The Global Workers Justice Alliance story is amazing, was founded by Cathleen Caron to challenge a developing and unaddressed crisis in the globalizing economy: abused migrant workers being shut out of the justice system because they went home to their families. Starting out as an attorney defending the rights of migrant workers in Florida, she saw this denial of justice again and again. After a hard-earned class action win against a particularly exploitative farm in south Florida, she was profoundly troubled when the majority of the two thousand farmworkers never recovered the wages legally owed them because they had left Florida, many to return to their homeland of Guatemala. Cathleen’s experience was similar to other advocates across the United States. Despite diligent efforts by dedicated advocates, the reality of these workers’ lives meant that they crossed borders, complicating any legal action on their behalf.
Subsequently, Cathleen designed and spearheaded a project on human trafficking in East Timor. What she encountered in East Timor was the same as the United States–the denial of cross-border justice. She began to realize that the need “portable justice”–as she started calling it–was not confined to North America but that it was a global phenomena. Forcing workers to choose between enforcing their rights or going home seemed wholly unjust. Cathleen was determined to find another way.