Since 1986, ILRF has been an instrumental force in stimulating solutions to the issues and problems of worker rights and labor standards around the world.
In the early 1980s, strong voices in human rights, labor, academic, and faith-based communities formed a coalition to fight for the rights of workers in international trade. In 1984, the coalition succeeded in winning legislation linking the granting of U.S. trade and investment benefits -- through the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) -- to a country's respect for fundamental labor rights. In 1986, the group launched the International Labor Rights Education & Research Fund (the name was later shortened to International Labor Rights Forum, or ILRF) to monitor enforcement of these laws and to develop other means to protect workers' rights around the world.
Through the years, ILRF has become an instrumental force in stimulating solutions to the issues and problems of worker rights and labor standards around the world. Many of our successes have resulted from participation in and leadership of NGO coalitions; close collaboration with trade unions and other partners around the globe, including religious and consumer organizations; and ongoing dialogue with governments and businesses.
ILRF has alternately taken on or spun off several endeavors over the years. For example, ILRF helped to found Rugmark, now known as Good Weave, in 1994. In 2007, ILRF spun off its litigation practice to form a new project, International Rights Advocates, headed by former ILRF executive director Terry Collingsworth. In 2010, ILRF and SweatFree Communities joined forces to enhance our ability to create change for workers around the world by encouraging ethical government procurement. Most recently, ILRF became the new home for U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project (USLEAP) in the fall of 2013, in order to continue USLEAP's mission of achieving just labor conditions and treatment for workers in Latin America. Through all this work, ILRF has continuously pushed for strong systemic change within trade systems, government institutions and industry supply chains to give workers a voice on the job.
Highlights from our 30-Year History