Truckee day laborers to relocate from bus depot
Truckee’s day laborers are being relocated from their usual hangout in front of the bus depot downtown in response to growing concerns from visitors and local businesses.
An ad-hoc committee representing Truckee businesses, nonprofits and the local government has been working to address the rising number of day laborers who gather near the bus depot in search of work. The committee’s solution to the traffic congestion caused by the daily gathering of workers and complaints from visitors is to encourage day laborers to move to a nearby lot on the corner of Donner Pass Road and Bridge Street next to the Beacon gas station. For their part, the laborers have agreed to cooperate.
“I’m hoping the transition is smooth,” said Alex Terrazas, assistant to the Town of Truckee manager. “We see this as something we need to try and work toward.”
Representatives from the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce, the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association, the Truckee Police Department, the Town of Truckee, the Truckee Family Resource Center, Sierra Nevada Children’s Services, and the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation have been meeting over the last several months to discuss what should be done to remedy the concerns.
About 30 laborers clustered near the bus depot on Tuesday morning, said Terrazas, who has been visiting the al fresco hiring hall this week talking to day laborers about the proposed relocation.
In the last few years the number of immigrant workers gathering at the bus depot has increased, making the competition for work more aggressive, Terrazas said. As soon as a car pulls into the parking lot, the hopeful laborers will surround the vehicle to be first in line for a job, he said.
The experience can be frightening for out-of-town visitors just trying to park, because they’re not expecting someone to approach their car, Terrazas said.
Truckee Police Chief Scott Berry said some visitors have complained to the police department, reporting that the workers opened their car doors thinking they wanted to hire them for a job. With no criminal laws prohibiting workers from collecting downtown, police are asking for their cooperation to move to the Beacon site, Berry said.
“Our role is to educate,” Berry said. “In reality, there’s not much we can do.”
Simply relocating the workers to another area in Truckee isn’t enough, according to North Tahoe resident Taylor Eslick.
“It’s totally unfair,” said Eslick, who works in the construction industry. “They’ll work for a much lower wage.”
Allowing immigrant laborers, who might not be legal U.S. citizens, to work while plenty of longtime residents are willing and able to do the same work is “abuse,” Eslick said. He added that if the day laborers were naturalized citizens, he wouldn’t have a problem with them looking for work downtown.
Fliers written in English and Spanish were posted around the bus depot and handed out to migrant workers this week to help spread the word about the relocation. The Truckee Family Resource Center is hoping to use the day laborer move as an opportunity to inform workers of various programs the organization offers: English as second language classes, self-help legal resources, employment openings, counseling services and other service referrals. Adela Gonzalez del Valle, executive director of the Truckee Family Resource Center, was also downtown Wednesday handing out fliers to day laborers.
Some day laborers travel from Reno to Truckee looking for jobs and a few camp out nearby on the outskirts of town, Terrazas said. The 7-Eleven store in Kings Beach also serves as a gathering location for day laborers.
A group of immigrant workers, all from the Mexican state of Sinaloa, stood in the parking lot near the bus depot Wednesday morning, carefully watching for trucks to pull in and their drivers to offer them a chance to work.
The workers spoke Spanish among themselves, but relied on a mixture of Spanish and English when talking with Sierra Sun staff and with Terrazas. Individuals in the group said they gather at the bus depot everyday, typically getting selected for a job once or twice a week. Often, workers are hired to do yard work, construction or other odd jobs.
One 29-year-old immigrant said he moved to Truckee 15 days ago to seek work. He said he has extended family living in Truckee, while his wife and three children remain in Mexico.
The workers said they’re all aware of the move and are planning to head to the Beacon location next week. None said they anticipated any problems because of the relocation.
Terrazas said the goal is to transition the day laborers before construction season begins while the number of workers is more manageable.
“There’s no ideal location,” said Terrazas, who has dealt with similar day laborer issues before in the Bay Area. “But this one seemed to work for now.”