Council to pump $500,000 into day laborer centers

Mark-Viverito announces funding in Bensonhurst

August 4, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito also visited the Bay Community Center to celebrate its success as a job placement center. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas
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Employment centers that find jobs for immigrant day laborers will be getting $500,000 in city funding, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and other officials announced in Bensonhurst on Monday.

Mark-Viverito was joined by Councilmember Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-Elmhurst-Corona), chairman of the Committee on Finance, and Councilmember Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park-Red Hook), chairman of the Committee on Immigration, when she made the announcement at the Bay Community Center on the waterfront at Bay and Shore parkways.

“Day laborers play a fundamental role in the construction, development and growth of our great city,” Mark-Viverito said. “Beyond their hard work day in and day out, these laborers contribute so much to the vibrancy and richness of New York. The funding for this initiative will continue to validate these centers as epicenters of workforce development for this community of workers.”

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The funds are being allocated in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget through the Day Laborer Initiative and will be used for the expansion and development of day laborer centers.

The centers offer dignified physical spaces for day laborers to meet, referrals to job or support services, legal services to address issues such as wage theft, and workforce training, officials said.

The Bay Community Center, where the announcement took place, is one of the city’s oldest day laborer job centers.

Leaders of several immigrant rights organizations, including the Workers Justice Project, the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agency, the New Immigrant Community Empowerment, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the Staten Island Jobs Center, were also on hand for the big news.

“This historic investment in day labor centers is a meaningful step to raise and enforce robust labor standards in an informal sector with non-traditional employment relations,” said Ligia Guallpa, executive director of the Worker’s Justice Project. “It will allow entire communities to set fair wages, better working conditions and will improve the quality of life of workers and their families.”

“The City Council’s allocation of $500,000 for this important initiative signals our commitment to the issues of workers, especially the most marginalized,” Menchaca said. “Day Laborers, as we’ve seen and studied, are facing incredible hurdles to remain employed and provide for themselves and their loved ones. Creating centers where they can access services in their language will prove transformative to their development as workers and as members of our community.”

Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and executive director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, noted that the new funding marks the largest investment by any government entity in day laborer centers.

“Through these centers, more and more workers will be able to connect to employers in need of skilled workers, recover lost wages and access critical support services offered in New York City,” she said.

Jessica Garcia, interim executive director of the New Immigrant Community Empowerment, said the funding will allow the day laborer centers to continue their important mission.

“This historic investment in immigrant workers acknowledges the integral role day laborers play in the economic growth of the city, and the crucial role day laborer centers play in empowering workers with the knowledge and skills they need to negotiate fair wages and ensure safe working conditions,” Garcia said.


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