The New Labor Movement

Overall, U.S. workers have seen a sharp decline in their working and living conditions over the years now exacerbated by the economic crisis. The destructive effects of anti-worker legislation, particularly the employers sanctions provision, have cultivated a slave-labor system here in the U.S. and has greatly undermined the ability of both documented and undocumented workers to organize together to assert their rights. Employers have had free reign over the workplace, using the I-9 form requirement, retaliation, harassment, and blacklisting workers, to pit documented against undocumented. Employers often close their business and change the business’ name, as well as filing bankruptcy to crush any organizing efforts.

Workers are more vulnerable than ever, and traditional means of organizing such as unionizing or reliance on litigation are no longer effective in low-wage industries to create lasting change within the current political and economic environment. In the past, when workers wanted to improve their working environment, they could organize to form or join a union. Since the employer sanctions provision was enacted in 1986, employers have used the law as a tool to bust the union and to make collective bargaining nearly impossible. Many workers who organize to join a union cannot keep their jobs. Many workers are afraid to speak up for fear of losing their jobs. And when they do, workers face more obstacles because local enforcement agencies often drag out cases for years and close the cases when the employer close their business. In other states, the Labor Department often takes the word of the employer and dismisses the case without listening to the workers’ testimony. On a federal level, enforcement has not fared any better. The Federal Department of Labor already has a widespread reputation among immigrant communities to be not only toothless but pro-employer. Clearly these conditions call for a new model of organizing….(Read more- “Chinese Staff & Workers’ Association: A Community-Based Workers’ Center Model” – under construction.)