El Diario NY

The Bloomberg administration has announced—several times over the last couple of years—that a report on day laborers would be presented “soon.”


Last week, it released a report from the city’s day labor commission. Then it quickly retracted it, saying that some concerns were brought to the attention of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, which oversees the commission.


Bloomberg and the New York City Council established the commission to study the prospect of creating day labor centers. But the commission’s recommendations for action are late by at least two years.


Who is at fault for the stalling is unclear. What is certain is that day laborers are suffering in this long, irresponsible delay.


Day laborers are vulnerable to exploitation by the employers who contract them. Too many times, they are cheated out of pay or exposed to dangerous working conditions. Recently, police rounded up day laborers in Queens after neighbors complained about them.


We agree with Councilman Miguel Martinez when he called the report incomplete. There is no mention of centers or a specific plan that the administration and Council should commit to concretely address the needs of day laborers. Rather, there are broad calls for supporting programs and services.


Because many day laborers are undocumented, the issue of responding to them effectively and using public funds to do so has stirred controversy is some parts.


But research shows that day labor centers, by providing a formal atmosphere, help prevent worker abuse and reduce community conflict. That outcome merits public funds, as well as the private and foundation money the administration regularly taps for other endeavors.

Controversy has not prevented several cities from helping day laborers. New York City should be among those cities—not “soon”, but now.

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