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Labor and Legality

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Labor and Legality Essay
August 9, 2011 In her book, Labor and Legality: An Ethnography of a Mexican Immigrant Network, Ruth Gomberg-Muñoz describes the lives of ten busboys, she referrs to as the Lions, living and working in the Chicago area. Gomberg-Muñoz provides an insight into the lives of these undocumented Mexican workers. They share their stories of crossing the border, the affects of their absence on family back in Mexico, and the daily struggles of living in a country without the benefits of citizenship. The Lions, as well as other undocumented Mexicans, have to face Americans stereotypes every day. Probably the biggest stereotype the Lions contend with is the belief that all Mexicans are hard workers. The word “easy” cannot be used to describe the Lions’ busboy jobs. Gomberg-Muñoz describes their daily duties some of which include: cleaning, stocking, setting and clearing tables, and generally assisting the waiters and managers. The managers tell Gomberg-Muñoz that the busboys are “the best workers we have at Il Vino” (Gomberg-Muñoz 2011:18). This may be why on top of the Lions’ standard workload they regularly “unclog toilets, clean martini-induced vomit, change customers’ flat tires, trap mice, organize storage rooms, move furniture, paint, salt the parking lot when it snows, water the plants, and scrape gum from the bottom of tables” (Gomberg-Muñoz 2011:17). The Lion’s may have a stereotype to live up to, but they do try to make it work in their favor. Once a worker has proved himself to his boss, he is often able to get friends or family jobs at the same restaurant. Managers want to employ Mexicans because they know that they will be willing to do what is needed. Gomberg-Muñoz states, “Working hard provides several immediate benefits for workers –it promotes their job security, augments their income, and makes their day go by faster...

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