This week on
His work raises interesting and troubling questions about the changing nature of work and the dynamics of race and class in American cities. Day laboring includes both jobs assigned by employment agencies that specialize in “work today, get paid today” labor, mostly in construction and landscaping, and the jobs workers get by standing on the right street corner and being picked up by a homeowner or contractor. In both cases, workers are at risk of workplace accidents, because the workers often have neither safety equipment nor safety training, and many don’t speak English. Worse, they run the risk of not getting paid at all, and when they do get paid, they usually receive just the minimum wage. Many of these workers are homeless and battling drug and alcohol addictions. Several organizations are conducting research and organizing to protect day laborers, among them the Day Labor Research Institute.
The problems facing day laborers have been exacerbated by immigration and the rapid growth of some cities, like
All of this may feel distant from