University of Baltimore Journal of International Law


On the surface, the United States serves as an international advocate and supporter of the basic principles of the International Labor Organization, which are to promote social justice and human rights through globally humane working conditions. Yet, on a deeper level, there exists a strained and contradictory relationship between the U.S. and the ILO. Despite being the largest ILO member state and a principal policymaker, the U.S. continues to refrain from ratifying key international labor law treaties. This inaction enables U.S. state and federal bodies to enact and uphold legislation that directly violate existing international labor law obligations. U.S. laws like the 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 function to eliminate collective bargaining rights for U.S. workers in violation of international labor law principles. If allowed to continue, this could have a devastating impact on the U.S. economy and its global reputation.

This article discusses how the 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 directly violates established international labor law as set forth by the International Labor Organization, explores the economic and social ramifications of violating these basic principles, and proposes to resolve the conflict through the ratification and domestic implementation of ILO Convention Nos. 87 and 98, thereby restoring compliance with ILO principles and protecting American laborers’ rights.