use case

Migrant workers sharing information and employer reviews online: is an excellent example of a tech-enabled tool that helps to reduce labour exploitation in supply chains by providing access to real-time and reliable rights information, enabling reporting of abuse directly from workers, and connecting workers with necessary resources.
Migrant workers sharing information and employer reviews online:
  • Latin America, USA/Canada, U.S.-Mexico Migrant Communities, Online
    • Where did this use case occur?
  • 2014 - ongoing
    • When did this use case occur?
  • Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. [1]
    • Who were some of the key collaborators
  • 1+ Million
    • How many people participated?
  • Migrant/Immigrant's Rights, Worker's Rights
    • What are some keywords?

What was the problem?

Many migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border face problems such as recruitment and employment abuse, scams, and unethical working conditions. Their isolation and limited resources available further exacerbates the issues, leaving them with little to no power to hold these actors accountable.

How does the community approach the problem?

U.S.-Mexico migrant workers are sharing information about their experiences with the recruitment processes and actors (employers) involved in low-wage international labour recruitment along the border. They can also connect with each other, which is important for a population whose disconnectedness is often used against them. This process also enables them to have more labour mobility - meaning that if they have more power to freely leave their workplace, employers would be incentivized to improve conditions in order to retain and hire new workers.

They are using a Yelp-style platform called to rate and review their recruiters. This information-sharing initiative fills a crucial gap in the information available to migrant workers, advocates, and the government about recruitment practices and the actors involved. 

What were the results?

• has 1+ million site visits, close to 1,000 visits per day
• Named one of eight “Solver” teams in the MIT Solve “Work of the Future” Challenge
• Contratados has already proved its value to migrant workers and forged a new path in leveraging technology to reform guestworker programs.
• Impact Report quote:
• “a recruiter promised me a job picking oranges and watermelons in Florida. All I had to do was pay $100 to get on his list. After a month and a half, I became suspicious. Then I found Contratados. I looked up the recruiter and found workers sharing their stories about how he had defrauded them, stealing thousands of pesos… I had read some information on red flags to identify recruitment fraud on a Contratados blog post, so I knew I wasn’t leaving until I got my money back… I went back to Irapuato and shared my experience on Contratados. I don’t want anyone else to believe this recruiter’s lies. Contratados is a great tool to prevent abuse and ensure a recruiter’s offer is real. The more reviews one sees about the recruiter in the forum, the more one wonders: is this offer real? The information about how to spot fake offers is very helpful to verify offers ourselves. Knowing is power.” —Anonymous [2]
• “This information can help streamline grievance processes, identify safety concerns, narrow the gap between manager and employee, and generally act as a barometer of workplace well-being.” [3]
• Another case study:
• “After the three residents there gave the fraudulent recruiter their money, one of their sisters attended a workshop at which a member of Centro de los Derechos del Migrante taught her to use Contratados. She showed her brother the platform, who used it to identify his fraudulent recruiter. Within 24 hours, authorities had caught the man and made him return the money. It shows that the right tool in the proper hands carries enormous potential to level the playing field and open the door to an honest day’s work.”
• These sites can foster a sense of worker community and empowerment that may be particularly vital for workers who are otherwise physically isolated, such as domestic workers.
• Drawbacks include:
• “They’re susceptible to fraudulent self-reviews by employers, who might also use them to monitor their own employees.”
• “Large numbers of positive reviews can overwhelm smaller—but just as important—negative ones.”
• “And convincing a critical mass of workers to use these sites is both difficult and key to their success.”
• “Without proper buy-in, worker-oriented design, and safeguards to keep it from being used exploitatively, digital tech could disempower workers even more.” [4]

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How participatory was it?


This use case demonstrates how crowdsourcing information about exploitation and fraud in a vulnerable population can be used to directly empower these communities by granting them more agency over their workplace situations and bargaining power in court to achieve justice and hold bad actors accountable.

What makes this Use Case unique?

'This use case demonstrates how a relatively simple technology (a website that supports user-generated content) can be leveraged to support some of the most vulnerable populations (migrant workers). The site allows them to build worker power by crowdsourcing information about their experiences with specific employers which they can share with each other, hold employers trying to scam or exploit them accountable, and even seek justice against those who have done illegal harm.' -Val