"The Bracero Story: Stolen Wages and the Struggle of Mexican Guest Workers"
Mon, October 11, 2010 • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM • Hackett Room (SRH 1.313), Sid Richardson Hall, The University of Texas at Austin
The Bracero Program spanned 22 years, 1.5 million guest workers, and 5 million contracts, making it the largest binational labor agreement in world history. The program shaped U.S. agriculture and U.S. immigration policies for decades to come, and the government-sponsored wage theft suffered by the Braceros is a testament to the predatory potential of future guest worker programs.
The Bracero Program was truly a landmark initiative. In addition to providing much-needed agricultural labor during wartime shortages and providing cheap food was that essential to the post-war economic boom, the Bracero Program also ushered in other practices that would cause massive changes in the United States' economy and politics. For instance, Operation Wetback was an immigration sting conducted in the midst of the Bracero Program which set the stage for a style of immigration enforcement that relies on spectacle and punishing undocumented workers instead of their employers. During the Bracero Program farm owners experimented with using different combinations of domestic, guest, and undocumented labor, allowing them to use the ultra-flexibile just-in-time production that would later be adopted by many other industries. Finally, although the Braceros' interests were formally represented by the Mexican government, in practice they were at the service of farm owners and their representatives in the U.S. government, reflecting the loss of labor rights that occurred in the US following WWII.
Come hear Norberto Flores of the National Assembly of Braceros and Stuart Schussler of the Mexico Solidarity Network speak about this landmark labor agreement and how Braceros and their families are currently organizing to raise awareness of their contributions to the war effort and demand the restitution of wages unlawfully stolen from them by the Mexican and U.S. governments.
For more information, contact the Community Engagement Center at (512) 232-8586.