Why we are so stuck on not hiring undocumented (illegal) people
What’s the big deal about hiring illegal or undocumented Aliens? Why does Maintenance Cooperative and why do I personally care about this so much???
A lot people over time after hearing how adamant I am about not hiring undocumented people have asked me: “What did those people do to you that you are so freakish about not hiring them?” I give these two true stories about my experience:
True story #1
In 1997 a huge theatre cleaning service came to Atlanta which at the time was my base of operation. I had 9 theatres in the local area and was trying to grow. One of the supervisors from this big (they still clean hundreds of theatres per night) cleaning company called me up and asked me if I wanted to work for them. I said: “Well I already have my own business…” The supervisor responded: “We are gonna take all your business. We are gonna clean you out…”
I admired the supervisor’s pluck so I asked:
“So what do you want me to do?”
“Take that big truck you drive to an apartment on Buford Highway. You gonna pick up 17 people who live in an apartment there and drop them off in separate groups at three theatres each night. Then you are gonna go check out their work and take them back to their apartment.”
“That must be a pretty big apartment.”
“It’s a two bedroom. They live where we tell them to live.”
A few weeks later a manager of one of my theatres told me that he had been approached by that cleaning company. They promised him that they would use three times as many people as my company did and that they would spend twice as long each night cleaning. The manager and I crunched the numbers since this competitor of mine was asking the same price I charged. We figured that if they were paying their people 80% of the total paid their business company by the theatre chain that the individual janitors would be making $2.60 per hour. We later found found out that the cleaners they used made 50% of the gross or $1.62 per hour. I remember when the minimum wage was about $1.62 per hour. It was 1965.
True story #2
Six years ago I was called by a woman who spoke broken English and was asking for a job. She had approached the theatre manager of the theatre she was cleaning for one of my competitors in the business. She had asked if he knew of any other movie theatre cleaning businesses that were looking for help. This was a manager who loved my service but was pressured by his boss (who I believe was being paid dividends to use the company he “liked”) to use my competitor. He gave her my number. I agreed to sit down and speak with her about a job without holding out any hope that I would or could hire her. We met at a mall. She came to the interview with her husband and immediately began to tell me how important it was that she and her husband work elsewhere. By the time she got a few broken sentences out she was weeping uncontrollably. The company she worked for cleaned many theatres and brought in people from Brazil illegally to do the job. She and her husband hired on because they were starving in Brazil and in spite of terrible wages my competitor paid they had been ok with the job until 5 weeks prior to the date we met when their supervisor broke them up and put her in an all female crew where she was currently working. Her supervisor’s motive was to get the women alone in the auditoriums where he was raping the three others on a regular basis…. She knew that she was only a week or so away from his plan for her and was beside herself with the prospect of what was about to happen to her. To report the offense she was sure would get her deported… back to starvation. This kind of thing is happening everywhere. How could I know this? When individuals are allowed to live above or below the eye of the law this is where they have always gone. From Presidents to peons it is the way it is.
If anyone wonders whether or not I dislike undocumented people please remember these stories and think about how you would feel if your wife or friends lived in such servitude. In every way the circumstances are as bad or worse than the slaves who we fought to liberate in the civil war. If I could I would hire them and pay the same wage I pay my current cleaners, but two things hold me back.
- I put ads on Craig's list for cleaners and have hundreds of documented US citizens begging me for jobs usually WITHIN HOURS. Many of the documented citizens are former military who are having a heck of a time getting work.
- I cannot in good conscience hire undocumented people when our country is in such need for our own people to work in spite of how tragically our undocumented debacle affects my conscience. The stories you may have heard that there are jobs that US citizens “will not accept” simply cannot be true. I have wonderful US citizens scrubbing out urinals and hand scrubbing bathroom walls every night who take pride in the job and love working with their theatre managers to solve issues. They have shown me time and again that they are grateful to me and God for the opportunity. It has been that way in my company for 32 years. US citizens are awesome workers. I can prove it.
If you as a citizen of this country are affected by this story remember this. With the new E-Verify system any employer can check an individual’s citizenship for free with the information provided in the I-9 form all workers should be filling out. It just takes a few minutes. If business managers were held accountable for every person they allowed to work on their premises and severe criminal laws were made to enforce that accountability there would be no underground/undocumented jobs available. Our country would have full employment of our currently unemployed and we could begin the process of allowing hard working foreign individuals the right to get work permits for any other job openings that might occur.