Monday, January 23, 2006

Study Confirms Dangerous Conditions and Exploitation of Immigrant Day Laborers

The pervasiveness of wage violations and dangerous working conditions was the most surprising finding to the professors who conducted the first nationwide study on day laborers.
The study found that 73 percent said they were placed in hazardous working conditions, like digging ditches, working with chemicals, or on roofs or scaffolding. The report said that employers often put day laborers into dangerous jobs that regular workers were reluctant to do - often with minimal training and safety equipment.

One-fifth said that in the past year they had suffered injuries requiring medical attention, and 60 percent of that group said their injuries caused them to miss more than a week of work.

The study, "On The Corner: Day Labor in the United States," was conducted by professors from the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of California, Los Angeles and New York's New School University.

"Day laborers continue to endure unsafe working conditions, mainly because they fear that if they speak up, complain, or otherwise challenge these conditions, they will either be fired or not paid for their work," the report said.

Among day laborers injured on the job during the previous year, 54 percent said they had not received the medical care they needed, mostly because they could not afford health care or the employer refused to cover them under the company's workers' compensation insurance.
The survey, which was based on interviews with 2,660 workers at 264 hiring sites in 20 states and the District of Columbia, also found that three-fourths of day laborers were illegal immigrants and that more than half said employers had cheated them on wages in the previous two months.

Update: The full study can be found here.