A brief history and mission of the Aurora Community Organizing Campaign:
Over 60 day laborers crowd around a street corner, awaiting to find temporary jobs that often take days to materialize. They huddle together against the frosty and bitter winter and wear hats to avoid the fiery summer. They have no overhead cover and often pace around sidewalk for hours, from the break of dawn to late into the afternoon. Unpredictability surrounds their lives and a great number of them are subject to abuses from their employers, who deny them safe-working conditions and provide them unfair or no wages at the end of the working day.
El Centro launched the Aurora Community Organizing Campaign to protect day laborers from employer abuses, harassment, and discrimination in the community. This campaign aims to defend the rights of day laborers and create a safe, community center for the Aurora day-laborers to organize and gather.
In October 2010, the Aurora Human Rights Center (AHRC) was opened up at a rented space at 1400 Dayton Street in Aurora for the day laborers to gathers. El Centro has played a critical role in finding this space and finding funding for the AHRC through a combination of foundation and individual support. El Centro has also worked closely with organizations such as Rights for All People (RAP), the Somali Community Center, the Lowry Family Center, and the Strengthening Neighborhoods program of the Denver Foundation to promote human rights in Colorado.
El Centro plays an active role on the AHRC’s executive committee and finance committee by attending monthly meetings and through strategic planning.
Building Community and Leadership in Aurora:
This past year, El Centro has conducted outreach on the street corner where day laborers gather, which has resulted in more than 70 new members of El Centro. During the summer the day laborers participated with El Centro staff in community clean-ups every other week and a campaign to promote employment and create a safer environment for workers to gather and negotiate their daily employment.
In March 2011, El Centro Women’s Program Director Nancy Rosas, engaged a group of 12 Aurora women in an 8 week leadership training program held at the AHRC. The program’s curriculum emphasized building self-esteem, self-assertion, and being aware of basic human and worker rights as well as how to report domestic violence. The program also provided instruction on job search strategies, American culture, and micro-enterprises.
After completing the curriculum, the women then apply what they have learned about micro-enterprises, financial management and the American job market to create cooperative opportunities. Additionally, the program works to integrate the women’s pre-existing skills and to promote leadership by encouraging women to share and teach their peers. Since the completion of the curriculum, the women continued to meet weekly for English classes and to discuss business ideas. Women from this group were chosen as the community leaders for El Centro’s Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA).
Through a series of summer health and safety trainings at the AHRC and on the street corner of 15th and Dayton, El Centro’s staff has become more engage with the day laborers and residents in Aurora. A total of 187 workers participated in 6 training sessions and gained valuable knowledge about their rights to health and safety.
Looking Forward in 2013:
El Centro is committed to continue its efforts in Aurora to address humanitarian and health and safety concerns around the informal corner day laborers use. In partnership with the Aurora Human Rights Center and community stakeholders, ongoing education and leadership development will be key to ensure day laborers are engaged in developing solutions that address their needs.