The Center for Life Beyond Reed, Division of Student Services

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Voz Workers' Rights Project

  "Our findings reveal that the day-labor market is rife with
   violations of workers’ rights. Day laborers are regularly denied
   payment for their work, many are subjected to demonstrably hazardous
   job sites, and most endure insults and abuses by employers." (UCLA's
   study on Day Labor in the United States, 2006).

In 1996, a Workers’ Organizing Committee formed in response to repressive tactics by immigration agents and local police that discouraged day laborers from seeking work on the corners of two major intersections in Portland. As day laborers began to organize, the shared common experience of violations of workers' rights became ever more apparent. The VOZ Workers' Rights Education Project was thus founded in June 2000 to organize and mobilize the day laborer community through leadership development and community education. We have been mobilizing our members not only to know their rights and protect themselves from exploitation, but also to make their voices heard, for immigrant and worker justice.

The Voz partnership with Reed sends student volunteer teachers to the day labor hire site in inner NE Portland to teach/tutor day laborers who experience language barriers in searching for and securing something as basic as a safe place to work. The classes are a valuable tool for the day laborers, helping them to better their working conditions and come to more equitable agreements with their contractors. Classes require little training but much dedication. Volunteer teachers are expected to have some Spanish (though beginner speakers can teach too!), to be accountable for showing up to their scheduled classes or tutoring times, and to be responsive to the cultural and linguistic needs of the day laborers. Other opportunities for getting involved outside of the ESL program include translating, supporting workers through the Wage Claims-Legal Action Committee, grant writing, graphic design and writing for the Voz zines and website, and event organizing. For current updates on the organization, see and/or

The current schedule of class and tutoring times is Monday through Saturday from 9am to noon with an hour per week minimum involvement. Students eligible for Federal Work-Study can be paid for teaching with VOZ.