Voces De La Frontera Calls for Boycott of Menards

May 17, 2016

The home improvement store Menards could soon lose business. The immigrant advocacy group Voces De La Frontera is calling or a boycott of the chain. Members hope to spur the company to stop supporting Governor Walker.

People using bullhorns and carrying signs urging shoppers to take their business elsewhere slowed traffic on Miller Parkway in West Milwaukee on Monday in front of Menards. Menards has been in the news lately for violating worker rights, but this call for a boycott is political. Omar Barberana is one of the picketers.

“We’re here because we’re calling on the population to help us with the cause of anti-immigrant legislation that Gov. Walker has been passing. And we have found out that Menards is one of the largest corporate financial supporters of Gov. Walker,” Barberana says.

The new law Barberana is talking about prohibits municipalities from handing out local identification cards. He says many immigrants are not able to get a state ID because they’re in the U.S. without the correct documentation - but need identification to open a bank accounts and get prescriptions. Barberana says a boycott by Latinos could send a big economic message.

“Latinos, I mean we work in construction. Not only our own businesses, but we have so many people that employ Latinos coming here to provide supplies for construction, not only in the construction business but also in the gardening business,” Barberana says.

Oscar Mirin is a carpenter and joined the protestors outside the store. He says up until about a month ago, he spent a lot of money at Menards.

“We just repaired one apartment and we spent like $10,000 in  all repairs between electric, materials for electric plumbing,” Mirin says.

Mirin says these days, he’s driving a little farther to get the supplies he needs, from another company. Still, the question remains, will others follow suit?

Only one vehicle turned around and decided not to enter the store after seeing the protestors.

We called several unions in the area and got a response from only one. Dan Bukiewicz is president of the Milwaukee Building Trades Council.

“We have not alerted our members to any job actions going on against Menards in the area,” Bukiewicz says.

In other words, Bukiewicz says, it’s up to individual members to decide where they shop. Calls to Menards were not returned.

Gov. Walker, in signing the ban against local IDs, insisted the process for obtaining government ID cards should be uniform across the state, and he added that Wisconsin provides them, for free, at DMV offices.