A good day’s work | VailDaily.com

A good day’s work

Special to the Daily by Jim NoelkerAbout half of all day laborers in the U.S. are hired by private homeowners. Construction companies are next at about 43 percent, followed agriculture and landscaping companies. This man is working in a Grand Valley fruit field.

Pianos are heavy and if you try to move yours by yourself you’re going to end up scooping up your spleen with a stick and spoon. Your buddies are tapped out, so you rent a truck and hire a couple guys to do the work for you.About half of those hiring day laborers are private homeowners, according to the first national study of day labor employees and employers. The No. 1 employers of day laborers are private homeowners – not construction contractors, not professional landscapers.”Day labor is not a niche market,” said Abel Valenzuela, a UCLA professor and one of study’s three authors. “It’s now entering different aspects of the national mainstream economy.”The Colorado Department of Labor got out of the day labor business almost two decades ago. The local office in Edwards suggests working through a temp agency that pays workers compensation insurance in case one of your workers get hurt on the job. If you hire them off the street and they’re injured, you’re going to take the hit, or your insurance premiums take a hit.Some agencies, like Eagle Valley Temps, pay their employees on a weekly basis just like any employees, deducting taxes and everything else that gets yanked from your take-home pay.In this area, some day laborers are immigrants, but others are seasonal workers who don’t want to put themselves in debt any further by taking six or eight unpaid weeks off work, the local temp agencies said.The numbers are inValenzuela, along with Nik Theodore, Edwin Meléndez, and Ana Luz Gonzalez, said their study used the same statistical process used to survey homeless popultions, which they said are equally difficult to measure.Valenzuela said day laborers attend church, raise children and participate in community activities and institutions. The study found they also suffer abuse that’s illegal, ranging from withheld wages to dangerous working conditions.Anti-immigration advocates have portrayed illegal immigration as the driving force behind day labor. But the researchers found a market fueled by a growing zeal for home improvement and by employers under pressure to cut wages and benefits. The report characterizes the market as employer-driven, with more than two-thirds of day laborers hired repeatedly by the same employers, including contractors in the building and landscaping trades.Vail, Colorado

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