"Low Wage Worker Organizing and Advocacy in the U.S.a.: Comparing Domestic Workers and Day Laborers"

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 10:45
Location: Hörsaal 31 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Ruth MILKMAN, CUNY Graduate Center, USA
Building on the rich secondary literature on domestic and day laborer organization and advocacy in the U.S.A., this paper compares and contrasts the two cases.  They share many common features:  both are ill-suited to conventional forms of unionism; both focus on occupations primarily held by recent immigrants, many of them unauthorized; both involve entry-level jobs at the bottom of the labor market, although internally stratified with positions that vary in desirability and pay; and both have been the focus of extensive advocacy and organizing at both the local and national level for the past two decades.  Yet there are also important points of contrast.  The most obvious is that women make up the vast majority of domestic workers while men predominate among day laborers — although this is not always reflected in the leadership of their organizations.  Another striking difference is that while domestic labor is largely hidden from public view, taking place primarily in private households, day laborers are regularly on display on street corners and in other highly visible spaces.  This paper explores the ways in which these similarities and differences affect the collective action repertoires of day laborers and domestic workers.