Are Worker Rights Human Rights?
University of Michigan Press, 2008
Paper: 978-0-472-05042-0 | Cloth: 978-0-472-07042-8
Library of Congress Classification HD6971.8.M38 2008
Dewey Decimal Classification 331.011
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ABOUT THIS BOOK
"In a much-needed intervention, Ric McIntyre recasts the debate about globalization and labor rights and speeds us to the heart of the matter: the battle between transnational corporations who distance themselves from responsibility for the fate of workers, and labor activists who seek to reestablish bonds of accountability and moral obligation. The stakes in this struggle are enormous, and Dr. McIntyre provides crucial insight into the economic and political dynamics that define it."
"This book presents an insightful, powerful corrective to the contemporary debate over worker rights. McIntyre identifies the limitations of thinking of worker rights as individualized human rights and challenges us instead to examine how rights are defined through conventional thinking and class interest. The product is rich and compelling: McIntyre's investigation demands of us that we be far more attentive to the contradictory effects of ‘rights talk.' I recommend this book enthusiastically to all those who advocate for a just economic order the world over."
"An important contribution to the interdisciplinary study of labor. McIntyre's book will challenge the debate over labor rights on all fronts."
"A timely examination of our modern 'sweating system' . . . essential reading for all workers who hope for greater dignity in the workplace and greater fairness in society."
"Ric McIntyre convincingly shows how local actions, regulations changes, and international norms can combine to establish collective rights for workers."
"An important, timely, and needed contribution to our understanding of worker rights."
"Workers of the world, unite!" Karl Marx's famous call to action still promises an effective means of winning human rights in the modern global economy, according to economist Richard P. McIntyre. Currently, the human rights movement insists upon a person's right to life, freedom, and material necessities. In democratic, industrial nations such as the United States, the movement focuses more specifically on a person's civil rights and equal opportunity.
The movement's victories since WWII have come at a cost, however. The emphasis on individual rights erodes collective rights---the rights that disadvantaged peoples need to assert their most basic human rights. This is particularly true for workers, McIntyre argues. By reintroducing Marxian and Institutional analysis, he reveals the class relations and power structures that determine the position of workers in the global economy. The best hope for achieving workers' rights, he concludes, lies in grassroots labor organizations that claim the right of association and collective bargaining.
At last, an economist offers a vision for human rights that takes both moral questions and class relations seriously.
Richard P. McIntyre is Director of the University Honors Program and Professor of Economics at the University of Rhode Island.
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