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December 11, 2018   
May 02, 2006 

May 1 Immigrant Boycott -- What's Right For Your Business?

Immigrants and their employers are deciding how to address the business boycott/worker walk-out that’s planned nationwide for May Day.

“A lot of employers in the industry have been struggling over how to respond,” says Craig Regelbrugge, senior director of government relations for the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA). “It’s a different issue than some of the demonstrations that have taken place peacefully recently.”

Tom Delaney, director of government affairs for the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), says it's important to be open with employees and assure them that you support and respect their decision.

"Each company has to decide for themselves what to do based on response back from their employees," Delaney says, noting that some workers may feel pressure to boycott, and others may not want to forfeit a day's pay.

PLANET is a member of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, which prepared a fact sheet for employers concerned about the boycott. It dicusses how to broach the subject and what options are available.

Immigrant groups acorss the country are divided on the boycott, which has been referred to as a “day without immigrants” and a “day of action.” One immigrant group, Mexicans Without Borders, said the planned protest would “up the ante” for a Congressional response to immigration reform and multi-state raids in which 1,000 illegal immigrants were arrested recently, the Washington Post reports.

A coalition of other immigrant organizations cautioned immigrants that missing work and rallying may put their jobs at risk and create a negative climate as Congress debates the issue.

Job risk is not a factor at McCabe Landscape Group in Wrightsville Beach, N.C. The company agreed to adjust its workweek for immigrant employees, President Todd McCabe shared on the Lawn & Landscape Message Board. “We are closing…on Monday, but we will be working Friday instead (we work a four-day workweek),” he says. “To be honest, I do not have anything against this ‘strike’ but I really do not feel like it is going to accomplish anything positive,” McCabe notes. “I think that a lot of people from outside of the industry are going to look down on the fact that they are going on strike Monday.”

Other message board contributors also indicated their employees plan to take off Monday. Will Sharp, president, Lawn Dawg Services, Matthews, N.C., says he is closing for the day to allow workers to attend a rally. “Boy what a thankful bunch, they are all going,” he writes.

ANLA has fielded numerous inquiries from employers who want to handle the touchy subject with care, Regelbrugge says. However the association is not taking a stand on whether or not landscape company owners should or should not encourage immigrant employees to boycott work Monday.

“Our role has been to share information and offer guidance, so employers are doing things in line with their personnel policies and certainly so they’re not getting involved in any legal trouble,” Regelbrugge says. Most importantly, he says, employers should remind immigrant workers that the landscape industry is working on their behalf to get favorable legislation passed.

For example, PLANET and ANLA reported last week that association worked with the Senate to include H-2B language in the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill that includes the H-2B cap extension to 2009. It also includes reforms to the H-2A program (in the form of AgJOBS) and a general guest worker program in the form of H-2C for non-seasonal temporary workers.

“It’s important for people to be aware that the intent is for the Senate to take immigration up again in the next few weeks, probably the week of May 15,” Regelbrugge says. “All employers need to be aware and need to reach out to their Senators before that time.” He suggests that landscapers schedule face-to-face visits with Senators or make personal phone calls. E-mails are OK, too. Also, he urges ANLA members to use the resources available in the Legislative Center section of the association’s Web site, www.anla.org.

Back to News/Press Releases >> Source: Landscape Online
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