Day Labor Series
Day laborers, secure their work in a number of ways. Usually beginning well before dawn, day laborers set out with trepidation and uncertainty. Some wait on designated street corners or in parking lots. Others wait at a center established for this purpose, or go through a day labor agency, such as Casa de Maryland. Laborers must negotiate their wage directly with the employer and benefits are never included. Exploitation of day laborers is rampant. Contractors have become more aggressive in seeking undocumented workers for the purpose of underpaying or not paying them at all.
Those lucky enough to secure a day’s work are picked up on corners and left to find transportation home from job sites. The employer may be a big construction company, or a wealthy suburban homeowner who needs landscaping. Day laborers may be hired for a day or longer. Many day laborers are immigrants. Current immigration laws support the exploitation of immigrants as sources of cheap labor. They may have limited English skills or lack documentation. These circumstances allow employers and agencies to take advantage of them.
Day laborers challenge the communities in which they congregate. Residents and business owners perceive job-seeking day laborers as loiterers who negatively impact the neighborhood by deterring customers, and devaluing property. It is unfortunate that a lack of cultural awareness and understanding between the community and day laborers exists to promote such perceptions.