Boston Temp. Workers Protest Discrimination, Unsafe Conditions

By Phillip Martin

Sept. 2, 2011

Advocates for safer temporary working conditions spoke at a protest on Thursday. (Phillip Martin/WGBH)

BOSTON — Temporary workers in Boston are protesting against working conditions at several job sites throughout the city.

During rallies across Boston on Friday, fish-cutters, janitors and housekeepers decried conditions they said were unsafe.

Advocates, temporary workers and their children protested what they call unsafe working conditions at certain sites around the city. (Phillip Martin/ WGBH)

Besides being temporary, these are low-wage, no-benefit positions, and are filled by employment agencies that rely on foreign born workers. Evelyn Sanchez, a restaurant worker from El Salvador, said discrimination happens both on the job and at the agencies themselves.

"Sometimes it has to do with the country that you’re from. Sometimes it has to do with your age. Sometimes it has to do with your physical appearance. Sometimes if you’re not beautiful enough they don’t pick you even if you get up early in the morning and try to do your job as best you can," Sanchez said.

Standing outside of Diamond Temporary Staffing in South Boston, Marcy Goldstein Gelb, of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, explained why they are targeting the agencies.

"You’ll notice up here it says fish cutter experience, and we know people who work in factories, who are sent off in vans to a number of different types of sites. Workers have raised concerns about the treatment that they have about the lack of information about where they’re going and the type of safety training that’s needed," Goldstein said.

The manager of Diamond would not comment for this story.

Temporary workers now have put their hopes into the Massachusetts House's Bill 1393, which is aimed at reforming blue collar temp agencies.

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