California Allegedly Funding State-Based Labor Center that Illegally Employs Unlicensed Migrant Workers
A California resident has allegedly discovered a trail of illegal employment activity by a state-funded labor center. Despite these findings, state officials have continued to fund the organization without an investigation.
According to The Daily Caller, the Graton Day Labor Center (GDLC) provides temporary employment opportunities for workers in California, typically for construction-based projects. Resident Henry Barnard believes the center is violating the law by using unlicensed contractors, yet the state has refused to look into the matter.
“This thing began in May of 2015,” Barnard explained. “Having spent my life employed in the building trades, I was aware that the GDLC had been operating in violation of state licensing and state insurance law. I began researching particulars.”
Barnard claims that state officials have declined to investigate the center to avoid a backlash from Hispanic voters. When he began his research into the GDLC, the center had already begun the process of petitioning the state for additional funding.
“What I found is that the GDLC informs employers of its members that homeowner insurance substitutes workers compensation insurance,” Barnard said. “I also found that the GDLC was acting, if necessary, as a referral service for unlicensed contractors. Both of these actions are illegal.”
Throughout the course of a year, America’s staffing companies hire approximately 14 million temporary and contract employees. Therefore, it is not out of the realm of possibility that some, if not many, of these workers are unlicensed.
When Barnard began collecting evidence against the center, he immediately contacted the GDLC directly. However, his efforts were rebuffed, which led him to get in touch with the Sonoma County Community Development Commission (CDC).
“As Graton had been in violation of its current contractual obligation to break no laws or suffer termination of current funding, I assumed that it would be necessary for the CDC to withhold any further funds until GDLC’s indiscretions were addressed,” Barnard said. “I was wrong.”
Just days after his phone call to the CDC, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors awarded $80,000 in new funding to the GDLC. According to The Press Democrat, a portion of this money will be used to hire a part-time organizer in Petaluma, CA, which has a large percentage of Hispanic residents.
“The collaborative is going to give us an opportunity to bring in an organizer who can engage the workers in the conversation,” said Elece Hempel, executive director of Petaluma People Services Center.
Eventually, Barnard sought help from the Contractors State License Board (CSLB), which agreed to investigate the GDLC’s employment practices.
“These jobs, if more than $500 in combined labor and material, would require a California contractors’ license,” a CSLB representative told The Daily Caller. “In order to resolve this complaint, CSLB requested an in-person meeting with GDLC staff, so we can address these issues with them.”
Barnard expressed frustration with the CSLB’s approach to contacting the GDLC, adding that he expected a more aggressive investigation into their practices. While he has certainly made headway in his efforts to bust the center, it seems as if this issue is far from being resolved.