Jornaler@ is a mobile phone application that combines technology with worker education for preventing wage-theft and other labor rights violations. The app has been tailored to the specific needs of day laborers, who are among the most vulnerable members of the workforce. Their high visibility while searching for work often places them on the frontline of anti-immigrant backlash, and yet the social invisibility of their labor makes them frequent victims of labor violations. Nationwide, studies have shown that over 50% of day laborers have experienced some type of wage theft. Much of their employment is established on a temporary and informal basis, which makes them a target for unethical and unscrupulous employers.
The Jornaler@ application provides day laborers and worker centers with a recordkeeping and data sharing tool, which would help them to both prevent wage-theft incidence, and expedite the processing of claims (when wage-theft cases do occur). The project’s long term goal is to enable stakeholders to increase the capacity of community based organizations to address low-wage workers’ issues.
The Jornaler@ app builds on collaborations between The Worker Institute at Cornell and an array of partner organizations, including the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) and its affiliates in the New York metropolitan area, as well as the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT). The development of the Jornaler@ app began with the work of social practice artist Sol Aramendi and workers and leaders at the New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE), an affiliate of NDLON.
The collaborative project has involved the design of the day laborer application as well as on-going research on the challenges facing low wage worker communities. Faculty and staff from The Worker Institute, as well as Cornell ILR students have contributed to this collaboration over the past two years.
How it Works
Within the app there are three key functions Check In/Check Out; Alert; and Report.
- Check-In/Check-Out: this function is a “punch card” that helps workers keep track of their hours, wages, work location, breaks, as well as employer and worksite information. The app collects the data and creates a “Job Log” for the user that displays weekly and annual wages, as well as a monthly average wage for jobs in the area.
- Report: The app collects the necessary information to properly document and to begin a wage theft complaint that can eventually be delivered directly to the Department of Labor. The report section asks for additional information and immediately informs the affiliated worker center that will be available to assist in filing an official complaint or contacting their employer to arrange for mediation.
- Alert: The technology breaks through the inherent isolation of day labor work by fostering a network of workers regardless of where they are located. The Alert function allows workers to anonymously warn others of non-paying jobs and bad employers.
Jornaler@ is now available for Android and iPhone. Search for “Jornalera” on Google Play or the App Store. You will require a code when you attempt to register. Please contact Cal Soto at email@example.com if you do not have a code via a participating worker center and would like to request one.
Jornaler@ is a tool designed with input from day laborers to be used by any worker with an irregular schedule and varied wages. Data shows that these circumstances create a heightened risk of wage theft. Jornaler@ works to reduce this risk by connecting similarly situated workers, notifying them instantly of bad employers, and amplifying that message to a network spanning entire metropolitan areas. With Jornaler@ installed, no worker is alone on the job.
To ensure that users are connecting with local communities of workers, we have developed the “center code” model. Those that want to use Jornaler@ can get in touch with their closest worker center. If the center is already connected to the Jornaler@ Network, they will train the worker in how to best utilize the app and distribute a “center code” to allow that worker to register.
If the local worker center is not yet connected to the Jornaler@ Network, the lead organizer can get in touch with Cal Soto at firstname.lastname@example.org to get information about training and receive a unique center code.
Once you have received a center code you can follow the registration process and start using Jornaler@ to keep track of your hours, report wage theft, and stay connected with other workers in your area. All of your data will be stored anonymously and can be accessed on your phone or, at your request, through your local worker center during a personal appointment.
For more information about the role of The Worker Institute in this project, contact Maria Figueroa at email@example.com or for more information about the app and for downloads, contact Cal Soto at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more from The Worker Institute at Cornell.