Skip to comments.Why Americans Won't Do Dirty Jobs
Posted on 11/15/2011 10:19:20 AM PST by JerseyanExile
Skinning, gutting, and cutting up catfish is not easy or pleasant work. No one knows this better than Randy Rhodes, president of Harvest Select, which has a processing plant in impoverished Uniontown, Ala. For years, Rhodes has had trouble finding Americans willing to grab a knife and stand 10 or more hours a day in a cold, wet room for minimum wage and skimpy benefits.
Most of his employees are Guatemalan. Or they were, until Alabama enacted an immigration law in September that requires police to question people they suspect might be in the U.S. illegally and punish businesses -
(Excerpt) Read more at today.msnbc.msn.com ...
Bull! Some jobs just don't make economic sense.
You think the dentist is going to lower his rates because some half-wit tells a worker to pull himself up by his bootstraps?
Market economics require market wages. There is no alternative.
I worked at a Baskin Robbins in High School. We were given “waitress wages” because we could get tips (ever tip the ice cream scooper? Yeah, me neither). It was 2.10 an hour in 1978. I’ve never had so much fun in all my life and my best friend and I hung out while the other worked, so basically they got two workers for the pay of one. We loved our boss who bought the business from from an old tightwad. She was in the red from the beginning. We knew it and did whatever she needed. In turn, she let us make and take ice cream pies home for Christmas, because it was all she could give us.
I learned how to fix the shake machine with plastic spoons as shims, clean frosty freezers and clear drains. We all worked together and the owner cried and hugged me when I went off to college.
She stayed in business until they grazed the shop for a grocery store. I loved that job.
The market sets the price. If you offer less than the market deems appropriate, you don't get any takers. Obviously at some hourly rate prospective employees will be lined up at the door.
When governments regulate and otherwise distort markets, a side effect is often that market participants find ways to reduce their costs and avoid the true costs of the market. Hiring illegal employees is one way to do this, as would be paying wages in cash so that the employees don't have to report and pay taxes. Other even more unsavory schemes are used in other markets to obtain cut rate labor.
One way to reduce labor costs, if that is your goal, is to increase the supply of people who need or want to work. Reducing benefits to the non-working is one good approach as you noted.
Another way to do this would be to create a new, streamlined visa process for immigrants sponsored by an employer who would be responsible for their support while they are in the USA. These workers would no doubt be ready to gut fish all day, but they wouldn't be as cheap and easily manipulated and exploited as illegal immigrants. I doubt the fish processor would support such a plan.
There are few takers. Why do you think that is? The pay is excellent for this area of the country. Please explain to me why people won't take that work. I anxiously await your answer and solution.
***few Americans are willing to take these sorts of jobs at these wage levels.****
Bunkum. Back before 1964, you had a choice. Work or starve. The only work here was picking beans for one cent a pound or cleaning out chicken houses, bucking hay, catching chickens, all agriculture work so they paid well below minimum wage. The CHICKEN MAN had the area in an economic stranglehold so no one made enough to escape till Sam Walton began his Walmart stores.
Anyone worth his salt tried to feed his family. Only the slackers tried to get government “commodities” and they were looked down on by everyone.
If you came into this area with money you had better start with a positive cash flow immediatly or you would soon be so poor you could not leave to go elsewhere.
Now the government has “ruined” the slackers and no one will work for low wages if they can get on welfare.
I don’t doubt that you worked what you jobs you could to make a living, and did it honorably. But technology advances, and over time it has put a lot of people out of work. But it has also created a lot of new and more profitable work for those who can adapt. Lots of folks used to make their living building wooden barrels (Coopers) or pounding metals into useful shapes (Smiths). Time and technology stand still for no one and the competition has no mercy.
The only choices are advancement or extinction. Stand still and you will get run over. Using illegal immigrant labor is an effort to stop the clock and continue an obsolete model of business and labor.
Yea, I have ... I live in Louisiana for pete's sake. You hang them up and pull the skin off and then cut the filets. It ain't rocket science, nor is it even difficult.
Have you ever butchered an animal? Even studied the cuts that are involved in butchering an animal? I have. There is not even a remote similarity to cutting up a fish.
People have lost sight of their actual value to a company. They think simply that if you have a job (no matter how trivial) the employer should pay you (what you deem)a living wage. Furthermore, today’s employee thinks of a job as a government mandated right, not a simple privilege.
Whether people like it or not, you are a leased piece of flesh hired to perform a certain function for the business. It may be directly producing income or it may be simply a paperwork job processing needless government and state mandated regulations and requirements. In all, the company “rents” your time and pays you according to the difficulty of replacing you.
College, college, college education is the magic piece of paper (no matter what the degree) to enter the workforce for the first time. Not at the bottom, but somewhere in the middle. Most graduates who get laid off don’t have the slightest idea that while they were in college learning things that had nothing to do with a productive society, the uneducated (no higher than high school) workers were busy learning a trade or function that almost guaranteed their futures in finding employment.
Most employees today have no loyalty to their employer and today’s employers have no loyalty to their employees.
50 years ago things were much different. It was expected that children worked and earned their own spending money while learning something totally lost in today’s society...the work ethic. Eight hours work for eight hours pay.
There was no unemployment that even compares with today’s unemployment benefits and pay. Welfare was based upon substance rations and it was shameful not to have a job.
Things are vastly different today. Unemployment is a free ride while it lasts. The welfare safety net is in place. And it is not a shame to move back in with your aged parents while searching for the type job YOU WANT.
Now, to the field hands. Yes, I worked in the field as a boy. Now, to the point. We can thank the U.S. Government and all elected officials for the mess we currently find ourselves in regards to illegal labor.
1. We don’t enforce laws dealing with “wetbacks.”
2. We are afraid to even touch one, fearing a civil rights lawsuit.
3. The government has raised the minimum wage to the point that many hire illegals to fill jobs in which it is laughable to pay more than $5.00 per hour.
4. Legal beagles are sitting at the door of every employer just waiting for something to trigger a lawsuit or a settlement out of the fear of filing one.
5. The cost of government regulations such as SS and Medicare matching, workman’s compensation, unemployment insurance, insurance to protect the employer for catastrophic legal settlements for accidents or perceived discrimination, and a whole host of other costs in having a legal employee work for them.
6. Many field workers are paid in cash so that it cannot be traced to either the employee or from the records of the company. This is a great financial incentive for the employer not to hire legal Americans and our inept government does very little to investigate it.
7. And...the most important reason that American workers won’t work on farms is that they actually make more real income from the welfare and unemployment system and the fact that they are not even required to take jobs that don’t match their past employment history.
In summation, our government provides every incentive to prevent (or to provide an excuse) for unemployed workers not to work at any job available. After all, if they did, they just might be able to work at that job until they found a better job instead of sucking the teat of big Government’s hog while we hard working taxpayers shovel food (dollars) into the pig’s mouth.
Farmers are supposed to be business people. If they have to pay a little more to hire legal employees, so be it. In business, if your raw materials or products cost more, you simply have to pass the cost along to maintain your profit margin. Farmers should be no different...but they are.
They were the first welfare recipients during the depression and have increased their dependence upon the teat of government ever since. They have gone from the small individual family farm to gigantic farming corporations gleaning millions in subsidies while not raising crops that they can sell on the free market but only to the government controlled market.
They are no longer businessmen and exist at the money trough provided by the government Politicians and reciprocate accordingly. Consequently, the government looks the other way when it comes to illegal aliens working the fields.
Sorry for the rant but this farmer/illegal/legal worker stuff drives me crazy.
Close the borders, fence them, run all of the illegals out of our country and then get rid of all regulations that make American employers resist hiring.
Whatever the market bears.
Guess this guy should simply go out of business and join the doles.
Why should be owe it to this guy to keep him in business? And especially by allowing him to break the law? If he can't hire cheaply and others can, he deserves to go out of business.
But the rules should be the same for everybody. Not enforcing the rules just drives the honest law abiding people out of business. This guy who is hiring the illegals has probably already driven honest employers who were hiring Americans out of business.
Maybe the job is worth more than $7.25 an hour.
Can you honestly see a bunch of the OWS kids gutting fish for a living? You could pay them $20/hour and they simply aren't going to do it.
“Its that illegal labor artificially lowered the going value of labor.”
And don’t forget where all of these arguments lead - to make the illegals LEGAL! Of course once they are legal, they won’t need to settle for the too-low wages, so nothing is solved.
I think a lot of the lack of young American workers is that mom and dad provide so much. But it can also be hard as an employer to hire someone under 18 if you are going to follow all of the rules.
As a kid I would work summers on my dad’s construction sites doing nasty dirty jobs. He would always tell me “Now you know what you DON’T want to be when you grow up!”
I’m always reminded of that when I’m out working on some hillside covered in mud and making my way through the blackberries in the rain or somesuch! Most of the time I love it! (And the pay is a lot better than when I was 14.)
Because the fact is it's still not enough, regardless of qualifiers like "for this area of the country." If the pay was excellent, you'd have workers.
You sound EXACTLY like the old car dealers who wanted to keep paying their technicians like "grease monkeys" long after their skill set DEMANDED they be treated as professionals.
Its that illegal labor artificially lowered the going value of labor.
***If it werent for the illegals, hes be raising his rate until an American would take the job.***
Not necessarily. Back in 1964, I worked for THE CHICKEN MAN at less than minimum wages due to it being agriculture work.
Then I went into the military. When I got back there were lots of Mexicans now working for THE CHICKEN MAN.
The story was an accountant found a way to pay evryone 25 cents more an hour without affecting the bottom line profits of the company.
When he told the President of the company about this, the CHICKEN MAN said “I’m not going to pay them 25 cents an hour more!”
Other opertunities began to open and and people left. He could not get people to fill the job openings for his starvation wages so he went to Mexico and brought back the first bus loads Mexicans to this area.
Now we got Somalis here.
It's smelly, nasty, and unpleasant, especially when you don't catch them yourself. :)
I agree about ending a lot of the government handouts, but there is a reason roofers, miners, trash collectors, and even the most basic assembly line workers don't get paid minimum wage. Just because labor is "unskilled" doesn't mean it's not hard work. It's not for everybody, and many folks aren't tough enough to handle it.
Now he'll have to pay a decent wage to do a disgusting job.
Again, if it wasn't for the illegals, he would have had to raise his prices. THE CHICKEN MAN is driving Americans out of work because of his importing illegals.
The business owners and growers got used to being able to treat humans like slaves, the party is over. I do not feel bad for them.
If memory serves me right the problem of catfish packers with employees goes back to the beginnings of the new catfish farming methods that brought more catfish to market than the market could absorb. Packers, facing declining prices have consistently attempted to control labor costs. News stories from thirty years ago describe American workers being forced to work with minimum bathroom breaks, driven to carpal tunnel syndrome. Some things never change. Cat fish packing is a competitively cut throat business and as long as Americans reject the product, for the most part, it will remain a dead end business
We better start raising a new generation of people who don't view jobs such as cutting up fish as something they will never do. Until then, expect immigrants, and I'm talking about legals, to take these jobs. Immigrants will work for minimum wage all day long and usually run circles around your average American.
How do I know this? I have two very legal Guatamalans that work part-time for me on my homestead. Their full time job is working for the State of Louisiana as golf course maintenance men. These two men will do in 4 hours what it would take for the locally-available 'workforce' a couple of full days to do. They don't turn up their noses at the nastiest of tasks.
Actually you raise a very interesting question, and I'm not trying to be flip in my response, but if you have no takers for the job then the local people who have heard about your job offer don't think that the overall compensation is sufficient for the work you want them to do. For some people it may be sufficient, for others it clearly isn't. No doubt if you offered $50 per hour a much larger portion of the people who hear the offer would say yes. Of course you can't necessarily do that since the market also sets your selling price and you have to keep your cost structure in line with that.
Have you ever asked people why they don't want the job? I suspect some people would rather subsist on lower government benefits instead of working. Also, $8 to $12 per hour for field work does not seem like much of a premium over other easier work, like standing behind a cash register in McDonalds. Can you identify high productivity workers who are worth paying more per hour? Sometimes one group or another is more inclined to do a certain kind of work.
Sometimes a different compensation scheme attracts workers, like piecework, or some other approach.
Sometimes people choose to take difficult jobs based in part on the social circumstances. I did some very hard jobs as a teenager (harder than field work) because all my friends were there.
The dirty little secret among America's entrepreneurs is we don't have a problem with sorry workers: we have a problem with cheap bastards!
I'm sorry, but you don't have a clue what you're writing about. There is a whole segment of our population that can live a substandard life and never get off the porch because the government will take care of their meager wants. Until that changes, there will be immigrants taking lower wage jobs.
In MY area, there are way too many people existing on the dole, and they see no reason to work. If the phony disability payments, food stamps and welfare payments stopped tomorrow, I could find people to work for a good and honest wage.
And you think they are going to continue working like that for their entire productive career?
You used to see neighborhood kids bussing tables and mowing lawns then overnight the kids were gone and people showed up who couldn't understand you when you asked for more butter or to shut the gate.
Apples and oranges. Gutting fish has not changed a bit over the years. Same for lots of manual labor. Working on cars has changed drastically and now involves more computer savvy than pure wrench-turning.
Pay enough, they’ll do it.
I have an unemployed son, age 20. Pay him $20/hr. He’d do it.
Your average butcher is not involved in the slaughter of the animal. They stand on line or behind the counter and trim. VERY similar to what these workers did/do.
Actually, the influx of illegal aliens into Alabama is only a couple of decades old, and the Hispanic percentage of the population is still very low, but it has increased as it has most everywhere in the US.
But what this article also points is what low wages these farmers are paying, I don't think the nation should dramatically increase its population and pay the costs of the illegals the farmers don't pay just so they can remain in business.
The time when the laws should be ignored so some businesses can lure the cheapest possible labor need to be put behind us. Raise the pay offered to more competitive levels.
You keep telling yourself that to avoid facing the fact your market has changed and you don't want to change with it.
Pointing to a few slackers does not justify the HUGE demand for illegal workers.
And furthermore, have you tried to see what life would be like for one of your "well paid" workers by doing a standard budget for their income level?
It's simply asinine to expect any half-way cognizant individual to give up 25k of benefits from the government for 15k of wages that still will not satisfy that person's financial responsibilities.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,636 people in uniontown. The racial makeup of the city was 88.20% Black or African American and 11.80% White. 1.10% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.”
So all 16 Guats were illegal?
As of the census of 2000, The median income for a household in the city was $12,386. The per capita income for the city was $8,268. About 48.2% of families and 47.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 60.4% of those under age 18 and 31.9% of those age 65 or over.
Can’t argue with that. But your statement that cotton farmers couldn’t survive without slaves was wrong. What happened is they had to start paying them, and us po’ whites, to chop and pick the cotton. It was another hundred years before the cotton picker took over completely.
No, it's not, but if you want a closer analogy...when's the last time you saw a paperboy?
It is intellectually dishonest to note gutting fish hasn't changed while ignoring everything else in the market that HAS changed.
When I first started working, managers would have sworn the safety standards we live by today would have drove them out of business. Now, they risk losing their business to lawsuits if they DON"T abide by those standards. So nothing changed, you say?
Years ago I ran production and packaging lines for PepsiCo. We had 63 lines taht each required a human being to fold a box, pick up the product, place in box, seal box and label. Insanely boring and repetitive work, but getting a machine to do this was incredibly hard. The technology just isn’t there yet.
Instead of human-like hands, clumsy metal paddles and doors. We finally got an internally-developed prototype running, but the maintenance required made the payout even worse.
Some jobs will still require humans, even 100 years from now.
Enough until the locals take the job, or others move there to do the work. If I'm an unskilled worker in NYC, I might not find a job. It sounds like there is a need for laborers in Uniontown, AL though...
The thesis of the article is basically correct: there are certain nasty jobs that Americans won’t do. That doesn’t translate into support for illegal immigrants. If we can’t get our native population to do those jobs, bring in the guest-workers....legally.
The taxpayers are picking up the expensive cost of the illegal Guatemalans medical care, welfare, jail, and schools for their children so the employer and their customers are getting a free ride. If the cost of socialism was priced into their wages then automation would be competitive. Many technologies get about 10% cheaper every year, assuming there is a working market for them, while labor costs increase. We need to enforce the labor laws better. If one competitor uses illegal labor, they all have to to stay competitive. Automation leads to a better quality of life for Americans, while importing more Democrat voters leads to a worse future.
***Again, if it wasn’t for the illegals,****
Actually, those the CHICKEN MAN brought in were legals.
Their LEGAL children, many born here, refused to do the same work and found honest work locally and many have become pillars of the communities and are well respected.
The Illegls are another matter, as some are real pains in the buttocks.
Then the US Government imported Hmong into the area.
Then Marshallese Islanders.
Well, given that unemployment will pay you about the same to sit around whining that you can't find a job, which would you do? Skin catfish in a freezer for half a day, or stay home emailing CVs for half an hour a day?
“Get rid of welfare and Americans will do these jobs..”
Only 10 words. But they are the best 10 words posted on this thread.
I haven't the first clue of what they are going to do with their future. It is my sincere hope that they start a business or two of their own and become wealthy enough to employ several other people.
What does that have to do with working in the here and now?
I just love these people who try to cheat the labor market, then blame the quality of the workforce when they can't get away with it.
The fact of the matter is: if you can't get anyone to gut fish for less than $100 an hour, the rate for fish gutting is now $100 an hour, no matter what YOU think it should be.
I see the same thing down here in Florida whenever we have a hurricane. Many people would rather have business owners thrown in jail for "gouging" rather than admit the value of a sheet of plywood just skyrocketed due to market conditions.
How many businesses do you own?
It's relevant because they are a statistical anomaly. You have no right to "get lucky."
They can't, or won't work like that forever, so you are going to have to replace them, eventually.
When you can't replace them for what you were paying them what are you going to do, look for more "foreigners?"