Worker Rights in China

ILR hosts seminar for group sponsored by U.S. State Department
Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chinese worker rights advocates met with ILR faculty and staff in New York City on Monday.

The visit by eight university professors, a unionist and representatives of non-governmental organizations was sponsored by the U.S. State Department, said Lois Spier Gray.

The rights of rural people who migrate in search of work to China’s cities was the focus of many discussions during the seminar, said Gray, ILR's Jean McKelvey/Alice Grant Professor of Labor Management Relations Emeritus.

The visitors were interested in how American universities are adapting curriculums to reflect changes in labor, she said, and in why the labor movement here declined.

They also wanted to know what organizations and laws in the United States help undocumented workers in this country and how labor law has changed.

Millions of Chinese are considered migrant workers in their own country. A government system designed decades ago restricts many services to city-born residents.

In search of work in cities, many rural Chinese relocate. Most migrants are paid low wages and have little recourse when faced with discrimination.

Like immigrants without visas who enter the United States, Chinese migrants are not covered by most labor law protections.

Thirty people participated in the seminar, including representatives from the City University of New York, the Asian-American/Asian Research Institute, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and Workers United.