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The Unexpected Power of Informal Workers in the Public Square: A Comparison of Mexican and US Organizing Models

  • Hugo Sarmiento (a1), Chris Tilly (a1), Enrique de la Garza Toledo (a2) and José Luis Gayosso Ramírez (a2)
Abstract

Street vendors in Mexico and day laborers in the United States, both groups of informal workers who labor in public space, face formidable structural obstacles to securing their rights as workers. Despite their apparent vulnerability, these informal workers have built perhaps the most powerful informal worker organizations in their countries. In this article, we explore and explain to the extent possible the sources, forms, and limits of this unexpected power. We explore organizational and strategic commonalities as well as differences and seek to explain both.

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47. Janice Fine, Worker Centers: Organizing Communities at the Edge of the Dream (Washington, DC, 2006); Nik Theodore, When Workers Take the Lead: Leadership Development at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) (New York, 2009); Theodore, “Realigning Labor.”

48. Dziembowska, “NDLON”; Narro, “Si Se Puede!”; Theodore, “When Workers Take the Lead.”

49. Ana Luz González, “Formalizing Day Labor Markets: Worker Centers and Worker Integration” (Ph.D. diss., UCLA, 2015), 29–49.

50. Cummings, Scott, “Litigation at Work: Defending Day Labor in Los Angeles,” UCLA Law Review 58 (2015): 16171703 .

51. Dziembowska, “NDLON and the History of Day Labor Organizing,” 145.

52. Ruth Milkman, “Introduction,” in Working for Justice: The L.A. Model of Organizing and Advocacy, ed. Ruth Milkman, Joshua Bloom, and Victor Narro (Ithaca, 2010), 1–19.

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55. Milkman, “Introduction.”

56. Andrea Silva, “Undocumented Immigrants, Driver's Licenses, and State Policy Development: A Comparative Analysis of Oregon and California,” Research and Policy Brief #28, UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (Los Angeles, 2015).

57. As we write, DAPA is on hold pending court challenges.

58. Agarwala, Informal Work.

59. Chun, Organizing at the Margins.

60. Tilly et al., Informal Worker Organizing.

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International Labor and Working-Class History
  • ISSN: 0147-5479
  • EISSN: 1471-6445
  • URL: /core/journals/international-labor-and-working-class-history
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