Worker Rights Are Human Rights

Worker Rights Are Human Rights

Human rights are based on the principle of respect for the individual. The fundamental assumption is that each person is a moral and rational being who deserves to be treated with dignity. They are called human rights because they are universal.

To be more specific, human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person.

The public recognizes human rights are being violated whenever individuals face torture or abuse, face unfair trials, are restricted in their freedom to express themselves, when dissent is silenced, or whenever women are battered and marginalized.

Yet many people, when asked to name their rights, will list only freedoms of speech and religion and perhaps one or two others. There is no question these are important rights but the full scope of human rights is very broad. They mean choice and opportunity. They mean the freedom to obtain a job, adopt a career, select a partner of one’s choice, and raise children. They include freedom of speech as individuals or within organizations as well as in radio, television, and press. They include the right to travel widely and the right to work gainfully without harassment, abuse and threat of arbitrary dismissal.

Again, some people don’t understand that the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively, safeguard workplace health and safety, prevent child labor abuses and sweatshops all address fundamental standards of treatment that people are entitled.

Under international labor law, the right to collectively bargain is considered a fundamental human right. Legislation or executive action to eliminate collective bargaining rights is, therefore, a violation of international law. The international community recognizes that Labor rights are human rights and are fundamental to the quest for equality, equity, and freedom. There is only one way for working people to secure labor rights: organize to demand and defend them.

Worker rights include: 1) respect for workers, 2) laws that protect workers from abuse, 3) laws that ensure work conditions are safe, 4) allowing for adequate free time and rest, 5) providing for adequate compensation, 6) laws preventing child labor, 7) no discrimination based on race, color, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression, ethnicity, religion, disability, union membership or political affiliation, 8) no physical abuse, harassment or threat, 9) ensuring no forced, bonded or involuntary labor, and 10) respect for the rights of workers to organize in labor unions.

You will find all Unions—found either in their mission statements, core values, objectives, visions, preambles, constitutions, or by-laws—promote diversity; economic and social justice; respect and dignity at jobs; and respect for ideas, perspectives, dignity, and compassion. Organized labor forbids discrimination because of race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, and religious or political belief. The purpose of Unions is to increase human justice, human rights, human security, and to contribute to the communities in which union members live.


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