From workers' rights to worker appropriation a response to Joseph A. McCartin

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There has been little examination of the possible negative effects on labor's interests when those interests are asserted as rights. It is as if proclaiming "workers' rights are human rights" can only cause good things to happen. Joseph McCartin's essay contributes to a more balanced and sophisticated discussion of the effects of rights talk for labor. He uses George McGovern's critique of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) to illustrate the more general point that prolabor rights arguments invite antilabor rights arguments even from friends of labor, and that in the current conjuncture appeals to rights are more likely to empower neoliberals and libertarians than workers. Indeed, the very name of the proposed act, emphasizing freedom and choice, is part of the problem, as the union idea involves definite limits on individual freedom in the interest of the betterment of the group. The titling of EFCA indicates unwillingness on the part of Labor and its allies to face this. © Copyright International Labor and Working-Class History, Inc. 2011.

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International Labor and Working-Class History