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Professor Bisom-Rapp Publishes Symposium on Decent Work

August 8, 2011

Susan Bisom-Rapp

Professor Susan Bisom-Rapp announced the publication of “Decent Work in a Post-Recessionary World,” a six article symposium issue she organized for the Employee Rights and Employee Policy Journal.  Professor Bisom-Rapp serves on the editorial board of the peer review journal, a joint publication of Chicago-Kent College of Law’s Institute for Law and the Workplace and Workplace Fairness, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting fairness to workers.

The journal approached Professor Bisom-Rapp over a year ago, asking her to organize a thematic issue addressing international or comparative law issues affecting employees.  With the global economic crisis as a backdrop, she focused on the International Labour Organization’s “decent work” program.  As noted by Professor Bisom-Rapp, “From the beginning of the global crisis, the ILO made ‘decent work’ the centerpiece of its recommended recovery strategy.  When first created in 1999, however, the decent work concept was an intentionally vague construct.  Not many people could tell you specifically what it was and how it worked.”

“Over the course of the worldwide crisis, however, and especially following the ILO’s adoption in 2008 of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization, ’decent work’ has gained conceptual clarity,” said Professor Bisom-Rapp.  The ILO’s decent work agenda enumerates four pillars – employment promotion, social protection, social dialogue, and fundamental rights – objectives that are interrelated and inseparable, and which ILO member countries must, by virtue of membership, pursue simultaneously.

In mid-2010, with recovery in a macroeconomic sense underway but with improvement in employment stalled in many countries, Professor Bisom-Rapp asked a group of leading labor and employment law scholars to address present regulatory challenges in light of the ILO’s decent work precepts.  Relevant to their inquiries are the lessons of the Great Recession.  Their responses are produced in the symposium issue.

The issue’s contributors are: Janice R. Bellace, Samuel Blank Professor of Legal Studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and former Chair of the ILO’s Committee of Experts; Roger Blanpain,  Professor Emeritus at the University of Leuven (Belgium) and Professor at the University of Tilburg (the Netherlands); Michael J. Zimmer, Professor of Law at Loyola University Chicago; Peggie R. Smith, Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis; and Timothy P. Glynn, Miriam T. Rooney Professor of Law at Seton Hall University in Newark, New Jersey.  Additionally, Professor Bisom-Rapp joined with her Australian colleague, Professor Andrew Frazer of the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia, and her British colleague, Professor Malcolm Sargeant of Middlesex University Business School in London, U.K., to author the symposium’s third article.  The trio employ decent work as a yardstick to examine how older workers fared and are faring during the global economic crisis in their three countries.

Blogging about the symposium issue when it was still forthcoming, Professor Marcia McCormick of St. Louis University noted, “The symposium is an excellent introduction to international and comparative labor law, and explores many incredibly important questions surrounding the standards of living and working made more complicated by the global recession.”  Professor Bisom-Rapp notes that the issue’s six diverse but interrelated articles “take seriously the need to address and find solutions for the decent work deficits of our present, perilous economic times.”

Professor Bisom-Rapp, who joined the Thomas Jefferson School of Law faculty in 1996, writes and speaks extensively on international and comparative workplace law, employment discrimination, and occupational safety and health law.  The second edition of her path-breaking, co-authored casebook, The Global Workplace: International and Comparative Employment Law (Aspen/KLI), is due out in March 2012. 

Introduction to the symposium issue is available via this link.