The Role of Labor Struggle in the Shifting Ethnic Composition of Labor Markets

Kathleen C. Schwartzman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


One dominant theme of the current immigration debate is that immigrants (and particularly the undocumented) fill jobs that nobody wants. While it is sometimes recognized that immigrants fill occupations previously occupied by African Americans, commentators seldom acknowledge that in some cases, this substitution is a response to rising labor conflict. The article presents quantitative and qualitative evidence that allows the rejection of the conventional wisdom (jobs that nobody wants) and advances an alternative hypothesis: immigrant hiring was a management strategy to deal with rising native labor agitation. I use the case of poultry processing in the southeastern United States to elaborate this argument.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-218
Number of pages30
JournalLabor Studies Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • African Americans
  • jobs
  • poultry
  • unions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial relations
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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