What We Do
ICLR works with labor lawyers and movements around the world and in the United States to develop strategic legal and campaign support and resources on cutting edge labor struggles.
In recent years, ICLR has sent commissions of inquiry to India, Mexico and Columbia. Most recently, ICLR sent an international delegation, with representatives from Japan, South Africa, France, the U.S. and India to investigate the situation of the fired and imprisoned workers of the Maruti Suzuki factories near Delhi, India.
Within the U.S. ICLR organized an international delegation to investigate the denial of labor rights in North Carolina which resulted in the filing of an ILO complaint and a recommendation of the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association that North Carolina must develop a framework for collective sector bargaining in accordance with international law. ICLR assisted in the writing of an ILO complaint about New York State and City's denial of internationally guaranteed labor and trade union rights to the Transit Workers Union which also resulted in aa decision by the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association that the New York law banning and penalizing public worker strikes violates fundamental workers’ rights protected by international law.
ICLR continues to support workers in Wisconsin, Michigan and other states where workers face attacks on the rights of public workers and the right to collective bargaining and freedom of association.
ICLR holds roundtables for labor lawyers, legal workers and union strategy directors, most recently on strategies for using international law in public sector worker campaigns. ICLR also holds trainings on international labor law and regularly consults with labor lawyers and activists in the U.S. and around the world.
Who We Are
The International Commission for Labor Rights, ICLR, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that is based in New York, and coordinates the pro bono work of a global network of lawyers and labor experts committed to advancing workers' rights through legal research, advocacy, cross-border collaboration, and the cutting-edge use of international and domestic legal mechanisms. ICLR's legal network also responds to urgent appeals for independent reporting on gross labor rights violations.
The network was founded in 2001 at the request of more than 50 national trade unions and global federations, and the coordinating secretariat in New York was set up in 2005. The network aspires to be a resource for trade unions and workers around the world.
ICLR's work is led by its Board of Directors:
Earl V. Brown Jr.
Labor & Employment Law Counsel
The Solidarity Center-
Angela B. Cornell
Clinical Professor of Law
Cornell Law School
Director of International Affairs
Judith A. Scott
Service Employees International Union
Frances C. Schreiberg
Kazan McClain Lyons Greenwood & Harley
Legal Advisor, Dept. of Human & Trade Union Rights,
International Trade Union Confederation
*Organizations for Identification purposes only
We believe that all working people have certain core rights, which we are committed to defending:
to form and join unions, and to bargain collectively for better conditions at work
to earn enough to support themselves and their families, so that children do not have to work
to work freely, without force or coercion
to be free from discrimination in the workplace
How can a lawyers' network support workers' rights?
• Unions, grassroots workers' organizations and the lawyers who support them are all too aware that basic guarantees for workers are in a state of crisis, worldwide:
• Constantly shifting sites of production and employment relationships, placing jobs in perpetual uncertainty
• The predominance of precarious or insecure, non-permanent work
• Labor law “reforms” and reduced enforcement of existing laws
• The erosion of social security
• Weakened protections for the right to form and join unions
• The continuing epidemic of forced labor
The International Commission for Labor Rights (ICLR) was started in 2002 by a group of lawyers from around the world, dedicated to supporting workers' and trade union rights. Confronted with the increasing difficulty of defending these rights in isolation in their own countries – as corporations, supply chains, investment, and workers themselves crossed international borders more and more – the lawyers resolved to create a network to enable them to share information and strategies.
Today, there are more than 300 lawyers, legal workers and labor experts around the world who are part of the ICLR network. These lawyers are able to respond rapidly to requests for facts related to particular violations, legal advice, expert opinions, information on political realities country-by-country, concrete experiences with different legal and political fora. In addition, ICLR has convened delegations of lawyers, at the request of individual unions and global federations, to investigate allegations of labor rights violations in specific countries and contexts, writing reports that have formed the basis of domestic litigation and international complaints.
The work of the ICLR network is coordinated through a small non-profit based in New York, which also engages in substantial outreach, both to legal experts to expand the network, and to small unions and grassroots workers' organizations to ensure that they have access to ICLR's experts for research, advice, and complaints to domestic and international bodies.