Workers Rights are Human Rights!
A Community-wide Public Event In Observance of
International Human Rights Day
Keynote Speakers: The Honorable David Bonior, Professor Lance Compa
Film by Julie Rosenberg Afternoon Workshops
Saturday, December 11th, 2004 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
At the Boston Public Library, Copley Square, Boston, Massachusetts.
For directions:www.bpl.org Accessible by T: COPLEY (Green Line),
BACK BAY (Orange Line)
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just
and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for
equal work. (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for
the protection of his interests.
~Article 23: Universal Declaration of Human Rights-
December 10 is Human Rights Day, the anniversary of the 1948 adoption of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the General Assembly of the United
Nations. The international community first expressed concern for the
condition of workers when the International Labor Organization was created
in 1919, at the end of the First World War. Currently, forces of
globalization and outright attacks on unions and labor laws have plac ed
labor rights under a sustained and intensive attack. The working class is in
deep crisis wages, health care, pensions, housing, education, all are in
major decline not only for unorganized workers but for union workers as
well. In many countries, union organizers are even killed, and the poor,
especially children, women and indigenous peoples continue to be exploited.
Unions have ventured into new ground, on social issues, political action,
and coalition building, and activist solidarity movements are growing.
Meanwhile, corporate responsibility efforts to improve working conditions
have gained momentum, but there is still much to be done. This Human Rights
Day event will examine current challenges facing workers here in the United
States and globally and engage activists and concerned citizens in ways to
organize for joint action.
THE STARK FIGURES 40 million workers say they would like to join a union.
The purchasing power of workers' wages is 5 percent below where it stood 30
years ago. 75% of employers hire anti-union consultants. 52% of employers
threaten to call the Immigration and Naturalization Service. 71% of
employers in manufacturing threaten to close the plant if workers choose a
union. 92% of employers force workers to attend anti-union presentations.
75% of union workers have health benefits, compared with 49 percent of
non-union workers. Union workers earn 27% more in median weekly wages than
non-union workers. Unionized women earn 33% more than non-union women.
Latino union members earn 51% more than their non-union counterparts. Since
the 1990s, 20,000 workers each year are illegally fired or discriminated
against for attempting to form a union.
Figures courtesy of American Rights at Work an Rights
9:15 AM Registration & Opening Panel
10:00am-12:00pm: Globalizing Production, Globalizing Human Rights. Keynote
Speaker: The Honorable David Bonior, U.S. House of Representatives
(1976-2002), National Chairperson American Rights at Work, Labor Studies
Professor Wayne State University. Globalization of production, trade, and
investment has failed to globalize respect for universal human rights. For
example, workers in many countries are barred from organizing, indigenous
family farmers are driven from their lands by a flood of subsidized imports,
and immigrant workers are held hostage to a form of modern day slavery.
Globalization has also brought us all into closer connection with one
another. Our problems are now intertwined, and so are our solutions. By
finding new ways to organize and enforce workers' rights, we can globalize
the protection of universal human rights. Panel Members : Robert Ross,
Professor, Clark University, author of Slaves to Fashion, on sweatshops
Maria-Elena Letona,Executive Director Centro Presente, on the rights of
immigrant workers Simon Billenness, Oxfam America, on corporate social
responsibility, Tim Wise, Tufts University, Trade Specialist on the impact
of globalization on agricultural workers
12:00pm-1:00pm Lunch (on your own)
1:00pm Rights Violations in Colombia Hector Giraldo: Trade Unionist, a film
by Julie Rosenberg (20 min) Introduced by Miguel Fernandez, Teachers Union
leader from Colombia, The Honorable Jim McGovern, Massachusetts Congressman
2:00pm Afternoon Workshops
A) Labor Rights Abroad From Colombia to China, governments direct outright
violence and repression against labor rights activists. And millions of
workers are subject to slavery-like conditions.
B) Workers' Rights Under Attack in the U.S. Workers in the U.S. are facing
routine violations of their rights as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution
and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A panel will discuss current
struggles and innovative new strategies to build community support for
workers' rights in the U.S.
C) Immigrant Workers in Boston. As immigrant workers play an increasingly
important role in the local and national economy, violations of their basic
rights are also increasing. A panel of immigrant workers and organizers will
discuss current struggles and strategies to defend the rights of all
D) We Have the Power! Consumer pressure can effectively reduce the use of
sweatshop and child labor. Consumer groups help to bring about the
implementation of labor standards. Learn about innovative ways you as a
consumer can vote with your wallet.
3:00pm Closing Plenary "Guaranteeing Workers' Rights, At Home and Abroad"
Professor Lance Compa of Cornell University will speak on the current state
of labor rights in the United States. Author of Unfair Advantage: Workers
Freedom of Association in the U.S. Under International Human Rights
Standards, a report for Human Rights Watch (2000).
4:30pm Call to Action Followed by a Vigil to honor murdered Colombian Labor
Activists in Copley Square.
For more information: www.massjwj.net or (617) 523-8778
Endorsed by: American Friends Service Committee, American Rights at Work,
Amnesty International USA, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Centro
Presente, Communication Workers District 1, CWA Local 1400, Cultural
Survival, Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, Jobs With Justice,
Massachusetts AFL-CIO, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy
Coalition, MIT Program on Human Rights, National Lawyers Guild, Oxfam
America, Physicians for Human Rights, Reebok Human Rights Program, SEIU
Local 615, SEIU Local 2020, Student Labor Action Project, Teamsters Local
25, Unitarian Universalist Association, Unitarian Universalist Service
Committee, UFCW Local 1445, UNITE/HERE New England Joint Board, Workmen's