April 25,2013

Press Contact:

Julia Lawless/Antonia Ferrier (Finance), 202.224.4515
Liz Wolgemuth/ Jim Jeffries (HELP), 202.228.4729

Hatch, Alexander Demand Answers on Use of Taxpayer Dollars to Fund Foreign Labor Unions

In Letters To Acting Labor Secretary Harris, GAO Senators Request Analysis Of Administration’s Use of Federal Funds to Promote Collective Bargaining Rights Around The Globe

WASHINGTON – The top Republicans on the Senate Finance and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committees want to know why American taxpayer dollars are being used to promote collective bargaining rights in foreign countries.

Finance Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and HELP Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today wrote two separate letters to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller General Gene Dodaro and the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) Acting Secretary Seth Harris calling for a full examination of the financial transactions being made by the Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB), a component of DoL, to various groups to assist with the establishment of international labor organizations.

“At a time when our Federal budget is deteriorating rapidly, sequestration impacting essential services and the reality of vastly reduced Federal budgets with corresponding cuts in public service delivery here at home, it is troubling to us that the Department appears to be spending millions of dollars of taxpayer funds to establish labor unions and promote collective bargaining in foreign countries,” the Senators wrote to DoL Acting Secretary Harris.

Over the past several fiscal years, ILAB has made numerous awards totaling millions of dollars to labor organizations, the United Nations, the Solidarity Center, and other similar organizations, whose stated objective is to help establish labor unions in foreign countries.  

In 2011, ILAB awarded a grant for $1.5 million to an international development company for assisting labor unions in Vietnam engage in collective bargaining. Most recently, ILAB awarded a Columbian labor organization $1.5 million to help Columbian workers improve their collective bargaining rights, and awarded $2.2 million to the Solidarity Center, an AFL-CIO organization, to strengthen unions in Haiti and Peru.