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Conflicting CommitmentsThe Politics of Enforcing Immigrant Worker Rights in San Jose and Houston$
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Shannon Gleeson

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801451218

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801451218.001.0001

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Work in Postindustrial America

Work in Postindustrial America

(p.30) 1 Work in Postindustrial America
Conflicting Commitments

Shannon Gleeson

Cornell University Press

This chapter is an overview of the evolution of the postindustrial United States and in particular the path San Jose and Houston have taken. It sketches the history and economic progress of Silicon Valley and the Bayou City, showing how low-wage immigrants have been central to the unequal story of progress for both cities. The chapter then identifies the particular barriers immigrant workers must confront. It describes the economic events that have given rise to the modern U.S. economy, characterized by steadily decreasing rates of union representation and the particularly precarious condition of undocumented workers. Within this context, the chapter introduces the ever more essential, though increasingly underfunded, labor standards enforcement bureaucracy, and the many factors that divide rights in theory and rights in practice.

Keywords:   San Jose, Houston, postindustrial United States, modern U.S. economy, labor standards enforcement, rights

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