Explaining Peripheral Labor: A Poultry Industry Case Study

47 Pages Posted: 2 May 2012 Last revised: 15 May 2014

See all articles by Charlotte Alexander

Charlotte Alexander

Georgia State University – Institute for Insight; Georgia State University College of Law

Date Written: 2012


Drawing on data and anecdotal accounts from a wide variety of sources, this Article investigates the law and economics of peripheral labor, so called because low wage, low skill workers on the periphery are excluded from the promotion ladders, job security, and steadily increasing pay available to supervisory and managerial workers in the core. Using the U.S. poultry industry as a case study, this Article describes the terms and conditions of peripheral poultry work: de-skilled jobs, low wages, lack of job security, and negligible prospects for promotion. Worker bargaining power is also highly constrained, as workers have little ability to demand concessions, and overt claiming behavior such as filing a lawsuit, complaining to a government agency, or forming a union often is not effective, rational, or safe. The Article hypothesizes that the reasons for these conditions may be found in poultry firms’ labor practices and modes of economic organization, in the transnational nature of the external labor market, and in the structure of labor, employment, and immigration laws that apply to peripheral poultry work.

Keywords: law, economics, labor, employment, poultry, peripheral work, work, wages, bargaining power, workers, immigration, jobs, peripheral labor, business, employees, wages, collective bargaining, union, empirical

JEL Classification: D21, D23, D63, J20, J29, J31, J43, J50, J53, K20, K31, L20, L29, L23, L66, M12, M54

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Charlotte, Explaining Peripheral Labor: A Poultry Industry Case Study (2012). Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law, Vol. 33, No. 2, pp. 351-396, 2012, Georgia State University College of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-18, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2050025

Charlotte Alexander (Contact Author)

Georgia State University – Institute for Insight ( email )

Tower Place 200, Third Floor
3348 Peachtree Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30326
United States

Georgia State University College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4037
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States

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