Centro Humanitario Para Los Trabajadores (El Centro) is Denver’s only day laborer center promoting work, dignity and community. The mission is to promote the rights and well-being of day laborers and domestic workers in Colorado through education, job skills, leadership development, united action and advocacy.
Since 2002, over 2,000 workers have accessed El Centro’s programs, including know your rights training, direct access to jobs, workforce development and job skills training, as well as leadership development and community building.
El Centro’s dedication and continued efforts have played a crucial role in promoting awareness and advancing reforms that address everyday struggles and hardships, as well as structural barriers, surrounding this underrepresented and often invisible, community. El Centro’s history and role in the greater community are captured in El Centro Story and El Centro Domestic Worker Study, both of which were published by Dr. Tony Robinson, Professor of Political Science at the University of Colorado Denver.
**Updated and approved by workers, staff and board Sept 2014
“Day Laborers and Domestic Workers are agents of change they belong, thrive and contribute in a significant way to their families, communities and the global social change movement.”
“Los jornaleros y trabajadoras domesticas son agentes de cambio, ellos pertenecen (son parte de) triunfan, contribuyen en una manera significante a sus familias, comunidad y el movimiento global de justicia.”
- Strengthen systems to build an identity amongst El Centro’s members reflecting their professionalism, pride, dignity and respect.
- Increase opportunities for employment in safe, respectful work environments.
- Create environment of leadership development among staff, workers and volunteers.
- Support workers and community to address cases of wage theft through education and enforcement.
- Build upon community support to leverage resources that sustain programming in the above priority areas.
The founding of El Centro was prompted by an incident that occurred in 1988, an injured day laborer was found abandoned on the street with severe brain damage. He had fallen off a roof while working. His employer, who had picked him up at a street corner, abandoned him in the dark of night to avoid responsibility. Concerned about the prevalence of worker exploitation and dangerous working environments Denver’s day laborers face on a daily basis, community supporters came together to create a safe indoor place for day laborers to gather. Consequently, with support from the City of Denver, a run-down warehouse space at 2260 California Street was rehabilitated with help from the workers themselves and El Centro opened its doors in 2006 as Colorado’s first and only Worker Center.
Timeline of Events:
Work in Progress- currently staff is working to update this timeline, please check back.
July 2014: Workers agreed to raise their minimum hourly rate from $10/hour to $12/hour.
May 2014: The Wage Protection Act was signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper, thanks to the collaboration of member-based organizations throughout the state including FRESC, CIRC, El Centro and allies. The bill includes an increased focus on enforcement by the state department of Labor and Employment and modifications to administrative processes that benefit wage theft victims.
October 2013: The first pilot “Centro Certified” intensive training for Domestic Workers was held (to date – Jan, 2015) over 200 participants have graduated from one or more of the trainings in the area of Green Cleaning and Child Care)
June 2013: Through collaboration with Towards Justice and the DU Law School, El Centro began outreach for weekly Wage Theft Clinic hours onsite since then approximately 200 cases are recorded each year.
April 2013: New Website is launched
November 2012: El Centro hosts press conference for the release of the National Domestic Workers Alliance National Study, Home Economics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Workers. The study is based on interviews with 2,086 workers in 14 major metropolitan areas, including Denver. Women leaders from El Centro’s Women’s Program conducted 150 surveys locally as part of this study.
August 2012: El Centro with local allies, hosts the “No Papers, No Fear” caravan traveling from Phoenix to the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina
June 2012: Organizing campaign with Aurora Day Laborers is launched including community cleanups, outreach and membership drive
May 2012: Open House to introduce new Executive Director and present 2012/2013 Strategic Plan
February 2012: Marco Nuñez becomes the new Executive Director of El Centro
December 2011: completed National Domestic Worker’s Alliance (NDWA) survey with 150 personal interviews
January 2011: The Aurora Human Rights Center opens its doors at 1400 Dayton, Aurora CO. El Centro joins 4 other member organizations including: Rights for All People, Lowry Family Center, Strengthening Neighborhoods-The Denver Foundation, and the Somali Community Center of Colorado in this shared space collaborative.
October 2010: El Centro receives a Susan Hardwood grant from OSHA to develop a curriculum to train workers on Health and Safety practices in the workplace, and train over 600 workers using this curriculum.
August, 2010: El Centro’s founder and the first executive director, Min Sun Ji leaves El Centro to persue a Ph.D.
May, 2010: El Centro kicked off a green cleaning worker owned cooperative (Green Cleaning for Life, LLC).
September, 2008: El Centro launches a campaign to create an Aurora Human Rights Center, a multi-tenant center, with a number of organizations.
July, 2008: Aurora passes an anti-day laborer ordinance that prevents El Centro from opening a second day laborer facility in Original Aurora.
November 2007: Completion of the renovation. El Centro moved back to the building.
September 2007: El Centro received a proclamation from the City of Denver for serving immigrant workers.
August, 2007: El Centro moved back to an original building and hosted a grand opening event with workers, city officials and supporters.
March, 2007: El Centro moved to a temporary space near El Centro to continue to serve workers.
January 2007: El Centro begins renovation. Architect: Joe Colistra, inc. DESIGN, Contractor: TC2
March 2006: El Centro received recognition from the department of community relations, the City of Denver for serving low wage women in Denver.
December 2005: El Centro launched a capital campaign to renovate the run down warehouse space. El Centro helped pass a city ordinance that includes theft of wages as a crime.
2005: El Centro and various coalition groups secured the passage of a new Denver Ordinance that defines predatory employers as thieves and gives Denver police the authority to arrest predatory employers and pursue criminal penalties.
June 2005: El Centro received a building donation from Mr. Fred Pasternack
February 2004: Creation of the Women’s Program
January 2004: El Centro became fully independent of AFSC.
November 2002: El Centro received its non-profit status, 501(c)(3)
June 1, 2002: El Centro opened its doors. El Centro was part of the economic justice program under the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).
August, 2000- May, 2002: Meetings with workers on streets and a shelter nearby Stout St. and 23rd. Workers desired to have their own gathering place.