In December 2018, the International Lawyers Assisting Workers (ILAW) Network, the first global network of union and worker rights lawyers and advocates, was established. Given that workers are confronting common legal issues worldwide, and that, increasingly, legal issues involve multiple jurisdictions, it is critical to the effective representation of workers and unions to unite legal practitioners and scholars to exchange information and ideas from around the world. The core mission of the ILAW Network is to facilitate information exchange and promote collaboration among its members to develop creative solutions to promote workers’ rights around the world – through campaigns, policy analysis, litigation, and legislation.
In just the first 18 months, over 400 lawyers from over 50 countries have joined the ILAW Network. In November 2019, the ILAW Network convened its founding conference in Mexico City, Mexico, in order to identify areas where we are making progress and to define a progressive agenda for collaboration in the coming year in order to build on these advances.
While the range of issues that could be addressed by such a network is vast, we have decided, with input from members, to focus on the following important subject matter areas, which also have an obvious international and/or comparative character :
● Global Supply Chain Accountability
● Fissured Employment Relationship
● Informal Economy
● Migrant Worker Rights
● Employment Discrimination in All Its Forms
● Organizing and Bargaining with Multinational Enterprises
● Trade Union Rights
● Public Sector Labor and Employment
● Occupational Safety and Health
● International Labor Organization
● Gender Based Violence & Harassment
At present, ILAW is focusing heavily on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on all of these topics, and how it is affecting worker rights throughout the world.
One of the primary means of communication is through the ILAW Network website ( www.ilawnetwork.com ), which is currently offered in English, French, Spanish, German, Russian, Arabic, and Portuguese. The website currently offers:
● daily news on legal developments corresponding to our focus areas
● an online library containing legal materials (legislation, caselaw, articles, etc.) accessible by subject matter and geography
● a global directory of members, with contact information and areas of expertise
● listservs to facilitate discussion among members with similar interests or concerns
● a chat function for simultaneous discussion of legal issues
● a forum for webinars and other educational opportunities
● a calendar to announce upcoming events of potential interest
● a campaign feature enabling members to seek assistance and solicit urgent action around issues of immediate concern
● a page dedicated to COVID-19-related developments in the current crisis
At the request of ILAW members, the Network has, itself, provided critical assistance in a number of country-specific cases and campaigns, including on behalf of labor law reform in South Korea, in support of an international delegation of lawyers to Brazil to support victims of the Brumadinho Dam disaster, in the filing of an amicus brief to protect recent constitutional reforms in Mexico from attack by employers and employer-dominated unions, and with COVID-related legal research requested by lawyers and unions in several countries.
In coming months, ILAW intends to launch a biannual e-journal that will address worker rights-related legal issues of timely relevance. It also plans to create a wiki-style database offering model legislation and supporting materials on key worker rights issues.
ILAW is also in the process of hiring four new attorneys to serve as Regional ILAW Coordinators in Asia, Africa, Europe, and South/Central America. The ILAW Regional Coordinators will allow the Network to develop deeper and stronger relationships with its members in each region, be able to respond to issues more quickly, and increase the membership and reach of ILAW.
ILAW is housed at the U.S. Solidarity Center, a non-profit, non-governmental organization affiliated with the AFL-CIO and dedicated to the promotion of workers’ rights worldwide. ILAW has an independent advisory board of 20 union and worker rights lawyers from 20 different countries and is chaired by Solidarity Center’s Director for Rule of Law, Jeff Vogt. We enjoy the institutional and/or financial support of the International Trade Union Confederation, several Global Union Federations and many national confederations and sectoral federations. We also enjoy the support of major foundations, including the Open Society Foundation, and individuals.
All lawyers who represent or support workers in their practices, and other worker rights supporters, are eligible to join ILAW; only those who represent employers against the interests of workers are not invited to become members. Dues levels are modest and tied to ability to pay, and waivers for payment are granted upon request.
To apply, please send a resume and statement of interest to email@example.com.