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Day Labor Project Seeks Dignity for Industry

This is an article from the National Interfaith Committee on Worker Justice's Newsletter.
Every day in Chicago, thousands of people wait hours for the opportunity to be assigned and transported to jobs at local warehouses, factories, janitorial service companies, and other places in the metro area. Day Labor promises
these workers flexible schedules and an opportunity for work, but workers describe an exploitive system through which they are often discriminated against, are underpaid, and become trapped in a cycle of poverty. Many day laborers say that they earn less than $5.50 an hour, with no benefits, are forced to pay for company transportation, and are asked to sign waivers at the beginning of the day saying that they were not hurt on the job that day. The Day Labor Project, which includes the Chicago Interfaith Committee on Worker Issues, the Coalition for the Homeless, and Chicago Jobs with Justice, held a speak-out at San Lucas United Church of Christ. The more than 200 attendees heard from day laborers about their conditions and legislators and religious leaders pledged their support for the campaign.

After the speak-out, workers and allies rallied outside of Trojan Day Labor, one of the most abusive day labor employers in Chicago, according to workers. As a result of the rally, a delegation met with Trojan president Dan McAnnar at St. Sylvester’s Catholic Church. The delegation described McAnnar as “defensive,” but by the end of the meeting, Mr. McAnnar agreed to comply with the law, limiting transportation costs to three percent of the daily wage.

According to the delegation, McAnnar also promised not to engage in union busting, and to work with day laborers on work assignments that don’t discriminate according to race or gender. McAnnar now denies this and the group continues to pressure him on these issues.

For more information about the project, to learn about a model for Day Labor Advocacy in your community, or to be involved in Chicago, contact Christopher Blinn, (773) 728-8400.



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