Day labor lawsuit resolved

 By Barbara Diamond

Coastline Pilot

The city of Laguna Beach has been victorious in a long-running action brought by Eileen Garcia charging that the day labor site on Laguna Canyon Road violated federal immigration laws and was a misuse of public funds.

The court decision was one of six in which the city was victorious in recent weeks, sick City Atty. Philip Kohn announced at the Dec. 2 council meeting.

“Garcia and others appealed the trial court decision in which the city had prevailed and a judgment had been entered,” Kohn said. “The trial court judgment was upheld.”

Opposition to the day labor center became a hot issue with folks dedicated to stopping illegal immigration.

In January 2006, the Minutemen rallied at the site and appeared at the Jan. 10 City Council meeting to protest the day labor center. Garcia was among the speakers.

The next month, Garcia applied for participation in the Patriot’s Day Parade, which was denied. The Minutemen went to court, but the judge ruled that the parade committee had the right to regulate participants.

Garcia then discovered in 2006 that Caltrans actually owned the parcel on which the day labor center operated and informed the agency. Caltrans ordered the center closed June 29. In July, the city signed a one-year lease for the use of the parcel.

Unable to sway city officials, Garcia and others took legal action in 2007. The case was assigned to be heard in November by Judge H. Warren Siegel.

City Manager Ken Frank said the city’s options were limited if the plaintiffs prevailed. Options included appealing the decision, designating another site, or rescinding the city ordinance that stipulates the present location of the center in the canyon.

“If we rescind the ordinance, the day workers can congregate wherever they want on public property,” City Manager Ken Frank said at the time. “Damn stupid.”

Under city law, day laborers are only allowed to solicit work at the designated site on Laguna Canyon Road.

Complaints by North Laguna residents about the disturbance of neighborhood tranquillity by the job seekers and potential employers led city officials to designate the canyon site as a day labor center in 1993. The South Coast Cross Cultural Council subsequently took over the operation, funded annually by a city grant and private donations.

Day Laborers Give Back to Pomona! Clean Up of the Historic Casa Primera!

Pomona Economic Opportunity Center

For Immediate Release

Day Laborers Give Back to Pomona! Clean Up of the Historic Casa Primera!

Contact: Suzanne Foster 

Pomona Economic Opportunity Center (PEOC)
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)
Institute of Popular Education of Southern California (IDEPSCA)
Central American Resource Center (CARECEN)
National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON)

Casa Primera
1659 N. Park Ave.
Pomona, CA 91768

Thursday, click September 4th, 2008
9:00 am Press Conference
Clean Up of Casa Primera the rest of the morning

(Pomona, CA) Day laborers from across Los Angeles County will host a local community
volunteer effort in Pomona on Thursday, September 4 as part of a national campaign —
“Echando Raices” or “Growing Roots”—sponsored by members of the National Day Laborer
Organizing Network. Along with the beautification of the local community, the day laborers
will promote tolerance, understanding and respect for immigrants and their families. They
will be volunteering their efforts to clean-up the “Casa Primera,” the first house built in the
Pomona Valley in 1837. Contributing towards the beautification of the Pomona community
is a priority for the day laborers that live and work here. The volunteer day will be done in
memory of a long-time member of the Pomona Day Labor Center who recently passed away, David Villalta.

According to leading experts, approximately 117,000 day laborers seek and receive
work every day in cities and towns across the country. Despite the undeniable demand for
their services, day laborers’ rights are routinely violated, as they are underpaid by employers and attacked by vigilantes. In this politically charged climate, day laborers have organized to improve their communities and to defend their basic rights. They have created worker centers, designated areas, and organized street corners to respond to local concerns about day laborer hiring, to hold employers accountable, and to participate in political decisions about their lives.

“In the face of weak economic times and the abuses often directed against them, day
laborers have organized to give back to the community in which they live, work, and raise
their families,” said Suzanne Foster, director of the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center. She continued, “The day laborers are particularly excited about beautifying a local historical site so that the public may enjoy it and learn about the history of Pomona.”

A better day-labor market

Councilman Parks’ ordinance would improve conditions for neighborhoods and those who seek work outside home-improvement stores.

By Abel Valenzuela Jr.
August 13, 2008

The Los Angeles City Council is scheduled to vote today on an ordinance that would help mitigate community concerns over men searching for work at large home improvement stores. This ordinance, which The Times opposed in an Aug. 10 editorial, deserves support as an example of creative and thoughtful local public policy. It is a way to make certain that home improvement stores are a part of the solution by engaging the private sector in a community partnership.

Los Angeles has been at the forefront of effective and innovative policy interventions to address the day-labor practice, including establishing worker centers — gathering places sanctioned by municipalities that allow workers and employers to come together to exchange wages for work.

The proposed ordinance by Councilman Bernard C. Parks would neither mandate that home improvement stores pay for day-labor centers nor place a new burden on taxpayers. It would only require that if a conditional-use permit is awarded to a big-box home improvement store — which would be needed for new construction or major renovation — that a plan be in place to diminish problems that might arise when unemployed men search for jobs near the premises. One of the ways to do this might be to establish a worker center.

For more than 10 years, I’ve researched the day-labor market, including the efficacy of worker centers. My research shows that these centers are the most effective policy response to an otherwise unregulated day-labor economy. Worker centers are low-cost community assets that resolve local tensions while improving worker reliability and increasing worker safety. They help ensure that workplace rights are respected and that employers get the best and most reliable workers. They also involve communities in resolving a local issue that impacts them.

Some of the oldest and most effective worker centers are supported by and located in the city of Los Angeles, including the one outside the Home Depot store in the Cypress Park area north of downtown Los Angeles, and the one located at Exposition and Sawtelle boulevards in West L.A. The methods and programs to create the more than half a dozen worker centers in L.A. have been replicated in other cities because of the host of benefits to both workers and consumers, such as better wages, an orderly hiring process and more reliable workers.

Centers provide a safe place to pick up workers. My studies have found that injuries significantly decrease. And worker centers go a long way toward mitigating some of the misperceptions and tensions that arise over men searching for work in public spaces or nearby industries.

Often such centers have become a focal point in the volatile debate over immigration. But my research on day labor shows that there is an increasing number of U.S.-born citizens participating in this market, not only in Los Angeles but across the nation. This number can be expected to rise as unemployment increases and more workers of different backgrounds search for work through various outlets, including day labor. As our economy continues to falter, alternative employment searches will rise.

Searching for work in open-air street markets has a long history in the United States; think dockworkers, agricultural workers and now construction workers. Its current manifestation speaks directly to our national economy and the demands of employers who prefer temporary workers. As more unemployed workers search for jobs in this manner, policies that promote a fair and inclusive process must be applied to an old problem.

Worker centers are the best approach to alleviating some of the most difficult tensions that can arise when men search for employment at home improvement stores or elsewhere. The goal of resolving community conflicts over day labor requires that all stakeholders, including big-box home improvement stores that attract day laborers, come together and assume their responsibility as community partners.

Parks’ ordinance promotes a creative and humane alternative and ensures that future day-worker centers are created with public, private and nonprofit collaboration.

Abel Valenzuela Jr. is a UCLA professor and the director of the university’s Center for the Study of Urban Poverty.

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“Day Laborers and Home Depot”

New York Times Editorial

Published: August 12, health 2008
It’s rare, in the parched landscape of the immigration debate, to come across policies that are simple, realistic and humane. But here is one: The Los Angeles City Council is expected to vote on Wednesday on an ordinance requiring big-box home-improvement stores to protect order and safety when day laborers gather in their parking lots looking for work.

The ordinance is primarily aimed at Home Depot, which has 11 stores in Los Angeles and would like to open at least a dozen more. It would require new or renovating stores to have a plan for what to do when the day laborers show up, as they almost always do when Home Depot moves in.

Like any land-use law governing things like parking-lot lighting, curbs and sidewalks, the ordinance treats milling crowds of laborers and idling trucks as an integral fact of Home Depot’s business that should be managed before it becomes chaotic and hazardous. The solution is basic prevention, and could be as simple as setting up an area somewhere on store property with shade, toilets, drinking water and trash cans.

Opposition has erupted from the usual camps. Not all day laborers are undocumented immigrants or even immigrants, but a lot of them are, and the thought of doing anything that would make their lives easier makes some restrictionists howl and clutch their chests. “Lounges for Laborers?” one headline read.

The ordinance is as much for Home Depot’s customers and neighbors as it is for laborers. Nobody likes parking-lot free-for-alls. And lawlessness goes down, not up, when a hiring site imposes order on the ad-hoc day-labor market.

The immigration system, as it is currently malfunctioning, creates lots of problems. Solutions tend to be hugely ambitious and unrealistic — like restrictionists’ calls to lock down a 2,000-mile border and deport millions. Los Angeles’s proposed ordinance to require more orderly hiring sites for day laborers is a small measure that makes a huge amount of sense. We hope the Council approves it.

Unpaid Day Laborers Speak Out




It’s an issue that rarely is talked about but now the problem is getting bigger. Day laborers doing weeks of work for contractors but not getting paid.

Some Guatemalan day laborers say they were hired by northern Virginia contractors who didn’t pay them for as much as two weeks of work. “They promise you’ll get paid on Friday and then you don’t get paid and you count on that money coming in, ” said day laborer Juan Aguilar.

Aguilar says it’s happened to him three times in the last six months. “It’s a great injustice because we are all just humans, sick ” he said. Since the day laborers are paid in cash and are in the country illegally, treat they have no recourse. “The only thing I want is for them to pay me because I actually worked,” said Nelson Dominguez.

“I think it’s disgusting for someone to take advantage of the most vulnerable people in our society,” said Realtor George Torres, a friend of the workers. “They know these people have no rights.” Torres befriended the men and was shocked to hear their story. “Yeah, they shouldn’t be here, but there’s a need for them, there’s a niche. If there wasn’t, they wouldn’t be here,” he said.

ABC 7’s Andrea McCarren went to see contractor Mike Caso. He allegedly owes Juan Aguilar $2,000 and Aguilar’s brother Rolando $700. ”I have no knowledge of it,” Caso said. Caso says he spent the $2,000 getting a friend of Juan’s out of jail. He says now he tries to hire only Americans. McCarren also ventured to the home of E2E Enterprises, where the owner’s sister said the workers were lying. “Whoever you’re talking about, I have no idea,” said Carol Whitehurst with E2E Enterprises.

When asked if the company hires illegal workers, Whitehurst responded, “I’m not giving you the details in what’s going on. I know what’s going on but I’m not telling you.” Juan Aguilar showed some photos of his family to McCarren,”This is my wife and this is my two kids. That’s why I’m here.” The day laborers said to cross the border into the U.S., they clung to the side of moving trains and walked for miles. Now, the day laborers say they just want to go home.