Day Labor

Nicole Schaller interviewing Jamal Francis
Nicole Schaller interviewing Jamal Francis

Day labor is a form of low-wage employment where people are hired for one day’s work. In order to get hired for day labor, individuals often show up at sunrise with the hopes of making one day’s pay. Day labor jobs are often dangerous and degrading. Many day labor agencies will target individuals who they know need the money, like individuals experiencing homelessness, to work in unsafe environments. In D.C., one common type of day labor is evictions – the work of putting people’s belongings out on the street after they have been evicted. Day labor ultimately does very little to help people find regular employment and often subjects workers to further mistreatment.


“That was the last time I ever did that”

Monseur Alli discusses the large demand for day laborers to do evictions in D.C. Alli talks about the ethics of this type of work.


“The straw that broke the camel’s back”

Levester Green details working a torturous day labor job. Green discusses the low wages associated with day labor work.


“That stuff scared me”

Jaqueline Turner recalls being sent to a place to clean up asbestos with being told beforehand.


“In D.C., that’s how a lot of people worked”

Robert Warren describes the role of day labor in D.C. over time. Warren talks about the correlation between day labor and homelessness.


“I wouldn’t put that on my worst enemy”

Jamal Francis talks about the lack of pay on day labor jobs. Francis describes working dangerous jobs that he was not trained to do.


“The big thing in D.C. is evictions”

Eric Sheptock talks about eviction work in D.C. Sheptock describes the problems associated with this type of day labor.


“That was terrible”

Aida Basnight talks about working day labor jobs in Chicago. Basnight describes the types of day labor jobs women are able to access.


“The bills are not going to wait for you”

David Sembly recounts working through Labor Ready. Sembly says seasonal, temporary jobs like day labor jobs do not allow him to pay the bills.