From services to activism: How Latino day laborers and domestic workers are advocating for themselves

Walters, J.

For over a decade, Gustavo Torres and CASA of Maryland have been working with day laborers, tenants and domestic workers to fight and advocate for themselves. The organization responds to the growing phenomenon of immigrants working as temporary laborers, ripe for exploitation. Going beyond services, CASA also develops workers as leaders in their communities and engages them in broader policy issues. Their approach includes the following: Create Employment Centers: CASA organizes centers across the state where day laborers can gather to receive services and training, and to be available for work. Through the centers, workers establish relationships with reputable employers and demand a baseline wage. Build Leadership on A Range of Issues: From housing to health care, workers emerge as leaders on a range of issues. CASA provides them with training and support. Engage Public Policy: CASA works on the local, state and federal levels to impact on the full array of issues that affect immigrant workers. They also train workers to give testimony and speak directly with elected officials about their issues. Participate in Coalitions: Ultimately, Torres and his colleagues must engage a broad array of interests and groups to be successful on any initiative.