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Mowing Alone? Technology Works On Grass As Well As Snow
Alien Nation has several references to lawn mowing, this notoriously being one of the jobs Americans let immigrants do.
The landscaping industry knows this too, and has written a thing called "Lawn & Landscape White Paper: Managing Immigrant Labor", with sections on "Managing the Hispanic Workforce."
It seems there are problems if no one on the crew speaks English:
"The most obvious challenge related to hiring immigrant employees is the language barrier and maintaining effective communication among crews and with customers....."
"A crew that doesn't speak English turns our customers off," according to Ron Kujawa, president, Kujawa Enterprises, Cudahy, Wis. "We make sure there is always at least one person on each job that speaks English. That was a big learning curve for us because we never realized how much onsite communication goes on with the customer.
"Customer communication was second nature [Emphasis added by VDARE] for the English-speaking employees, so they weren't necessarily reporting it all back to us," Kujawa continued. "Now, our employees that don't speak English carry a card that explains this so they can present it to any customers who approach them."
A couple of more recent tidbits from the Green Industry:
* Scott Jamieson, who is spending his own money to teach his workforce English, doesn't seem to believe in bilingual education. Could someone tell the California Association for Bilingual Education, or would they care?
From: Lawn & Landscape Magazine
"The trend toward a diversified workforce shows no signs of slowing. That means proportionately fewer workers in the green industry speak English. So we at The Care of Trees offer our employees training in English as a Second Language (ESL)."
"Safety was the No. 1 reason we began our ESL classes. We invest a lot time and effort into safety training for our crews, but if they can't understand the information, the training is pointless."
"Relying heavily on input from our bilingual Latino staff, we learned that the most effective ESL program uses instructors who speak only English in classes that are held at workplace locations. Our Hispanic employees also helped pick their ESL provider."
* Terry Foley is happy about the H2-B Program
"The H2-B program allows us to recruit individuals from Mexico to work for what we can establish as our peak season. In the past, we found that we needed additional laborers from March through the middle of December. Most of our laborers want to return to Mexico for the Christmas holidays and are not ready to return until early spring. As a landscape contractor, that works great for us. From the Christmas season through February we are able to perform our contracted work with our full-time laborers and do not feel the financial strain of excess employees. Not only does this program allow us to employ legal laborers, it does not require that we employ them longer than 10 months of the year. The H2-B program is perfect for our business."
And finally there was an industry roundtable, Obstacles and Opportunities of A Hispanic Workforce, where a lot of problems surfaced.
"I'm concerned that the general public doesn't see the need for immigrant labor because it's tired of immigration stories. If we have to start calling in social security numbers we're in trouble."
- Bill Gordon, Signature Landscape
"Not being able to understand what the laborers are saying is dangerous because you can have a bad apple and not know it."
"We'll see companies go the Wal-Mart route of being low cost operators with cheap labor before they'll invest in the new equipment. Cheap labor is the core commodity for too many companies."
"It's very important to the other Hispanics that their crew leader be Hispanic, but there has to be someone who can communicate with the client as well."
But there is a solution! I read in the December issue of WIRED Magazine that someone has invented a robot lawnmower.
The RL500 automatic lawnmower from Friendlymachines.com can mow a 3000 square foot lawn without recharging.
It comes with instruction manuals in English, French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian and Danish, so language is no longer a problem.
Nor are catastrophic health care, crime, and education costs.
March 10, 2001