While in Montreal, Executive Director, Cathleen Caron met with various Canadian advocates and government officials to buttress developments of Global Workers program in Canada. While the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)-Canada continues to be Global Workers staunchest ally in Canada, we are now establishing more partnerships to increase access to justice for Canadian temporary foreign workers.
This Friday morning brought the majority of the Jornaleros-SAFE team together in Mexico City for the project wrap-up. Advocates from all over Mexico and the U.S. arrived to discuss highlights, lessons learned, and thoughts on the last three years.
Mexico Program Director, Griselda Vega was at the presentation of the Instituto de Estudios y Divulgacion sobre Migracion A.C. (INEDIM)'s newest publication, Quo Vadis – Recruitment and Contracting of Migrant Workers and their Access to Social Security. The report is a follow-up to their original analysis of six temporary worker programs throughout Central and North America – Respecting the Will to Work: a foundation for rights-based temporary migration programs.
Mexico Director Griselda Vega joined the Jornaleros-SAFE project team for an important press conference that highlighted the work of the project but also highlighted the massive fraud case by the company Chamba Mexico. During the three-years of the project, advocates traveled to communities providing Know-Your-Rights information pertaining to the H-2A visa. As a result of our awareness raising efforts, people arrived at our Defenders' doors with questions and stories of recruitment fraud. Not long after, a recruitment agency by the name Chamba Mexico claimed to offer legitimate temporary jobs in both the U.S. and Canada in exchange for an average cost of $550 USD per person in addition to handing over personal documents such as passports and other government identifications.
University of Pennsylvania Law School Sparer Symposium
Executive Director, Cathleen Caron, was invited to speak at the 32nd Annual Edward V. Sparer Symposium at University of Pennsylvania Law School. This year’s symposium was entitled “Repairing the Broken Door: Strategies for Immigration Advocacy and Reform.” Cathleen spoke on the third panel of the day, “Working Outside the Lines: Immigrants and Exclusion from Labor and Employment Protections.” Cathleen presented to an audience of over 100 public interest and private firm lawyers, law professors and students on the need for Global Workers’ innovative cross-border model and how it helped U.S. lawyers more effectively represent low wage workers who returned to their home countries.
Today marked the official launch of the 2 ½ year Jornaleros-SAFE project in which Global Workers, along with its 3 partners – Centro Independiente de Trabajadores Agricolas (CITA), the Dimensión Pastoral de La Movilidad Humana (DPMH), and the United Farm Workers (UFW) – documented the recruitment abuses faced by Mexican workers as they go or attempt to go work in the United States under the H-2A temporary work visa. The day kicked off with the presentation of the report followed by the international press conference, all of which was streamed live online.
On Cathleen’s last day in Guatemala City she met with a representative of the Canadian embassy. Working with the Canadian embassy to improve their temporary foreign worker program has been a continuous struggle. They seem to intentionally distance themselves from the program so they can in no way be responsible for any violations. Even asking for basic data on the numbers of workers from the region seemed to be considered information that could not be shared. They have created walls around the program that virtually guarantees abuses will only flourish.
Accompanied by Miriam Ramirez of Defender G&C Consultores, Cathleen met with the Guatemalan Ministry of Labor. Three temporary foreign worker programs recruit Guatemalans: Canada, USA, and Mexico. While the Mexico program is perhaps the most regulated on paper - there is an agreement between governments - it seems that the highest number of abuses occur in this program. The Canada program has good protections but the discriminatory hiring practices are rampant and the Canadian government distances itself to an alarming degree of the problems in the sending countries. The USA program is the most clandestine of all, many governments in the region do not even realize that the USA recruits at all, when the program has been operating for more than twenty years.
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.