On Friday February 15th, a small group of day laborers, Board of Directors, and Voz staff met with Steve Novick, Portland city commissioner, at the MLK Worker Center. The meeting was called to inform Steve Novick about the positive work that the MLK Worker Center has done for the Portland community and to ask the commissioner’s support on working with the city of Portland to donate the land to Voz and to make Voz a permanent line item in the Portland city budget.
Romeo Sosa and Ignacio Páramo explained to Commissioner Novick the history of the Center and how it has created thousands of jobs for day laborers since it opened. The Commissioner seemed impressed by the work that Voz has done and showed his curiosity about the importance of the Center to the day laborers. A few day laborers gave personal testimonies about how the Center has provided them with more than just jobs: it has been a refuge against the elements, a place to learn English and to express their creativity through art and music classes. Commissioner Novick agreed to find a way to include the Center in the final budget plan.
The meeting ended with these words from Félix Chuma, member of the Day Laborer Committee, “We are all humans and have the right to be treated with justice. I am an indigenous Ecuadorian. Each one of us comes to the Center to work. We all have a family behind us. We have a right to work. The city should support us.”