Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Labor Pools Law Dying Unenforced

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Labor Pools Law Dying Unenforced

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- Advocates for the poor are outraged that a law

regulating labor pools is about to go off the books without ever

having been enforced.

"Nothing ever happened, and that's truly unfortunate," said

state Rep. Georganna Sinkfield, DAtlanta, the law's author and

chairwoman of the House Children and Youth Committee.

Georgia Labor Commissioner David Poythress never has tried to

get funding to enforce the statute, which was intended to watch

over labor pool operators. "I don't think it's the smartest

thing to do with the money," he said. "This does not have much

return."

Labor pools, a major source of income for homeless people, keep

people trapped in a cycle of near-indentured servitude,

advocates for regulation say. Poythress has no estimate of how

many labor pools operate in Georgia or how many people they

employ.

Workers often do back-breaking work that no one else wants to

do, advocates for homeless people say. For the work, their

minimum-wage pay can be docked for safety equipment,

transportation, lunch and lodging. The deductions make it

impossible to escape homelessness, the advocates say.

That frustrates Robert Ferrell, chairman of the Atlanta Union

of the Homeless, a group that lobbied to get the regulations

approved. Ferrell, who once was homeless, said the people he

represents are taken advantage of by labor pool operators.

"We think this is where people get stuck on a merry-goround,"

Ferrell recently told a House subcommittee looking at

homelessness.

Other advocates around the state agree, such as the Rev.

Micheal Elliot, who runs the Union Mission in Savannah. He said

he has steered nearly 2,000 working homeless people from the

labor pools into better jobs.

Ferrell said he thinks the General Assembly passed the law

three years ago to placate activists. …

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