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Statement of Senator John F. Kerry on International Human Rights Day

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December 10, 2003

For Immediate Release

Today, I join with the men and women who are members of the AFL-CIO in celebrating International Human Rights Day and in commemorating the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which, on this day fifty-five years ago, guaranteed the right of people in every nation to form unions and bargain collectively.

Throughout my career in the Senate, I have recognized that working men and women must have a voice at work to ensure they get the good wages, benefits and respect they deserve. This can only be guaranteed through the right to organize and collective bargaining. Working men and women have struggled for this right over a long period, and the fight continues today. That's why I have fought to ensure that the right to organize and bargain collectively remains a fundamental human right that cannot be abridged through employer harassment or intimidation.

It's why I sat with the nurses on strike in Brockton, Massachusetts for 17 hours of mediation to help them obtain a fair contract. It's why I supported the IBEW members who fought for a fair contract with WMUR in New Hampshire earlier this month. It's why, when janitors at Harvard fought to end poverty pay, I went to the university and supported the Janitors for Justice sit-in. And it's why I co-sponsored the Employee Free Choice Act, which will provide card check protection for workers seeking union representation.

I believe that politicians who use the excuse of fiscal responsibility and the need to balance budgets to avoid support for collective bargaining not only infringe a fundamental right of working men and women, but also fail to understand that collective bargaining reduces income inequality and improves the economic conditions in our country for all Americans.

The right to organize and bargain collectively remains one of the greatest social justice actions in our country, and I intend to continue to join with the working men and women of this country to fight to maintain this right.

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