State mental health worker, Rebecca Hart, marches in Birmingham at SHROC in 2010.

Yes. International covenants are clear: workers have the right to bargain collectively and freely associate. In March 2007, the UN’s International Labor Organization (ILO) found North Carolina’s ban on collective bargaining to be in violation of international labor standards. In that decision the ILO called on the United States government to “promote the establishment of a collective bargaining framework in the public sector in North Carolina” and called specifically for the repeal of NCGS § 95-98.

But North Carolina’s and Virginia’s backwards statutes also violate international law because of the miserable working conditions they have created for public workers. In the autumn of 2005, the International Commission on Labor Rights (ICLR) sent an independent delegation of international labor rights experts from around the world to North Carolina to document working conditions of public sector workers. After meeting with workers, visiting work sites, and taking substantial testimony, the ICLR delegation found that NC’s prohibition of collective bargaining had resulted in deplorable working conditions for state and municipal workers, including widespread race and sex discrimination and unsafe workplaces. Both employment discrimination and unsafe working conditions violate numerous international covenants.

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