Skip to comments.California gets taste of life without immigrant workers
Posted on 05/01/2006 4:17:43 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
Chinese food or a hamburger were easy to come by in the Mission District on Monday. Doughnuts or bagels? No problem. But in a neighborhood where every other storefront seems to house a tacqueria, you would have been hard-pressed to find a burrito.
With leaders of the national "Day Without Immigrants" calling for an economic boycott, many Hispanic-owned businesses closed for the day in the city's unofficial Latin quarter and throughout California, encouraging employees to participate in the massive protest marches.
"Today, no - no working and no buying," said Enrique Varguas, 28, who rescheduled a dozen or so landscaping appointments so he could participate in San Francisco's demonstration. "They will see how much money immigrants spend, and how much immigrants contribute to the economy of the country."
Though participation in the work stoppage was uneven and hard to gauge, its impact was hardly limited to Hispanic neighborhoods in a state that relies heavily on immigrant labor. Building contractors in many communities canceled jobs, appliance stores curtailed deliveries, parents scrambled to make alternative child care arrangements and farms had fewer people to pick produce.
At the state Capitol in Sacramento, the California Legislature canceled its floor sessions and the two onsite cafeterias remained latched because not enough employees showed up. Yet many large manufacturers, including the Farmer John meatpacking plant in Los Angeles and Gallo Wine's plants in Modesto, Fresno, Sonoma and other cities reported they were near fully staffed.
Jack Kyser, chief economist of the Los Angeles Economic development Corp., said the economic fallout of the one-day boycott could be as high as $200 million in Los Angeles County. The estimate, a fraction of the $1.2 billion in economic activity the county generates daily, consisted of business lost on Monday and took into consideration commerce that would be made up later in the week.
Throughout the state, employers seemed eager to accommodate employees if they could. Fencing contractor Justin Lena had to postpone five of the six jobs he had scheduled in the San Francisco suburbs until Saturday after 14 of his 16 employees said they would not be coming to work.
Lena filled in, shoveling gravel. But he wasn't upset, especially after his most veteran employee told him his friends and family would be angry with him if he breached the boycott.
"The Mexican guys I have who work for me, they are absolutely fantastic workers. I've had Asian, I've had black and I've had white. (Hispanics) are the most hardworking, dedicated, family oriented, focused people I've ever had work for me," said Lena, 26. "The backbone of my business is on their shoulders."
Carmen Murray, owner of Rodeo Carpet Mills in Commerce, Calif., said she was operating on a skeleton staff Monday as two-thirds of her 33-person work force took the day off to attend rallies. She said her workers asked weeks in advance and were allowed to use vacation time.
"We thought it was important for them and we wanted to support their feelings," Murray said.
In food-loving San Francisco, owner Laurie Thomas made a deal with workers at her Rose Pistola restaurant: she would keep the Italian eatery shut for lunch if the night crew promised to show up for dinner. A sign on the door informed patrons of the closure, but didn't give the reason.
"I don't feel compelled to make a big statement about it," Thomas said. "We need to do what's right to run the business and sometimes that includes compromise."
Farmworker advocates claimed the boycott put a significant dent in one of the state's signature industries. The United Farm Workers union said the boycott shut down grape, strawberry and citrus harvests throughout California for the day.
"This really demonstrates the power that we have when we're unified," UFW President Arturo Rodriguez said from a rally in Salinas.
But agricultural interests said farmers were prepared for the boycott and would probably not suffer. Many farms and packing plants let their workers take the time off while others rearranged schedules to make up for missed work on Monday, California Farm Bureau Federation spokesman Dave Kranz said.
Sean McNally, a spokesman for Grimmway Farms in Bakersfield, said the company was down to less than 30 percent of its normal work force, but didn't have to close any of its vegetable-growing operations.
"We made it clear there would be no repercussions if they wanted to take that day off. We wanted them to feel free to express themselves," McNally said.
While industries with heavily Hispanic staffs saw the biggest impact, the boycott also had a trickle-down effect. Bay Area 2nd Mom Inc., a Palo Alto-based caregiver referral service, saw a sharp increase in calls on Sunday and Monday from parents who needed a last-minute nanny or baby sitter, said Chief Executive Shalini Azariah.
"Today our phones are just ringing off the hook," Azariah said.
For some enterprises, that meant a boon in business. With so most other restaurants closed, Wan Kee, a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco's Mission District, did brisk lunchtime business.
"We have to eat, too," said Francisco Sanchez, 25, an ice cream vendor, tucking into a plate of rice and stir-friend scallops before he headed off to San Francisco's protest.
Associated Press Writers Terence Chea, Gary Gentile, Olivia Munoz and Don Thompson contributed to this story.
A day without an illegal.
And we survived.
We passed the test, they can all go back home now.
The place hardest hit, is the most sympathetic place. They won't feel a backlash there b/c they're the majority. But elsewhere, it didn't go well.
Another day of lib media hype, another day of failed predictions.
Translation - it was not effective
Mexican restaurants can expect a dearth of ''gringo'' customers for a long time to come.
And we survived.
Maybe we can try ot for a week next month.
No burritos? OMG! What did Americans eat before burritos?
All the hype and I personally feel completely unimpressed.
"'Today, no - no working and no buying,' said Enrique Varguas, 28, who rescheduled a dozen or so landscaping appointments..."
BFD. If they all rescheduled, he's not out dime-one. I own a business; re-scheduling appointments is part of the package.
Now, if he had CANCELLED a "dozen or so" contracts to really drive his point home about how we can't live without him, I might not be yawning right now. *Rolleyes*
What's that old saying? "A Gringo and his peso are too soon parted?" ;)
"Chinese food or a hamburger were easy to come by in the Mission District on Monday. Doughnuts or bagels? No problem. But in a neighborhood where every other storefront seems to house a tacqueria, you would have been hard-pressed to find a burrit"
I think its great that Americans were there to do the jobs that illegal immigrants wouldnt do.
Time for the gringos to stage "No-No De Mayo" ...
"Another day of lib media hype..."
It wasn't just the liberal media. Fox News (and the entire 24-hour cable news line-up) were basically running a non-stop commercial for this protest and it didn't create half of what they were surmising it would. In Georgia, it was an absolute failure.
Here in Texas it was absolutely wonderful, our streets were less crowded our stores and reataurants were less crowded there are just way to many of them here!! One is actually one to many!
I live in Bakersfield and went to every Mexican restaurant on my side of town looking for a closed one. I had signs I was going to put on their doors. They were all open.
I drove around and shopped for 4 hrs today. Didn't find or see one biz closed.
Went to Walmart for the first time in 3 yrs, it was nice. Traffic on the highways was a heckuva lot less and easy to get around today.
I love this day without illegals. Everyday please!
Amen! Best thing here in my San Diego neighborhood was the quiet!! No frickin' leaf blowers blasting thru the condo complex all day long. A very nice May Day.
If I sent you my credit card bill(s) from today....could I, um, impress you? ;)