Unions as a Civil Right

In a recent Op-Ed by written by Richard D. Kahlenberg and Moshe Z. Marvit, who advocate for adding the right to organize a labor union, without employer discrimination, to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Here is an excerpt, I recommend the whole read:

Other skeptics suggest that because laws now exist providing for worker safety and overtime pay, American employees no longer feel the need to join unions. But polling has shown that a majority of nonunion workers would like to join a union if they could.

In fact, the greatest impediment to unions is weak and anachronistic labor laws. It’s time to add the right to organize a labor union, without employer discrimination, to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, because that right is as fundamental as freedom from discrimination in employment and education. This would enshrine what the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. observed in 1961 at an A.F.L.-C.I.O. convention: “The two most dynamic and cohesive liberal forces in the country are the labor movement and the Negro freedom movement. Together, we can be architects of democracy.”

The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes that “everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.” The First Amendment has been read to protect freedom of association, and the 1935 National Labor Relations Act recognized the “right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations,” but in reality, the opportunity to organize is a right without a remedy.


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6 thoughts on “Unions as a Civil Right

  1. I agree whole heartedly, as long as we are talking about “trade unions” and not government unions. Which is what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was referring to when it was instituted.

  2. Why does it matter who my employer is in relation to my right to stand up as a part of a group and demand better working conditions? Yes, I am a public employee. Does that mean I shouldn’t have a voice in my pay and benefits? Or the working conditions I face daily as a public safety worker? We aren’t protected by OSHA or any other safety standards beyond what we negotiate at the bargaining table. We aren’t paid even close to what people with similar duties and education receive, even including our benefits. Rather than trying to assert that we are some special classification with special rights you want to remove, you should take a look at our many obligations and then get off your ass and fight for your own improved working conditions and compensation. When you do, you can expect to see me supporting YOUR right to organize and achieve a reasonable standard of living for all you do.

  3. The case for public sector unions has always been one huge canard. Protected by civil service, the only purpose of the unions was to create a symbiotic relationship between the workers,vis a vie their union hacks, and their Democrat benefactors.
    The only persons absent from the collective bargaining tables all these many decades were the citizens who paid the tab.
    Shame on us, but better late than never.

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