Legal Protection of Workers’ Human Rights: Regulatory Changes and Challenges in the United States

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[Excerpt] In a 2002 study, the US Government Accountability Office reported that more than 32 million workers in the United States lack protection of the right to organise and to bargain collectively. But since then, the situation has worsened. A series of decisions by the federal authorities under President George Bush has stripped many more workers of organising and bargaining rights. The administration took away bargaining rights for hundreds of thousands of employees in the new Department of Homeland Security and the Defense Department.18 In the years before the 2009 change of administration, a controlling majority of the five-member National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), appointed by President Bush, denied protection to graduate student employees, disabled employees, temporary employees and other categories of workers. An October 2006, a NLRB decision was especially alarming for labour advocates. The NLRB set out a new, expanded definition of 'supervisor' under the section of US labour law that excludes supervisors from protection of the right to organise and bargain collectively. This exclusion has enormous repercussions for millions of workers who might now become 'supervisors' and lose protection of their organising and bargaining rights.21 This case is discussed in more detail below in connection with a complaint to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Committee on Freedom of Association.
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labor movement; trade unions; human rights; worker rights; labor law; United States; union organizing
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Required Publisher Statement: This is the pre-edited, pre-peer reviewed version of “Legal Protection of Workers’ Human Rights: Regulatory Changes and Challenges in the United States” which has been published in final form in Human Rights at Work: Perspectives on Law and Regulation, Colin Fenwick and Tonia Novitz, eds. (Hart Publishing, 2010). Further information about this book can be found on the Hart Publishing website:
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