Monday, August 15, 2005

Plans floated to disperse Murfreesboro Road day laborers

The Tennessean reports on the congregation and hiring of day laborers at Thompson Lane and Murfreesboro Pike, and the community's different opinions about how to disperse them. The Tennessean article doesn't quote anyone who disagrees that the workers should stop gathering there. The Nashville City Paper also reported on the proposals.

"Clad in paint-stained blue jeans, bandannas and baseball caps, the men gather before sunrise at Thompson Place and Murfreesboro Pike, waiting for daily work."

"They talk on their mobile phones, read the Spanish-language newspapers, sit on a bus bench or stand by the gas station. They buy breakfast from the Mapco Express or from a young woman who sells dollar cups of Jell-O."

"And they wait. They wait for someone to drive up and offer them a day's pay for a day's work, usually in the construction or landscaping trades."

"The crowd of Hispanic men, counted on a recent midmorning at 42, is a deterrent to business development and makes the area unsafe, according to some community members who want Metro to stop the workers from gathering there."

"Kirby Davis, president of the Thompson Lane Murfreesboro Road Action Group, said the safety issue, 'whether it's real or perceived,' creates a bad impression of the neighborhood and may be discouraging business growth."

"The issue has been talked about for at least a year among neighborhood leaders. A Metro councilman has proposed a new law aimed at breaking up the daily gathering. An alternative proposal also is being floated to establish a center where workers and employers could meet safely and talk shop in a more organized manner."

"Neighborhood discussions about starting a worker center foundered last summer because of funding issues. But recently, Yuri Cunza, president of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said his group is looking for a physical space for such a center and would consider paying for it."

"Nashville subcontractor Rodolfo Guerra, 29, speaking through a translator paid for by The Tennessean, said he supports the idea of a worker center. Guerra said he worked his way up as a day laborer, personally having to look for work in the street. His business employs 10 people on an ongoing, not day-to-day, basis, said Guerra, who is from Mexico."

While the Tennessean article focuses exclusively on male day laborers, today's New York Times contains an interesting report on female day laborers in the U.S.

For more information about day laborers in Nashville, see the previous Hispanic Nashville Notebook entries for August 3 and July 18, 2005.

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