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A Sacramento area activist will propose an ordinance that aims to drive some of Sacramento's underground economy back above board, to the County Board of Supervisors during their June 12th meeting.
Davi Rodrigues, the principal author of the ordinance, hopes to convince the County Board of Supervisors to consider adding it to the county code where it could be a useful tool in combatting the Sacramento area's underground economy where day laborers and those that employ them congregate. The proposed ordinance would require employers to display how they are complying with the state's workman's compensation laws when they are hiring a day laborer. In addition, it would require any day laborer who was holding themselves out for immediate hire to have in their possession, those documents required by state and federal employment laws that must be tendered to an employer when being hired.
Cheating Employers A Problem
The resolution to adopt the measure contends that the ordinance is needed because there are areas around the county that have established, active, under-the-table hiring sites, and those areas have allowed and encouraged the growth of the underground economy. In addition, those hiring sites are making it too easy for unlicensed businesses and cheating employers to compete unfairly against above board companies that willingly comply with business regulations. An ordinance like this could also protect the workers by allowing them to have immediate access to the hiring employer's required insurance compensation if they are injured, and would give them the opportunity to turn away from an uninsured employer before any injury happens that might leave them unable to work in the future, and uncompensated for medical costs.
The Workers Are Targeted Also.
The requirement for workers to have employment documents in possession is rooted in underground economy concerns as well. Workers that hold themselves out for hire without documentation can be doing so to evade tax withholding, child support obligations, government or other liens, or reporting requirements that may show they are collecting taxpayer social support benefits in violation of income limitations. An individual could pick up several unreported temporary jobs at one of these hiring sites, and do so for several years to supplement their unemployment benefits, Cal Grants, or other social program payment without fear of discovery. Likewise, any family support obligations normally detected by employee withholding laws are easily evaded by working for unreported income.
A Two Pronged Approach
Both the workers and the employers are being held responsible under the ordinance because each one contributes to the growth of the other. The workers willing to evade the laws are as much of an attraction to operate under the table as the employers are giving them the opportunity. As in the drug trade, the users are creating a market and the suppliers are making the product too easily available. Both factions must be held accountable for the effort to be effective.
Previous Measures Overturned By Courts
Several other California municipalities have enacted day laborer related ordinances that have been overturned by courts. Some enacted measures have included immigration status checks, while others have banned solicitation outright in certain areas. The courts have previously found immigration enforcement to be the sole domain of the federal government, while outright bans violated 1st amendment rights. The proposed county ordinance doesn't require immigration status checks specifically, nor does it ban solicitation. In the former case, state and federal law dictates the required documents that employees must present to employers upon being hired, and in the latter one, it only requires that you comply with the law when you do solicit.
Changing A Culture Of Corruption
Day Labor sites have grown beyond mere casual hiring areas, and have attracted other underground economy enterprises as well. Unlicensed food vendors who are evading health inspections as well as regulatory fees frequent the areas to market their products. And street retailers use them also to vend products that might be in violation of copyrights laws, or to sell without collecting state sales tax. The day labor areas have been an intersection of corrupt trade and business practices for buyers and sellers alike. The proposed ordinance encourages a culture of compliance so that everyone is protected, and the underground economy is given less opportunity to flourish. Overall, people who stubbornly cling to the underground economy will evade the area for fear of being exposed to scrutiny. The neighborhoods will profit from less negative influences, and increases in revenue from legitimate sources that have been previously inhibited by unlawful and unfair practices
The proposed ordinance can be read, along with accompanying information as item #63 on the Tuseday, June 12th board meeting on the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors website at http://www.bos.saccounty.net/