Personally I have never advocated panhandling — a euphemism for begging. I get up at 4 a.m. to make my daily trek to a day-labor facility located in Virginia. Mind you, day-labor companies are often perceived as being scams due to some of their seemingly unscrupulous practices.
However, day-labor companies do provide a tangible semblance of structure and opportunity for society’s disenfranchised by providing employment — a valid alternative to panhandling. Employment is also conducive to motivation and a sense of self-esteem, both of which are essential in the uphill climb to stability.
But, as we all know, there are two sides to every coin, and there are as many negatives surrounding day-labor facilities as there are positives. Namely, day-labor companies exploit a labor force discarded by mainstream society. They offer no healthcare, no life insurance, no upward mobility, no living wage, and thus, no light at the end of the tunnel. Day-labor companies are merely Band-aids for the economic and social ills of an ailing society.
Since they are in the business of making money, it is not surprising that they skim a portion of your wages and charge you for everything from gloves to safety glasses. Also a company that uses, a day-labor establishment for employees cannot hire one these temporary workers directly unless the day-labor establishment is compensated. Thus, by working for a day-labor company, even though they provide you with no benefits, stability or steady income, you become “their property.”
And, while many companies insist that all applicants submit to a urinalysis prior to employment, day-labor facilities only demand a specimen if a person is injured on the job. Of course, the ramification is that if your urine or blood sample shows evidence of alcohol or drug use, the day-labor company is absolved of all its responsibility for medical care, including ambulatory services and workman’s compensation.
While I refuse to be as ignorant as some and assume that everyone that worked through a day-labor company is either and alcohol or drug abuser, I can’t help wondering if permanent employees are subjected to the same scrutiny when injured.
But who am I to imply that there is a disparity in workplace treatment between the haves and the have –nots?