Labor

Labor

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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Jennifer A. Jones of the University of Notre Dame reviews Skills of the “Unskilled”: Work and Mobility among Mexican Migrants, by Jacqueline Hagan, Ruben Hernandez-Leon, and Jean-Luc Demonsant. Despite the value of migrants’ work experiences and the substantial technical and interpersonal skills developed throughout their...

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Leveraging the World Cup: Mega Sporting Events, Human Rights Risk, and Worker Welfare Reform in Qatar
Qatar will realize its decades-long drive to host a mega sporting event when, in 2022, the opening ceremony of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup commences. By that time, the Qatari government will have invested at least $200 billion in real estate and development projects, employing anywhere between 500,000 and 1.5 million foreign workers to do so. The scale of these preparations is staggering — and not necessarily positive. Foreign workers are subject to conditions of forced labor, human trafficking, and indefinite detention. This article examines whether it is possible for Qatar’s World Cup to forge a different legacy, as an agent of change on behalf of worker welfare reform. First, it locates the policy problem of worker abuses in the context of the migration life cycle. Second, the article frames worker welfare as a matter that lies at the intersection of business and human rights. Ultimately, this paper outlines four policy proposals that may be undertaken by countries of origin, nongovernmental organizations, international organizations, and Qatari employers: (1) the development of a list of labor-supply agencies committed to ethical recruitment practices; (2) the devising of low-interest, preferential loans for migrants considering employment in Qatar; (3) the establishment of a resource center to serve as a one-stop shop for migrant information and services; and (4) the creation of training programs to aid migrants upon their return home. The above four policy proposals constitute a process-specific, rather than actor-specific, approach to reform aimed at capitalizing on the spotlight of the World Cup to bring about lasting, positive change in Qatar’s migrant labor practices.

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The Global Compact on Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration: Issues to Consider

The adoption of the New York Declaration on the Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on September 19 has launched a new process to negotiate two compacts by 2018: the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (hereinafter referred to as the Global Compact on Migration). Agreeing to a new Global Compact on Refugees should be challenging enough, but reaching an agreement on a Global Compact on Migration will require skill, patience, and, above all, compromise…

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