:: Thursday, April 13, 2006 ::

Sí Se Puede


Your Dinner, originally uploaded by mbrandonw.

The movement of immigrant workers, mostly hispanic workers, in the USA continues to take off. It now seems that 1st May has been set as a national day of action, essentially a general strike of immigrant workers against the proposed racist legislation which would criminalise immigrant workers and those who help or employ them.

From yesterdays Wall Street Journal:
"At a New York rally starting at 3 p.m., demonstrators filling the narrow confines of Broadway from City Hall north to the edge of SoHo heard speeches from Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer -- both strongly condemning any attempts to force undocumented immigrants to leave the country -- and from a string of likeminded community and labor leaders. In the crowd were day laborers, hospital orderlies, care-givers to the elderly, pizza cooks, busboys, waiters, bartenders and the simply curious.

In many places, the events sent businesses racing to deal with the missing workers. Meatpacking plants in the Midwest and hotels and other businesses in the South were crippled by absenteeism among Hispanic workers. Major companies, like Tyson Foods Inc., sought to play down the impact of the rallies and stoppage on its operations. A spokesman said that "fewer than 10 of the more than 100 facilities" weren't operating due to the demonstrations and market conditions.

North Carolina, home to an emerging Latino population, was hard hit. A call by local immigrant groups for a retail boycott also prompted many Hispanics to stay away from work altogether. At the Omni Hotel in downtown Charlotte, a housekeeping coordinator reported that only two out of a 20-plus staff had shown up. "More than 90% of my workers are Latinas," she said. "They didn't show up."

Compare Foods Supermarkets, a supermarket chain that caters to Hispanics in North Carolina and beyond, saw a substantial slowdown in business. Cashier supervisor Mauricio Osorio said that there was "nobody compared with other Mondays." He predicted a 30% drop in sales. German De Castro, a Colombian native with U.S. citizenship who owns Tex-Fil Inc. in Charlotte, which processes filament yarns for the knitting and weaving industry, said: "I had about 20 employees. About 15 are Latinos. They all stayed out of work today. We talked
about it and I support this 100%." He said they were being paid.

In a "campaign for immigrants' dignity" yesterday, marchers in Omaha,
Neb., carried flags from the U.S., Mexico and other nations.
About one-third of U.S. restaurant workers are estimated to be Hispanic. Bryan Elliot, a restaurant analyst in Atlanta, said that in the long term, "if events create a reduction in newly arrived workers, that could significantly raise the cost of meals to ... consumers."

David Whitlock, an immigration lawyer in Atlanta, where yesterday's
demonstration was expected to draw 30,000, said he was hearing from business clients "concerned" about the prospects of continuing absenteeism. "I'm advising some companies almost completely dependent on foreign workers," Mr. Whitlock said. "They're nervous. They could be
crippled." His clients, he said, range from "a 10-person oriental-carpet shop to a 10,000-employee casino operator."

Health-care services were especially wary of losing staff without notice. "Our advice is there's not much you can do other than asking people not to leave en masse," Mr. Whitlock said. "We're telling them, apply your absentee policy. If you overreact, in our opinion, you are wide open for a discrimination charge."


:: Alister | 10:56 am | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | |

3 Comments:

It's looking like May 1 will be massive and nationwide. A new civil rights movement was born March 25 on that historic march in L.A.

By Blogger polizeros, at 7:55 am  

It is funny that the right here thought Latinos were a natural constituency, since they are mostly Catholics.

The catch is, they think issues as abortion etc. are private issues.

By Blogger Renegade Eye, at 2:07 am  

Interesting, please feel free to post links to any interesting analysis of this new movement.

By Blogger Alister, at 7:33 pm  

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