IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Worker centers: defending labor standards for migrant workers in the informal economy


  • Nik Theodore
  • Abel Valenzuela
  • Edwin Meléndez


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of day labor worker centers in improving wages and working conditions of migrant casual workers in the USA. Design/methodology/approach - The paper reports the results of a survey of worker center executive directors and senior staff, with particular attention to the ways in which centers maintain wage rates, allocate jobs, and redress grievances. Findings - Day labor worker centers are now an important presence in construction industry casual labor markets, performing HRM functions that benefit employers and workers. Research limitations/implications - The research was undertaken during a time when the US construction industry was enjoying an expansion. It is unclear what a macroeconomic downturn might mean for the effectiveness of worker centers to maintain labor standards. Practical implications - Conditions of instability and the violation of basic labor standards that occur in casual labor markets in the USA exist in other countries as well. Day labor worker centers might be a model intervention that could apply in other contexts. Originality/value - The paper presents results from the first national survey of day labor worker centers. It highlights the key activities of these emerging labor market institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Nik Theodore & Abel Valenzuela & Edwin Meléndez, 2009. "Worker centers: defending labor standards for migrant workers in the informal economy," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 30(5), pages 422-436, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:ijmpps:v:30:y:2009:i:5:p:422-436

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Andrew A. Luchak & Ian R. Gellatly, 2002. "How Pension Accrual Affects Job Satisfaction ," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 23(1), pages 145-162, January.
    2. Arnaud Chevalier & Reamonn Lydon, 2002. "Estimates of the Effect of Wages on Job Satisfaction," CEP Discussion Papers dp0531, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    3. Luis Vila & Belen Garcia-Mora, 2005. "Education and the Determinants of Job Satisfaction," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(4), pages 409-425.
    4. Vani Borooah, 2006. "How much happiness is there in the world? A cross-country study," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(8), pages 483-488.
    5. Shields, Michael A & Price, Stephen Wheatley, 2002. "Racial Harassment, Job Satisfaction and Intentions to Quit: Evidence from the British Nursing Profession," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 69(274), pages 295-226, May.
    6. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
    7. Frank, Robert H, 1997. "The Frame of Reference as a Public Good," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1832-1847, November.
    8. A. Sousa-Poza & A. A. Sousa-Poza, 2003. "Gender differences in job satisfaction in Great Britain, 1991-2000: permanent or transitory?," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(11), pages 691-694.
    9. Andrew E. Clark, 1996. "Job Satisfaction in Britain," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 34(2), pages 189-217, June.
    10. Lovett, Steve & Coyle, Tom & Adams, Russell, 2004. "Job satisfaction and technology in Mexico," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 217-232, August.
    11. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J. & Warr, Peter B., 1994. "Is job satisfaction u-shaped in age ?," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9407, CEPREMAP.
    12. Francis Green & Nicholas Tsitsianis, 2005. "An Investigation of National Trends in Job Satisfaction in Britain and Germany," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 43(3), pages 401-429, September.
    13. Alex Bryson & Lorenzo Cappellari & Claudio Lucifora, 2004. "Does Union Membership Really Reduce Job Satisfaction?," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 42(3), pages 439-459, September.
    14. Keith A. Bender & Susan M. Donohue & John S. Heywood, 2005. "Job satisfaction and gender segregation," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(3), pages 479-496, July.
    15. Sousa-Poza, Alfonso & Sousa-Poza, Andres A., 2000. "Well-being at work: a cross-national analysis of the levels and determinants of job satisfaction," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 517-538, November.
    16. Anthea Long, 2005. "Happily Ever After? A Study of Job Satisfaction in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 81(255), pages 303-321, December.
    17. Susan J. Linz, 2002. "Job Satisfaction Among Russian Workers," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 468, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    18. Nielsen, Helena Skyt, 1998. "Discrimination and detailed decomposition in a logit model," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 115-120, October.
    19. Andrés Rodríguez-Pose & Montserrat Vilalta-Bufí, 2005. "Education, migration, and job satisfaction: the regional returns of human capital in the EU," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(5), pages 545-566, October.
    20. Michael Rose, 2005. "Job Satisfaction in Britain: Coping with Complexity," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 43(3), pages 455-467, September.
    21. Donna Brown & Steven McIntosh, 2003. "Job satisfaction in the low wage service sector," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(10), pages 1241-1254.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Walter Nicholls, 2016. "Politicizing Undocumented Immigrants One Corner at a Time: How Day Laborers Became a Politically Contentious Group," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(2), pages 299-320, March.
    2. Edwin J. Meléndez & M. Anne Visser & Nik Theodore & Abel Valenzuela Jr., 2014. "Worker Centers and Day Laborers’ Wages," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 95(3), pages 835-851, September.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eme:ijmpps:v:30:y:2009:i:5:p:422-436. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Virginia Chapman). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.