47th Annual Conference | April 19 – 22, 2017 | Minneapolis, MN USA | Hyatt Regency Minneapolis Hotel | #UAA2017 | urbanaffairsassociation.org | urbanaffairsassociation.org/conference/

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Thursday, April 20 • 10:50am - 12:15pm
TH10.50.15 : (P)olitics & politics: Challenges and Limits of Organizing Low-wage Immigrants in Contemporary Labor Movements

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In this panel session, we consider some of the challenges and limitations of contemporary immigrant and labor organizing efforts, particularly the nonprofit worker center model. Worker centers represent a relatively new organizational model that has gained much traction and support among activists, labor advocates, and academics for their ability to politicize and organize low-wage immigrant workers, a population that has historically been deemed “unorganizable” by traditional labor unions. Despite their relatively recent emergence, they are seen as the most successful policy intervention in their ability to enforce labor laws and establish wage floors, as well as “incorporating” immigrant and displaced workers into American community life. Yet few studies have actually examined the day-to-day operations of these organizations, their organizational structure, or funding sources; even fewer have examined the political limitations of the nonprofit worker center model more broadly. As labor unions and worker centers continue to struggle to engage low-wage immigrant workers, we illustrate new ways of thinking about immigrant labor organizing that can be conducive to building a sustainable mass movement.

“Our Lives, Our Stories”?: Testimonial Theatre and Storytelling in Contemporary Domestic Worker Organizing in the U.S.
Erika Grajeda, The Graduate Center, City University of New York

The Resentful Foreigner: Racialization of Chinese Workers in Asian Fusion Restaurants
Tommy Wu, The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Thursday April 20, 2017 10:50am - 12:15pm CDT
Nicollet Ballroom D-3 (1st Floor)