Workers Center in Ward 5
In the District, on a typical day between 80-100 laborers of diverse backgrounds, primarily people of African-American and Latino descent congregate in the vicinity of the Rhode Island Place Shopping Center in Ward 5 in search of work. Many of these individuals live in Ward 5. This shopping center has become the nexus of D.C.’s day labor economy. The fact that day laborers do not have an officially designated space where they can freely seek work has only served to make the situation more challenging for all stakeholders, including workers, neighbors, businesses, and local authorities.
For several years day laborers, along with a number of other local stakeholders, including representatives from the faith, labor, legal and business communities have advocated for the creation of a workers center as a long-term solution.
A workers center would provide employment services that meet the needs of unemployed and underemployed community members in Ward 5, as well as residents from other wards of the city, provide an orderly and just hiring process for contingent workers, establish a basic facility at Home Depot that would provide dignity and protection from the weather, and that would serve as a community-based vehicle for facilitating understanding around the day labor issue. Such a center would bring greater safety and security to day laborers while meeting the concerns both of businesses in the shopping center and neighbors in the surrounding area.
Establishing a center where workers and contractors/employers could access each other in a way that protects workers’ rights and safety would benefit Ward 5 residents, as well as the overall D.C. community, and particularly lower income constituencies. Such an institution in the nation’s capital would have the potential to be a model showcasing how employment and training services for African-Americans, Latinos, and other under-served groups can be incorporated together in a single, inclusive facility. Sign this petition to indicate your support for this project.