IRLE Updates - Letter from the Director
Dear friend of the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment,
With the approaching spring, optimism is blooming for adoption of a comprehensive immigration reform. Between a president who has made it a legislative priority, a Republican Party chastened by its poor electoral showing among Latinos and Asians, and an energized immigrant rights movement, key ingredients for forward movement are in place. I am pleased to say that IRLE and its units have helped contribute to this moment, and continue doing research, education, and community outreach that will help build fair and sensible ways to incorporate immigrants.
One exciting research dialogue will be IRLE's upcoming (May 31-June 1) conference on "How Global Migration Changes the Workforce Diversity Equation," featuring nationally and internationally prominent researchers from a dozen countries. This complements the Institute's Colloquium Series, which this year included Leisy Abrego speaking on work and family roles of men and women in transnational migrant families, and this spring will include Devra Weber and Frank Bardacke discussing Latino migrants’ roles in the turn of the 20th century labor left and the 1960s-70s farmworker movement, respectively (see Upcoming Events). And IRLE’s Visiting Scholar program continues to be a magnet for immigration researchers, this calendar year including Inés Durán (University of Sydney), Rodolfo Garcia (University of Zacatecas), and Sascha Krannich (University of Muenster). IRLE’s Research Briefs and other publications have also looked at immigration issues; recent contributions include Gaspar Rivera-Salgado’s “Leadership and organizational development of migrant hometown associations” and my own “The impact of the economic crisis on international migration.”
The Labor Center has worked with immigrant workers and their organizations for years, and work with undocumented students has become a new focus. The Labor Center’s Dream Resource Center has published two books on undocumented students by Kent Wong and others, Underground Undergrads and Undocumented and Unafraid. The Resource Center also organizes public events to counsel migrants seeking to take advantage of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for immigrant youth. Currently, the Dreamers are gearing up for Dream Summer 2013, a third summer program placing undocumented youth in internships with immigrant-serving organizations around the country. And courses on immigrants have been a staple of the Labor and Workplace Studies Minor this year, including courses on “The Immigration Debate through Film” and “Immigrant Rights, Labor, and Higher Education,” with spring bringing “Working LA: A Survey of Labor, Ethnic, and Community Institutions and Networks” and “Immigration and the Chicano Community,” and the summer session featuring “Indigenous Mexican and Central American Migrants and Labor.”
The Labor and Occupational Safety and Health (LOSH) Program has targeted much of its training and research work at low-wage immigrant workers. Examples include California Heat Illness Campaign, the Capacity-Building Initiative with the LA and Orange County Federations of Labor (focusing on workers in sectors like carwash, hotels, and recycling), and collaboration with Warehouse Workers United to develop worker leadership and advocate in the policy arena. LOSH co-hosted the Action Summit on Worker Health and Safety with Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, and consistently offers trainings in Spanish as well as English. LOSH has also shared what it's learned in this work in research publications such as "From Agricultural Fields to Urban Asphalt: The Role of Worker Education to Promote California's Heat Illness Prevention Standard" by Kevin Riley and colleagues.
Of course, IRLE's workplace focus extends well beyond immigration. The Human Resource Round Table (HARRT) centered its November Retreat on "Leveraging Social Media to Foster Engagement." Global Programs link issues of US workers to those in China, Mexico, Brazil, and elsewhere. The Black Worker Center continues its important work to increase job access in the African American community. And we continue our signature events, including the upcoming May 23 Labor Center Banquet honoring United Food and Commercial Workers President Joe Hansen, state legislators Kevin de León and Holly Mitchell, and California Federation of Teachers President Josh Pechthalt.
There is no way to tell at this point whether comprehensive immigration reform will pass this year...or if it passes, what form it will take. But the challenges and opportunities posed by immigration and immigrant communities are not going away. And the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment will be there to help develop a clearer understanding, educate students and workers, and formulate policies and grassroots strategies that will help this country meet the challenges and seize the opportunities. Though UCLA covers our core funding, all of these activities need added support to function. So we hope that when you visit our webpage to check out our programs, publications, videos, and upcoming events, you will take a moment to click on the "Support IRLE" button, if you haven't done so lately. And enjoy the coming of spring!
Director, UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment