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National sovereignty and transnational labour: the case of Mexican seasonal agricultural workers in British Columbia, Canada


  • I am grateful to Corey Ranford and Kim McIntyre for their research assistance as well as to the two anonymous reviewers of this article and Peter Nolan for their helpful comments. I also thank one of the anonymous reviewers for drawing my attention to a Master of Laws thesis prepared by Heather Jensen considering the overarching drive to organize agricultural workers in British Columbia conducted by the United Food and Commercial Workers, and encompassing the grower at the centre of the controversy considered here, starting in 2007 and Heather Jensen for permitting me to read and cite this otherwise unavailable work. I first presented this research to the theme project on ‘Immigration: Settlement, Integration and Membership’ hosted by Cornell University's Institute for the Social Sciences during my tenure as a Visiting Fellow at Cornell's ILR School in 2011/2012. I thank participants in this project, especially its organiser Michael Jones-Correa, and Maria Cook, my host at Cornell, as well as Gerald Kernerman, John Grundy, and Lance Compa for their helpful comments. Finally, I thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for funding this research under its former standard research grants program.

    This article covers the period up to October 10, 2013.

Correspondence should be addressed to Leah F. Vosko, York University, 618 YRT, 4700 Keele St, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3J 1P3; email:


This article analyses the experience of recently unionised Mexican seasonal agricultural workers in British Columbia, Canada, whose visa reapplications were blocked by Mexico and a concomitant complaint to the province's labour board. Illustrating the significance of this sending state's actions, it reveals the growing disjuncture between nationally based labour relations systems and transnational labour.