migrant labor

(redirected from Migrant worker)
Also found in: Medical, Wikipedia.

migrant labor,

term applied in the United States to laborers who travel from place to place harvesting crops that must be picked as soon as they ripen. Although migrant labor patterns exist in other parts of the world (e.g., Africa, Australia, Canada, Europe, and South America), none compares with the extent and magnitude of the system in the United States. Migrant laborers may travel on their own or they may be transported by a contractor who has agreed to supply the farmer with the needed workers. They may be urban dwellers who go on the land only for the season or migrants whose only means of living is to follow the crops from one place to another. Efforts to enforce sanitary conditions, prevent child labor, and protect the workers from exploitation met with only slight success until the 1960s.

In the 1930s, a combination of droughts, the depression, and the increased mechanization of farming prompted a migration of small farmers and laborers from Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas to the W United States. It was estimated that this type of permanent migrant worker, without home, voting privileges, or union representation, numbered more than 3 million. John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath is a dramatic representation of the life of those migrants. In World War II another type of migrant worker sprang into being with the need for labor in the defense industries. These uprooted workers experienced housing problems, but they were protected by wage and hour laws that did not apply to agricultural labor.

Since the 1940s, thousands of workers each year have been brought into the United States from foreign countries, principally from Mexico. Migrant labor, which remains almost exclusively agricultural, continues to receive little legal protection. However, in the mid-1960s, under the leadership of Cesar ChavezChavez, Cesar Estrada
, 1927–93, American agrarian labor leader, b. near Yuma, Ariz. A migrant worker, he became involved (1952) in the self-help Community Service Organization (CSO) in California, working among Mexicans and Mexican Americans; from 1958 to 1962 he was its
..... Click the link for more information.
, organization of migrant workers began in the West, mainly in California. In 1970, after years of strikes, marches, and a nationwide boycott, more than 65% of California's grape growers signed contracts with the AFL-CIO's United Farm Workers Organizing Committee headed by Chavez. That organization, which became a full-fledged union as the United Farm Workers (UFW) in 1972, had some success in negotiating contracts in other states as well. However, it found itself locked in a fierce struggle with the Teamsters Union, which also claimed to represent migrant laborers and succeeded in renegotiating many of the UFW's contracts in California. The Teamsters' attempt to break up the UFW led to many strikes and some violence. The rivalry also significantly reduced UFW's membership (down to 24,000 members in 1996, compared to 100,000 in the late 1970s).

Bibliography

See C. McWilliams, Factories in the Field (1939, repr. 1971); D. Nelkin, On the Season (1970); W. A. Cornelius, ed., The Changing Role of Mexican Labor in the U.S. Economy (1989); D. Cohen, Braceros (2011).

References in periodicals archive ?
The migrant worker cannot enter the country, transfer employment nor leave the country for any reason without first obtaining explicit written permission from the kafeel.
Migrant worker rights groups in Taiwan are set to hold a flash mob dance at Taipei Main Station on Sunday to call for better rights for foreign migrant workers, especially female caregivers, in the country.
Last October, one female Thai migrant worker, undocumented, was murdered by her employer after his unsuccessful rape attempt.
Because if the truly cared, they would have created laws (on migrant worker protection).
In Singapore, for example, the longest visa that a low-wage migrant worker can obtain is two years.
One of the early images circulated on social media that spread fear among migrants was the visual of a body, with the explanation that it was of a migrant worker beaten to death in Kerala.
Migrant worker are a special kind of social identity that cannot be easily changed with blood relationship which is obtained by the household registration system.
Rejecting the "labour shortage" rationale reveals an alternate perspective on Canada's migrant worker programs: as employer tools that create a vulnerable and docile labour force due to the structural limits they impose upon international migrant workers' labour mobility and ability to exercise their statutory and contractual employment rights.
A migrant worker usually works in Customs Union countries in accordance with the laws of the state of employment on the basis of an employment contract.
So it was more than a little surprising when news broke in December that a riot had erupted following the death of a migrant worker.
Having to pay bribes to employment agents, not seeing contracts or having contracts altered, delayed payments or payment deductions as well as improper living conditions are among the challenges to be addressed to improve the migrant worker conditions in Qatar, he pointed out.
First Union has provided assistance in two cases of migrant worker exploitation, one of which involved 40 workers who have been forced to report on Saturdays without compensation.