Sunday, October 24, 2021
Immigration Article of the Day: Labor Citizenship for the Twenty-First Century by Michael Sullivan, Seattle Journal for Social Justice
Today, immigrant individuals toiling with their citizen colleagues in insecure employment that Guy Standing describes as the post-industrial precariat make up the vanguard of the struggle to protect labor rights. Government officials have honored care workers as essential service employees in the COVID-19 pandemic even as they continue to lack many basic labor protections. Immigrant care workers on the frontlines in the service and health care sectors face occupational illness and death with minimal safeguards provided by employers. This paper argues that labor movement activists of the immigrant community are motivated beyond their own self-interest. These workers are motivated by the well-being of the mixed-citizenship communities where they have laid down roots. Their exemplary citizenship is exhibited by their willingness to assume the risks that come with labor organizing, including wage losses, termination of employment, and threats of deportation, for the benefit of a mixed citizenship status community of workers. In the process, they are overcoming the racial, gender, occupational, and national origins exclusions of traditional “business unions,” which only recently included immigrants and care workers in their ranks.