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City might drop day-laborer fee

June 18, 2004

Gary Moskowitz

For several years, 50-year-old Don Jose has gone to Glendale's

day-laborer center looking for work, paying the $25 monthly

membership fee necessary to pick up the regular jobs he gets through

the center.

A new city ordinance would change two things for unemployed people

like Jose who regularly come to Glendale looking for day jobs. The


ordinance would eliminate the $25 fee, but also make it illegal for

them to stand on sidewalks or in parking lots to solicit work.

If the City Council approves the ordinance Tuesday, the changes

take effect July 1.

About 180 people regularly use Glendale's Temporary Skilled

Workers Center, 5015 San Fernando Road, and the membership fees have

helped provide $65,000 to pay for the workers who run the center,

which is maintained and operated by Catholic Charities.

Membership dues, combined with $20,000 in city general fund money

and $15,000 in grants, pay for the center now.

The center, however, did not get its usual grants for the coming

fiscal year, so $100,000 in general funds will be used to run it,

said Glendale Police Capt. Mark Distaso, who prepared the report for

Tuesday's council meeting.

"It will be nice not to pay," Jose said. "The benefits are all

here, at the center, anyway. We have water, television, restrooms and

shade. Six years ago, everybody would be in the parking lot [at Home

Depot] or on the street, and would run up to cars to get jobs.

Sometimes, people would fight each other."

The city has an ordinance prohibiting laborers from loitering, but

police have not enforced it because the day-laborer center is not

free, and not all workers can afford the fee, officials said.

The Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund filed a

lawsuit in May against the city for allegedly violating day laborers'

constitutional rights to stand in parking lots or along the street.

Hearings about the lawsuit are pending.

Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Labor Organizing

Network, said the proposal to drop the $25 fee is good news, but the

ordinance allowing police to arrest day laborers for soliciting work

is not. Alvarado's network is the plaintiff in the case against the

city. MALDEF is the legal counsel representing the network, Alvarado


"I think it's a good thing not to charge painful dues, because

workers don't have a lot of money," Alvarado said. "People have to

stand in the streets to express their need for work.

"The fee is not the only issue workers complain about. It's the

issue of favoritism there. Workers say the bosses make the decisions

over who [gets work]. If you complain about the rules, you are asked

to leave."

At this week's City Council meeting, council members voted 4-0 to

approve a recommendation -- submitted by Glendale Police and approved

by city staff -- that proposes dropping the $25 fee and allowing

police to enforce the ordinance.

Mayor Bob Yousefian did not attend Tuesday's meeting and did not

vote. The council will take its final vote next week.

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