Mercado is the executive director and founder of La Colmena Community Job Center and the New York coordinator of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON). Gonzalo has over ten years of experience working with low wage immigrant workers through grassroots organizing, leadership and workforce development. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy he led efforts to organize “Day Laborer Volunteer Brigades” which helped thousands of New Yorkers impacted by the storm. He was instrumental in achieving the first ever NYC Council Day Laborer Workforce Initiative aimed at providing basic resources to NYC’s day laborer population. Gonzalo has also established the first transnational project with immigrant workers from Puebla, Mexico living in Staten Island, NY that has resulted in the reunification of over 20 families after over 20 years of separation. and the creation of the New York Alan Transnational Festival. Most recently he facilitated the incubation of the first worker owned cooperative on Staten Island.Gonzalo serves on the board of the New York Immigration Coalition, the North Star Fund, the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union and is a trustee of the Ghanaian Association of Staten Island. He earned a BS degree in Business Management from Touro College and is a graduate of Columbia University’s Non-profit Management Institute, CORO NY Leadership Center and the Aspen Institute for Emerging Nonprofit Leaders.
How does your current work relate to economic democracy?
For over more than 10 years I have been working with the working undocumented migrant community of New York. I have been able to see how the corporative system abuses and exploits in unimaginable ways migrant laborers, and dispose of them when it has no more need of them. In response to this reality I have been working to create spaces where workers can analyze their current reality, and think about economic alternatives, that range from the development of artistic skills as income generator, to create a deploy construction workers’ center, that guarantees a minimum wage of $15. Furthermore, we are also in the initial stages of a worker's coap of child care, with 25 migrant women that currently work cleaning houses.