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2022 Fair Labor Association Fellow

Hongyu Yu

Hongyu Yu
Masters in International and Regional Studies (Chinese Studies) ‘23

Fair Labor Association

“This summer, I was fortunate enough to have served as an intern for the Fair Labor Association (FLA) with support from the Donia Human Rights Center (DHRC) and the U-M President's Advisory Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights (PACLSHR). It was a gratifying experience that allowed me to expand my research skills and provided me with a multidimensional and transnational perspective on labor rights.

This internship helped me acquire in-depth knowledge and firsthand experience on how non-governmental organizations (NGOs) gather primary data to drive impact, make research-informed recommendations to promote labor rights, and bring business, civil society, and universities together to learn, share, and collaborate in responsible supply chain practices. One of my goals for this internship was to understand how we might be able to tackle agricultural workers' rights issues more effectively. The challenges in agricultural supply chains are complex and multifaceted, and the research remains relatively slim. At the FLA, I worked with the compensation team and accumulated a set of compliance living wage benchmarks specific to the agriculture sector that aim to achieve decent and humane working conditions. This process taught me how to recognize the special circumstances of agriculture work, from farms with informal labor structures to farms, regions with different labor codes to regions, and commodities with contrasting risks to commodities. I also contributed to refining the existing agricultural wage data collection tool in order to supply more accurate reports to companies on the compensation levels found in agricultural supply chains. We innovated strategies to overcome multidimensional challenges, including informal employment relationships, inconsistent pay structures, and minimum wage enforcement. Moreover, I obtained a deeper understanding on how efforts to enforce fair labor practices are impeded at various stages of agriculture supply chains. For instance, few participants down the chain are aware of or trained to apply the labor code.

This internship constantly solidified and benefitted my interest in fair compensation for farmworkers in global agricultural supply chains. I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the Donia Human Rights Center (DHRC) and the U-M President's Advisory Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights (PACLSHR) for funding this 10-week internship. I'm deeply indebted to Ravi Anupindi, Chair of the PACLSHR, and Michiko Shima, Technical Director at the FLA, for their constructive suggestions and informative guidance. I also sincerely appreciate the welcoming environment that the FLA team created. I will continue my effort in the human and labor rights field with what I learned from this experience.”