Pizza and illegal immigration

I’ve never dined at Upper Crust Pizza and after reading the story in today’s Globe about the upscale chain, I probably won’t eat there any time soon. The story is mostly about a dispute over employee pay with a lot of back and forth between former employees and the employer’s spokesman over hours worked and overtime wages paid or not paid depending on who you believe. The reporter, Jenn Abelson, travelled all the way to Brazil to interview former employees since the bulk of Upper Crust’s workforce, apparently, has consisted of illegal immigrants from a particular city in that South American country.

While the Globe strives for balance, the story seems to slant towards the hard-working, exploited-by-the-owner employees. What I find astounding is the way all involved – the owner’s representative, the employees, and the Globe – all brush past Upper Crust’s staffing-by-illegal immigrants business model. The Upper Crust spokesman channels Captain Louis Renault from Casablanca with his “What? There are illegal immigrants working here? I’m shocked?”

Before the current economic collapse, some of our fellow citizens blamed illegal immigrants for many of society’s ills including high crime, poor test scores and even the high cost of health care. In debate, I always responded that the immigrants were coming here for jobs (something fully corroborated by the Globe story) and that the best way to reduce illegal immigration was to crack down on those who employed them.

Illegal immigration is not such a hot button topic these days, partly because the Obama administration is cracking down more aggressively on employers than did the preceding administration, but mostly because the current economic collapse has curbed employment of all income groups, including the lowest. Congress continues to do nothing, however, mostly because the vast savings in wages and benefits that accrue to those who illegally employ those who are here illegally translate into a significant stream of contributions to the insatiable political money machine. Because of that, prospects for reform are dim. Perhaps in the meantime those who are so angry about this issue can divert some of that hostility towards those who employ illegal immigrants and to those in government who do nothing about it rather than demonizing the poorest among us who are here, after all, in search of a better life for themselves and their families.

3 Responses to Pizza and illegal immigration

  1. Left of Lynne says:

    Why would anyone with any moral compass support the Upper Crust ? Employing illegals is one thing, but then screwing them is another. I don’t care how bad your jonesing for a pizza.

  2. ed gilmartin says:

    I for one am never eating at this overpriced crummy place again…I got sick of paying $3.50 a slice a few years ago and to think they employ illegal aliens at minimum wage…imagine the profit margins….lots of college kids would love part time jobs there but they would ask for a fair wage…I am a proud customer of Starbucks…nice clean shops and professional english speaking workers who get a fair wage and health insurance…