The March On Phoenix on Monday will have an economic impact but the size and weight of the financial kick — and whose pocketbooks and bottom lines it may harm — remains a mystery.
“I assume a lot of people won’t be going to work on Monday,” said Harry Garewal, president and chief executive officer of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
“However, we don’t know how many will take the day off , but if the predictions are correct the financial impact could be significant,” said Garewal.
Organizers are estimating that 100,000 mostly Hispanic marchers seeking immigration reform could descend on the Arizona State Capitol and Arizona State Fairgrounds between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.
About a half-dozen marchers will be employees at the Blue Adobe Sante Fe Grille restaurant at 144 N. Country Club Drive, Mesa.
“They’ve asked and we approved time off so they could attend the march,” said Diana Bavetz, general manager. “We’re trying to work around it.”
The employees, mostly kitchen workers as well as servers, said they would come to work earlier on Monday morning, help the staff prepare for the day and then leave, Bavetz said.
“It will effect our operations, but we won’t know how much until Monday afternoon,” said Bavetz. “We’ve heard that a lot of employees at other restaurants are just taking off, period.”
Several major Valley companies with relatively large numbers of Hispanic employees, however, said they were not worried about losing staff for the day, although others are waiting to see what happens.
“We’ve got a lot of Hispanic workers, but we don’t expect to have any problems on Monday,” said Robert Underwood, co-owner of AAA Landscaping, 3747 E. Southern Ave., Phoenix.
The landscaping firm has about 500 employees, mostly Hispanic, and has established a good, working relationship with them, said Underwood.
“We support immigration reform,” Underwood said. “We don’t see them taking off work to march.”
Mike Garduno, owner of A.M.E. Southwest Landscaping, 1403 W. Scott Ave., Gilbert, said he didn’t anticipate any problems, but he intends to wait.
“We won’t know until Monday,” said Garduno, whose company has more than 100 workers, mostly Hispanic.
“I think because of the location of the March there won’t be as many workers from East Valley companies because of the distance they must travel to downtown Phoenix and back,” Garduno said.
He said no employees have thus far asked for time off.
Carol Baetzel, spokesperson for the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, 2400 E. Missouri Avenue, Phoenix, said none of their employees, are expected to leave work for the march.
“We’ve been encouraging our associates to contact senators Jon Kyl and John McCain and urge them to support the proposed immigration changes,” said Baetzel.
“No, we don’t expect any impact on our associates on Monday.”
Bob White, director of the Mesa Parks and Recreation Department, said he, too, expects no massive walkouts or less workers on the job Monday.
“No individuals so far have applied for requests for leaves,” White said.
Gov. Janet Napolitano said while she expects some state workers to stay away from work, partly to participate in the protest march and also to avoid the expected traffic congestion, state offices will remain open.
“It is my intent that state government stays open,” said Napolitano. She said workers who want the day off should apply for an official leave of absence.
The number of employees at Federal District Court at 401 W. Washington in the path of the march will be minimal, according a spokesperson, but the court will remain open.
Meanwhile, Garewal said the economic role of Hispanics in Arizona shows they are the largest and fastest growing minority group in the state and United States.
The purchasing power of Hispanics in the state has grown from $8 billion to $21 billion over the past decade, Garewal said.
“That amounts to about $26 million in buying power a day,” he said.