Wage Theft and Work Safety: Immigrant Day Labor Jobs and the Potential for Worker Rights Training at Worker Centers




Takasaki, Kara
Kammer-Kerwick, Matt
Yundt-Pacheco, Mayra
Torres, Melissa I.M.

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Journal of Labor and Society


Immigrant day laborers routinely experience exploitative behaviors as part of their employment. These day laborers perceive the exploitation they experience in the context of their immigration histories and in the context of their long-term goals for better working and living conditions. Using mixed methods, over three data collection periods in 2016, 2019 and 2020, we analyze the work experiences of immigrant day laborers in Houston and Austin, Texas. We report how workers evaluate precarious jobs and respond to labor exploitation in an informal labor market. We also discuss data from a worker rights training intervention conducted through a city-sponsored worker center. We discuss the potential for worker centers to be a convening and remediation space for workers and employers. Worker centers offer a potential space for informal intervention into wage theft and work safety violations by regulating the hiring context where day laborers meet employers.


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