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The Unsung Heroes of Workplace Safety – Cheryl Staats

June 5, 2010 1 comment

Cheryl Staats
Kirwan Institute, Ohio State University

The following piece has been reposted, with kind permission, from a recent special edition of the blog Race-Talk that focuses on Latino organizing for social justice. Race-Talk is managed and moderated by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University.

In her post, Cheryl Staats highlights the syndemic relationship between health status and Latino workers’ vulnerability, including the substantial proportion of immigrants among them. She also calls our attention to both the critical importance of claiming a voice in political spheres and the inevitable risks facing unauthorized im/migrants who do so.

Although the piece does not focus specifically on unauthorized im/migrants, lack of status amplifies the vulnerabilities she discusses. In particular, raising complaints about workplace safety can put immigrant workers at risk of being fired, deported, separated from family, and/or losing their source of livelihood and ability to support local and transnational dependents. Importantly, all of these forms of vulnerability further impede the kind of organizing and claimsmaking for which the author calls.

- The Access Denied Team

In the midst of the uproar surrounding comprehensive immigration reform and the devastating new law in Arizona that seemingly legalizes racial profiling, immigrants and their advocates and organizers are shouldering the strains of these significant challenges.  While these battles are ongoing, one bright spot has recently emerged:  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) increased recognition of the workplace dangers that plague many Latinos, particularly immigrants, coupled with actions to attend to these labor issues.

Hilda Solis, U.S. Secretary of Labor
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