Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn grabbed a shovel and dug in for Casa Latina’s groundbreaking event near the Central district.
“Maybe in other places, they think immigrants aren’t a great idea. In Seattle, you make us stronger,” McGinn said.
The new three-story building will serve as a job-dispatch and adult education center. The organization started on the streets of Seattle, teaching day laborers about job safety and how to avoid wage theft. It now hosts 200 people a day and about 80 of those find work through the dispatch service. Day laborer Victor Ceron remembers the days when Casa Latina operated out of a trailer.
“The organization of Casa Latina has done an amazing job through the years. The new building is going to help us improve our lives and have a better future.”
The new site will be able to offer more advanced English classes and accommodate those who’ve been on the waitlist. Most of the jobs that come in through the dispatch are from homeowners looking for help with improvement projects such as painting, landscaping or laying drywall.
Casa Latina is a member organization – day laborers pay an annual 10 dollar-a-year fee and agree to collectively negotiate their wages, to stop undercutting that is common on the streets.