U.S. Ranks Dead Last Among Major Countries for Workers’ Rights

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By Emiene Wright

June 22, 2020

When it comes to unions and collective bargaining, the U.S. is on par with Venezuela.

The International Trade Union Confederation has released a ranking of the best and worst countries for working people, with the U.S. coming in dead last among Group of Seven nations. 

The labor organization’s Global Rights Index, which ranked countries based on threats against organizers, the right to form or join labor unions, collective bargaining, and the right to strike, found the U.S. to have “systematic violations of rights” against workers. The nation was given a 4 on a scale of 1 to 5, putting it in the company of Venezuela, Haiti, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which have far fewer resources. 

As the report explains, in countries with a 4 rating, “[t]he government and/or companies are engaged in serious efforts to crush the collective voice of workers, putting fundamental rights under threat.” 

Every other G7 country ranked 3 or higher, with the strongest rankings going to countries with robust social welfare safety nets, high tax rates for wealthy citizens and corporations, and national paid sick leave policies. 

RELATED: This Woman Brought Her Newborn to Work Because the U.S. Doesn’t Offer Guaranteed Paid Leave

Uruguay, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Iceland were among nations with the least violations.

Globally, the ITUC findings reveal workers’ rights violations to be at a seven-year high. As Common Dreams reports, corporations and government leaders in the U.S. were reluctant to enact protocols to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Amazon in particular drew outrage for firing a warehouse worker who organized a walkout to protest the company’s lack of safety precautions. The company also ended its unlimited paid sick leave policy in May. 

RELATED: ‘He’s Not Smart or Articulate’: How Amazon Planned to Smear Fired Strike Organizer

Federal and state authorities have also come under fire for allegations of disregarding the rights and safety of workers during the pandemic. Several states are threatening to end unemployment benefits for any worker who doesn’t return to their job as the economy begins reopening.

RELATED: Whole Foods, Amazon, and Instacart: The Coronavirus Crisis Could Be a ‘Watershed Moment’ for Unions

“The economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on employment relationships which are deficient of rights,” ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow wrote in the report’s introduction. “The recovery process could give us a new model for the global economy, a new commitment to workers’ rights and renewed investment in compliance and the rule of law. It will take a New Social Contract to rebuild resilient economies. But unless we build trust in democracy, beginning with workplace democracy, we put at risk the very foundation of our societies.”


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