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Authors

Phelps

Abstract

The North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC), a side agreement to NAFTA, provides an instructive example of an attempt to link global trade to labor standards. While this side agreement was created in order to bolster the internationalization of trade, it has brought Labor, human rights groups and governments together to scrutinize and challenge the ways that each NAFTA member country ensures the provision of basic health, safety, and human rights on the job. Effective enforcement of the Agreement will come only with political pressure from a wide variety of groups interested in improving quality of life for workers and their families. However, despite growing recognition of the importance of international social welfare efforts, social work groups have yet to become involved in monitoring the effect of trade on worker quality of life. This lack of involvement is reflective of social work's general estrangement from organized labor, despite many common goals. Increased cooperation between unions and social welfare groups would benefit their respective, and frequently shared, clientele.

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