February 27, 2011

Am I Not Human? Honor Public Workers' Bargaining Rights

Soulclap to Human Rights Watch for making the connection between human rights and the attack on the American Dream being made by a number of Republican governors around the nation.

Proposals in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and other states to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights violate international labor rights standards, Human Rights Watch said today.
"There are real financial constraints on states, but that is no excuse to seek to eliminate fundamental rights," said Alison Parker, US Program director at Human Rights Watch. "State governments can negotiate cost savings with workers without violating their rights in the process."
International law on the right to bargain collectively applies in both private and public workplaces. The United States championed the International Labor Organization's 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, under which the US pledged "to promote and to realize ... fundamental rights" defined in the declaration, the first of which is "freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining."

The United States is also a party to and bound by its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees everyone the right to protect his or her interests through trade union activity. As the Human Rights Committee has made clear on multiple occasions, that includes collective bargaining. Denying the right to collective bargaining would violate this international treaty, Human Rights Watch said.

Most major advanced democratic countries honor collective bargaining rights of public employees. For example, all EU countries allow public sector workers to bargain collectively. In a 2008 case, the European Court of Human Rights found that Turkey's restrictions on public employee bargaining rights violated the European Convention on Human Rights. In 2007 the Supreme Court of Canada ordered the province of British Columbia to restore collective bargaining agreements nullified by legislation.

By contrast, many undemocratic countries restrict or prohibit collective bargaining by public employees. For example, the Egyptian government has prohibited public sector collective bargaining. It allowed public employee unions to exist, but in name only, favoring government-controlled unions and quashing any attempt to bargain collectively.

Under federal law in the United States, public employees' right to organize is respected, compliant with international standards. However, federal law severely restricts subjects of bargaining in ways that run afoul of international standards - federal employees cannot bargain over economic issues such as pay and benefits, for example.

At the US state level, many states respect the right to organize and bargain collectively and allow wide scope for subjects of bargaining, consistent with international standards. Other states, like North Carolina, prohibit collective bargaining altogether, in violation of international human rights norms.

Wisconsin historically has been called a "laboratory of democracy" in the American system with a strong record of honoring workers' rights of association, organizing, and bargaining. It was one of the first states to grant public employees the right to bargain collectively, but is now on the verge of violating those basic rights, Human Rights Watch said.

Having the right to bargain collectively does not guarantee outcomes sought by workers and their unions. Nor does it mean that cost savings cannot be achieved. Rather workers' representatives and representatives of employers, whether public or private, have a right to bargain hard for their interests. The reason why collective bargaining is recognized as an international human right is that the compromises resulting from a process in which workers have an autonomous voice reflect principles of dignity, equality, and democracy consistent with human rights principles.
"Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and other states threatening to impose harsh new restrictions on public employees' collective bargaining rights should step back from the brink," Parker said. "They should honor public employees' right to bargain collectively."
Roots of Humanity feels that each of us can fight against human rights abuses in the world. We simply need to do something. Protest. Meditate. Pray. In the case of bloggers ... we want you to blog on the 27th of each month. Just share information on behalf of our human siblings in all suffering areas who are either barred from communication by their governments, or lacking in technology to ask: Am I Not Human?


Constructive Feedback said...

[quote]making the connection between human rights and the attack on the American Dream being made by a number of Republican governors around the nation.[/quote]

As I did my "Progressive Research" for the month I learned from "ISR magazine" that more than 407,000 local and state workers LOST THEIR JOB in the United States since the "Great Recession" began.

I am curious about one thing.
If we contrast the proposed limits on Public Sector unions ability to BARGAIN FOR THEIR WAGES (Bringing Wisconsin in line with the Federal Government policies for its unionized workers).......versus how the fiscal collapse of Detroit and Newark have resulted in mass TERMINATIONS of Unionized Workers.............

are you sure that UNION RIGHTS are the debate that we should be having?

* A public sector union is a derivative of a JOB

* A public sector JOB is a derivative of a fiscally solvent government entity

* Fiscal solvency is a derivative of an entity which has the proper balance of ORGANIC PRODUCTIVITY and a tax base from which to FUND the SERVICES that the government workers are asked to execute upon.

ARE YOU SURE that "Union RIGHTS" is the right conversation at this time?

Villager said...

Constructive Feedback - It appears that the people of Wisconsin are going to have the final word as they vote on the recall of the Republican lawmakers in the coming weeks...