Defender Network

  • February 15, 2013
    Guest Post

    by Cathleen Caron, founder and executive director, Global Workers Justice Alliance. Ms. Caron is the 2010 recipient of ACS’s David Carliner Public Interest Award. The deadline to apply for this year’s Award is March 15.


    David Carliner’s ingenuity is still inspiring us -- it is quite clever really. Although he is no longer with us, the American Constitution Society’s David Carliner Public Interest Award helps to continue the good fight by giving progressive young attorneys with big ideas, the unprecedented opportunity to get the word out about what they do, why they do it, and have some fun at the same time. 

    I founded Global Workers Justice Alliance in 2005 to combat worker exploitation by promoting portable justice for transnational migrants through a cross-border network of advocates and resources.  Portable justiceis the right and ability of transnational migrants to access justice in the country of employment even after they have departed. Portable justice is an under addressed element in achieving justice for today’s global migrants. Global Workers’ core work is to train and support a Defender Network, comprised of human rights advocates in migrant sending countries to educate workers on their rights before they migrate, to work in partnership with advocates in the countries of employment on specific cases of labor exploitation, and to advocate for systemic changes. We currently operate programs in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Central America and regularly provide advice and referral for cases around the world.

    But that description (developed over the years as we better framed the work) is certainly not how it started. It all started scrappy, as most brand new organizations do when founded by the non-famous underdogs. By 2010 we were just getting noticed by major funders.