Employment of Construction Workers through Temporary Labor Agencies in Florida

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Employment of Construction Workers through Temporary Labor Agencies in Florida
SCHRANTZ, JOHN R. ( Author, Primary )
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Copyright 2006 by JOHN SCHRANTZ


This document is dedicated to the graduate students of the University of Florida.


iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I am appreciative to the University of Florida and the M.E. Sr. Rinker School of Building Construction for giving me the opportu nity to advance my knowledge in the construction industry. I thank Dr. Jimmie Hinze for advising me on my thesis and the classes he has taught me. Also, I thank my parents fo r their encouragement thr ough this entire graduate program.


v TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iv LIST OF TABLES............................................................................................................vii LIST OF FIGURES.........................................................................................................viii ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ..x CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................1 2 LITERATURE REVIEW.............................................................................................4 Open-Air Hiring............................................................................................................5 Temporary Labor Agencies........................................................................................10 Day Labor Wages................................................................................................14 Day Laborer Daily Struggles...............................................................................15 Day Labor Workforce Issues...............................................................................19 Day Laborers Training........................................................................................20 Day Labor Safety Issues......................................................................................21 Reassignment of Day Laborers...........................................................................24 The Fear of Hiring Day Laborer..........................................................................24 3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY...............................................................................26 4 RESULTS...................................................................................................................32 Labor Agency Views..................................................................................................32 Hiring Process.....................................................................................................37 Payment Process..................................................................................................40 Labor AgenciesÂ’ Issues........................................................................................41 ContractorÂ’s Views.....................................................................................................43 StudentÂ’s Views..........................................................................................................56 5 CONCLUSIONS........................................................................................................65 6 RECOMMENDATIONS............................................................................................67


vi APPENDIX A TEMPORARY LABOR AGENCY INTERVIEW QUESTIONS.............................70 B GENERAL CONTRACTOR INTERVIEW QUESTIONS.......................................72 C STUDENT SURVEY.................................................................................................74 D HIRING CONTRACTS..............................................................................................77 LIST OF REFERENCES...................................................................................................84 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.............................................................................................87


vii LIST OF TABLES Table page 2-1 Day Laborers Reporting Unsafe Work Sites............................................................12 2-2 Day Laborers Being Paid Less than the Quoted Wage............................................18 2-3 Day Laborers Who Worked Over 40 Hours and Received No Overtime Pay.........18 2-4 Occupations with the Highest Rates of Lost Work Time Injuries in 1997..............22 3-1 Labor AgenciesÂ’ Responses with Interviews...........................................................28 3-2 ContractorsÂ’ Responses with Interviews..................................................................29 4-1 Comparison of Different Contract s between Labor Agencies and Their Customers.................................................................................................................54 4-2 Labor AgenciesÂ’ Average Range for Bill Rates and Pay Rates of Day Laborers....56


viii LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 4-1 Cities where day labor agenci es were interviewed (n=16)......................................33 4-2 Labor agenciesÂ’ perception on the percen tage of men vs. women as day laborers (n=16).......................................................................................................................33 4-3 Labor agenciesÂ’ perception on the average age of day laborers (n=16)...................34 4-4 Labor agenciesÂ’ perception on the day laborers who can read and write English reasonably well (n=16).............................................................................................34 4-5 Labor agenciesÂ’ perception on the Spanish-speaking day laborers (n=16)..............35 4-6 Labor agenciesÂ’ perception on the day la borers requested back to the job site (n=16).......................................................................................................................35 4-7 Worker injuries per year re ported by labor agencies (n=16)...................................37 4-8 Policies that labor agencies follow (n=16)...............................................................37 4-9 Labor agenciesÂ’ perception on the da y laborers labor agencies supply to construction firms (n=16).........................................................................................38 4-10 Labor agenciesÂ’ perception of day labor ers growth in the past 5 to 10 years (n=16).......................................................................................................................40 4-11 ContractorsÂ’ perception of day laborers growth in the past 5 to 10 years (n=17)....44 4-12 Types of skill level of day labor ers hired by the contractors (n=17).......................44 4-13 Construction firmsÂ’ number of la bor agencies they deal with (n=17).....................45 4-14 Dollar value of the construction proj ects worked on by construction firms that responded (n=17)......................................................................................................45 4-15 ContractorsÂ’ percent of self-performed work (n=17)...............................................46 4-16 ContractorsÂ’ perception on the numbe r of men vs. women working as day laborers on constructio n projects (n=17)..................................................................46


ix 4-17 ContractorsÂ’ perception on the day la borers who can read and write English (n=17).......................................................................................................................47 4-18 ContractorsÂ’ perception on the day laborers who can speak Spanish (n=17)..........47 4-19 ContractorsÂ’ perception on the av erage age of day laborers (n=17)........................47 4-20 ContractorsÂ’ perception on the day laborers work comparison with hourly employees (n=17).....................................................................................................48 4-21 Types of work performed by day labore rs hired by construction firms (n=17).......49 4-22 Percentage of contractors who implement specific policies (n=17)........................51 4-23 Percentage of contractors who ha d problems with day laborers (n=17)..................51 4-24 ContractorsÂ’ perception on the day laborers injuries per year hired by construction firms (n=17).........................................................................................51 4-25 Type of industries where students performed work (n=57).....................................57 4-26 Labor agencies that construction fi rms hire based on students experiences (n=57).......................................................................................................................58 4-27 StudentsÂ’ perception of the growth of the use of day laborers compared from 5 and 10 years ago (n=57)...........................................................................................58 4-28 StudentsÂ’ perception of the av erage age of day laborers (n=57)..............................59 4-29 StudentsÂ’ perception of the types of trades represented by day laborers (n=57).....59 4-30 StudentsÂ’ perception about day laborers (n=57)......................................................60 4-31 StudentsÂ’ perception on issues dealing with day laborers (n=57)............................60 4-32 StudentsÂ’ perception on how day la borers perform compared to hourly employees (n=57).....................................................................................................61 4-33 StudentsÂ’ perception of c ontractorÂ’s policies on safety with day laborers (n=57)...62 4-34 StudentsÂ’ perception of the positions day laborers were hired permanently by construction firms (n=30).........................................................................................63 4-35 Comparison of responses betw een contractors and students...................................63 4-36 Comparison of responses between contractors and labor agencies..........................63


x Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Sc ience in Building Construction EMPLOYMENT OF CONSTRUCTION WORKERS THROUGH TEMPORARY LABOR AGENCIES IN FLORIDA By John R. Schrantz May 2006 Chair: Dr. Jimmie Hinze Cochair: Dr. Raymond Issa Major: Building Construction This research has examined the process by which temporary workers were hired for construction projects. This included the study of benefits, safety i ssues, work tasks and hiring agreements. This research examined the operations of temporary labor agencies and the motivation and reasons for construc tion firms to employ temporary workers.


1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Construction firms building projects in Florida have a major problem finding qualified skilled workers to perform daily cons truction tasks. As the construction industry continues to grow rapidly the difficulty in ob taining day laborers is expected to worsen. For the past 20 years the number of projects throughout the state has been increasing and the number of workers to perform the work has been decreasing. In particular, the number of skilled day laborers has been decreas ing for the last 10 years. To fill the labor needs for construction firms, temporary day la bor agencies have emerged in major cities to supply numerous construction projects with needed day laborers. The labor agencies supply both skilled workers and unskilled workers. Florida is an open shop state, which means the contractor does not have to employ union workers on their sites. Construction workers are often character ized as being poorly educated, poorly skilled, and poorly paid employees. With this image, the construction industry has found it difficult to attract educated workers to perform many routine construction tasks. Many construction firms have turned to temporary da y labor agencies to hi re inexperienced day laborer to perform tasks on their j ob sites on an as needed basis. Temporary workers have been used in the construction field for many years; however the use of these workers is beco ming more important to the construction industry. These companies use the day laborer s to perform many tasks on the job-site, often being tasks that are beyond their level of training or skill. These workers are used


2 for light tasks such as trash pick-up to strenuous tasks such as these performed by carpenters and roofers. A day laborer is a laborer who works by the day; for daily wages. Many day laborers are poorly educated people who need money to meet their immediate needs. They contact or are contacted by a labor agency or they wi ll stand on street corners and negotiate work with a person who drives by the location. Most contractors hire the day laborers through temporar y agencies. These agencies hire their employees through many channels including off the street or through homeless organizations. The agency typically pays fo r the day laborerÂ’s wages and benefits, and the contractor in returns pays the agency for the labor performe d, often at a premium price. When hiring the temporary workers, the co ntractor is not liable for the insurance of the employees; they are under th e agencyÂ’s insuran ce policies. The day laborers are often asked to perform the worst tasks on a job site that no one wants or is willing to do. While abuses of the workers may occur by the contra ctor or the agency, temporary workers are afraid of reporting any abuses to agenci es because of possible job loss. A few day laborers continue through the week working for the same contractor. Labor agencies often move the day laborers from one job site to another unless the contractor makes a request for the same day labor er to return the next day. How are day laborers hired and what kind of agreement do they have with day labor agencies? Do the day labor ers get paid a fair wage for the work they perform? Do they have to buy their own safety equipment? What is the average day like for a day laborer on a construction site ? The answers to these quest ions are undocumented. Much of the information about day laborers a nd their employers are unknown. This study was


3 undertaken to develop a greater understanding of this process. The study will show how the labor agencies and contractors care for employees. The research was restricted to looking at the employment of these worker s performing the tasks hired through labor agencies. The process of hiring day laborers th rough labor agencies in the larger cities in Florida was examined. Since temporary labo r agencies perform a valued function on many construction projects, it is important to understand how they fulfill their role on construction projects on a routine basis.


4 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Who are day laborers? What are labor agencies? How are the day laborers obtained for a job site? What tasks are perf ormed by the day laborers? Are there any safety issues when hiring day laborers in stead of hourly employees? These are all questions construction professi onals have asked since the use of temporary hires has increased dramatically in today’s constr uction industry. Day laborers have made it possible for many construction professionals to make deadlines and to meet budgeted construction project costs. The day laborers often perform the unskilled tasks such as cleanup that are needed to fina lize a project. Researchers have been reviewing the tasks, treatment and safety of the day laborers for y ears and this report examined the advantages and disadvantages of employing construc tion day laborers (Dole and Kerr, 2001). Day laborers are hired through different processes ranging from open air hiring to joining a labor agency placement pool. “Day laborers and temporary workers are those who work and are paid on a short-term basi s. Day laborers are protected under the 2003 Day Laborers Fairness and Protection Act. Th ey may be hired through staffing agencies or from street corners and earn wages based on performance of specific duties for defined periods of time” (Legal Match, N.d.). Open air hiring is where the workers will stand at a local street corner such as a gas statio n or building supply store and wait for the opportunity to be picked by a pa ssing contractor or employer. The other, more organized process, is working with a labor agency an ticipating they will place the workers in the proper jobs according to their ability (Umble, 2005)


5 Open-Air Hiring Many day laborers are hired from off the st reet. Small contractors who need quick work completed will go to street corner s where day laborers are known to congregate while waiting for a job. An example of a da ily occurrence in major cities such as New York would be as follows. “A burgundy miniva n veers out of traffic toward the curb, setting off a commotion among the 20 or so men standing on the corner. They charge forward, weaving through a line of cars at a dead run. ‘Who wants to work?’ shouts the driver. The men jostle for a spot at th e window, calling back, ‘I'm a good worker’, and ‘I’ll work hard.’ The driver points to five men; they quickly climb in” (Kamber, 2001). Once the workers get in, usually one of them might speak En glish and will work out the pay rate and hours of employment. Usually the rate is around the minimum wage. Openair hiring halls are how the employers refer to the street corner where they regularly pick up day (Kamber, 2001). “Communities have become concerned about day laborer issues because of the proliferation of day labor "pic k-up" sites-locations where wo rkers gather waiting to be hired for short-term labor. These sites ofte n spring up near home improvement centers and truck rental businesses, and they can re sult in hundreds of idle men congregating in a parking lot or on the street. T ypically, these sites have raised quality of life concerns, such as public safety, health and welfare, as well as facilitating wide spread violations of immigration, employment, wage, health a nd safety, and tax laws”(Federation for American Immigration Reform, N.d.). Many cities have struggles adapting to the ur gent need for day laborers. They feel the laborers are coming to their towns and ruining their communities. They believe the day laborers are not decent people and bring in crime, poverty, and disease. People


6 believe homeless or poverty stricken people standing around a street corner or building means that they are living off the city taxpa yers and bringing not hing to the town. Many cities and towns have moved day labor agencies or open air hiring cente rs to the outskirts of town so the workers will not mingle with the local residents. Many of these protests have led to the movement of labor agencies to areas of town where jobs are less available and public transportation is less availabl e. This has been a reason why many labor agencies have begun their own private tran sportation to the jo b sites (Padden, 2005). Michael O'Reilly the mayor of Herndon, Virginia felt their town need to work on the problem. O’Reily felt that making a gath ering site for the work ers would provide the illegal workers a place outside of town away from the local residents. “Since local governments do not have the authority to enforce immigration laws, the town of Herndon, cannot make the problem go away. So they must find a way to live with it” (Padden, 2005). Bill Threlkeld, with the group Project H ope and Harmony, wanted to help these laborers and make sure they are treated fairly and are treated similar to the other workers. Maryann Cerick, who lived near a current site, thi nks it is a bad idea. She says, "I don't think the town has any business encouraging people to come i n. It's bringing disease; it's bringing a bad name to the town of Herndon" (Padden, 2005). George Taplin, a resident of the near by Autumn Ridge subdivision, complimented the Project Hope and Harmony for its "wellthought-out plan" and for focusing on the community’s issues by inviti ng the nonprofit organization to meet with their neighbors (Rems, 2005). Taplin claimed this idea was just in the “wrong place”. When the day laborers gather together, he claimed negative behavior is bound to occur. He felt that


7 public urination, cursing, and drunkenness woul d occur whenever these people gathered. This is why labor site organizers need to c ontinue to search for other "more appropriate" sites, preferably in industrial areas (Rems, 2005). Another resident of another small town fought with day labor agencies on the location of a day labor hiring hall. The resi dent claimed having open air hiring locations would allow the day laborers to cut through th e backyards of the residents to get to the sites. This would allow for the potential for crime and trespassing and threatened safety of the neighborhood children. An issue that day laborers have to live with is the persona that other day laborers have given them. So me day laborers have criminal backgrounds (Webmaster Day Laborers, N.d.). Many of thes e criminals have various aliases and are still wanted by the Federal Bureau of Inve stigation (FBI) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Besides being criminals, many of the day laborers are illegal immigrants who came to the United States from Mexico. The workers using the open air hiring process are often illegal immigr ants, and, because of this status, many of their legal rights as employees are waived. Also, having no formal contract between the employee and employer, the employer may set the price for work below minimum wage or even decide not to pay the worker at all. Also, the employee will generally have no benefits if injured on the job (Berkeley Parents Network, 2006). Patrick Osio, editor of m, offered an editorial entitled "Why assume day laborers illegal?" and claimed th at “There is an assumption that day-job seekers outside a Home Depot or any other home improvement stores are illegal immigrants.” It is not always appropriate to assume they are illeg al immigrants” (Osio, 2005). On the other hand, a study in 1999 at UC LA found that while “the majority of


8 workers were recently arrived illegal im migrants who had few options for earning money, one-fourth were longtime U.S. resident s who had been plying their trade at the same site for more than six years.” That study found that about 95% of the street hire laborers entered the United States illegall y. Some of these day laborers subsequently gained legal residency, but the overw helming majority remain undocumented (Lonewacko Blog, N.d.). Many residents from towns claim “for me th e issue is not so much that it's taxpayer money, more that if the peopl e that are availing themselves of government services are primarily illegal aliens, I think that's a problem for a lot of people th at taxpayers' money's being used for that" (Padden, 2005). Other re sidents believe if you help a few of the illegal immigrants get jobs a nd learn English it will attract more illegal immigrants and ruin the town. “A recent Pew Hispanic Cent er survey found that the number of illegal immigrants in the United States has jumped by 25 percent in four years, to about 10.3 million”(Padden, 2005). With these increasing numbers, many lawmakers are questioning if this increase is helping or hurting the United States. “They (day laborers) are the workers who build the new homes and trim th e shrubs for the legal residents” (Padden, 2005). Some believe that the street day labor ers are the backbone of the construction industry by having them provide a service fo r a minimum wage. “Everyday we are here, more than 200 people at the most, and only 40 people get jobs” says Alex Hernandez, a laborer who gathers at a local convenience st ore to look for work. Another issue the day laborers raise is that they are here provid ing services low class Americans would not perform. They feel they are doing better for the society as illegal immigrants trying to receive a daily job than those legal immigr ants who sit on street corners begging for


9 money. “Franco Torsio says he and the other day workers are filling a labor shortage, not taking jobs from Americans. The residents don' t want to do the difficult jobs. These jobs go to the immigrants” (Padden, 2005). Usually the dangerous work is what the illegal immigrants get put into (B erkeley Parents Network, 2006). Illegal immigrants complained about th e way they are treated by the Americans who hire them. They believe they are part of a disposable workforce used to perform the hard or dangerous tasks. With almost a ll of these workers having no documents or insurance, once an immigrant day laborer is injured they have no one to turn to for representation. Another issue ha s been paying the street hi re day laborers. Many times, these day laborers, be ing illegal immigrants, do not ha ve any rights and are cheated on their pay or type of work performed. They cl aim some employers will lie about the jobs the day laborers are hired to do. This ha ppens because of poor communication or a language barrier between the employer and em ployee. The employer may hire them for one type of project and then work them on other projects once the original one is completed. “They lie", said Javier Caranza, 36, of Langley Park of those who hire day laborers. “They don't tell you what the real job is. . . . They say they need a carpenter's assistant, but the job requires a carpenter. You're paid like an assistant, and you don't know how to use the machines and saws" (Johnson, 2004). “More than 53 percent of the day laborers in Fairfax County have reported at least one instance of not being paid for their work, and 26 percent reported having been paid with bad checks. Almost 55 percent of those surveyed by the county said they were paid less than had been agreed, and nearly 60 percent were allowed no breaks when wo rking. Twenty-two percent reported having been abandoned at a work site to find th eir own way home, and 16 percent said they


10 faced violence at work. These findings are consistent with a r ecent study of area day laborers -including those in Herndon -by th e Center for the Study of Urban Poverty at the University of California, Los Angeles. That study found that the average wage of a day laborer in the D.C. area was $991 a m onth. Those figure was based on June 2004, a warm-weather month, when work was more plentiful” (Greenfield, 2005). Temporary Labor Agencies Temporary labor agencies are the organiza tions that help find a match between the employee and employer. These organizations ty pically take the day laborers who could not find jobs or who are unwilling to work full-time and find them a part-time position by placing them with companies for a fee, while paying the employee minimum wage. Potential employing firms will contact the labor agency to ask for a certain number of day laborers for the day, and the labor agency will send out the re quested number to perform the desired (typically unskilled) tasks. While tem porary labor agencies provide day laborers too many types of employers; th e comments presented in this chapter are primarily oriented to the day laborers pr ovided by temporary labor agencies to construction firms (Labor Ready, N.d.). Two of the more prominent companies that provide day laborers to construction firms are Labor Ready and Able Body. “La bor Ready (NYSE: LRW) puts nearly 600,000 people to work annually, and serves approximately 275,000 customers by providing a temporary workforce to such industries as freight handling, warehousing, landscaping, construction and light manufacturing. The comp any operates more than 825 locations in the United States, Canada, and the United Ki ngdom” (Labor Ready, N.d.). “Labor Ready says it can supply workers for a wide range of jobs, including hospital work, freight


11 handling, demolition, janitorial services, wast e management, construction, meat packing and many others”(LRA’s Trade Union Advisor, 1999). Able Body Labor, another large temporary la bor agency, is “based in Florida and has grown from its first location in Largo, Florida to 100 locations in 14 states. Since 1986, Able Body Labor has been a part of most important constructi on projects” that are in their service area. Able Body’s philos ophy is they “have work for you today. Work one day or every day for a month.” They pay the day laborers at the end of each day and strive to place every worker every day. By having this philosophy, Able Body has allowed many workers, who could not hold a perm anent job or who just feel like working on a daily basis when they need to have m oney, to buy the essentials to live. Able Body states, “We provide safety equipment and we can even get you to and from the job” (Able Body, N.d.). Able Body and Labor Ready have been su rrounded in controversy that has been publicized by the press and the courts concer ning their treatment of day laborers. For example “Labor Ready treats its workers poorly, paying them poverty wages with no benefits or training, putting them in danger ous working conditions, and then punishing them when they complain," said Edward C. Sullivan, President of the Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD) of the AFL-CIO” (Thomsen, 2001). National Universal Agreement to Mediate (NUAM) “is an agreement between EEOC and an employer to mediate all eligible charges file d against the employer, prior to an agency investigation or litig ation” (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, N.d.). Labor agencies are growing considerably because of the growth of the economy, especially because of the economic strength of the construction industry. This increase is


12 evident because “Labor Ready had re venues of $163.5 million in 1996, $335 million in 1997and $606 million in 1998” (LRA’s Trade Union Advisor, 1999). Some concerns have arisen regarding tem porary labor agencies that expose the day laborers to unsafe conditions, such as pr oviding no safety programs or project walkthroughs, which consist of a tour around th e job site to point out all the potentially dangerous materials and equipment. This deceived the day laborers by making them do tasks in a manner that is uneth ical or the contractors would not have their own employees perform. From a past study, the day laborers cl aimed that they were not aware of many of the unsafe conditions at the j ob site. Hand straps, guards, gloves, safety glasses, appropriate breathing apparatus (e.g., respirators), ear plugs, eye flush stations, and back support belts were not available to many of the day laborers which contributed to injuries. Over 70% of the day laborers claimed they worked in unsafe conditions (see Table 2.1). In addition, the day laborers have stated th ey were underpaid with no benefits if they were injured on a job site. Researcher s have questioned management on issues concerning why Labor Ready's injury rate is three “times higher than the average for the construction industry” (Thomsen, 2001). Table 2-1 Day Laborers Reporting Unsafe Work Sites YESNO Total Frequency 54 23 77 Percent 70.1 29.9 100.0 (Dole & Kerr, 2001) Even with these problems, th e day laborers still want to work for these companies because “ by paying workers cash at the end of the workday, Labor Ready said it had perfected a system that benefits both em ployers and workers” (LRA’s Trade Union Advisor, 1999). It had been alleged that Labor Ready’s success was due to a deceptive payment process. “At a location in Spring Br anch, Texas, company officials estimated


13 that Labor Ready makes $119 for each worker it provides in a given day” (LRA’s Trade Union Advisor, 1999). The company would pay its unskilled workers between $5.60 and $6.50 an hour and charge their clients between $10.50 and $11.50 an hour for their worker’s services. (LRA’s Trade Union Advi sor, 1999). The day laborers were not “paid for time at the agency waiting for a referral, nor were they compensated for time spent traveling to and from a job s ite” (University of Houston, N.d.) . In addition to the low rate of pay for the day laborers, often there were hidden fees, such as for personal protective equipment like gloves, hard hats, glasses and other safety equipment they may use on the job sites, for which the day laborers were charge. Many agencies charged a dollar plus the change left over on the paycheck to cash the day laborers paychecks. With most day laborers being homeless, they do not have a ba nk to cash the check and are forced to pay additional fees for the privilege of cashing their checks (Fallas, 2004). Temporary day labor agencies provide mos tly unskilled labor, but it has been common to find day laborers working at jobs that would traditionall y be considered as skilled. Additionally, day laborers often wo rked at jobs well above the skill level advertised by the agencies. Hiring a day la borer the labor agencies follow a procedure that has been developed by their local co mpany and the governing officials. The day laborer will sign a contract which describe s the employee’s appropriate skills and the classification of work for which the day la borer is suited. This agreement shows the payment process, policy for providing pers onnel protection equipment, transportation charges, and hourly wages (Dole and Kerr, 2001).


14 For many day laborers, the daily payroll ch eck actually received was much smaller than they had expected. Because of the form al agreement signed by the day laborer, the day laborer is required to pay for renting/buyi ng equipment and for taxes. “A significant impact on worker’s checks was the standa rd deductions that were applied after completing a job such as for transportati on, safety equipment, and check cashing. As mentioned above, after these deductions mo st workers’ pay falls well below the minimum wage limit. For instance, if a laborer works an eight hour sh ift and then had the standard deduction removed from their chec k, as well as a $4.00 transportation fee, an average $1.50 fee for gloves, and an aver age $1.50 check cashing fee, their average hourly wage falls to $4.28” (Dole and Kerr, 2001). Day Labor Wages The day laborers get paid by many differe nt wage agreements, which are covered in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Th e day laborers can get paid minimum wage, living wage, or prevailing wage. The govern ment set the minimum wage, which is the lowest an employer can pay an employee. The living wage ordinance requires the employers pay wages are above the minimum wage levels. It only covers employees who are employed by a city or country govern ment project. Prevailing wage is the average wage set by the occupation and locat ion of work (Economi c Policy Institute, N.d.). The FLSA requires employers to pay employees a minimum wage, pay overtime pay for time worked over 40 hours in a work w eek, adhere to child labor provisions; and maintain records of hours, wages and other wage items ordinarily kept in a business practice. The FLSA does not require the em ployer to pay for employees during their vacations, sick-leave or holidays, for comp ensation for meals and/or rest, for premium


15 payments for employees who work weekends or holidays, for giving pay increases or fringe benefits, for giving a discharge notice or reason for discharge, or for printing and mailing of pay stubs or W-2s (U.S. Dept. of Labor, N.d.). A day laborer or temporary employee work ing under a contract or with a public agency may earn a “living wage” which is the amount that reflec ts the local cost of living and the needs of a person or family living in a specific area. The living wage rates may differ by region, but they are generally higher than federal minimum wage. “Basically it is the amount that reflects the normal costs a family incurs over a given time, including fixed and variable costs of food, cl othing, housing, medical insurance, and transportation," says Mike Knapp, of Te nnessee Economic Renewal Network (TERN) (Kincaid, 2005). “If you are working on a constr uction project, you may be entitled to a ‘prevailing wage,’ which the average wage is paid to similar employees in a given occupation. Therefore, prevailing wage standa rds are both area-speci fic and job-specific” (Legal Watch, N.d.). Another law that has been instated that has improved the quality of work for day laborers is the Day Labor Services Act (DLSA). The DLSA “provides additional protections to day laborers employed by tempor ary staffing agencies. Check cashing fees are prohibited, transportation fees are capped at 3% of daily wages, and other deductions, such as meals, uniforms, and equipment, mu st be at the actual co st or market value” (Gutierrez, 2002). Day Laborer Daily Struggles The daily life of the day laborer employe d by many labor agencies is an ongoing struggle. A day laborer wakes up in the morni ng and prepares to go to work. Many of the day laborers such as the ones in Herndon, Virg inia live an average of 1.7 miles from the


16 informal site where they have been congreg ating. “Typically workers wake up at 4:00am, go to the agency office and start waiting to be sent out at 5:00 am. They may not be sent out until 8:00 am and will often travel to th e outer ring suburbs to work in machine shops and ( sic) plastics manufacturers. They may start working around 9:00 am and finish at 5:00 pm, wait for a ride to pick them up (if it ever does) and not return home until 7:00 pm. After fees for rides, safety equipment and check cashing, the worker will in most cases have between $28 and $30 in their poc ket for approximately fourteen hours of working, traveling and waiting” (Dole and Kerr, 2001). If the day laborer does not arrive early enough then the day laborer would miss the opportunity of receive a daily job. If the day laborer misses the opportunity of receiving a job, "during the wait time, the worker is waiting to be engaged rather than being e ngaged to wait" (Kincaid, 2005). Put simply, a worker may sit for hours (which often occur) and not get paid. These are the worries a day laborer has everyday when looking for daily work. So why do the day laborers not try to get a real job with c onstant pay and hours? For some people, getting a permanent job is difficult. Many of these people turn to day labor agencies, which offer a brief and immediate solution to unemployment: daily pa y. Unfortunately, the work is inconsistent and wages are insignificant. Because day labor does not sustain workers in the long run, it tends to go hand in hand with hom elessness and poverty (Kincaid, 2005). The wages the day laborers receive make it difficult for them live a decent life. Many of the day laborers do not own their own homes; yet they are not homeless. Some live at what people call “the projects”, shelters , or share a room in a hotel with other day laborers. They are often husbands, fathers a nd sons seeking to support themselves and their families. They desire a good education fo r their children. They have aspirations to


17 improve their lives. Vivian Bray, office manage r at Labor Finders says, "The people that come through here are in some type of tran sition. You know, they just moved to town and need a little money to get started. Or some pe ople just like the freedom of just coming in when they need money. We get a lot of pe ople down here from the mission. It's people from all walks of life" (Kincaid, 2005). Most day laborers just work for daily cas h, while a few are looking for a permanent job. The ones who are looking for the permanent jobs are all doing the daily labor to earn cash to pay the immediate bills. Many day labor ers have similar financial strains, such as not having the funds to get home, having a nonfunctioning car and not having the money to fix it, and so forth. Others say they woul d take a permanent job immediately but they do not know what they will do to survive for the first two weeks while waiting for the first paycheck (Kincaid, 2005). Grievances of day laborers over pay can be broken down into five categories: “not being paid the promised rate, not being allo wed to work the quoted number of hours, not being paid for overtime work, deductions from checks for items used, and working at jobs above the skill level for which thei r pay was based” (Dole and Kerr, 2001). Furthermore 59% of the day laborers claimed that they were paid less than they had been quoted (see Table 2-2). In 2001 the California auditors found “Labor Ready underpaid temp workers assigned to seve ral state college construction projects. Labor Ready had to pay workers almost $100,000 in back wages, plus penalties and added assessments to the state” (Thomsen, 2001) .


18 Table 2-2 Day Laborers Being Paid Less than the Quoted Wage YES NO Total Frequency45 32 77 Percent 58.4 41.6 100.0 (Dole & Kerr, 2001) One of the main concerns for day laborers was not being paid fairly for the work that they performed. Workers report they re ceived approximately $28-35 a day after fees and taxes for eight hours of work. In addition to the amount of time the day laborers actually work they spend approximately 4 to 6 additional hours in traveling to the labor agencies location and awaiting to get picked up for the daily work. Of the day laborers that work full time, 56% of them do not us ually get paid overtime wages when working over 40 hours in a week (see Table 2-3) (Dole and Kerr, 2001). Table 2-3 Day Laborers Who Worked Over 40 Hours and Received No Overtime Pay YES NO Total Frequency43 34 77 Percent 55.8 44.2 100.0 (Dole & Kerr, 2001) Day laborers say it is difficult to live on the salary they make. For example an apartment or low-end rent house can cost 300 to 400 dollars per month. This payment could take up to 75% of the worker’s paych eck even if they worked full time. After the rent was taken out of the day laborer’s paych eck, it left little money to pay for clothes, food, and healthcare. With the uncertainty of work, many landlords have evicted such day laborers to reduce the risk of having nonpa ying tenants. Because of this, many day laborers have paid for rooms by the day or th e week, which increased the rent, and left less money to pay for other amenities. Researchers have examined the plight of day laborers. One such example follows “A fortyseven-year-old male reports that temporary agency dispatchers sent ( sic ) to the Bishop Cosgrove Center ( sic ) offered him work for


19 $6.00/hr. When he finished the shift he return ed to the office and received a check based on a $5.15/hr pay rate. This same story can be told dozens of times. The large majority of examples where this is reported occur when a labor agent recruits off the premises of the labor agency” (Dole and Kerr, 2001). Nearly one out of every two day laborers (46%) complained about not being allowed to work the number of hours they were quoted what they were hired (Dole and Kerr, 2001) Day Labor Workforce Issues In addition to their exploitation, day labor ers do not appear to have any advocates. “The day labor workforce is undercounted and somewhat unknown to government agencies. Second, Occupational Safety & Hea lth Administration (OSHA) and Wage and Hour Division (WHD) regulations were desi gned to cover full-time, “standard” work, making their applicability to day labor unclear for many regulators. Third, a recent focus on telephone-based investigations of em ployers and advance notice for on-site investigations enhances the ability of firms to hide day labor abus es” (Gutierrez, 2002). The official Bureau of Labor Statistics (B LS) counted the number of day laborers at 260,000, which were dramatically underestimated. They believe the number is closer to 700,000. This number was undercounted because their survey only included the number of employees hired through labor agencies (Gutierrez, 2002). The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) only applies to businesses earning more than $500,000 per year in revenues or to employees di rectly involved in interstate commerce; OSHA has many restrictions of its own. Desp ite these regulations, labor agencies have been able to hide some of the abuses th at occur with their day laborers employees (Gutierrez, 2002).


20 The Day Laborer Fairness and Protec tion Act (H.R. 2755) was introduced by Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez and co-sponsor ed by Congressman Dennis Kucinich. It provided “that day labor agencies must pay a wage rate equal to the wage rate received by the permanent employees engaged in comparable work at the site where the day laborer is sent. The legislation forbids any agencies from charging fees for cashing their own checks. Transportation fees cannot exceed three percent of a day laborer’s daily wages. Agencies failing to pay overtime wa ges are held criminally liable. Any waiting time over one half hour, under this legislation, would have to be paid for at least at the rate of minimum wage” (Dole and Kerr, 2001). If a retribution, harassment or discrimination is given to any employee w ho was complaining or testifying in an investigation the company will be subj ected to fines (Dole and Kerr, 2001). One employee who worked for Labor Ready claimed he was not receiving earned overtime wages: “That’s steali ng from me! If I rob them, I go to prison, but they have a license to steal. I’ve worked all my life for peanuts. I want equal pay for equal work! If it’s a $6 job, I want $6. If it’s an $18 job, I want $18.” The same employee added “I’m not only doing it for me but for other people w ho are coming through there, so they can’t take people as slaves. No one works for fr ee. Slavery is out of style” (Uthappa, 2003). Day Laborers Training Day laborers have claimed the constructi on industry needs to increase training on the use of many power tools. They claimed the machines they used were unknown to many of them, although they may be well known to many middle class American workers. Many workers “complain that th ere isn't enough training -especially for immigrants who have never seen some of the power tools that middle-class Americans take for granted” (Johnson, 2004). Day laborers have not received the same treatment as


21 the hourly wage employees. Some day laborers ar e willing to work as hard as possible to receive a job to continually work for a compa ny, but others are out to only receive their daily paycheck. With this persona, contractors have put little emphasis in the training of the day laborers, knowing that more than likel y they will not return the next day (Legal Match, N.d.). OSHA and many labor agencies have tried to slow down the number of injuries that have been occurring with the day laborers. OSHA has developed many Spanish safety videos since a vast numb er of temporary day laborers are Spanishspeaking workers. OSHA developed the Day Laborer Safety and Health Collaborative (The Collaborative) in calendar year 2000 to provide the needed resources to these "quasi-visible" workers in Southern California. In addition to preven tive training against frequently encountered hazards such as falls, asbestos and lead exposures, and musculoskeletal injuries, The Collaborative al so included topics that would improve the day laborers' quality of life and their ove rall health. After conducting studies “The Collaborative learned that workers are not so mu ch interested in health and safety per se because of their desperateness for jobs. Howe ver, they are interested in learning some construction skills. Hence, The Collaborative is investigating the possibility of designing a vocational training program tailored to the schedules and skill levels of the day laborers” (Dept. of Public Health, N.d.). Day Labor Safety Issues The safety of temporary day laborers is a topic that has raised many concerns with OSHA and other organizations. Contractors expend a minimal effort in their safety programs when hiring these employees. One st udy was performed in 1997 by the Bureau of Labor Statistic on the occupati ons with the highest rates of lost work time injuries (see Table 2-4). Seven of the top ten occupations with the highest injury rates were ones for


22 which labor agencies frequently provide day laborers. Note th at three of these (construction day laborers, carpe nters, and welders and cutters) are predominately in the construction industry (LRA’s Trade Union Advisor, 1999). Table 2-4 Occupations with the Highest Rate s of Lost Work Time Injuries in 1997 Because of the vast increase in the de mand for labor in the United States, day laborers have been thrown into the workfo rce without prior edu cation concerning the materials or the handling of the equipment to be used. One of the major findings from a focus group that tried to improve the safety of day laborers found “workplace hazards are able to be reduced if the day laborers can build a relationship with their employers. Some of th e day laborers have learned to build longterm working relationships with people w ho were only going to hire them for a day. Those long-term relationships have not only he lped them gain a steady income, but they Occupation Injuries Truck Drivers 145,500 Laborers (non-construction) 106,900 Nursing Aides, Orderlies 91,300 Janitors and Cleaners 45,800 Construction Laborers 45,800 Assemblers 44,300 Carpenters 37,100 Cooks 31,500 Stock Handlers and baggers 29,200 Welders and Cutters 28,400 Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (LRA’s Trade Union Advisor, 1999)


23 have also gained them the opportunity to ne gotiate with the employe rs for proper training and safety equipment that would make their j obs safer” (Dept. of Public Health, N.d.). One incident occurred when a worker was sent out on a job to work for BFI, a waste disposal company. While working, the day laborer was hit by a garbage truck and injured. The day laborer was then told to “sign a document waiving his right to sue BFI and Labor Ready if the latter paid his medical bills. Labor Ready then neglected to assign any new jobs to the worker once he came b ack to work, in effect running him off” (Fallas, 2004). In some cases, a change in safety trai ning is offered after a loss had already occurred. For example, a teenager who was employed by one company was killed in a mulching machine. After this occurrence, day laborers and thei r advocates around the region increased the demands for more traini ng and better safeguards. "Of 925 workers in Maryland who died on the job from 1992 to 2002, 23 were teenagers…. of that number, three were 15 or younger, and four were 16 or 17. The details of their deaths were not released because they were juveniles. Sixteen of the workers were 18 or 19. Half of their deaths were transportation-rela ted; 25 percent were from a ssaults or other violent acts; and 18 percent resulted from exposure to harm ful substances or environments” (Johnson, 2004). “This case really il lustrates a much, much larger problem, where often very young workers are put around very dangerous machin ery and are not given the proper training or proper protection," stated attorney W. Steven Smitson” (Johnson, 2004). Smitson stated before Congress that the employers ar e getting away with murder and giving the day labor industry a terrible name. Smits on argued that the agencies are using the


24 immigrant workers as part of a disposable workforce, “Smitson claimed that foreign-born workers have an 80 percent higher chance of being killed on the job than U.S.-born workers (Johnson, 2004). Silvia Navas, Casa's senior manager for the employment program, said: "The day laborers are exempt from the workers' comp ensation laws, and they don't get benefits. Everybody can hire day laborers, and if they get injured, well, bye-bye!" (Johnson, 2004). Many contractors need help from the day laborers to perform certain tasks. Many hourly waged employees on the job site refer to the day laborers by using derogatory names because of the attitude toward them on the job site. The day laborers are hired for various work categories, including light-i ndustrial workers, hosp ital work, janitor, construction labor, assembly, restaurant wor k, and stock handling/baggage (Labor Ready, N.d.). Reassignment of Day Laborers Labor agencies may want to help day labor ers find permanent jobs, but to protect themselves the agencies have made their clie nts sign a contract that “requires the client company to pay the labor agency a fee of up to one month’s worth of wages if they hire a worker sent to them from the labor agency be fore he or she has worked ninety continuous days. 16.9% of the day laborers, more than 1 out of every 6 workers, reported that they had personally been arbitraril y either not sent out or ha d been reassigned to another position as they approached the 90-day limit. Th ese actions resulted in each of the day laborers starting all over at day one on the time clock” (Dole and Kerr, 2001). The Fear of Hiring Day Laborer Many contractors have a fear about hi ring a day laborer. Vivian Bray, office manager at Labor Finders says, "In my opini on, the day labor industry in general has a


25 bad reputation. We've been calle d rent-a-drunk, but that's a st ereotype. There are a lot of good people here. Everyone who walks through that door has a story" (Kincaid, 2005). One day a laborer said it was like a trap wo rking for these labor agencies. "Once you get into something like this that pays daily, it's a trap. They pay you so little that once you get food and cigarettes, you look in your wallet, and oops, where did it go? So you keep coming back" (Kincaid, 2005). The literature reviewed disclosed that la bor agencies play a significant role in providing workers to the construction i ndustry. While there are some negative connotations about the workers that are provided by the labor agencies, little information existed on the actual functioni ng of the labor agencies.


26 CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY The topic of day laborers and their hiring practices was a lectur e topic in class, BCN 5715 Advance Labor Problems. Dr. Hinze, the class instructor, claimed that there was not much information on the hiring practices of the labor agencies and the treatment and usage of day laborers on construction projects. Acknowledging this issue, this researcher decided to investigat e this subject. In doing this, Dr. Hinze agreed to be part of this investigation. To begin the study, this researcher met with Dr. Hinze to discuss an approach to study the topic of day labor agen cies. It was decided that to obtain an understanding of day labor agencies, the subject should first be explored throu gh the Internet. After that, information would be sought directly from the labor agencies and contractors who use their services. A sample size of 30 inte rviews with both the contractors and labor agencies was established as a goal. Since the study was to examine day labor agency practices in the state of Flor ida, it was decided th at the interviews would be conducted via the telephone with day labor agencies in Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, Miami, and Gainesville. The contractor in terviews would be conducted w ith selected contractors in locations throughout the st ate of Florida. The main objective of this research wa s to develop an understanding of the hiring practices conducted by day labor agencies and the utilizatio n of laborers on construction projects.


27 After establishing the goals of this research, interview questions for labor agencies were developed. To develop questions for the interviews, various sources of information were utilized including newspape r articles from local communities, reports from professors that were accessible on the In ternet, statistics from government agencies, and web sites of the labor agencies. Intervie w questions with the day labor agencies were to determine the hiring practices between the day laborer and the agency. The questions were about the geographical ar ea of placing day laborers, dem ographics of day laborers, safety issues, trade skills, pay rates, number of employees, type of work, utilization of employees, training of employees, trans portation issues, and background checks (see Appendix A). Many of these items were review ed to find information on issues that had been listed previously as a problem by day laborers advocates. After numerous iterations, a survey questionnaire containing 29 questions was developed. The interviews were expected to take about than 20 minutes to complete. When conducting interviews with the labor agencies, this researcher chose, those cities representing the more popul ated areas in Florida. Ga inesville was included due to convenience. The labor agencies were chos en randomly searching through the Internet for the local labor agencies. The number of interviews with the labor agencies where based on the labor agencies who agree to par ticipate in the interview. The number of labor agencies that participated ranged from 2 to 6 agencies per city. The labor agencies that decided not to participate in the surv eys gave various reasons including not enough time, appropriate management was not availabl e or information was not available. Table 3-1 shows the breakdown of the participants in the survey.


28 Table 3-1 Labor AgenciesÂ’ Responses with Interviews Successful interviews 17 Non successful interviews 15 Disconnected / No longer in service 7 Total attempted interviews 39 Information gathered from the labor agenci es was analyzed to determine the kind of correlation between the different labor agenci es, such as the experience related to the ethnicity of the worker. The data analyzed de termined if different regions have different work ethics, skills or policies. The efforts to document the skills of day laborers skills and to match them with the empl oyersÂ’ needs were reviewed. The information obtained from the day labor agencies, was instrumental in helping to develop a survey questionnaire for contractor s. Questions for the contractor interviews were to determine, geographic area of work, demographics of the day laborers, any type of issues with the day laborers, the perception of the quality of work that the day laborers performed, if the day laborers followed the same rules and requirements as the other hourly employees, pay rates, types of skills ne eded by day laborers, tasks expected to be performed by the day laborers, utilization of day laborers, reasons for using a day laborer rather than an hourly employee and difficu lties with language barriers. The degree of satisfaction of both the contra ctors and subcontractors with the uses of day laborer was reviewed. Suggested changes in the arrangement were solic ited. The interviews with the general contractors and subcontractors were also used to solicit their opinion of the skills and productivity of day laborers compared to th eir hourly wage laborers. The interviews with each contractor last ed less than 20 minutes. The general contractors were asked to discuss the work efforts of the day laborers and how they were hired through the labor agencies (see Appendix B). Interviewing


29 different sized companies showed that each organization had different percentages of subcontracted work and tasks performed by the different day laborers. Information from different size companies has allowed the data to be correlated. Relationships exist between the utilization of da y laborers by different size companies performing different tasks such as commercial or residential. When conducting the interviews with the c ontractors the compan ies where selected randomly from a list of construction firms at th e University of Florida career fair. During the career fair, this researcher spoke with the recru iters to find their contact information. After choosing the sample of contractors, th is researcher contacted the contractors to conduct the interview. Some of the contractor s did not have the time to speak with this researcher for the 20-minute interview and they asked to be sent the interview questions via email. Approximately half of the data collected with the contractors was through a mailed survey. Many contractors did not have time or preferred not to respond via email. Table 3-2 shows the breakdown of the construc tion firms that would participate in the survey. Table 3-2 ContractorsÂ’ Re sponses with Interviews Successful interviews 16 Non successful interviews 34 Total attempted interviews 50 During the process of interviewing the contr actors, this researcher realized that many of the contractors were not responding. Therefore, this researcher determined that many of the University of Florida buildi ng construction school gr aduating seniors and graduate students had experience working on co nstruction sites with day laborers. These students could respond to the surveys about th eir perception of the day laborers they had employed. Since these students were readily accessible, this researcher created a new


30 survey to distribute to students in two cl asses, namely BCN 4735 Construction Safety and BCN 5737 Advanced Construction Safety. The survey was completed in approximately 5 minutes. To show no bias in the study stude nts were also asked only to reply to the survey if they had prior experience working on a project with day labor ers. Therefore, all the students who were surveyed had prior experience working in the field with day laborers. These surveys aske d for their personal experience with day laborers. The information that was sought from the student s was their perception of the usefulness of the day laborers, any issues arising using day laborers, injury rates, demographics of the day laborers, ect. (see Appendix C). The format of the survey was also different. The questions could be answered by checking a Likert Scale response or selecting an appropriate answer as in yes/no questions. The studentÂ’s who participated in the surv eys were asked about their perceptions of the day laborers rate and quality of work of day laborers. Studen ts were asked their opinion of how a day laborer worked as a te am member on the construction project. Many of the day laborers were expected not to have much expertise in the construction industry, so the students were asked to comp are the day laborers with hourly employees in terms of work ethics, safety and work skill s. A total of 57 surveys were completed by students. After all interviews and surveys were completed, the data were compiled in databases. Charts and graphs were used to show the relationships of different hiring practices of different labor agencies, relati onships between different general contractors and subcontractors on the utiliza tion of day laborers, the hiri ng practices related to day laborers, and then relationships of th e students with varying backgrounds their


31 perceptions of the quality and usefulness of day laborers. Using the of contractorsÂ’ experiences with the day laborers will show the importance and problems of having day laborers on the job site.


32 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS In this research, information was found that helped describe the hiring practices of labor agencies with the day laborers. The research showed relationships between the construction firms and the day laborers and what expected skills the firms believe the day laborers need prior to being a ssigned to a project. Finally, it revealed the perceptions of students who had experience working with day laborers. Labor Agency Views The labor agencies are the organizations th at supply day laborers to many of the construction firms in the nation. These la bor agencies provided day laborers to construction firms for a fee. The laborers will do specific tasks asked of them on the project and then return to the labor agency to receive their daily pay. From the sixteen interviews with differen t labor agencies, information was obtained about the type of employees who work for the labor agencies. Labor agencies are found in many of the cities that have construction pr ojects occurring. Labor agencies in Florida cities were interviews via the telephone with the largest number being conducted in Orlando and Jacksonville (see Figure 4-1).


33 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 OrlandoMiamiTampaJacksonvilleGainesvilleNumber of interviews Figure 4-1 Cities where day labor ag encies were interviewed (n=16) Most of the major labor agencies (La bor Ready, Able Body, Labor Finders and Action Labor) reported employee numbers ra nging from 150 to 1000 laborers in their placement pools. The average number of day laborers the agencies would send to construction sites ranged from 50 to 100 per da y. Most of the day laborers were white men (see Figure 4-2) and the average age was 19-40 (see Figure 4-3). There were some laborers who were about 50 years old. Some women worked for the labor agencies, but they performed many of the tasks that were not physical labor. 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Men Women Figure 4-2 Labor agenciesÂ’ perception on th e percentage of men vs. women as day laborers (n=16)


34 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 19202527303540 Average Age of day laborerRespondents Figure 4-3 Labor agenciesÂ’ perception on the average age of day laborers (n=16) Many of the day laborers employed by the ag encies were able to read and write English reasonably well (see Figu re 4-4). The number of Spanish speaking day laborers hired by labor agencies was quite small comp ared to the number of day laborers who were hired through street hires. Approxi mately 15% of the day laborers employed by labor agencies spoke Spanish as thei r first language (see Figure 4-5). 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 60708090959798100 Percent of day laborers who can read and write in EnglishRespndents Figure 4-4 Labor agenciesÂ’ perception on the day laborers who can read and write English reasonably well (n=16)


35 0 1 2 3 4 123515202530355070 Percent of day laborers who speak SpanishResopondents Figure 4-5 Labor agenciesÂ’ perception on th e Spanish-speaking day laborers (n=16) The workers for these agencies had worked for a wide range of time, from as little as one day to working for several years. Th e labor agencies wanted the day laborers to work for at least 90 days before they left to work with a contr actor as a permanent employee. Before the 90-day period ha d lapsed many contractors (75-90%), would request a specific day laborer back to the project if the day laborer worked efficiently (see Figure 4-6). 0 1 2 3 4 5 506070758085909599 Percent of day laborers requested backRespondents Figure 4-6 Labor agenciesÂ’ perception on the da y laborers requested ba ck to the job site (n=16) Many of the agencies wanted to help th e day laborers find a permanent job, so deals were occasionally made when contractor s wanted to hire a specific day laborer prior to the end of the 90-day contract peri od. The jobs these employees performed were


36 mostly clean up on construction sites. Beside s clean-up, labor agencies had positions for unskilled, semi-skilled, and skilled workers. The workers would perform any tasks they were asked to do. These tasks included gene ral labor, secretarial, carpentry, concrete placing, and framing drywall. If the day labor er was going to perform any kind of skilled work that needed training or skills, 80% of the labor agency may provide the training if necessary (see Figure 4-8). The workers benefits package was usually very limited. The only benefits any day laborer received were workersÂ’ compensati on. Every labor agency covered all their employees under workersÂ’ compensation. Working for labor agencies was important for the day laborers because it covered them if injured on the construction site. Through street hires, the worker was placed in mo re dangerous situations and not given any security if injured on the site. The injury rate among day laborers, as reported by many of the labor agencies, appeared to be consistent with the injury rate of the construction industry. Each labor agency reported about one to two injuries pe r year, with a few of the agencies having a zero accident record (see Figure 4-7). To ha ve such a low injury rate per year, 95% of labor agencies provided safety orientation and 100% provided safety policy manuals. Over 90% of the labor agencies provided their day laborers with personal protective equipment (see Figure 4-8). Of the labor agencies over 90% perform criminal background checks especially if th e project is an educational institute. Over 90% will provide the day laborers with their personal safety equipment and none of the agencies will make the day laborers pay for the equipment unless it is not returned at the end of the day. The labor agencies claim that over 90% of the contractors try to hire the day


37 laborers from their agency. To help the cont ractor, agency and day laborer, the agencies have made agreements that the contractor cannot hire a day laborer from the agency directly until a period of time. 0.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 0125 Injuries per year Figure 4-7 Worker injuries per year reported by labor agencies (n=16) 0.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% 70.0% 80.0% 90.0% 100.0% Percent of labor agencies that follow these policies Labor agency performs a safety Orientation Labor agency has a safety policy Labor agency has an insurance policy Labor agency allows day laborer to choose location and industry of work Labor agency provides day laborers PPE Labor agency charge day laborers for PPE Labor agency provides transportation for day laborers Labor agency performs criminal backgroud checks Figure 4-8 Policies that labor agencies follow (n=16) Hiring Process The hiring process of day laborers through labor agencies is similar to other contracts. The day laborers would come to the main office and follow a typical application process. The a pplication would include quest ions of previous skills, knowledge/educational background and te st of safety knowledge.


38 A worker would come to the labor agency early in the morning to receive a job. For day laborers that are first time employees of the labor agency, the agency would have the day laborer fill out an application explaining the kind of work they are able and allowed to perform. The safety app lication process would also shar e safety information, what to do if being mistreated, the payment process, and other procedure details that were followed. Out of all the jobs where labor agencies place their employees, construction was the most common, making up approximate ly 90% of the jobs (see Figure 4-9). 0 2 4 6 8 560708085909598100 Percent of day laborers sent to construction projects by labor agenciesRespondents Figure 4-9 Labor agenciesÂ’ perception on th e day laborers labor agencies supply to construction firms (n=16) Above 95% of the labor agencies requ ired the day laborers being hired for construction jobs to take a safety test and a common knowledge test to find what the employee knew (see Figure 4-8). Criminal b ackground checks could be performed at the employerÂ’s request (see Figure 4-8). The labor agency would always perform a criminal background check if the day laborer were wo rking in a school zone or other project where a person with a criminal background was not allowed. In the application for work, the day laborer s were asked about their skills and years of experience. If the day laborer had little or no experience, the day laborer would be placed as an unskilled worker. If the day la borer had multiple years of experience, the


39 agency would place the worker as a semi-sk illed worker. When a day laborer worked for the agency for a period of time, the agency would start designating the day laborer as a skilled day laborer. Many of the agencies ke pt all their employees on file and if an employer asked for a certain type of skilled worker, the agency would call a qualified day laborer to perform the tasks. With day la borers learning many skills from working with different construction companies, these comp anies occasionally tried to hire the day laborers directly as their own employees. The labor agencies made the day laborers work for a certain period of time before they could leave the agency and work for a company that was hiring. This was to help both the la bor agency and the day laborer. The agencies needed the skilled workers to perform tasks that were more difficult to perform than could be done by unskilled workers. This ra nge of available skill s gave the agencies wider range of opportunity to place their day laborers on construction projects. Also it helped the day laborer because the contractor might only hire a worker for a short period of time and then get rid of the work er once the project is completed. The number of day laborers being hired by contractors fluctuated depending on the volume of construction projects. When the economy is booming, new construction projects such as condos, resorts, apartments, and multiuse buildings will be under construction, which will allow more opportunitie s to use day laborers (see Figure 4-10).


40 0.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% 70.0% 80.0% Higher SameLower Figure 4-10 Labor agenciesÂ’ perception of day laborers growth in the past 5 to 10 years (n=16) This increase in constructi on has resulted in the hiring of more day laborers from labor agencies for the cons truction field. Besides the growth of our economy, other factors have affected the labor industry. Crime is a factor that has affected the industry. Many criminals who recently got out of prison ar e in need of jobs. The agencies were not performing criminal background checks, unle ss asked, allowing the criminals to find work. General unemployment would have an a ffect on the labor industry as well. When people needed a quick paycheck, many turn to the labor agency. The recent natural disasters such as the hurricanes that hit th e coastlines of the Flor ida had caused large amounts of damages to homes, businesses, a nd factories. This could have caused an increase in the use day laborers to make re pairs, rebuild structures and do cleanup. Payment Process The day laborers that work for the labor agencies get paid on a daily basis. They will receive payment for the hour s of work for which their employer will give credit. With each type of work, there were three different payment levels: unskilled, semiskilled, and skilled. The payment generally de pends on the type of work the day laborer was performing.


41 Day laborers who did menial tasks usually got paid minimum wage. When the day laborers did more skilled tasks then the day la borer would get paid a higher rate per hour. The labor agencies charged the construction companies almost double the amount that the contractors pay their own employees. For exam ple, if the day laborer was getting paid wage of $6.50 an hour, the contractor woul d be charged $11.00 per hour or more. The labor agencyÂ’s general mark-up paid for th e upkeep of the agencyÂ’s office, workersÂ’ compensation and any other fees th at the agency would incur. The day laborers would bring time cards w ith them to the job site. After the days work, the worker would have the superintendent fill out the hours of work. Then the day laborer would go back to the main office of the labor agency and r eceive a paycheck for the work performed. When the worker receive d the paycheck, there could be deductions made if the worker did not return the equi pment borrowed for the day. Some of the labor agencies would give the worker a starter kit wi th items such as hardhat, gloves or safety glasses free of charge. When the equipmen t was lost or worn out, the workers were responsible for providing replacement item s. This research found no information regarding the reported pr actice of labor agencies charging the workers a fee to cash their checks. Labor AgenciesÂ’ Issues Each labor agency had issues with the day laborers and the companies that are hiring their employees. Issues arose from the day laborers not showing up on time to the job site, not qualified for the work to be done , not able to obey the construction firmÂ’s policy on safety, or other rules. Contractors also have caused issues for the day laborers by neglecting the contract made with the labor agencies incl uding placing the day laborers in situations that are not appropriate for their skill level.


42 Labor agencies have had a few issues when hiring out their employees. Labor agencies have accounts with all the employers who hired from them and when a new employer wants to begin an account there is an application process that must be completed. First, many small contractors were using the labor agency locations as an open-air hiring hall. Contractors would drive up to the day labor agency locations and negotiate directly with laborer s who were waiting for a job placement. Essentially, some contractors converted th e agency location to street hire locations. This practice is not allowed by the agency because it takes money from them. The small contractors who did this were trying to save a fe w dollars an hour by paying the day laborers directly instead of going through the agency. The dollars the sm all contractors saved included the cost of workersÂ’ compensation and any other fees that the agency would add. Laborer agencies were established to make money as any ot her company and when this happens, it was seen as stealing money from the company. The agencies also felt this was putting their workers at risk. If day laborers were hire d through a contractor not going through the agency the day laborers were on their own regard ing any injuries that might occur. If this occurs the labor agency will take no action b ecause it was not one of their employees for the day. Another issue was when contractors hired workers to perform unskilled tasks. The contractor would hire the workers and paid the low rate but they would have the day laborers perform tasks that were out of their descriptions, us ually semi-skilled work. The day laborers were warned of this problem and were told to report such occurrences immediately to the agency.


43 Finally, a labor agencyÂ’s new workers w ill claim that they have many years of experience in order to receive the higher semi -skilled wages. If this occurred then the one who was renting the day laborer could retu rn the worker if the worker was not performing to their expectations and have a new worker sent to them. Overall, the research conducted with the la bor agencies was useful in developing an understanding of the hiring pr actices of the day laborers through labor agencies. The labor agencies have great faith in the use of their day labor ers working with construction firms. These labor agencies state they did thei r best to find the best-f it match with the day laborer and the industry of wor k. The labor agencies believe th ey have been helping their employees by providing them the opportunity to wo rk as much or as little as they want. The agencies give many homeless or povert y stricken people the chance to make a difference in their lives and bring them out of po verty with regular work. ContractorÂ’s Views The seventeen interviews/surveys with different contractor s throughout Florida resulted in information on the treatment of day laborers, quality of work and work ethics. The contractors hired many day laborers to pe rform many different tasks on construction projects. Sixteen of the seventeen of the large construction companies use day laborers provided through labor agencies. The day labo r agency and the contractor would have a set contract concerning about th e hiring of day laborers (see appendix D). They hired the day laborers on a daily basis to perform menial tasks such as cleanup and general labor. Contractors have been hiring the day laborers on a continuous basis for the past 5 to 10 years (see Figure 4-11).


44 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 increasedsamedecreasedR espondents Figure 4-11 ContractorsÂ’ percep tion of day laborers growth in the past 5 to 10 years (n=17) The contractors, when orderi ng the laborers, will usually specify if the workers are to be unskilled, semi-skilled or skilled da y laborers (see Figure 4-12). They hired from any of the local hiring agencies. The agencies that many of the contractors use are Labor Ready and Able Body. Many of the contractors used similar day labor agencies and many of the contractors had contra cts with many different day la bor agencies (see Figure 4-13). 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 unskilledsemi-skilledskilled Type of day laborer hiredR espondents Figure 4-12 Types of skill level of day la borers hired by the contractors (n=17)


45 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 012312 Labor agencies usedRespondents Figure 4-13 Construction firmsÂ’ number of labor agencies they deal with (n=17) The construction companies included in th e survey varied in size, with annual revenues ranging from ten million dollars to over a billion dollars. Although, the companies differed by size, they were similar in the type of cons truction performed (see Figure 4-14). These projects included condos and office buildings. One company was a civil construction firm building prim arily highway and overpass projects. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 under 20 mil20-100 millionabove 100 million Projects costR esondents Figure 4-14 Dollar value of the constructi on projects worked on by construction firms that responded (n=17) All these contractors subcontracted most of their work to other firms. Each company performed approximately 5 to 10 percent of the project with their own forces (see Figure 4-15). When asked how many of subcontractors were on site, response


46 numbers ranged considerably because of the different needs on the project and the inhouse capabilities of the firms. 0 1 2 3 4 5 02510152025609095 Percent of self-performed workR espondents Figure 4-15 ContractorsÂ’ percent of self-performed work (n=17) The day laborers the contractor will usua lly receive were mainly men (see Figure 416) who speak English (see Figure 4-17). An average of 30% of the day laborers speak Spanish (see Figure 4-18). The average age of the day laborers is between 27 to 30 years (see Figure 4-19). 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16R espondents Men Women Figure 4-16 ContractorsÂ’ per ception on the number of men vs. women working as day laborers on constructio n projects (n=17)


47 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 506075808590 Percent of day laborers who can read and write in EnglishR espondents Figure 4-17 ContractorsÂ’ per ception on the day laborers who can read and write English (n=17) 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 1020253039405090 Percent of day laborers who speak SpanishR espondents Figure 4-18 ContractorsÂ’ per ception on the day laborers who can speak Spanish (n=17) 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 2527303540 Average Age of Day Laborers Figure 4-19 ContractorsÂ’ pe rception on the average age of day laborers (n=17) The contractors would contact a labor agency when they were in need of a worker to perform menial tasks for a given day. The co ntractor typically calls the agency the day


48 before a laborer in needed and the workers would arrive in the morning and perform the work. Contractors enjoyed the concept of day laborers because it was less hassle in training and orientating than with new empl oyees. The contractor would not have to worry about paying any type of insurance policy because it was covered by the labor agency. Most contractors paid around 12-15 dollars per hour for these day laborers. When asked about the usefulness of the da y laborers, the contractors stated they were a cheap unskilled hire that did not perform as well as the other hourly employees (see Figure 4-20). 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 goodbadtry hard# of Contractors Efficiency of work compared to hourly employees Quality of work compared to hourly employees Figure 4-20 ContractorsÂ’ per ception on the day laborers work comparison with hourly employees (n=17) Contractors claimed that occasionally a decent day laborer would come out and work for them for the day but could not be counted on for repeated services. Many of the companies stated they had hired one of the day laborers from the agencies but none of contractors had hired any as st reet hires. The overall consen sus of day laborers was that they work poorly. Contractors claimed they ha d to supervise the day laborers continually to make sure the work was completed corre ctly. Contractors exp ected about 50 percent productivity of the day laborers. With this low productivity it was still feasible for contractors to hire day labor ers for the day as appeared to having to add permanent


49 employees to the pay roll. The tasks the day laborers were typically asked to perform included clean-up and some general labor. So me of the construction firms used the day laborers for masonry, concrete work or framing, all of whic h tasks would be considered as skilled (see Figure 4-21). 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 gen labormultiple useelectricianplumbers Types of work performed by day laborersR espondents Figure 4-21 Types of work performed by day la borers hired by construction firms (n=17) An issue that made contractors worry was theft on the construction site. With the day laborers working on a daily basis, the day laborers had no loyalt y to the contractor. Items stolen from the site were usually sm all items such as hand tools and other small equipment. Some contractors no ted theft of materials such as left over rebar and materials that could be recycled for profit. This was not a major issue because most of the material was too difficult to transport. Another theft occurrence was when a day laborer stole a large piece of equipment and then tried to sell it to a smaller contractor for a low price. To slow this problem, contractors have begun to paint equipment or apply Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) to keep track of the equipment. Even with these issues almost 40% of the contractors claim that the c ontractors have issues with theft (see Figure 4-22).


50 Injury rates of all the companies interviewed were below the national average (see Figure 4-24). When asked the steps taken to provide a safe environment, many of the contractors placed the responsibil ity on the labor agency. Over half of the contractors did not place much emphasis on the safety precautions to be followed by the day laborers. If the day laborer were not prepared with the proper safety equipment, about 40% of the contractors would provide safety equipment. Approximately 60% of the contractors had the day laborers go through site walkthroughs and safety orientation. Above 90% the day laborers were responsible for their own equipment and had to follow all the same rules and regulations that contractorÂ’s perman ent employees followed. Above 85% of the contractors had issues with the day laborer s; this could include anything from not working, no proper equipment, or not following the rules. If any of the day laborers did not follow any of the safety precautions above 85% of the contractors sent back to the labor agency with a request to have a new da y laborer sent out to work. The contractors believed it was the labor agencies responsibil ity to provide the necessary equipment to complete a job in a safe manner. Sixty percen t of the contractors stated that they had hired at least some day laborers on a perman ent basis. Below 30% of the contractors would hire street hires and believed that the day laborers performed as well as other hourly employees. Below 20% of the day la borers caused injury to themselves (see Figure 4-22 and Figure 4-23).


51 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Pecentage of contractors who implentent specific policies Contractors that hired day laborers from agencies Contractors who provide safety equipment Contractors who perform safety orientation Contractors who hire day laborers permanently Contractors who hire street day laborers Contractors who have sent day laborers home for not obeying rules Figure 4-22 Percentage of contractors who implement specific policies (n=17) 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Percentage of contractors who had problems with day laborers Contractors who had problems with day laborers Contractors who had problems with day laborers theft Contractors who had day laborers casued injury to themselves Contractors who had problems with day laborers not performing work as well as hourly employees Figure 4-23 Percentage of c ontractors who had problems with day laborers (n=17) 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 1-23-5 Injuries per year# of C ontractors Figure 4-24 ContractorsÂ’ per ception on the day laborers in juries per year hired by construction firms (n=17) Before day laborers are hired through a labor agency, an agreement is made between the contractor and agen cy. The hiring of day laborer s is on a daily basis and the


52 contractor is responsible for the proper utilization of the day laborers. The agreement covers many issues including utilization of day laborers, safety requirements, and hourly wages. This researcher obtained agreements that were prepared by the labor agencies and which provided guidelines on the arrangements to be followed between the labor agency and the contractor. The contracts stated that the customer (construction firm) is responsible for the supervision, directing, contro lling and instructing of the day laborers. The customer is obligated to provide a safe environment for the day laborers. Also, the customer will take all reasonable steps to have the day laborers follow the same rules and regulations that other employees follow. The labor agency is responsible for the workersÂ’ compensation and insurance for the day laborer s. The labor agency has to follow the same pay rate for the day laborers stated by law (minimum wage standards). The customer is not allowed to recommend th e day laborers to other labor agencies, contractors, or subcontractors. Other issues that were noted included pay, liabilities, written permissions for using equipment a nd machinery, and other legal information. According to the analysis of the agreemen ts, there were a few differences between the contracts. The customer is not allowed to hire the day laborer di rectly from the labor agency unless negotiation occurs. One labor agency has the construction firm wait until the day laborer has worked with the constr uction firm continuously for six months and then if the customer wants to hire the day la borer prior to the 6 mont hs then the customer must pay a fee of $2,500.00 to break the contract . Another labor agency does not state a period of time of employment the day laborer mu st work for a single customer. It states that the customer conversion fee calculation is 1% for each thousand dollars of the annual


53 actual or projected salary (e.g. 20% for a $20,000.00 salary) multiplied by the annual salary, to a maximum of thirty percent (30%). Another ag ency has a conversion fee of 1% per thousand dollars to the actual salary up to a maximum of 35% if the contract is broken before 180 days. Another agency has a $900 fee for breaking the contract if the day laborer is hired before working 13 weeks with the company. Each customer has a trial period of time in which the worker can be sent back to the agency without being charged. The time the agency will allow the contractor to request for a new day labor to be sent to the jobsite before the contractor is charged range from two to four hours. Also, almost every agen cy has a minimum time a customer has to employ the day laborer. The laborer is guaranteed a minimum of four hours when coming to work. Each labor agency has a period of time befo re a bill is delinquent. The times range from seven days to sixty days. If the bill is not paid an interest rate of 1.5% per month is added to the bill (see Table 4-1).


54Table 4-1 Comparison of Different Contracts between Labor Agencies and Their Customers A B C D E F G H Replace worker at no charge 2 hours 4 hours 8 hours 2 hours N/A 2 hours N/A N/A Maintains workers' compensation Customer is responsible for Safety of workers Time before breaking hiring agreement 6 months N/A 180 days N/A 13 weeks N/A N/A N/A Penalty for breaking hiring agreement customer agrees to pay a sum of $2,500 fee calculation is 1% for each thousand dollars of the actual or predicted salary (e.g. 20% for a $20,000 salary) multiplied by the annual salary, to a maximum of 30%. Also no less than $1,000 fee calculation is 1% for each thousand dollars of the actual or predicted salary (e.g. 20% for a $20,000 salary) multiplied by the annual salary, to a maximum of 35%. Also no less than $1,000 N/A Customer agrees to pay Services $900.00 pay roll transfer charge N/A N/A NA. Not allowed to have workers unsupervised N/A N/A Insurance does not cover claims under the Jones Act N/A N/A N/A N/A Company is held harmless to any kind of damage if the customer has the worker do anything outside the scope of work N/A N/A


55Table 4-1. Continued A B C D E F G H Company pays overtime Not allowed to operate machinery without consent N/A N/A Agency provides safety equipment N/A Cannot be around cash, credit card machines, valuables unless supervised N/A N/A Time allowed to pay invoices 30 days 45 days 30 days N/A 60 days N/A 30 days 7 days Penalty when invoices not paid in time 1.5% per month 1.5% per month 1.5% per month N/A 1.5% per month N/A 1.5% per month 1.5% per month Recruit, interview, test, screen, and orient employees N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A Minimum Hour work day 4 hours 4 hours 4 hours 4 hours N/A 4 hours N/A N/A


56 The time record sheet is where the contractor will fill the appropriate time of work for the day laborers. The time record sheet has a space provided if any overtime hours occur and the day laborer will receive time and a half pay. Each labor agency has different pay rate s and bill rates for their employees and customers. Day laborers performing work as semi-skilled, skilled and unskilled laborer all have different pay wages ranging from minimum wage to $16.00/Hr (see Table 4-2). Table 4-2 Labor AgenciesÂ’ Average Range fo r Bill Rates and Pay Rates of Day Laborers Bill Rate / HR Pay Rate Unskilled $12.00 $14.00 Minimum wage Semi-Skilled $15.00 $20.00 Min $10.00 Skilled $22.50 $30.00 $10.00 $16.00 The hiring agreement with the labor agency and contractor states many issues that need to be addressed. Issues such as safe ty, insurance, training, protection equipment, and terms in the hiring agreement are mentione d in the contract to help protect the day laborers. It is in the best interest of the contractor to pay attent ion to the contract and follow the supervision rules set forth by the labor agencies. StudentÂ’s Views Most of the students who participated in this survey had experience working for general contractors performing commercial work in the state of Florida. Other students worked in different construction sectors including working with subcontractors on residential projects, with temporary day la borers agencies, and with some specialty construction projects. The information gather ed was based on the studentsÂ’ perceptions


57 after working with day laborers on the different types of constructi on projects (see Figure 4-25). 0.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% CommercialResidentialTemp LaborBoth Commercial and Residential Specialty Figure 4-25 Type of industries wher e students performed work (n=57) The fifty-seven students who participated in the survey were seniors or graduate students. Only students with some experience with day laborers or who had experience in the hiring process were asked to complete th e survey. Thus, only students with first hand knowledge provided information by completing the survey. All of the students had at least some of e xperience with construction firms. Most of them had worked between 3 and 6 months as an intern in the field. The agencies the contractors used were primarily the same agen cies previously interv iewed (see Figure 426).


58 0.0% 5.0% 10.0% 15.0% 20.0% 25.0% Labor ReadyAction LaborAble BodyWorkforceTradesStaffLabor FindersMany Agencies Figure 4-26 Labor agencies that constructi on firms hire based on students experiences (n=57) The students generally believed that the us age of day laborers had increased in the past five to ten years (see Fi gure 4-27). This is presumably due to the vast amount of construction work occurring in the state of Fl orida, including the c onstruction of condos and multi-use buildings. A few of the students had worked over a year in construction and were able to see a slight increase in th e use of day laborers in their short period of working. 0.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% 70.0% 80.0% HigherSameLower Figure 4-27 StudentsÂ’ perception of the growth of the use of day laborers compared from 5 and 10 years ago (n=57) Every student surveyed had some level of experience working with day laborers. According to the students, day laborers were primarily men (over 90%) who could read


59 and write English reasonable well. The aver age age was estimated to be between 25-35 years (see Figure 4-28). 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 2023252627283035373840414550 Average Age of Day Laborers Figure 4-28 StudentsÂ’ percep tion of the average age of day laborers (n=57) Most day laborers worked mainly as clean up and a few did work in the concrete and framing areas (see Figure 429). The few women who were hired from the agencies were generally hired to do light task s as sweeping or secretarial work. 0.0% 5.0% 10.0% 15.0% 20.0% 25.0% 30.0%G ene r al La bo Cle an Up ME P F r amin g, Drywall, P a Site W or k Mason / Con c r e t Other Mul t ipl e Figure 4-29 StudentsÂ’ percepti on of the types of trades represented by day laborers (n=57) The overall consensus of the students who dealt with day laborers felt the day laborers compared poorly to the construction firmÂ’s permanent employees in all aspects of safety, attitude towards wo rk, quality of work, attendance, attitude towards permanent employees, general character integrity and their intelligence (see Figure 4-30).


60 Safety of day laborers Day laborers attitude towards work Day laborers quality of work Day laborer attendence to work Day laborers attitude towards other employees Day laborers general character Day laborers experience in construction Very Low Low Low Mediu m Medium Medium High High Very High Figure 4-30 StudentsÂ’ perception about day laborers (n=57) More than 35% of the students believed that day laborers worked in an unsafe manner. About half of the students reported concerns about theft by day laborers. When the agency did not have a drop off system, the day laborers often would not show up for the workday. This was seen as a problem by 87% of the students. Many of the day laborers were not as experienced as other hour ly employees. Because of this, 69% of the students felt day laborers did not have the sa me work skills as other employees, 74% felt they had lower work ethics, and 87% felt they could not perform the same quality of work as the hourly employees. Also, 35% of the students felt the day laborers had problems communicating with ot her employees and supervisor s, which caused additional problems on the job site (see Figure 4-31). 0.0% 20.0% 40.0% 60.0% 80.0% 100.0% Issues that arose working with day laborers Day laborer safety issues Day laborers theft issues Day laborers attendence to work Day laborers work skills Day laborers work ethics Day laborers quality of work Day laborers language barriers Figure 4-31 StudentsÂ’ perception on issues dealing with da y laborers (n=57)


61 Of the students, 70% felt day laborers perf ormed very poorly compared to the other hourly employees, 26% felt day laborers worked as well as other employees and 4% felt the day laborers tried very hard but could not accomplish the same tasks. The students believed this was because of the lack of training for the type of work they were performing (see Figure 4-32). Day laborers do no t get paid for the quality of work or work accomplishments. They get paid by the hour and had less interest in performing exceptionally. The day laborers were believed to have little to no education with only some having a high school diploma. 0.0% 20.0% 40.0% 60.0% 80.0% Did perform as wellDid not perform as wellTry hard Figure 4-32 StudentsÂ’ percep tion on how day laborers perf orm compared to hourly employees (n=57) Of the students, 45% stated that their em ployers (primarily general contractors) supplied the day laborers with the proper pe rsonal protective equi pment, approximately 20% felt the day laborers did have a proper safety walkthrough, and approximately 20% felt the day laborers did have a safety orie ntation before stepping on the job site (see Figure 4-33). This was similar to what the co nstruction firms stated, mainly that the day laborers are supposed to be or iented through the agency. Even with little training, the injury rate of the day laborers was low. The students felt that the day laborers would do anything that was asked of them. The day laborers did many tasks without any prior


62 training and were reluctant to ask a supervisor for help for the fear of being sent home. This probably was because the tasks that th ese day laborers performed were menial and usually out of harmÂ’s way. 0.0% 20.0% 40.0% 60.0% 80.0% 100.0% Students perception on the contractors policies C ontractors conducted safety w alkthroughs C ontractor provide PPE C ontractors perform ed safety orientation C ontractors that have day laborers follow sam e safety requirm ent s as other em ployees C ontractor sent laborers hom e for not obeying safety requirem ents Figure 4-33 StudentsÂ’ percepti on of contractorÂ’s policies on safety with day laborers (n=57) Some of the construction firms where th e students worked hired day laborers permanently through the labor agencies. The firms hi red the day laborers to do administration tasks such as secretarial wo rk, but mostly for ge neral labor work (see Figure 4-34). If a day laborer had good work experience in construc tion, the day laborers could even get hired as a superintendent. The number of skilled da y laborers represented a smaller percentage when compared to the number of unskilled day laborers that these construction firms hired on a weekly basis.


63 0.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% 70.0% 80.0% SuperintendentLaborerSecretary Figure 4-34 Students’ perception of the positions day laborer s were hired permanently by construction firms (n=30) 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%Day laborers follow same safety requirments Day laborers who work as well as hourly employees Contractor had problems with theft by day laborers Contractor had to send day laborers home for not obeying rules Contractor hire day laborers off the street Contractor performed safety orientation Labor agency provided PPEYe s Students Perception Contractors Perception Figure 4-35 Comparison of responses between contractors and students 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Labor agency provides PPE Labor agency performs a safety orientationYe s Contractors' Policy Labor Agencies' Policy Figure 4-36 Comparison of responses betw een contractors and labor agencies Overall the students believed that many of the day laborers could not perform as well as other hourly employees. They felt like they were the “babysitters” of these day


64 laborers who would work at a slow pace and did poor quality work. Even though the day laborers were paid minimum wa ges, the students felt that the day laborers did not work adequately for the money spent. After al l, that was why the contractors hired day laborers to perform such tasks as clean up, b ecause it was construction work that did not require skilled professionals.


65 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSIONS The research results show that day laborers provide a major service in the construction industry. At the same time, labor agencies have provide d temporary jobs for many day laborers and the labor agencies ma ke various accommodations to assist day laborers in a variety of ways. The relati onships between the labor agencies and the contractors result in a mutually financiall y rewarding arrangement for all parties. Each transaction between a c ontractor and labor agency is governed by a contract that is signed by both parties. The contract is in favor of the labor agencies because it places most responsibilities on the contractor onc e the day laborer steps on a project site. Even though the labor agency is responsible for the day laborerÂ’s workersÂ’ compensation, it appears that the contra ct has loopholes that will cover the labor agency if a day laborer is injured onsite. Among the many labor agencies three major agencies, Able Body, Labor Ready, and Labor Finders have become dominant and appear to ha ve cornered the market in supplying day laborers in some areas. Labor Ready is the dominant player in the day labor industry. For example, when calling se veral other agencies, many of the telephone numbers were disconnected or th ey were no longer in service. For this reason the sample size of labor agencies was smaller than expected. Most contractors feel day laborers are ofte n inefficient workers. These day laborers provide challenges that need to be addressed. Contractor s commonly hire day laborers


66 for a single day and then rele ase them. Even when hired for a single day, day laborers require close supervision to ensure that they will be productive. The contractors and labor agencies do a c onsiderable amount of business with each other. This includes both daily hires a nd permanent hires. With the amount of construction occurring in Florida, the da y labor agencies will continue to grow.


67 CHAPTER 6 RECOMMENDATIONS This study objective was to find out mo re information about temporary labor agencies and the way day laborers were obt ained for and utilized by contractors on construction sites. The information that was obtained was helpful in providing insights on the use of the day laborers on construction sites. The study showed the hiring practices that were followed by the day labor agencies an d the contractors. It also showed how day laborers are utilized on the site. Labor agencies need to be aware of the ut ilization of the day laborers in the field. Labor agencies claimed they did give the day laborers directions on how to report if they were being mistreated or abused on the site . From the results it appeared as if the agencies were giving the proper training for construction day laborers because the injury rate was quite low. A recommendation for labor agencies is that they need to provide more job skill training in their training sessi ons. If agencies would pr ovide extra training to teach the day laborers skilled tasks, the day laborers would have a better chance of receiving higher pay and a permanent job. Contractors need to pay more attention to the use of their day laborers. With so many large construction firms using labor agen cies, the firms need day laborers who are well trained from the labor agencies. To make this training feasible for the construction firms and labor agencies, the day laborers need to work harder and be more dependable to provide a better return on investment. None of the construction firms wanted to invest in the day-to-day worker.


68 Further research stil l could be completed on the utiliz ation and treatment of the day laborers by construction firms, labor agencies or permanent employees on a job site. Another study should be conducte d with a larger sample size . The new research should interview more contractors and labor agencies in other states than Florida or include more cities besides the ones interviewed in this rese arch to broaden the scope of the research. Stratifying the contractors into different divisions of construction should also be done to analyze the different types of subc ontractors who frequently use day laborers. Framers, electricians, plumbers and concrete workers were four areas where many of the day laborers were placed with subcontractors. Finding the key safety hazards, and abuses if any, would help the labor agencies know more about the treatment of their employees. The smaller contractors or s ubcontractors used the day labo rers for more skilled tasks such as drywall hanging, placing concrete or digging trenches, while the larger contractors used the day la borers for general clean up. Interviewing day laborers a nd the hourly employees on a construction site could give more insight on the treatment of the da y laborers. The day laborers could give some insight into how they were treated and used on the job sites. They could give accurate information on certain tasks that were out of their assigned scope of work or tasks that could cause bodily harm to them. If a new researcher would want to know the information directly, the researcher could hi re on with a day labor agency and work for them for the day and personally experience the utilization of them on the project, the payment process at the end of the day and the respect received from other employees on the site.


69 Another aspect that could be researched c oncerns the street hires and the utilization of these people. The impression was that st reet hires were usually the undocumented immigrants who worked for minimum wages w ith no safety orientation or protective equipment available to them. Researching thes e day laborers would be difficult due to the turnover of these day laborers, but any information should be helpful. Day laborers perform an important role in the construction in dustry because they give the contractor affordable labor to perform menial tasks that the contractor does not want to pay its normal permanent employees to perform. Even with the persona of day laborers being slow and inefficient employees, the money saved in salary has caused this industry to boom. Hopefully a researcher will continue this study and suggest ways to improve the working conditions of the day laborers.


70 APPENDIX A TEMPORARY LABOR AGENCY INTERVIEW QUESTIONS 1. For what geographic area does your company provide day laborers? 2. How many different workers does your firm have in its placement pool? 3. How long have your temporary employees worked for you? a. What percent of your employees have been with your firm for over one year? 4. Do your employees sign a formal agreement before you place them for jobs? a. What are the key issues a ddressed in this contract? 5. Do you perform a criminal background check on temporary employees? 6. What percent of the workers are place d with firms working on construction projects? a. What type of jobs do your employees get hired for on construction sites? 7. Does your company provide transportation for workers to get to the construction projects? 8. How many different construction contra ctors hire from your labor agency? 9. How many days per week does the averag e contractor call for day laborers? 10. What percentages of your employees are re quested back to co nstruction jobsites? 11. Do you ever have contractors request certa in employees not to be sent to their construction projects? 12. On average, how long are worker s placed with a single employer? 13. What is the typical rate of pay for workers placed on construction projects? 14. Do you have a safety policy manual for your employees? a. What is the safety policy for your employees? 15. Do you make the laborers go through a safe ty orientation before placing them on construction projects? 16. What percent of your current employees can read and write reasonably well in English? 17. What percent of your current employees speak Spanish? 18. What is the average age of your current employees? 19. How many of your current employees are women? 20. What type of insurance policy do you have for your employees? 21. Do your employees get to choose the location and/or industry for work? 22. What is the injury rate of employees working for you? 23. What is the injury rate of the empl oyees working for you in the construction industry? 24. Do you employees need any specific sk ills to work on construction sites? 25. Do you provide safety equipment for the employees such as hard hats? a. Is the safety equipment provided to the employees at no charge? 26. What is the number of employees you hire today compared to five, ten years ago?


71 27. Have some contractors tried to hire your employees on a permanent basis? a. How does the contract address this issue? 28. Is it possible to get a copy of a contract for labor placement? 29. If I have further questions w ould it be ok if I call you back?


72 APPENDIX B GENERAL CONTRACTOR INTERVIEW QUESTIONS 1. What type of work does your firm perform? 2. What is your companyÂ’s annual volume of business? 3. What percent of the work do you self-perform 4. What is the size of your current project? 5. When did your project begin? 6. What is the predicted du ration of our project? 7. Has your company ever hired any day la borers from temporar y labor agencies? a. If so, for what tasks? b. How many different labor ag encies do you work with? 8. How many subcontractors do you have currently on this job? 9. What percent of the subcontractors do you believe hire at least some of their workers through day labor agencies? a. What trades are represented by labor agencies on your jobsite? 10. What is your perception of the number of day labors hired on construction sites as opposed to five years ago? 11. What is your general percep tion of the day laborers wh en compared with your other employees? 12. What is your perception on the quality of work performed by day laborers? 13. Does your company provide any safety e quipment for day laborers such as hard hats or harnesses? 14. Do you make the laborers go through a sa fety orientation before performing certain tasks? 15. Are the temporary employees given a walk through the site to learn of all the hazards related to the job? 16. What is your companyÂ’s injury rate? a. How many injuries have your workers had this last year that required treatment by a doctor? 17. What percent of your day laborers can read and write reasonably well in English? 18. Approximately what percent of the day laborers speak Spanish? 19. What is the average ag e of the day laborers? 20. What percentage of day laborer s on this site were women? 21. Have you ever hired a day laborer as a permanent employee? If so, how many and for what position? 22. Do the day laborers follow the same safety requirements as a permanent employee? 23. Have you ever had any problems with day laborers on the job site? 24. Are the day laborers as good at performi ng some work tasks, as are other longterm employees?


73 25. Have you ever had to send a day laborer home for not obeying your company policy 26. Do you hire any day laborers off the street or any other source besides temporary labor agencies? 27. Have any of these day laborers caused in jury to themselves or other employees? 28. Have you had a problem with theft from temporary employees on your site? 29. Can you name any of the subcontractors that might be able to share information on their experiences in hiring day laborers? 30. If I have further questions w ould it be ok if I call you back?


74 APPENDIX C STUDENT SURVEY Student Name ______________________________________________________ 1. How many months experience have you had in constr uction or a construction related position? ____________ 2. Did you work for a general contractor, subcontractor or temp agency? General Subcontractor Temp Agency 3. What construction industry/ sector did you work in? Commercial Residential Other _____________ 4. What kinds of project s did your firm build? __________________________________________________________ 5. Did the company you worked for hire la borers from temporary labor agencies? Yes No DonÂ’t Know a. If so, for what tasks? ____________________________________ b. How many different labor agencies did your company work with? _________ c. What are the names of the labor agencies (if you remember them) __________________________________________________________ 6. Did your company provide any personal prot ective equipment such as hard hats or harnesses for laborers from the labor agencies? Yes No DonÂ’t Know 7. Did your company make the laborers from the labor agencies complete a safety orientation before performing certain tasks? Yes No DonÂ’t Know 8. What percent of the subcontractors do you believe hired at least some of their workers through day labor agencies? __________________________________________________________ a. What trades were represente d by labor agencies on your jobsite? _______________________________________________


75 9. What is your perception of the number of laborers from the labor agencies hired on construction sites today as opposed to five years ago? Higher Lower Same DonÂ’t Know The following questions pertain to your gene ral perceptions about temporary employees, whether they were employed by your firm or by other firms. 10. What is your general per ception of the laborers from the labor agencies when compared with permanent employees? Worse Same Better Safety: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Attitude towards work: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Quality of work: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Attendance: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Attitude towards permanent employees: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 General Character/Integrity 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Experience 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 11. Were the temporary employees given a walk through of the site to learn of all the hazards related to the job? Yes No DonÂ’t Know 12. What percent of the laborers from th e labor agencies could read and write reasonably well in English? __________________________________________________________ 13. Approximately what percent of the la borers from the labor agencies spoke Spanish? __________________________________________________________ 14. What was the average age of the laborers from the labor agencies? __________________________________________________________ 15. What percentage of the laborers from the labor agencies on this site were women? __________________________________________________________ 16. Did the company ever hire a laborer from a labor agency as a permanent employee? Yes No DonÂ’t Know If so, how many and fo r what position? _____________________________ 17. Did the laborers from the labor agencies follow the same safety requirements as a permanent employee? Yes No DonÂ’t Know


76 18. Did the company ever have any problems w ith laborers from the labor agencies on the job site? Safety: Yes No DonÂ’t Know Theft: Yes No DonÂ’t Know Attendance: Yes No DonÂ’t Know Work Skills: Yes No DonÂ’t Know Work Ethics: Yes No DonÂ’t Know Quality: Yes No DonÂ’t Know Language Barrier: Yes No DonÂ’t Know 19. In General, were the laborers from th e labor agencies as good at performing equivalent work tasks as the permanent employees? Yes No DonÂ’t Know 20. Did a laborer from the labor agencies ever get sent home for not obeying your company policy Yes No DonÂ’t Know 21. Have any of these laborers from the labor agencies caused injury to themselves or other employees? Yes No DonÂ’t Know 22. Did the company hire any laborers off th e street or any other source besides temporary labor agencies? Yes No DonÂ’t Know
















84 LIST OF REFERENCES Able Body. < > 18 April 2006. Berkeley Parents Network. Not Paying Workman's Comp for Day Laborers. 2004. < ommend/home/daylabor.html > 18 April 2006. Dole, Chris and Kerr, Daniel. Challenging E xploitation and Abuse: A Study of the Day Labor Industry in Cleveland. Sept. 2001. < > 18 April 2006. Economic Policy Institute. < des_livingwage_livingwagefacts > 18 April 2006. Fallas, Bernando. Labor Ready's Et hics Questioned by Many. Apr 20, 2004. < /publish/article_106.shtml > 18 April 2006. Federation for American Immigration Reform. Confronting Illegal Day Labor Issues in Your Community. < me=team_team6c4e?&printer_friendly= 1 > 18 April 2006. Grabelsky, Jeffrey. Temporar y Employment Agencies: Strategic Challenges Ahead. May 29, 2001. < > 8 November 2005. Greene, Josh. Temporary Insanity Dangerous Work. Low Pay. No Future. Caught in the Jaws of the Temp Labor Industry. November 8, 2005. < rmail/hpn/2001-March/002988.html > 18 April 2006. Greene, Josh. Temporary Measures. How Temp Agencies Use Welfare-To-Work Laws To Rack Up Big Profits. Sojour ners Magazine. July-August 2001. < action=magazine.article&issue=soj01 07&article=010723 > 8 November 2005. Greenfield, Charles. Good for Day Labor ers, Good for Herndon. Washington Post. August, 2005. < > 20 April 2006.


85 Gutierrez, Luis V. Worker Protection: Labo rÂ’s Efforts to Enforce Protections for Day Laborers. Could Benefit from Better Data and Guidance. House of Representatives. U.S. General Accounting Office, September 2002. < rk/RESEARCH/LitReviews/GAO%20Day %20Labor.pdf > 18 April 2006. Johnson, Darragh. Day Laborers Seek Safeguards, Training. Employer Investigated in Teen's Death. May 2004. < articles/A58055-2004May26.html > 18 April 2006. Kamber, Michael. On the Corner: New YorkÂ’s Undocumented Day Laborers Fight for Their Piece of the Big Apple. July 25 31, 2001. <,kamber,26668,1.html > 18 April 2006. Kincaid, Molly. The Waiting Line. Metro Pu lse Online. February 3, 2005 Vol. 15, No. 5 < r_2005/dir_1505/t_cover.html > 18 April 2006. Labor Ready. < > 16 November 2005. Legal Match. < ticle/rights-of-day-laborers-temporary-employees.html > 11 January 2006. Lonewacko Blog. < archives/003552.html > 19 January 2006. Mehta, Chirag, Baum, Sara, Theodore, Nik, Bush, Lori. Workplace Safety in AtlantaÂ’s Construction Industry: Institutional Failure in Temporary Staffing Arrangements. June 2003. < cations/recent/natlanta.htm > 8 November 2005. North American Alliance for Fair Employment. < > 8 November 2005. Padden, Brain. Communities Str uggle with Realities of Il legal Immigrants and Day Laborers. 2005. < > 20 April 2006. Peterson Iver. Hispanic Day Laborers Sue Fr eehold, Claiming Right to Gather to Seek Work. New York Times. December 31, 2003. < gion/31LABO.html?ex=1388293200&en=d c205a336e5289bc&ei=5007&partner=USERLAND > 20 April 2006.


86 Rems, Janet. Meeting on day labor site bri ngs out intense opinions but civil behavior. July, 2005. < G=461&dept_id=511691&rfi=6 > 18 April 2006. San Francisco Department of Public Health Environmental Health Section"EnviroTimes" Newsletter. Occupational Safety & Health Training For Day Laborers. < > 25 January 2006. State v. Labor Ready, Inc., No. 18824-8-I II, (Slip Op., December 19, 2000). 16 November 2005. < /scripts/ ourt=wa&vol=2000_app/188248&invol=3 > 18 April 2006. The Next Big Thing in Temporary Labor. LRA's Trade Union Advisor May 1999 < > 16 November 2005. Thomsen, Mark. Poor Practices Catching Up with Labor Ready. June 25, 2001. < ticle.cgi/article609.html > 16 November 2005. Umble, Chad. Neighboring Municipalities Deal with Day Laborers. Potomoc News. May 8, 2005. < WPN_BasicArticle&c=M GArticle&cid=1031782591565&path = > 20 April 2006. University of Houston. < > 16 November 2006. U.S. Department of Labor. < > 16 February 2006. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. < > 17 April 2006. Uthappa, N. Renuka . From Street Corners to Congress. Day Laborer s are Organizing. Labor Notes. March 2003. < > 20 April 2006. Webmaster Day Laborers. < > 19 April 2006.


87 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH John Schrantz was born on September 6, 1980, in Jonesboro, Arkansas. He graduated from Jonesboro High School in 1999 and began college at the University of Florida in August of 1999. John studied in the College of En gineering under the Department of Industrial and Systems Engin eering, and also received a minor in business and a sales certificate. He joined Theta Chi Fraternity my freshman year and became treasurer in his tenure there. John wa s accepted to the Florida Cicerones in 2001and continued to be active to 2004. In 2004, John wa s asked to join Florida Blue Key and has been active till his current time. As a student of the University of Florida, John has had three internships, with Hytr ol Conveyors located in Jonesboro, Arkansas, in 2003, with Olympus Construction located in Jonesbor o, Arkansas, in 2004, and with Hardin Construction located at the Luau in Des tin, Florida, in 2005. In 2005, John began his graduate program in the M.E. Rinker Sr. School of Building Construction and is working on his MSBC.