Bridging the Opportunity Divide

The Yelp-Like Website Helping Migrant Workers Avoid Bad Bosses

October 30, 2014
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The Yelp-Like Website Helping Migrant Workers Avoid Bad Bosses
Migrant Workers Farm Crops In Southern CA
A new social media site provides employment info to migrant workers. John Moore/Getty Images
It hopes to decrease the mystery and misery for temporary guest employees.

We’ve all seen groups of day laborers congregating on a street corner, hoping to be hired for a job. These workers, as well as those in this country on temporary work visas, are taking a big risk: They have to trust that the people who hire them will pay them as promised.

A new social media site, Contratados.org (the name roughly translates as “hired hands”), aims to offer some insurance against dishonest employers to day laborers.

On the website, workers can look for a job, write and read reviews of companies, bosses or recruiters, learn about their rights and read about news developments of relevance to them. For those who don’t have Internet access, there’s even the ability to leave a review via the telephone.

These Yelp-like reviews can help workers avoid bad work situations and find fair ones. For instance, one man who regularly employs undocumented workers recently received two one-star ratings. One reviewer says that this man had him working without a salary for two months, and in exchange for his work, promised a tourist visa. Instead, he gave him a fake visa, which resulted in deportation. On the other hand, another reviewer employed by a seafood market in Louisiana praised his bosses in a five-star review. “It’s a good company and a pure good thing,” the anonymous reviewer writes.

The reviews can be anonymous (which could, of course, result in the posting of falsehoods and exaggerations), but as with Yelp, the more reviews that accumulate, the more the consensus can be trusted.

Michelle Chen of The Nation spoke to Alissa Ecarce of Contratados, who says, “The beauty of the Contratados.org employer review feature is that it does not rely on any legal mechanism — the point is for workers to share information with one another so that they can make more informed employment decisions. Both guest workers and undocumented workers work within a system where they are at a power disadvantage due to their status, and we hope that Contratados.org will be a tool that all workers can use to increase their power in the labor market.”

This website, which offers a contemporary solution to an age-old problem, could prevent a lot of low-income workers from experiencing needless misery.

MORE: Here’s A Smart Solution That Stops Immigrants From Being Robbery Victims

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