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January 10 2007

The Politics of Labor Reform in Latin America       Maria Lorena Cook

María Lorena Cook, Associate Professor in the Department of Collective Bargaining, Labor Law, and Labor History and the Department of International and Comparative Labor at ILR, has published a book based on her extensive research in Latin America. It is titled, The Politics of Labor Reform in Latin America: Between Flexibility and Rights. The following is an excerpt from the publisher.

Maria Lorena CookDuring the 1990s, governments, employers, and international agencies pressed for greater flexibility in labor regulations throughout much of Latin America. In this comparative study of six Latin American countries, ILR Professor María Cook shows why these common pressures for flexibility led to varied labor reform outcomes. Her examination of the role of organized labor in shaping reform highlights the conditions under which labor can still wield power despite a decline in overall strength.

Cook employs historical case studies and paired comparisons to analyze the political dynamics that led to moderate levels of labor reform in Argentina and Brazil, extensive change in Chile and Peru, and no reform in Mexico and Bolivia. Her book identifies the array of factors—labor movement strategies, democratization and economic opening, international pressures, legal frameworks, and political legacies—that determine whether labor reforms are more likely to stress flexibility or rights.

What others have said about this bookPolitics of Labor Reform in Latin America

“This book offers the best study of the evolution of labor laws in Latin America in the current era of democratic politics and neoliberal economics. Its insightful framework and voluminous information for six important countries will appeal to political scientists, sociologists, and historians.” —Paul Drake, University of California, San Diego

“This book is one of the few good, comparative studies of the politics of labor law reform. Besides providing a rich and historically informed description of how labor laws have evolved in six Latin American countries, it links this evolution to broader changes such as economic opening and democratization. Because it is so accessibly written, it will be a valuable resource not only for scholars and students but also for practitioners working in labor law reform and international labor standards.” —Katrina Burgess, Tufts University