The Coalition for a Worklink Center, representing various sectors of Long Island’s East End community, seeks to address the tensions that have resulted from the absence of a legitimate hiring site for day laborers, most of whom are recent immigrants.
The Coalition is comprised of business people, educators, members of local clergy and houses of worship, members of non-profit organizations, the East Hampton and Southampton Anti-Bias Task Forces, and other concerned local residents.
Its primary goal is to establish a formal hiring site where local contractors and workers can meet in order to fill and find jobs and, in a regulated and humane environment, continue to carry out the work that residents of the East End deem necessary, thereby helping to maintain the quality of life and standard of living that local residents enjoy.
Throughout the country communities are acknowledging the need for formal hiring sites (also known as hiring halls or shape-up sites), and more and more are being established, in some cases with funding from municipal governments.
An article in the New York Times (January 26, 2006) states that, according to a study of day laborers carried out in 20 states and the District of Columbia, there are “63 day labor centers that operate as hiring halls where workers and employers arrange to meet. These centers, usually created in partnerships with local government or community organizations, often require workers and employers to register, helping to reduce abuses. The centers provide shelter, bathrooms and water—sometimes even English lessons—while workers wait.”
The Coalition recognizes that the need to find a positive and lasting solution to what some sectors of the community perceive as a problem has become urgent. Concerned residents of Southampton Town want to see their local government take a thoughtful and visionary approach to the issue. Because the demand for relatively cheap labor will never disappear—on the part of both contractors and homeowners—and because the demand for paying work will never disappear—on the part of documented and undocumented workers alike—the Coalition believes that the establishment of a formal hiring site is the most tenable, practical, and ethical answer to the question of “What can be done?”
Whatever uniqueness the East End of Long Island may boast in relation to the rest of the country, it does share the need for a workforce that is willing and able to do certain jobs that communities across America deem vital—jobs that currently experience a shortage in the supply of Americans willing to carry them out. The construction, renovation, painting, and landscaping industries all require tremendous numbers of workers in order to handle the volume of work that homeowners—both the wealthy and those belonging to all levels of the large middle class—in the Hamptons demand. The nursery, farming, and vineyard industries, equally vital to the East End community, require a plentiful supply of labor as well.
Given the economic realities and demands of the community, the Coalition believes strongly that a formal hiring site will accomplish a number of positive goals that will benefit the community.
A formal hiring site will:
Encourage the reduction of congestion, noise, and traffic generated by business being conducted in parking lots and on roadsides
* Provide a legitimate, easily accessible location in which contractors and workers can conduct business
* Offer shelter and basic facilities to both contractors and workers
* Foster fair conduct between employers and employees