Letter: Haven for Workers

Letter to the Editor

The Malibu Community Labor Exchange was created by the Malibu community over two decades ago, but despite its central location next door to the Malibu Public Library, I have learned that many in our community remain unaware of the services available at the trailer.

The Labor Exchange is a day labor hiring site, but it is not an employment agency. All fees and work descriptions are negotiated between the hirer and worker. It is simply a safe, organized and free place for the hiring of day laborers. Oscar Mondragon is the center director. Oscar worked closely with Cesar Chavez prior to joining the Labor Exchange in 1993, and for more than 20 years, he has effectively served countless individuals by operating the center, enforcing community standards, sharing wisdom and simply caring for all who come his way.

What makes the Labor Exchange most special may be what it means for workers who do not get work. It provides language classes, computer classes and other educational activities to the workers, while also offering opportunities for those who want to volunteer in their community. It is a place where everyone is welcome.

The Labor Exchange enjoys wide financial support from local government, businesses, churches, schools and individuals in the Malibu community who see the Labor Exchange as a place that makes the community better. However, even though the Labor Exchange pinches pennies, with an annual budget under $75,000, we still struggle to raise the necessary funds each year to keep this good work going. We have a critical need for individuals who see the value of the Labor Exchange to become immediate financial supporters. 

Drop by sometime. Meet the workers. Meet Oscar. Volunteer. Teach a skill. Hire a worker. Open your heart. The Labor Exchange blesses my life, and I suspect it will bless yours, too.

Al Sturgeon, president, Labor Exchange Board