller
  • Stephanie Schiffer
  • Janet Shideler
  • Jennifer Ward

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