Day labourers looking for casual work are familiar fixtures on corners outside home improvement and garden stores across the United States. Less visible are the workers centres that have grown up in many locales to serve and organise these mainly immigrant and undocumented workers.
After decades at sea, organised labour has limped into port. Last fall, they helped to elect a sympathetic U.S. president and Congress. Now trade unions are gearing up to push for a major overhaul of labour law. They are also welding an alliance with immigrant and human rights groups to win comprehensive immigration reform.
The hiring hall for Hod Carriers and General Labourers Local 242 is in the basement of the Seattle Labour Temple, a two-story tan-brick building of early-20th century vintage. You walk down a flight of well-worn red-tile stairs and through the double doors.