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The massive protest by labor, human rights, and environmental activists at the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization in Seattle in late 1999 was a singular event in global trade politics. It represented a major setback for the proponents of free trade and for the "globalization" process itself. It reflected, and has now influenced, the contours of American domestic politics as well. At the heart of the Seattle events was a new coalition between trade unions, led by the American AFL-CIO, and a wide range of protest groups and non-governmental organizations. This new coalition represents a potent force but also remains divided on important issues. This article explores one of these key issues - international labor rights. It suggests that the current strategy advocating an international labor rights regime must be changed if the new coalition is to move its agenda forward. It suggests an alternative approach to labor issues in light of the current structure of the global economy.

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