Role of ILO in Economic Security, Political Freedom and Labor Rights Theme of Conference Co-sponsored by College

By Helen Edelman, manager, Exchange

April 24, 2014

International Labor Organization Logo, "Promoting Decent Work For All"“The Global Spirit of Philadelphia: The ILO, Economic Security, Political Freedom and Labor Rights in the 21st Century,” a public conference and conversation co-sponsored by the college’s Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies and the Center for Global Workers’ Rights, of Pennsylvania State University, is set for May 10 at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

The keynote address will be delivered by Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. (Read more about Ai-jen Poo here.) Opening remarks will be delivered by Kari Tapiola, special advisor the director-general of the International Labor Organization in Geneva.

“The objective of this one-day conference is to highlight both the history and current function of the ILO and its significance for workers. It will provide a forum for discussion among labor practitioners, activists, employers and scholars who are interested in strengthening dedication to international labor standards, workers’ rights and well-being and the regulation of substandard conditions of employment the world over,” said Dean Michael Merrill, of the Van Arsdale Center. (A full schedule is available here.)

The event highlights the role of the ILO 70 years after the drafting of the ILO’s post-WWII Constitution, which included the Declaration of Philadelphia (attached). The declaration reaffirmed the relevance of the ILO’s “aims and purposes” to the postwar world. It insisted on the right of working men and women around the world to economic security and political freedom and committed the ILO to programs that would achieve, among other ends, “full employment and the raising of standards of living” for all people everywhere, along with the right to freedom of expression and of association and the effective recognition of the right of collective bargaining.

The day, which begins at 9 a.m., features panel discussions about “Peace and Social Justice: The ILO’s 1944 Philadelphia Declaration in Historical Perspective,” chaired by Jill Jensen, Center for Global Workers’ Rights, Pennsylvania State University; “Labor Rights and Workers’ Rights in Today’s Global Economy,” chaired by HVACLS Dean Michael Merrill; and “Reimagining the Philadelphia Labor Movement in the Twenty-first Century,” chaired by Walter Licht, University of Pennsylvania.

The event will close with a final plenary session, 5 p.m.-6 p.m., where participants will be invited to reflect upon the significance of the day’s panels and accompanying conversations.

Students, academics, practitioners, activists and members of the general public are welcome to attend.

The event will be streamed on ESC-tv.

For more information, contact

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