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Archive for July 25th, 2013

We have illegal immigrant farmworkers going on strike to protest farmers bringing in migrant farmworkers legally:

The striking farm workers, mostly indigenous Mixteco and Trique Mexicans who migrate each year from California, had made repeated demands over wages, working conditions and other issues.

But at the core of their angst is the pending arrival early next month of some 160 guest workers from Mexico to prop up the farm’s existing workforce.

“There’ve been rumblings … (over guest workers) in the past, but I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” said Alberto Isiordia, state monitor advocate for the state Department of Employment Security.

While growers in Eastern Washington have used the federal government’s H-2A program over the last five years to legally bring guest workers into the country, this is the first year Sakuma or any Western Washington fruit grower will use it.

Many of the Sakuma farmworkers — who don’t speak English or Spanish —

say they are in the country unlawfully.[Emphasis Added]

Of course they are. And if you haven’t completely surrendered your ability to think to the rampant idiocy and pro-amnesty nonsense, you’re probably thinking “Why is this a thing? If you’re illegal, the last thing you should be doing is calling attention that fact by protesting over your employer using workers who have been brought in legally. But seeing as our society and our government have been actively undermining the law for some time now, I not only expect people to support these illegal immigrants doing the striking and protesting that Americans just won’t do, I expect that before long, the NLRB will be investigating and going after the farm for not “bargaining in good faith” and “undermining their labor organizing activities”. I sure am glad that in a labor climate where many Americans are unemployed and many more are underemployed, community organizing, and “improving” labor conditions for people who are breaking the law in the first place simply by being here is a priority.

But then, I’ve learned to not count out the native ability to mix stupidity and audaciousness into a big ol’ pot and serve up heaping helpings to the neighbors either. Case in point? Seattle fast food workers demanding “a living wage” for saying “You want fries with that?” and failing to firmly secure the lid on the cutomers’ sodas.

The minimum wage in Washington state is $9.19 per hour. The organization “Good Jobs Seattle” says the strike is part of a nationwide effort to raise the pay for fast food workers to $15 per hour and to give them the right to organize without retaliation.

Now, I’ve heard a few of this group’s spokespersons on the radio, and as someone who has worked from age 15, I get the impression that many of these folks just don’t get it. It’s a cinch that none of them has taken an economics class, or had a lemonade stand as a child. When I hear a 23-year-old whining that she can’t afford an apartment all to herself, and has trouble making ends meet, my first reaction is “And why do you think that fast food is a CAREER?” With the exception of managers, it was never intended to be a career. It was a place for people to learn work skills (especially teenagers) that they could continually build on, and move on to jobs that can and should be careers. But frankly, when I hear them talk about how they would have more money to put into the economy if they made more money, it doesn’t take too long to realize that they have never considered that the prices their employers have to charge in order to pay their wages have limits on their elasticity. Whenever I’m in Seattle, I try to avoid eating in fast food establishments because the prices reflect the already-higher costs of doing business that are imposed upon their employers. If you increase wages (which are already frequently above minimum wage) to $15 an hour, and the Quarter Pounder Meal goes up to $8, it shouldn’t take a rock surgeon to understand that McDonalds is going to sell a lot fewer of them, which in turn means that they will employ fewer people. Yeah, if they get their way, a few of these strikers may get a significant raise. And several more will get pink slips. And that says nothing about what those increases in costs might do to other products and services they buy; it is foolish to believe that all other costs and prices will remain static, especially in a city where the Mayor is silly enough to attack a potential employer, Whole Foods, for not paying its workers enough, when they have consistently been named one of America’s best places to work, and when the bicycle-riding, granola-munching tool in the mayor’s office has failed to calculate all benefits offered to those employees into his dubious calculations to make his assertion.

But stupidity is pernicious. Like rust, it never sleeps. And this morning, I was treated to the story of a ballot initiative in the City of SeaTac (where our major airport this side of the mountains is located) to raise the wages of some workers who work at the airport. One of the people favoring it was a gentleman who works for one of the contractors at the airport that fuels the aircraft. His rationale went like this:
Many of the jobs being performed by contractors and their employees at the airport used to be done directly through the airlines, which, when adjusted for inflation, paid wages about a third higher to the employees doing the work as they do now, and that just isn’t right. The host rightfully discussed deregulation, and the very competitive nature of the business. His guest countered by alleging that he’d “heard” that the airlines still pay the same dollar amount to the contractors to do the work, and that the difference is being held up there. The host went on to point out that if the costs have to be raised, it may drive some of the carriers away from the airport, or make it so expensive that consumers will go elsewhere. The guest than said that he didn’t believe that they would have to raise prices to make up the difference, because “all businesses put money away to deal with emergencies”. The host pointed out that this isn’t a one-time charge, this would be an ongoing increase in expense. They went to a break, and when the host came back, a caller phoned in, and asked how it is a city has the authority to identify certain workers as being worthy of a higher minimum wage than other people. I thought it was a fair question, especially since the idea is being championed by people who seem to think that others can simply make more money out of thin air to pay for them. On the other hand, these people vote, and when you ponder that for a second, some of the things Congress does in terms of spending start to make a perverse sense.

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