Decent work, living wages, safe workplaces–these are some of the goals the Solidarity Center envisions for all workers around the world and for which it strives as the largest U.S.-based international worker rights organization, says Solidarity Center Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau in a recent interview.
Speaking on “Human Rights Heroes,” a podcast sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Office of International Labor Affairs, Bader-Blau pointed to broad-based human rights workers can achieve when they join together in unions or associations.
“Just in the past 50 years, we can see that every major transition to democracy has had trade unions front and center.”
In Morocco, the Solidarity Center supported more than 1,000 agricultural workers, many with limited literacy and the majority women, who came together to form their first union in export agriculture.
“They sat down with employers they had always been intimidated by and negotiated fair wages, decent work and dignity for the first time,” says Bader-Blau. The workers now have full-time employment, fair wages and safer jobs.
Speaking with podcast host Sarah Fox, outgoing special representative for international labor affairs, Bader-Blau also discussed the landmark freedom of association report produced in October by United Nations Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai; the scourge of human trafficking for labor and forced labor; and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 8 on inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all.
Despite economic growth and reduction of poverty in recent years, says Bader-Blau, “we’ve seen an expansion of inequality within states and between states.”
But with Goal 8, “we will be able to create through good employment the ability to have fair economies and more just societies, when workers every day can go to work and know they will get paid what they are owed and won’t face indignities at work and that they will make family supporting wages.”
Listen to the full podcast here.