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Guest Workers and Resistance to U.S. Corporate Despotism

Guest Workers and Resistance to U.S. Corporate Despotism

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Guest Workers and Resistance to U.S. Corporate Despotism
    Book Description:

    Political scientist Immanuel Ness thoroughly investigates the use of guest workers in the United States, the largest recipient of migrant labor in the world. Ness argues that the use of migrant labor is increasing in importance and represents despotic practices calculated by key U.S. business leaders in the global economy to lower labor costs and expand profits under the guise of filling a shortage of labor for substandard or scarce skilled jobs. _x000B__x000B_Drawing on ethnographic field research, government data, and other sources, Ness shows how worker migration and guest worker programs weaken the power of labor in both sending and receiving countries. His in-depth case studies of the rapid expansion of technology and industrial workers from India and hospitality workers from Jamaica reveal how these programs expose guest workers to employers' abuses and class tensions in their home countries while decreasing jobs for American workers and undermining U.S. organized labor. _x000B__x000B_Where other studies of labor migration focus on undocumented immigrant labor and contend immigrants fill jobs that others do not want, this is the first to truly advance understanding of the role of migrant labor in the transformation of the working class in the early twenty-first century. Questioning why global capitalists must rely on migrant workers for economic sustenance, Ness rejects the notion that temporary workers enthusiastically go to the United States for low-paying jobs. Instead, he asserts the motivations for improving living standards in the United States are greatly exaggerated by the media and details the ways organized labor ought to be protecting the interests of American and guest workers in the United States.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09337-1
    Subjects: Business, Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Guest Workers of the World
    (pp. 1-12)

    Much of the present debate on immigration policy revolves around the failure and unintended consequences of utterly inconsistent U.S. government policies to establish and regulate the flow of authorized and unauthorized migrants. Ineffectual regulatory policies have bifurcated migrant workers into two groups—undocumented laborers and guest workers. Focusing on guest workers rather than on undocumented laborers foreshadows the potential prospects and pitfalls of the program for foreign workers as well as U.S. nationals, and the potential influence of such a program on the broader labor movement and working class. This book shows that if government and corporate efforts to replace...

  5. 1 Migration and Class Struggle
    (pp. 13-31)

    For about twenty-five years, since passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) in 1986, more and more U.S. businesses have been relying on a system of migrant labor that involves guest workers. A guest worker is a foreign laborer temporarily authorized to work in a host country with the knowledge and acquiescence of that country. In the United States, employers recruit guest workers to perform both skilled and unskilled labor in newly restructured industries. These workers sign contracts with specific companies before migrating temporarily to the United States to perform highly structured jobs for a fixed duration of...

  6. 2 Political Economy of Migrant Labor in U.S. History: Fabricating a Migration Policy for Business
    (pp. 32-60)

    In a sweeping analysis of U.S. history from the colonial era to the early twenty-first century, historian Aristides Zolberg challenges as “mythology” the prevalent view that the United States is an open and welcoming country. Contrary to the conventional historical narrative, Zolberg asserts, inA Nation by Design,that the United States has had long episodes of immigration restriction even as it has had phases of openness toward foreigners when the national economy required a larger supply of workers. Countering prevailing perspectives that migration policy is haphazard, Zolberg sees opposition from labor and nativist xenophobia as an invisible instrument that...

  7. 3 India’s Global and Internal Labor Migration and Resistance: A Case Study of Hyderabad
    (pp. 61-85)

    On September 29, 2005, Indian unions waged a general strike to protest a national government plan to privatize airline, railroad, and banking industries. The strike was a blow to foreign and domestic investors who had been pushing the Congress Party–Left Front coalition government to privatize India’s transportation network. The government, however, did not waver. In January 2006, despite several such mass industry strikes, the Indian government put forward a privatization plan for the Delhi and Bombay airports, demonstrating to international investors that they were serious about opening the country to foreign capital. The privatization plan did not include provisions...

  8. 4 Temporary Labor Migration and U.S. and Foreign-Born Worker Resistance
    (pp. 86-110)

    As the Internet is used more and more as a medium of communication in the United States, we are entering a new era of collective action at “the point of production” that is growing in significance to workers as a form of resistance. The practice of organizing at the “point of production” is what socialist labor unionists consider the “purest form of unionism.” In contrast, traditional unions habitually organize through bargaining with management to achieve a contract stipulating the wages and conditions of employment. This strategy ultimately benefits capital that mostly fears worker direct action at the workplace. To reinforce...

  9. 5 The Migration of Low-Wage Jamaican Guest Workers
    (pp. 111-149)

    Every March, as the winter storms turn into spring breezes on the U.S. mainland, the temperature in the Caribbean islands becomes scorching hot. Right after spring break at U.S. high schools, colleges, and universities, the Caribbean tourist season comes to a close, business slows, and resorts operated by corporate hotel chains lay off tens of thousands of housekeepers, cooks, waiters, busboys, and porters. Traditionally, most of these workers would then remain jobless for the next six months, until throngs of tourists descended once again on the islands’ beaches to escape the northern winters. This changed for many, however, in the...

  10. 6 Who Can organize? Trade Unions, Worker Insurgency, Labor Power
    (pp. 150-178)

    The appearance of the modern guest work program in the United States is in many ways an extension of the long-standing labor migration policies of the early twentieth century. But it is also a crucial aspect of the neoliberal globalization policies that have unfolded since the 1990s. In both senses it is an example of the state bowing to the demands of capital, which regards labor as a tradable human commodity. While government officials and immigrant rights advocates wrestle with framing a new migration policy that would permit many of the undocumented entry into the United States, if a new...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 179-190)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 191-210)
  13. Index
    (pp. 211-217)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 218-222)