More than 250 businesses feel effects of immigrant work strike

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — More than 250 Latino businesses in the Charlotte area are closed Thursday as immigrants hold a work strike in Marshall Park, according to an estimate on a Spanish website.

The impact of the work strike isn't felt just by customers who shop at closed Latino businesses like one in north Charlotte.

The strike is also sharply felt by worried business owners who are scrambling to finish their projects on tight deadlines.

"There could be safety concerns because we have, you know, a team of people who have each other's backs,” Dave Simpson said.

Simpson is the president of Carolinas AGC, a construction trade association for contractors in the Carolinas.

Many of its projects depend on thousands of Latino employees, many of whom skipped work on Thursday to protest President Donald Trump's immigration policies.

"One of the concerns that we have, for example, is if you have, say, a 10-person crew on a job site and a significant number of those don't show up, there could be safety concerns," Simpson said.

Channel 9 talked with multiple contractors who said they've had so many employees miss work that they've had to cancel some projects and they're falling behind on others.

Immigrants like Alejandro Bonilla are skipping out on work because they're worried that they could be separated from family.

"I started a job on Monday and I was supposed to finish tomorrow, but I told my customer I had to be here to help the community," Bonilla said.

Bonilla said he has a work permit but he thinks it could be revoked soon by the Trump administration.

Nearly 13 percent of Charlotte's population is Latino.

Business owners worry that Thursday's loss of productivity will have far-reaching consequences.

"It is a cause for concern," Simpson said.

Immigrants said those concerns prove their point.

They want the country to understand how important their work is to the economy and how much they would be missed if they were gone.

Construction contractors said it is still too soon to say how costly Thursday's work strike has been.