SB 526 / HB 1493 strives to improve protections for the tens of thousands of people recruited internationally to Maryland each year under guestworker programs. Migrant workers are vital members of our communities — teaching in schools, providing essential caregiving support to families, picking crabs on the Eastern Shore, maintaining local parks and lawns, and so much more.
SB 526 / HB 1493 would:
- Prevent debt bondage and economic coercion by banning recruiters from charging fees to work in Maryland;
- Ensure migrant workers can demand fair labor conditions without compromising their livelihoods by prohibiting blacklisting and retaliation;
- Empower migrant workers with an online database to verify offers and the terms of employment; and
- Guarantee the same job opportunities, wages and benefits for migrant worker women as for their male counterparts.
Why it matters:
- No one should have to pay to work. Recruiters often charge migrant workers exorbitant fees to connect them with U.S. employers. When workers arrive at the job indebted, they must make the difficult decision between remaining in exploitative working conditions and returning home to insurmountable debt.
- Advance gender justice for all women. Migrant worker women are often denied job opportunities or channeled into certain low-paying jobs. Migrant worker women are disproportionately impacted by recruitment abuses, including trafficking, exploitation and fraud.
- Our laws should encourage workers to speak out against injustice. Temporary labor visas bind workers to a single employer. This means that when migrant workers complain about unlawful treatment, they risk losing their visas, and being blacklisted by recruiters and employers who will not hire them back the following year.
- Transparency can shift power dynamics. The lack of transparency and accountability makes it easy for recruiters to commit fraud, charge fees, discriminate or retaliate. Currently, workers have no way of verifying the terms of employment or whether a job even exists.
We need you.
Maryland can lead the way to protect migrant workers from discrimination, retaliation, trafficking, and other recruitment abuses. The impact would transcend borders and state lines, protecting workers in communities throughout the world and serving as a model law that could be adopted by other states and by the federal government.
What you can do:
- Tell your representatives why you support SB 526 by calling or writing. Do you want to stop trafficking in your community? Are you currently fighting to advance gender justice for all? Has an internationally recruited worker — perhaps a teacher or a caregiver — had an impact on your life? Your stories matter.
- Make a donation to support our campaign. From organizing our incredible allies in Maryland to accompanying migrant workers in submitting testimonies for the record, your support fuels our efforts.
Please write to Elizabeth Mauldin at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how to get involved.