"Business and government have markedly curtailed unions’ ability to operate effectively through an array of measures, including subcontracting, hostile laws and regulations, and new forms of insecure employment. This has left trade unions with severely limited options as they have sought to retain or regain their relevance, especially in the face of what has perhaps been business’ most effective tool for capturing the fight against forced labor for themselves: corporate social responsibility initiatives, or CSR. CSR has enabled corporations to dictate the terms and solutions by which their own ethics and responsibility are judged. It is a powerful agenda-setting tool, so much so that it has allowed business to exclude unions and freedom of association from the definition of ‘decent work’. This is obvious when we look at corporate statements and policies on ‘modern slavery’, which rarely mention unionisation.
How do unions and organizers induce business and government to recognise their role in maintaining labor standards and labor rights, and thus in preventing forced labor? As they cast around for options, it is worth considering how the power of CSR might be co-opted for their own ends…"
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