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Making the Empire WorkLabor and United States Imperialism$
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Daniel E. Bender and Jana K. Lipman

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479871254

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479871254.001.0001

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Slavery’s Stale Soil

Slavery’s Stale Soil

Indentured Labor, Guestworkers, and the End of Empire

(p.227) 9 Slavery’s Stale Soil
Making the Empire Work

Cindy Hahamovitch

NYU Press

This chapter presents the story of four Jamaican workers who testified to the human rights commission about the ways they had been exploited during the months they had spent cleaning luxury hotels and condos on Florida's Emerald Coast. The workers alleged that the company where they worked, Mr. Clean, used several crowded apartments as informal hiring halls from which the company selected only a few workers each day. At the end of each fortnight, the workers would receive checks for only a few dollars each. The story demonstrates that workers who labored under the rubric of legal contracts did not necessary get what their contracts promised. Consent could be based on patently false promises. Thus, the line between consent and coercion was, and remains, very blurry.

Keywords:   Mr. Clean, human rights commission, legal contracts, consent, coercion

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