Sunday, August 15, 2010

Your Country Is Addicted To Cheap Labor

There is so much wrong with this scenario I don’t even know where to start.

How about starting with the human rights violations:
SMYRNA — A Mexican guest worker says a landscaping company with Tennessee state contracts and a federal stimulus loan guarantee held him and fellow workers like indentured servants, confiscating their passports and subjecting them to constant surveillance by managers who were often armed.

Hilario Razura Jimenez said in an interview that he was rescued from Vanderbilt Landscaping’s company housing Wednesday night by staff from the Alliance of Guestworkers for Dignity. He waited until everyone else was asleep before sneaking out at about midnight, he said. Staff with the New Orleans-based nonprofit were in touch with him by text message and drove out to pick him up.

Alliance executive director Saket Soni said company officials last week put another worker on a bus back to Mexico when they learned that he had been talking with their group.

A person who answered the phone at the company on Thursday said he would not comment on the allegations and refused to give his name. The company, which has $2.4 million in state Transportation Department contracts and a $900,000 a stimulus loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has offices in Smyrna and Mason.

Jimenez said he has come to the U.S. on an H2B guestworker visa twice before. Both times the pay and conditions were exploitative, but he came again because he was desperate.

Oh my God. It's the John Pickle Company all over again! We never learn, do we?

Hey America, wake up. You want to know where your jobs went? They went into the pockets of the Greed Machine, “small businesses” that would rather exploit cheap labor provided by desperate people from foreign countries than pay you a living wage you can use to send your kids to college.

This is what’s wrong with America, people. This is what happens when you “privatize” public jobs. This is exactly what will happen when all of those Metro school custodians are fired and Metro contracts out its landscaping and custodial services. Who will get those jobs? Not hard working Americans, but hard working foreigners, who because they are desperate will work for peanuts and live in substandard, slave-house conditions.

The State of Tennesseee is using taxpayer money to pay foreign workers, when there are plenty of people in this state who need the work. And don't you know as soon as someone suggests that the state not hire companies who use foreign labor we'll hear all of that screeching and squawking about the "free hand of the market." You know what? The free hand of the market can bite me. Hell, it's biting you.

Oh, and I'm calling bullshit on this:

A Nashville Union leader also brought up the issue of taking jobs from American workers. The Vanderbilts said they ran ads in newspapers in Nashville and Memphis for three weeks. They said they did 70 interviews, and said most of the applicants decided the work was too hard.

I'm not buying that. That just reeks of Rush Limbaugh "the unemployed are lazy" white privilege elitism. Try paying people what they are worth, then you'll get some takers. This is life in a "right to work" state: right to work? Bullshit. Right to see your job go to desperate "guest" workers, more like.

A bunch of greedy, selfish bastards have sold the notion that legally exploiting desperate Mexicans is somehow better than paying Americans a decent wage to do the same job. I know it really sucks that companies like Vanderbilt Landscaping can't legally exploit American workers, gosh I have a sad for you. Poor, pitiful "small business" that you are, I know we're all supposed to worship at the altar of the "small businessman" these days, you're American heroes you really are. Except when you're not, like when you exploit foreigners to boost your profits, just because you can. Hey, fuck you.

How many times do I have to say it? We are cheap labor addicts. When will Democrats wake up and say, enough already? Time to support American workers?

This is why I have been opposed to “guest worker” programs every time they are proposed, be it from George W. Bush or Barack Obama. Guest worker programs are simply institutionalized cheap labor. We refuse to pay what things are worth so we’ll just create a permanent underclass to toil in the sun for us, meanwhile millions of Americans need work but we’ll just say they’re lazy and be done with it.

Pay no attention to the giant elephant in the room. The problem is not “undocumented workers” or “illegal immigration” or “organized labor.” The problem, as always, is greed. Slave labor in the interest of corporate profits is not just fine and dandy.

This pisses me off more than you can begin to believe. We need a national living wage law. Now. Pay people what they are worth.

(h/t, Joe Powell at KnoxViews)