Wednesday, September 29, 2010
[IWS] ITUC: USA: PROBLEMS PERSIST for RIGHT TO ORGANIZE & OTHER FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS [29 September 2010]
IWS Documented News Service
Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach
School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies
16 East 34th Street, 4th floor---------------------- Stuart Basefsky
New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau
INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNION CONFEDERATION (ITUC)
INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNISED CORE LABOUR STANDARDS IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
REPORT FOR THE WTO GENERAL COUNCIL REVIEW OF THE TRADE POLICIES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
(Geneva, 29 September and 1 October 2010)
[full-text, 21 pages]
The United States has ratified only two of the eight core ILO labour Conventions. In
view of restrictions on the trade union rights of workers and child labour problems,
determined measures are needed to comply with the commitments the US accepted at
Singapore and Doha in the WTO Ministerial Declarations over 1996-2001, and in the ILO
Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its 2008 Social Justice
The US has not ratified the ILO core Convention on the Right to Organise and
Collective Bargaining, nor the Convention on Freedom of Association and Protection of the
Right to Organise. Anti-union campaigns by employers are common and the legislation is
insufficient as is its enforcement to protect the right of workers to organise. The right to
strike and to collectively bargain are severely restricted, in particular for public sector
workers and for certain groups of private sector workers.
The US has not ratified the core ILO Convention on Equal Remuneration nor the
Convention on Discrimination. Discrimination in employment is prohibited by law but does
occur in practice. There is still a wage gap between men and women and between different
ethnic groups. Women and some ethnic minorities are also disproportionately represented
in certain occupations.
The US has ratified the ILO core Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour,
but not the Convention on Minimum Age. Child labour remains a problem in the US, in
particular in agriculture where fewer regulations apply, where collective bargaining is
exceptional, and where children continue to be exposed to hazardous working conditions.
The US has ratified the Convention on the Abolition of Forced Labour but not the
Convention on Forced Labour. Forced labour exists in the form of forced prostitution,
bonded labour, and forced prison labour. There is also forced labour in agriculture as well
as in garments in US territories.
Press Release 29 September 2010
USA: unresolved problems with the right to organise and other fundamental rights
Brussels, 29 September 2010 (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC presents today its biannual report on core labour standards in the USA, coinciding with the Trade Policy Review of the USA at the WTO, taking place on 29 September and 1 October. It reveals a poor record on workers’ protection, particularly with regard to trade union rights and child labour, areas in which serious violations continue to take place.
US law excludes large groups of workers from the right to organise. These include agricultural workers, many public sector workers, domestic workers, supervisors and independent contractors. Moreover, for most private sector workers forming trade unions is extremely difficult and anti-union pressure from employers is frequent. The report notes that there is a $4 billion union-busting industry which aims at undermining trade union organising. Some 82 per cent of employers hire such companies that employ a wide range of anti-union tactics. Employers often force employees to listen to anti-union propaganda and threaten workers with company closures if they vote to form a trade union.
The report further notes that the Employee Free Choice Act, which would redress some of the imbalances workers are subject to, continues to be blocked by Senate Republicans despite passing the House of Representatives and gaining majority support in the Senate.
Child labour is in many cases not effectively addressed in the US, particularly in agriculture and not least because of the hazardous conditions that children are exposed to. Many of the children are migrant farm workers, often Latino. The AFL-CIO estimates that between 300,000 and 800,000 children are employed in agriculture under dangerous conditions. Moreover, the number of child labour inspections has been falling.
Concerning discrimination the report notes that women continue to earn less than men (77.1%). While women represent 47.8% of total employment, only 29.0% of executive and senior level officials and managers are women. Furthermore women have no guarantee of paid family leave.
Finally, the report notes that forced labour remains a problem in the US, in particular with forced labour in agriculture for migrant workers.
To read the full report: http://www.ituc-csi.org/report-for-the-wto-general-council,7686.html
[Thanks to Rory O'Neill of Hazards Magazine http://hazards.org/ for the tip]
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