Why doesn’t Napa have a day laborer center?

REBECCA HUVAL | Posted in Napa Valley Register | Posted: Tuesday, here May 3, see 2011 9:30 pm

Juan Carlos, a day laborer who looks for work next to Home Depot regularly, said a day laborer center would help keep the exchange of services legal instead of under-the-table as it is now. Jorgen Gulliksen/Register

From dawn until dusk, a group of Napa day laborers waits on a hill beside south Napa’s Home Depot parking lot for someone to hire them to move furniture, build a porch or paint a fence for about $10 an hour.

They sit cross-legged on the ground and crack jokes in the sun. On rainy days, they take shelter inside the nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken, the workers said. That’s where they go to the bathroom, too.

“This is our workplace,” said Juan Carlos, 36, of Napa, originally from El Salvador. “Every day, I clean it up.”

Unlike St. Helena, the city of Napa has no day laborer center. As a result, Napa’s day laborers wait for work outside and accept unaccounted money — which violates California law and also has the potential to get them in trouble with authorities, even if they are documented U.S. citizens.

So the workers, along with some community leaders, are hoping to build a day labor center in Napa.

“We can do something beautiful here,” Carlos said. “It doesn’t have to be big. Something small.”

Local activists said they support the idea.

“It’s good for people in the community, too,” said Lilia Navarro, a member of the Napa County Commission on Aging. “Because if people need someone to help in their garden, they can have help.”

At the day laborer center in St. Helena, the director said more than half of the workers come from Napa. Housed in a trailer on the property of Sutter Home Winery, the Work Connection Ministry of St. Helena Catholic Church sees about 30 workers on average per day.

For 15 years, the ministry has linked workers with jobs and asked that employers sign forms assuring they’ll pay at least $10 an hour.

Though most workers come from the city of Napa, the center is partially funded by the city of St. Helena.

“At least Napa could help us support this place,” said Nora Selina Garcia, director of Work Connection Ministry. “We don’t have enough people to support this place. We need some help.”

Their ministry employs two workers and has two volunteers. Even with a small staff, they’ve been able to place hundreds of seasonal workers in vineyard, construction, gardening and housekeeping jobs.

One of their workers has found fieldwork with the same vineyard for eight years, Garcia said.

“If Napa and Vallejo had another center like this, it would be great,” she said. “This is a small place. Last year, in one day, I had 53 workers. And we just have one restroom, and we have men and women. It’s difficult.”

In the south Napa parking lot, the laborers wait for work on private property owned by the South Napa Market Place. They’ve struck an agreement with businesses there to stay in the north lot across from KFC, said Napa Police Lt. Debbie Peecook.

Occasionally, Home Depot managers have complained to police about the workers loitering on private property, Peecook said. “Most of the day laborers have been really good about that, when we ask them to stand in a certain area, though they occasionally need reminders.”

As for more permanent solutions, Mayor Jill Techel said Napa didn’t have a hiring center for day laborers because no one had ever proposed one.

“In cities that have those centers, 80 percent are run by community groups,” not local government, Techel said.

While there have been complaints regarding laborers gathered at South Napa Market Place, they have been handled by police who have negotiated solutions with the men, the mayor said.

These complaints “haven’t been elevated to a political level,” Techel said.

The workers said they’ve talked with local Pastor Ricardo Bolaños of Ministerios Cosecha, or “Harvest Ministries”, but Bolaños couldn’t be reached for this report.

If built, the center could help the laborers find more jobs and become more accessible and approachable to employers, said Laura Lopez, a local activist and Legal Aid of Napa Valley volunteer.

“It’s not that people are lazy and don’t want to find a job,” Lopez said. “The work ethic is there, but the respect for the workers isn’t.”

As Illinois Senate Passes State Dream Act with Bipartisan Vote, Governor Quinn Terminates Troubled Deportation Program

Today, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn sent a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement notifying the agency that because of its indiscriminate use of the “Se Communities” deportation program, the State is ending its participation in the program. The letter states “that the implementation of the Se Communities program in Illinois is contrary to the stated purpose of the MOA… By ICE’s own measure, less than 20% of those who have been deported from Illinois under the program have ever been convicted of a serious crime.” The Governor’s letter concludes, “With this termination, no new counties in Illinois can be activated and those counties that were previously activated… must be deactivated and removed from the Se Communities program.”
Joshua Hoyt, Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, praised the Governor’s action: “Governor Quinn took the state of Illinois one step forward toward sensible solutions for our broken immigration system. We need more policies like the Illinois DREAM Act, which the Senate passed today, not indiscriminate and reckless enforcement.”
The Governor’s letter comes in the wake of mounting criticism of the “Se Communities” program for what U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California describes as outright deception in its implementation and for the widely reported use of the program to deport people still presumed to be innocent despite the program’s mission of focusing on “convicted dangerous criminals.”
The Illinois legislature is scheduled to weigh in on the program with a pending vote on the Smart Enforcement Act, which would regulate and require reporting on the program.
Chris Newman from the National Day Laborer Organizing Network concluded,” DHS has been reckless and dishonest in its rapid expansion of a program that commandeers scare local law enforcement resources, endangers community safety, and erodes trust in law enforcement. The simple fact is DHS cannot make law and policy by decree, and Governor Quinn has taken appropriate action to protect the residents of Illinois.”…

Laborers march in Woodside

Demonstrators chanting slogans demand rights for day workers

By Rich Bockmann | Posted on YourNabe.com | Monday, link May 2, 2011 6:48 PM EDT

Activist Nicholas Chango (c.), originally from Ecuador, leads a chant along Roosevelt Avenue. Photo by Christina Santucci

Supporters of workers’ rights took their message to Roosevelt Avenue Sunday, calling on all workers, and in particular non-unionized day laborers, to organize and stand up for their rights.

About 50 demonstrators marched along the avenue from the Philippine Forum at 40-21 69th St. in Woodside to the Manuel De Dios Unanue Triangle at 83rd Street in Jackson Heights, carrying signs and chanting messages of strength in numbers as they proceeded along the sidewalk.

Roberto Menses, a Queens day laborer and labor organizer with Jornaleros Unidos (Day Workers United) rallied demonstrators earlier in the day at the Philippine Forum, where different Queens pro-labor and immigrant groups meet once a month.

“We’re not ones, we’re not hundreds — we’re millions. Count us well,” they called out during an event organizers said was a prelude to the city’s May Day celebration Sunday, when immigrants’ rights demonstrators will march from Union Square to join a trade union rally at Foley Square.

Two years ago, Menses was at the forefront of a conflict between laborers who gathered at Edward Hart Playground in Woodside and the police from the 115th Precinct, who they contend were harassing them.

He led a series of marches and, according to Gustavo Mejias, a retired teacher who is with the Independent Workers Movement, the harassment of laborers and street vendors has gone down significantly.

“Immigrants’ rights are workers’ rights,” said Daniel Vila, an organizer with the May 1st Coalition, who said he expects to see upwards of 50,000 demonstrators in Manhattan this weekend.

Vila said day laborers in Queens — many of whom but not all are undocumented immigrants — are being taken advantage of by the contractors who hire them.

“They get paid $400 the first week, then $300 the next week,” he said, describing a situation of declining wages that often leads to contractors outright withholding weeks’ worth of wages.

“We have three cases now where guys are owed over $10,000,” Vila said.

Menses said that in areas throughout the borough — Astoria, Jamaica, Flushing? — some 500 or 600 laborers wait for work every day and perhaps 20 or 30 of them will get picked up. Those who do not find work will rely on local charities for food. He said that in New York City every week $20 million worth of wages are stolen from laborers by the contractors who hire them.

He framed the plight of Queens laborers in the context of larger attacks on workers’ rights, and points to recent events in Wisconsin where union workers were stripped of their rights to collective bargaining.

“If that’s happening to the workers that are unionized, imagine what’s happening to the workers that are not unionized, like the day workers,” he said.

He said he also believed that politicians, whether Democrat or Republican, did not really represent those gathered Sunday. He said President Barack Obama had failed to deliver on his campaign promises of immigration reform, and pointed to legislation in Arizona and a similar “copycat” bill waiting to be signed in Georgia that make immigrants “second-class citizens.”

“Our message is to workers and people suffering this crisis. We need to organize and fight back,” Mejias said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

For Workers Who Get Stiffed,

For Workers Who Get Stiffed, Immigration Status is Irrelevant

 

For Workers Who Get Stiffed, __fg_link_4__  Immigration Status is Irrelevant

Day laborers wait for work on Main Street in the Village of Brewster earlier this month. Credit Ashley Tarr

One attorney says that day laborers should get as much information as possible on the person who hired them.

While one business owner in Brewster says he wants village officials to clear Main Street of the day laborers waiting for work, order some others don’t seem to mind. The mayor says village officials’ hands are tied. The police chief says the men aren’t causing issues for his department. And the day laborers—they say they just want jobs. In this two-day series, Patch takes a look at some of the issues with the day laborers downtown.

Work is picking up for a group of men who spend winters living off savings and trying to pass time in one-bedroom apartments.

For day laborers in the Village of Brewster, the change in seasons means a chance to earn up to $100 a day or $10 an hour — a huge jump from the $7 some say they would earn for a day’s work in their home country of Guatemala. For most laborers, the possibility of bringing home those wages is enough to keep them waiting for work, scarce and unpredictable as it is sometimes.

According to 15 men who spoke to Patch with the help of translator Jaemie Caban, the Brewster Police Department’s community affairs officer, working in half-year cycles is the norm for this community of immigrants.

“It’s a struggle to try to get work here in Brewster,” one laborer told Caban.

Most of the men hope their labor culminates in one of two ways: the ability to send money back home to support their families, or the ability to save, so they can improve their own lives here in America.

But neither of those goals are easy to reach given the wages they make and the rent they pay. Dressed in blue jeans, sweatshirts or sweaters, sneakers or work boots and the occasional “New York City” baseball cap, the group of day laborers standing in front of Maximum Deli on a morning in early April chatted back and forth before agreeing on a range of their average annual incomes and housing costs: Between $8,000 and $12,000, and $400 a month, respectively.

Most said they send at least half of the money back to their home countries. Many shook their heads when asked if they always receive their pay.

“It happens often where they get picked up for work and never get paid for the work they did,” Caban explained after listening to the men for a few moments.

The laborers, whose ages range from 20 to 50, said temporary employers sometimes pick them up for what is supposed to be a multi-day construction job. After the first day—which could last beyond eight hours, as one man said there is no “set time”—the workers are dropped off and told they will be paid the next day when they start the second portion of the job. Often times the men, especially ones who are new and still learning the ropes, never see the person who hired them again.

Earlier this month Caban had one laborer come to her in tears because he was not paid the $800 he was promised.

“I told him it was a civil manner,” she said. “I just advised him to try to get a lawyer. There are lawyers out there that would help because this happens often.”

Sometimes employers scare workers from pursuing unpaid wages with threats of contacting Immigration Services. Many of the men Patch spoke with are here illegally; one said that a number of them are trying to get their green cards. According to that day laborer, the financial and time commitments are challenges. He has spent more than $7,000 so far and is waiting on at least two more court appearances.

The Westchester Hispanic Coalition provides resources for immigrants who are trying to attain legal residency. Based in White Plains, the coalition is also a place where laborers can learn their rights and seek assistance in pursuing unpaid wages.

According to Corinne S. Beth, an immigration attorney with the coalition, employers’ threats should be taken with a grain of salt, as people who hire undocumented workers are breaking the law themselves.

“Legally speaking, immigration status is completely irrelevant to the money a person is owed,” she said.

Beth said it is important for the worker to have as much information on the employer as possible for lawyers at the coalition. They will usually call first, then send a demand letter. If neither of those options are successful, the case could go to small claims court.

While Caban was speaking with the men a car pulled up. The driver asked if he was free to hire the men, two of who were already walking toward the vehicle. They hopped in without any questions.

“The majority of the time they don’t get the name,” Caban said. “They’ll take anything.”

The coalition sees new cases like this almost every week, but there are plenty of workers who do not reach out for help, Beth said. The New York State Department of Labor did not return phone calls seeking specifics on the number of unpaid wage claims submitted last year.

Even with the sometimes sporadic payments and unsteady work, many of the laborers said their experiences in America are pleasant.

“What he wants people to see,” Caban translated for a man who answered many of the questions on behalf of the group, “is that … they’re not all bad.”

Federal judges block NY town’s day laborer law

APRIL 26, here 2011, 3:46 P.M. ET
Associated Press

GARDEN CITY, there N.Y. — A new court ruling upholds a preliminary injunction barring a Long Island town from enforcing its day laborer ordinance.

The U.S. Court of Appeals decision, released Tuesday, supports a temporary restraining order against the Town of Oyster Bay.

The 2009 ordinance makes it a crime to solicit employment by shouting at cars and waving arms or signs.

Town officials argued that the law was intended to ensure public safety. Critics say it violates the workers’ rights.

The town runs through the center of Long Island from the Atlantic Ocean to the Long Island Sound.

Town Supervisor John Venditto (vehn-DIH’-toh) said in a statement he’s pleased the court did not reject the ordinance as unconstitutional. He said the town looks forward to a full hearing on the matter in court.

—Copyright 2011 Associated Press

Advocates Support Representative Zoe Lofgren’s Call for Investigation into Se Communities Program

Today California Representative Zoe Lofgren (16th District) called on the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, ICE Director John Morton, as well as the
Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security and ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPD) to investigate ICE’s Se Communities fingerprint-
sharing program in two separate letters. Rights groups NDLON, CCR and Cardozo support Lofgren’s call for an investigation into Se Communities and whether local
jurisdictions and states have the ability to “opt out” of the program.
In her letter to the OPD, Lofgren wrote: “It is unacceptable for government officials to essentially lie to local governments, Members of Congress, and the public…It is critically important you thoroughly investigate this matter and that any misconduct result in real consequences.”
Se Communities has been criticized and condemned throughout the country since it began in 2008. Through to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by NDLON,
CCR and Cardozo in April 2010, a series of documents and internal emails have been released by advocates which have shown dishonesty and confusion among federal and
state officials charged with implementing the program.
“It’s a good thing the former governor of Arizona – the one who originally prod Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s 287(g) contract in the first place – doesn’t get to rule by decree
in Washington, DC,” said Chris Newman, Legal Director for National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
For more information on the FOIA lawsuit, please visit http://ccrjustice.org/se-communities or http://uncoverthetruth.org….

California Advances TRUST Act to Stop Arizonification of Jails

Following Lofgren Investigation, former Arizona Governor Napolitano Flies to California to Defend Discredited Program
(Sacramento, CA) The TRUST Act (AB 1081) sponsored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano passed out of the California public safety committee with all Democrats voting to support it. The bill seeks to repair the damaging impacts of the Immigration Customs Enforcement Agency’s “Se Communities” program. The program has been widely discredited across the country due to the blatant dishonesty exposed in a series of internal emails released by advocates who received them only through litigation under the Freedom of Information Act. Stories of domestic violence survivors and high rates of people still presumed to be innocent being placed into deportation proceedings via its finger-print sharing mechanism further demonstrated how the ICE program’s actual operations are far outside of its Congressional mandate. On Tuesday, a US Citizen testified about being falsely jailed because of the program.
Such developments led California Congresswoman Lofgren to call for an investigation into the program and into how involved ICE Director and DHS Secretary Napolitano may have been in its implementation.
Chris Newman of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network explains, “California will not allow the Arizonification of its law enforcement agencies. The TRUST Act is a modest measure meant to bring some transparency and confidence back to law enforcement after ICE’s rogue effort to enlist police as frontline immigration enforcers. We are confident California lawmakers will step up and create civil rights safeguards that protect our community, even if DHS officials are content to fight among themselves about a program no one fully understands.” …

Following Allegations of ICE Lies, California Bill Would Renegotiate Participation in Se Communities

Ammiano bill would let localities out of troubled S-Comm immigration program;
Testimony from Sheriff, S-comm victims to show program’s harm to public safety
What: Assembly Public Safety Committee Hearing on AB 1081 (Ammiano), the TRUST Act, which would honor the right of local governments to opt out of ICE’s controversial “Se” Communities or S-Comm Program and set basic standards for jurisdictions that choose to participate.
When: Tuesday, April 26, 2011
* Interview availability at 10:30 AM
* Hearing begins at 9:30; TRUST Act may be heard any time during the hearing.
Where: Room 126, California State Capitol, Sacramento; Interview availability in hallway outside room.
Who: (Available at 10:30 AM)
· San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey
· Retired Sacramento Police Chief Arturo Venegas
· Norma – domestic violence victim facing deportation due to S-Comm

· Another person directly impacted by S-Comm (details to be released Tuesday.)
Note that Asm. Ammiano will be available for comment after the conclusion of the hearing.
Media visuals: Dozens of supporters packing the halls, wearing “Stop S-Comm” t-shirts and stickers, dramatic testimony from immigrants who have experienced hardship and fear due to S-Comm
Background: As Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) faces a growing storm of criticism from public officials over its troubled S-Comm program, the Assembly Public Safety Committee will hear a bill that would grant decision-making power to local governments on whether, and how, to relate to the controversial initiative.
The hearing takes place days after Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D- San Jose) called for an investigation into ICE officials’ “dissembling and deceiving” conduct on the question of whether local governments were required to participate in the burdensome program. According to Rep. Lofgren, ICE was “not honest with the local governments or with me.”
Lofgren’s forceful criticism followed the disclosure of hundreds of…

Dealing with cancer: Family deals with radiation effects

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
By Clint Confehr, Senior Staff Writer | Marshall Tribune

PALMETTO — George Mitchell is “tired,” and willing to leave this world. He won’t force it, but he’s signed documents so s can refrain from providing that could save his life.

George, 50, and his family trace his maladies to when he and his brother, Doyce, were boys working for a day labor service that sent them to URC, Uranium Recovery Complex, near their home in Mulberry, Fla. They now live on Jack Pickle Lane, a Lewisburg address that’s just east of Marshall County.

“A lot of my es came from the environment where we grew up,” George said.

George and Doyce shoveled rocks into five-gallon buckets and carried them from one place to another. They didn’t know about radioactivity or what it can do to the human body.

The Mitchells are clear that it’s probably impossible to say with certainty that their es are from URC, a nearby phosphorus plant, the bright Florida sun, the boys’ work with asbestos, or their swimming in surface water of unknown quality.

“We grew up swimming in the water and eating the fish we caught,” George said.

“I just want somebody to benefit from what happened to me,” he said at Dr. Melvin Lewis’s office on Mooresville Highway with the who patched him up from a motorcycle accident in 1982.

Referring to George’s skin cancer, Dr. Lewis confirms information about the sun. It’s an on-going nuclear reaction and sunburn is similar to radiation exposure, so people should take his grandmother’s . She wore a bonnet when working in the cotton fields to protect her skin. Use sunscreen.

“Getting a sun tan is not the best thing to do,” Dr. Lewis said. “Skin is one giant organ over our body. It regulates our fluids and removes toxins from our body. We take our skin for granted too much.”

George always wears long-sleeved shirts now.

Too much sun and exposure to radiation can cause skin cancer, Dr. Lewis said. A Vanderbilt , Dr. Anna Clayton, indicated much the same thing in written remarks in response to questions about George’s health.

“Mr. Mitchell has suffered from a large number of squamous-cell carcinomas, an unusual amount for his age,” Dr. Clayton said.

Squamous cells may appear scaly to the naked eye.

“He continues to undergo periodic evaluation, biopsies, and excisional surgery to remove squamous-cell carcinomas that appear,” Dr. Clayton said.

George has an appointment on May 19. More surgery to remove squamous-cell carcinomas is anticipated. “I don’t know if I want this next surgery done,” he said.

Dr. Clayton continued: “Squamous-cell carcinomas can be caused by exposure to sun as well as radiation and increased numbers of them are reported in patients with significant radiation exposure,” she said.

“He did lose his eye due to squamous-cell carcinoma,” she said of surgery that removed George’s right eye.

Dr. Clayton is an assistant professor of in the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Division of Dermatology. Her office is at 100 Oaks Mall.

The Mitchells’ health became an issue for the Bedford County Board of Zoning Appeals in March 2007 when the panel granted them a temporary use permit on a year-to-year basis that sets aside strict enforcement of zoning codes limiting the number of “principal structures” on less than 15 acres.

The Mitchells have had four. The parents’ house and three mobile homes; one each for the brothers, George, Doyce and Eric. They’ve paid for three permits each year.

Bedford’s director of planning, zoning, building and codes, Chris White, has authority to grant extensions on payment and this year he’s granted leeway for the Mitchells who had been paying $30 for three extra dwellings. The fee per unit went up to $100 before White became director eight months ago.

The increase was “to be more consistent with other counties,” White said. Furthermore, there was abuse of what might be seen as a loophole. White knows it’s not typical to have three permits on one lot, but he also acknowledges the Mitchells’ have a “greater burden.”

Electrical and mechanical breakdowns resulted in George deciding to give his trailer away. He lives in his parents’ house now.

So, as the boys’ mother, Naomi, scrapes money together for the fees from government assistance that sustains the family, she, her husband, Lawrence “Buddy,” and the brothers are frank about their family.

Doyce had a “pouty lip,” Naomi says of her son’s lower lip. It protruded like he was pouting. Now, it’s thin since surgeons removed cancer. When they were eight and 12 years old, her sons went to the beach, riding in the back of a pickup truck and Doyce’s lower lip got sunburned.

She’s fair skinned and sees that and sunlight as a reason for what ails her on her leg. Doyce and George have red hair. George’s is darker, but both have had problems with their skin.

In Florida, Buddy was a carpenter. Much of his work was outside and he has skin lesions on his arms. Naomi was a ’s aide at Lakeland General Hospital.

The Mitchells moved to Palmetto on a suggestion from Sam Parolini of the Belfast Community who grew up with Buddy at Mulberry, Fla. Sam works for a construction company on Fishing Ford Road and is out of state now on a job.

Tennessee’s sunlight, however, seems less punishing than Florida’s Naomi said.

George and Doyce worked at URC for about five weeks.

Asked what she thinks when watching TV news about the nuclear power plant that broke down in Japan during the earthquake, Naomi replied, ” There are going to be a lot of people dying; not right now, but in years to come from the radiation.

“I believe a lot of people who may die… may say it’s from radiation, but the s are not going to say it’s from radiation…”

George has also had surgery to treat an aneurism in his head. There’s another that can’t be treated.

He feels as though he died, but was brought back by medical professionals before surgery for his first aneurism.

George’s face hurts almost all the time, he said. After working in a garden, he comes in and feels like he’s burned by the sun. He refuses to take pain .

“Now,” he said, “I’m tired.”

(Source: Marshalltribune.com)

A White House Immigration Meeting without Immigrants?

Today, the President held a White House meeting on Immigration Reform In response, Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network said,

“While we appreciate the President’s effort to keep immigration reform on the national agenda, his actions belie his intent. We’re greatly disappointed that the meeting didn’t include more voices of immigrants at the table, including representatives of directly affected communities especially the people in the state of Arizona and Georgia where there is a modern day human rights crisis. If the President genuinely wanted to fix the broken immigration system, he would respond to the growing chorus of voices calling for the suspension of the se communities program and move to legalize instead of further criminalize our immigrant communities.”…