Monday, July 7, 2008

Global Workers, Global Justice

Along with visas linked to employment rather than employer (see Phred's comments) Another piece of the immigrant worker justice puzzle was sent my way today by the Rev. Trina Zelle, Lead Organizer of Interfaith Worker Justice of Arizona and its brand new Worker Rights Center, scheduled to open on Labor Day. It was the link to the website of Global Workers Justice Alliance.

Global Workers Justice Alliance rightly points out that corporations are global and workers are global--meaning "transnational"--and therefore, justice for those workers ought also to be global.

Right now, it isn't. When an immigrant worker leaves the US voluntarily (permanently or for a period exceeding the applicable statute of limitations, I'm guessing), or if he or she is deported, that worker also leaves behind all claims against an abusive or criminal employer. Practical considerations--distance, money, logistics--and legal ones prevent probably millions of workers worldwide from pressing claims against their former employers.

In their words:

Global Workers believes that the concept of portable justice, the right and ability of transnational migrants to access justice in the host country even after they have departed, is key to achieving justice for today’s global migrants. To realize this goal, Global Workers trains and supports the Global Workers Defender Network, comprised of human rights advocates in the migrant sending countries, to facilitate legal cases for migrant workers in partnership with advocates in the countries of employment. Through this network, returned migrants who have suffered exploitation in the host countries must no longer abandon their legal rights simply because they want to go home. Education and advocacy campaigns are also important components of the work. The project is launching in the USA, Mexico and Guatemala and will eventually expand into other transnational migratory streams.
It would be fair to look upon the status quo as yet another crooked revenue stream for corporations that utilize immigrants, particularly undocumented immigrants. All those fraudulently kept wages, all that unpaid overtime, all those otherwise reimbursable medical expenses for on-the-job injuries over the yearsmust total billions involuntarily given over to abusive employers by our broken immigration system. No wonder so many voices are raised against fixing it, eh?