Letter from the Editors

Article excerpt

Whether they work in Shenzhen factories, New York skyscrapers, or Dhaka streets, laborers feel the effects of an increasingly integrated world in their daily lives. Although a seemingly intangible, amorphous concept, "globalization" has in fact manifested itself in the strategic decisions of employers and employees on everything from prices to geography. Its impact has been both constructive and destructive, depending on one's perspective. Outsourcing allows firms to implement more cost-effective operations abroad, though workers removed from these positions bemoan their replacement by foreigners halfway across the world. The "brain drain" involves skilled workers leaving their developing home countries for brighter opportunities elsewhere, though governments are left to grapple with less appealing job markets that motivated the move. Human traffickers are able to benefit from cheap labor that allows them to be competitive with firms abroad, though their employees are subjected to some of the most degrading forms of abuse.

These are just a few examples of the varied patterns and effects of globalization on labor that our symposium seeks to explore. By further investigating the positive and negative consequences of globalization on labor, we hope to engage you in an underappreciated but universally resonant topic, true to the guiding mission of the Harvard International Review.

Our symposium starts off with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka's "The Global New Deal," in which he calls for dedicated policy interventions and safeguards for labor unions to prevent some of the negative effects of globalization on labor. He offers constructive solutions for how to make globalization benefit labor, rather than just decrying its negative consequences. Next, Columbia University's Saskia Sassen draws heavily on her own research to characterize the trends seen in the rise of "An Emerging Global Labor Market." In "The Sweatshop Laborer as Globalization's Consequence," Press for Change's Jeffrey Ballinger discusses how civil society and nongovernmental organizations can help to curb labor exploitation in developing countries. Next, the University of California's Angie Tran takes Vietnam as a case study for how labor in that nation has achieved recognition for codes of conduct and treatment of workers in "Workers versus the Global Supply Chain. …