Immigration and Worker Owned Businesses

Last week, I posted my article, Decentering the Firm: The Limited Liability Company and Low Wage Immigrant Women Workers, 39 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 787 (2006) to SSRN.

In the article, I look at the low-wage jobs held by many immigrant women workers and conclude that part of the reason why so many of these jobs – often in positions such as nannies and housecleaners – are paid so poorly and are so exploitative – is because of the intersection between several types of oppression: gender, ethnicity, race, and immigration status.

When one takes a job in the underground economy, many of the typical benefits that we think of as being associated with work simply don’t apply. Obviously, the situation is worse for undocumented workers who are hesitant to enforce their rights (for fear of being deported), and because they may not even be able to receive any remedies (the Hoffman Plastics precedent).

As a – partial – solution to this problem, I talk about re-organizing these types of work, eliminating the intermediary who normally sets up the work and takes a profit, and transforming the workers into owners who are members of an LLC. This allows for collective benefits – such as health insurance and workers’ compensation – and allows for the LLC to pay taxes, so that if a worker is able to regularize their immigration status, they will not have tax problems.

I wrote this piece months before the proposals for immigration reform came to the forefront. Although the article assumes the legal status quo, worker-owned businesses could still have an important role to play in the future (regardless of what happens with the immigration bill). I’m glad that I have the opportunity to blog about these issues – it gives me a good way to follow up on my scholarship.

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4 Responses

  1. Kate Litvak says:

    How is this different from a tired (and discredited) idea that workers are better off in coops?

  2. Miriam Cherry says:

    I hope that this article is neither ;).

    The article takes a pro-worker, critical race feminist standpoint.

    On LLCs versus co-ops in the choice-of-entity decision: In the state where I was conducting research for my clients (an immigrant workers’ advocacy group), the state LLC statute afforded more flexibility.

  3. Kate Litvak says:

    What is the substantive-economic (not legal-formalistic) difference between your proposed entity and a basic coop? What is the allocation of cash flow rights and control rights, source of startup and expansion capital, governance structure, admission of new members, compensation of departing members, etc.?

  4. Olga says:

    If they don’t want to work for such a little money they may think about starting a business. Or it’s prohibited?