East Bay Day Labor Study

About the Study

The purpose of the East Bay Day Labor Study (EBDLS) is to document and analyze the characteristics of day laborers in the East San Francisco Bay Area, their mental and physical health status and needs, and the abuses and risks that they experience as they seek work and in their community. Alein Y. Haro, MPH, the graduate student investigator, aims to also give a more accurate picture of day laborers’ social context, including their social and family support network and their day-to-day interactions in the community where they seek employment.   

Key objectives

Through an academic-community partnership between the California Initiative for Health Equity & Action (Cal-IHEA) at UC Berkeley and the Multicultural Institute (MI), an organization in Berkeley with programs focused on improving access to opportunities for immigrant families to reach economic stability, we aimed to:

  1. To identify local policies and programs that will benefit the day laborer community; and 

  2. To document and denounce workplace abuses and risks that day laborers face. 

By making health a shared value, the data collected from this project will help inform how the Multicultural Institute can best tailor its services to serve the immigrant community. 

The 45-minute questionnaire we developed included questions on day laborers’ background, job experience, general health, and social support. The survey consists of items on respondent’s 1) living situation, 2) employment history, 3) work-related injuries, 4) health status and medical access, 5) abuse, 6) social networks/social support, and 7) experience coming to the U.S. 

Engaging Students From and For the Community

Ms, Haro, the graduate student investigator, recruited UC Berkeley undergraduate research assistants (RAs) from a student-led organization, Comunidad for Health Equity (CHE), to administer the survey to day laborers. 

CHE has a long-standing community outreach effort called, AJUA (“Adelante Jornaleros Unidos en Accion”/“United in Action, Day Laborers Moving Forward”). Through AJUA, RAs engage with day laborers in the communities of Berkeley, Richmond, and El Cerrito, where they provide health education materials, information about local medical and legal resources, and also a brown bag lunch at day labor hiring sites in the East Bay. 

Under the supervision of the faculty advisor, Hector Rodriguez, Ph.D., Ms. Haro trained the RAs on how to recruit, outreach, administer the oral consent and surveys to day laborers. The students participated in survey-collection training and classroom presentations and discussions, which were accompanied by hands-on practice and role-playing activities. The East Bay Day Labor Study was the RA’s first experience in a community-based research project.