Now that the AFL-CIO has agreed to help out day labor organizers, it's worth taking another look at a groundbreaking UCLA study earlier this year. The study, based on interviews with 2600 days laborers, found that wage theft is the biggest problem, that over three-quarters are undocumented immigrants and that more than a quarter were actually abandoned at the work site. From a summary of the report:
The researchers say that the prevalence of abuse proved to be the most defining characteristic of the market. In the two months leading up to the survey, 44 percent of day laborers were denied food, water and breaks; 32 percent worked more hours than initially agreed to with the employer; 28 percent were insulted or threatened by the employer; and 27 percent were abandoned at the worksite by an employer.
The agreement between the AFL-CIO and the National Day Labor Organizing Network makes no mention of day laborers becoming union members - and any effort along those lines will likely be challenging. Another potential problem - and I hate to sound like a broken record - is the economy. If it continues to weaken and there's less demand for work, the marketplace will probably bring wages down, no matter what the AFL-CIO does.