Labor rights, also termed workers’ rights, are a group of legal rights (and claimed human rights) that dictate the labor relationships between workers and their employers, and involve rules and regulations that regulate negotiations of workers’ pay, benefits, and safe working conditions. One of the central rights is the right to unionize.
A union is an organization of workers who have banded together to achieve common goals in key areas such as wages, hours, and working conditions. The union leadership bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labor contracts with employers. This may include the negotiation of wages, work rules, complaint procedures, rules governing hiring, firing and promotion of workers, benefits, workplace safety and policies.
Aside from the right to organize, labor movements have campaigned on various other issues that may be said to relate to labor rights. These include:
- Combating child labor which is seen as exploitative and economically damaging since working children are deprived of an education and consequently the greatest tool to fight poverty.
- The right to equal treatment, regardless of gender, origin and appearance, religion, sexual orientation. Discrimination in the work place is illegal in many countries, but some see the wage gap between genders and other groups as a persistent problem.
The Global Market
In the last several decades the global expansion of the market economy has produced a “world without walls”. Just look at a tag on an item of clothing you wear. Chances are it’s made somewhere outside of the U.S. In the rush to find cheaper and quicker ways to produce shoes, apparel, and other labor-intensive goods, corporations have moved much of their manufacturing factories to countries where basic legal protections for workers are non-existent and union organizing is prohibited or discouraged. While workers drive the new international economy, millions of them—typically women and children—are made to endure dangerous working conditions, and at times life-threatening hazards. They are often paid inadequate wages and forced to work inhumane hours.
These workers are largely unprotected from these abuses by their own governments and the international system. The United States is not immune to this phenomenon. Sweatshops are a familiar fixture in the garment industry. The Department of Labor estimates that 4,500 of New York City's 7,000 garment factories are sweatshops.
Such consequences have sparked a growing public demand for corporations to take responsibility for a range of human rights and environmental problems in countries where they operate. The challenge is to create accountability—independent, transparent, and enforceable mechanisms for ensuring that human rights standards protect ordinary people.
Worker Rights Consortium 
Human Rights First 
National Alliance for Worker and Employer Rights