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Ricardo Gomez

Use of Technology Among Hispanic Day Laborers in Washington State

This project investigated the social and cultural benefits of mobile phone and computer use (private and public computers) for underserved minorities in the US, in partnership with non-profit organization Casa Latina in Seattle.

Among other things, we explore the barriers to using computers and the internet, which include not only skills barriers but emotional barriers such as fear, anxiety and lack of self-confidence.As a result of this work, we developed the Fearless Cards, a set of easy-to-use cards for basic computer training that helps to overcome both emotional and skills barriers among Hispanic day laborers and other underserved communities.We helped create CasaCare, an online system or tool to help day laborers offer their services online, allowing them to maintain an online profile and reputation based on referrals and feedback from clients and sponsors. CasaCare was promptly abandoned as it did not meet their capacities and needs.


Hispanics are the largest minority in the US (15.8% of the population). Day laborers are an important component of the workforce, living and working under especially difficult conditions of exclusion and marginalization. Almost 90% of the estimated 117,600 day laborers working or seeking work each day in the US are of Hispanic origin. Washington has an important population of Hispanic immigrants in precarious employment conditions as day laborers. Day labor is a temporary, informal work arrangement with employers that lasts for short periods, typically one day at a time. Despite the large population of Hispanic day laborers, very little is known about their use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), and of how ICT benefit these marginalized populations in the US.

Collaborator: Casa Latina is a non-profit organization founded in 1994 with the mission to empower Latino immigrants through educational and economic opportunities. Casa Latina operates a Day Worker Center, offers English as Second Language (ESL) classes, and runs a Community Leadership Program, a Household Helpers Project, and an active Workers’ Defense Committee. Casa Latina has over 500 active registered members, Hispanic migrants who seek day jobs through its facilities and services. In 2010 Casa Latina dispatched over 4,000 temporary jobs, placed 77 workers in permanent jobs, and offered ESL classes and job training to over 400 immigrant day laborers. Furthermore, they helped recover over $30,000 for non-member low-wage workers who were not paid by their employers.

Definition of “Hispanic Day Laborers”: For the purposes of this project “Hispanic Day Laborers” are 1) Hispanic as defined by the US Census, and 2) engaged in “day labor,” a temporary, informal work arrangement with employers that lasts for short periods, typically one day at a time, and 3) live in urban areas and tend to work in construction and renovation, painting, landscaping, moving, manufacturing, and janitorial and cleaning work.