ban thins gathering of laborers
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 16, 2005
Crowds of day laborers
appear to be dwindling during the first days of a Chandler parking and stopping
ban designed to move morning throngs of workers off Arizona Avenue.
At 6:45 a.m. Wednesday, the third day of the crackdown, fewer than 25 job
seekers stood along the road, and most were gathered in a Circle K parking lot
across the street from a private day labor center. Eleven men waited in the
center's fenced, shaded area for pickup.
Before this week, between 50 and 100 men lined the thoroughfare most weekday
Until Sept. 26, police are issuing warnings to drivers who ignore the 100 new
signs that were installed over the weekend. The signs state a new prohibition
against stopping and parking between 4 and 9 a.m. along targeted streets, which
include Arizona Avenue between Chandler Boulevard and Pecos Road and some side
Officers gave out 25 warnings Monday, 23 Tuesday and 12 Wednesday, police
spokesman Mark Franzen said. Most went to motorists who made illegal stops, but
a few were placed on illegally parked cars, he said.
All were in English and Spanish and contained maps of no-stopping streets. The
push targets drivers who pick up workers, not the job seekers.
Starting Sept. 26, violators will receive citations that carry $25 fines.
"It is just Day 3, and getting the information out has made an impact" reducing
labor pickups on Arizona Avenue, city spokeswoman Nachie Marquez said. "We hope
the motoring public will start using the day-labor center."
Use of the privately funded center at 501 S. Arizona Ave. hasn't increased
significantly this week, although workers are congregating closer to the
facility, said Leah Powell, assistant to the city manager. However, job seekers
aren't moving to other streets as officials feared, and some are likely making
arrangements with employers to be picked up at their homes, she said.
"There was an unbelievably small number of workers out there Tuesday morning,"
said Becky Jackson, president and CEO of the Chandler Chamber of Commerce. The
chamber has sought city action, and Jackson, who has announced she is running
for City Council, has said the laborers along the city's main thoroughfare could
hurt downtown businesses and Chandler's image.
Circle K spokeswoman Diane Ketterhagen said company officials "respectfully
decline comment" on the Chandler day labor issue.
Bea Rios, an employee at Pep Boys at 400 S. Arizona Ave., said laborers continue
to gather in front of the auto parts store, although none was there Wednesday
Mary Polanco-Gerlach, a member of the city's Human Relations Commission, which
recommended the stopping ban and other measures, said it would likely take more
convincing to get workers to use the labor center. "I hope they don't get too
punitive," she said.
Workers on Wednesday did not want to discuss the issue, but have told her in the
past they believe they have to stand along the street to demonstrate their
willingness and fitness for work. They also say contractors avoid the day labor
center because vehicle license numbers are recorded there, Polanco-Gerlach said.