Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Day Labor Center in Aurora

I've had the greatest experience this week volunteering at the Day Labor site in Aurora. The site is located in a parking lot with the owner's permission. My father is a member of the Electrical Workers union (IBEW). I know that I have reaped the benefits of the organizing of previous generations. I view this opportunity to help out the site as an opportunity to pay back that debt.The workers at the site have organized to ask $10/hour. They negotiate together with employers.Before, the workers were making only $5 or $6 an hour. I believe that supporting others in their crusade to organize will drive wages up and helps to put all workers on the same playing field. Some of the police and the city attorney are taking the side of Temporary businesses in the area.http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_6024604These businesses charge employers $10-16 dollars an hour and then pay the worker only $5 or $6. So, as in all other labor struggles, the government has sided with business and has begun using its authority to intimidate.The police have threatened to call Immigration. The city attorney has threatened to cite the property owner using a code that says Temporary Employment Offices cannot be located within 1500 feet of each other. The police assume people don't have papers, based on what they couldn't tell us.The city attorney may not be aware that Temporary Employment Offices are defined as:"Temporary employment office means a business office engaged in procuring, for a fee, employment for others and employees for employers on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis." (Sec 46-2001 of Aurora Zoning Code)This means that the day labor site is NOT a Temporary Employment Office and so the statute does not apply. A more sinister possibility is that maybe the city attorney did know the definition of a Temporary Employment Office and hoped that we did not. Intimidation will not work. It is my hope that the attorney and the chief of police, as well as the owner of the business, will meet with us so we can negotiate an end to the conflict just as many of my predecessors negotiated with corporations.

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