"Worker Solidarity" in the NYT

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Joined: 13-10-05
Sep 30 2007 17:38
"Worker Solidarity" in the NYT

there is an op-ed piece in today's times with the title "Worker Solidarity Doesn’t Have to Stop at the Rio Grande". i'm going to quote about half of the piece here:


In “Transnational Labor Citizenship,” published last spring in the Southern California Law Review, Professor Gordon offers a new way to structure labor migration.

Her proposal would link the right to immigrate not to a job offer from an employer but to membership in a cross-border worker organization — a kind of transnational union. Migrants could work here legally, but only after agreeing not to undercut other workers by accepting substandard pay or job conditions. The organizations would enforce the agreement and protect members’ rights here and in their home countries.

The goal, she says, is “to bring up the bottom, not by shutting immigrants out, but by organizing them before they come.” Workers who follow the rules would become “transnational labor citizens” — supporting their families and the American economy while offering a powerful check on under-the-table exploitation.

Professor Gordon readily acknowledges the implausibility of winning that One Big Union on a continental scale. But persuasive precedents for her approach exist. The Farm Labor Organizing Committee, an agricultural workers’ union, signed a contract in 2004 to protect thousands of Mexican guest workers in North Carolina. In 2005, it opened an office in Monterrey, Mexico, to further its organizing efforts and defend its members from abusive recruiters there.

Last year, the United Farm Workers and Global Horizons, one of the largest suppliers of agricultural guest workers, signed the first nationwide contract covering immigrants. It provides employer-paid medical care, a seniority system and a grievance procedure to ensure that employers comply with the law.

Doubters will insist that it is crazy to expect immigrants to risk their meager paychecks to defend their rights and abstract notions of worker solidarity.

But they have already shown that they will. Professor Gordon won her [Macarthur] grant after creating the Workplace Project, an organization of Latino immigrants on Long Island that uses its members’ collective power to regain withheld or stolen wages. Worker centers like it around the country are providing a surge of energy and optimism to the labor movement. Latino day laborers, organizing themselves at hiring corners around the country, are putting a floor on wages and thwarting abusive employers.



i'm sure there can be many perspectives about this, but the fact that an international union should be promoted to an audience as big as the times' has me gasping a bit.