Research Handbook on Labour, Business and Human Rights Law
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Research Handbook on Labour, Business and Human Rights Law

Edited by Janice R. Bellace and Beryl ter Haar

Inquisitive and diverse, this innovative Research Handbook explores the ways in which human rights apply to people at work, through national constitutional provisions, judicial decisions and the application of rights expressed in supranational instruments. Key topics include evaluation of the role of the ILO in developing and promoting internationally recognized labour rights, and the examination of the meaning of the obligation of business to respect human rights, considering the evolution from international soft law to incorporation in codes of conduct and the emerging requirement of due diligence.
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Chapter 7: Worker rights as human rights: regenerative reconception or rhetorical refuge?

Matthew W. Finkin

Abstract

This chapter tracks the trajectory of labor rights discourse in the United States: from ‘citizenship’ in the post-Revolutionary period, to ‘humanitarianism’ in the period of early industrialized, to ‘class struggle’ in the Guild Age, to ‘public benefit’, the language of institutional economics in the Progressive Period. The discourse of ‘human rights’, which resonates sympathetically with the early reformist efforts to extend political rights into the workplace, lacks any contemporary traction. That manner of conceptualisation was eclipsed and then foreclosed by economic reasoning, increasingly neo-liberal. This chapter suggests that that discourse might possibly be able to be resorted to afresh and with practical effect, but only by exacting attention to its precise grounding and only by parsimonious care in application.

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