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Elden Street 7-Eleven Enforces Cut-Off Time

Day laborers asked to leave property by 11 a.m.

Day Laborers at the Elden Street and Alabama Drive 7-Eleven started 2005 with a sudden awakening.

After being lax about a two-year old agreement between the company and day laborers that says workers must be off the convenient store property by 11 a.m., the on-site security guard — at the request of corporate 7-Eleven — has been dispersing the congregation of workers.

"It was supposed to always have been enforced," said Diane Hume, loss preventialist of Northern Virginia for 7-Eleven Incorporated. "The manager was indicating that they were never leaving."

Hume said due to customer complaints and the manager's increased concerns that the day laborers were on site all day, the company wanted to get "back on track" with the enforcement of the written agreement.

"Within the last week or so the 7-Eleven has indicated they want to start enforcing [the agreement] now," said Mayor Michael O'Reilly Jan. 13. "Two year's ago they struck an agreement with the day laborers that said they have to be off the property by 11 a.m. — there is an actual document somewhere."

Since the re-enforcement of the agreement, workers have been shooed off the property by an on-site hired security guard at 11 a.m. and moving one block over.

The hired security guard, who due to contractual agreements with his company could not reveal his name, said the day laborers on site have been compliant to the enforcement.

Hired four months ago to work 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. six days a week, the security guard said any problems he has seen on site have been caused by people who drink behind the building and they are not day laborers.

ACROSS THE STREET at Wachovia Bank, a security guard, also under contractual agreement not to reveal his name, was hired a year ago to help bank patrons feel safe.

Outside to monitor spill-over from the 7-Eleven, he said the only problems he has are with contractors who use the parking lot to pick up workers.

Herndon Police Sergeant Jerry Keys said since the recent re-enforcement of the 11 a.m. cut-off time the police have not received any complaints from neighboring businesses about the spill-over of workers.

"I am not aware of them going to another location," he said about the suggestion workers are moving from the 7-Eleven to neighboring parking lots. "If they're going out of public view, they're not getting picked up for labor."

On Friday, Jan. 14 after the workers were shooed from the property, the majority of them stood on the sidewalk, one block down on Alabama Drive, still waiting for work.

After about 30 minutes a van pulled up and took at least two workers from the crowd that rushed to the driver.

"We're beginning to get worried because now after 11 a.m. we have to leave and many people can get work after 11 [a.m.]," said Jose Sergio Sorto Hernandez, (translated by Candace Saint), at a Jan. 12 Project Hope and Harmony meeting to find a day labor site solution.

"At Alabama [Drive] they dispense but they don't evaporate," said O'Reilly about the lack of a formal day labor site. "It's better for everybody if we have a regular site."

FIFTEEN MINUTES before the "cut-off" time, three police cruisers sat in the 7-Eleven parking lot — facing the day laborers and the security guard.

Keys said the police will increase the visibility of officers in an area where problems could arise, adding many times police presence is enough to circumvent conflict.

"I don't know if we've had any resistance," he said of the recent enforcement. "I think the majority of the time the day laborers are not the problem, it's the other people that are being picked up for drunk in public and hanging out behind the building."

Although Wachovia and 7-Eleven have security guards through a private surveillance company, Keys said any company that sees the day laborers congregating in front of their businesses can call the police to help move them.

"If they're on a sidewalk and there's a number of them and they're blocking the walkway, then that's a problem," he said.

Keys and the hired guards admitted enforcement can be hard to maintain in the transient population of workers.

"The day labor population — it is always changing — you get new people," said Keys. "There are meetings bringing up the rules from before with day laborers saying these are the guidelines they have to follow."

The 7-Eleven security guard said once the workers learned the 11 a.m. rule they were pleasant with him, adding all they want is to work — not cause problems.