Monday, July 18, 2005

Nashville group contemplates day laborer center

The Thompson Lane Murfreesboro Road Action Group has scheduled a meeting to discuss the possibility of a day laborer hiring hall in that neighborhood. The meeting will be in the first floor conference room of the Executive South Office building, 1161 Murfreesboro Road, at 11:30 a.m, Tuesday, July 26. Nashville currently has no day laborer centers, and there is no public debate here on the issue. The Wall Street Journal reports today in this free story on the contrasting activist movements in communities across the country that build (or think about building) centers for expatriate day laborers. It may be a picture of what is to come in Music City.

"The number of immigrant day laborers is rising fast on the heels of the construction boom. Immigrants who lack permanent employment, relying instead on jobs that may change from one day to the next, are a fixture of the U.S. economy, numbering as many as one million nationwide, according to advocacy groups. A substantial number of these workers -- no one knows how many -- are in the U.S. illegally."

"It falls chiefly to individual communities to manage this labor pool and related issues of public safety and quality of life. Some municipalities have responded by opening hiring halls for day laborers; others have banned curbside soliciting. Now, the issue is becoming a magnet for activist groups on both sides of the broader political debate over immigration."

For a primer on day laborers and the groups that fight for and against them, look for the award-winning documentary Farmingville. The film was shown in the 2004 Nashville Film Festival.

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