August 31, 2012. A story reported by Mike Clifford, Public News Service – NY.

As New York heads into a long weekend to celebrate the contributions made by workers, local advocates say this Labor Day should shine a spotlight on local workers who have the least protections.

David Dyssegard Kallick, director of the Fiscal Policy Institute’s Immigration Research Initiative, says immigrant day laborers are doing tough jobs and contributing to local economic growth, despite the fact that many work “under the table” in low-paying jobs with unsafe conditions.

In the ongoing debate over immigration, he says, these day laborers have been blamed for everything under the sun, with little concern for their welfare as workers.

“Instead of blaming day laborers, we should focus on pragmatic ways that day laborers could be paid fairly, and have safe and decent labor conditions. Labor Day is a great time to be taking a moment to think about how do we raise standards for all workers, and not just wind up demonizing some.”

In communities such as Long Island, Kallick says, the debate often has gotten so heated and polarized that it’s hard to craft workable solutions. On Labor Day, he says, he thinks all sides should at least be able to agree to the need to afford dignity to all workers in New York.