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Regulating Informality: Workers Centers and Day Labor

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Published on Jun 18, 2012

CLPR Spring 2012 Speaker Series:
Regulating Informality: Workers Centers and Day Labor

Abel Valenzuela
Professor and Chair, Chicano and Chicana Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

Date: May 3, 2012
Time: 4:00 PM -- 5:30 PM
Location: Shorb House, 2547 Channing Way, Berkeley, CA 94720

Description: Searching for temporary employment in public venues such as busy intersections or in front of home improvement stores is an economic activity often described as informal. Indeed, key characteristics of day labor, such as earnings (cash-based), temporality, lack of regulation by the state, and ease of entry all point to key characteristics of informality. Worker centers have emerged as a key intervention strategy to mitigate conflict among community stakeholders, to protect worker rights, and to control labor standards. As a result, worker centers are regulating day labor by intervening in various labor market processes. Valenzuela's paper situates day labor and informality and draws on interviews with administrators of sixty-four day labor worker centers to provide a national portrait of the de facto role of worker centers to regulate this informal labor market across the United States. Lessons for planners and policymakers on the efficacy of worker centers to regulate this market will be presented, including alternative interventions to regulate this informal immigrant activity.

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