At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, millions of workers in the United States are excluded from the most basic human right: the right to organize. Either by policy or by practice, millions of workers cannot organize without facing retaliation, cannot bargain, cannot transform their workplace conditions, and cannot access basic labor protections. In short: millions of workers are robbed of dignity. These workers include more than a million and a half farmworkers, nearly two million domestic workers, millions of public employees in eleven states and private employees in twenty-two states that have right-to-work laws, plus nearly three million tipped workers and hundreds of thousands of guestworkers and day laborers. The exclusion of these workers from the right to organize has had extraordinary consequences for all workers in the United States: over the last 40 years, as the floor has fallen from under the feet of these workers, wages for all workers have declined. The decline in wages, in turn, has contributed to a US economic recession. As it turns out, the cost of exclusion—once thought of as an issue of “the most vulnerable”—is high for all workers and every sector of US society.
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