After serving Alameda County laborers for almost ten years, the Hayward Day Labor Center had to close on January 31, 2017. The Day Labor Center (DLC) lost its fiscal agent and, due in part to cash flow problems caused by how grants are awarded and when they are paid out, it could not find a new fiscal agent. This is a great loss for Southern Alameda County and Hayward in particular. Some statistics based on a report by Gabriel Hernandez, the director, follow.
The DLC opened in June 2007. The client base was about 300 male day labor workers along the Tennyson corridor. Most of them were young men from Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Mexico, many with Mayan ancestry who spoke only limited English and for whom Spanish was a second language. About a third of the workers had never been to school and were not literate in any language.
In 2015, the client base was about 500 workers in Alameda County, 30% of whom were women. The DLC also served youth that didn’t graduate from high school and the re-entry population. Educational institutions and companies like Valley Crest Landscaping, Manada Roofing, UC Berkeley Labor Center, National Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Department of Housing and Urban Developments, and the Environmental Protection Agency provided workers with occupational health and safety trainings. Over 1000 employers, businesses, and homeowners hired workers from the center. In 2016, the DLC generated more than 2000 job opportunities, producing a disposable income of $300,000 that was spent in South Hayward.
By 2015, the DLC had become a first contact for community health needs. Various local agencies and medical programs saw DLC clients for their health and dental needs. Workers accessed the health program more than 800 times annually, and the center estimated saving local hospitals approximately $720,000 in Emergency Room costs. The center also trained workers as Peer Health Counselors to perform outreach for the program and to educate workers about current illnesses and epidemics.
To address isolation, depression, diabetes, and obesity, the DLC created and maintained several community gardens. Workers formed soccer teams that played in three leagues with about 39 teams. Funds raised from the leagues provided Tennyson High School athletic programs with thousands of dollars annually.
Women participated in Zumba for an hour in the morning, five days a week. They attended leadership trainings weekly, and the center was a safe site for domestic violence counseling and support group meetings.
The DLC worked with the Hayward Library’s Literacy Plus program and provided workers with literacy and ESL classes Monday – Thursday from 5pm – 7pm.
The DLC helped workers who were not paid their wages. With legal help they recovered about $30,000 annually. Workers could also receive citizenship, asylum, and other immigration services at the center through a partnership with Catholic Charities. Most recently they tried to address the influx of unaccompanied minors in the South Hayward area.
The center was designed to organize the workers to be productive citizens of Hayward. Workers regularly participated in volunteer work valued at $40,000 annually improving the streets of Hayward.
We hope that some of the services can be offered through other agencies, but the Day Labor Center will be missed by many. -Kristina