9th Annual Symposium

“Latin American Labor at a Crossroads: Obstacles and Opportunities in Times of Change”

April 13-14, 2023

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Center for Global Workers’ Rights

Dr. Mark Anner Center Director, Center for Global Workers’ Rights

EMAIL: PHONE: +1 814-865-5425 FAX: +1 814-867-4169


“Recycling without Waste Pickers is Garbage!” Organizing for Workers’ Rights and Environmental Justice

January 31, 2024

First picture:
Left to right: Abena Afriyie, Dorcas Owusua, Paul Macharia, Jiayi Yao, Alejandra Flores, Silvio Ruiz, Mercy Nabwire, Manuel Rosaldo, Luis Mendoza, Haoju Lu, and Muzammal Afzal.

Second picture:
Left to right: Freyca Calderon, Silvio Ruiz, and Manuel Rosaldo

4:00 P.M. | Foster Auditorium (102 Paterno Library)

Discussion with Silvio Ruiz Grisalez, a Colombian waste picker and a trailblazing leader in the global movement for waste picker rights. The took place on Wednesday, January 31 at 4:00 P.M. in Foster Auditorium (102 Paterno Library).

Around the world, fifteen million people eke out a living by salvaging recyclable and reusable materials from dumps, streets, and buildings. Since the 1980s, waste pickers in Colombia and other countries have collectively organized on the local, national, and transnational levels to demand policies that improve both the quality of their work and of recycling services. Such policies represent paradigm shifts for countries that historically treated waste pickers as criminals, and treated trash merely as a sanitary problem, rather than as a social, environmental, and cultural one.

This event was co-hosted by the Sustainability Institute and the Center for Global Workers' Rights.

Waste and Labor Short Films

January 17, 2024

On Wednesday, January 17, 2024, at 7 p.m. (EST) the Penn State Sustainability and the Center for Global Workers' Rights organized an online free screening of Waste and Labor Short Films. There was a post-film discussion.

  • Luis Enrique Mendoza Choque: Labor Rights Lawyer and Administrative Support Coordinator for the Center for Global Workers' Rights.
  • Dr. Manuel Rosaldo: Assistant Professor of Labor and Employment Relations
  • Ayodeji "Ayo" Oluwalana: Penn State's first university wide reduction and recycling program manager
  • Haoju Lu: Chinese labor rights activist and Graduate Student in Labor and Global Workers' Rights.

You can click here to watch the introduction and discussions that were held during the screening of the films.

A collage of three film strip frames showing images and titles of different documentaries. The first frame is a black and white photo of civil rights protesters holding signs that read 'I AM A MAN', with the title 'I Am A Man' below. The second frame shows a young girl sitting amidst a large pile of colorful plastic waste, titled 'Plastic China'. The third frame depicts a cartoon drawing of a person with a lampshade for a head, standing upright on a desk, with the title 'el Empleo' beneath it.

Public Seminar: The Future of Work and Unions in the Americas

April 13, 2023

Free Public Seminar

6:00-8:00 p.m. | 108 Chambers Building

Across the Americas, workers are confronting challenges linked to deindustrialization and widening economic inequalities, including the rise of radical, neo-authoritarian political movements and the decline of traditional forms of political representation, environmental degradation and climate change, and the lack of effective public policies to guarantee care and social protection for all. In response, they are experimenting with new forms of organizing, coalition building, and public policy advocacy.

In this seminar, held in conjunction with the Ninth Annual Center for Global Workers’ Rights Symposium, labor leaders and scholar-activists from the United States, Mexico and Brazil will discuss how the labor movement in North and South America is envisioning the future of work in the face of these systemic crises. They will also discuss what organized labor is doing to promote sustainable and equitable development, tax justice to ensure adequate funding for public services, and the creation of a robust care infrastructure for workers and their families.

Speakers include:

Cathy Feingold
International Department Director, AFL-CIO, United States

Jocelio Drummond
Regional Secretary for the Americas, Public Services International (PSI), Brazil

Mary Goldsmith
Professor of Women's Studies, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Xochimilco, Mexico


Manuel Rosaldo
Assistant Professor of Labor and Employment Relations, Penn State

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Past Events


April 20, 2018

The Center for Global Workers’ Rights is proud to host another Spring Symposium and hopes it will be useful in guiding the efforts of scholars and practitioners toward addressing labor informality across various contexts. Weaving together empirical data, historical narratives, and contemporary reflections on labor informality in comparative perspective, we will together ask: How can workers build power in the informal sector? How can our work, practice, teaching and organizing increase worker protections, standards, and dignity in the informal sector? Moreover, how do we bring about a more just future for all workers? You can review the program booklet to see all of the talks from the Symposium.

Symposium for Worker Health and Precarious Work in Global Supply Chains

March 23, 2017

The Center for Global Workers’ Rights is proud to host another Spring Symposium and hopes it will be useful in guiding the efforts of scholars and practitioners toward addressing precarious work and worker health concerns in Global Supply Chains. This will be done through a frank discussion on the lessons learned from current initiatives and a review of relevant scholarship and work that needs to be done as we move forward. The symposium will adhere to the Chatham House Rule by which “participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speakers, nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.” Review the program booklet to view the speakers from the Symposium.

Background Papers and Reports

Anner, Mark. "Stopping the Race to the Bottom: Challenges for Workers' Rights in Supply Chains in Asia."

Bhattacharjee, Anannya, and Ashim Roy. "Bargaining in the global commodity chain: the Asia Floor Wage Alliance."

Brown, Garrett. "Genuine Worker Participation - An Indispensable Key to Effective Global OHS."

Dutta, Madhumita, "The Nokia SEZ Story: Economy of Disappearances."

Pandita, Sanjiv and Fahmi Panimbang, "Global Supply Chains: Struggle within them or against them?"

Rosenbaum, JJ and Daniel Costa, "Temporary foreign workers by the numbers."

Rosenbaum, JJ, "The world watches the US on labor abuse."

Smith, Ted and Chad Raphael, "The Future of Activism for Electronics Workers."

Sznajder, Kristin, et al., "Gynecologic pain related to occupational stress among female factory workers in Tianjin, China."

von Broembsen, Marlese and Shae Godfrey, "Labour Law and Development Viewed from Below."

Bhairavi Desai speaks on Global Workers' Rights

April 20, 2016

Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director NY Taxi Workers’ Alliance, President of the National Taxi Workers Alliance, and AFL-CIO Executive Council Representative spoke at at CGWR event at Penn State on April 20, 2016. Photo: Bhairavi Desai, with CGWR faculty and LGWR students, receiving a CGWR recognition for her work on behalf of workers' rights.

Bhairavi Desai with the CGWR


February 3, 2016

Lydia Edwards is a new kind of Labor Leader. As an architect of the Massachusetts Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, she coordinated grassroots efforts to implement the law.

Lydia Edwards- flyer

The Future of Care: What We Need for a Changing America

February 11, 2015

Members of the Center for Global Workers' Right listen with Ai-jen Poo following her talk on February 11, 2015 on “The Future of Care: What we need for a changing America." Ai-jen is the director of the Domestic Workers Alliance and a 2014 MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellow

AiJen Poo with the Members of CGWR

Justin McBride speaks on Los Angeles Modern Day Sweatshops

December 4, 2014

Justin McBride is the Campaign Director for the CLEAN Carwash Campaign, and works for the AFL-CIO. He was first exposed to unions with the garment workers’ union, UNITE, in New York City, while he was pursuing undergraduate studies at Duke University in 1999. Upon graduating, he became a staff organizer, and has been helping workers form unions ever since in a variety of industries, including laundry, warehouse, industrial, janitorial, construction, and now carwash workers. Justin began working on the CLEAN Carwash Campaign in 2008.

The carwash industry has become part of the underground economy of Los Angeles and other cities in California, with many carwashes failing to abide by basic labor and health and safety law. Los Angeles carwashes have been equated to the modern day sweatshop. The (CLEAN) Car Wash campaign is a joint effort between the Community Labor Environmental Action Network (CLEAN), the Carwash Workers Organizing Committee (CWOC) and the United Steelworkers (USW). Begun in 2007, the campaign has brought together a diverse group of immigrants’ rights, legal, labor, and community organizations to improve the lives of working families throughout California and across the Los Angeles area.