August 18, 2011

Jobs that foreigners just won't do

From the New York Times:
Foreign Students in Work Visa Program Stage Walkout at Plant 
By JULIA PRESTON 
PALMYRA, Pa. — Hundreds of foreign students, waving their fists and shouting defiantly in many languages, walked off their jobs on Wednesday at a plant here that packs Hershey’s chocolates, saying a summer program that was supposed to be a cultural exchange had instead turned them into underpaid labor. 
The students, from countries including China, Nigeria, Romania and Ukraine, came to the United States through a long-established State Department summer visa program that allows them to work for two months and then travel. They said they were expecting to practice their English, make some money and learn what life is like in the United States. 
In a way, they did. About 400 foreign students were put to work lifting heavy boxes and packing Reese’s candies, Kit-Kats and Almond Joys on a fast-moving production line, many of them on a night shift. After paycheck deductions for fees associated with the program and for their rent, students said at a rally in front of the huge packing plant that many of them were not earning nearly enough to recover what they had spent in their home countries to obtain their visas. ...
Like many other students, Ms. Ozer said she invested about $3,500, which included the program costs, to obtain the J-1 visa and travel to the United States. Several Chinese students, including Ms. Zhao, said they had paid more than $6,000 in the process of securing visas. ...
Ms. Ozer and other students said they were paid $8.35 an hour. After fees are deducted from her paychecks as well as $400 a month for rent, she said, she often takes home less than $200 a week. “We are supposed to be here for cultural exchange and education, but we are just cheap laborers,” Ms. Ozer said.

Welcome to the new, improved USA, 21st Century Edition! Didn't you get the word that America's traditionally high wages and low housing costs were what made America weak for all those centuries? The future belongs to the country with the cheapest labor and the most expensive land.

Seriously, isn't it weird how the entire concept of putting cheap foreign labor programs like this on hiatus until the unemployment rate among Americans drops just never even occurs to anyone in positions of power or influence? To question the continuance of this program during an economic slump would be to question Diversity, and Diversity is unquestionable. Also, it would be bad for corporate profits. So, what are you, some kind of racist communist?

50 comments:

Mr. Mcgranor said...

I'll work for six and hour--cash.

Anonymous said...

Hey, this sounds just like Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown!

Maybe they wouldn't even need these students if they hadn't cut 3000 jobs a few years ago and moved to Mexico.

Anonymous said...

No, this is not a "cheap foreign labor program". The point of an exchange programs like this is to give the children of foreign elites a taste of American experience. Hopefully, when they assume their future important positions they'd be friendlier to us. Done right, such programs can be very, very useful.

Professor Hale said...

They want education, vacation travel and cultural enrichment AND expect to be paid on top of that? What a bunch of freeloaders. On top of that they have the expected opportunity to overstay their visas and never go home, bypassing legal immigration hardships completely. It's not like Hershey couldn't hire a bunch of Guatamalans who wouldn't have to pay extra for cultural enrighment program costs.

On a related note, I think Disney also hires a few thousand of these guys to work at Epcot.

kurt9 said...

You want growth and jobs? Here's how to do it:

http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=192355

Anonymous said...

how low can we go.. seriously??

Anonymous said...

$8 an hour along with a discount on chocolate, I'm sure. What's not to love?

These must be rich kids. No sane American college student would think of this as a bad wage.

Allison said...

I'm amused that a work visa for Hershey was sold as a cultural exchange program even more than I'm disgusted we have visas for hourly wage workers.

But on the bigger issue, at the recent debate, the question arose. From the Corner, c/o Mark Krikorian:
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/274477/baby-steps-mark-krikorian

"The real surprise was one of the questions, by Susan Ferrechio: “With the unemployment rate at 9.1 percent, do you still think we need to import more foreign labor?” I’m pretty sure that’s the first time a presidential candidate has ever been asked about the level of legal immigration, much less in connection to unemployment. And Romney actually intimated he’d be for cuts in legal immigration during a slowdown: “I’d have the number of visas that we give to people that come here legally determined in part by the needs of our employment community.”"

baby steps, he says.

still, the employment community, eh? Who is that? The problem is the only people who lobby are employers. Unemployed don't. funny that.

Allison said...

--he point of an exchange programs like this is to give the children of foreign elites a taste of American experience. Hopefully, when they assume their future important positions they'd be friendlier to us. Done right, such programs can be very, very useful.

Yes, to make them hate capitalism and adore their own high unemployment and high welfare benefits! Look at the alternative, the elites imply!

Allison said...

No, I think they are right--they probably are having federal income taxes and SSI/Medicare deducted, AND huge room and board bills that they can't control.

Anonymous said...

What the Hell is the point of this program?
Have they come here to work?
To travel?
To study?

Which one of those objectives?And aren't they all mutually exclusive?

eh said...

Maybe the black scientists who failed to get NIH grants could work at this candy factory. But perhaps there aren't enough of them. Which might still be a good thing because really you shouldn't eat candy anyway.

beowulf said...

Ha ha, they charged them rent! That's just cold. The H-2A agriculture worker visa, employer has to pay for lodging and travel cost.

$9.30 per hour for all your work [In Penn, its $10.25/hr]. Even if you are working on a piece rate, your earnings should equal $9.30 for all the hours you work each week;
Reimbursement at the middle of your contract for the cost you paid for your transportation from your home to North Carolina and the cost of your meals on your journey;
Payment for the cost of your transportation and meals for your journey back to your home or on to your next job when you finish your contract;
Free housing which meets the standards of the North Carolina Migrant Housing Act...

http://www.farmworkerlanc.org/know-your-rights/h2a-contracts

Hunsdon said...

Wait, I can be racist AND communist? Hmm, now.

Dutch Boy said...

The national parks we just visited had large staffs of foreigners (young and looking like students) working in their gift shops, restaurants, etc..

beowulf said...

And Romney actually intimated he’d be for cuts in legal immigration during a slowdown
You know, Romney has the admirable gift for sounding like the candidate who sucks the least.

I think this economy will end up granting Krikorian's wish for mandatory E-verify and a complete border fence. One of the weaknesses in the economy is low-income wages are too low (after inflation, min. wage has dropped 30% since '60s). The spending caps just approved will only last until Obama leaves office. After that, the GOP is virtually certain to tackle income inequality by some kind of tax credit plan, like Edmund Phelps wage subsidy proposal.
http://bostonreview.net/BR25.5/phelps.html

The hole in the plan (and one of the reasons Democrats haven't tried it) is Milton Friedman's point that you can have a welfare state or open borders, you can't have both. It'd drive people up the wall to discover they were paying to subsidize wages of illegals.

David said...

>These must be rich kids. No sane American college student would think of this as a bad wage.<

$8 per hour is an excellent wage. In 1973. (Truly amazing how older people keep the same figures in their heads, unaffected by inflation. In my hot youth, a seasoned citizen offered me a job working all day clearing her back yard. With the air of a baroness bestowing a munificence, she told me she would pay FIVE WHOLE DOLLARS for that work. The going rate would have been $80, minimum. But she was, after all, in her 60s. Then there is the Simpsons episode where a lady in her 80s offers Bart, for the same work, a nickel and some sticky candy out of the foyer bowl.)

Allison said

>[Romney bloviated:] “I’d have the number of visas that we give to people that come here legally determined in part by the needs of our employment community.”

baby steps, he says.

still, the employment community, eh? Who is that? The problem is the only people who lobby are employers. Unemployed don't. funny that.<


The Thirteenth Amendment, prohibiting slavery, is the basic obstacle and bete noir of any "employment community."

Clearly the weird whites who wrote that amendment were "racist" and "communist." The American Way is to lower our standard of living and send ground troops into Libya and Syria.

Chicago said...

They paid thousands of dollars for the opportunity to load boxes? Sounds like someone is getting hustled.
Couldn't they just have used their money to come here on vacation and gotten the much desired cultural enrichment by visiting Disneyland?

Anonymous said...

On the east coast/Mid-Atlantic region, I've noticed a lot of Eastern European teens/young people working at major amusement parks during summers. I wonder if that's related to this kind of thing.

stari_momak said...

Immigration is untouchable.

I was on a little Vegas trip with some old college buddies. Somehow the topic of population growth, as in,'I am against it' came up -- not by me. Sensing an opportunity, I said, something to the effect of, well then, you have to look at immigration. Geez, you'd have thought I'd said a few good words for the ruler of Germany, 1933-1945. A couple of the guys were genuinely outraged. Seeing as how we were in a strip club, after an afternoon and early evening of drinking, I let the matter drop.

But still, where the heck to these folks think population growth comes from? None of the guys on the trip had more that two kids, several had fewer.

Anonymous said...

It seems like a big scam basically.

What these foreign kids probably had in mind is something similar to what a good number of American college students do for a "Study Abroad" year or semester during college, where they go to France or Italy and have a pleasant time taking some classes, practicing the language, maybe doing some light, boring but easy work at the university library for pocket money, hanging out with the natives, sight-seeing, going to museums, going clubbing/partying at night, etc.

I wonder if they actually advertised assembly line work packing Hershey's. If they did, the kids probably thought it wouldn't be that bad or take up too much of their time, or that the other activities would make up for it. But there's nothing there. I've been to Hershey Park, which is in Hershey, Pennsylvania right next to Palmyra where the factory is. There's absolutely nothing there aside from the Hershey factory and Hershey Park. Hershey Park is just a standard amusement park that will bore any older teen/early 20s person in half a day. I don't even know where they'd encounter large numbers of young Americans (which was probably partly what they were hoping for) over there to interact with and have "cultural exchange". They were probably annoyed having to be cooped up with other strange foreigners all day rather than meet young Americans.

Though like Steve and others have noted, little do these foreign kids know that this is increasingly what the authentic "American" experience looks like. The Hollywood teen movie world these kids probably had in mind and anticipated is increasingly a mirage.

Anonymous said...

Hundreds of foreign students, waving their fists and shouting defiantly in many languages, walked off their jobs on Wednesday at a plant here that packs Hershey’s chocolates, saying a summer program that was supposed to be a cultural exchange had instead turned them into underpaid labor.

So they were scammed into packing fudge for the summer?

elvisd said...

"On the east coast/Mid-Atlantic region, I've noticed a lot of Eastern European teens/young people working at major amusement parks during summers. I wonder if that's related to this kind of thing."

Met the most gorgeous Ukrainian college girl working at a souvenir shop in Biloxi last summer. We talked literature and I walked out having bought more crap than I had planned to.

Amy P said...

It wouldn't have been at all a bad deal at the same wage, but with a chance to practice their English. As people have mentioned, a lot of seasonal tourist gigs are staffed with Europeans in the US (and maybe even Canada, too--I think I've bumped into foreign workers at ski resorts in BC). If there's some customer interaction, it's actually just as worthwhile as coming to study English in a formal program, even if it's just a frontline retail position.

Whether or not the US should do this or not is another question.

Anonymous said...

"No, this is not a "cheap foreign labor program". The point of an exchange programs like this is to give the children of foreign elites a taste of American experience. Hopefully, when they assume their future important positions they'd be friendlier to us. Done right, such programs can be very, very useful."

This is true. White upper class Latin Americans send their kids to the U.S and Europe to make them work blue-collar jobs so that they understand that life is hard and how priviledged they are. Why don't they make their kids work these jobs in their own countries? Because the kids would be beaten, raped, tortured and kids by their brown countrymen. Brown Latin Americans love blond vaginas, so if you are a white man of the upper class, putting your daughter to work as a waitress at some restaurant in places like Mexico or Brazil is not a very good idea. A lot of the white kids you see working at malls and restaurants in cities like Miami and such are not white American kids, but rich white Latin American adolescents having to work for a living for the first time in their lives.

Anonymous said...

Met the most gorgeous Ukrainian college girl working at a souvenir shop in Biloxi last summer. We talked literature and I walked out having bought more crap than I had planned to.

You get no girls.

Hittin the Whiskiii said...

Steve, those foreign students are actually alphas. They were brought here by white females to edge out American workers because white females hate, hate, hate white American beta men. Really this is all about sexual politics, guys.

Henry Canaday said...

I love it. They’re learning about America, aren’t they?

It reminds me of a girl I knew who decided to finance her summer in England by working at a pub in London. She thought it would be like her bartending duties in an American pseudo-Irish pub, where she exploited her looks and charm to glide through the day without too much effort. She discovered that owners of the better English pubs expect Stakhanovite labor from their barmaids. She spent every moment that she was not mixing or serving drinks in polishing mahogany or brass, cleaning glass, scrubbing tiles and dusting porcelain figurines.

The owner of the pub was a retired sergeant major in the Royal Marines, appeared gay and insisted that the figurines he kept in a glass case be kept immaculate.

David Davenport said...

Were these unfortunate young people influenced by the 20005 movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Johnny Depp?

Maya said...

Seems pretty standard to me. USA gives these kids a right to come work in America for a summer. At this point they are unskilled labor just like the American kids. It's not USA's problem if these students overpaid for a visa back home. Study abroad is readily available in America for foreign students. That's not what these people chose to do. J-1 is a WORK visa.

I worked summers in an upscale resort in Alaska, a few years back. We had a bunch of Taiwanese, Mongolian, Russian and Turkish college students changing sheets, waiting tables, doing laundry and peeling potatoes along side of us. Our pay ranged from $7.00 to $9.00 per hour. We all had to pay 17 dollars per day for room and board. Many American kids borrowed from the company to pay for a round trip to Alaska, and that amount was withheld from our wages. We all had to work weird shifts too. Boo-hoo. The trick was to work as much overtime as possible which is always a part of these programs.

Anonymous said...

Ok, as someone who almost was in this program (I didn't have the necessary money) let me explain how it works, in Eastern Europe at least.
First of all, they couldn't just visit the US with the money they paid as it's nearly impossible to get a visa. A know a lot of people who participated in this (20-30 people). They are not the children of the elite. The children of the elite don't work here, ever.
To be eligible for Work and Travel, as it's called, you need to by a student (not in the last year) and to have above average grades. This is to increase the likelihood that you will come back and not stay in the US. You pay an agency to assist you with the paperwork and contact the US employers. After this you have an interview for a visa. Even if everything is ok you can still get rejected for a visa, if the fat black embassy employee doesn't like your face. If you get rejected you lose the money paid to the agency.
The total cost is about $2000-2500 which is a lot when the average salary is 300-350 $/month.
Everybody I know went for the money. Yes, it's advertised as getting to visit the country and experience and other such things, but for the vast majority of them the most they did was visit for a couple of days New York or other big cities before they left. Most of the jobs are in the middle of nowhere, on resorts or parks. The jobs are advertised and most really are in restaurants and suchlike. The only different job available and presented as such is working in Alaska in the fishing industry. A friend worked two summers there for 15$/hour (BTW most of the other workers there were Mexican). He made a lot of money as someone who doesn't drink doesn't have a lot to spend in Alaska. The pay is usually lower than advertised as you have to work limited hours. As such most work overtime or switch jobs (although that is not technically possible). Everybody I know got promotions and was offered the possibility to stay illegally ( this is what happens when you get college educated people to do unskilled work).
For me the problem in the Hershey case is that most did not expect to work in a factory, most certainly not in those conditions. They were probably also unable to have another job so they where working hard and making less money then what they had paid.

Anonymous said...

Also most of them came back with a better opinion of Americans in general, but with a worse opinion of Blacks.

Anonymous said...

"Geez, you'd have thought I'd said a few good words for the ruler of Germany, 1933-1945. A couple of the guys were genuinely outraged. Seeing as how we were in a strip club, after an afternoon and early evening of drinking, I let the matter drop."

What kind of people do you hang out with?

JerseyGuy said...

Steve,
My mom worked in Nantucket during her summers in college at a hotel back in the early 1970s. I remember her telling me that there were no immigration programs like this back then. All of the workers were locals and college students (including even many of the dishwashers).

A couple of years ago, my fiance and I went up to Bar Harbor, Maine for the week. Of the local shopworkers, I would say that roughly 75% were native born Americans and the remaining workers were foreign students, primarily Eastern European.

Now, as someone who is generally weary of vast social change and protests in general, is it bad that I think nothing will change about the downward pressure on living standards without some large social uprising? I really don't see any other way. I'm currently reading "The Conscience of a Liberal" by Paul Krugman, which is about the growth of income inequality over the last 40 years and I have to say that I agree with almost all of it. Yikes!

corvinus said...

Met the most gorgeous Ukrainian college girl working at a souvenir shop in Biloxi last summer. We talked literature and I walked out having bought more crap than I had planned to.

HAHAHA. Actually, Ukrainian women MAY be marginally more attractive than white Americans all else being equal, but several factors are: 1) they don't EVER let themselves get fat unless they're older than about 35, 2) they dress better, in a more graceful, feminine manner. If white American women followed these two simple rules, American men would likely never be running off to the Philippines to get laid.

beowulf said...

An Associated Press investigation found students forced to work in strip clubs instead of restaurants. Others take home $1 an hour or even less. Some live in apartments so crowded that they sleep in shifts because there aren't enough beds. Others have to eat on floors...
Instead of waitressing for a summer in Virginia as she'd been promised, however, Katya and another student were forced to strip at a club in Detroit. Their handler confiscated their passports and told them they had to pay $12,000 for the travel arrangements and another $10,000 for work documents, according to court records...
We are deeply concerned by any allegations involving the poor treatment of participants as this potentially undermines our goal of promoting mutual understanding and goodwill between the people of the United States and the people of other countries," the department said Friday in declining an interview request.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/06/j1-student-visa-abuse-for_n_792354.html
Actually, the govt isn't that incompetent, clearly the real goal is a cheap source of labor (that article mentions that the employer doesn't have to pay SS or Medicare taxes).

Dutch Boy said...

Anonymous said...

On the east coast/Mid-Atlantic region, I've noticed a lot of Eastern European teens/young people working at major amusement parks during summers. I wonder if that's related to this kind of thing.

Ditto at the restaurants around the Grand Canyon. They could not speak even simple English. I think I remember reading somewhere that a large number of young Serbians were being given work visas for summer jobs in America (an outrage, BTW)which could explain it.

Jack Aubrey said...

"Seriously, isn't it weird how the entire concept of putting cheap foreign labor programs like this on hiatus until the unemployment rate among Americans drops just never even occurs to anyone in positions of power or influence?"

They get paid immensely for the thought not to occur to them.

Romney: "I’d have the number of visas that we give to people that come here legally determined in part by the needs of our employment community.”"

That's Romney saying he'd ask businesses what they think. We already know what businesses think.

Anonymous said...

Met the most gorgeous Ukrainian college girl working at a souvenir shop in Biloxi last summer

Isn't it a bit strange that we're importing Ukrainian college girls to do summer jobs in a country with sky-high unemployment? Is there some chronic shortage of young people in Mississippi?

Anonymous said...

On the east coast/Mid-Atlantic region, I've noticed a lot of Eastern European teens/young people working at major amusement parks during summers.

My condo association contracts with a pool company to provide lifeguards for our swimming pool each summer. This year the guards were American, but prior to that they were always Russian/Ukrainian. And always female.

They liked visiting America, but hated being hit on relentlessly. Appearently Russia has not yet been overrun with wannbe PUA's.

Maya said...

"If white American women followed these two simple rules, American men would likely never be running off to the Philippines to get laid."

Why would you need to be running off to the Philippines? Can't you just walk into your local hospital? Many of those ladies are pretty desperate to stay in The States, you know.
Oh, and as the official spokesperson for White American women: We don't care! If no one wants us by the time we're pushing 60 (both years and extra kilos), there's always Whiskey as a back up plan.

Svigor said...

Also most of them came back with a better opinion of Americans in general, but with a worse opinion of Blacks.

Anti-Semite.

Anonymous said...

"We don't care! If no one wants us by the time we're pushing 60 (both years and extra kilos), there's always Whiskey as a back up plan."

Hey, watch it there. I've interacted with some of these guys who go find themselves a filipina bride. Whiskey is waaaay better.

Seriously though I think Sailer should do some more research into why there being roughly the same amount of males and females in a population young enough for marriage, there is a percentage with many options and a percentage with slim to none. I'm a little sick of the alpha vs beta explanation on this.

Jack Aubrey said...

"Sailer should do some more research into why there being roughly the same amount of males and females in a population young enough for marriage, there is a percentage with many options and a percentage with slim to none."

Because lots of pathetic single people aren't willing to date someone as sorry as themselves?

Broke, uneducated girl doesn't want to date broke, uneducated guy. Fat, pasty white guy doesn't want to date fat, pasty white girl.

I've hit what to me felt like rock bottom before. I sure as hell didn't want to date anyone who was down there with me. And that's a fine attitude to have...if you have a plan for getting out of there. If you don't, learn to like the MOS's who are down there with you, because they're the only ones you'll be dating.

Anonymous said...

"Because lots of pathetic single people aren't willing to date someone as sorry as themselves?"

You may be on to something. In smaller groups, however, worth can get to be relative. I was in a not so great situation in which a guy I'd just rejected because he was coming on too strong (among other things) was obviously about to go hawk his wares to another female in the room. I knew something pretty awful about her so it was all I could do to restrain the urge to say You can do better than her. I thought about it, then realized maybe I was wrong...

S.Anonyia said...

I worked at a popular chain restaurant one summer. For some reason half of the servers were Romanian. Why they came here to all apparently work at a chain restaurant in the deep south, I've got no clue.

Anonymous said...

"I worked at a popular chain restaurant one summer. For some reason half of the servers were Romanian."

So we've got reports of East Europeans/Chinese at businesses in the South and New England. I can add to those my own experiences in the Rocky Mountain West, where the ski towns - Jackson Hole, Vail,Aspen, Sun Valley - are crawling with them. The guestworkers from the more upscale countries (e.g., Austria) tend to find work at the front desks of the lodges. The East Europeans clean the beds and work the restaurants.

We stayed in Sun Valley for a week, and a girl from SW Russia was working McDonald's in the morning and the Albertson's at night - probably 16 hours a day. When she told us where she was from I noted, "Oh, that's near Georgia, right?" She just about spit in my face. It was the summer that Russia invaded Ossetia.

I've vacationed plenty in various Western resort towns over the last ~8 years. The share of jobs filled by Americans hasn't increased a single percent since the recession began.

corvinus said...

My condo association contracts with a pool company to provide lifeguards for our swimming pool each summer. This year the guards were American, but prior to that they were always Russian/Ukrainian. And always female.

They liked visiting America, but hated being hit on relentlessly. Appearently Russia has not yet been overrun with wannbe PUA's.


From personal observation of everyday interactions in Kiev, I think it's because in Russia or Ukraine, men are much less likely to talk to women out of the blue and "hit on" them than American guys are. (And I imagine it's the opposite in Latin countries, whether European or American.)

Here in the USA, though, slender, attractive, in-shape women in swimsuits WILL get hit on. That's a given. But if the lifeguards are American girls, they'll know how to deal with the attempted pick-ups. The Russian girls obviously weren't used to it.

Also most of them came back with a better opinion of Americans in general, but with a worse opinion of Blacks.

I imagine so. Since when has the boob tube EVER shown blacks in an unfavorable light? Europeans get the impression that blacks are these noble suffering downtrodden people. Then they get here, and find that blacks do the best imitation of J.R.R. Tolkien's Orcs they've ever seen, and the disenchantment sets in.

Anonymous said...

"I've vacationed plenty in various Western resort towns over the last ~8 years. The share of jobs filled by Americans hasn't increased a single percent since the recession began."

And the reason for the 25% American teenage unemployment rate becomes a little more clear. Btw, I'll bet it's a hell of a lot higher than 25%.

stari_momak said...

Sexist Ukrainian army recruiting commercial, with 'dog-whistle' (at least if your Abe Foxman) anti-Semiticism to boot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cH_E6YSQqTo