Back when I was married, my husband and a couple of his friends started a company making graphite stuff. They found a shop to rent in a long, narrow, light-manufacturing building with lots of other shops in a nearby town with no discernible zoning plan.
The property was located in a mostly residential neighborhood at about the point where the homes transitioned from older but nicely maintained places to houses with multiple cars in front and dirt yards so compacted, even the weeds wouldn't grow. The neighborhood was at the edge of the lower-income Hispanic area, and sometimes I'd see Mexican Indians walking down the street. They were the poorest of the poor in Mexico and seemed to still be the poorest of the poor even in America, and this was where they could afford to live.
In this setting, the next property beyond my husband's business was a big Cintas ("The Uniform People") place. Their trucks would come and go and were as much a fixture of the area as Eddie The Welder or the magnet school down the street. I didn't think about Cintas much, not needing uniforms.
But they were in the news recently. The Washington Times reported November 28, 2006, that Cintas has been warned against firing illegal immigrants.
A Mississippi Democrat in line to become chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee has warned the nation's largest uniform supplier it faces criminal charges if it follows a White House proposal to recheck workers with mismatched Social Security numbers and fire those who cannot resolve the discrepancy in 60 days.
Rep. Bennie Thompson said in a letter to Cintas Corp. it could be charged with "illegal activities in violation of state and federal law" if any of its 32,000 employees are terminated because they gave incorrect Social Security numbers to be hired.
In his letter, Mr. Thompson said his "apprehension" over the proposed policy was echoed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which said the proposal could result in "circumstances in which employers have incentives to take actions that violate ... non-discriminatory provisions."
This reinforces my concern about the havoc that's coming when the Democrats take over Congress next year.
It's not discrimination when a company fires someone who isn't allowed to work in the US. Even if most of the people who get fired come from the same ethnic background, it's still not discrimination. Firing illegal workers is called, "obeying the law."
Congressman Thompson is putting Cintas between a rock and a hard place with his letter. If they hire illegal workers, they run the risk of the kind of raids that hit Swift & Co last week, and they could be fined or shut down. But if they refuse to hire illegal workers, Thompson intends to sic the EEOC on them for discrimination.
Cintas is trying to walk the fine line (yes, apparently there is still a line) between the two options.
Cintas has issued letters to 400 employees in five states telling them they will be indefinitely suspended if they cannot resolve their mismatched Social Security number within 60 days.
"Cintas, like all employers, has a legal obligation to ensure all employees are legally authorized to work in the U.S.," the firm said in a statement. "Cintas has not terminated any employees due to the Social Security mismatches and plans to continue its policy of placing these employees on indefinite leave until they produce the required documentation."
I wish them well in their efforts to deal with our crazy-making government.