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Pissed-off Temp-Turned-Film-Producer: Dave DeSario to Screen “A Day’s Work” at COSHCON15

A Day's Work is produced by
Dave DeSario (pictured above) and
directed by David M. Garcia

“I got involved because, frankly, I was a pissed-off temp worker,” says labor activist Dave DeSario about his new film A Day’s Work, “and I wanted there to be a more accurate representation out there of what the temp experience was really like for workers.”

Desario will speak and answer questions following a special screening Tuesday, June 2 at 7 pm at the National Conference on Worker Safety and Health. The film -- which features an interview with National COSH Board President Barbara Rahke --tells the story of Day Davis, a 21-year-old temp worker killed on his first day of work at a Bacardi Bottling plant in Jacksonville, Florida.

Lawrence DaQuan “Day” Davis
took this "selfie" 90 minutes
before he was killed

“This is a young person – it could have been any one of us,” comments DeSario, “working at a first job, who had no idea of the situation he was in.”

Davis was cleaning up broken bottles underneath a palletizer machine when he was crushed to death.

“I was a temp worker for a lot of years when I was younger, figuring everything out,” DeSario tells National COSH. “Whether it was a light-industrial warehouse job or an office job, there were certain commonalities: If you are a temp, you are a second class employee, and you are treated differently than everybody else.”

As DeSario searched for information on the nature of temp work, he discovered that the management voices from the temp industry “really dominated the conversation.”

“They are running what people might call a scam, in the sense that they promote the idea that ‘if I work hard, if I play by the rules, I will one day be made permanent.’ It keeps people working hard for a long time.”

The abuses that DeSario saw inspired him to start temporaryemployees.org, and to attend the first-ever temp worker forum in 2013. It was there, during a speech by OSHA chief Dr. David Michaels, that he first heard about the tragedy that took the life of Day Davis.

A Day's Work has had a powerful effect on audiences at labor film festivals in New York and Santa Cruz, and at a Washington State Department of Labor symposium.

“Washington State is ahead of other states in issuing fines to the temp agency in addition to the host employer. So they are way ahead of the curve,” observes DeSario. “But the problems they face are the same that a lot of these inspectors face: at the end of the day, these fines and the consequences that are available to them – the complete lack of criminal consequences – are not enough to deter the behavior.”

The film has provoked strong reactions among viewers, says DeSario. “It’s a really dramatic case, [and] also a pretty exceptional family – teenaged kids and a single mom.” Interviews with Davis’ mother and his surviving siblings are especially powerful on screen.

Family members recognized, DeSario says, “that if they share their story they can perhaps prevent this from happening to someone else.”

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