The evidence is clear: fifty-six years after the United States helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, U.S. workers do not enjoy the right proclaimed in Article 23: "to form and to join trade unions." Independent observers confirm as much. Recently, Human Rights Watch issued a report that found rampant violations of U.S. workers' rights. Such violations "have systematically stolen the freedom to organize from workers," argues AFL-CIO president John Sweeney. With the December 2003 protests, labor began to fight back. On one level, the protesters aimed to build support for reform legislation introduced by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Representative George Miller (DCA)that would simplify the union recognition process and stiffen penalties against lawbreaking employers. But on a deeper level they meant to frame labor's struggle as an effort to secure human rights. As AFL-CIO organizing director Stewart Acuff put it, "We want to get into a real fight for the rights of American workers to freely form unions . . . which is a fundamental human right."


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pp. 61-71
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