When Casa Latina opened its first hiring hall in Belltown in the 1990s, Latino laborers in the area had a choice: they could wait for work on the streets or they could become members of Casa Latina and participate in a daily raffle of jobs. Since then, thousands of workers have chosen to be Casa Latina members. Stories from the workers have always suggested that Casa Latina really is the better place, but for most of our history there’s never been quantifiable proof that we are doing more than providing a warm and dry place for day workers to gather.
Now, we are honored and excited to announce that our long held confidence that workers dispatched from Casa Latina face fewer hardships than workers on the streets has been confirmed by a formal research study. In 2012 and 2015, Nik Theodore, a researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago, visited Seattle and surveyed workers at Casa Latina and at informal hiring sites. Funded by the Ford Foundation, the study is the first of its kind and is proof, in Theodore’s words, that “Casa Latina has directly improved workers’ earnings by increasing their employment rates, maintaining wage standards, and reducing wage theft.”
Theodore’s research reveals that in 2015, workers at Casa Latina had a 49.6% daily employment rate while the rate for workers at informal hiring sites was only 34.1%. Depending on the type of work done, workers at Casa Latina were paid up to 25% more than workers on the street. This means that workers at Casa Latina were hired more often and at a better rate than other workers.
Day laborers run the risk everyday of not finding work—but even when they do, it can be risky as contingent labor faces especially high rates of wage theft. Wage theft is when employers refuse to pay their workers or pay them less than was originally agreed upon. In 2015, 9% of workers at Casa Latina experienced wage theft. At informal hiring sites, that number was a whopping 38%.
Theodore's study is heartening news. In very clear terms, it elucidates the ways in which Casa Latina, and worker centers all across the country, are a triple threat to poverty: we offer hardworking individuals more jobs, more money, and more justice.
But we can’t offer our workers anything without the support of donors. When an employer hires a worker at Casa Latina, that worker rightfully keeps 100% of the wages paid to them. We rely on the generosity of donors like you to make our employment program possible. Please join us in creating more jobs, more money, and more justice by making a donation today.