Keeping the Wheels Turning

Every year on the first of May, citizens around the world are reminded that the freedom of association, like all fundamental rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, has its historic and modern roots in the public square. The freedom of association is continually won and maintained through the willpower of many people joining together for the good of all. However, we undervalue and risk losing this valuable right if we limit the scope of its utility to the public square. The power of the freedom of association in the private sector can be invoked by anyone and everyone, from professional athletes to wage laborers around the world.

It is worth mentioning that media attention can and does highlight local and global needs for change in the workplace, most recently seen in critical evaluations of FIFA’s handling of the “World Cup slave camps” in Qatar. However, many workers seeking to fight for their universal human rights in the workplace do not come from a social location that affords them any such outside resources. While consumers and social entrepreneurs are driving both economic demand and public policy toward a higher quality working life, the workers themselves have no other resources than their co-workers.

Together, we must all come together to be fairly recognized and represented pursuant to our value as human beings rather than our occupational status. All voices should be heard in the workplace, just as they would be in the public square. It is imperative that those of us who have unequally more use our freedom of association to make sure that all persons are able to enjoy this invaluable right. By expanding the right to freely associate in the workplace, we will likewise expand the right for all to freely associate in the public square. Upholding the rights from the public square in the workplace will uphold the humanity of all of the hardworking men and women who keep the wheels of society turning.


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