Gym & Day Laborers

So, first off – I went to the gym yesterday! YAY! Small victories must be celebrated, I suppose. I decided I should do 45 minutes, instead of 30, and here’s why:

  1. In case I miss one, I would at least end up going twice for 45 minutes, and end up doing 900 calories of work.
  2. If it takes me 5 minutes to get ready, and 10 minutes to go to the gym (or vice-versa), then I do 30 minutes at the gym, then the same commute back home, I end up spening 1 hour in order to attend the gym for 30 minutes. This is a 0.5 efficiency ratio. Inefficiency is bad. Instead, I spend 1 hour and 15 minutes in order to go to the gym for 45 minutes, which is 0.6 efficiency.

I may even try to step it up to 1 full hour, in order to realize a 0.66…(repeating) efficiency. I don’t feel dead or tired or anything today – so why not? Although I think I’m at the ‘sweet spot’ of efficiency and everything right now. We’ll see. I have to remember to always make small tweaks, not big changes, until I can start hitting some goals. Current weight: 181.5. Ouch.

Next off is something I’ve wanted to talk about for a while. When we hear the debates about illegal immigration and day laborers and such we think about California and Texas and farm-work and such. But I live in a nice little area of Queens called Astoria – bordering Long Island City – and I’ve found that it’s here, as well.

Lately, I’ve been taking a different path to get to the train – that no longer passes the Dunkin’ Donuts and goes out of my way, because I’m trying to save money and so on and the Dunkin’ Donutses suck in my area (My old ones were awesome – fast, efficient, nice. These suck, they’re slow and they fuck up my order all the time). Anyways, now I end up passing a little hardware-store – a sorta mini Home Depot. And I keep seeing a ton of Mexican guys lined up outside of there, drinking coffee and chatting with eachother. I suspected that hanging out outside the hardware store was a convenient place for them to pick up work, and one day I saw a van pull up across the street – suddenly everyone started running over to it! Today, I saw another van pull up and the guys run over to it, and the dude in the van started saying something something “pintura” – which I think means Painter. So he was looking for someone to help him paint. He was some kind of commercial vehicle, with a logo on the side and everything.

So I’m weirded out by this whole situation – these guys are prepared to do an honest day’s work (I assume) and I’m sure are getting paid less than prevailing wages. The various vans that drive up get labor for cheap… but now we’ve knocked out the potential work for all of the legal US citizens in this line. Because if the dude in that one van that picks up his painter can now charge less than a dude who doesn’t – well, we consumers will always pick the cheaper, so we’re forcing his hand.

What do you do? Embracing law-breaking or bending is bad – this is one of the many lessons that Prohibition taught us. So we either need to legalize this, or find a way to regulate it.

So I don’t know what the best solution is, but what we’re doing now is not working. My gut says, make a way for people to come here and work, that’s relatively streamlined, and simultaneously do better enforcement on the labor side…I just hate the idea of getting all involved in this guy’s van though. How convenient is it for him – he drives up to where he knows the workers are, says I need a painter, and gets a painter for the day. Am I going to make him record that he used painter Joe Blow and paid him $X …? I guess. You have to do that for whatever business you’re in, too bad. I feel like the real violations of these laws happen here, at the guy-with-van level. Any place big enough to get ‘noticed’ will be careful about any kind of illegal work. So do we send enforcers to this dude’s van? Chasing around a whole bunch of dude’s vans? I dunno. Maybe the better way to do it is at the homeowner-who-hires the Van level. But he’s not going to want to call the INS or USCIS (new name?) on the guys working on his kitchen, is he?

3 thoughts on “Gym & Day Laborers”

  1. Take into consideration that hiring a legal ‘unionized’ painter will cost anywhere from $20-80 / hour.

    I think your gut is right, either make it easy to gain citizenship/work-visa, and/or make it desirable for the laborers to do it the legal way.

    Maybe this isn’t much of a problem at all. ‘Legal’ workers have unemployment and welfare to help out, ‘non-legal’ day laborers obviously cannot utilize these programs.

  2. “Any place big enough to get ‘noticed’ will be careful about any kind of illegal work”

    Not necessarily the case, look at the case against Walmart for “allegedly” knowingly using cleaning companies that used illegal workers. And if you read “Fast Food Nation” there’s a large portion of the meat industry that uses illegal workers to do disgusting, dangerous jobs for dirt cheap. Then when they get injured they can’t complain about unsafe working conditons because of the threat of deportation, etc.

  3. If this is your first time seeing this in NYC then you must not pass many hardware stores…
    I saw it everyday in the bronx and in brooklyn.
    I worked for a independent contrator, and I learned 2 things:
    1. The union demnds HIGH WAGES that raises the cost of the project (not to mention the break schedule and double time pay for going over)
    2. Its really hard for someone like me to get in the union. I still dont know how exactly and I was trying for a year…
    the reason I mention number 2 is, some of those guys MAYBE legal but finding it very hard to make a living doing anything outside of thier specialties.

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