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Lance Compa
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Lance Compa

Senior Lecturer Emeritus
Global Labor and Work (GLW)


Lance Compa is a Senior Lecturer Emeritus at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations in Ithaca, New York, where he taught U.S. labor law and international labor rights from 1997 until his retirement in 2019.

Before joining the Cornell faculty in 1997, Compa directed labor law research at the NAFTA Commission for Labor Cooperation. Prior to his 1995 appointment to the commission, Compa taught labor law, employment law, and international labor rights as a Visiting Lecturer at Yale Law School and the Yale School of Management. He also practiced international labor law for unions and human rights organizations in Washington, D.C.

Compa has written widely on trade unions, international labor rights, and other topics for a variety of law reviews, journals of general interest, magazines and newspapers. With colleagues in the Labor Law Group, he is a co-author of International Labor Law: Cases and Materials on Workers' Rights in the Global Economy (West Law Group, 2008), a 1000-page textbook for use in law schools and social science graduate programs.

Compa wrote the 2010 Human Rights Watch report A Strange Case: Violations of Workers' Freedom of Association in the United States by European Multinational Corporations. He is also author of the 2005 HRW report Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Workers' Rights in U.S. Meat and Poultry Plants, and the 2000 HRW report Unfair Advantage: Workers' Freedom of Association in the United States under International Human Rights Standards (republished by Cornell University Press in August 2004 with a new introduction and conclusion).

In addition to his studies of workers' rights in the United States, Prof. Compa has conducted workers' rights investigations and reports on Cambodia, Chile, China, Haiti, Guatemala, Mexico, Sri Lanka and other developing countries. He serves on two federal advisory committees related to his research and teaching: the Department of Labor's National Advisory Committee for Labor Provisions of Free Trade Agreements, and the State Department's Stakeholder Advisory Board on the U.S. National Contact Point for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

In 2014 Prof. Compa was named the first holder of the Paul van der Heijden Chair in Social Justice at Leiden Law School in the Netherlands. He served as a visiting professor during the Fall semester, giving an Inaugural Lecture and teaching international labor law. The Inaugural Lecture titled "International Labor Law for the 21st Century" can be viewed at

After law school and before turning to international labor law practice and teaching, Compa worked for many years as a trade union organizer and negotiator; first for the United Electrical Workers (UE), and then for the Newspaper Guild. While on the UE staff, he was involved in organizing and collective bargaining negotiations in multinational firms like General Electric and Westinghouse, and at many medium and small-sized firms throughout the United States. At the Newspaper Guild, he represented editorial, business, and production employees at the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, Agence France-Presse, and other news organizations.

Compa is a 1969 graduate of Fordham University, a 1973 graduate of Yale Law School, and a member of the Massachusetts Bar. He also undertook studies abroad at the Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris, France (1967-1968) and at the Universidad de Chile in Santiago, Chile (1972-1973).


Journal Articles


    • James Gross, Lance Compa. 2009. Human Rights in Labor and Employment Relations: International and Domestic Perspectives. Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, United States: LERA, University of Illinois, 2009. (237 pages)
    • James Atleson, Lance Compa, Kerry Rittich, Calvin Sharpe, Marley Weiss. 2008. International Labor Law: Cases and Materials on Workers’ Rights in the Global Economy (with Documentary Supplement). St. Paul MN, United States: West Law Publishers, 2008.
    • Lance Compa. 2005. Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Workers’ Rights in U.S. Meat and Poultry Plants. New York NY, United States: Human Rights Watch report, 2005.
    • Lance Compa. 2004. Unfair Advantage: Workers' Freedom of Association in the United States under International Human Rights Standards. Ithaca NY, United States: Cornell University Press, 2004.
    • Lance Compa, Fay Lyle. 2003. Justice For All: A Guide to Worker Rights in the Global Economy. Washington, DC, United States: American Center for International Labor Solidarity/AFL-CIO, 2003.
    • Kevin Banks, Lance Compa, L Lara, S Polaski. 2000. Labor Relations Law in North America. Washington, DC, United States: Commission for Labor Cooperation, 2000.
    • Lance Compa. 2000. Unfair Advantage: Workers Freedom of Association in the United States under International Human Rights Standards. New York NY, United States: Human Rights Watch report, 2000.
    • Lance Compa. 1997. Plant Closings and Labor Rights. Washington, DC, United States: Bernan Press, 1997.
    • Lance Compa, Stephen F Diamond. 1996. Human Rights, Labor Rights and International Trade. Philadelphia PA, United States: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996.

    Book Chapters

    • Lance Compa. 2008. Trade Unions and Human Rights. in Human Rights at Home. Greenwood Publishing, 2008. Cynthia Soohoo, Catherine Albisa, Martha F. Davis.
    • Lance Compa. 2006. Labor Rights in the FTAA. in Globalisation and the Future of Labour Law. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2006. John Craig, Michael Lynk.
    • Lance Compa. 2006. Labor Rights: A Recent History. in Covering Labor: A Reporter’s Guide to Workers’ Rights in a Global Economy. New York NY, United States: Initiative for Policy Dialogue, 2006.
    • Lance Compa, David M Trubek. 2006. Trade Law, Labor, and Global Inequality. in Law and Class in America. New York NY, United States: New York University Press, 2006. Paul D. Carrington, Trina Jones.
    • Lance Compa. 2005. L’ALENA et les droits fondamentaux des travailleurs des pays partenaires. in Mondialisation, Travail, et Droits Fondamentaux. Bruylant/LGDJ, 2005. Isabelle Daugareilh.
    • Lance Compa. 2004. Comments on Getman's 'Another Look at Labor and the Law'. in The Future of Labor Unions. LBJ School, University of Texas, 2004. Julius G. Getman, Ray Marshall.
    • Lance Compa, Antonio Ojeda Avilés. 2004. Globalisation, Class Actions et Droit du Travail. in Mondialisation, droit fondamentaux, travail. Bruylant/LGDJ, 2004. Isabelle Daugareilh.
    • Lance Compa, Lowell Turner. 2003. Paths to Global Social Regulation: What Can Americans Learn from the European Union?. in European Integration as a Social Experiment in a Globalized World. Hans Böckler Stiftung, 2003. Reiner Hoffmann
    • Lance Compa. 2003. Workers’ Freedom of Association in the United States: The Gap Between Ideals and Practice. in Workers’ Rights as Human Rights. Ithaca NY, United States: Cornell University Press, 2003. James A. Gross.
    • Lance Compa. 2002. A Glass Half Full: The NAFTA Labor Agreement and Cross-Border Labor Action. in Concepts and Strategies in International Human Rights. New York NY, United States: Peter Lance Publishing, 2002. George J. Andreopoulos.
    • Lance Compa. 2001. Free Trade, Fair Trade, and the Battle for Labor Rights. in Rekindling the Movement: Labor’s Quest for Relevance in the 21st Century. Ithaca NY, United States: Cornell University Press, 2001. Lowell Turner, Harry C Katz, Richard W Hurd.
    • Lance Compa. 2001. NAFTA’s Labor Side Agreement and International Labor Solidarity. in Place, Space and the New Labour Internationalisms. Blackwell Publishers, 2001. Peter Waterman, Jane Wills.
    • Lance Compa. 2000. Works in Progress: Constructing a Social Dimension of Trade in the Americas. in The Social Dimension of Economic Integration. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2000.
    • Lance Compa. 1999. El ACLAN: un recuento de tres años. in Estándares laborales despues del TLCAN. Mexico City, Mexico: Ebert/FLACSO, 1999. Graciela Bensusán.
    • Lance Compa. 1998. Comercio de América del Norte: Dimensión Social o Decepción Social?. in Sindicalismo y globalización: la dolorosa inserción en un mundo incierto. Caracas, Venezuela: Editorial Nueva Sociedad, 1998. Maria Silvia Portello de Castro, Achim Wachendorfer.
    • Lance Compa. 1998. Perspective américaine sur l’Alena et le mouvement syndical. in L’intégration économique en Amerique du Nord et les relations industrielles. Université Laval, 1998. Rodrigue Blouin, Anthony Giles.
    • Lance Compa. 1992. Dangers of 'Worker Control'. in When Workers Decide. Philadelphia PA, United States: New Society Publishers, 1992. Leonard I Krimerman, Frank Lindenfeld.
    • Lance Compa. 1992. Returning Rights to the Workforce. in Buying America Back. Tulsa OK, United States: Council Oak Books, 1992. T Kistler, Jonathan Greenberg.
    • Lance Compa. 1984. Conversion and the Labor Movement. in Economic Conversion: Revitalizing America's Economy. Cambridge MA, United States: Ballinger Pub. Co., 1984. Suzanne Gordon, Dave McFadden.

    Book Reviews

    • Lance Compa. 2005. Review of From Consent to Coercion: The Assault on Trade Union Freedoms by Leo Panitch and Donald Swartz. in Relations Industrielles/Industrial Relations. 2005. (381-382)
    • Lance Compa. 2002. Review of Global Economy and Regulation of Labour (Edwards & Elgars, eds); Globalization and Labour Resistance (Jeremy Waddington, ed.); Labour and Capital in National Economies (Martin Upchurch, ed.). in Industrial and Labor Relations Review. 2002. (360-362)
    • Lance Compa. 2000. Review of Environmental Regulations and Corporate Strategy: A NAFTA Perspective by Rugman in Administrative Science Quarterly. 2000. (840-843)
    • Lance Compa. 2000. Review of Henry Frundt’s Trade Conditions and Labor Rights. in Industrial and Labor Relations Review. 2000. (346-347)
    • Lance Compa. 1998. Review of Advancing Theory in Labour Law and Industrial Relations in a Global Context (Ton Wilthagen, ed.). in Comparative Labor Law and Policy Journal. 1998. (125-130)
    • Lance Compa. 1995. A World Without Work (review of Jeremy Rifkin’s The End of Work). in Environmental Action. 1995. (15-17)
    • Lance Compa. 1989. Brotherhood From Within (Review of Black Workers: A Documentary History, P. Foner, ed.). in Commonweal. 1989. (475-477)
    • Lance Compa. 1982. Job Blackmail (Review of Richard Kazis and Richard L. Grossman’s Fear at Work: Job Blackmail, Labor, and the Environment). in The Progressive. 1982.

    Conference Proceedings

    • Lance Compa. 1994. American Trade Unions and NAFTA. in International Trade Unionism at the Current Stage of Economic Globalization and Regionalization. Proceedings of the International Conference held at Saitama University, Japan, 1994. Hideo Totsuka

    Selected Works

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