Labor Dept. Spending $2M to Boost Worker 'Solidarity' in Haiti and Peru

By Susan Jones | December 28, 2012 | 6:51am EST

In this photo taken Feb. 19, 2010, women work at the DKDR Haiti garment assembly factory in Port-au-Prince. (AP Photo, Javier Galeano)

( - Labor Secretary Hilda Solis on Thursday announced a $2.2 million grant that will be used to strengthen budding labor unions in Haiti and Peru.

The taxpayer money will fund projects organized by the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center, which aims to build a global labor union movement.

"Supporting the ability to organize and protect their rights is important to leveling the playing field for all workers," Solis said in a news release. "This grant will help organizations in Haiti and Peru engage in productive, effective negotiations with governments and employers on behalf of vulnerable workers."

In Haiti, the Solidarity Center will work with the apparel export sector, focusing particularly on issues related to freedom of association (the right to unionize), sexual harassment and forced overtime.

In Peru, the project will focus on the needs of temporary and fixed-term contract workers.

Just last week, the Labor Department awarded $35 million to address child labor in seven countries in Africa, Latin America and Indonesia.

Since 1995, the Labor Department's Bureau of International Labor Affairs has worked with other governments and international organizations to “ensure that workers around the world are treated fairly and are able to share in the benefits of the global economy.”

ILAB says it’s mission is to use all available international channels to improve working conditions, raise living standards, protect workers’ ability to exercise their rights (unionize), and address the workplace exploitation of children and other vulnerable populations.

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