According to this story from the Florence Times Daily, problems from HB56 continue to drain the economy. This time it’s impacting the cotton industry, where immigrants have stopped showing up for work. Randall Vaden, an owner of Scruggs and Vaden cotton gin west of Florence says the gin had immigrant workers from Russellville who were good workers, worked hard, and were never late.
“But as soon as the judge issued that ruling, they stopped answering their phone and we couldn’t find them. I guess they left the area. It really put us in a bind. It left us short-handed for a couple of weeks until we could hire some more people.” And it’s not because they don’t pay a living wage. Vaden says that even though they pay $10 an hour, they’ve had to fire locals because, “they didn’t want to work; they wanted to just stand around and watch someone else do the work. They would show up late a lot of mornings or not even come to work at all.”
According to the Alabama Cotton Producers’ website, Alabama ranks 9th in the US in cotton production. Cotton was worth $212 million to the state’s farmer’s in 2005. Cotton producers are joining the tomato, sweet potato, and fruit farmers in complaining about how HB 56 has hurt their business.
In the meantime, Vaden’s gin is getting by on local labor and a group of legal immigrants imported from Texas.