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The Unsafe 3-D Jobs of Migrant Workers

Jobs known as “3-D” have pros and cons. The biggest con is high numbers of migrant workers are exploited each year in many areas of the county, and Southern California in particular. But what are migrant workers and what are 3-D jobs?

What are 3-D jobs?

Most commonly, a 3-Job is one that is Dirty, Dangerous and Demeaning. This can be anything from picking fruit in an apple orchard to scrubbing floors in a butchery. Whatever type of job it is, there are several official definitions.

The International Organization for Migration states publicly that migrant workers’ rights aren’t negotiable. Migrant workers can be separated into two categories: economic migrants and labor migrants. Someone who travels to invest in local infrastructure, or to do work that is typically performed in another state is known as an economic migrant. Those who move frequently to find labor, whether skilled or unskilled, are considered labor migrants.

The International Labor Union considers migrant workers those who travel to a new country to seek employment. This includes those who enter a country illegally to obtain employment.

The United Nations focuses on those who cross borders illegally – those who are undocumented – to obtain employment as migrant workers, despite skills as a laborer or even education and economic status.

Regional Factors Regarding Migrant Workers

Many areas where there are high numbers of migrant workers, 3-D jobs are offered. These locales often have higher numbers of both legal and illegal immigrants as well as high rates of unemployment and poverty. Poverty and unemployment typically force laborers to turn to 3-D jobs just to make ends meet, regardless of ethnicity. These factors can force migrant workers across borders for work, in order to financially support their families. They can force someone who has been laid off or can’t find work that matches their skillset into these dirty, dangerous and demeaning jobs.


Unfortunately, many labor migrants are exploited by those who employ them. Being a part of the underserved population usually makes you more susceptible to exploitation. 3-D jobs make this even more likely as employers aren’t reporting any information about job conditions, work-related injuries, average pay, etc. This leads some, but not all, migrant workers to end up with very little pay for physically demanding work in unsafe conditions. Due to being stuck in this rut of migrant labor, they may feel it would be difficult to find representation, which is something these employers count on.

Southern California Migrant Worker Statistics

The University of California at Davis found, through a 2016 study, that nearly 60 percent of men who were born in Mexico and now work in agriculture in California are undocumented and have no legal right to work in the US. The numbers of migrant workers in California, especially Southern California, vary greatly throughout the year, due to the seasonal nature of agriculture, which leads to migrant workers often moving elsewhere, during slow times, to find work. In 2016, January saw a low of 344,000 migrant laborers, while there was a peak of 471,000 in August, which is the height of the growing season.

If you are one of the migrant workers in Southern California who is being exploited, whether in the agriculture industry or elsewhere, it’s time to find representation. Call Martin Gasparian at the Maison Law Firm. We have offices in Visalia, Bakersfield, Glendale and Fresno. We are ready to help you not only find compensation for yourself but help prevent future exploitation of migrant workers with 3-D jobs.


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