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Labor Rights

There is no strict definition of workers’ rights. The International Labor Organization (ILO) states that “fundamental principles and rights at work” should be respected by all ILO Members. Those rights include:

freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;

elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor;

effective abolition of child labor; and

elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

The ILO supervises the application of these rights. The ILO also looks at other areas of work such as wages, safety, and hours of work. The United States considers minimum wages and occupational safety as internationally recognized labor rights. There have been some acts passed to protect the rights of workers in their respective fields. The Fair Labor Standards Act specifically establishes a minimum wage, record keeping, and child labor standards for workers. The act affects workers in the private sector and in federal, state, and local governments. The National Labor Relations Act allows workers to join together and improve their working conditions, with or without unions. Employees have the right to form a union if no other exists and they can even decertify a union that has lost the support of the employees.

The United States is currently experiencing a labor shortage. The tight labor market is pushing employers to increase wages. Unionized workers are using their collective power to demand better work. The Economic Policy Institute found that net productivity has grown by 62 percent over the past four decades but the average hourly pay for a labor worker increased by only 17.5 percent. The recent Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is supposed to improve job quality by improving wages and benefits.


What can I do about this?

1. Take action to enforce workplace standards like minimum wage, overtime, and sick leave by encouraging policymakers to increase funding for state and local labor agencies that investigate and enforce labor laws.
2. Know your worker/labor rights so that you can report any violations. Also protect others that speak up about their violations so that they may not face any retaliation from their employers.


Minimum Wage —
The Effects on Youth

by Joseph Sweeney


External Resources

Summer Employment —
Student to Employee

by Summer Clevenger


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