Center For Study of Urban Poverty


Worker Centers and Labor Market Outcomes

Over the last three decades, the United States economy has experienced a growing segmentation of the labor market and an increase in the growth of informal and contingent work. A result of the broader economic restructuring of the United States labor market, the demand for day labor has increased, leading to a growing concern over the insecurity and abuses associated with this type of employment (Valenzuela, Theodore, Melendez, and Gonzalez, 2006). However, studies indicate that day labor centers, which have grown throughout the United States, may offer a solution to employment abuses and insecurity, by successfully impacting day labor market outcomes including: employee wages, workplace abuse, and worker health and safety (see Valenzuela, Theodore, Melendez 2007: Valenzuela, Theodore, Melendez, Gonzalez 2006; Gonzalez and Valenzuela 2007; Fine 2005; Milkman 2007). Currently there are over 60 day labor worker centers operating in at least 15 states throughout the nation (Valenzuela, Theodore, Melendez 2008). Day labor centers are “loosely regulated hiring sites where workers may seek employment under relatively structured conditions” (Valenzuela 2003: 4) and “where day laborers are encouraged to congregate and employers are encouraged to find workers” (Theodore, Valenzuela, Melendez 2007: 2). Studies have indicated that worker centers play an important role in responding to the employment and workplace abuses often found in the day labor market (Valenzuela, Theodore, Melendez 2007; Fine 2005). As Valenzuela et al. (2007) note, worker centers offer a response on the demand side by “offer[ing] a way to monitor the practices of employers and to curtail abuses such as wage theft and exposure to unsafe conditions” (page 4). At the same time, “They also represent a response on the supply side by organi[zing] and normaliz[ing] the hiring of day laborers, monitor worker quality, and provide opportunities for worker incorporation into the mainstream economy through employment assistance and in some cases, skills training” (Valenzuela, Theodore, Melendez 2007: 4).

Worker Center and Labor Market Outcomes.pdf — PDF document, 322Kb

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