A major new push for workers’ rights to form unions was kicked off this week at scores of events from Albuquerque to Orlando, leading up to International Human Rights Day, Dec. 10.

The right of workers to improve their lives through a union is a human right included in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, says the AFL-CIO. And more than half of America’s workers say they’d join a union tomorrow if given the chance. But too few ever get that chance because employers routinely violate workers’ freedom to form unions.

Nearly all private-sector employers today fight unionization drives, says Kate Bronfenbrenner of Cornell University. About one-quarter illegally fire workers who stand up for a union. Nearly half of all workers who win a union election still don’t have a union contract two years later because employers drag their feet.

The NAACP’s Julian Bond recently observed, “Workers’ rights to join a union and bargain collectively are basic human rights. Yet every 23 minutes American workers are punished by corporate employers and the federal government for exercising their workplace rights. These ongoing workplace human rights violations are the major reasons why so many workers are denied good jobs, good wages and good health care benefits.”