Many immigrants come to the United States seeking better economic opportunities than they can find in their native countries. Unfortunately, they often arrive to find that the jobs waiting for them are exploitative, difficult, and dangerous. Asserting their legal and human rights to dignified and fair treatment in the workplace is not a simple endeavor. While labor unions are essential tools enabling workers to collectively stand up for their rights, the strength of American labor unions is declining. Many low-wage immigrant workers, in particular, find that representation from unions is either inadequate or unavailable to them. These workers may turn for assistance to other social service providers like government agencies and legal services organizations, where they will generally find that protections are under-enforced and services are severely limited. Even if a worker is fortunate enough to obtain legal representation, she will be faced with the fact that legal protections for workers, and especially for undocumented workers, are minimal. Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB recently increased restrictions on the legal rights of undocumented immigrant workers, holding that undocumented workers dismissed by employers in retaliation for union activities are not entitled to backpay awards.
An evidentiary privilege to protect workers' confidential communications from disclosure in federal and state court proceedings would support unions.
Labor organizing privilege is not a magic bullet that will secure the rights of workers to organize and collectively bargain. Employers will continue to resist the efforts of their workers to organize.
Mandatory arbitration for guestworkers, a uniquely vulnerable group, will result in class inequality and worse conditions for all workers.
DOJ guidance for mentally impaired detainees in immigration removal proceedings should be amended to provide counsel at earlier signs of incompetence.