Cornell University

International Programs

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February 22 2008

First International Labor Law Textbook Carries Cornell Brand

Lance CompaCornell ILR Senior Lecturer Lance Compa and colleagues from four other universities have produced the first comprehensive international labor law textbook for use in American and Canadian law schools, schools of international affairs, business schools and other graduate programs.

With 1,100 pages of text and a documentary supplement, "International Labor Law: Cases and Materials on Workers' Rights in the Global Economy" was published February 14 by the West Law School division of Thompson-West publishers. Compa's co-authors are James Atleson, SUNY Buffalo law school, Kerry Rittich, University of Toronto law school, Calvin Sharpe, Case Western law school, and Marley Weiss, University of Maryland law school.

Much of the text flows from materials developed by Prof. Compa in his popular International Labor Law course at the ILR School, open to juniors, seniors, and graduate students. Over the years, students from Law, Business, Planning, Public Affairs and other Cornell schools and programs have also been drawn to the course.

While designed for use in teaching, the book is also a valuable resource for many ILR graduates with international interests and responsibilities, such as attorneys, HR professionals, trade union strategists, and NGO and public policy advocates.

West publishers' web site describes the textbook this way:

"Comprehensive in scope, International Labor Law examines labor rights and labor standards in multilateral and regional institutions like the WTO, ILO, OECD and the European Union; regional and bilateral trade agreements like NAFTA and more recent bilateral agreements with developing countries; the new labor-trade "template" in U.S. trade policy; and private initiatives like anti-sweatshop campaigns and corporate codes of conduct. Thematic chapters deal with human rights, labor rights lawsuits in U.S. courts; cross-border labor organizing and bargaining; migrant workers; women workers in the global economy, and child labor."

Prof. Compa joined the ILR School's law faculty in 1997 after serving as the first labor law director of the NAFTA labor commission. Then-labor secretary Robert Reich appointed Compa to the commission post in 1995 from his teaching position at Yale Law School and the Yale School of Management, where he developed expertise in the international labor law field. Before that, Compa had worked for many years as a trade union organizer and negotiator.

Compa's reflections on the textbook project:

"This is the first law text devoted to international labor law, as distinct from comparative labor law. It's not a book on how labor laws work in different countries, how hard or easy it is to form unions or to lay off workers in different countries, that sort of thing. Instead, it deals with transnational labor law – labor laws and policies meant to apply across borders, like ILO standards, labor rights in trade agreements, and corporate codes of conduct."

"We designed this book for labor and employment law teachers who want to expand their offerings and respond to keen student interest in globalization and its effects. We also mean it for teachers of human rights law, international law, international business transaction, international affairs, global business strategies and related topics who would like to introduce their students to global labor issues."

"It's a valuable resource for practitioners, too, in this growing field of international labor and employment law, international labor relations, supply-chain sourcing strategies and so on. Opportunities to practice international labor law or other forms of policy work are steadily increasing in labor, corporate, NGO, governmental and intergovernmental arenas."

"Several of my own former Cornell students are now working in this field. Accordingly, we tried to make the book practice-oriented as well as intellectually challenging, with cases, campaigns, problems and questions that reflect international labor law and policy practice."

The new textbook is now available from Thompson-West publishers or from commercial on-line booksellers.