Labor Precarization in Puerto Rico: World-System Crisis, State Paradoxes and Resistance Struggles

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Tania GARCIA-RAMOS , Psychology, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan
Labor precarization in Puerto Rico: World-system crisis, state paradoxes and resistance struggles

By: Tania García-Ramos, Ph.D

In the research conducted from 2008 to 2012: Labor precarization in Puerto Rico: World-system crisis, state paradoxes and resistance struggles, I studied labor precarization in Puerto Rico from a world-historical perspective (Wallerstein, 2004). The methodological approach consisted in the construction of a microhistory (Tomich, 2008) examining the following three space-temporalities: 1) the short term, massive layoffs and resistance struggles in Puerto Rico during 2009, 2) the medium term, the analysis of these layoffs and resistances within the context of the world economic and political crisis, from 1968-72/73 to the present, and 3) the long term, the analysis of the 2009 massive layoffs and resistance struggles within the historical crisis of capitalism.

In the short term, I described how union workers and other groups resisted the massive layoffs of 30,000 workers, a policy implemented by the Government in 2009. This governmental restructuring, intended to alleviate the fiscal deficit, led to an unemployment rate of 16.9% in 2010. Employment rate decreased to 33% in 2011. In the medium term, the massive layoffs and resistance struggles held in 2009 were analyzed in the conjuncture context of the economic, political and social crisis from 1968/1972 to the present (Wallerstein, 2004). Considering the experience of the people and groups who participated in these resistance struggles, six challenges are discussed for unions and other groups. The potency of these and other groups to become anti-systemic movements is discussed. These movements can contribute to create new principles and politics for work and life. These principles and politics will be discussed supporting a new world-system beyond capitalism, the long term temporality presented across the research.