From Philly to Dallas, groups of work-seeking individuals gather in unofficially designated areas looking for a day’s wages.
City officials in Dallas have identified 12 locations where the hopeful informally gather, typically in parking or vacant lots, the Dallas Morning News reports.
The Budget, Finance and Audit Committee recently suggested to city council that Dallas take a cue from nearby towns such as Denton, Garland and Plano and formalize those sites — with a city-operated day labor center.
Such centers can be municipally operated, with on-site city employees, and serve as a place where outside organizations provide services such as English classes and HIV testing.
Garland’s facility cost $71,834 to operate last year, and Plano’s cost $205,442. Each saw 28,953 and 30,985 day laborers, respectively. Unfortunately, the Dallas plan is controversial in terms of funding because so many residents associate day laborers with unregistered immigrants.
Despite potential gripes, committee members see the Dallas center as an opportunity to introduce programs that could improve the community overall.
Other major cities have facilitated the lives of day laborers with the opening of similar centers. In 2002, the UCLA Downtown Labor Center opened and with it the location of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, initially beginning with six communities in California and expanding to 36 nationwide. Sites such as Tucson’s Southside Worker Center use online tools to register day laborers for work.
Marielle Mondon is an editor and freelance journalist in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia City Paper, Wild Magazine, and PolicyMic. She previously reported on communities in Northern Manhattan while earning an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University.