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Study: Casa Latina raises wages, conditions

SEATTLE (March 24, 2016) — Casa Latina is excited to announce a “first-of-its-kind” study showing that Casa Latina, and worker centers all across the country, are a triple threat to poverty: they offer hardworking individuals more jobs, more money, and more justice. For example, workers at Casa Latina were paid up to 25% more than those seeking employment in the street.

(From left) Armando Arredondo, Hector Martinez and Noe Montes of the Workers defense Committee at Casa Latina.

(From left) Armando Arredondo, Hector Martinez and Noe Montes of the Workers Defense Committee at Casa Latina.

In 2012 and 2015, Nik Theodore, a researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago, visited Seattle and surveyed workers at Casa Latina and at informal hiring sites on street corners. The study found that workers at Casa Latina are offered more jobs, earn a higher hourly rate, and suffer fewer instances of wage theft than workers on the street.

Theodore’s study — which can be read in its entirety here — reveals that in 2015, workers at Casa Latina had a 49.6% daily employment rate while the rate for workers at informal hiring sites was only 34.1%. In 2015, 9% of workers at Casa Latina experienced wage theft. At informal hiring sites, that number was 38%.

Funded by the Ford Foundation and published by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), the study is proof, in Theodore’s words, “that worker centers can be an important anti-poverty strategy.”

“This is proof that we’re lifting people out of poverty,” said Casa Latina Founder Hilary Stern. “It validates our strategies for raising the floor for all workers.”

Marcos Martinez, executive director of Casa Latina, said, “It’s heartening that Theodore’s study illustrates in such graphic terms that our programs lead to overall improvements for day laborers. It’s a priceless tool for illustrating our approach and the importance of our work.”

Pablo Alvarado, director of NDLON, explained the study also has national impacts: “This study sets the standards for all day worker centers across the country. It shows that worker centers are an asset to workers because when they are organized they can defend and protect each other and are an asset to the community because they provide a better service.”

casa-latinaCasa Latina — an affiliate of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO — is a nonprofit organization that empowers Latino immigrants through educational and economic opportunities, including day labor employment, English language classes, workplace safety and job skills trainings, leadership development, and community organizing around issues of public policy that affect immigrant workers. Casa Latina envisions a day when the Latino community participates fully in the economy and democracy of this country.

When Casa Latina opened its first hiring hall in Belltown in the 1990s, Latino laborers in the area had a choice: they could wait for work on the streets or they could become Casa Latina members and participate in a daily job raffle. Since then, thousands have chosen to be Casa Latina members. Anecdotal evidence has always suggested that Casa Latina provides improved wages and working conditions, yet there’s never been quantifiable proof — until now.

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