IACHR Asked to Investigate Denial of Workers' Rights (International Worker Justice)

Fighting for Workers'
Rights Here ... at Home

On Monday, December 10 — International Human Rights Day — the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) was asked to investigate why some U.S. workers are denied a fundamental human right: the right to organize and bargain collectively.

At simultaneous press conferences in North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, UE local leaders, members and supporters announced the filing of our formal request for an IACHR hearing into why, for some public employees in the United States, union bargaining is outlawed.

The request is signed by more than 50 labor and human rights organizations (full list is below). North Carolina, the focus of the request for a hearing, Virginia and West Virginia are three states with some of the nation's most severe restrictions on the rights of public employees.

  • We are asking the human rights arm of the Organization of America States (OAS) to investigate the denial of collective bargaining rights to public employees as a violation of their human rights.
  • This denial of the right to a collective voice at work affects tens of thousands of public employees in all three states.
  • Specifically, we are asking for a formal hearing to be held in Washington, DC, to examine this denial of a basic right, with North Carolina as the lead example.
  • Our request to the OAS is the third international legal initiative undertaken by our union in the fight to win collective bargaining rights for all public employees. Cases have also been brought before the human rights agency of the United Nations and, through the efforts of Mexico's FAT, under the side agreements to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
  • Copies of the official documents requesting the investigation by the OAS were provided to the governor and leaders of the North Carolina state legislature (download the request - pdf format).
  • On December 10th, in workplaces across all three states, members of UE Locals 150 (North Carolina), 160 (Virginia) and 170 (West Virginia) distributed educational materials and wore stickers to commemorate International Human Rights Day. Many used the occasion to contact their state lawmakers and demand the right to collective bargaining.

The denial of collective bargaining rights costs these states and their public employees in many ways, ranging from substandard wages, inadequate health care to insufficient or nonexistent pensions and more.

Labor and Human Rights Groups who have signed the IACHR hearing request:

National & International Organizations

  • American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
  • American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
  • American Rights at Work
  • Campaign for Labor Rights
  • Center for Constitutional Rights
  • Center for Economic and Social Rights
  • Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), AFL-CIO
  • Global Exchange
  • Global Rights
  • Grassroots Global Justice (GGJ)
  • Institute for Policy Studies, Global Economy Project
  • Interfaith Worker Justice
  • International Association of Fire Fighters
  • International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions (ICEM)
  • International Labor Rights Fund
  • International Longshore & Warehouse Union
  • Jobs with Justice
  • Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law
  • National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI)
  • National Employment Law Project
  • National Immigration Law Center
  • National Lawyers Guild
  • Public Services International (PSI)
  • Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights
  • Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE)
  • United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial & Service Workers International Union (USW), AFL-CIO
  • US Human Rights Network

Regional Organizations

  • African American/Latino Alliance
  • Black Workers for Justice
  • Coalition Against Racism
  • College Democrats at NC State University
  • Hear Our Public Employees (HOPE) Coaltion1
  • International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1422
  • Law Firm of Edelstein & Payne
  • North Carolina AFL-CIO
  • North Carolina Council of Churches
  • North Carolina Environmental Justice Network
  • North Carolina Justice Center
  • North Carolina National Lawyers Guild
  • North Carolina State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
  • Professional Firefighters & Paramedics of North Carolina
  • Project South: Institute for the Elimination of Poverty & Genocide
  • Southern Alliance for Collective Bargaining
  • Southern Anti-Racism Network
  • Southern Faith Labor Community Alliance
  • Students for a Democratic Society (UNC Chapel Hill)
  • Students United for a Responsible Global Environment (Chapel Hill)
  • Student Worker Alliance (NC State University)
  • UE Local 150, North Carolina Public Service Workers Union
  • UE Local 160, Virginia Public Service Workers Union
  • UE Local 170, West Virginia Public Workers Union
  • University Graduate Student Association (NC State University)