Review Essay -- Marginal Workers: How Legal Fault Lines Divide Workers and Leave Them Without Protection
Law & Society Review, Vol.47, No.4, December 2013, pp. 982-985
5 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2013
Date Written: October 21, 2013
American scholars, litigators, and activists are obliged to innovate and unearth new tactics and strategies in the effort to counterbalance the power of transnational capital. However, Ruben Garcia’s call for the elevation of human rights rhetoric in worker struggles in his book Marginal Workers invites caution. It may well be that Garcia’s emphatic statements in support of a human rights approach to U.S. workers’ rights are meant to disrupt the inertia of movement advocacy strategy. However, for any reader who might take these statements at face value, a zero-sum approach creates two dangers: First, it may lead one to overestimate the efficacy of human rights ideology in domestic struggles. Exploitative employers may or may not care that there is an international legal framework that favors workers. Large employers such as Wal-Mart are likely to attempt to alter those legal norms rather than improving conditions of work or allowing workers to organize as a union. Second, the presumption that there may be a “silver bullet” solution to the crisis of labor may lead scholars and activists to focus excessively on the content of legal rules and rhetorical approaches rather than the mechanics of resistance and disobedience.
Keywords: labor and employment law, human rights law, law and organizing, legal mobilization, social movements
JEL Classification: J50
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation