Who has Latino workers? Help with advice please.


Well-Known Member
Finding and keeping good employees is always a problem (as you know). So I added 2 workers from Mexico to my crew this year.

I'd really like to hear what you owners have experienced with Latino workers that come here on a work visa.

I went with two Mexican workers this year through an agency after my brothers business had success with some Mexican workers last year.

Unfortunately I've gotten some bad apples. One was steeling , so I fired him as soon as we had proof. Now my other guy is going to leave because his other buddy (that works for a farm) is being asked to leave because he was caught stealing. Word is they are going to move to the state my first dirt-ball went to because he's bragging he's getting paid $12/hr under the table at a restraunt. My current Mexican guy that is likely to leave this weekend is giving me a BS story that his boy in Mexico had an accident and he might have to go back home. I've about had it! I pay all this money to get them over here, then they steel or leave.

These guys were from Veracruz, Mexico. Two out of the three of my brothers workers are great and very loyal. All the buddies of the one I fired for steeling are now apparently bad apples too.

1. What countries do you get your workers from and what has been your experience? (I know people these days are always afraid to sterotype or generalize, I know there are always exceptions, but sterotypes or generalizations are created after a real pattern, so please, generalize all you want here).

I'm starting to think it's in Mexican culture to take advantage of whatever you can when you can, to help yourself. They will work hard, but you better police them or they will steal you blind. Yes, I do still believe that there are morally good Mexican workers, it's just I've seen so far, that the percentage of thieves and liars is high. And now I've been talking to other companies and factories that employ them, I'm hearing the same thing.

2. What agency do you use and how have they been? My brothers used Amigos the first year. They did a great job but was very expensive. This year we used a smaller more private agent that was recommended by quite a few people. He did an aweful job this year, guys got here late, 2 guys never showed up and we haven't gotten replacements. No replacement for the guy I fired for stealing. Doesn't return phone calls..... goes on and on.... I've heard that a lot of the smaller agencies had problems getting workers here on time, this true?

3. Do you have any Latino climbers? From what country? Did they come with some climbing skills or did you teach them?

4. I hear that the workers from different Latin countries often don't get along and can cause many problems if they live and work together, is this true?

5. I've heard that a lot of the smaller agencies had problems getting workers here on time, this year (2006), is this true?

I'd really appreciate some input from you owners that have experience in this.

Thank you,


New Member
You bringing them in on H2B visa´s at $600+ a pop?, big bucks when they screw you around Xman.Then your immigration lawyer fees. $$$$$$$$

This year alone there where 66,000 H2B visa´s allocated to foreign workers the were swallowed up within a matter of weeks.

i could go on for ever but cant at work.. so ,
never mix people from other countries, ie.. mexico..with salvadorian etc.. the further south of mex you have come the more you have been
screwed with coming thru mex and in turn hate each other for it
salvadorians are great workers.
visa's are hard to get ,
if you have an illegal or visa worker , they generally have to respect you to be any good. but that has to border on fear to actually get the results, if you roll over any any issue , you will get screwed and their buddies willl know. so dont be afraid to be a hard [what???], its respected,, its cool to be fair , but still be a hard [what???].
in numbers they will take over the operation so keep it limited.
teach em to everything yourself dont trust the ..i can do it attitude..they want you happy, and may not be qualified.. AND DOCUMENT THE TRAINING...a photo with some training is great too.
i found that half are liars and theives like every one else but they have some very good workers in their ranks..generally older guys with kids are ok, and lil things disappear so keep accountability upfront, if they dont have to pay for it it may disappear and when you ask , i dont know will be the reply,
i could go on and on but wont unless you want me to...i dont use agencies these guys just show up at the door ,
good luck


New Member
Ceres, CA
In my experience these bad apples all hang around together so if you have one bad apple and he gets you several of his friends then you just have mas manzanas malos, how's that for whipping some spanish on you. You just need to find one good one and then get his buddies/relatives to come on board.

If you have a lot of restaurant work in the area it's hard to compete with because it is much easier than tree work and pays about the same. Most of the guys around here are from Jalisco, Mexico, there is just starting to be some Guatamalans and El Salvadorans. I have a Mexican guy right now and he works like superman when he works but is forever wanting the day off for one thing or another. I have gotten a couple of good workers by going to the local mexican grocery store, talking to the owner and leaving some cards. They almost always know someone who needs work. I haven't gotten any climbers, just groundsmen, so I can't help you with any of that, and I don't know about mixing the guys from different countries. You would think that they would get along, because they are in similar circumstances being new to the country and all, but I guess not.


New Member
In the Mitten...
Por qué hace no usted emplea a trabajadores Americanos de árbol y los paga en dólares Americanos. Porque si usted empleará a trabajadores mexicanos, usted necesitará aprender a cómo hablar español, causa de otro modo que ellos hablarán acerca de usted y acerca de usted no sabrá lo que ellos dicen. And thats my opinion. /forum/images/graemlins/brows.gif


New Member
Austin, TX
I had good experience with mexican and guatemalan climbers in Texas.

I did find that they were honest, hard working, but they tend to take kindness as a sign of weakness. Or at least the potential is there.

Not looking for a lecture, but I mainly used illegals. I think they may have a stronger work ethic than those who organzie visas, etc. They came by foot through much of south Texas where everything will stick you sting you, or bite you.....a day a tree work is a walk in the park.

I would NEVER use illegal labor again.

The best Mexicans I worked with were from San Louis Potosi.



My office is very diverse in its ethnicity. Our office manager is from Equador, one of our foreman is from Nicaragua and another from Mexico, we have a climber from El Salvador, two Mexican and one Tongan groundman. Two of our arborist representatives, the spray tech and myself (I am a foreman) are the lone caucasians also know as 'gringos'.

We have a good group of guys. Everyone gets along for the most part and stealing has never been an issue. Some of the comments above come across as racist to me. I am sure there have been plenty of employers to have latino people steal or be otherwise poor workers. In my experience I have seen more problems out of white people than the lations. At my last company we had a guy buying beer and cigarettes on the company card, the secretary was stoned always, and another guy had a serious drinking problem (all white people).

It is a difficult issue. In every race of people there are going to good honorable people and there are going to be bad ones. Racial generalizations are never a good idea though.


Well-Known Member
wow, tree buzz is buzzin with replies, I'm a little suprized and happy for the responses. I thought that most people wouldn't have time to be on the net during the busy summer season, glad I was wrong. Oh, the other tree forum(AS) doesn't have any responses to my post yet, that's cool!

Jesse, Sorry that you find it a little racial, I figured a few people would view the talk as being racial. I appreciate your information you wrote despite displeasing you, thanks. Maybe I'm wrong, but patterns do seem to stand out to me, whether race, religion, dress, lifestyle or what -ahhhh, STOP, I'm going to de-rail my own thread..... I've gotten into this before.

The guys this year cost me each about $1050.00 each, with the ad we had to run in the paper and all. Amigos was a bit more I think, but then Amigos also charged the latino about $1000 himself. The agency we used this year did not charge the Mexicans anything, so we went with that to help the guys out.

Please keep the comments coming, very interesting.

The information here has the potential to really help each other.

Thanks to you all that already commented!!!

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
I've worked with Latinos and had great experiences. All of them were hired and trained when I started to work at the companies so I don't have any experiences with the weeding out process.

Other people in both companies where I worked told me the same story as Steve Hanson shares. There's an apparent bias between Latinos from different countries and different parts of Mexico too. Even though I never saw any examples of this I think that it might be what would be seen if you put a crew together from people around the US. Think of the different cultures that would be found if you mixed people from The Bronx, cowboy Texan, Midwestern and south California surfer dude.

Is there any recourse with the agency that you used? Or is it setup to 'pay your money and take your chances' ?
jesse maybe your office is a great place almost sounds like bartlett in san rafel ?
generally most salvadorian's dislike mexicans .
and yes white employees come with their own set of problems too.
the man had a question, he went out on a limb lookin for some people and got a load of crud for employees and is seeking advise , rather than tell him never hire a mexican again we are pointing out cultural diferences and things to be aware of or better places to look
if we were being racist there would be a hell of a lot more things being said and a link to the national aliance would have been added.
i have roughly 100 mexican personell to train , the company has 120 personell on payroll, in my shop fire extinguishers and first aid kits disappear , and occasionaly a trailer hitch ( that thief got ratted on for selling em off the trucks to other tree guys)when you ask ..i dont know what happened to it
how about trucks being damaged?- not me, or i dont know
I SUGGEST FINDING A CLASS ON CULTURAL DIFFERENCES it helps to know cultural differences from a management point of view,
as far as hiring find a family train 1 or 2 of em as they progress over the years they will import more family and your payroll will have only 2 last name on it.


Well-Known Member
thattreeguy; Wow, yes, you are the type of person I was hoping would respond. Thank you for your useful information.

When I got proof of the one steeling this spring, I did the right thing to fire him right away, but now I think I did some things wrong. I had a translater with me and I made sure the other men knew what was going on. He was packed up and moved out in 1/2 hr. (we have a house we rent to the guys really cheap). But I was probably too easy on him, I didn't have enough time to think. I paid him his weeks pay right then (forgot to take out rent) then drove him to Baltimore to a Greyhound terminal. I probably should have kept his pay (for the money I put out to get him here) and made him walk and find his own way. Because, what did it show him and the others, big deal if you get caught steeling, you still get your pay, you are still in the United States, they will just find another job. No police, no violence, get paid still and get a free ride to the bus station.

Tom(Is there any recourse with the agency that you used? Or is it setup to 'pay your money and take your chances' ?)

We are setting up a meeting for him to come out and speak with us. We are saving our complaints for when we see him in person. He owes us a good deal of money. We are supposed to get what we pay for, not pay and take your chances. We will not use him next year, I'm sure he'd rather give us credit toward next years workers, but that's not going to happen.

We do have loyalty with 2 really good men on my brothers company (also a tree service). We sometimes barrow each others men for large jobs or shortage in men. They have told us about some steeling and dishonesty. One of the guys last year was telling us last year about one of them lying about his hours and would cross out the other guys wrong clock-out times. But we didn't know who to believe. Turns out, we allowed the one lying about his work hours to come back and he is that one that was caught steeling this year.

I imagine loyalty should really be rewarded right? Take them out to dinner or something?

I have notice these things with my men (NOT to say all Mexicans are this way):
I have noticed they will take whatever you give them. They won't turn down anything and they try to get as much as they can from us rich Americans that have too much money anyway. They don't mind asking for extra perks. Cable TV? Air conditioning? And if you let them barrow something, in there mind, it's pretty much theirs. They figure work shirts and gloves and boots are theirs for good too.

Oh, and they love to find out what everyone is making and what other Latinos in other jobs are making. And they gripe if it isn't equal or they love to brag and put the other guys down if they are getting paid better. Another company was paying their latino tree crew cash this year until Social Security issued them SS numbers. My guys would ask me WHY? "David, why do they get paid cash?" If I could speak spanish better, I would have liked to say, It's non of your business, you don't work for them, you work for me, this is your job, this is how WE do things HERE.

I hear Guatamala tends to have decent climbers, anyone have employees from there? I wouldn't just put someone into climbing of course, just looking for some skills that might help them when they have worked for a year or so and I might want to train them in climbing.

I'm pondering the idea of taveling to a latino country and advertising there for interviews, then hand pic a bunch of guys after an interview and short demonstration of what they know about climbing. Then give an agency the list of men and pay them to get the workers here legally. It would be very costly, and maybe too much. Maybe I could hand pick lots of men for other companies too and make it worthwhile.


My 2 cents.

1) According to many I have spoken with (and my own experience), workers from Equador are the ones you want. They won't be the fastest, but they will pay a lot of attention to detail. Typically these guys take a lot of pride in their work. The guys from Guatemala will work fast and hard, but they aren't into detail as much. Then you have the people from Mexico... normally not your best choice for several reasons.

2) As far as international hatred goes... I've seen guys from Mexico, Equador, and Guatemala work together before. There were never any fights or anything serious. Your average banter back and forth... but nothing that was seriously degrading. They just want to get in there, get the job done, get paid, and go home.


New Member
Austin, TX
I say again, they tend to take kindness as weakness that goes 110% for and employer that tolerates theft. It all comes down to hire slow, fire fast. Too many employers do the opposite.

Their culture, both Mexican and Central American, seem to have an accepted pecking order. With any employees, but especially with latino workers, it is very important to make a divide between officers and enlisted men.

As always, familiarity breeds contempt.

I respect you seeking legal means of getting workers. I have had great workers from Guatemala not sure I would go there and recruit.

I would maybe find good undocumented guys here, ship them back, and get them in legally.

It is frustrating. That is why I am taking a break from tree care after 8yrs. You want to hire, pay good, and promote excellence in tree care. You end up paying more than a fair wage and struggling just to make sure workers show up, show up and be sober, show up be sober and have a lunch.......it gets to where promoting excellence in tree care while promoting the physical, professional, and finacial well being of employees is a distant dream. That is just a rant on labor in general.

My last crew was Irish, talk about do your head in. Show up completely scummered and insist they hadn't drank in weeks. /forum/images/graemlins/drinking.gif


That is why I am taking a break from tree care after 8yrs.

[/ QUOTE ]

So what are you doing now?

Oh, on the Mexican thing. Where I am we get around 1500 coming here a week!

Preposterous, get back south you darned Victorians where you play that aerial ping pong ... this is cane toad territory and we play rugby. /forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif
I've worked more with Hispanic than I have Americans. There are a few things I've noticed. The white guys were more apt to steal than the hispanic guys. The hispanic guys were less prone to speak up if there was a problem, or they had an issue with something, most problems came about due to lack of communication. The hispanic guys I work with always seem to be happy and enjoy their work, singing and whistling to each other while in the tree, the white guys... You have to be careful when explaining something. If you ask if everything is understood, you'll hear, "yes, yes" but when you check you may find out otherwise. There has been a bit of trouble taking care of equipment. The idea of treating a $500.00 MS200T like its more valuable than a disposable Echo has been difficult to get across. The MS200T doesn't like a dirty air filter /forum/images/graemlins/frown.gif
The Hispanics I've worked with have been hard working, family oriented, religious people. Sometimes difficult to get to know, but not so much differnt than anyone else.

We have had a few of the bad apples, had to let one guy go after a post injury drug screen came back positive for cocaine. All in all, they're not much differnt than anyone else.

Don't give up on the foreign labor, but I hope you can find a less expensive way to come by them.

On a side note, I'm really against too much reliance on foreign workers as a solution to our labor shartage. I think that short term its fine, but long term we, as an industry, need to find a way to attract and develop a motivated work force from within our own country. A subject for another thread.

Louie Hampton


Well-Known Member
I'd love to have American workers too. Look back at my job post a few weeks ago. $20 to $25 an hour for an experienced ground man.

Not ONE call or e-mail in response. Not one.

If I continue to get foreign workers, I still will get legal ones even though it costs me a bit. Not that I'm afraid I'd get caught, I wouldn't I'm sure. It's just that if they are going to be working here, taking money out of the US, then I like to see them pay taxes and Social Security here like all of us do. I could easily drive down to a known 7-11 in Baltimore and pick up as many Latinos that I want. I hear there is ALWAYS a big crowd of Mexicans that hang out there waiting for contractors.
My making mention of a need to attract more of an American workforce isn't meant necessarily as a knock on any individual company, though we all (imho) need to do our part. I mean more as an industry... thats not it either. As a culture, somewhere along the way our youth have decided that hard work is beneath them. I'm not very far removed from the family farm. Hard work is just something you do. I don't know how many people I've seen put more effort into avoiding work than it would take to actually get in and get the job done.

How do we get back to where an individual takes pride in their efforts? I guess I'm moving too far off topic.

All I can offer is to second the idea of finding a good apple and mining other prospects from there. Thats what we have done. All of our guys are documented, (I-9, and W4) but that doesn't mean that the documents they've shown are legit. A local news story a while back showed that they could buy a conterfeit social security card in about 45 minutes, in the right part of town.

I expect it will get worse before it gets any better. I don't expect we will see immigrant labor unions, but there does seem to be more organization, at least in our area. We'll have to wait and see where that leads.

There is at least more training material becoming available in Spanish, though still not near enough.


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