TOWARDS JUSTICE: SETTING PRECEDENTS FOR TRANSNATIONAL MIGRANTS
In 2007, Global Workers groundbreaking initiative helped thousands of exploited and frightened migrant workers achieve justice by playing a critical role in numerous legal cases for migrants who suffered abuses while working in the United States. By providing in-country expertise and support for United States advocates, Global Workers ensured that injured guest workers received medical coverage after employers revoked their care for leaving the United States; workers were reimbursed stolen wages; trafficked victims received critical affidavits in support of visa petitions so they could remain in the safety of the United States; grossly underpaid guest workers who were coerced into renouncing their rights were able once again to stand up for themselves, and much more.
PERMANENT SOLUTIONS: BUILDING THE ADVOCATE NETWORK
Many more human rights organizations joined the Global Workers network in 2007 to address the issue of transnational migration and to reduce problems in the guest worker programs in their countries. Global Workers devoted significant time and resources to assembling a team of local advocates in Guatemala and Southern Mexico while building case referral and facilitation systems. To establish an additional network to educate migrants about their rights and to pressure sending country governments to protect their migrants, Global Workers continued its extensive outreach to religious leaders, community advocates and US and foreign government officials.
After several years of collaboration and pressure, Global Workers achieved a significant victory when the US Embassy in Guatemala agreed to hand out rights information to US bound guest workers and advise US employers of their obligations under Guatemalan law while recruiting workers. Now guest workers have a fighting chance if the promise of good jobs and high wages, as legally required under the guest worker program, does not translate into reality, an unfortunate constant of the widely under regulated program.
To ensure that sending-country governments were in a position to advocate for the rights of their migrants going abroad and to enforce their own laws regulating recruitment, Global Workers trained members of the Guatemalan Foreign Ministries and Labor on the intricacies of the US guest worker program.
Public education on migrant worker labor and human rights remains a critical priority for Global Workers. This year, Global Workers educated lawyers, government officials, civil society and NGO representatives on portable justice at a variety of events. Global Workers was an invited guest speaker at the American Bar Association’s Workers Compensation Committee Meeting in Naples, Florida; the Canadian Association of Labor Lawyers annual convention in Yellow Knife, Northwest Territories; the Columbia University Human Rights Advocates program; Columbia University undergraduates at a Trafficking forum; the New York Anti-Trafficking Coalition; the American Association of Latin American Labor Lawyers in Bolivia; the Farmworker Legal Advocate Conference in North Carolina; and the Center for Migrant Rights in Mexico.
A highlight of 2007 was Global Workers selection as one of a few international NGOs to participate in the Civil Society Day of the Global Forum on Migration and Development in Belgium to discuss its groundbreaking promotion of portable justice. Finally, Global Workers helped organize the New York investigative visit of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants.
MEDIA ADVOCACY: GLOBAL WORKERS IN THE NEWS
A number of articles in the media highlighted the work of Global Workers or the cases it initiated or supported throughout 2007. Guatemala’s leading newspaper, Prensa Libre, published an interview with Cathleen Caron, the GWJA Executive Director; Global Workers submitted a paper to the United Nations Rapporteur on Migrants, and published an article, “Portable Justice, Migrant Workers and the United States,” in the Clearinghouse Review Journal of Poverty Law and Policy; an article in the Providence Journal featured critical commentary by Global Workers; Latina Magazine provided information on Global Workers in March, and two of Global Workers guest worker cases were featured in the New York Times.
THE ROAD AHEAD
We need your help to support the cause of migrant workers. Though our goals are large, limited funds, staff and equipment restrict our work. Your tax-deductible contribution can help support and extend our programs and activities.
In 2008, Global Workers will further develop national and international alliances on migrant worker rights, while continuing in-country advocacy and training initiatives, as well as public education and media advocacy. GWJA will broaden and train its coalition of worker advocates in Guatemala, Mexico and the United States to recover stolen wages, fight for better health and safety conditions, combat human trafficking, and challenge employment discrimination. Continued training of in-country advocates on US employment-related laws is critical if they are to help migrants access their rights.
The path to success is a promising and challenging one for Global Workers. On the home front, GWJA will promote organizational leadership and growth by expanding its board, staff, volunteer consultants and internship program with law and undergraduate institutions.
This is the time of year to look back at all we’ve accomplished. But it’s also a time to look forward to what still needs to be done. If you care about who we are and what we do, please help us by giving generously. There’s an envelope inside. Won’t you take a few minutes to donate today? We can do it --- together!