March 13, 2011- The International Commission for Labor Rights (ICLR) sent a notice to the Wisconsin Legislature, explaining that its attempt to strip collective bargaining rights from public workers is illegal.
Anyone who has watched the events unfolding in Wisconsin and other states that are trying to remove collective bargaining rights from public workers has heard people protesting the loss of their "rights." The ICLR explained to the legislature exactly what these rights are and why trying to take them away is illegal.
The ICLR is a New York-based nongovernmental organization that coordinates a pro bono network of labor lawyers and experts throughout the world. It investigates labor rights violations and issues reports and amicus briefs on issues of labor law.
The ICLR identified the right of "freedom of association" as a fundamental right and affirmed that the right to collective bargaining is an essential element of freedom of association. These rights, which have been recognized worldwide, provide a brake on unchecked corporate or state power.
In 1935, when Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act (also known as the NLRA, or the Wagner Act), it recognized the direct relationship between the inequality of bargaining power of workers and corporations and the recurrent business depressions. That is, by depressing wage rates and the purchasing power of wage earners, the economy fell into depression. The law therefore recognized as policy of the United States the encouragement of collective bargaining.
While the NLRA covered US employees in private employment, the law protecting collective bargaining in both the public and private sectors has developed since 1935 to cover all workers "without distinction."