Profile of domestic workers in the U.S.

May 14th, 2015

The National Domestic Workers Alliance published in 2012 the first-ever survey of domestic workers in the U.S. “HomeEconomics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Work.”

World of Domestic Work” covers many aspects of the working lives of these workers, their legal status in labor protections, and who they are. Here are a few demographic facts:

Percentage foreign born: 46%. In contrast, 16% of the entire workforce is foreign born.

Of those foreign born what percentage undocumented: 47%. In contrast, for the entire immigrant workforce, about one third are undocumented.

Percentage Latino/a: 60%. In contrast, 16% of the entire workforce is Latino/Hispanic.

Construction fatalities fall on immigrant workers

May 12th, 2015

The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) issued a report on Monday, ” The Price of Life: 2015 Report on Construction Fatalities in NYC.” A passage in the report addressed the burden on Hispanic and immigrant workers:

Latino and immigrant workers deal with disproportionate deadly risks in construction.

Latinos make up 25 percent of NYS construction workers, but represented 38 percent of construction fatalities in New York in 2012. Nationally, Latino construction fatalities increased from 182 in 2010 to 233 in 2013.

A study of the medical records of 7,000 U.S. Latino construction workers found that they were 30 percent more likely than white non-Latino workers to be injured on the job. Several studies have shown that lack of training is one reason for the higher injury rates of Latino construction workers.

In addition, many New York construction workers are non-citizens, according to the U.S. Census’s American Community Survey, including 40 percent of New York’s 124,240 construction laborers, 36 percent of the 7,710 drywall installers, 28 percent of the 10,405 roofers and 25 percent of the 88,475 carpenters. They, too, are less likely to receive safety training.

People of color and immigrant construction workers are more likely to work off the books, to be misclassified as independent contractors, to work as day laborers, or to have limited English proficiency that does not often include technical terms, and therefore are less likely to receive safety training.

Eighty percent of immigrant workers in construction are Latino. A Center for Popular Democracy report finding showed that 60% of New York construction fall fatalities OSHA investigated from 2003 to 2011 were Latino and or immigrant. In addition, non-unionized contractors are less likely to provide safe work conditions, OSHA training and safety equipment.

Undocumented workers are less likely to refuse to work in hazardous conditions or speak up for better health and safety conditions for fear they will be fired or deported. In-depth information on all cases is difficult to come by, as many fatalities are announced prior to names being released, and there are no follow-up media reports.




Trends in the undocumented workforce

May 1st, 2015

The Pew Research Center reports  on changes in the undocumented workforce in America: “the U.S. unauthorized immigrant workforce now holds fewer blue-collar jobs and more white-collar ones than it did before the 2007-2009 recession, but a solid majority still works in low-skilled service, construction and production occupations.” The undocumented workforce in 2012 is estimated at 8.1 million.


“The size of the unauthorized immigrant labor force did not change from 2007 to 2012, but its makeup shifted slightly. The number of unauthorized immigrants in management or professional related jobs grew by 180,000, while the number in construction or production jobs fell by about 475,000, mirroring rises and declines in the overall U.S. economy. The share of all unauthorized immigrant workers with management and professional jobs grew to 13% in 2012 from 10% in 2007, and the share with construction or production jobs declined to 29% from 34%.


“In 2012, 62% held service, construction and production jobs, twice the share of U.S.-born workers who did. The 13% share with management or professional jobs is less than half of the 36% of U.S.-born workers in those occupations.”

ACLU protests treatment of injured undocumented workers

April 3rd, 2015

The American Civil Liberties Union is battling on behalf of injured undocumented workers, according to an article in the Nation:

“On Monday [March 16, 2015] at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a division of the Organization of American States, activists presented the stories of the undocumented to demand accountability from a government that they say systematically abets injury and abuse. The National Employment Law Project (NELP), the ACLU and other advocates, argued before the IACHR that a combination of regressive court rulings, draconian immigration enforcement, and restrictive state policies turn the law into a source of further trauma for harmed workers.

The ACLU highlighted the case of Zumaya as an example of how worker safety and health is undermined by the malign neglect of these policies. The root of these problems, they say, is the Supreme Court’s decision in Hoffman Plastic Compounds v. NLRB, which laid the legal foundation for Zumaya’s hard landing in 2002. The court ruled that an undocumented worker who is wrongfully fired is—because of his status—not entitled to back wages. (That is, the label branding these workers “illegal” becomes essentially a “get out of jail free” card for bosses who actually abuse the law themselves.)”



OSHA’s critique of workers’ comp

March 16th, 2015

On March 5, OSHA issued a scorching critique of the workers’ comp system today, “Adding Inequality to Injury: The Costs of Failing to Protect Workers on the Job.”


This is an unprecedented statement by a federal agency on inadequate benefits, the financial burden of injuries on injured worker households, misclassification of workers as independent contractors, under-reporting of injuries into the workers’ comp system, and other failings of the 100 year old state based workers’ comp system.


Some excerpts from the executive summary:


….More than three million workers are seriously injured, and thousands more are killed on the job. The financial and social impacts of these injuries and illnesses are huge, with workers and their families and taxpayer-supported programs paying most of the costs.


For many injured workers and their families, a workplace injury creates a trap which leaves them less able to save for the future or to make the investments in skills and education that provide the opportunity for advancement. These injuries and illnesses contribute to the pressing issue of income inequality: they force working families out of the middle class and into poverty.


The costs of workplace injuries are borne primarily by injured workers, their families, and taxpayer-supported components of the social safety net. Changes in state based workers’ compensation insurance programs have made it increasingly difficult for injured workers to receive the full benefits (including adequate wage replacement payments and coverage for medical expenses) to which they are entitled.


Employers now provide only a small percentage (about 20%) of the overall financial cost of workplace injuries and illnesses through workers’ compensation.


The pervasive misclassification of wage employees as independent contractors and the widespread use of temporary workers have increased the risk of injury and the number of workers facing financial hardships imposed by workplace injuries.



The most effective solution to the problem posed by this paper is to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses from occurring….. At the same time, it is vitally important that state-based workers’ compensation programs take steps to eliminate roadblocks that prevent workers with compensable injuries or illnesses from receiving the full compensation to which they are entitled.




States that allow undocumented workers workers’ comp benefits

January 12th, 2015

“Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia all have case law establishing that undocumented immigrant workers are covered under the workers’ compensation statutes of those respective states.
“Just this past year, the Delaware Supreme Court ruled that a worker’s inability to provide a valid Social Security number didn’t bar his comp claim, and the California Supreme Court said a worker’s alleged use of a false Social Security number to get his job didn’t prevent him from suing his employer for disability discrimination when it failed to rehire him after he got hurt on the job.”.
From article by Sherri Okamoto in WorkCompCentral, Jan 12 2015

The Diversity Explosion

December 19th, 2014

The white population in the United States is about to start an irreversible decline in size. A newly published book, The Diversity Explosion, by William Frey, describes the massive demographic shifts that have been taking place, in large measure due to immigration but also due to the tripling of interracial marriages since 1990. Frey places immigrants within the context of the entire American population.
Her says, “I am convinced that the United States is in the midst of a pivotal period ushering in extraordinary shifts in the nation’s racial demographic makeup.
Quoting from his introductory chapter:
What will be different going forward is the sheer size of the minority population in the United States. It is arriving “just in time” as the aging white population begins to decline, bringing with it needed manpower and brain power and taking up residence in otherwise stagnating city and suburban housing markets.
…….a growing diverse, globally connected minority population will be absolutely necessary to infuse the aging American labor force with vitality and to sustain populations in many parts of the country that are facing population declines.
1. the rapid growth of “new minorities”: Hispanics, Asians, and increasingly multiracial populations. During the next 40 years, each of these groups is expected to more than double (see figure 1-2). New minorities have already become the major contributors to U.S. population gains. These new minorities—the products of recent immigration waves as well as the growing U.S.–born generations—contributed to more than three-quarters of the nation’s population growth in the last decade. That trend will accelerate in the future.
2. the sharply diminished growth and rapid aging of America’s white population. Due to white low immigration, reduced fertility, and aging, the white population grew a tepid 1.2 percent in 2000–10. In roughly 10 years, the white population will begin a decline that will continue into the future. This decline will be most prominent among
the younger populations. At the same time, the existing white population will age rapidly, as the large baby boom generation advances into seniorhood.
3. black economic advances and migration reversals. Now, more than a half-century after the civil rights movement began, a recognizable segment of blacks has entered the middle class while simultaneously reversing historic population shifts. The long-standing Great Migration of blacks out of the South has now turned into a wholesale evacuation from the North—to largely prosperous southern locales. Blacks are abandoning cities for the suburbs, and black neighborhood segregation continues to decline. Although many blacks still suffer the effects of inequality and segregation is far from gone, the economic and residential environments for blacks have improved well beyond the highly discriminatory, ghettoized life that most experienced for
much of the twentieth century

In your state, how many undocumented immigrants?

December 10th, 2014

Where do they come from? Age, length of time in the U.S., marital status, formal education, work status, income level, etc — these and more are estimated. Drawn from data collected 2008 – 2012.
Go here for the report from the Migration Policy Institute.

Notable facts about undocumented immigrants

December 5th, 2014

The website 538 draws figures from the Pew Research and the Migration Research Institute to note some important facts about undocumented immigrants:
Reasons for fall-off in undocumented immigrants:
Pew estimates there were 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States in 2013. That figure has been pretty much flat for the past five years, and is down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007. In other words, more unauthorized immigrants have left the country in the past six years — voluntarily or through deportation — than have arrived.
The slowdown in illegal immigration is partly the result of the weak U.S. economy, and especially the weak home construction industry, which was a major source of jobs for many migrants. But the flow across the Mexican border, in particular, began to slow before the recession, the result of tighter border security and a falling birthrate in Mexico, which meant there were fewer young Mexicans seeking jobs in the United States.
Half or more undocumented immigrants arrived legally, then overstayed:
Most of those Asian immigrants, and many Latin American immigrants as well, likely entered the country legally on tourist, student or other visas. A 2006 Pew study found that 40 percent to 50 percent of unauthorized immigrants entered the country legally and never left, as opposed to crossing the border illegally.
Most have been here for 13 or more years:
The typical unauthorized immigrant has been here for nearly 13 years, up from about 9 years in 2007. Only 16 percent have been here under five years — an important cutoff because Obama’s plan doesn’t apply to anyone who’s been here for less time than that.
65% are working.
A majority are poor:
A majority of unauthorized immigrants are struggling financially. Nearly a third live in poverty, and nearly two-thirds earn less than twice the federal poverty line. Two-thirds lack health insurance, and less than a third own their own homes.

Arguments pro and con re legality of Executive Actions

December 2nd, 2014

The Department of Justice issued a paper on November 19, “The Department of Homeland Security’s Authority to Prioritize Removal of Certain Aliens Unlawfully Present in the United States and to Defer Removal of Others.”
The Center for Immigration Studies published today an article against the Executive Actions, “President Obama’s “Deferred Action” Program for Illegal Aliens is Plainly Unconstitutional”, by Jan Ting.