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Progress Report from Labor Resource Center

The Centreville Labor Resource Center (CLRC) opened in December and, in nearly two months of operation, registered more than 150 Centreville-area residents who want temporary employment. CLRC’s professional staff and 27 volunteers provide information and quick service to both employers and those seeking work.

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From left are volunteer Sunny Thapa and worker Daniel Escalante.

CLRC provides space for employers to meet workers, translation as needed, and coffee. Records are kept of the agreement between employer and employee. No fees are charged. The Center uses a rotating list to assign general jobs, and offers employers information about skilled workers who are available.

Jobs are limited during winter months and, while this provided CLRC staff time to organize and prepare systems, it also brought some discouraged workers back to the street to try their luck in a familiar location. The number of workers in the Center daily during January averaged 23, while 20-30 workers also hit the street on mild days during the past month.

Center staff and workers through the daily worker assembly are carrying out strategies to bring all workers into CLRC operations and reduce the unsafe, street-side hiring that has been the norm for years. Staff and volunteers are on the street daily to urge both employers and workers to use the Center.

Daily English (ESOL) instruction is available in the Center, thanks to capable volunteers. A Saturday class in electrical work, taught by licensed electrician Fernando Silva regularly draws a large group. Workers learn about electricity and safety according to OSHA standards. Another new development is the Women’s Group, meeting at the center on Saturdays from 10 a.m.-noon.

Additional classes in financial management, taxes and prevention of wage abuse are planned in February. Employers who hired in January praised the quality of work. A Centreville homeowner commented, "Hard worker, great job." Another area resident reported, "Definitely a skilled worker; I didn’t have to tell him what to do (remodeling and repair work)."

CLRC staff reported numerous, positive comments about the quality of work done. Jobs included carpet work, general cleaning and moving, masonry, painting and yard work. Additional skilled workers are available for drywall, tile floors, carpentry and cooking.

Visit the Labor Resource Center at 5956 Centreville Crest Lane, in Centreville (beside Brick’s Pizza). Residents who need temporary labor may call the Center at 703-543-6272 during regular hours, or complete forms any time on the new CLRC Web site, www.centrevillelrc.org. The Center is open Monday through Saturday, 6 a.m.-noon.

Our greatest volunteer need is in employer outreach. The workers say the main reason they remain on the street is because contractors are resistant to using the CLRC, so employer outreach is essential for changing the old system. Fewer volunteers are needed for general Center operations in this season, but we do need people who can speak Korean and Spanish.

Call for more information, or join the volunteers at www.centrevilleimmigrationforum.org. Donations are welcome, and directions are at the Centreville Immigration Forum Web site.