April 26, 2001
Vol. 20 No. 15

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    Human Rights Program will sponsor Global Labor Justice Conference

    By William Harms
    News Office

    The Human Rights Program at the University will draw attention to such issues as living wage standards and equitable working conditions at a Global Labor Justice Conference scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, April 28, in Ida Noyes Hall.

    The conference, open to the public and free of charge, will bring some leading figures in the field to campus, including academic researchers, non-governmental organization practitioners, activists, and students to discuss labor conditions locally and internationally, and to discuss strategies to improve conditions for exploited workers. Among the speakers are Edna Bonacich, Sociology, University of California, Riverside; Sam Brown, Executive Director, Fair Labor Association, Washington, D.C.; John Donahue, Director, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless; Dara O’Rourke, Urban Studies and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and David Trubek, dean of international studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    “We will be looking at a number of questions, including how to formulate living wage standards and corporate codes of conduct in the face of globalization,” said Satish Moorthy, Global Labor Justice Conference Coordinator.

    Conference participants also will look at the experience of local non-governmental organizations in helping develop effective labor policies, and how individuals and institutions can learn to “take responsibility to improve conditions under which goods are produced,” added Moorthy. The conference also will explore the role of student activism in increasing awareness of sweatshops and how universities can become sensitive and respond to these concerns.

    The conference will open with a plenary session, “The Political Economy of Global Trade,” from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. This session will be followed by breakout sessions on living wage standards, monitoring and working conditions. Beginning at 1:30 p.m., breakout sessions will be held on gender and age issues, migration and the role of universities. A concluding plenary session from 3 to 5 p.m. will open discussion on steps to be taken to solve problems discussed earlier in the day.

    Those interested in attending the conference may register on the conference Web page at http://humanrights.uchicago.edu/globallaborjustice.htm.

    The Office of the Dean of Students, the Globalization Project, and the Center for International Studies Norman Wait Harris Memorial Foundation Fund have joined the Human Rights Program in sponsoring the conference.