Ever worked Day Labor?

I drive past a day labor employment office every morning - one of those work-today-get-paid-today deals. Their parking lot is always full at 5 AM.

Has anyone here ever worked that way? Do you get the best jobs if you’re early? What kinds of jobs are available? Any chance of them leading to permanent employment?

I assumed the jobs are pretty much low-skill, back-breaking labor types. But I don’t know, and I’ve never known someone who did day labor. Fight my ignorance!

Never worked day labor, but I have hired from a day labor site.

I believe the odds are slim that anything would lead to permanant employment.

The workers I got were pleasant and friendly, and they busted hump for $7 per hour (I was paying $14.50 for their hours). But one was living in a shelter and one was living in a halfway house (out of rehab). One said he could do tiling and drywall, but had been fired from a number of jobs because of drinking, so now no one in the area would give him a chance. He was trying to get a stake together to go to Florida, where, he believed, the tiling opportunities were huge.

I suppose someone could connect with someone who had a full-time job, and be the right candidate for it… but I doubt seriously that anyone hires day labor looking for a potential full-timer.

  • Rick

I have done day labor when I was in college. It was tough to find a full time job that would work around my hours and pay as well. I got paid to do manual labor at the time lifting and moving things for 10 bucks an hour. One of my friends was homeless for a while and got off the streets by doing day labor. He eventually bought a trailer with the cash he saved up by banking it and living frugally (he was homeless, ate at the shelter, slept in the shelter or on the streets) and is now doing fine. His work was roughly the same as what I did but he was willing to do tougher jobs and would also work for less pay.

So it sounds like I guessed right about the nature of the work.

Thanks for the info!

Some temp agencies have day labor within an office based environment. It is the same deal as the manual labor but you don’t pick them up on the side of the road necessarily. I always worked through an agency, said friend above always worked off the street. It paid better generally than through the agency but the work was generally tougher.

I did it once. You show up around 5:00 AM, and wait around. If a job comes in you can do, they call you up to a desk, give you the address of the place, and send you off. I ended up doing a job taking chocolate candies off a conveyor belt and putting them into boxes. It wasn’t back-breaking, but it was boring.

I got a temp job during a labor dispute with my current employer. It was a drop shipping wholesale place that sold a lot of cheap crap from China. Lots of folks have seen the ads, sell stuff for your prices and the drop shipper sends directly to your customers. It took a day to learn where everything was and other that working in a large unheated warehouse, it wasn’t too bad. The stuff was stacked on racks 30 feet high and we used electric lifts to reach the stuff on the upper shelves. The shop lead was the 24 year old loser stepson of the owner. He took great joy in making fun of me and 2 other that were out on strike. On the third day just before lunch I got tired of his crap. I was getting some candles in jars from a top shelf and he started calling me names. From 30 feet up I dropped a box of 24 of the candles just missing him. The look of terror in his eyes was worth it. He left to get his step father and I headed to the lunch room to grab my stuff and leave. The owner asked me what I did and when I told him he thought it was funny. He said he had to let me go and I agreed. He paid me for the full day too.

I once spent seven months in a homeless shelter and was hired for day labor out of there a couple of times. Once I helped a church stock their pantry and then there was the time I was part of a group clearing out an overgrown garden. I don’t remember any others but there may have been.

My brother once hired some of the Hispanic laborers to help him move.

It’s not exactly what you’re thinking of, but having a taxicab license in a city of any size offers one the freedoms of day labor (don’t want to work today? OK, don’t. Need to work today? OK, here ya go.).

I’ve worked Day Labor and Labor Day too! I hoed and picked cotton by hand when I was 12-14 years old on my family’s farm in Louisiana. If anyone is not aware of what summer time in Louisiana is like try going in to a wet sauna with arclights mounted in it.

It’s hot, long and tiring work but it definately builds character and muscle. I worked on a hoe gang of about 20 people where we each started on a row of cotton and cleaned the weeds out from around the plants and then started again on another row. There were snakes, scorpions, wasps and bees all out to get you if the sun and heat didn’t.

When it came to cotton picking time we would go behind the cottonpicker and do what is called scrapping. Essentially, it required you to pull out any remnants of cotton from the bolls and also to stoop over and pickup any cotton the picker dropped on the ground. It usually was cooler during harvest time but the drag bag around your shoulder would begin to get heavy after a while and your hands would get scratched up and bleed from catching them on the empty cotton bolls. The only fun part of the day was jumping into the cotton trailer and tamping down the load before the trailer when to the Gin.

The worst job though on the farm was moving irrigation pipe. We would have to carry galvanised 60’ long alluminum pipe out into the field and link it up piece by piece and then set the drain gates to water individual rows. The tough part came when it was time to move the drain pipes. You sank up to your knees in warm mud and lost your boots most of the time. Eventually you would wind up bare footed and wading through warm mud for about a quarter mile before you would drop your pipe and go back for the next one.

Snakes really loved the irrigation pipes, especially water mocasins, copperheads and ground rattlers. That’s why I always carried a gun strapped to my hip. I got to be a good shot and also picked up alot of snake hides those summers. I determined for myself then that when I grew up I was going to work a job where I could remain indoors as much as possible. Fortunetly I got that inside job now!