What does it mean to be worker-centered?


For CDM, it starts with the heart of our work — building long-lasting relationships with workers, families and communities. We meet and open direct lines of communication with migrant workers at crucial points in their labor migration journey — from their home communities in Mexico to their workplaces and housing in the US.


This summer, during our in-person outreach activities across borders, our team spoke with 1,704 workers, allies, and government officials. Scroll down to check out a few highlights!


We gave participatory Know-Your-Rights workshops, provided legal support and trained workers and allies with Contratados.org as a tool to prevent abuse for them and their communities. And we listened.


Being worker-centered means we respond and adapt to ever-changing needs. We accomplish that through in-depth conversations to learn from workers about their experiences and how we can direct our resources to support them.

Being worker-centered means the relationships we build with workers in these communities are the force driving our fight for migrant justice — and we are committed to fighting side-by-side every step of the way. 

Home Communities
In communities in the states of Oaxaca and Guanajuato, we heard that fraud is increasingly affecting job seekers across Mexico. As detailed in our 2018 report Fake Jobs for Sale, unscrupulous recruiters ploy prospective workers with false employment offers in the United States to steal months’ worth of wages from individuals, families, or entire communities. Contratados.org, our Yelp++ for migrant workers, is a valuable tool to fight back against recruitment fraud, offering workers the chance to read reviews of prospective employers and verify that the jobs do actually exist.

In July, we visited Zacatecas, the birthplace of CDM and the home of a thriving regional chapter of our Comité. There we reunited with Don Aldo, who had worked on an H-2 visa for more than five years and has been a member of the Comité since the beginning. He told us about his renewed commitment to be active in the Comite to empower other workers to learn about their rights.

Visa Process
Last week in Monterrey, we addressed discrimination in migration at a groundbreaking meeting convened by the National Council to Prevent Discrimination (CONAPRED). Our team pushed the agency to address systemic sex discrimination in guestworker programs. We didn’t have to look beyond Monterrey to find a clearer example: out of the 1172 workers we spoke with in Monterrey, there was just one woman.
Use of the H-2A visa continues to grow. In Monterrey we met almost exclusively with H-2A workers who were traveling to the US for the first time and did not know what to expect. Speaking with workers outside the U.S. Consulate’s Centro de Atención a Solicitantes (CAS) as they processed their visas was a great opportunity to introduce them to Contratados.org as a powerful tool to prevent abuse.
Workplace Issues
In June we visited 115 tourism industry workers on J-1 Student Work Travel visas in Ocean City, Maryland. It was on this trip that we heard the brave testimony chronicled in this Contratados.org blog post.
For workers who might be suffering from severe ongoing labor exploitation or be vulnerable to labor trafficking, our focus is on supporting them with legal resources in taking action to escape from dangerous conditions.

Read our recent op-ed in the Baltimore Sun for more on the issues in the J-1 SWT program.