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May 1

May 1 was called “A Day Without Immigrants.” That was the day that immigrants in the United States were asked to flex their economic muscle by boycotting all aspects of commerce, including going to work and school. Did your company experience lower attendance on May 1, and did you support any workers who may have not shown up for work that day? Please describe your experience.

Being that I come from a family that spent thousands of dollars, and much time and effort legally immigrating here in the 1980s (I became a citizen in the 1990s), I was happy to see our office take a strong approach to the situation. Everyone was told that if they took off May 1, they “could take off the rest of the week as well, if not take every day off permanently.” As I visited a job site the Friday prior and asked other immigrants if they were participating, I heard several guys say, “I like my job too much” or “That’s stupid; are those people going to pay me for my lost day?” All in all, I think it hurt the workers more than it did the company. The fact being that these guys work hourly or piece-work, and that losing a day’s pay can mean the difference between feeding your family and not.—PJ Joy, Project Manager/Estimator, Commercial Plastering, Inc. Bradenton, FL

Not only did we support our workers in the endeavor, I have also written my Congressman, Ike Skelton, in Missouri. I told him to tell the Congressman from North Carolina that the citizens of the great state of Missouri were not impressed with the few bricks sitting on his desk sent by some redneck hillbillies. I also told him that we in the United States have a huge drug problem plaguing our communities and workers, and that the Mexican working immigrant was providing us a balance to perform tasks. In a country that holds the greatest wealth and some of the greatest intelligence, there has to be a way to discern terrorists from hard-working laborers.

Greed is no reason to hire or support those who have broken the laws and entered this Nation illegally. End of discussion!

One out of 10 workers was adamant to report to work and that was not so much to support the cause but fear of reprisal. I did not support their cause whatsoever.

I didn’t have any problems. I said I would fire anyone who didn’t show up for work. To come to our country to work should be a privilege and anyone caught protesting should be fired.—Gene Bright

Of 100 field employees, we had two show for work. The rest, however, gave us notice that they intended to attend the march. Well before the march day, we sent notices to our job sites giving the general contractors that knowledge prior to their having short-staffed days. One of our job sites has 800 field employees—200 showed. We acknowledge the importance of the immigrant population to construction—and other fields of work—and generally support them in pursuing their citizenship, insurance, credit standing, education and any other way possible—not to mention security in their jobs and income. They, in turn, are loyal, hard working, God-fearing, honest and respectful for the most part. Anyone who doesn’t recognize the critical functions the immigrant community plays in our economy has his head in the sand.

All our employees showed up for work, but our schedule was disrupted because the drywall was not completed on schedule and we could not do the finish wallcovering work. No one in our company seemed supportive of the day; we have enough problems caused by poor drywall workmanship. They didn’t make any points with us by not working.

We had one day when some of our workers didn’t show, some did. No problem. All of our workers are not illegal.
The day went without incident and had no effect on our company.—Ronald E. Schweitzer, President, R.E. Schweitzer Construction Co., Cincinnati, OH

All of my Hispanic workers did not show up for work that day. It caused me to completely shut down all my job sites for that day. Some of the workers let me know in advance, others just didn’t show up. Although they did not work, they also did not attend the rallies that were put on.—Jacquelynn Cadena, President, Cadena Contracting, Inc., North Little Rock, AR

Most of our workers did come to work on May 1. Those who did not informed us and worked on April 30 instead, so it had no economic impact on us, them, nor did it have any effect on our job progress.—Robyn LeGris, Partner, First Choice Plastering, LP, Houston, TX

We didn’t experience any impacts as all our immigrant employees continued to work. We have approximately 40 to 50 immigrants employed, which represents about 50% of our work force. If they would have chosen to not work, it would have impacted our projects significantly.—Michael Newman, President, Firstline Systems Inc., Kirkland, WA

Our company and our industry did not see or feel any effects as a result of the boycott. Didn’t really affect us at all. Our workers are all legal and citizens of the United States. It was hard to find a Mexican Restaurant to eat lunch though.—Susan Levy, Vice President, Mr. Construction, San Diego, CA

We don’t hire anyone without proper documentation. When in doubt we err on the side of caution and won’t hire the individual in question. Our clients require that we certify our employees and on the rare occasion that we hire a group of subcontractors, we require the same from them. Quite simply, “The law is the law.” We did not have anyone take the day off. If any of our employees had done so without a valid explanation it would have been treated as an unexcused absence including disciplinary action. Had an employee asked for the day off in advance, it would have been allowed.—Chris Moriarty, President, Tri-State Stucco, LLC, Williamsburg, OH

I do not work any illegal immigrants. If all businesses would take the same approach we would not have a problem.—Edwin Dawson, President, Dixie Plastering Co., Inc. Gadsden, AL

I will never hire an illegal alien! They can flex their economic muscles in Mexico City.—Garth von Homan, Owner, Finishes by Garth, Hackensack, NJ

We experienced no lower attendance on May 1, and three out of five of my employees are of Mexican heritage. Every one of our employees showed up to work as it was a regular work day. If not, we would have handled it appropriately. Also I would like to say that on that day my mileage on my truck increased because of no stop-and-go traffic; it was lovely and an exceptional day.—Sharon Kammerdiener, Owner, WRK Acoustics, Fontana, CA

I did not experience lower attendance on May 1 nor did anyone else I spoke with. I do not support “illegal” anything and can only wonder how the jobs they claim no one else will do managed to “get done” before Illegals arrived. If this “illegal” happening is okay then what is the meaning of “illegal,” and who decides what “illegal” act is the next one to fall? Where are all the “grownups with brains,” and what do you plan to tell your kids when it comes to following the rules of law in this country?

We had two men miss work for the one day only. Yes, I supported them. I feel that the current situation concerning immigration is going to shed some very interesting reality on the issue.—Buck Duncan, President, Buck Duncan Construction, Albuquerque, NM

I will not support illegal workers destroying my trade.—John H. Lancaster Construction

We did not experience any lower attendance since we don’t have any immigrants working for us.—Debra Garre, Treasurer, Drywall Associates, Inc. Newtown, CT

We closed for the day and worked Saturday instead. It did change the way we do business now. We bought equipment to replace employees. We analyzed every job and made sure it was being done in the most efficient way with the least amount of employees. We are currently working on more productive ways of hanging drywall—our hardest area for cutting back on employees. It’s time we got out of the Stone Age in construction; cheap labor is costing us a fortune.—Scott Wilson, President, SW Drywall Inc., San Diego, CA

We did not experience any attendance problems. The people showed up for work just like any other day.—Davie Marty, Owner-President, First Choice Drywall, Inc., Waunakee, WI

I had one man out that day and he asked for the day off. I gave him the day off without question. I explained to my men that by taking the day off that they were not hurting the government, they were hurting me, the one who is supporting them and their families.—Craig Scoggins, Sr. Vice President, O’Neal Drywall Inc., Atlanta, GA

No we did not, as we don’t hire anyone who can’t or won’t speak English. … Send them home and make them re-enter legally as our forefathers did, and also were proud to be in America and ready to learn the American way. I do not support them or anyone who does.

Yes, we did experience a lower attendance. Yes we did support them. It did not have any impact on our work for just one day. I think they should have dedicated a whole week to the boycott. I don’t think people can really appreciate how important these ones are to our building and construction economy.

We experienced no problems with the May 1 walkout. We have a strict working policy. If any of our employees were not at work and opted to walk out due to a political issue that only reflected them personally, they would have been asked to keep walking. As a drywall firm there are many men and women who work hard without any political strife. We consider our work not to be racially or politically motivated. All walks of Americans are ready, willing and able to do this job. Unfortunately, at times there are not enough jobs for all legal Americans, and the undercutting of pricing done by some firms by using illegal labor affects us all, Union and Non-Union employers alike.—Rick Foltz, Owner, Foltz Specialties Interiors, Placerville, CA

We use [about] 100 to 125 workers who fit this description, and only four men did not work. However, they did work the following Sunday to catch up on their schedules. I really miss their point.

We had three men lay out. I reprimanded them on Tuesday when they returned. We do not support employees staying out of work to demonstrate.

We did experience lower attendance on May 1. We would not let the employees take a vacation day for taking the day off, though.

Our company did experience a lower attendance on this day; however, it rained that day, thus making the impact relatively insignificant. Did we really have a choice not to support these workers? I will say there was no work on Saturday to make up hours. Overall, had this day occurred or not we would have adapted, improvised and overcome! After all, we are in the drywall and plastering business, right?—Gary Dillman Jr., Baylor Plastering & Drywall, Inc., Daytona Beach, FL

Let me start off by saying that I am an American of Hispanic decent. I was born in the U.S.A. and I will die here. I do not support the “Illegal Immigrant” position. I did not have any of my employees miss on this day, and 100% of them are of Mexican descent. I would not have fired them if they left on that day, but they know that there’s always someone there to replace them if they miss work too often. I have no problem with people expressing their opinions, but before you start claiming your rights in this land, you need to abide by our rules and laws. It makes me very angry that others who have not paid into our system are receiving the benefits, i.e., schooling, welfare, medical, housing, etc. I have no problem with penalties being assessed to employers who hire these people. Once an employer knows that there are financial repercussions for hiring illegals, he or she will think twice before hiring them.—Raul Chacon, President Chacon Plastering, Inc., El Paso, TX

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