Day Labor, Worker Centers & Disaster Relief Work in the Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

Day laborers have played a crucial role in Sandy relief efforts, yet many of their contributions remain invisible and unrecognized by local governments and disaster planning and relief agencies. This report discusses the challenges that workers faced during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and the role that worker centers played to protect the health and safety of workers.

The biggest challenge faced by day laborers during their participation as workers and as volunteers in reconstruction brigades during Sandy recovery efforts was the exposure to hazardous material and unsafe working conditions. This was exacerbated by lack of immediate access to proper training, information on potential hazards or adequate equipment. Under the leadership of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), a number of local organizations and worker centers came together to lead in the reconstruction efforts and connect with federal, state, city and philanthropic agencies to find and secure the resources needed to provide workers with basic equipment to protect themselves and trainings on how to properly use the equipment and minimize exposure to hazardous materials, dangerous conditions and workplace accidents.