Nel's New Day

June 16, 2012

U.S. People Need to Demand Our Rights

Five years ago this month, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favor of unions and collectively bargaining, stating,

“The right to bargain collectively with an employer enhances the human dignity, liberty and autonomy of workers by giving them the opportunity to influence the establishment of workplace rules and thereby gain some control over a major aspect of their lives, namely their work… Collective bargaining is not simply an instrument for pursuing external ends…rather [it] is intrinsically valuable as an experience in self-government… Collective bargaining permits workers to achieve a form of workplace democracy and to ensure the rule of law in the workplace. Workers gain a voice to influence the establishment of rules that control a major aspect of their lives.”

One reason for this ruling came Canada’s signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Article 23 of this declaration reads as follows:

(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Under the guidance of Eleanor Roosevelt, the entire Declaration took over a year to prepare and was adopted with a vote of 48-0 with eight abstentions on December 10, 1948. The United States signed this Declaration.

Despite our nation’s support, our rights delineated in the Declaration are rapidly disintegrating throughout the United States. Article 5 opposes torture; Article 7 requires equal protection under the law. Articles 8 through 11 call for opposition to arbitrary arrest or detention and entitlement to full equality in a fair and public hearing as well as the right to be presumed innocent. Article 12 requires the right to privacy.

Article 16 states, “Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.” Nothing is said in the Declaration about marriage being only between one man and one woman.

Article 18 cites freedom of religion, yet the United States uses fundamentalist Christian religious beliefs as its basis for its legislation  laws and gives no rights to people of another religion—or without religion.

According to Article 25,

“(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.”

People in the United States fail to have the rights described in almost half the 30 articles of this Declaration. Many people living here call this country a democracy. It has failed in the past and continues to fail now.

We need to demand our rights.

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