Saturday, April 29, 2006

May 1 a day without

May 1, a day without immigrants.

The day quickly approaches and the fear of the American corporations is palpable, particularly those that employ thousands of immigrants in service jobs; hotels, restaurants, hospitals, etc. These aren’t unfounded fears. They have seen hundreds of thousands of marchers across the country express their support for legislation that will allow some sort of amnesty for the undocumented population of the U.S. and as time passed since the marches began just a few weeks ago, the significance of May 1, as the day of the worker, has become greater here in the States. Typically Labor Day is celebrated in September. In many other countries, Labor day is May 1. So, why are the corporations afraid? one simple term, profits.
The absence of workers on May 1 in any company will hurt their ability to deliver product(s) to their customers, whether it is a tangible or intangible product. This in turn affects their bottom line in unhappy customers and when you are dealing with thousands and thousands of customers daily, it can get a bit frightening. In the service industry, this is dogma. So what to you do about it?
Here in Las Vegas, the large corporations and the local union, have teamed up to “encourage” their members (Mostly hotel workers) to show up for work and instead, attend a “rally” at a very popular spot here in town where they can sign a petition which will be sent to the State representatives in Congress. This “should” minimize absenteeism on May 1; at least that is the goal. Is it going to help? My guess is that there will be plenty of workers who will be absent form work but the companies have already established plans to deal with this issue. What I find interesting is the fact that the union and the companies here found a middle ground with regards to this issue. Instead of the union calling for support from their membership for the marches, they have agreed to hold the rally. Of course they are doing it for leverage. Contract negotiations are beginning soon, so instead of antagonizing their counterparts, they are willing to cut a deal that will help the hotels get through May 1 without major issues. I am wondering if this has happened in other parts of the country.
What about the workers?
There will be people marching and missing work throughout the country on May 1, no doubt about it. Will it affect decisions made in congress in regards to immigration? In the long run, I think so. There is no doubt that the pressure that civic groups and the fear that the marches could increase in frequency and size will affect the decisions that Congress takes. It is quite possible that if nothing is done, the premise of the movie, “A Day Without Mexicans” might come true.

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