The Industrial Revolution brought about a sea change in labor. Enhanced productivity allowed an individual to provide for the needs of many, giving rise to specialization and a workforce shift in 1920s. From mainly self-employment in agriculture, society now went to working for others. No laws existed yet on how to treat the workers, and many employers chose to treat them more like human chattel. Widespread revolts and strikes followed, leading the newly-formed League of Nations to take up the cause of the laborers.
On this day, April 11, in 1919, the League of Nations in Paris formed a sub-group, called the International Labor Organization, to set labor standards for its member states.
With the Russian communist revolution in 1917 looming in the distance, the ILO was quick to adopt some of the same principles espoused by the Bolsheviks. Key principles of the organization state that “labor is not a commodity;” that freedom of speech and of association are necessary ingredients in economic prosperity; and that eradication of poverty will take the coordinated efforts of the international community along with labor (and business) leaders.