Have you seen our latest report, “Shining A Light on Summer Work: A First Look at the Employers Using the J-1 Program“? The State Department has.
The report details abuse faced by young workers from around the world under the State Department’s J-1 Summer Work Travel program. We launched the report alongside Oliver, a former J-1 SWT worker, and our co-authors at the International Labor Recruitment Working Group (ILRWG).
“Shining A Light on Summer Work” has been the talk of the town, garnering coverage in Bloomberg, Politico, The Guardian, Reuters, EFE. We’ve created an echo chamber that amplified the voices and experiences of workers themselves.
Regulators listened. Proposed rules seeking to protect J-1 SWT workers had been shelved since January 2017. Yet last Thursday, just 10 days after we launched our report, the State Department sent these rules to the White House for review.
These rules are a good first step to protect workers, but we will have a long way to go. When we submitted comments about the rules back in 2017, we commended the State Department for its efforts to have more rigorous housing, transportation and cultural exchange requirements.
But these rules are far from perfect. The proposed rules would maintain the sponsor-based enforcement and monitoring system. One of the rules’ biggest flaws is proposing sponsors may only charge fees to J-1 SWT workers that are “legal” and “justifiable.” Our years of experience documenting abuse in international labor recruitment proves that fees facilitate exploitation and trafficking. No fee is justifiable — no one should have to pay to work.
Our goal is to elevate labor standards for all internationally recruited workers. We’re so proud to fight alongside our friends at the ILRWG — a coalition of over 30 organizations and academics chaired by CDM. We’re especially grateful to our report co-authors: the AFL-CIO, Economic Policy Institute, Justice in Motion and Southern Poverty Law Center.
Stay tuned for updates!
P.S. In case you missed it, here’s our op-ed about the report in The Baltimore Sun.