Main question: Can labor organizing help combat the exploitation of immigrant workers under our existing political/social/economic system?

Answer this question through writing a comparative essay on two case studies of labor organizing campaigns in which immigrant workers were central players, and assessing the effectiveness of these campaigns. A case study is a detailed analysis of a specific group/situation/event. Your case studies can be about a union organizing campaign, a worker center campaign, a labor organizing collaboration between a union and worker center, or a non-traditional union campaign (e.g. Fight for $15). Ideally, you will choose two case studies in which there are certain differences — between the form of the organization/union, or the industry, for example — and you will compare and contrast the insights from the two case studies.

You can use any previous class readings and/or any other relevant academic sources you find. You are welcome to use current U.S. labor campaigns for your case study, and you can contextualize them with insights from existing scholarly literature about alternative labor organizations.

Your comparative study can take either of the following formats:

  • Long Essay (5 pages)
  • Magazine Article (about 1200 words)

Please address all of the following guiding questions essay/article:

  • Argument: Can labor organizing help combat the exploitation of immigrant workers under our existing political/social/economic system? Make sure you make an argument answering this question through your case study.
  • Root Causes: Describe the root causes of exploitation of immigrant workers. What conditions and systems make immigrant workers vulnerable to exploitation on the job?
  • Who: Describe the subjects of your two case studies—the union organizing campaign, worker center campaign, labor organizing collaboration between a union and worker center, or non-traditional union campaign (e.g. Fight for $15).
    • Who is involved in these labor organizing struggles? Who are the workers? What industries?
    • What unions or worker centers are involved?
    • Describe these unions or worker centers—do they work within a single industry/occupation, with specific ethnic groups/nationalities? Are they a nonprofit (501c3) or a union? If it’s not a union, explain what a worker center or alternative labor organization is.
  • The issues: What are the working fighting for/against? Describe the work conditions. Are these common issues that immigrant workers face in this industry, and across different industries, according to the literature?
  • Strategy:
    • What strategies and tactics did they use? Are these common union strategies or more typical of alternative labor organizing (such as worker center) tactics?
    • What specific challenges did they face? Did these challenges and barriers arise from their position as immigrant workers, or from the type of organization or union doing the campaign? Are these common challenges face in immigrant labor organizing?
    • Did they win any of their demands?
  • Analysis: What does a comparison of these two case studies tell us about how effective labor organizing can be for challenging the exploitation of immigrant workers? What can we learn from the similarities and differences between the two case studies? Do these case studies reflect similar findings to case studies of other immigrant worker organizing campaigns?


  • Length:
    • Essay: 5 pages, typed, double-spaced (minimum of 1,200 words)
    • Magazine article: Also minimum of 1,200 words. You may format it like a magazine article, including with photos, columns, quotes, etc. and use a more journalistic tone of writing instead of an academic one.
  • Sources: No matter which format you choose for this topic, you must use and cite at least three academic sources.
    • Search for academic books or journals using the ESC Library and the ESC Labor Studies Subject Guide. The librarians can help you if you are having any trouble finding articles.
    • Academic journals are not the same as news articles or website posts.
    • You can certainly cite reliable news sources and credible websites in addition to the three academic sources.
    • Encyclopedias (including Wikipedia) are not valid sources. You can, however, use these sources for links to useful sources, but be sure to go directly to the primary source to ascertain the validity of those sources.
  • Citations: Please refer to the ESC resources on Chicago style.
    • Use footnotes to cite websites.
    • Create a “Works Cited” list at the end of your essay/article with the full citations of all sources




Globally, more than 232 million international migrants and more than 740 internal migrants migrate in search of work. About 21 million migrant workers end up in extreme exploitation situations that have gained global attention even though immigrant workers’ exploitation is a historical behavior in most countries such as the United States. Over the years, immigrants have fought and struggled for their rights, changing immigrants’ labor market prospects and integrating themselves in the American community life, social, economic, and political system. Most labor unions that once existed to realize the immigrant workers’ dream have either disappeared or declined dramatically with new institutions emerging. Despite their disappearance, the new institutions have great significance in combatting immigrant workers’ exploitation under the existing social, economic, and political system with references to Fight for $15 and the Immigrants Workers Centers.


Root causes of the exploitation of immigrant workers  

Migrant workers are perceived as the most vulnerable member of society as they are always engaged in jobs described as 3-D- dirty, dangerous, and demanding. One of the root causes of immigrant workers’ exploitation is the deceptive recruitment and contracts and agreements between the workers and the employers and misinformation’s, on immigrants’ rights.