« Wal-Mart Losing the PR War | Main | Kansas City Star Clobbers OSHA »

December 09, 2005

Celebrate Him in Poland, Ignore Him in America

When Lech Walesa led labor unions in Poland denouncing the crushing of workers rights, he was celebrated in the American media.

But when he headlines a list of Nobel Peace Prize winners denouncing, among other things, the denial of basic human rights to American workers, he's largely ignored. In commemoration of International Human Rights Day (which is Saturday), Walesa, along with Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Jimmy Carter and seven other Nobel winners have signed on to the following letter denouncing the violation of workers rights around the world, from Burma to the Ukraine. But here is the paragraph that America should be paying closest attention to:

the wealthiest nation in the world—the United States of America—fails to adequately protect workers’ rights to form unions and bargain collectively. Millions of U.S. workers lack any legal protection to form unions and thousands are discriminated against every year for trying to exercise these rights.

We cannot remain silent in the face of these and other serious abuses of workers’ rights.

What Americans don't want to face is that the US is in direct violation of international human rights agreements in its labor laws.

Back in 2000, Human Rights Watch published a report, Unfair Advantage, that detailed the range of ways in which US law violates accepted covenants on labor rights.

Or you could read the report by the International Confederation for Free Trade Unions -- the organization the US promoted when it was denoucning labor practices in Communist countries -- which issued its USA: Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights (2004).

If you want to take action, the AFL-CIO has an online petition in support of the Employee Free Choice Act to make the freedom to form a union a reality for more workers in our country.

Posted by Nathan at December 9, 2005 08:28 AM