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Some Fulton day laborers skeptical of new hiring hall effort

  • Most of the day laborers in the town of Fulton have refused to sign up with the new Day Labor Center, claiming the last attempt led to preferential treatment for some. (photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

The organizers of a new day labor center in Fulton have their work cut out for them.

A previous effort to organize day laborers along Fulton Road left some workers feeling suspicious of outside help, and some say they won't participate with the new day labor center.

"There's no trust here," said Jose Alberto Victoria, a day laborer who has been seeking work on Fulton Road for 12 years.

Victoria and others said the previous day labor project, sponsored by St. Joseph Health Sonoma County, was not operated fairly and favored some workers over others. It was shuttered about two years ago.

California Human Development, the Santa Rosa nonprofit now managing the Fulton Road center, had nothing to do with the previous operation, said Martha Nu?z, program coordinator. The center's new managers are simply trying to organize day laborers and provide much-needed services, such as English classes and job placement, she said.

"Don't judge me by somebody else's actions," Nu?z said.

The impetus for the project came out of a town hall event hosted by north county Supervisor Mike McGuire in early 2011. During the forum, McGuire heard from Fulton residents about the long-standing issues surrounding day laborers who gather along Fulton Road.

After a year of meetings, CHD agreed to open a hiring hall similar to the one the nonprofit has operated in Healdsburg for years. The Fulton center, which is housed in a mobile trailer on Second Street, between Fulton and River roads, opened Aug. 12 as part of a pilot program to test its impact in the small community.

The hiring process is rather simple, Nu?z said. An employer fills out a form, providing minimal information, such as his or her name, the location of the job site, a phone number, the number of hours the employee is expected to work and the rate of pay. The employer is matched with a willing employee, with pay rates starting at $12 an hour and up.

Inside the mobile center, workstations with laptop computers will be available to help day laborers search for jobs. Workers will be able to take computer-based English classes and prepare resumes and cover letters.

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