Friday, February 03, 2006

Maryland Day Laborers

Day laborers rally for safety, fair pay
Professors’ study finds 11 percent of day laborers complain about police treatment and 20 percent have been hurt on job
by Jeffrey K. Lyles
Maryland Gazette

Nearly 150 day laborers participated in a forum on Saturday designed to discuss altercations with Riverdale Park’s police department and to review the findings of a nationwide study on their plight.

The Riverdale Park Day Laborers organized the forum, which was held at St. Bernard’s Church in Riverdale Park.

The study was also geared toward understanding the result of the study that said 11 percent of workers complain about bad treatment from the police and 50 percent about failure by employers to pay them their wages.

‘‘We are victims of prosecution by the local government and individuals who complain and protest the presence of immigrants in this country,” said Riverdale Park day laborer Ricardo Chavez Valle.

Professors Abel Valenzuela of UCLA and Nick Theodore of the University of Illinois conducted their study of the country’s 117,000 day laborers from July to August 2004.

Among other highlights of the study were that one in 20 day laborers have been injured at the work place and that 50 percent of workers have not received just compensation or proper medical care.

‘‘They take advantage of the service of day laborers,” said Pablo Alvarado, coordinator of the National Day Laborer Network headquartered in Los Angeles. ‘‘These workers are not disconnected from society as some would think.”

Kimberley Propeack, advocacy director for CASA of Maryland Inc. in Silver Spring, said the very nature in which day laborers are hired lends itself to dishonest employers taking advantage of them.

‘‘There’s often very limited information on the employer and the day laborer can’t find them later to get the proper wages,” Propeack said. ‘‘One of the requirements we’ve established in Baltimore is to have the employer provide their name and home address.”

CASA has a list of employers who are not allowed to hire workers through its day laborer center because of their unfair compensation policies, Propeack said.


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