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Advocating with DC's Day Laborers for a Worker Center in the District
JUFJ works with the Coalition for Worker Center to educate the public about the challenges facing day laborers, reduce regulatory hurdles to protect them from exploitation and wage theft, and build better relationships between day laborers and the rest of the community
What’s the problem?
In Washington D.C., homeowners and contractors have traditionally recruited day laborers at informal gathering points - and increasingly, most workers gather outside of the Home Depot on Rhode Island Avenue NE. On a typical day, between 90 and 120 laborers congregate there in search of work. In such an informal hiring environment, day laborers are vulnerable to exploitation by employers, misunderstandings or confrontations with security officers, businesses, and neighbors, and even the elements. Day laborers, along with a number of other local stakeholders, including representatives from the faith, labor, legal and business communities have advocated for several years for the creation of a worker center as a long-term solution. JUFJ has joined that coalition of groups, and supports the struggle of day laborers for a center.
Faith communities have been a prominent voice for immigrants' and workers' rights in DC. Groups such as Interfaith Worker Justice and the Interfaith Sanctuary Network have been early and strong supporters of a worker center in DC. If Jewish leaders join their Christian counterparts, we will strengthen the interfaith voice calling for immigrant workers' rights in DC.
Many in the Jewish community are immigrants, or are just two or three generations removed from individuals who immigrated to this country. We often know firsthand the challenges and hurtles that accompany immigration. For this reason, Jews have often been prominent advocates for immigrants' rights.
Many members of the DC Jewish community are homeowners or owners of buildings, who may hire contractors to do building, renovation, and maintenance work. The support of these "customers" of the worker center is critical as we advocate together for a center that will benefit workers, contractors, homeowners, and community members alike.
What is JUFJ doing?
The Coalition, together with JUFJ, aims to gather support from community leaders in Ward 5 and around the city. We hope to show city leaders that a broad range of community members would support this important community resource.
The Coalition is organizing delegations to City Council offices to bring this issue to the attention of every councilmember.
The Coalition also urges community leaders and organizations to send letters to Mayor Fenty, to help demonstrate citywide support for this effort.
JFUJ staff and members provide an ongoing meaningful presence at community events and actions designed to keep these issues in the public eye. Read about JUFJ at the National Wage Theft Day of Action here.
What can you do?
Spread the word: Let your congregation, friends, and family know about the vulnerability of day laborers in our own city.
Find out more: Educate yourself - and encourage others to do so - by reading some of the materials in the sidebar of this page.
Contact us: JUFJ will help you take action to advocate for rights for day laborers and the creation of a worker center. Email email@example.com.