American Guestworkers

American Guestworkers: Jamaicans and Mexicans in the U.S. Labor Market

DAVID GRIFFITH
Series: Rural Studies
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/j.ctt7v50w
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  • Book Info
    American Guestworkers
    Book Description:

    The H-2 program, originally based in Florida, is the longest running labor-importation program in the country. Over the course of a quarter-century of research, Griffith studied rural labor processes and their national and international effects. In this book, he examines the socioeconomic effects of the H-2 program on both the areas where the laborers work and the areas they are from, and, taking a uniquely humanitarian stance, he considers the effects of the program on the laborers themselves.

    eISBN: 978-0-271-05470-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Part I: Out of Florida
    • INTRODUCTION: IN THE STATE WITH THE PRETTIEST NAME
      (pp. 3-28)

      Florida’s historians agree that Henry Flagler, John D. Rockefeller’s partner in Standard Oil, pioneered economic development all along the state’s east coast. His late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century construction projects and investments in agriculture converted swampy, tangled jungles of palmetto and cabbage palm into first inhabitable and later highly desirable places to visit and live. His hotels in St. Augustine and Palm Beach were among the finest and most expensive in the world, and his railroad, feeder roads, and canals first linked Jacksonville to Key West, stimulating settlements further inland and up and down the coast. Flagler’s men platted and...

    • ONE ALLEGED SHORTAGES AT HOME, CERTAIN SURPLUSES ABROAD: NORTH AMERICAN TEMPORARY WORKER PROGRAMS
      (pp. 29-44)

      At an international migration conference in Vienna, Austria, in September 2003, one of the plenary sessions, devoted to the tensions between national identity and immigration, addressed the difficulties that governments experience when integrating immigrants during periods of intense nationalism. The panelists (all but one were white men) gave as examples the use of Christianity as a cornerstone of national identity in Germany and the wave of anti-immigration laws, English-only initiatives, and the U.S. Patriot Act. During the question-and-answer period, a young Filipino woman stood to say that she was disappointed in the panelists because they seemed to conflate state policy...

    • TWO OCCUPATIONS ABANDONED, WORKERS DISPLACED: SEASONAL LABOR BEFORE AND AFTER H-2
      (pp. 45-76)

      With few exceptions, the labor markets that foreign workers have come to dominate once attracted domestic workers. Thus nearly every instance of an agricultural harvest or a production line where H-2 workers work is a story of changing labor relations. Someone either left or reduced his commitment to these jobs, willingly or unwillingly, before guestworkers arrived. This chapter looks at developments that set the stage for the genesis of H-2 programs in two regions and three industrial sectors—mid-Atlantic blue crab processing and tobacco, and upstate New York apple farms—and then describes the events that led up to the...

  6. Part II: Jamaican Experiences, 1981–2001
    • THREE FROM BEAUTY TO TRUTH
      (pp. 79-100)

      In central Jamaica, near the lip of the Yankee Valley, through a small opening in the bush, a well-worn footpath dips to a narrow creek and climbs up the opposite bank to a gravel road. The creek winds through fields of yams, red beans, and potatoes and a tropical understory of large, leafy root crops like cassava and dashien before emptying into the Yankee River. It is one of many small runnels and streams that make up the Two Meetings watershed, named for the meeting of the Yankee and Cave rivers. Throughout Two Meetings, first Norwegian and later U.S. government...

    • FOUR ASPECTS OF THE MACHETE
      (pp. 101-122)

      Women weren’t the only recipients of foreign earnings who had trouble investing them in ways that might have improved rather than reproduced their impoverished conditions. Despite the male bias of agricultural extension in central Jamaica, men returning from the United States in the 1980s, prior to the end of the sugar program, were faced with several barriers to expanding their agricultural production. Even before draconian economic policies associated with debt crises and the new neoliberal trade agreements of the mid-1990s, structural factors prevented investment in peasant or small-scale agriculture or other household-based, labor-intensive businesses available to those with limited resources....

    • FIVE GUESTS AS HOSTS: JAMAICANS IN THE TOURIST INDUSTRY
      (pp. 123-150)

      According to the beautiful young desk clerk, Sonya, Black River’s Waterloo Guest House was the first establishment in Jamaica to receive electric light. Facing the Caribbean Sea across the main road entering town, on the island’s arid southern shore, the blue-gray guesthouse is a large two-story wooden structure owned by a woman named Mrs. Allen and surrounded by variegated crotons and tall, prolific breadfruit trees. The guestrooms are upstairs. On the ground floor are a restaurant, bar, kitchen, the front desk, and a small gift shop that opens very occasionally and stocks so little inventory that one wonders who would...

  7. Part III: Mexican Experiences, 1988–2003
    • SIX WHEN OWLS DIE, ELLOS NOS HIERIERON
      (pp. 153-178)

      People who write about guestworker programs are often invited to present research findings to audiences representing various backgrounds—mostly colleagues and students, of course, but guestworker programs also interest nongovernmental associations (NGOs), labor unions, government representatives, and employers and other businesspeople with vested interests in keeping guestworker programs alive. Inevitably, how you present information on temporary foreign worker programs depends, in part, on the nature of your audience. At an academic conference you might emphasize the structural dimensions of the program—the inherent unequal power relations between workers from poor, desperate nations and employers whose businesses enjoy the protections of...

    • SEVEN BODIES ON HOLD: GENDER AND H-2
      (pp. 179-198)

      A year before the season that Anna and her husband, Juan, were fired, Anna’s cousin Marta arrived in North Carolina three weeks pregnant. Marta wasn’t really Anna’s cousin but Juan’s nephew’s wife, though Anna referred to her asmi prima. Over the previous decade, Anna and Juan had set themselves up as informal labor contractors for the thirty to forty H-2B workers at Miramar Crab Company, and Juan had recruited Marta and her husband, his nephew, Pedro, for two of these coveted jobs. Luckier than most, Pedro and Marta were one of only two Mexican couples (the other being Anna...

  8. CONCLUSION: LASTING FIRSTS
    (pp. 199-218)

    I opened this book with the argument that local history can influence global processes, and I focused on the ways in which Henry Flagler’s development of Florida in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries pioneered labor relations that were to shape much of the state’s future development while forging links between Florida and towns throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. Anthropologists often try to make sense of local history and circumstances, of things that mean nothing to most people but a great deal to a few, and inevitably in such settings we encounter many more voices than we anticipate....

  9. REFERENCES
    (pp. 219-230)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 231-234)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 235-237)