President Biden and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva launched a partnership Wednesday aimed at shoring up workers’ rights and ending labor exploitation.
The countries want to enlist more nations in the effort but started with the bilateral pact because they are “uniquely aligned in their common vision for how the economy should work for workers,” a senior Biden administration official said.
The partnership is designed to promote workers by ending forced labor and child labor; combatting worker discrimination against women, LGBT persons and ethnic minorities; and “increasing accountability in public and private investments” in climate projects and technology initiatives.
“The two largest democracies in the Western Hemisphere are standing up for human rights around the world and in the hemisphere. That includes workers’ rights, and I’m honored we’re going to launch a new partnership for workers’ rights,” Mr. Biden said.
Mr. Lula spoke to his blue-collar bona fides, noting he held a vocational degree and worked in a plant for 27 years.
“I’ve seen unemployment. I’ve experienced unemployment,” he said. “I believe the relationship between the U.S. and Brazil will be improved and we can behave as friends seeking a common objective: development and improving the lives of everyone.”
Mr. Lula previously served as Brazil’s leader but returned to the role at the start of the year. The New York meeting was the second time the leaders have met in person and their third conversation.
Mr. Biden’s emphasis on workers’ rights coincides with his stated support for United Auto Workers members who are on strike, posing a major risk to the U.S. economy.
The U.S. president said workers have the right to fair pay, though some Democrats fear former President Donald Trump out-maneuvering the president by pledging to rally with workers later this month.
A senior administration official said the workers’ partnership should not be construed as an attempt to limit the right to strike in the future, and that it fits with Mr. Biden’s broader aims to empower laborers.
“It’s all part of the same commitment to workers’ rights, whether it’s a worker on strike, whether it’s a worker at the collective bargaining table, whether it’s a worker trying to form a union, whether it’s a worker just trying to get through the day safely, without discrimination, and with dignity,” a senior administration official said. “This is all part of President Biden’s commitment to workers’ rights.”