·  USW

Steelworkers Endorse Report by Human Rights Watch Criticizing European Companies' Violations of Labor Rights in the U.S.

Contact:  Ben Davis, USW 412-562-2501, (c) 202-550-3729

Pittsburgh - The United Steelworkers (USW) union praised a report released today by Human Rights Watch documenting how many European companies publicly embrace workers’ rights under global labor standards while undermining their employees’ rights in their U.S. operations.

The 130-page report, “A Strange Case: Violations of Workers’ Freedom of Association in the United States by European Multinational Corporations,” details ways in which some European multinational firms have carried out aggressive campaigns to keep workers in the United States from organizing and bargaining, violating international standards and, often, US labor laws.

The Human Rights Watch report is based on thirty interviews with workers and employees’ testimony in legal proceedings, findings and decisions of U.S. labor law authorities, company documents, and written exchanges with company management.

 “The U.S. needs to close the loopholes in the country’s woefully inadequate laws to protect workers.” said Arvind Ganesan, director of the Business and Human Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “The U.S. labor law system is characterized by long delays, weak penalties, and one-sided employer access to staff inside the workplace.”

USW International President Leo W. Gerard endorsed the report wholeheartedly. “I cannot count the number of times where workers have petitioned to form a union and soon after come under terrifying intimidation from management.

“These workers, who only want a voice at work, are subjected to captive audience meetings where they are required to listen to anti-union vehemence while pro-union voices must remain silent,” he said.  “Workers are threatened by everything imaginable, including a plant shutdown or permanent replacement if they go on strike. In some cases, threats to fire union supporters are carried out, while others who agree to spy on the union’s activities are rewarded.”

“The American labor movement has a thousand reasons to demand change in U.S. labor laws,” Gerard said.  “Congress must pass the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) this year.  Workers who are demanding a voice in the workplace deserve to be heard.  Now, more than ever, they need good, strong labor unions.”


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