On April 29, 2015 the Department of Labor, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security, issued long awaited regulations to greatly improve protections for persons coming to the U.S. on H-2B visas to work in temporary, seasonal jobs. As the program is currently constituted, labor trafficking flourished and foreign and U.S. workers alike frequently suffered from depressed wages and exploitative conditions. We applaud the government’s actions.
Now is time for the Department of Labor (DOL) to take bold action to reduce the chronic exploitation in the H-2B temporary visa program. Prompted by years of advocacy by Global Workers and many other organizations across the country, in 2012, the DOL issued new regulations to address many of the abuses documented by Global Workers and others. The reaction from the business community against these protections was swift and fierce. A few employers sued DOL claiming that it had no legal authority to regulate the H-2B program at all, which lead the court to temporarily enjoin or halt the implementation of the new regulations. Additionally, some businesses community members turned to Congress and successfully advocated for two years in a row to prohibit DOL from spending money on enforcing the new regulations.
President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration, announced on November 20, 2014, attempts to fix various aspects of our broken immigration system. The Executive Action has received much attention in Spanish language media and throughout Latin America. With that in mind, Global Workers conducted an online training for members of the Global Workers Defender Network to provide accurate and timely information. The training, led by Staff Attorney & Legal Manager Nan Schivone, explained the concept of an executive action and reviewed the benefits and limitations of deferred action relief with the defenders so that they are able to share accurate information with their communities, correct misunderstandings, and prevent recruitment abuse and visa fraud.
The UNHLD final day included Roundtable 4, Labor Mobility. Executive Director, Cathleen Caron was selected as one of the ten civil society members to speak from the floor, time permitting. In the end, only one civil society representative spoke from the floor. The challenge for non-government participation in roundtable two was twofold.
Today the two-day High-Level Dialogue (HLD) opened. The two days are structured between plenaries, where governments make floor speeches to a sparsely populated General Assembly Hall and 4 roundtables on the 4 themes of the HLD.
Global Workers co-sponsored a panel with Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan, Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), and Centro de los Derechos del Migrante. Executive Director, Cathleen Caron moderated the panel entitled, Cross Border Strategies to Challenge and Document Abuses in Temporary worker Programs.
U.S. - Canada Civil Society Consultation for United Nations High-Level Dialogue
Executive Director, Cathleen Caron traveled to Washington D.C. to attend the United States-Canada regional civil society consultation in preparation for the United Nation’s High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development (HLD). The meeting in D.C. was one of seven regional “civil society” consultations occurring across the globe. Defender Network member, Maria Mayela Blanco Ramirez from the Dimension Pastoral de la Movilidad Humana (DPMH) in Mexico City, attended the consultation in Mexico last month. The AFL-CIO hosted the “Beyond Borders: How can we work inside and outside the UN to advance migrant’s rights?”, a consultation aimed at addressing the absence of a human rights agenda in the government discussions.
Cathleen’s presentation was on day three as part of the panel “Counsel Beware: Laws Do Extend beyond Borders - Investigations, Discovery and Privilege.” She shared the presenter’s table with a U.S. lawyer based in France representing U.S. companies, an English lawyer in London working in-house for a U.S. company, and an employee-side English lawyer in England. It was a diverse group but the very experienced moderator, Gary Siniscalco, expertly weaved it all together.
The mission of the Global Workers Justice Alliance is to combat worker exploitation by promoting portable justice for transnational migrants through a cross-border network of worker advocates and resources.
Global Workers coined the term portable justice to describe the right and ability of transnational migrant workers to access justice in the countries of employment even after they have departed for their home countries.