By DONALD DeMARCO
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), established in 2006, is a confederation of national trade union centers, each of which links the trade unions of that particular country. It has 325 affiliated organizations in 161 countries and territories on all five continents, with a membership of 176 million people. The ITUC has specialized offices in a number of countries around the world, and has General Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
The ITUC is an international watchdog that is primarily concerned with the rights of workers. It operates under the principle that when workers enjoy the freedom of a collective voice and can bargain for safe workplaces, fair wages, and conditions that are free from discrimination, “productivity and economic growth can flourish.”
Countries are ranked in descending order according to five categories. Workers in countries with the rating of 4 have reported “systematic violations” in which “the government and/or companies are engaged in serious efforts to crush the collective voice of workers putting fundamental rights under continuous threat.” Ninety-seven factors are taken into consideration, such as: the violation of the right to freedom of expression and assembly; lack of guarantee of due process of law; union monopoly; the right to organize activities and programs.
The United States of America has received a 2014 ranking of 4, behind category 3 countries such as Burundi, Chad, Ethiopia, Madagascar, and Mozambique, whose violations of rights are “regular,” but not “systematic.” It is classified on a par with other category 4 countries such as Iran, Iraq, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sierra Leone. This low ranking of the United States will no doubt be shocking to many who regard America as a First World country in every sense.
Close inspection, however, of recent practices on the labor front in the United States suggests that the ICUC evaluation may be fair and reasonable. Under President Obama, government control is ever tightening, moving away from individual rights to a government-enforced collective homogeneity. Political correctness has had an increasingly suffocating effect on freedom of speech.
A man was fired from his post in Washington, D.C., for using the word, “niggardly,” in an appropriate context. Two popular radio hosts in Rochester, N.Y., were fired because they implied that sexual dysmorphia (the desire to be transgendered) was associated with a mental illness (a view upheld by psychologists and psychiatrists). A university professor in Illinois lost his job because he pointed out, correctly, that the basis for the Catholic position against homosexual acts is the natural law.
People have been persecuted in the workplace for airing pro-life views, defending traditional marriage, or alluding to the humanity of the unborn. In science, it is not uncommon for those who question the orthodoxy of Darwinian evolution to be penalized in one way or another, while global warming is presented not as a hypothesis, but as an unchallengeable truism.
Political correctness has replaced a more Christian ethical framework in which tolerance and understanding are given a fundamental place. Despite all the talk about social justice and diversity, America is using political correctness to erode freedom of speech in the workplace. In many instances, rights have become less important than “toeing the line.”
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(Donald DeMarco is a senior fellow of Human Life International. He is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario, and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Conn., and a regular columnist for St. Austin Review. Some of his recent writings may be found at Human Life International’s Truth & Charity Forum.)