From What's News:
For years, every morning, the sight has been the same at Marcy and Division Avenues in Williamsburg, Brooklyn: a crowd of women gathered on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway overpass amid the din of traffic. They are day laborers looking not for construction work, but for work cleaning houses of Hasidic residents.
There were originally maybe 40 or 50. And like many traditions that grow up out of necessity around New York City, this cleaning woman shape-up had certain unwritten codes, accepted patterns that all the women acknowledged, and abided by.
The young Polish students speaking fluent English were usually in front; they tended to be employers’ favorites, and they could translate for the others. Just behind them, spread along the overpass fence, stood Polish women in their 40s and 50s, with some even older. Then, at the end of the line, there would stand a few women from Latin America.
But as the years have gone by, and the economy has been knocked around, change has come to this corner in Brooklyn. Gradually but unmistakably, young immigrants from Peru, Mexico and Ecuador wearing short black jackets and tight jeans have taken the front row. A smaller crowd of older Polish women now stands behind them. And the crowd has more than doubled, with women spilling onto the street on two corners.
Lost jobs in factories, tailor shops, stores and restaurants in other parts of the city have brought the Hispanic women to Williamsburg: a lot of them, like the Polish women, are illegal immigrants and therefore not eligible for unemployment benefits. Being a domestic day laborer is one of their few safe options for making a little money.