I am Robert Picciotto, University of Auckland, New Zealand contributing to this week’s USA Labor Day reflections.
Labor Day 2020: International Context
Covid-19 has triggered the largest economic depression in world history; increased unemployment; destroyed small enterprises; aggravated social inequities and laid bare the inadequacy and inequity of social service systems, especially in countries that have favored corporate profitability in the design of labor policies while neglecting social equity.
These are among the diverse challenges faced by the international labor movement in a world where unions face declining memberships; capital freely flows across borders; global supply chains undermine labor standards; the booming gig economy is unregulated; automation is rampant; and oppressive algorithms deprive workers of their autonomy.
Structural reform is urgently needed. The public sector should be revitalized following years of neglect. The labor standards embedded in international trade agreements should be strengthened. Strict enforcement of workers’ health and safety standards should be ensured. Informal work arrangements that do not protect workers and lead to precarious employment should be banned. Exploitation of migrant workers should not be tolerated, etc.
Labor Day became a legal holiday in 1894 in the wake of social unrest and strikes triggered by low wages, unsafe working conditions, insufficient breaks, and arbitrary firings.
Research and Evaluation Agenda
This implies a vast agenda for social research and evaluation. What are the lessons of collective action in various political contexts? What advocacy and negotiating strategies are most likely to achieve results? How should the international labor movement become more effective within and across borders? These critical questions have been neglected by evaluators. A new International Evaluation Academy (IEAc), currently being organized, could help fill the gap.
Evaluators Without Borders
The IEAc, a virtual network of “evaluators without borders” will promote evaluation excellence, innovation, and creativity. It will bring together eminent evaluation thinkers, experienced evaluators, mid-career practitioners, as well as young, and emerging evaluators. Fellows would be eligible to apply for small grants aimed at facilitating transformative evaluations focused on social equity and respect for nature. IEAc will act as a platform for volunteer-driven initiatives that will leverage and complement the activities of national evaluation associations. It will reach out to AEA to explore cooperation.
- On the history and future of evaluation: Picciotto, R. (2020). From disenchantment to renewal. Evaluation, 24(1), 49-60.
- International Development Evaluation Association: https://ideas-global.org/
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 According to a study of industrial relations systems in OECD countries, the US ranks 24th out of 29th in the equity ranking of its labour policies and 2nd in terms of their market-based ‘efficiency’ (Dong-One Kim, et. al., Evaluating Industrial Relations Systems of OECD countries from 1993 to 2005: A two-dimensional approach. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 53:4, December 2015, pp. 645-663).