The U.S. State Department last week issued its own report to the United Nations Human Rights Council on conditions in the United States. The report–the first of its kind from the U.S.–immediately drew scrutiny for its inclusion of Arizona’s new immigration law as a purported violation of human rights. As Politico reported, Gov. Jan Brewer slammed the Obama administration’s underhanded criticism of her state’s law as “downright offensive.”
But that’s not all.
Just outside of the scope of the mainstream media’s attention, the State Department’s also included a rough critique of U.S. labor law. According to the report, this is another area where the United States falls short in protecting the human rights of its citizens:
Freedom of association also protects workers and their right to organize. The labor movement in the United States has a rich history, and the right to organize and bargain collectively under the protection of the law is the bedrock upon which workers are able to form or join a labor union. Workers regularly use legal mechanisms to address complaints such as threats, discharges, interrogations, surveillance, and wages-and-benefits cuts for supporting a union. These legal regimes are continuously assessed and evolving in order to keep pace with a modern work environment. Our UPR consultations included workers from a variety of sectors, including domestic workers who spoke about the challenges they face in organizing effectively. Currently there are several bills in our Congress that seek to strengthen workers’ rights—ensuring that workers can continue to associate freely, organize, and practice collective bargaining as the U.S. economy continues to change.
Among these bills, undoubtedly, is labor unions’ prized Employee “Free Choice” Act–a measure that actually makes it easier for unions to organize, not workers. The EFCA “card check” would simply encourage bullying of employees by union bosses to expand dues bases and special interests’ campaign war chests.
The United States has a legacy of being the most free country on earth, taking special pride in our constitutionally guaranteed freedom of association. But this basic human right could not be better served by eliminating the secret ballot in democratic union elections.