What workers say

By: - August 1, 2005 5:29 am

Raleigh News & Observer


one from Mexico and two from the United States — view a proposed guest-worker program for low-skilled workers. They spoke while working at a residential development in Raleigh.

‘It’s a necessity to bring people in here legally to work. If one is working legally, they’re paying taxes and helping the country and contributing to the economy. They do a lot of good things for the country. I think it would be better for the economy. Look at the people doing construction. It’s Latinos doing the construction work, and very few Americans. It would be good for many people in Mexico, too, especially for those who don’t have permission to come. Right now they have to pass through the border, and for many that’s dangerous.’

JOSE LUIS RAZO, 24, a house painter who lives in Durham. He came from Guanajuato, Mexico, five years ago.

‘It’s a question of whether it’s taking more jobs from American workers. And my experience in the industry, I don’t necessarily feel that it is. I lived in California, where [foreign labor] is real big. In Southern California, you get people from Mexico all the time. These foreign workers, they come to work. They give you 110 percent of what they have. American workers, some of them are looking more for the fast track. They don’t do things quite as well. In this industry, with the way things are going in North Carolina, it’s very good to bring them in as long as there is a process to do it.

‘If they’re illegal immigrants, and they’re getting paid under the table, it’s bad for the economy because we’re not getting the taxes. But if there is a process to it, then I would say it would be a benefit for the American economy.’

SCOTT NESSEL, 27, of Cary, a building site superintendent

‘I don’t think we need to bring in more foreign workers. It’s tough on us, on American workers, people like me. I don’t have nothing. I’m trying to make ends meet myself, take care of my family. Foreign workers, they come over here and get jobs — get good jobs. I don’t have nothing against them. They really work hard, they really do. It’s hard for them to make ends meet, too. But right here in the United States, we need to help our young people. We need to put them to work so they won’t be standing on the streets selling drugs.

‘Right now, our young guys don’t know anything about work. They could get out here and work just like I can if they want to. It’s hard to get them to do hard labor. If you want anything, you have to work for it.’

SAM COOKE, 56, construction worker who lives in Franklin County

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Chris Fitzsimon

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina. [email protected] 919-861-2066