Labor

Labor

Migration Experts Series | Michael Doyle
Michael W. Doyle is the Director of the Columbia Global Policy Initiative and University Professor of Columbia University, affiliated with the School of International and Public Affairs, the Department of Political Science, and the Law School. At Columbia, he co-directs...

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Abdeslam Marfouk of the University of Liege and IWEPS reviews Gender, Migration and the Global Race for Talent, by Anna Boucher. Dr. Boucher describes a global race for skilled immigrants that seeks to attract the best global workers. In the...

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Segmentation and the Role of Labor Standards Enforcement in Immigration Reform
Despite the fact that many low-wage, violation-ridden industries are disproportionately occupied by immigrants, labor standards and immigration reform have largely been treated as separate pieces of an otherwise interrelated puzzle. Not only is this view misguided, but this paper argues that strengthening labor standards enforcement would ensure that standards are upheld for all workers, immigrant and others. In addition, labor standards enforcement is instrumental to the erosion of sub-standard conditions in certain sectors, often referred to as the “secondary” labor market, that are associated with advanced market economies. Ensuring labor standards are upheld diminishes the incentive for employers to undercut wages by exploiting vulnerable workers, many of whom are immigrants. As this paper argues, strengthening enforcement must include not only “vertical” mechanisms, including strategic enforcement and penalizing and criminalizing egregious and repeated labor violators, but also “lateral” mechanisms, such as co-enforcement by workers and through worker and community organizations. The article illustrates the role of co-enforcement in labor standards through two case studies.

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Immigration Policy and Agriculture: Possible Directions for the Future
President Trump issued executive orders after taking office in January 2017 that could lead to the removal of many of the 11 million unauthorized foreigners, including one million who work in US agriculture. Agriculture in the western United States especially has long relied on newcomers to fill seasonal farm jobs. The slowdown in Mexico-US migration since 2008-09 means that there are fewer flexible newcomers to supplement the current workforce. Farm employers are responding with worker bonuses, productivity-increasing tools, mechanization, and guest workers. Several factors suggest that the United States may be poised to embark on another large-scale guest worker program for agriculture. If it does, farmers should begin to pay payroll taxes on the wages of guest workers. This will foster mechanization and development in the workers’ communities of origin if payroll taxes are divided equally between departing workers and commodity-specific boards to increase the competitiveness of production in the United States. The economic incentives provided by payroll taxes could help to usher in a new and better era of farm labor.

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Hiu Ling Chan of Leiden University Institute for Area Studies reviews Beyond Borders: Stories of Yunnanese Chinese Migrants of Burma by Wen-Chin Chang. Since the Chinese Communist takeover in 1949 and subsequent political upheavals in China, an unprecedented number of Yunnanese refugees...

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