Migrant worker centers: contending with downgrading in the low-wage labor market
Authors: Martin, Nina; Morales, Sandra; Theodore, Nik
Source: GeoJournal, Volume 68, Numbers 2-3, February 2007 , pp. 155-165(11)
Abstract:Mass migration to major USA cities is reworking patterns of ethnic jobholding and labor market segmentation. Employers in a variety of industries have turned to recent migrants, many of whom are not authorized to work in the USA, as a stable labor supply for low-wage jobs. As a result, many migrant workers enter urban economies through precarious jobs in low-wage industries and the informal economy where they often endure routine violations of labor and employment laws. This paper examines the activities of a “migrant worker center” in improving wages and working conditions in migrant labor markets. Through a case study of a worker center located in a port-of-entry immigrant neighborhood on Chicago's Southwest Side, we examine the geographies of the low-wage labor market and the problems that have arisen for workers who hold jobs that effectively exist beyond the reach of government regulation. We argue that migrant worker centers will likely emerge as a key resource for workers who are drawn to global cities by the promise of economic opportunity yet confront harsh conditions in the local labor markets in which they are employed.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2007-02-01