Alexis Guizar-Diaz

Alexis Guizar-Diaz 01

Alexis Lisandro Guizar-Diaz graduated in the spring of 2021 with a degree in Sociology and a minor in Philosophy. His key research interests are political economy, rural & agrarian communities, and Latina/o/x populations. He is a member of the American Sociological Association and a recipient of a 2020 Eastern Washington University Summer Research Internship through the McNair Scholars Program. In the 2019-2020 school year Alexis did research with the support of Dr. Mimi Marinucci and presented that research at the EWU virtual symposium in 2020 on "Machismo, Marianismo, and The Ethics of Care." Alexis then conducted research during the summer of 2020 in Washington’s Columbia Basin under the mentorship of Dr. Edwin Elias from the Department of Race and Culture Studies. He then completed additional research throughout the 2020-2021 school year on designing a positive workplace for Washington farmworkers.

 

Alexis was accepted into the PhD Program in Sociology at Portland State University (PSU) and received full funding through a Resident Assistantship. He began attending PSU in the Fall of 2021.

2020 McNair Faculty Research Mentor: Dr. Edwin Elias

Research Title: Indentured Servitude in the 21st Century? A Case Study on Agricultural Labor Employment in the Columbia Basin

Abstract:The agricultural industry has long had a dependence on immigrant populations. Labor roles, especially of the most degraded and intensive, have primarily been filled by individuals of Latinx decent, most commonly of Mexican origin. From 2007-2017 there has been an increase of over 1000% of requested H-2A guestworkers in Washington State. H-2A guestworker status allows for the possibility of higher wages and secure travel to the United States, however, as a subcontracted worker, conditions on and off the workplaces are structured by intermediary subcontracting middlemen companies. These companies are used to alleviate the various obligations farmers were historically expected to fulfil. Hence, not only do these companies control the workplace, but they also control nearly all aspects outside the workplace such as transportation, housing, and legalities. In this project, I seek to gain a better understanding of the cause of this exponential increase and how capital has structured labor conditions through draconian legislations that have enabled these subcontracted workers to not be protected by federal labors laws, to not be entitled to overtime pay, and to be actively denied the right to unionize.

 

2020-2021 Academic Year Ongoing Research: Designing Positive Workplace Interventions for Washington Farmworker: Listening to Farmworkers Experiences During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Abstract: Washington state is a major agricultural producer. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of positive cases per capita was highest in Washington’s major agricultural counties. Like agricultural regions in other parts of the country, the population of these counties includes large numbers of seasonal workers from abroad. These seasonal workers are essential workers that support the U.S. food system through the COVID-19 public heath crisis. Why do they have higher than average rates of COVID-19 infection? The National Center for Farmworker Health, a non-governmental organization involved with monitoring the situation, has argued that poor state and federal safeguards for farmworkers (including terms of employment, housing quality, and access to health care and other benefits) are the ultimate cause of high infection rates. Past research (Roberton et al. 2013) has shown that interventions are most successful when laborers are directly involved in self-identifying problems and designing solutions. How do farmer workers themselves perceive the problem of high COVID infection rates, and how do they envision progressive change moving forward? What are the significant issues from their perspective? This project explores these questions through interviews with farmworkers and people working close with them.