USCIB members and government officials gathered in Washington, D.C. on May 3 and 4 to review several important upcoming events and initiatives regarding labor policy, business and human rights, and corporate social responsibility. Convening at the offices of Baker & McKenzie for the first of two yearly meetings, USCIB’s Corporate Responsibility Committee and Labor and Employment Policy Committee discussed member priorities and concerns about upcoming transnational regulatory events and initiatives throughout 2016.
On May 3, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez briefed members on a wide range of international labor policy issues. He expressed support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), saying it has the strongest labor provisions of any trade agreement the United States has ever negotiated, and noted he expects TPP to pass, but not without continued advocacy and support from the business community. Perez also made a pitch for apprenticeships to help spur youth employment, saying apprenticeships are broadly applicable in many different sectors. The current administration has backed-up its belief in job training and skills development with a $175 million new grant-making initiative. And he argued America needs to do more on progressive paid leave for mothers to include more women in the workforce to keep the United States competitive with its peers. USCIB is actively involved in all these areas at the global level, particularly on apprenticeships, which it has advanced by helping establish the Global Apprenticeships Network (GAN) through its global partner, the International Organization of Employers (IOE). Eric Biel and Mark Mittelhauser of the Bureau of International Labor Affairs accompanied Secretary Perez and remained on hand to answer member questions.
Laura Chapman Rubbo (Walt Disney) chaired the committee meetings while USCIB Vice President for Labor Affairs, Corporate Responsibility and Corporate Governance Ariel Meyerstein facilitated the discussions. On the first day of meetings, members reviewed developments at the International Labor Organization (ILO), including the update of the ILO Multinational Enterprise Declaration and the General Discussion on Decent Work in Global Supply Chains that will take place at this June’s International Labor Conference; legal developments related to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; international tax avoidance and how it relates to illicit financial flows and human rights and development, and future of work developments at the OECD. Other government guests included Lewis Karesh, assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Labor Affairs, who briefed members on TPP’s labor provisions.
On the second day, members listened to presentations about new empirical studies benchmarking company responses to human trafficking regulation, international policy developments and company initiatives around ethical recruitment, public-private partnerships with USAID on labor rights capacity-building, partnerships with the U.S. Department of Labor’s International Labor Affairs Bureau, and new software for issues management, benchmarking and stakeholder engagement. Government guests included Bama Athreya of USAID’s s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance and acting division chief of labor and employment rights; Prairie Summer of USAID’s Global Development Lab; Ana Aslan, global coordinator of the Better Work Program at the U.S. Department of Labor; and Josh Kagan, senior labor advisor for trade policy at the U.S. Department of Labor.
USCIB’s Labor Policy and Corporate Responsibility Committees will reconvene in early Fall 2016. The Committee will also have a substantial role in the upcoming 9th Annual Engaging Business Forum in Atlanta, hosted by the Coca-cola Company. For more information on the committee’s work and meetings please contact Ariel Meyerstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.