JULY/AUGUST 1999 · VOLUME 20· NUMBER 7 & 8
U.S. Tramples Worker Rights
"While in theory U.S. law provides for workers to have freedom of association, the right to join trade unions and participate in collective bargaining is in practice denied to large segments of the American workforce in both the public and the private sectors."
That is the central conclusion of a report issued by the Brussels-based International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) in July.
The report paints a devastating portrayal of labor rights abuses in the United States:
Union supporters who suffer from illegal firings, harassment, surveillance or improper employer electioneering do not have adequate remedies at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
NLRB procedures, ICFTU states, "do not provide workers with effective redress in the face of abuses by employers."
NLRB delays and inability to award damages more than job reinstatement and lost wages (minus earnings during the period between illegal dismissal and NLRB order) are so severe that many wronged union supporters simply do not bother filing a case with the NLRB.
Employers also routinely eviscerate the rights of those workers who are unionized, the report finds:
The ICFTU reports refers to Crown Central Petroleum's lockout of 250 Texas workers as an example.
The ICFTU report also criticizes the United States for permitting widespread use of child labor, especially in the agricultural industry and among migrant workers; and, in a growing number of cases, permitting prisoners to be compelled to work for pay (for rates as low as 23 cents a day).
"A series of far-reaching measures need to be taken in order to establish
genuine respect for core labor standards within the United States, particularly
with regard to trade union rights," the ICFTU report concludes.