Manassas Journal Messenger | Tentative deal reached on workforce center

Although the Day Laborer Task Force agreed to all the elements of its recommendation for a workforce center, it will wait until Monday to take a final vote on the conclusions.

The task force’s four-page draft report, which members reviewed Monday, calls for a non-profit organization to run a workforce center in Woodbridge as a one- to three-year pilot program. A $150,000 preliminary budget for the center includes funding for two full-time employees.

The center would be a place for up to 100 temporary workers to wait for daily employment from building contractors.

The report to be voted on Monday will include a cover letter and be assembled into a complete packet, but will otherwise be identical to what was presented at a public meeting April 5, said task force chairman Stu Christiano.

Once the report is finalized, it will be forwarded to the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, which will decide whether to open a workforce center, where to put it and how to operate and pay for it.

The task force’s draft report calls for the workforce center to be funded through a combination of private and public sources, including county, state and federal funds and user fees from both laborers and employers.

In the wake of a public meeting at which residents opposed to local funding for a workforce center, task force members considered deleting the reference to county funds.

Nevertheless, the task force voted 10 to 3 against the change last night, leaving intact their advice that county supervisors consider helping pay for a proposed workforce center.

Yet Supervisor Hilda M. Barg, D-Woodbridge, who organized the task force, said her fellow supervisors did not appear to be in favor of paying for a workforce center.

“It is almost a moot point when it gets to my board,” Barg said.

Barg abstained from the vote on using county funds, although said she was not against having the task force ask supervisors to consider funding a workforce center.

Barg formed the Day Laborers’ Task Force soon after more than 20 day laborers were arrested in October for loitering near a 7-Eleven on Longview Drive in Woodbridge, where they gathered to wait for work.

One of the task force’s unanswered questions is where day laborers should wait for work until a workforce center is set up.

Since the October arrests of the day laborers, a temporary agreement has been worked out by the Prince William County police department, representatives of the day laborers and Southland Corporation, which operates 7-Eleven convenience stores.

The agreement allows workers to wait for work at the convenience store, but specifies that they must stand beside the store and leave by 10 a.m.

However, Barg told task force members Monday that she was “in discussion” about another site near the 7-Eleven could possibly accommodate the workers until a workforce center is finalized.

Staff writer Chad Umble can be reached at (703) 878-3843.

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