ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
By most accounts, the idea for a national boycott started in Los Angeles. And today, many parts of that city were feeling the impact, from Koreatown to a huge section of downtown LA that's a major food supplier to the region. NPR's
MANDALIT DEL BARCO: On a normal Monday, LA's downtown produce district is usually bustling with trucks being loaded with fruits and vegetables, but this morning the area is virtually empty. Two of the largest market distribution centers were closed, with locks on their gates, and only one of them, the LA Produce Market, where I'm standing now, had a few open warehouses.
GEORGE TORRES: Nobody's here, it's closed. All the market is closed.
Truck driver George Torres normally delivers produce to supermarkets across southern California. Today he had to scramble to find even a few items. LA's sprawling produce district, which supplies hundreds of stores and restaurants, today was like a ghost town. Ray Gobari(ph), who owns a grocery store, was at the market loading his own truck. He gave his mostly Latino workforce the day off.
RAY GOBARI: You know, we did talk to them, if you want to come and all that. They says no, we don't want to come. So I said, you know, whoever wants to come, fine. Whoever doesn't want to come, no problem. I have nothing against them, it's okay. I can get by today. It's only one day. I hope.
DEL BARCO: Across the city many stores, restaurants and worksites closed voluntarily, and customers stayed home as part of the economic boycott. Many Korean merchants say their Latino workers asked for the day off to go to demonstrations, the biggest of which cut through the heart of Koreatown. Numerous immigrant employees and high school students didn't show up for work or school, but others said they didn't want to lose a day's pay. LA's hospitals and hotels seemed to be relatively unaffected by the boycott. Miguel Mejias(ph) is a doorman at the Biltmore Hotel.
MIGUEL MEJIAS: Well actually, we've got a full house. We've got a lot of people, but seeing some problems with the taxi drivers. I call minivan, there's no minivan because, you know, it's a day without immigrants.
DEL BARCO: What do you think about the boycott?
MEJIAS: I think it's good because people really need a chance to get a driver's license or, you know, to live the American dream.
DEL BARCO: Mejias says like in many businesses, the largely immigrant staff who did show up to work today also plan to go to the rallies before or after their shifts. Mandalit del Barco, NPR News, Los Angeles.