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Research Guides

Your Rights

The International Labor Organization identifies four fundamental rights at work:

  • The right to associate with a union & the recognition of collective bargaining
  • The elimination of forced or compulsory labor
  • The abolition of child labor
  • The elimination of employment discrimination.

The ILO pursues many other issues like hour limits, workplace safety, living wage legislation, sustainability, and rights for migrant and undocumented workers, but how do things stand with regard to the four fundamental rights in America?

Unions & Collective Bargaining

Right to Work Legislation

Right to Work Laws prohibit union security agreements. These agreements are meant to address the free rider problem because without them the incentive is to not pay the costs of membership but still benefit from the collective bargaining activities of the union which cost money.

Types of Security Agreements:
  • Closed Shop: The employer can only hire union members and if an employee resigns from the union they must be dismissed.
  • Union Shop: The employer can hire anyone they like but the employee must join the union within a fixed period of time and if the leave the union they are dismissed.
  • Agency Shop/Fair Share: the employer can hire whomever they like and the employee can choose whether to join the union or pay an agency fee to the union.

Forced & Compulsory Labor

The Thirteenth Amendment:

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

(emphasis added)

Child Labor

Employment & Discrimination

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

In 1970, President Nixon singed the Occupational Health and Safety Act which in part created OSHA.  Under this law, employers must provide their workers with a workplace free from serious hazards and on-the-job training to inform workers of potential hazards, test regularly for potential hazards, and keep accurate records of work-related injuries and illnesses. OSHA covers most private sector employees and some public sector employees either directly through federal OSHA or through a state plan.