September 29, 2004
From worker exploitation to women being catcalled by crowds of loitering men, complaints have prompted calls for a temporary day laborer center in Queen Creek.
About 25 people attended the last of a series of meetings on the issue Tuesday. The Town Council asked consultant Lance Decker of LL Decker & Associates to begin researching the problem a year ago after complaints about day laborers crowding intersections, especially at Ellsworth and Ocotillo roads.
Decker told the audience at Queen Creek High School that law officers can’t simply arrest day laborers, as some opponents of a center have suggested.
"It’s an appearance problem," he said. "But laborers have rights."
Mary Gloria, founder of Pan de Vida, a community service group in the area, said an organized center would prevent those problems and laborer abuse, which some of the workers have reported.
"They would work and not be paid adequately or not paid at all," she added. "Sometimes they were beaten."
Pan de Vida has proposed building a temporary center so the town can try out the idea, Gloria said. Its location, cost, timeline, funding and management are still to be determined.
Gloria said she thought the center should be modeled loosely after the Macehualli Work Center at 25th Street and Bell Road in Phoenix. It has ramadas and is managed by nonprofit groups. Phoenix contributed $120,000.
Decker said comments from the meetings, along with his staff’s research, would be given to the town manager in a few weeks and the Town Council would have the final say. Residents interested in commenting can still do so at
Jeri Wilkerson, 34, attends Song of Life United Methodist Church, which is moving to Queen Creek. She said about 70 percent of its members said they would support a center in theory, but that money was another matter.
"Queen Creek is such a new church base, and churches have so few resources that I doubt there could be much financial help," Wilkerson said.
Kevin Taylor, executive ambassador for the Queen Creek Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber hasn’t taken an official position, but he personally hoped a center would succeed.
"Because my wife has been catcalled by day laborers there, she now refuses to go to Circle K during the daytime," he said. "That’s personally offensive to me, but there are humans in need and I respect that significantly."