Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants

By David Bacon | Go to book overview

One

MAKING WORK A CRIME

Merry Christmas. You're fired.

On a rainy December day in Emeryville, California, a small city on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay, organizers handed out umbrellas to a small group chanting and yelling in front of the Woodfin Suites Hotel. Half the picketers were church and union folks—people who turn out for demonstrations rain or shine. The other half of the crowd had just come off work in the towering hotel looming above them. Some held animated discussions as they walked up and down the wet sidewalk in their uniforms, but most just looked tired.

Under one umbrella, Luz Dominguez, a Mexican woman in her forties, huddled against another housekeeper. Dominguez and her colleague were already dreading the next day, when they'd once again put on their gray work clothes and make the trek back to Emeryville to clean hotel rooms. “I feel really exhausted at the end of my shift,” she said with a sigh. “When I get home, I have no energy for my family. All I do is worry about what tomorrow will be like—if the rooms will be the same, or even dirtier.”

You wouldn't think that anyone would try to keep such a draining job, but Dominguez and twenty coworkers had been fighting all fall and into the winter to stop the hotel from firing them. Their 2006 preChristmas picket line was one more effort. Woodfin hotel jobs were suddenly worth a lot more to housekeepers, because a new ordinance promised to lighten the workload that left them exhausted every day. But just as the law seemed about to give the workers more time and

-1-

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Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Preface v
  • One - Making Work a Crime 1
  • Two - Why Did We Come? 23
  • Three - Displacement and Migration 51
  • Four - Fast Track to the Past 83
  • Five - Which Side Are You On? 119
  • Six - Blacks Plus Immigrants Plus Unions Equals Power 167
  • Seven - Illegal People or Illegal Work? 199
  • Eight - Whose New World Order? 233
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