Revitalizing Industrial Relations as an Academic Enterprise
Edited by Charles J. Whalen
Chapter 12: Immigrant Workers and the New American Labor Movement
Kent Wong and Janna Shadduck-Hernández INTRODUCTION Immigrant workers are playing an increasingly important role in the revitalization of the US labor movement. As a truly global immigrant city, Los Angeles (LA) is recognized as a vital site for the renewal of the labor movement, precisely because of its immigrant labor force (Milkman, 2006). In recent years, immigrants have been on the forefront of many of the most successful labor organizing campaigns in LA and in other US communities. The growing inﬂuence of immigrants within the US labor movement has led to stronger alliances between unions and immigrant worker organizations. The partnerships between organized labor, community allies and immigrant worker organizations oﬀer new opportunities to expand immigrant worker power while reinvigorating union membership nationally. As immigrant workers build coalitions across community, labor and ethnic fronts, immigrant workers in unions are beginning to experience better working conditions and increased salaries. Moreover, these alliances have generated new and creative forms of organizing that engage immigrant workers on broader issues of democratization, social justice and economic equality. This process of civic engagement has created new spaces for immigrant workers to become leaders in both the immigrant rights and labor movements. University programs that focus on supporting and repositioning immigrant workers as central players in society and within contemporary social movements hold the potential of redeﬁning labor and industrial relations programs nationally. The linkages and prospects of coalition building among immigrant workers (both union and nonunion), their communities and labor organizations...
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