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Day Laborers Tell Doubts, Hopes for New Pickup Site

September 29, 1988|HECTOR TOBAR | Times Staff Writer

Day laborers who congregated at the corner of Jackson Street and Broadway in Glendale on Wednesday morning expressed both skepticism and hope about a plan to move them to another location.

About 40 of the laborers gathered in and around the parking lot of a convenience store on Broadway before 8 a.m. when church vans were scheduled to transport them to the Catholic Youth Organization center on San Fernando Road.

"We're always being tricked," said a worker from Mexico who did not want to be identified. "It might be a trap. The migra might show up," he said referring to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Approached Vehicles

Some of the workers said they had come to the street corner early to find work before the vans arrived. When pick-up trucks and other vehicles entered the parking lot or stopped on Jackson Street, groups of laborers approached them and asked for work.

"A lot of the workers don't agree with the plan," said Jorge Herrera, an immigrant from Honduras. "They say that . . . it's going to be harder to find work."

But Mardoqueo Pinto, 36, a laborer from Guatemala, said he believed the plan will work.

"We have faith that the bosses will come," he said in Spanish. "Without faith in God, nothing is possible."

Pinto was one of three representatives elected by the laborers after the Glendale City Council proposed an ordinance in August prohibiting laborers from soliciting work on city property.

Earlier in the week, the workers' representatives and volunteers from the Central American Refugee Center had distributed 150 flyers at the street corner, announcing the move to workers and contractors.

Shortly before the vans arrived Wednesday, Pinto helped distribute another flyer to the workers describing their "rights" and "responsibilities" at the new location.

"Don't throw trash," the flyer said. "Don't flirt with the women. . . . Don't block the sidewalk." Other workers posted signs on street lamps advising contractors of the new location.

Two vans provided by the First United Methodist Church of Glendale made trips between the two sites, taking about 10 workers each. By 9:30 p.m. only a few workers remained near the intersection of Jackson Street and Broadway, standing by some palm trees a block away on Jackson. No laborers were in the area by 2 p.m., indicating that they apparently followed through with the plan to relocate.

Only four contractors arrived in the first hour at the new site, and most of the laborers seemed resigned to losing a day's work.

But others seemed optimistic about the new location, and some said the move will lead to more solidarity among the workers and better treatment from the contractors. Some of the workers spoke of perhaps setting a fixed minimum wage of $6 per hour for certain types of hard labor.

Jose Luis Garcia, a 27-year-old carpenter, said the hourly wages offered by contractors at the Glendale street corner--for jobs such as bricklaying, construction and carpet installation--had dropped in recent months. He said the average wage had fallen from $5.50 to about $4.

"Life has become hard here," Garcia said. "Before the amnesty you got work easy. . . . Now there's less jobs."

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