Portland Mayor Charlie Hales is recommending city support for a project that helps connect day laborers to prospective employers.
Hales’ proposal to spend city money on the Martin Luther King Jr. Worker Center was part of his budget proposal issued last week. The project is run by the VOZ center, which grassroots organizers started with the help of the city about fifteen years ago.
It’s run out of a small trailer at the edge of Northeast Portland. On this day six or seven Latino men are lined up looking for jobs in construction and landscaping.Francisco Aguirre is the site manager. He said the work center helps day laborers by making sure they get paid fairly and giving them a safe place to wait for work.“You can get hit by a car outside. Here, you’re safe, you know. We provide skill training, English class, so they can be able to communicate,” Aguirre said.
Aguirre says VOZ was told it might get cut from the mayor’s budget this year. Instead, Hales has proposed giving the organization $30,000, a small increase over last year. The mayor will release a full budget proposal later this month and the city council will vote on the budget June 25.