via the Day Laborer Organizing Project
Brooklyn, NY - Today, July 8, women day laborers and founding members of Apple Eco-Friendly Cleaning Cooperative will be joining for first time the 2011 Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy in Baltimore, Maryland to share strategies and learn new tools for organizing and building capacity of cooperative workplaces.
Apple Eco-Friendly Cleaning is an unique project model led by women day laborers from Williamsburg and Jackson heights to help bridge the disconnect between two starkly different worlds: that of economically and culturally marginalized day laborers, and the world of New York City's more affluent social groups with sophisticated needs for high-quality services. A primary function of this project is to both reduce the barriers and emphasize the unique strengths of day laborers, ultimately enabling them to gain a footing in new segments of the market and compete on a more level playing field.
This project has become an important and energizing strategy to address the formidable barriers that stand in the way of economic and social advancement for many women day laborers that stand in the street corner of Marcy and Division.
Every morning, approximately 20 to 40 women day laborers stand in the corner looking for work in factories, tailor shops, stores, restaurants, and homes, and construction sites.They work for 2, 5, 10, 12 and even up to 14 hours straight a day. In a workplace without an air conditioner and a lunch break, these women- mostly Latino and Polish - load and unload goods from big trucks, clean and repair homes.
The need to earn couple of dollar has brought women from all over New York City to the same corner. "Many more people are coming here, but there is less work and less money," said Yolanda who has been coming to La Parada" for more than 5 years.
Over the past five years, the number of women day laborers in the corner has grown rapidly. As result, bringing a new challenge to the organizing process in the corner. The lack of a physical space and the arrival of new women have prevented from maintaining stable rates, minimizing the competition and preventing labor and civil rights abuses.
"We all have had to become innovative at the time to organize during difficult times" said Luz Maria, a women day laborer that has become an active organizer in the corner. "The need to work and earn a dollar has become a immediate need among everyone in the corner," she said.
Last year, Luz Maria and a group of women day laborers came together to form an unique worker owned green cleaning business, named as Apple Eco-Friendly Cleaning, as a way to create green, healthy and sustainable cleaning jobs with dignified working conditions and a living wage.
"We needed to do something and we did it," said Yesenia, another founding members of Apple Eco-Friendly Cleaning. "I feel that we have found more opportunities as an cooperative. Our hope is to help more women from the corner to create their own work," she said.
Today, women day laborers and founding members of Apple Eco-Friendly Cleaning will be joining for first time the 2011 Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy in Baltimore, Maryland.
Day Laborer Organizing Project
Day Laborer Organizing Project's mission and central value-is to empower day laborers through organizing and education, and creation economic opportunities.
Ligia M. Guallpa
280 Marcy Ave. Brooklyn NY 11211