Rank and File: Historical Perspectives on Latino/a Workers in the US explores the history which led to the current situation of Latino workers in the US. The author of this article, Zaragosa Vargas, states that the influx of Mexican workers into the low-skill industrial and service sectors in the US will continue.
Even though Latinos had been racially discriminated in the US, Latinos working in the US auto industry had been considered as middle-class before the late 1970s. However, international competition in the auto manufacturing began and led to unemployment of Latino workers. In addition, NAFTA contributed to the formation of maquiladora in the border area, where companies pay as little as $0.50 per hour and have a low-cost production. This further encouraged the unemployment of Latinos in the US, raising the poverty rate of Latino population to 29 per cent. Also, as Vargas states “For Latinos, blue-collar employment, that previously provided middle-class income and status for America’s workers, was dramatically reduced by deindustrialization,” deindusrialization of the US economy, the shift from an industrial economy to a service economy, has created employment in service sector jobs for Latino workers in the US. Today, many Latino workers are considered unskilled and are working in low-wage industrial manufacturing, service sector jobs, or food processing.
In the next ten year, another 35 million immigrants, mainly from Mexico and other Latin American countries, will be added to the existing 25 million of Latino population in the US, and Latinos will soon become the nation’s largest minority group.