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The new faces of day labor
November 11, 2009 2:34 PM   Subscribe

It sounds like a George Lopez joke. “Times are so bad that I saw an Anglo day laborer standing outside Home Depot the other day.” Except it’s true.
posted by Joe Beese (31 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Bernabe said organizers came across one case where a local sheriff had been sending officers to answer complaints about day laborers and then found one day that the sheriff’s neighbor, a citizen, was among them. Police in that area have been less likely to harass laborers since then, he said. These events will occur more, changing people’s attitudes in the process, he said.

“For a long time, people have looked at day laborers and said, ‘The problem is the immigrants.’ Now the economy is changing. Now people may see it’s a problem of the labor market, of the rights of workers,” Bernabe said.


I'm not sure I'm as optimistic as he is, but it sure would be a wonderful outcome if people switched from being rabidly anti-immigrant to being pro-worker's rights.
posted by Forktine at 2:40 PM on November 11, 2009


Damn Anglos, taking Hispanic jobs!
posted by emjaybee at 2:41 PM on November 11, 2009 [13 favorites]


I can't believe they waste six paragraphs getting to the part where they speculate on Lou Dobbs' reaction.
posted by Rat Spatula at 2:42 PM on November 11, 2009


Instead, Buchanan has found himself defending the rights of his fellow laborers on more than one occasion. One day, a man tried to hire a bunch of them for $5 an hour. Again, Buchanan pulled out the “citizen card.” But this time, he was telling the other person that he, a U.S. citizen, knew about minimum wage laws, and was going to make sure those laws were followed. “I said, ‘You want me to write down your license plate number?’ ” Buchanan recalled. The guy drove away.

Now, he said, “I get along with everybody here.”


Wonderful.

Forktine: it is almost axiomatic in politics that in a tough economic climate, Nativism increases. But we can be the change we want in the world.
posted by honest knave at 2:45 PM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Shit...you mean Latinos are people too? Hooo boy is my face red.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 2:46 PM on November 11, 2009


At least they're all getting into heaven.
posted by Iridic at 2:47 PM on November 11, 2009


When I lived in Chicago, there was a pick-up work spot entirely frequented by (pointedly, non-immigrant) African-American guys. I chatted to them sometimes when I passed; they seemed very kind, hard-working and they stood in the cold or the heat all day just for a slim chance to make a few bucks to feed their families. Of course, I've seen plenty of similar spots where Hispanic workers congregate, all over America. The "anglo" thing is hardly new - plenty of places like that have existed for years in America - there was a café in Chicago where white tradesman would sit and have coffee all day, and other folks would come in and hire them to do the odd carpentry or plumbing job. It's easy to be sympathetic to anyone in this sad situation, and it's heartbreaking that anyone so desperate for any kind of work should be so immensely denied.

I don't doubt that there is a recent explosion in this sort of thing, but the fact that it's newsworthy simply because the white workers are becoming more noticeable is something I'm largely unsympathetic to in and of itself. I'm sure the numbers of minority groups seeking work in this fashion is exploding as well - and probably to a greater degree. The jobless rate for "someone like me," as calculated from a link in a post from a few days ago, is 3.6%. That's hardly unemployment at all, historically speaking.

Also, George Lopez has never really been funny, has he?
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 2:51 PM on November 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


“Before, I was part of the majority. Now I’m part of the minority ... I’m not going to forget this. I’m not going to forget any of this.”

Kumbaya is a great song, and I'mma sing it with you, but you have majority and minority reversed there, chief.
posted by Rat Spatula at 2:56 PM on November 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


Dee: the issue of ethnicity & immigration is worth talking about because so many of the other indicators tell us that this recession is making our country more divided along racial, educational, geographic and economic lines.

The issues of ethnicity & immigration are worth talking about because even in a recession, we should never lose sight of how our actions how shape our society long-term, never give up our hope for a fairer, kinder America.
posted by honest knave at 3:00 PM on November 11, 2009


One day, a man tried to hire a bunch of them for $5 an hour. Again, Buchanan pulled out the “citizen card.” But this time, he was telling the other person that he, a U.S. citizen, knew about minimum wage laws, and was going to make sure those laws were followed. “I said, ‘You want me to write down your license plate number?’ ” Buchanan recalled. The guy drove away.

So he ran off a potential source of employment? Congratulations, buddy! I'm sure your newfound amigos are very grateful for your support.
posted by brain_drain at 3:02 PM on November 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Joe Beese: It sounds like a George Lopez joke.

That's not funny.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:03 PM on November 11, 2009


That's not funny.

Ok, if it's not funny it's like a Carlos Mencia joke.
posted by qvantamon at 3:05 PM on November 11, 2009 [8 favorites]


Datapoint: I'm a white male who has a cushy office/tech job. After college, and between jobs, I often went to the local Labor Ready office to pick up some cash. I'd get about $45 for 8 hours of drone work at a construction site or industrial facility. That's chump change, of course, but it enabled me to work a few days a week to get gas and food money and then not be obligated to come in if I had a job interview or other engagement. Granted, sitting around in a waiting room is easier than the outside on the esplanade across from the hardware store, but I do value the experience of being on the low end of the economic scale (for a time). I saw some pretty hard luck cases in the few months I worked there and learned a lot about effectively dealing with rough people. Anyway, just because white people are now seen doing this in places where Hispanics traditionally are seen doesn't make the basic premise a new thing.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:06 PM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


he was telling the other person that he, a U.S. citizen, knew about minimum wage laws, and was going to make sure those laws were followed.

brain_drain, that was my first thought to. $5 per hour is better than $0 per hour. I get what he's saying here ... that he wanted to make sure that everyone's rights were respected ... but I'm a little surprised that he now "gets along with everyone" there. Its not like the guy was going to hire them to do something crazy-dangerous or illegal and he saved the group from certain injury or death. He just ... cost them work.
posted by anastasiav at 3:08 PM on November 11, 2009


I totally would have done this between college and grad school if I'd been somewhere that day labor had been available. Then again, I was in my early-mid 20s at the time and living in a town where work was scarce. Now? NowI don't know that I'd last a week doing that kind of work.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:12 PM on November 11, 2009


Before, I was part of the majority. Now I’m part of the minority ... I’m not going to forget this.

That may not be absolutely true now, but it is true that the U.S. is moving toward a population which is majority "of color." As a recent Brooking Institute study (has link to full report in pdf format) observes:

Racial and ethnic minorities are driving the nation’s population growth and increasing diversity among its younger residents. Hispanics have accounted for roughly half the nation’s population growth since 2000. Already, racial and ethnic minorities represent 44 percent of U.S. residents under the age of 15, and make up a majority of that age group in 31 of the nation’s 100 largest metro areas (and a majority of the entire population in 15)
posted by bearwife at 3:25 PM on November 11, 2009


See, this is why I should be dictator of the world. After I declare that jello will be eaten at every meal, I'll follow up with a declaration that from now on, there will be no immigration restrictions and everyone will be free to move to get work -- but any violations of minimum wage law will result in the employer being put to death.
posted by jb at 3:27 PM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


but I'm a little surprised that he now "gets along with everyone" there. Its not like the guy was going to hire them to do something crazy-dangerous or illegal and he saved the group from certain injury or death. He just ... cost them work.

How do you know? Do you consider roofing dangerous? How about falling off of a roof?
posted by Max Power at 3:38 PM on November 11, 2009


, the real racial job-shift I've noticed here in NYC is more and more older, white cabdriver. I figure they own the medallions and are taking shifts they'd normally lease out. Or something. I see a lot more managers working behind the bar or counter too, but that could just be confirmation bias.
posted by The Whelk at 3:41 PM on November 11, 2009


I did "light industrial temping" for a while. The good gigs were setting up conventions or hauling carpet with fairly rough coworkers for minimum wage. A bad day: cleaning ink off the presses at the newspaper (which ruins your clothes). Or this: I show up at 6am (you have to be here by 6:30am max if you want to get a job for that day, which doesn't start until 8:30am.)

We're outside in the parking lot of a new retail building, sorting pieces of cut aluminum in mixed rain and snow, just this 60-ish black guy and me (then young, still white). We hump it, out of honor and wanting to keep warm, so by 11 we're done. OK, good job, here's your money: $12.50. We don't got any other work, thanks for coming in.
posted by msalt at 3:59 PM on November 11, 2009


One day, a man tried to hire a bunch of them for $5 an hour. Again, Buchanan pulled out the “citizen card.” But this time, he was telling the other person that he, a U.S. citizen, knew about minimum wage laws, and was going to make sure those laws were followed. “I said, ‘You want me to write down your license plate number?’ ” Buchanan recalled. The guy drove away.

Yeah, I'm with brain_drain, I don't think Buchanan "gets" how day labor works.
posted by hamida2242 at 4:05 PM on November 11, 2009


but I'm a little surprised that he now "gets along with everyone" there

I'm thinking they smile big and wide at him until his back is turned.
posted by Rat Spatula at 4:16 PM on November 11, 2009


The 50-year-old describes himself as a “food and beverage” guy with 30 years in a string of restaurants, hotels and casinos ..
I get the impression that he's not as interested in Laboring as he is in managing Mexicans.

Watch him become some sort of Union Leader of illegals.
posted by minimalmark at 4:22 PM on November 11, 2009


Its not like the guy was going to hire them to do something crazy-dangerous or illegal and he saved the group from certain injury or death.

Um, he was going to hire them to do something illegal.
posted by The World Famous at 4:31 PM on November 11, 2009


Well, he was going to illegally hire them to do something of unknown legality.
posted by Rat Spatula at 4:37 PM on November 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


is $10/hr to paint the new guy legal??
(it meets minimum wage requirements)
posted by minimalmark at 4:46 PM on November 11, 2009


...that was my first thought to. $5 per hour is better than $0 per hour...

Arise, Mighty MeFites! There is one of those libertarian sorts in our midst showing disregard for minimum wage laws!

GET HIM!
posted by codswallop at 4:50 PM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Rat Spatula: "I can't believe they waste six paragraphs getting to the part where they speculate on Lou Dobbs' reaction."

He was so upset that he quit CNN.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:51 PM on November 11, 2009


Times are so bad that I saw an Anglo day-laborer Lou Dobbs standing outside Home Depot the other day.

Lou Dobbs, Friend of Immigrants, Quitting CNN
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 4:54 PM on November 11, 2009


The 50-year-old describes himself as a “food and beverage” guy with 30 years in a string of restaurants, hotels and casinos ..
I get the impression that he's not as interested in Laboring as he is in managing Mexicans.

Watch him become some sort of Union Leader of illegals.
posted by minimalmark at 4:22 PM on November 11 [+] [!]


What the hell?
posted by azpenguin at 4:58 PM on November 11, 2009


Rat Spatula: "I can't believe they waste six paragraphs getting to the part where they speculate on Lou Dobbs' reaction."

He was so upset that he quit CNN.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:51 PM on November 11 [+] [!]

Hoorraayy! Now I can watch CNN on the treadmill during that time slot!
posted by xorry at 5:09 PM on November 11, 2009


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