Day laborers fill a vacuum in the workforce. In a free-market system, these workers, with their supply of labor, fulfill a demand for temporary labor. This is currently a common economic transaction that is being strengthened thanks to day laborer centers.
From the beginning, workers have gathered in corners and near the exits of big hardware stores, and contractors or temporary employers would find them there when they needed their services.
This disorganized system exposed many workers to exploitation, abuse and even despicable aggression, just for being day laborers. At the same time, gatherings of workers in public areas caused concerns among neighbors, both in terms of security and public hygiene.
Day laborer centers managed by nonprofits became the solution. They established a safe system that gave workers peace of mind, while giving contractors and employers an opportunity to quickly access hard-working, inexpensive labor, since they do not have to pay benefits.
Unfortunately, the City of Los Angeles has decided to no longer pay the almost $115,000120,000 it costs for each center. These budget cuts hurt both day laborers and the people seeking their help.
Some of these centers provide services that include teaching English, job training and helping workers join the formal economy.
We think this is a myopic attitude on the part of the city, cutting this funding because it does not recognize the value of the centers as well as of the workers and contractors. In reality, people would have to look for other ways to protect transactions between almost 22,000 day laborers looking for work on a daily basis and employers.
Los Angeles is a city of immigrants that needs to bring them into the economy so they can get ahead with their productivity and contribute with their purchasing power. Closing day laborer centers reflects a lack of municipal commitment toward that goal.