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Georgia’s Anti-Immigrant Politics Overshadow Women’s Struggles

6:09 am in Uncategorized by Michelle Chen

Cross-posted from In These Times 

(Photo from

The words “undocumented worker” evoke images we’re all familiar with: poor day laborers huddled on a street corner, sun-battered tomato pickers hauling buckets through the fields. One image that people often overlook is a far more intimate presence: the nanny caring for our kids, the home aide comforting our ailing parents, the quiet mother waiting nervously outside the doctor’s office.

Immigrant women are present in every aspect of American life, in the workplace and in the home, yet they’re among the most invisible. They’re about to be shoved further into the shadows as states move to crack down on the undocumented and relegate them to the margins of society. So a coalition of activists came to Atlanta, Georgia this week to raise the visibility of immigrant women as workers and community members, as the state moves toward policies that could give the police unprecedented powers to profile, arrest and detain immigrants arbitrarily. Read the rest of this entry →

Georgia’s Celebrated No-Cost Labor Scheme: Cheating the Jobless?

4:36 pm in Uncategorized by Michelle Chen

Cross-posted from In These Times

For a typical boss, there’s only one thing better than getting away with not paying your workers: getting the government to supply you with people who will work for free. It’s an employer’s dream that may soon become reality around the country, as President Obama has moved toward incorporating it in his emerging job-creation agenda.

The job-creation flavor of the week is GeorgiaWork$, a job program that has for several years funneled unemployed workers into job slots as “trainees.” Under this half-internship, half-indentured servitude scheme, a worker can earn a $240 weekly stipend on top of regular unemployment benefits for eight weeks, working 24 hours per week. Unlike other job subsidy programs, which use generally use public dollars to supplement workers’ regular earnings, GeorgiaWork$ allows the state to capitalize on existing unemployment payments while giving a free boost to private employers. Workers, often hired in service sectors like child care and restaurant work, can only hope that their bosses will hire them after their preliminary test run ends.

This system fits well with Obama’s anti-spending, quasi-pro-stimulus double-speak, and his forthcoming jobs plan may include a federal version of Georgia’s virtually free labor system.

While there may be many desperate people ready to forfeit labor standards for any form of paid work, the Huffington Post reports that so far, the program doesn’t seem to live up to its promise of  sustainable job growth: