The Man in the Middle |

The Man in the Middle

Marty Lich

Recently I was the co-author of a column titled “Vail Valley’s illegal invasion.”

After the column was printed, I received a phone call from a long-time restaurant owner in Vail. I am going to offer the other side of the Man in the Middle, one of the business owners in Vail.

Residents of Eagle County, meet Mr. Luc Meyer. Mr. Meyer is chef and owner of the Left Bank Restaurant.

Mr. Meyer has been a French restaurant owner in Vail for over 30 years. Occasionally I have eaten at his restaurant, and we began talking about Vail, the companies that cheat with regard to employees who are not legal, and the majority of business owners that do not cheat the system.

Mr. Meyer is one of those owners who do not cheat, and he is one of our wonderful American residents who have pleaded with the government to help him. To no avail.

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When he has had suspicions about an employee’s legal status, he got no aid from the local police or our federal government in verifying status here. I can attest to that.

For all of the avenues our government claims it has to track eligibility into America, they really offer no avenues for the Man in the Middle, these independent and legitimate business owners. Mr. Meyer said that he “sometimes feels our government actually encourages illegal immigration.” I agree with you, Mr. Meyer. I don’t pretend to understand why it is, but I certainly agree.

A small minority of businesses in America, these companies that break the law by hiring undocumented workers, that cheat by paying cash under the table, they undermine the majority of legitimate businesses that do not do any of this. These companies make it incredibly difficult for the law-abiding ones to remain competitive in the free enterprise market.

Again, I agree 100 percent with Mr. Meyer’s comments. Yes, Mr. Meyer, they undermine wages, fair business competition and the whole dynamics of free enterprise in the United States. How can an honest business owner compete with cheaters? Realistically, they cannot.

You need to look no further than California to see where many of the honest companies and businesses have gone to and they are not located in California anymore. That I can say with certainty.

Mr. Meyer offers his employees a very fair wage, with benefits, with a place to live and with overtime pay. He also pays his workman’s comp and his taxes, and he is constantly seeking employees willing to work for him. He is not a big enough business owner to completely fill his slots with H1-B temporary work visa employees and so he struggles on a constant basis to keep his restaurant running. For 30 years he has struggled with this.

As we continued talking about employees and lack of hardworking employees, Mr. Meyer observed that much as he advertises, as much as he attempts to find student employees, they do not respond to his ads.

He pays a fair wage, he pays benefits and he offers overtime. However, at the same time he fully and rightfully expects people to show up for work, and to observe cleanliness and health regulations.

As a result, he has a difficult time finding responsible employees who are locals in our valley. He has better luck with locating willing employees through the H1-B visa program. Where are the people who claim that they want to work?

Frosty Wooldridge and I wrote our column based on what I just talked with Mr. Meyer about. It was not in any way written to cast a negative light on the majority of employers in Eagle County.

The intention was to bring much of what goes on and is destroying the American Dream to the forefront. To open the American public’s eyes to the minority of the cheaters who are undermining our free enterprise system while our government turns a blind eye to the fallout afterward. To point out that it only takes the small minority to do this and the undercurrent sweeps away the honest people making an honest living.

So everyone out there, here is an honest and hardworking man who really cares and does what is right by his employees. Have any takers on working for him, thus proving it wrong when you hear that “these are jobs no Americans will do”?

Marty Lich of Gypsum writes for a variety of newspapers about immigration issues.

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