Stress in the Workplace for Immigrants

Aquilina Pucurimay      


            Working in America has changed the life of immigrants in many ways. Because most of them work several hours in manufacturing companies, they suffer a great deal of stress. The stress experienced by immigrants at work is caused by excessive working hours, extreme pressure to increase production, and the inability to pursue vocational training opportunities.

            Immigrants who work in manufacturing companies are usually stressed because many of them are compelled to work seven days a week and sometimes twelve hours per day. For instance, when I worked in a manufacturing company called Sanmina Corporation in San Jose , California , I was obligated to work excessive hours every day, and although I earned extra money, I felt stressed out because I didnít have much time to take care of my family. Most of the time it was impossible to enjoy any free time. It was mandatory to work overtime on the weekends. This made me very angry and I felt very upset on a daily basis.

            Another reason why immigrant workers feel stressed is because they are working under extreme pressure. Managers, supervisors and team leaders push workers to increase production without consideration. For example, when companies have high demand for products and need to meet their goals, they compel workers to work in a hurry, putting extreme pressure on them to be more productive. Moreover, some workers are intimidated by verbal or written warnings if they donít work as quickly as their supervisor demands. Also, workers are sometimes forced to change their work hours or break times. Although employers can't force employees to forego their lunch time as the lunch hour is mandated by law, workers are willing to accept other changes to their schedule because they are afraid that employers wonít consider them dependable when they review their salaries or promotions. As a result, workers experience many tense situations that create stress.

            Finally, immigrant workers feel stress when they experience their inability to pursue vocational opportunities. Because they work many hours per day, they donít have a chance to go to school to learn better skills, so workers see their future limited to performing the same routine jobs every day, which adds to their stress level. For instance, I worked at Sanmina Corporation for the minimum wage which was $6.00 per hour. I was disappointed after I received a raise of only 25 to 30 cents after having worked hard for the company for six or eight months. Many times I thought that going back to school and training for another career would solve my salary expectations, but it was impossible because I was exhausted by the end of my work day.

     In conclusion, many immigrant workers suffer from stress because they work long tedious hours at their jobs. As a result, they donít have much opportunity to spend time with their families and enjoy their lives. Even though they have enough money to cover expenses, they are still unable to manage their free time as they would like. Such stress alters the lives of many people, especially those who as immigrants have to confront the daily injustices and arbitrary decisions of their employers and lack the time to become educated to live a better life.