Innovations in Community Lawyering with Transnational Labor Migrants


Jennifer (JJ) Rosenbaum

Lecturer, Harvard Law School
October 30, 2017

Jennifer J. Rosenbaum, Lecturer at Harvard Law School, examined recent approaches to community lawyering with migrant workers during UMIA’s first event in the Social Justice research area. Rosenbaum examined how governments and multinational companies promote temporary worker programs that limit more permanent forms of migration between sending and receiving countries connected through global supply chains. With an estimated 244 million migrant workers worldwide, or 3.3% of the global population, Rosenbaum said solutions must address the role of sending and receiving states, as well as the definition of the problem in media and public discourse.

Among the building blocks of global labor justice sought through litigation and advocacy, Rosenbaum identified the emergence of alliances across labor migration corridors and the advance of new legal and human rights norms that are developed through grassroots struggle. In the expansion of the "theater of change," as Rosenbaum presented it, perhaps the most pressing issue is the right to organize, which would include freedom of association and freedom to move in transnational labor markets with a living wage, healthcare access, and safety protections.