By Liana Foxvog and Sean Rudolph, International Labor Rights Forum
Today we published our list of this year's Scrooges for workers' right to unionize. The companies that topped our list are Dole, Hershey's, Philippine Airlines, and Wal-Mart. These corporations use intimidation and sometimes violence, either in the U.S. or in their supply chains abroad, to violate workers’ internationally recognized right to organize.
Among other rights related to freedom of association, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that “everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests” (Article 23, Section 4).
Despite the labor rights protections in the UDHR and national labor laws, workers continue to see their rights trampled on a daily basis. In its most recent survey of violations of trade union rights, the International Trade Union Confederation reports at least 90 unionists were killed, 2,083 were injured, and 4,599 were illegally fired last year as a result of their union activities. Additionally, as the employment crisis continues to grow, many labor rights advocates fear that companies are using the crisis to attack union workers and institute employment schemes that reduce the number of workers guaranteed union protections.
The 2011 Scrooge corporations’ violations include intimidating workers with severe threats, standing by while suppliers aggressively suppress worker organizing, collaborating with military forces to undermine democratically elected union leaders, illegally firing thousands of workers, exploiting foreign exchange students, and turning a blind eye to forced child labor in the supply chain.
The right to freedom of association is typically violated through the use of bullying tactics and the spread of anti-union propaganda but this year’s Scrooges have taken violating workers’ rights to new lows. As we celebrate the holiday season, consumers and labor advocates can support workers by telling these Scrooge companies that they need to respect workers rights.
As we celebrate the holiday season, you can support workers by calling on the Scrooges to respect workers' rights:
- Urge Philippine Airlines to reinstate fired workers and support job security
- Tell Wal-Mart to stop doing business with contractors that repress labor organizing
- Ask Hershey to end trafficked child labor in its supply chain
- Call on Dole to stop supporting military propaganda campaigns against legitimate worker organizations