Cornell University

International Programs

117 Ives Hall, 607-254-7255


November 25 2008

Discussing Global Labor Issues

Alvarez is part of first American labor educators' delegation to Vietnam

The delegation visited a huge open pit mine in Halong province ILR Extension faculty member Sally Alvarez returned this month from a weeklong visit to Vietnam, where she participated in the first-ever American labor educators' delegation to that country.

Alvarez, who serves as the director of labor programs for ILR Extension, said: "It was a wonderful, eye-opening week. The Vietnamese people are known worldwide for their generosity and hospitality. Since the economy was opened to the global market in 1986, Vietnam has become an incredibly vibrant economy. Their challenge now is reconciling the 'free market' with a very controlled and centralized political system. It's a very complex set of challenges, with outcomes still to be seen, but it's an exciting time for this remarkably resilient and fascinating country."

The delegation of 12 labor educators from around the United States was organized by Kent Wong, Director of the UCLA Labor Research and Education Center. Besides Cornell and UCLA, the institutions represented on the delegation included the University of Minnesota, the National Labor College, and the City University of New York, along with educators from SEIU and AFSCME.

The group spent the week visiting worksites and labor organizations in three provinces in northern Vietnam.  Delegation members met with representatives from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and discussed the ILO's multi-year project to improve industrial relations at enterprises in Vietnam.  The project's goal is to have Vietnam support the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

In addition, the group spent a day at the National Trade Union University in Hanoi, where Alvarez addressed a gathering of 100 students and faculty on the different ways research is conducted in industrial relations in the United States.

The trip was hosted and co-sponsored by the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, which is the national federation of unions in Vietnam.  For more details about the trip, contact Sally Alvarez at or view the slide show.