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Exploited Labor In The USA

We’ll look at forced labor in America. From a fish factory in Louisiana to the national picture.

Guestworkers peeling crawfish at Walmart supplier C.J.'s Seafood, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. (National Guestworker Alliance)

Guestworkers peeling crawfish at Walmart supplier C.J.’s Seafood, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. (National Guestworker Alliance)

The story out of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana sounded Third World.  Guest workers in a seafood processing plant allegedly forced to work 24-hour shifts.  80-hour weeks.  Barricaded in so they couldn’t escape.  Threatened with beatings to work faster.  Bullied.  Underpaid.  Families threatened.  Forced labor.

Last month, Wal-Mart suspended the supplier of crawfish, and the horror stories ricocheted around the country.  But in a bad economy, with the pressure on, exploited labor doesn’t just happen on the bayou.

This hour, On Point:  On the bottom rung.  Exploited labor in America.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Amanda McElfresh, a reporter for The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, La.

Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute. Former commissioner of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Saket Soni, executive director of the National Guestworker Alliance. He is also executive director of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice.

Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Times-Picayune “Eight striking laborers protesting the working conditions at a crawfish processing plant in Breaux Bridge met with supporters this afternoon in the Airline Drive parking lotof Sam’s Club, the plant’s main customer. The workers, who came from Mexico on temporary work visas, complained of being threatened with beatings and forced to work long hours peeling crawfish at C J’s Seafood for no overtime pay, said Jacob Horwitz, a lead organizer for the National Guestworker Alliance, which hosted today’s event.”

The New York Times “It is time to banish the idea that forced labor and sweatshop exploitation are problems of bygone eras or distant countries. These conditions exist within America’s borders. On June 29, Wal-Mart said it had suspended one of its seafood suppliers in Louisiana for violating its workplace standards. The action came as an advocacy group for foreign guest workers announced that it had uncovered appalling abuses at the company, C. J.’s Seafood, and at a dozen other Wal-Mart suppliers too.”

Daily Advertiser “Federal authorities are investigating the Breaux Bridge seafood supplier C.J.’s Seafood amid allegations of wage and labor violations and Wal-Mart’s decision to stop using products from the supplier.”

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  • Comments

    Wal-Mart has workplace standards? Thank goodness for NPR. We will never hear any politician running for office talking about the inhumane treatment of labor in this country. Mitt Romney sings “America the beautiful”, Michelle Obama gets cozy with Wal-Mart and this type of abuse continues and is used by the “great American entrepreneurs”. 

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Isn’t the Republican strategy to deregulate everything and place our trust in the altruism of ‘Job Creators’ like these to pull us out of this recession? With neofeudal overlords like these, who needs foreign enemies!

    • Vasco DeGrabya

      If you speak badly of the Regent, he’ll send the Knights to your hovel for an attitude adjustment. 

      • Drew (GA)

        Nah, The Regent as you phrase it will just ignore you until you starve to death in your cardboard box beneath the bridge.

    • Patrik

      I find it interesting that, throughout history, no matter what societal structure a country tries to develop eventually a  handful of wealthy people end up controlling everything and it becomes a subtle, defacto communist system with absolute power and money centralized to those few afore mentioned.

      • Drew (GA)

        That’s Human Nature. It doesn’t appear we’re going to be winning that battle any time soon.

      • Steve_T

         Failure to remember history will doom you to repeat it. We seem to fail and too often.

    • Ayn Marx 666

      Actually, they would say that they’re trusting to the self-interest of the Job Creators.  Where they get it wrong is their touching belief that the interests of our owners are ours, one that every dog shares and often has some merit…but not often or dependably enough that we don’t need the back-stop of the threat of force (that is to say, Government) to impose decency where needed.

  • Vasco DeGrabya

    Hmmm.  Let’s see…  Mexicans (legal, illegal, whatever) being treated poorly by American employers or shrimp costing $25/lb.  I wonder what most Americans will choose?

    Why do you think Walmart is the biggest kid on the block?  They give Americans what they want.  STUFF!  STUFF CHEAP!

    We could pay Americans a living wage with benefits and good working conditions to peel shrimp and crawdads.  Just don’t act surprised when your $12 shrimp cocktail costs $45.

    This is what we want, and this is who we are.  We are greedy, introverted, and ethnocentric.  The weird part is that we can’t even see it.

    • Patrik

      Sadly yes Vasco.  Add to that a growing world population and decreasing resources to accommodate and it becomes worse by the minute.  Soon we will be consuming, for the sake of the current argument, something that only ‘tastes’ like shrimp.

      • Drew (GA)

        “Soon we will be consuming, for the sake of the current argument, something that only ‘tastes’ like shrimp.”

        We already are, we just don’t realize it yet.

        • Patrik

          Absolutely terrible. I stopped eating shrimp when the BP spill took place.  I only eat fresh Salmon, once in a while, that I know is fresh, it’s a bit pricey but at least I know its Salmon.

          • Drew (GA)

            Be thankful you can afford that Salmon, I’m grateful you’re paying attention.

    • William

       The abundance of cheap illegal labor always causes abuse by dishonest business owners. Can you imagine how bad it must be in Mexico and other 3rd world countries?

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.nicholson.714 James Nicholson

       Hey go easy Vasco.  I’m sure ‘most everyone was chagrined when hearing this report.  Obviously (at least with this case) someone or someones’ going to have to go off the reservation.  Options?   Check out the links with the 4 interviewees mentioned with this story.  Plop down coin with the Nat’l Guestworkers Alliance; make a contribution.

  • AC

    is there a strong correlation with immigration status to forced labor?
    i can’t imagine in this day and age, even with a minimum of education, the avg american wouldn’t run out and find a lawyer if exposed to these conditions/threats.
    on that note, i find it even harder to believe the lawyers themselves wouldn’t hunt down people who should be suing…

    • Adks12020

      I see your point but I think you’d be surprised what people will put up with when the choice is between earning something and earning nothing.

      Look at what workers around the world put up with every day.  If someone isn’t educated about what is legal and illegal they may not even realize they could sue. 

      Also, I’m not a lawyer but I’m a consultant at a law firm and I can tell you first hand that lawyers aren’t cheap. Unless they could get a large group to file a class action there is no way someone making those wages could hire one unless the lawyer was positive they could win and get a percentage of the settlement.

      • AC

        what about the government? do they have free help with lawyers through the labor dept? how are labor laws enforced in general? i’m realizing i have no idea!

        • Adks12020

          Very good questions.  I’m not very knowledgable about labor laws but I think, in general, they are enforced when people complain about bad practices.  It seems to me that they need to know what qualifies as bad practices in order to do that and that guest workers would be the least likely to know that information.

          • Drew (GA)

            Sometimes they are enforced when there are complaints. The frequency of investigation is pretty much non-existent in Right To Work States.

          • Drew (GA)

            Sometimes they are enforced when there are complaints. The frequency of investigation is pretty much non-existent in Right To Work States.

  • AC

    ….this looks like a good opportunity – inventing a shucking machine for crawfish. it’ll work all hours day and night, need no wages or insurance benefits and will never develop gnarled/carpal tunnel issues! everyone will be happy!
    won’t they?

    • Yar

      AC, You would think that technology would make things better.  But history has not shown that to be true.  Technology has only widen the divide between the rich and poor.  For example, the first mechanical cotton harvester was built in 1850.  Picking cotton is hot, very hard, low paid work.  Yet, today 70 percent of cotton is still picked by hand.  The only thing technology has done for cotton pickers is drive down the price of their labor.

      • Drew (GA)

        Technology’s potential for improvement is consistently outpaced by its potential for abuse.

      • AC

        that seems strange? is the 70% a world wide percentage? i would think it’s less here – is it?

        • Yar

          Yes, it is a world wide number. There are not any fields of cotton harvested by hand in the US that I know of.

          • AC

            based on that, how quickly do you feel rising economies in industrial nations will replace their workers with these more efficient output methods?

          • AC

            but i was just thinking, there is a wave of people in their 20/30s moving into more ‘sustainable’ organic living (etc). perhaps they will start picking by hand again - if it’s for small/sustainable community, they wouldn’t need acreage…….
            in any case, i don’t think I would like to do it :P

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

      That is the big threat isn’t it? Suck it up and be happy you have any work at all.

      • AC

        that is not a very wise attitude towards such a scenario, i believe several times in history that sort of talk has led to disaster….
        the point is to worry about it regardless of the obvious benefits. How do you suppose the people will eat/live once this occurs? we need to start reducing world population or find new purposes for people.

  • kaltighanna

    This is an old and ongoing issue. But I bet it is not seen as a problem for people who talk about “self-deportation” as if they were talking about a victory against illegal immigration. If Mexican visa holders legally employed in America are being treated this way, just imagine what it must be like for illegal workers in times of high unemployment. It’s not hard to figure out why so many are leaving the USA voluntarily, right? And some people are cheering the clever “strategy” of self-deportation… So sad.

  • Drew (GA)

    With increased prosperity comes increased responsibility. Well at least if you’re a decent human being it does. Many seem to believe the opposite, especially those of a certain political persuasion.

    Yesterday I asked if exploitation equals investment.
    Today I ask if exploitation equals job creation.
    We need to wake the hell up.

    • Steve_T

       The Bible says: To whom much has been given much will be expected.
      Now all you have to do is connect the dots from church to business, and find the hypocrite’s.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Our local paper in New England has reported on sex slaves here who arrived from China, as I recall, and were not expecting their contract to include permanent indenture, especially of that sort.  If they had not been picked up on illegitimate business charges, it wouldn’t have been noticed.  People trying to skirt the law get trapped like that, it seems.  
        Now, why would the site monitor not want me posting to this site?  “You have been blocked from posting to this site,” or something like that.  That greeted me right away.  However,  “they” were glad to have me post on the other page, about Central Park.       Once I logged in, the blockage disappeared.  Hmm.

    • Adks12020

      I think it’s a glitch with the site rather than anything more sinister.  It’s happened to me before when attempting to post something about an author I really enjoyed.

      • ana

        Me too

    • Drew (GA)

      Discuss does that to me pretty regularly. Adks12020 hit it on the nose.

  • nj_v2

    Hey, stop complaining! It’s the free market!

    • Drew (GA)

      lol, thanks nj!

  • Gary Trees

    THER’ TAKIN’ UR JAOBS

    • Drew (GA)

      And someone else is apparently taking your common sense as well as your ability to adequately express your “beliefs”.

      • Gary Trees

        Wha? Oh, the irony.  It was a joke Drew, a joke. So sensitive in here sometimes.

        • Drew (GA)

          Apologies, I thought you were serious. You never can tell these days.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Most of the time this can’t happen without local government and  law enforcement turning a blind eye – and state and federal turning a blind eye as well. And when they can’t turn a blind eye you don’t hear about businesses being shut down or people getting arrested and going to jail. You just hear about fines and promises to “fix” it.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

      Interesting – I’m googling C.J.’s Seafood, lots of articles of Walmart dropping them, nothing about anything legal (“under federal fire” was the most specific thing I found) being done about all these illegal allegations.

  • Scott B, Jamestown NY

    This is what happens when people forget what unions did for workers in America, and the “right to work” sect advances their agenda.   This is also what happens when the call for reducing the size of govt leads to those that should, and would, be inspecting business for such abuses is reduced to chasing paper and not chasing down the violators. 

    Considering what working conditions in China are, it must have been bad for Walmart to suspend purchases. 

    • Patrik

      Well thanks to the republicans we will soon be working under the iron fist of the curly mustache, top hat wearing factory barons that see us as nothing more than cogs in their money making machine.

      • Drew (GA)

        I hate to repeat my earlier sentiment but we already are.

      • Scott B, Jamestown NY

         The Republicans make it sound good with “right to work”.  Nice little catchphrase, like “job creator”  does ,if you happen mean creating jobs in China or CPAs and lawyers good at tax shelters. “Right to work” sounds good, but so does “all natural” when you see it on a can of food. But people forget that bullsh!t is “all natural”, too.  They forget to look at the facts such as the wages being lower, lack of benefits, lack of worker protections from safety to job security; that these same states are consistently ranked lowest in education, environmental conditions protections, and social services, and that the laws favor  business and have much less regard for the people that work for them.

  • nj_v2

    Mall*Wart only dropped the company because this case was so high profile and the connection to them was clear. Lest anyone think that this somehow means Mall*Wart is a “good” company…

    http://www.otherwords.org/articles/50_years_of_gutting_americas_middle_class

    50 Years of Gutting America’s Middle Class

    Walmart’s explosive growth has gutted two key pillars of the American middle class: small businesses and well-paid manufacturing jobs.

    By Stacy Mitchell

    …Between 2001 and 2007, some 40,000 U.S. factories closed, eliminating millions of jobs. While Walmart’s ceaseless search for lower costs wasn’t the only factor that drove production overseas, it was a major one. During these six years, Walmart’s imports from China tripled in value from $9 billion to $27 billion.

    Small, family-owned retail businesses likewise closed in droves as Walmart grew. Between 1992 and 2007, the number of independent retailers fell by over 60,000, according to the U.S. Census.

    Their demise triggered a cascade of losses elsewhere. As communities lost their local retailers, there was less demand for services like accounting and graphic design, less advertising revenue for local media outlets, and fewer accounts for local banks. As Walmart moved into communities, the volume of money circulating from business to business declined. More dollars flowed into Walmart’s tills and out of the local economy. 

    In exchange for the many middle-income jobs Walmart eliminated, all we got in return were low-wage jobs for the workers who now toil in its stores. To get by, many Walmart employees have no choice but to rely on food stamps and other public assistance.

    Walmart’s history is the story of what has gone wrong in the American economy. Wages have stagnated. The middle class has shrunk. The ranks of the working poor have swelled. Whatever we may have saved shopping at Walmart, we’ve more than paid for it in diminished opportunities and declining income.

    [excerpt]

    • Brothersower88

      Wallmart is to blame or the people who shop there?

      They provide legal services and goods. 

      If the shoppers of Wallmart weren’t seeking the lowest cost regardless of the consequences, Wallmart wouldn’t provide that service.

      Filling a legal and legitimate void in the market is smart.  Is it necessarily “good”, that is debatable depending on individual perspectives.

      • Drew (GA)

        “Wallmart is to blame or the people who shop there?”

        Both. I wonder how much blame can be laid on the consumer though when they literally cannot afford to shop anywhere else.

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

           Here in northwest Arkansas, the home of Wal-Mart, the only other stores are Harps, which is expensive, and an organic foods store that sells things for fuggetaboutit prices.

          • nj_v2

            And why do you suppose that’s the scenario you’re faced with?

          • Brothersower88

            Consumers aren’t (and haven’t been) willing or capable of investing their money in other stores?

          • Drew (GA)

            What other stores? Sure you have options if your wallet is fat enough. Mom and Pop have long been removed from the scene.

          • Brothersower88

            Which is why I included the past tense. 

            The current situation is (in part) due to poor decisions in the past by consumers.

        • Brothersower88

          Agreed which is why I would say that on one hand Walmart is “good” for those who don’t have other options.

          I would tend to say that it is not “good” for other reasons like employee wages, quality of goods, etc.

          Thus the dilemma, and also the reason that I agree with you that both are to blame and I would add that the employers of people who don’t make enough to have other choices are also “to blame”.

        • ana

          The fact that they cannot afford to shop anywhere else is a result of  low wages brought on by powerful profits at any cost corporations like wal mart.
          We have a Dunkin Donuts every 3-5 miles here.  What is their employee compensation record?  And their products contribute to health decline of  the nation.

        • ana

          One other phenomenom of low prices is the accumulation of unneeded trinkets.
          Three less cheap plastic toys for one of good quality would serve our children well in so many ways.

          • Drew (GA)

            Too bad Wal-Mart crushed the business that sold that quality toy under-foot about a decade ago.

        • VinceD2

          Yes, but we have to remember who set that trap. Wal-Mart has forced suppliers to move offshore, thuse increasing th enumber of folks who “have to” shop there. They’re vultures, and that’s an insult to birds.

      • nj_v2

        Right, just like the people applying for no-look mortgages were responsible for the Wall Street debacle. 

        Large powerful companies and organizations control the political infrastructure which sets the rules in favor of—guess who?—large powerful companies.  

        The “low prices” thus result from a system which is rigged for the corporate owners and exploit workers, local communities, and small businesses.

        I’m not sure what your motivation is for blaming the victims.

        • Brothersower88

          Everyone (consumers, voters, corporations, employers, etc.) should be accountable for their actions or inaction.

          I don’t disagree that there are powerful influences which try to set the rules in their favor, but it is still the responsibility of each individual to act in a way that they find best. 

          I can change my oil myself by visiting Wallmart getting oil and a filter for $16, or I can get the oil and filter at Advanced Auto for $27+, or I can get my oil changed professionally for a little over $40.

          It is my choice where I invest my money, and I am held accountable for those investments.

          Blaming everything on one realm of influence artificially simplifies the discussion.

      • kelty

        WalMart started out by promoting selling “American-made” Goods at lower costs. They opened their huge stores in areas, forced out the “Mom&Pop” type competition and then started demanding ever decreasing prices from their suppliers who made the “American-made” goods they sold. The suppliers began the exodus out of the US in search of lower costs to meet WM continued low cost demands since WM now made up a huge portion of their business. Factories closed & moved jobs overseas, people lost jobs, and now can’t afford to shop anywhere except WM who have the lowest prices as have no alternatives. Quite a vicious circle they have created. Legal, sure, I guess.

        • Brothersower88

          Consumers from the past made the choice to shop at Walmart rather than mom & pop stores.  They made (and make) deliberate choices to get what is cheap.  They expect a certain quality of life and Walmart provides that for them.

          We are now left with that legacies and the choice to continue in it or start something new (shopping habits or mom & pop stores).

          I am in no way a fan of Walmart and its policies, but to blame them solely is an over simplification which removes personal responsibility.

          I hope it changes, but I am not interested in opening a store in my neighborhood.  Fortunately I live close enough to a city that if I look hard enough, I can find local vendors rather than Walmart, but not everyone has that luxury (or tax rate).

    • ana

      Meanwhile, the Walton family heirs have wealth of beyond 80 billion dollars between four of them,  There seems little evidence of largesse on their part to uplift the communities who line up at their cash registers enabling such obscene wealth.

      • Drew (GA)

        Check out the Crystal Bridges museum in Arkansas. That’s a Walton idea of “Giving back to the community”.

        • ana

          WOW!

  • Brothersower88

    While not generally considered physically (or illegally) abusive, should unpaid internships be considered exploiting labor?

    • Patrik

      That would be a tough one, a lot of parents pay significant amounts of money to consulting, prepartory firms to give their children the best possible chance for some unpaid internships.

      • Brothersower88

        Doesn’t that just make it worst?

        John Doe provides work without any monetary compensation with “experience” as the goal.  During this time he relies on his family, credit cards, or works a second job to survive.  All for the “chance” of finding (or keeping) a similar job.

        John Doe is at a significant risk in this relationship while the company has comparatively little risk.  Could just be me, but it doesn’t seem appropriate.

        • Patrik

          Hm, true.  Unfortunately I think that as long as their is a market for it, it will not go away or be investigated.  I would like to see news magazines dig deeper into this.

          • Drew (GA)

            At the risk of pissing off their advertising base? Not likely.

          • TFRX

            Is that a sly joke?

            If so, bravo.

        • TFRX

          It does make it worse but in another, tangential way.

          I have acquaintances which characterize these internships as largely the province of people whose families are well-off enough that these kids don’t have to earn money during summer breaks from school and college.

          That tilts the gaming table right there.

          • Brothersower88

            Nothing like having to be part of the club to be given the opportunity to join the club.  Sad.

          • TFRX

            They got to keep out the riffraff somehow!

            Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to whip Carruthers. Too much vermouth in my last martini.

  • THE4JIMMIES

    Not right. MANY other “lesser” examples. Toss out the “technology is making America more productive”. I am making
    America more productive. Operating 2 machines at a time, no raise for over a year and paying health insurance of $160.00 a week.

     

  • Marlene McAlevey

    Have we become a nation of savages? Is this the 19th Century?We have vilified unions for the last 40 years so that there is no protection for the laborer. The rich are becoming richer and the poor are the servants of the rich.

  • Pebbles

    Florida tomato workers are in slave like conditions.  I’ll bet most workers at horse race tracks face similar conditions.  Disgusting.

  • ToyYoda

    I’m not defending these exploiters, but I think it would have been nice to get a spokesperson from the industry on the show to defend themselves and to give a balanced view (if there is one here).  It’s just good journalism to get both sides of the story.

    • Drew (GA)

      Some actions are indefensible.

    • J__o__h__n

      How many employers would want to go on the show to discuss this topic? 

      • TFRX

        Employers? Dude, you know better. This is a job for a thinktank.

        I’m sure there’s somewhere in the beltway there’s some ex-Congresscritters with a letterhead reading, say, ProtectLaborFreedom(TM) who’s on CNBC’s Rolodex as we speak.

    • Hansliz5557

      The other side of the story is represented all the time on national news, politicians, NPR, and media like The Daily Beast are representing the side os these stories that get buried in most newspapers and so called news magazines.  There are too many so called newspapers and news media who spend time on stories about who won the dancing contest or the story behind Tom Cruises’ divorce, rather than inform the public of what is really happening that is important.

  • Michiganjf

    We need to get rid of these immigrants!

    They’re taking away exploitative jobs from Americans who could be getting imprisoned in factories, working for below minimum wage!

    Immigrant families don’t desreve to be threatened more than hard-working U.S. citizens!

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    These workers paid thousands of dollars, or were they expected to pay thousands of dollars by working?

  • Andy Reinhardt1

    I make a decent wage and get an 8 hr day at a call center, but I’m not free to use the bathroom when I need to, or even walk away from my desk. While the treatment of these immigrants is horrific, it is becoming difficult for all of us to find dignified work. Debt slaves will submit themselves to any conditions…

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Here we have people with power abusing it and threatening the lives of people. Abuse of power and having an above the law mentality is not limited to the owner of this crawfish processing plant. It happens on Wall Street, it happens on oil rigs, it happens in the mines, it happens in Washington. There are lots of evil people out there and they will abuse power to no end. So if you want to enable this kind of behavior, vote for the politician promoting the benefits of removing regulations that stand in the way of ‘Job Creators’ promising a new era of growth with no end in sight. When you go to vote this fall, think hard and long on the fact that regulations are laws. Sure there are bad, stupid regulations put into place to limit opportunity and competition with those already seated at the table – those need to be fixed, but the massive deregulation that the Radical Right speaks of will promote minimum wage slavery and turn us into China.

  • Tncanoeguy

    I was doing landscaping work in DC when I was in college back in the 80′s for $8-10/hour.  I can’t imagine a college kid today doing that kind of work for that same wage.  

    • Steve_T

       Same wage try less.

    • Patrik

      Assuming the premise is that the kid is tyring to live on his/her own.  Currently in DC, you cannot live on $10/hr.  Minimum $13/hr if you look really hard for an affordable eff. unit near the city and are lucky to find it.  Then go without cable tv and buy bulk at costco with a fixed diet.  That is why they wont work for the wage you mentioned.   

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=650685391 Felix Montebaun

    Not to sound insensitive but for many in the developing world this type of factory work is normal and an opportunity to obtain a US VISA is an incredible opportunity.  For every one here who complains 10 don’t say a word because they know they have it RELATIVELY good.

    Given the choice between receiving a VISA and the opportunity to work under these conditions for these wages versus not working for these relatively excellent wages (*relative to NOT working or manufacturing jobs in the developing world) they would chose the VISA and the long hours.Ultimately it is relative and advocates here tend to ignore the wage/work reality of the developing world.  It would be nice if the whole world could raise labor levels to the highest common denominator but that is an idealist dream and we’re not there yet.

    Why don’t you have anyone representing this viewpoint?

    • Juanita O.

      Can you back up your viewpoint with some statistics, please? 

    • Brothersower88

      It would be hard to conceive of someone taking a job if they knew that they would work 44 in 48 hours and would be dealing with boiling water.  Death and disfigurement are powerful detractors regardless of a visa, paycheck, or opportunity.

      I also doubt we would have ever heard about this particular story if the workers thought it was well worth the trade off. 

      Since they actually had the choice of “NOT working or manufacturing jobs in the developing world” and “work[ing] under these conditions for these wages”, and they alerted the authorities, I am more inclined to believe their position that this was inappropriate.

  • Sam

    Since the first colonists arrived, the US has had a population that has been used as forced or low paid forced labor.  From African slaves and European indigent workers to Chinese immigrants, later Irish and Italian immigrants.  Now immigrants from Central and South America, Asia are demonized as taking jobs that Americans could not legally be made to do and would not take at current pay rates.

    If laborers cannot be exploited in the US, they will be exploited by American businesses in the  other countries.  Until middle and working class Americans wake up and fight this, it will continue.

  • AC

    does anyone know if private prisons can be included in these types of ‘exploitation’ ?

    • Drew (GA)

      Absolutely. Private prison workers are generally paid substantially better than minimum wage though. To be honest you can include most Private Industry.

    • TFRX

      Do you mean privatized prisons, or prison labor-for-profit schemes?

      (Each could easily be an hour show here.)

  • Michiganjf

    Let’s keep deregulating business and let’s keep letting bought Congressmen defund oversight agencies!!

    Meanwhile, miners die of blacklung and workers are virtually enslaved!

    … but business polices itself and doesn’t need government oversight, RIGHT REPUBLICANS???!!!

    Let’s make sure we’re ALL in a race to the bottom, RIGHT REPUBLICANS??!!!

    Here we come, Third World!!!

    • Michiganjf

      … just so long as the Romneys of the world make out like bandits, no worries… RIGHT REPUBLICANS???!!!

    • Drew (GA)

      Are we there yet, are we there yet, are we there yet?

      We’re here.

  • Mtbrdb

    Factory workers (in the ones that are still open) are definitely being treated worse in these times.  Lower wages, longer hours, more job duties, less safety precautions - someone’s making more money, but it’s not on the bottom rung.  This is why we need unions.

  • http://twitter.com/civilservant_10 Kye

    Tom, the $25/pound shrimp rationale makes me think that we’re definitely living in the modern Gilded Age. People’s wages have been so depressed that citizens are able to look the other way because it affects their bottom line. How did we get to this point? 

    • Drew (GA)

      Capitalism.

  • Jen

    Regardless of whether the economic situation, there are employers who have exploited workers with disabilities for many years. Through the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, these employers hold special certificates allowing them to pay workers with disabilities at horribly low rates. House bill HR3086, the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities, is trying to correct this situation. Absolutely no one in the US, whether an immigrant, a worker with a disability or a person whose employer is experiencing economic hard times, should be working for such low wages and under terrible working conditions.

  • Glenn

    As world population increases (and this is a world economy) and world resources become more scarce, this kind of thing will result more and more.  People slowly become more and more desperate to keep the same ‘standard of living’ but can’t “afford” it so they shop more for price, buy more ‘junk’ products, provided and sold by overworked and abused workers.

    • Glenn

      When you buy something from a huge faceless corporation, you cannot see who paid the “price” for your low prices.  Human nature has evolved based on an “out of sight, out of mind” life, and until we focus on local sources, face to face  sales interactions, we’re vulnerable to this.

  • Michiganjf

    … But we don’t need unions, RIGHT REPUBLICANS??!!!

    • Drew (GA)

      Momma said Unions are The Devil. lol

  • Kethley2310

    Blouses shouldn’t cost 8 dollars, etc. walmart started the culture of less and less cost til americans no longer are willing to pay the true value for anything

    • Brothersower88

      I don’t know for certain that Walmart started the trend, but it is unfortunate that we follow it.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Asking Wal-Mart to do this is in some ways unrealistic.  How many businesses does Wal-Mart work with?  This is precisely the sort of regulation that the government is supposed to be doing.

  • Scott B, Jamestown NY

    It’s an endless cycle – Wages have been stagnant for decades now, so people need cheap food and goods, so Walmart demands producers make things cheaper (Walmart’s cost US thousands of jobs by forcing makers to build factories in China), the cost of living goes up (gasoline, taxes, prices of kids clothes go up as the kids grow, etc), wages stay the same or workers get laid off,  more people need even cheaper food and goods to barely make ends meet, and the cycle starts again. 

  • AJ

    If this is what happens when we “get government out of the way” of American business god help us in November.

  • Diana Page

    Given the growth of the world population, the hope for fair working conditions and pay must be unionization, probably international unionization.

  • Sdickison1987

    I think that the source of all of this exploitation can be linked directly to the federal reserve. With inflation, all business is forced to profit, companies like Walmart can bully they’re vendors, and aquire goods at they’re preferred rate. If a vendor can’t sell for a low enough price, then Walmart won’t sell their product, that’s capitalism at its best, the poop rolls downhill. As long as inflation exists, people are going to continue to get paid less and corporations are the only ones who will gain. I think a lot of people are oblivious to the fact that the federal reserve is a private institution that essentially

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Others criticize the Federal Reserve for restraining inflation and not allowing people to pay back their debts quicker.  Which one is it?

  • Michiganjf

    Union workers helped to set the standard for the rest of the workforce, and we all owe them for the decent conditions of the past and present.

    As Republicans keep undermining unions, they do ALL Americans an ultimate disservice!!

    • Michiganjf

      That’s right… flat wages for the last couple of decades too!!

      …But it’s good for business, right Republicans??!!!

      …or perhaps even business will ultimately lose as well, as we’re seeing now.

    • Tncanoeguy

       Hey, the CEOs are doing okay. 

      • jimino

        Just because you’re rich doesn’t mean you’re smart.  What these fools don’t understand is that, in exchange for their astronomical short-term gains, they are slowly killing the only form of functioning capitalism the world has ever known. 

        • Michiganjf

          Yes!

        • Drew (GA)

          Nice. I don’t know that I can agree that it’s still functioning though. Maybe for some, certainly not for most.

  • Dawn

    Our standard of living has risen drastically over the past 50-60 years. We have an expectation of things (such as meat for dinner) that used to be luxury items. It is no wonder we embrace cheap goods that feed that expectation. People are satisfied to have that need met, and don’t think about how everything has become so affordable.

  • Scott B, Jamestown NY

    There’s no recourse for workers.  Call OSHA, and unless someone died or was severely injured, they probably won’t show up. They might send a letter, to which the employer will have a meeting and inform workers that if anyone rats on them again everyone will be fired. 
     

  • atakemoto

    I guess this is why CEOs earn 475 times more than the average worker.  As long as the only consequence for breaking labor laws is a fine (which these executives can easily pay) no real reform will be forthcoming.  Isn’t it about time we threw these crooks in jail?

  • Tncanoeguy

    Right to Work States – what a misnomer – right to be fired when we can find someone who will do the work for slave wages…  There has to be a balance between labor and management and right now the pendulum has swung way to the management side. 

    • injun2

      “…
      the pendulum has swung way to the management side.” That is right on the mark. I think one of the reasons for that happening are the never-ending stories in the last 20 years about union excesses. One example comes to mind; The LA Times reported a few years ago when the unionized port workers went on strike that one of the secretarys made over 100k per year. They were on strike because shipping companies wanted to put bar-codes on containers, which would in turn reduce the need for so many of  those union jobs. Also, they noted that with technology, the cranes could now be operated by one person, however because of union rules, the shippers still had to hire a “gang” which is about 20 people, as if they were loading the goods by hand still.

  • Tdonsenf

    How about the workers at many nail salons. A woman who talked to me in hushed tones said that all the workers live in a nearby house and can’t leave. Also the pay is much less than she was promised in China where she has a daughter and a husband. She will have to stay here longer to make the amount of money she needs.

  • Ronnwest

    I stopped trusting wal-mart when their made in American stuff was actually made in a US territory in the Pacific ocean where wages were less than the US minimum wage.  When Congress passed a law a few years back that would guarantee ALL Americans the minimum wage, Wal-Mart closed the plants and moved them to South Asia. What a shinning example of what those who can afford to do more are really doing for Americans. 

    • TFRX

      Ah, the Marianas Islands. Where that “Made in the USA” label isn’t worth the label it’s stitched on.

      Thanks, Tom DeLay!

  • Steve_T

    Caller Paul God bless you. Wish there were more like you!

    • Brothersower88

      /signed

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    The tax argument is bunk – any company that is going to break the law to make money is also going cheat on taxes to make money.

  • Matt

    This is no mystery why this is happening. The public is anti union and anti government. There are no organizations protecting workers and calls for small government and illiminating red tape play out by having enforcement of all public protections defunded.

  • Scott B, Jamestown NY

    I believe the caller’s point was that Walmart doesn’t care if the SUPPLIERS make a profit. They’ve driven companies out of business and overseas. 

    • Sheila

      I heard a textile manufacturer interviewed many yrs ago walmart required that his price decreases ea year, to the point where he said if his raw material cost was nil he still couldnt have made towels for the price walmart demanded. I think this may have been a new business model in the hx of retailing.

      • Scott B, Jamestown, NY

          Walmart
        drove Rubbermaid about in the ground with ever increasing demands to
        make their goods cheaper.  Good that were often made in the US.  It’s
        now an entirely different company, with new owners and new factories in
        China.

        There were also a sock manufacturer and a laundry soap maker that
        Walmart was trying to drive overseas, and were being constantly
        pressured to move their operations to China.  Walmart kept demanding
        them to drop their prices to the point where they weren’t making any
        profit at all (zero, zip, none), and thereby drive them to  China. Both
        of them told Wallyworld to take a hike.  Last I knew another discount
        chain, Target, I believe, was buying the laundry soap and socks, and the
        jobs stayed here in the US.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Tom, I think the caller meant that Walmart doesn’t care if their suppliers make a profit. They’ve been driving prices down for decades by playing hardball with manufacturers and almost put Rubbermaid out of business. Thank you Sam!

    • Still Here

      Rubbermaid was crap.  No wonder they went bk.

  • Greg

    The elite expect people to work for nothing for long hours and not hate them but to be grateful.

    The elite are so naive and trusting.

  • Michiganjf

    Quit drawing a FALSE equvalence between Dems and Republicans!!!

    You’re taliking about EVERY SINGLE REPUBLICAN and only a handful of Democrats!!!

    Get rid of the Republicans, and we WOULDN’T have the problems we have, nor would we be in the downward spiral we’re in!!!!

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      That’s a simplistic view of American politics.

      • Michiganjf

        Thanks for the offer, but I’m not interested in joining your club for the simple.

        • Still Here

          You’ve got your own club of the beyond-hope ignorant and you appear to head the blame-the-other-guy-for-my-inadequacies subcommittee.

    • Brothersower88

      Hmmm…

      So remove the people who disagree with you so that you can do whatever you want (“you” used in the general sense). 

      That sounds like a good foundation for tyranny.

      Even if you don’t like what others have to say, you should at least hear them out. 

      Demonizing one group makes it easier to disregard their humanity and value—ask the Jews of WWII.  They suffered years of demonetization before people finally believed that they were worth less than “normal” people.

      Both parties have their particular “demons” to point out and correct, but hyperbolic statements like this don’t help inform the discussion.

      • Drew (GA)

        You’re right, let’s get rid of BOTH parties. I’ll second that motion in a heartbeat.

    • Hansliz5557

      I don’t believe we can claim Democrats as being immune to corruption, I am a registered Democrat but greed doesn’t dwell only with one political party or one social class.  We as consumers need to take on some responsiblilty; blaming government completely doesn’t change much.

      • Michiganjf

        No one is saying there aren’t bad palyers in any group… my post simply states the fact that Republicans march in LOCK-STEP to the drums of business interests, while simultaneously undermining labor interests at every opportunity!!

        The media draws a false equivalence simply so as not to alienate the Republican demographic!

        The equivalence is FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, and the media does the country a horrible disservice by not making the difference clear between party platforms, bills, and partnered interests!

        Americans need to wake up!

        • Still Here

          Seriously where in the public sector or academia do you work or are you on the dole because you are particularly clueless and not qualified to comment on reality.

    • Brothersower88

      If you get the time, I would love to hear your thoughts on my reply below.

    • William

       Really? There is not much difference between the two parties when it comes to exporting jobs overseas, signing one-sided trade agreements like NAFTA.

  • Steve

    Personal knowledge.

    Construction Industry is filled with immigrants who are exploited,
    one recent example:
         -I visited a site on a weekend, Mexican immigrants working
          on site included granmothers and six year old kids. I
          contacted the contractor who denied what I had
          seen.  I mentioned it to the owner of our company who
          also maintained deniability.

    There are also people in our church working with people who have been sex slaves within the continental US.  I cannot verify this personally but the information comes from those that I trust.

    • Still Here

      In what aisle at Wal-Mart are the sex slaves?

  • Julia

    Fantasic show.

  • Drew (GA)

    “All workers are becoming low wage workers”

    Statement of the day by your guest right there.

    • Still Here

      I think you get paid what your worth generally.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001436729213 Wes Nickerson

    Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are standing up for the working class. They are both bought out by the corporations, corrupted by the money. We need the Green Party to turn things around.

    http://www.gp.org/

     

    • Glenn

      Wes, I sympathize, but in the long run, the forces causing this are much, much bigger than which party we vote for.  As much as I think the Green Party is a great idea, and I welcome your vote for their candidates, the sheer size of government, businesses, and non-government institutions, along with exploding population on the planet are the real foundation of this problem.  And no, the 7 billion people now living on this sphere are not just “out there” on some other continent.  Their presence is intimately connected to our economy, because of world trade and world information networks.  Ultimately, our desperation for low prices and efforts to maintain a ‘standard of living’ motivates millions of people to ‘go shopping’ without regard to the consequences paid by those who have worked to provide those goods.  This is not politics in the conventional sense.

      • Glenn

        The answers lie in decentralization, diversity, and a “low money” economy.  That means living by means that don’t involve money, more by barter, volunteer efforts, local energy and food production, and cultural shifts or “adjustments” which value different sources of the ‘pursuit of happiness.’
        Fortunately, these changes are already in progress.  They don’t involve fighting for changes in the federal government so much, as disconnecting or “unplugging” ourselves from very large governments, businesses, and organizations in favor of smaller more local ones.  Now, of course, this can’t be done perfectly.  There are still governments, etc. that have influence in our lives.  But we have an immense amount of power to make billions of small changes that are slowly “pulling the rug out from under” these large institutions.
        Some call this “disruptive innovation” and I encourage you to look into it.

  • http://twitter.com/NGAdignity GuestworkerAlliance

    For a fuller look at forced labor in the H-2B program — and how to stop it — see the new NGA report _Leveling the Playing Field_: http://www.guestworkeralliance.org/2012/07/h-2b-visa-program-report-leveling-the-playing-field/

  • OnPointFan

    I am glad that labor fairness advocates are fighting for workers rights.  However, America was built on slavery and unfair labor practices.  These are fundamental to capitalism.  It has persisted to this day and will continue forever.  The only change is that we can not use Americans, therefore we turn to immigrants and outsourced/overseas low-wage or slave labor.

    • Still Here

      Please, this is a joke.

  • Sharon Christenson

    I am a life long Democrat and believe in the ideals that the party used to stand up for and fight for.  I think it takes more than the “elite” class to cause this problem.  One of the callers talked about the average American not caring about the other guy and I would agree.  Democrats keep backing off in response to public opinion.  Whatever happened to the Golden Rule?

    • Steve_T

       It was turned into a golden ruler to whack you with if you don’t go along.

      • Still Here

        I thought you only got whacked if you don’t pay your taxes.

        • Steve_T

           You don’t think, that’s the problem

  • Amlnrse

    it used to be enough to have the “fisherman” come around once a week and you buy only what you needed and you didn’t mind supporting your neighborwith a fair price. now the stores are grossly overloaded with fish that goes bad as it sits, seas that are losing their diversity of food just so you can have shrimp (or whatever service) available to you whenever you want. the reality is that if you are looking to pay the cheapest price you are aresupporting wholeheartedly this kind of abuse, eat shrimp once a month if that is all you can afford, at a decent wage adn price, for goodness sake.

  • Liz

    Very important program today!  Those of us who are fortunate enough to afford to purchase goods MUST become more responsible as we “consume” goods.  The low prices of places like, Walmart, lower costs landscaping companies, seafood companies, clothing manufacturers, etc. can be a sign of high profit for the few rich.  This means the fair living wages and fair labor values we claim to care about when we continually brag about how “great” our country is doesn’t prove true for the workers who are being forced to give up their rights because the U.S. consumer wants to pinch pennies.

    • Still Here

      I’m for pinching pennies, never know when you’re going to need them; plus save them before they get taxed away.

  • Mybliss1

    Just emphasizes that bullying is alive and well in America. Unions were created to protect workers but there are many industries which keep unions out. I’m not advocating unions, since they have their problems as well. It’s that people in power or those just wanting power will take advantage of people making less money than them. No one respects other people-we live in a very selfish & self seeking society.

  • Isosceles92

    This issue is a problem in ALL levels of American employment. My husband
    works in the IT department for nationally known insurance company in the
    Hartford CT area. Over 50% of his dept. are guest workers from India. They come
    here to work for less pay then American workers. This company got a large tax
    break from the state of CT for moving the Corp. HQ to CT. Our Governor was
    thrilled with how many jobs would remain in the state. Shortly after, they moved
    the accounting dept. to India.
     

    Why don’t we solve this problem by giving those much sot after tax breaks to
    companies who actually hire Americans and only Americans. We can call it the Patriot Tax Break. If
    they want to bring in guest workers, they should have to pay them the going
    rate. If American companies move their manufacturing over seas, they should have to pay
    extra to bring their goods into this country. This might help level the playing
    field for all of us.

    • Steve_T

      Very good points but, Don’t hold your breath.

    • Vasco DeGrabya

      They won’t because it isn’t good for short term profitability or campaign donations.

    • Still Here

      Sounds like the loser is the consumer, especially at the low end. 

  • J__o__h__n

    How much were Mitt’s landscapers paid?  They were the ones he had to fire twice as he was running for president for Pete’s sake.

    • Vasco DeGrabya

      That’s okay though, because he likes firing people who provide services to him.

      • Ray in VT

        I liked the SNL sketch where he fired his breakfast.

  • TomK in Boston

    “It is time to banish the idea that forced labor and sweatshop exploitation are problems of bygone eras…”

     The point is that the far right agenda is to return the USA to what we thought were “bygone eras”.  Guess what, they’re not “bygone” anymore. All the bad stuff I grew up regarding as ancient history is coming back with a vengeance as our middle class society is destroyed by voodoo economics.

    • Gregg

      Whose far right agenda condones locking workers in sweat shops and beating them? Where do you get this stuff?

      • jefe68

        You are right, in the past both parties have been guilty of supporting the owners of companies and corporations above the workers. However it would seem that support for bad labor practices for the bottom line, ie: right to work states and so on are more in tune with the GOP. Add to that the GOP’s strong anti-union stance it would seem that the right is not exactly sympathetic to the plights of the worker.

        That said, the Democrats have thrown labor under the bus or are just taking them for granted.  

        Read up labor history in the US it might help.

        • Drew (GA)

          It won’t help, he’s got his rose-colored spectacles on.

          • Steve_T

             Not spectacles, blinders!

      • Still Here

        It’s not worth responding to.

      • Kairos

        Isn’t funny that communists and republicans share the same anti-union vibe….

        This issue is beyond right or left; it is about how one thinks other human beings should be treated. 

        • TomK in Boston

          Unions were essential to ending “exploited labor” and building the middle class. Righty Union busting is a primary cause of the return of the sweatshop.

          Unions fading away.

          Abortion criminalized.

          Voter suppression.

          A nation of oligarchs and peons: middle class vanishing.

          Ryan medicare Groupons and privatized SS to remove health care and dignity from the elderly.

          The only times the 1% had over 20% of the income were 1928 and 2007.

          Has that righty time machine brought us to 1900 yet?

          • Still Here

            Like buggy whips, unions have outlived their usefulness and now mostly only curse the public sector thanks to their payoffs to Democrat politicians.  There’s hope though!

          • VinceD2

            Corporate greed has outlived it’s usefulness also. Unfortunately, if these trends continue, the only solution will involve our second ammendment if you knmow what I mean. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I fear we are close. These corporate parasites need to be stopped.

          • Drew (GA)

            “I hope it doesn’t come to that”

            You and me both. We’re pretty damned close though. Depending on what happens come November it might do the trick and the fool your replying to will be cheering it on. Well at least until the rest of us show up at his door anyway.

          • TomK in Boston

            Wow, another talking point. You really follow the Party Line.

            Let’s see, we have a show on exploited labor, slave labor etc and the righties don’t see the connection with the class warfare that has destroyed Unions. C’mon, it’s obvious. The horrible working conditions of the early 20′th century were corrected only after Unions finally won some battles against the romney types. Take the Unions away, the conditions recur. Duh. 

          • Drew (GA)

            We’re almost there, won’t be much longer now.

        • Drew (GA)

          You’re wasting your breath, I know because I’ve wasted plenty of mine.

    • William

       Really? Who signed NAFTA?

    • Still Here

      Complete and utter nonsense.  You have an uncanny ability to find a relationship where there is none.  

      • Steve_T

         Go look in a mirror when you say that.

  • Pingback: Latino/a Guest Workers Exploited in the US | Heartland Workers Center

  • Zero

    Corporate profit to wage ratio is the same as it was right before the Great Depression.  CEO to average earner income ratio is around 360:1.  I.e., we need strong unions again.  

  • Scott B, Jamestown NY

    Walmart drove Rubbermaid about in the ground with ever increasing demands to make their goods cheaper.  Good that were often made in the US.  It’s now an entirely different company, with new owners and new factories in China.

    There were also a sock manufacturer and a laundry soap maker that Walmart was trying to drive overseas, and were being constantly pressured to move their operations to China.  Walmart kept demanding them to drop their prices to the point where they weren’t making any profit at all (zero, zip, none), and thereby drive them to  China. Both of them told Wallyworld to take a hike.  Last I knew another discount chain, Target, I believe, was buying the laundry soap and socks, and the jobs stayed here in the US.

    • Still Here

      The customer got what they wanted at Wal-Mart, lower prices.

      • VinceD2

        And that is a very shortsighted attitude. Sure, customer A gets his low price today, but some workers loses his job. And Customer A is happy until the day when he loses his job because Wal-Mart (or other corp) moved to China/India/Mexico etc. So short term gain >> long term pain. Capitalism becomes cannibalism. That’s where we are.

        • Drew (GA)

          Capitalism IS cannibalism unless we’re all altruistic and benevolent. Now if you could completely remove greed from the equation Capitalism would work perfectly. I don’t think there’s much chance of that happening though.

          Oh, and he knows that. Honestly you’d have a better sounding board if you went outside and talked to the ground. There’s more chance of having a rational conversation with the yard than there is of having one with The Troll.

          • VinceD2

            It isn’t altruistic to realize that if we “fire our neighbors” for cheap goods, our neighbors will “fire us”. It’s simply having a slightly longer view of things. It’s in our long term self interest to pay fair prices for fair wage goods. Unfortunately, short term benefits mask long term harm, which is why we’re where we’re at.

  • injun2

     American union members and sympathisers talk the talk but don’t walk the walk when it comes to actually changing things. Many, if not most, of my union friends shop at non union big box shops like Walmart, Home Depot, etc.  Personally, I think capitalism is better than social ism, but if you really want to change things, you should join the ICC, the largest organization worldwide dedicated to overthrowing capitalism. If nothing else, their website is interesting reading!     
    http://en.internationalism.org/wr/342/contagion

  • Gregg

    I wouldn’t work at a place like the fish factory, they should quit.

    • Drew (GA)

      and go back to Mexico? You forgot to complete your comment. Holy crap Gregg, I guess they’re stupid because they’d rather eat than starve.

      • Still Here

        Sounds like Mexico needs to pay its lazy more.

    • Ray in VT

      According to the allegations they were locked in and worked under threats to themselves and their families back home.  Just up and quitting may not have exactly been an option for them.

      • Gregg

        Then it’s not a labor problem, it’s an immigration problem. It’s a crime problem.

    • jefe68

      It’s not that easy. Maybe read up on labor history in the US and at least have some context to what this story is about. If you’re anti-union and view the nation as some kind of Norman Rockwell painting then it’s no wonder you would make such a misinformed comment.

      This kind of exploitation is as old as our nation.
      I have a friend who related how her grandmother was chained to a table in a sweatshop in the 30′s and that this particular company used orphans like herself, to sew garments. She escaped and made her way to a relative in another state. All the child labors in this factory were chained to their work stations. 

      You want more evidence of worker exploitation look up convict leasing. This story shows the ugly underbelly of what built our nation.

      http://www.pbs.org/tpt/slavery-by-another-name/slavery-timeline/

      • Gregg

        If someone is being chained to a table and forced to work then don’t say I condone it. That’s kidnapping. I am not anti-union in the private sector. I just think once you join a union your individual talents, passions and efforts go out the window. Your choice, fine.

        • jefe68

          Like I said, you really need to read up on labor history. In a lot of Southern states from 1880′s thorough the 50′s they used a system called prisoner leasing. Look it up, it’s not a pretty part of our history.

          You really don’t know much about this, do you.

          • Gregg

            It’s 2012.

          • Steve_T

             Then tell that to those who still do it in 2012.
            They will laugh in your face.

    • Vasco DeGrabya

      Your response is almost the definition of snobbery.  I’m sure they didn’t grow up dreaming of peeling crustaceans to feed their families.  My opinion is that the great majority of jobs are in some way unpleasant.  That’s why they pay you.  Also, not all people are go-getters, just like everyone isn’t meant to be an entreperneur.

      • Drew (GA)

        You’re just going to feed his fire. In one variation or another he’ll just say that people who aren’t “go-getters” deserve what they get because they’re lazy. People who think we all have the same options also think people are poor because they’re lazy.

        • Vasco DeGrabya

          That always brings me to the basic question, what should be the quality of life of the stupidest, laziest American?  I don’t think the answer should be hopeless destitution or starvation.

          • Ray in VT

            That’s a tough one.  On the one hand, I don’t want to see people totally destitute, but if one can’t even be bothered to get out of one’s own way, then, to a certain degree, why should one expect more than that.

            Of course, what seems to be often the case, such as in this story, is that many people who are barely scraping by are working really hard.  Our society will pay LeBron $100 million to put his name on a shoe made by low wage Vietnamese workers but doesn’t want to pay people who do dirty jobs enough to get by at a decent level.

          • Drew (GA)

            Well said!

          • Vasco DeGrabya

            Good stuff Ray.

          • Gregg

            There are plenty of stupid lazy rich people.

        • Gregg

          Man I get tired of constantly being told what I think. The fact is, no one has to work there. I didn’t call anyone lazy, no one. I didn’t say anything about go-getters, nothing. My comment stands on it’s own, there is no need to put words in my mouth. I don’t see how you could disagree but then you didn’t, did you. It’s always easier to disagree when you first tell people what they think.

          Here’s what I actually think. I suspect many of the workers are illegal. Therein lies the root of the problem. That’s a different discussion altogether. As to the go-getters and the lazy, I believe it’s more about stupid-assed decisions. You can be lazy and make good decisions and you can be a go-getter and make stupid ones. That’s just one factor, honesty is another. A lazy person can keep their nose clean. Don’t get me wrong, hard work is great but the standard platitude doesn’t work.

          Is it lazy to abstain from drugs? Or not have kids before you have a job? How hard is it to not break the law? Does it really take a golden work ethic to make yourself more valuable than minimum wage? I think not. Just be on time and dependable and you’re an exception these days. That used to be the bare minimum one could expect.

          • Drew (GA)

            Well then I apologize for telling you what you think, though I didn’t actually do that did I? I just figured you would follow your standard party line propaganda which you clearly do in this response.

            This is going to be rude but I honestly can’t think of a way to sugar coat it: The last paragraph of your reply is garbage. Pure trash. I have done all of the things you seem to believe would make me “more valuable than minimum wage”. Yet here I am, unemployable because of huge gaps in employment and a false criminal background, ruined credit, and essentially homeless. I guess it’s because I’ve made piss-poor decisions. I’m not saying that I haven’t but my situation likely has more to do with the criminal who stole and then ruined my name, the Government that would offer me no assistance, District Attorneys that refused to prosecute said criminal, and creditors that quadrupled legitimate debt (because despite documentation that clearly demonstrates the reason I was unemployable, “Criminal Identity Theft is not an acceptable reason not to pay your debts”).

            I don’t know what country you live in but it’s certainly not the one I’ve been trying to come to terms with for the past fifteen years. If such a place existed I’d love to live there but it doesn’t, not anymore.

            Don’t worry, you won’t be told what you think by me again. In fact, you won’t be engaged in discussion by me at all on the board anymore. Send me a postcard from La-La land, I bet the weather is great there too.

          • Gregg

            Such bitterness. Unless you can tell me piss poor decisions are never a factor then save me the drama. No one is condoning criminal behavior.

  • Vasco DeGrabya

    I openly acknowledge that this is a bit off topic, but I’ve seen the term “job creators” used several time today in this forum.  I’d love to know what the “Q-rating” of that term is, because it pisses me off (a mild pissing-off) every time I hear it.  Being so aware of these things, I’m suprised that conservatives haven’t replaced it with a similar meaning term.  Maybe something like “trickle directors” or “Boss-Friends”.

    • Drew (GA)

      “trickle directors”. lol

      Nice

    • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

      I’m guilty of using the term, but in the pejorative sense as ‘job creators’ are not: they are primarily work aggregators. The consumer is the job creator: when a consumer purchases something, they create work, they demonstrate demand, and manufacturers follow. Without consumers, there is no economy. You, we are all job creators! Nick Hanauer (a billionaire) states this quite articulately here: 
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBx2Y5HhplIEssentially the Radical Right wants to associate capitalists with holiness (The Creator) by calling them ‘job creators’. The Right’s economic theory was rubbish from the start and GHW Bush knew it when he tried to bring Reagan to the mat by using the term ‘Voodoo Economics.’  Unfortunately for the US of A, poppy bush chose personal power over patriotism and sticking to the truth and hopped on board Reagan’s Magical Fairy Economics Tour which brought us right to the 2008 meltdown! And the rest is history or should I say mythology? It was Voodoo then and its doodoo now. It stinks even more!I believe billionaires like Buffet, Gates and Hanauer who are telling the masses to tax them: they won’t feel the sacrifice, they should be required to pay more AND it won’t affect their investment strategy; it won’t affect their drive to build and succeed. It won’t negatively effect their hiring! It is in the best interests of the country to tax the wealthy. I’ve met and heard very wealthy people repeat this but for some reason, the Republican core would rather believe the millionaires and billionaires in congress who keep voting to keep their own taxes lower… now who could possibly have an ulterior motive in this equation?

      • Drew (GA)

        “Reagan’s Magical Fairy Economics Tour”

        I lmao at that. This has to be the longest running tour in history.

        • VinceD2

          Reagan had alzsheimers long before we knew it. He was nuts and one of the worst presidents ever. Can’t believe some people worship him.

          • Drew (GA)

            I can (believe some people worship him that is). Try having a conversation with someone like Still Trolling and nothing should surprise you. We’re staring down the barrel of Part Four of the saga right now. Wish this were a conventional staging and the tragedy of Act Three was the end of the Play. I’m sick of watching it.

        • Still Here

          They were great times and he was a great president, unlike the current bum in office.

          • VinceD2

            No, Reagan was a bum just like the current occupant. Reagan ran up the deficit, and amnesties millions of illegals, but somehow neo-conservatives forget that. Maybe they have alzheimer’s also? Better see your doctor….

  • TheDailyBuzzherd

    Not long ago, I temp’d with a major non-Wal*Mart retailer in its internet fulfillment warehouse. Minimum with no fork lifting. A rumor going ’round the plant at the time was that this corporation was considering moving operations out of state and it didn’t own the buildings it occupied. It’s not known whether the company had received any state tax breaks to keep it here. It had a reputation with being a hard bargainer with temp agencies and were quick to fire. It is an at-will employment state.

    So, to my non-surprise, I got laid-off only two hours into my eight hour shift one morning ‘cuz in all honesty there was nothing to do. It was a cliff – work the previous day, little to none the next. OK, no argument. Got paid for the time I worked, fair enough. Except one thing – in our state, according to the DoL, state statutes under the Mercantile Law protect retail warehouse laborers in the case of a canceled shift, and the employer must compensate the worker for a full shift regardless, even if that employer is an employment agency. Think: time and trouble, plus gas.

    I complained to the DoL, and after five months of awaiting judgment on my case, the DoL ruled against me. I reminded the case worker of language it posted on its own website. It makes me think of all the other cases lodged against companies across the country in which state DoL’s look the other way as if they’re scared the offender will move operations out of state.

    Lessons: The DoL may or may not have the workers’ backs. The less regulation enforcement, the more brazen management becomes. All men must be managed, and since corporations are now legally persons, they need management as well, but don’t expect equity in the current political reality.

    • Drew (GA)

      Sounds like you live in Georgia too.

      • TheDailyBuzzherd

        Nope, but this is probably going on to varying degrees everywhere … lookit what happened out west: Illegals, or uneducated types, were working for a temp agency that farmed them out to Wal*Mart, and not getting that state’s minimum wage. Dunno Wal*Mart’s initial reaction, but it fired that agency. Betcha it was Wal*Mart that pushed the agency into doing it. It seems when these cases go national, Wal*Mart usually is involved. It’s far from the only bad actor out there, but the pattern is sewn.

        • VinceD2

          GE was “leasing employees” from Indian body shops. (Wipro, Tata) The body shop obtained the visa and contracted to GE.

          One of the Indians said he was getting ~$20k/yr, and working >70+ hours per week. If he complained, he would be sent back to India. Pure exploitation.

    • bad breath

      No, you are exactly right. DOL is bought. Better to sue in civil court if you have a statute to back your claim. Been there. DOL, both federal and state is bought. They have to sue in your name and they might take three or four years to get you any money. I can have a suit in and out of court in three months, plus corporations won’t defend themselves in small matters. They just cut a check.

      • TheDailyBuzzherd

        Over $20? That’s what they count on, noone will bother to pursue it. Multiply that by thousands of workers around the country, and it adds up quick. Companies think nothing of contracts either, they break them too, as if a dare. Good Luck in small claims.

  • Jay

    The illinois supreme court has gone out of its way to strengthen the at-will-employee idea by narrowing the tort of retalitory discharge to a point where if you demand your rights under the law you can be fired for it and there is no recourse.

    • Vasco DeGrabya

      Good thing we don’t need unions anymore.

      • Still Here

        If the courts make the final determination why waste your pay on dues so they can fund loser politicians and fat cat union thugs.

        • Vasco DeGrabya

          Sure, like Dred Scott.

          • Still Here

            Exactly.  Let the courts sort it out.

      • bad breath

        Let me tell you folks something about unions, folks. A good union is one that has no visible assets for employers to sue over. Just meet in a church and strike everytime management violates your civil or contractual rights. No arbatration, no notice, and be ready to fight. If they want to move it to another country tell them to go because they are going anyway.

  • RolloMartins

    How about they also investigate those senators who defunded the Labor Board?

    • bad breath

      What, like they investigated Barnie and Charlie Rangle? Thieves running thieves.

  • bad breath

    Must be pretty serious when Walmart won’t use you.

  • Jennifer Lebow

    I love Wal-Mart. I recently bought suntan lotion there for $3 cheaper than the grocery store.  Milk is always at least $0.50 less expensive.  The deals are great, my family has saved so much in the 3 years we’ve been shopping there exclusively.

    • Drew (GA)

      Wow.

      Advertising executive, board member, shareholder, or just not much of a reader? Thanks for the television commercial. You forgot to include “Always Low Prices. Always”

      And what does “This person’s activity is still being updated” mean? I’ve never seen Discus say that before…

      • Jennifer Lebow

        I thought I would just respond to all the bad-mouthing going on here.  I’m trying to support a family and every dollar counts.  I also shop at Aldi and Family Dollar but they do not have the selection.

        • Drew (GA)

          You’re absolutely right, we’re all evil people here who just want to hurt Wal-Mart. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, Wal-Mart has done so much for us.

          If my suspicions about you are wrong then I apologize. I completely understand what you mean. I hate Wal-Mart but sometimes I have to break down because I can’t get five packs of Ramen for a dollar anywhere else. And I almost never use the word hate in anger but I just did.

          • Jennifer Lebow

            Ramen is extremely high in sodium so not a good choice.  I stretch a Pasta Roni entree by adding frozen veggies and some protein.  Try it.  

            I’m not sure why you hate Wal-Mart.  All I know is that I’ve compared prices and considered gas prices and concluded they are the best deal for my family.

          • Drew (GA)

            Thanks for the suggestion, you obviously fail to realize that the only reason I would walk into Wal-Mart is because I only have one dollar to buy food. I’m done with this, have a nice evening.

        • Drew (GA)

          If you really are a caring and financially strapped parent you might want to do some research on Wal-Mart. The savings might not seem so substantial once you better understand the company’s overall impact globally.

          I still think you’re hocking wares though. I hope I’m wrong.

        • Still Here

          You should listen to the loser below and grow your own food and make your own clothes.  

          • jefe68

            How is it that having a garden and being skilled enough to make your own clothes the sign of a loser?
            The women in my family were all seamstresses up until my mother’s generation. You really do not know what you are talking about at all.
            There was a time when people did make there own clothes.
            There was also a time when the clothes people wore in this country were made by Americans in union shops. Now people want $12 dollar shirts that are made in China that fall apart in a year or two. There was time when a shirt would last for years. So did shoes. If the the soles wore out you took them to be repaired. 

            I’m not interested in nostalgia, but as a nation we want cheap stuff. You get what you pay for.

            In your case, it’s cheap shots.  

        • jefe68

          I’m guessing you don’t make a living wage.
          Do you not see the cause and effect of why you shop at Walmart, and in part due to the decrease and stagnation of middle class wages in this nation? 

    • Drew (GA)

      Annnnnnnnnnnd…”Profile Not Found”.

      I’m shocked, shocked I tell you!

    • Still Here

      Everyone in America should be able to shop at Whole Foods and Neiman Marcus, until then America is unfair.  

      Liberals hate winners because they are losers.  Winners remind them of just how pathetic their worthless lives are.  

      • jefe68

        You know what’s really pathetic, is how you deem it fit to post such vile small mined comments.
        The real losers are people of your ilk, who seem to think that lowering the human spirit has some kind of merit.

    • Greg

      Really? You are paying federal taxes to give food stamps and medicaid to the people working there.

      Not such a great bargain now is it.

    • JGC

      Wal-Mart, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways…

      My home town in western Pennsylvania gave zoning permission to Wal-Mart to build a store years ago, way in the boondocks just inside the edge of town. Gradually, many of the small independent stores in the town center struggled and folded, one by one.  Wal-Mart was so successful in this remote area of Pennsylvania, they wanted to build a supercenter.  Instead of modifying their existing building, they started fresh with land in the township next door, even further away from the homes and apartments, building their super-center filled with super-crap and taking the tax base with them.  My home town is a shell of what it used to be, and part of the reason is the way Wal-Mart shut down the independents.  (Vermont, stay alert and be wise! Do not let them build on the outskirts of your villages.  If they are so keen to bring their cheap Chinese crap to the proletariat, make them do it from a smaller existing venue in the town center.) 

      And have you ever noticed the smell as you approach the doors of Wal-Mart?  First a faint whiff of plastic, then you are inside the doors acknowledging the Greeter, when it hits you full force:  every tri-chloro-fluoro-benzyl-toluene chemical ever blended in a test tube and made into some product that life would be worthless without having.  I do wonder about the employees that have to endure that smell all day, day after day.  I am sure there will be a condition called “Wal-Mart Lung” at some point 30 years out.  

        

      • Drew (GA)

        You’ve got more patience than me, I saw no reason to even bother trying to explain anything to this “person”.

        As for your scenario, that is precisely what has happened everywhere they have opened a store. And the best part is they are almost always given tax breaks and “incentives” to bring their particular brand of Job-Creation to the area. Damn we’re good at slitting our own throats in this country. Then, after a long enough period of time, the Tax breaks begin to expire. Guess what happens next? They close the store that’s losing it’s “incentives” and propose a site for a pretty new building that just happens to be eligible for the next round of hand-outs. Rinse and Repeat until Independent Retail is crushed. That’s The Wal-Mart way.

        I really dislike some of the over-dramatization in the documentary Wal-Mart: The High Cost Of Low Price but it certainly gets the basics right.

        http://www.walmartmovie.com/

        • JGC

          Yes, that is exactly right, Wal-Mart squeezed every tax break they could get, before moving on, literally 1 mile down the road to the next tax package.

          In the end, they left a hulking behemoth of an ugly one-story starter warehouse, which sat empty and posted “for rent” for years. The only activity nearby was a Goodwill trailer where people could donate their obsolete Wal-Mart purchases “to the poor”.

          It was most recently temporarily rented as a base for a fracking education and recruitment camp, but that is another story…

      • Lilee1

        I’ve noticed that smell too. I think its why I never go there. The colors too are damaging to the eyes. Poor fella that has to subject himself to that smell to save 50 cents on milk you can’t trust. I hate it there and am shocked that anyone shops there. A friend bought a power washer there because it was cheaper than renting. The handle broke off in his hand 15 minutes after he started using it. Walmart is the embodiment of evil. From its treatment to its workers to the impact on the environment to squeezing its suppliers so that they do things like described in this story. And their ”cheap” stuff is just that, cheap China rubbish. And they drive out quality shops who give good wages. Stop shopping there. It’s like snorting cocaine–a short high at an incredible cost. 

  • VinceD2

    As a former engineer, I can tell you that H1B visas are simply a cheap labor tool. Our mostly Indian engineers were working 70 hours a week for peanuts. American engineers were told tat if they didn’t want to work 70 hours a week, they would be replaced by an Indian who would. So much for bringing good things to life…

    Illegal aliens are virtual slaves. This nonsense, in all of it’s forms, needs to be stopped. Corporate greed is destroying the nation.

    • Still Here

      Playing with your train set doesn’t qualify you as an engineer.  

      We need H1Bs because Americans don’t have the skills, period.

      Name 50 corporations that employ illegal immigrants.

      • VinceD2

        Having a BSEE from Penn State does. Americans have plenty of skills, and to imply otherwise is pure bull. It’s all about depressing wages and intimidating workers, but it sounds like you’re all for that.

        • Drew (GA)

          He’s for anything that defies common sense and defiles his fellow man. Stick around a bit, he’ll prove me right.

          • VinceD2

            Probably one of the “wal-martians”….. ;^)

          • Steve _T

             Correction not HE, IT.

      • TheDailyBuzzherd

        SH, that’s funny, but … that’s another debate.

        Vince knows intimidation when he hears it.

        It didn’t happen to me, but a guy I knew worked in a place full of ‘em. Now, they can be great workers, but if ya can’t speak the language … well, this guy complained the illegal was slowing him down and wanted someone who could speak english. His supervisor said something to the effect that HE could be replaced by one of them for minimum wage … I know this guy, works two jobs, and wants a job done right … his supervisor, well, I don’t know him, but I know I’LL never work for him, and I did at one time want to apply there, but No Thanks.

        I have a simple rule: If you’re kind to me, I’ll help make you rich. If you’re not, well then …

      • Steve_T

         How about you name ONE that doesn’t

    • Drew (GA)

      It’s not just Corporate Greed, we’re all equal opportunity Gluttons. Corporate America, the financial sector, and Congress have just refined it into a science. No I don’t exempt myself, I’ve lived in this country all my life and I didn’t fully wake up till 20-25 years ago. I know better now though.

  • bad breath

    I wouldn’t lower myself to the level it takes to step inside a Walmart. I hope they all get indicted over bribing Mexican officials and spend time for it. I listened to this show today and the thing that finally made these H2b visa workers turn in the boss was when he told them that he could get to their families in Mexico with thugs and for them to accept the conditions and pay he offered or else. I worked for some tough bosses before but I never saw one leave the room after anything like that. As soon as he might turn to leave a wrench would drop him like a rock. He threatens my family he won’t have to worry about Walmart.

  • Sean W

    To bad this will never change since the congress is on their side.

  • Middlle-class victim in Miami

    Although the sins committed against the lowest economic rung in America are the MOST egregious, labor laws are also being flouted to the detriment of “middle class” workers. I know this because it happened to me. I have a master’s degree and was hired as an “Operations Manager” for a prestigious Executive MBA school in Miami. Despite the title, I was an hourly employee, i.e. non-exempt. This should have been my first clue about the organization I was joining. One month into the job, this Executive MBA school sent me for a required 4-day new-hire orientation in Illinois. When I returned, and submitted my hours, they explained that I would not be paid for my travel days, because they had a no-travel policy for hourly employees. To them, this meant I was required to travel, but I would not be paid for the two days of flying. Unfortunately for them, I was aware of many labor laws, including the one that said that travel time must be paid, if it was work-related. When I brought the illegal policy error to my boss’ and HR’s attention, they paid me for the two travel days, and subsequently wrote me up for poor behavior, which I had 30 days to correct. Needless to say, 30 days later, I was let go for “not meeting expectations.” Sadly, in those 30 days, I was to learn that this had happened to many, many other of the school’s hourly employees, but unlike me, they said NOTHING, because they wanted to keep their jobs.

    • Still Here

      Victim?

      Two days of flying.  How far from Illinois are you?  
      Fight the power!

      • Middlle-class victim in Miami

        one day to go out there and one day to come back, silly

        • Still Here

          A whole day to fly from Miami to Chicago, I don’t think that’s possible even on Southwest.

          • Steve_T

             That’s the problem You don’t think.

      • Drew (GA)

        Wow I’m impressed, two manufactured targets in one evening. Guess I’ll have to start reading comments more carefully when The Troll comes to town.

        You’re a bully. You know what happens to a bully when they puff their chest out at me? You should come on down and pay me a visit to find out.

      • jefe68

        Are you really this dense? IF you are required to fly somewhere for your work, they should be paying you for your time. It’s not as if this is pleasure trip.
        What is it with people like you, I bet you would find ways to justify child labor.

    • Drew (GA)

      Salaried Servitude is out there too, we go way back. It can be perfectly legal to impose conditions resulting in sub-minimum wage pay. Don’t believe me? Become a Salaried Manager in pretty much any field (but especially retail) and effectively fulfill all of your position’s responsibilities.

      Sorry to hear about your experience, I empathize with you.

      • Middlle-class victim in Miami

        I believe you, Drew. I see a lot of that, too… and thank you–as you can tell, I still get worked up about it.

    • Vasco DeGrabya

      We really don’t need unions in America.

  • Dorcas

    I have a job, and many times at work we are reminded that we are lucky to be working. I don’t say anything but I always think, “that doesn’t mean you can exploit us,” and which they do, I think. 

    This is such an important topic. Thank you for this. 

    • Still Here

      With millions of unemployed, you are lucky.  

      If you don’t know if you’re being exploited, you probably aren’t.  

      I suggest working for yourself, then you’ll know what exploitation is.

      • Drew (GA)

        Thanks for the double post Discuss

      • Drew (GA)

        Wow, resulted to feeding yourself ammunition huh?  I think I’ll go literally create a target that I can viably attack and then go congratulate myself with a victory dinner.

        BEHOLD! THE AMAZING STILL-A-TROLL!

        Wish I would have read that comment more carefully before liking it. I should have caught the profile name (Dorcas) and checked the profile first, I forget that nothing is beneath some people.

      • Vasco DeGrabya

        I’d love to have a constitutional convention, partition the country in 2, and have you live in the half I DON’T live in.

  • TheDailyBuzzherd

    True that, Vince. A race to the bottom, indeed. This banking mess made the trend worse; these companies are eating the country from the inside out to make up for the damage done to their balance sheets … they’ll screw ANYONE from here on out. At this point, I’d love to strike out on my own, but I’ve been doing that well enough these past ten years … working for others!

    • TheDailyBuzzherd

      ugh
      … SORRY about that double-post, guys … and it was supposed to go
      downstream in another convo below … hate it when this happens …

       

      • Drew (GA)

        You have angered The Almighty Discus and it requires a Sacrifice. I recommend starting with Still Here. If that doesn’t work get back to me and I can provide further candidates perfectly suited to the task.

        • Vasco DeGrabya

          Doesn’t the sacrifice have to have some sort of purity?

          • Drew (GA)

            Nah, Discus doesn’t discriminate when it comes to sacrifices. I think the dirtier the better in this situation hence my recommendation.

  • TheDailyBuzzherd

    True that, Vince. A race to the bottom, indeed. This banking mess made the trend worse; these companies are eating the country from the inside out to make up for the damage done to their balance sheets … they’ll screw ANYONE from here on out. At this point, I’d love to strike out on my own, but I’ve been doing that well enough these past ten years … working for others!

  • Sabulal vijayan

    If New Orleans Workers Center is in this case,
     It is sure that, will get more public attention in this case, but you must understand one thing,,,

    they known as National Guest Workers Alliance now….Will make profit out of this poor people’s story. like what they did to the Indian Workers of Signal International Mississippi….
    New Orleans workers center collected several 100…thousand Dollars from the public and even collected 
    T visa filing fee from the Trafficked indian workers…..Our Indian Workers had to pay several thousand dollars per head to apply for the T visa through this Fraud organization……
     had to pay 2000 Dollar per family….

    think we were 500 Indian workers……..What is the reality…Please talk to the workers directly…..If they are really in forced labor they need help but do not use them to make profit for the organization.Sabulal Vijayan(Who was the lead organizer of Indian Workers of Signal International.Mississippi)sabulalammoos@yahoo.co.in

  • SouthernMod

    Finally, a story that outs the myth of illegal immigrants taking “jobs Americans won’t do”. I agree with the statement in the piece that it is not about low prices, it is about profits. I also agree with the comments regarding U.S. companies selling us out to their corporate bottom line. I hold the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and it’s members responsible for sending the American middle class down the tubes and destroying the American dream for generations to come. 

  • cedarkeyg

    Two comments on today’s show.
    1- in 1980/81, I  began to work for Kroger & joined the union.  Two days before I was hired, the union voted to give new union employees less wages & benefits.  My produce boss was my union steward.  He scheduled me 48 hours a week for 11 weeks & then 38 hours for the 12th week which made me part-time &  I was paid time & 1/2 instead of double time for my Sunday labors.  Who was I to complain  to?  1980/81.
    2- I shopped at Walmart when Sam Walton was alive.  Remember that era ?  “Made in America” flags everywhere.  After he died, the vultures took over, & I have refused to shop there since.  I make $8.50 an hour with no benefits & am a 59 year old white college-educated female.

    • Drew (GA)

      Be thankful for the time-and a half, it’s better than what a lot of people get. I’m not diminishing your mistreatment just adding a little perspective.

      And you’re right about Sam Walton, wonder what he’d have to say to the rest of the family about what they have turned his legacy into.

  • Rick

    I work in a hydroponic sprout factory that serves the midwest region.  While we are entirely indoors and produce product consistently, year round, the owner claims we are “agricultural” and therefor does not have to pay overtime.  The majority of employees are migrant Guatemalans, who work 80+ hour weeks and have no idea of what their legal rights are (he often holds their checks up to 2 weeks at a time).  The Caucasian management staff are treated a little better, but 60 hour weeks are not uncommon.

    • Drew (GA)

      Overtime? What is that? It sounds nice…

  • http://ktulenko.wordpress.com/ Dr. Kate Tulenko

    Foreign-trained health workers are also mistreated in the health sector.  This is especially true of foreign-trained nurses recruited into the US on earmarked health sector visas to work in nursing homes and hospitals.   They are usually paid less than the prevailing wage and given patient loads higher and shifts longer than is generally considered safe.  
    Many employers have used the threat of hiring foreing nurses to break American nursing unions. Not only are the foreign nurses abused, but the profession is degraded and patients are endangered.  Patricia Pittman did a great study which revealed that 50% of foreign-trained nurses experienced significant labor violations: 
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20505462

    All this is happening in the health sector, which is the largest and fastest growing sector of the US economy with average salaries over $60,000 per year. 

    • TheDailyBuzzherd

      From what I’ve heard, Filipinos in particular. They’ll work an hour over their shift for free because they feel compelled to do so, and frown on others who demand the pay. Gee, I wonder who put them up to that?

  • Drew (GA)

    You’ve got more patience than me, I saw no reason to even bother trying to explain anything to this “person”.

    As for your scenario, that is precisely what has happened everywhere they have opened a store. And the best part is they are almost always given tax breaks and “incentives” to bring their particular brand of Job-Creation to the area. Damn we’re good at slitting our own throats in this country. Then, after a long enough period of time, the Tax breaks begin to expire. Guess what happens next? They close the store that’s losing it’s “incentives” and propose a site for a pretty new building that just happens to be eligible for the next round of hand-outs. Rinse and Repeat until Independent Retail is crushed. That’s The Wal-Mart way.

    I really dislike some of the over-dramatization in the documentary Wal-Mart: The High Cost Of Low Price but it certainly gets the basics right.

    http://www.walmartmovie.com/

    • TheDailyBuzzherd

      GameStop is another. It’ll place good managers who upped numbers at other locations and put them in poorer ones to improve their performance. After a couple of relocations, the manager will ask for a raise, citing the improved numbers, often after improving several locations. At that point, this said manager will be relocated yet AGAIN. Management returns with the stock reply, “You won’t receive a raise, numbers are down at your location.”

      Bottom Line: AVOID retail.

  • Drew (GA)

    WRONG PLACE DISCUSS! Grrrrrr…Previous post should have been a reply to a comment elsewhere on the board.

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  • ElviraRamirez

    This is corporate America at its worst or should I say best. Tax breaks paid by the taxpayers and profits by forced slavery, get the picture. So the illegal’s in detention centers get to work  for .50 Cents (an hour or a day?) and the legal immigrate get to slave for minimum wage, no overtime and of course no benefits.
     
    The pioneers out-source, jobs overseas as a result of Bush’s tax bill, and receive a tax credit paid by taxpayers, then in- source  legal immigrate to work as slaves. Now, do we understand the why there is no need for immigration reform; but they support legal immigration, wonder why?   Not to mention they do not support a raise on minimum wage, no need with forced slavery and sweat shops.
     
    How generous of Wal-Mart to bail out just as the situation is exploited. I guess they were just an innocent by-stander. What happen to guilt by association?
     
    So, I guess it will be interesting to hear who is responsible for this creative job program.  Job creation here, it is already in placed by legal immigrates imported here and by the illegal’s in detention centers. Any questions, call your Congressman for answers. You should be appauled by this actions.

  • TheDailyBuzzherd

    Lastly, two things:

    First, books to read, in order of importance:

    “The Retirement Heist”, Ellen Schultz. Wall Street reporter analyzes corporate lapses in handling pension funds. The most serious threat today.

    “The Big Short”, Michael Lewis. Former Wall Street hotshot found a handful of people who realized the real estate bubble was about to pop. Reads like a crime novel, but it’s real.

    “Overhaul”, Steven Rattner. Controversial banker-turned car czar to Obama reconstructs the auto bailout. May be pandering to a sympathetic audience, but it alienates those who feel the free market solution would’ve offered a better, just outcome.

    “Greedy Bastards”, Dylan Ratigan. You may not enjoy his prose, but it’s the message that matters. One of the first major commentators who’s used the corporatist term “corporate communism” extensively.

    “Pinched”, Don Peck. A sort of “Weekend Update” wrapup of the financial crisis, which of course didn’t start in 2008, colored as if a socialogical study, if not a historical perspective. Important chapter that stands out: Chapter 6, “Plutonomy”. Some reviewers have unnecessarily derided the book, but I say it’s important because it delves deep into the origins of ingratiated unemployment. As in Ratigan’s book, he offers solutions, make what you will of that.

    “The Shock Doctrine”, Naomi Klein. Do NOT dismiss this entire list for the inclusion of this book! Many have scoffed at Klein’s central theme of the book, but the important economic events that are cited here are not necessarily well known. This book is reason enough why we need brave journalism more than ever.

    Second, remember this: The financial sector of the world economy is not the economic engine of capitalism in of itself but a tool to grease and organize it. It’s the people who are the engine, and if they’re not well fed and happy, the engine dies. Wall Street is perceived to be far more important than it actually is. Get rid of the bean counters, and hire the engineers!

  • Giojas

    This is the type of conditions mass market stores create. The public is the cause of this low prices, lots of variety and always in season. We should never act surprise.

  • http://www.drewgasux.com/ AlibasterMural

    I’m sorry but this whole discussion is being driven by the same whiners who come here everyday to spout off about how bad they got it and how it’s all somebody else’s fault.  Most of them are coddled by their mothers as pound away on the basement computer.  Blah, blah, blah. 
    Temporary work visas sounds like a bad idea when we have so many unemployed here.  Once the unemployment benefits expire a lot of people find the motivation to work, funny isn’t it.  At the same time, we’ve got record numbers of people on SS disability which is being abused to no end. 
    Good for WalMart but it’s not their responsibilityto police the work conditions of their suppliers. 

    • Gregg

      I agree completely. at one point in my life I lost every single possession I had to a house fire. I had no job, no family support and no government assistance save for a lump of government cheese. I slept outside and in a phone booth when the weather was bad. I never blamed anyone or expected help from anyone. I did fine.

    • Kairos

      Way to ignore the issue all together.  What’s the point of working if conditions have devolved to the pre-Depression era?  This is one of the reasons that Occupy Wall Street has come about.  One day they are going to stop lighting candles, and then they’ll march with torches. 

      This is all I ever hear from republicans: so-what that conditions and wages have turned to shit over the last 30 years…quit your whining and deal with your crappy life…so what if Germany has free college, free healthcare, a stronger safety net, robust infrastructure, a renewable energy initiative, great working conditions, strong republic with a great economy…America’s crappy conditions and falling apart economy is further to the right and therefore the best of all possible worlds.

      Unions and the New Deal created the middle class!  You think the world will end if we tax the rich 3% higher, that it would be such a dent to their life style that it would cause them to quit capitalism and hoard their money (…like they are already doing…). Guess what: the majority of America want to maintain a certain lifestyle as well: we want to send our kids to college, see the doctor, and not have to sell our homes when we retire…when these American dreams are threatened, the majority of Americans stop spending money and we have a depression (like the one we are in now).  We don’t have a problem of capital and supply: corporations and the top have tons of capital and are doing fine. 

      Saying crap like Americans have turned into whiners and still cling to their mommas is denying reality.  Republicanism, for the last 30 years has been chipping away at the middle class, and it’s not because anybody got lazy.  It’s because republicanism has been going against Adam Smith, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and the Enlightenment’s Revolution from which our country was borne, and you, the republican, worked to hand back economic and political power to a thin minority of elite bankers and oil billionaires.  Take your social Darwinism to Mexico or 1930s Germany.  

      • Mittens Romoney

        You think too much and that is NOT AMERICAN! You need to go to church more and stop listening to communist nonsense. Now, I must get back to the country club, my caviar canapes must be getting ready…

  • Caterina

    This has been happening in the IT industry for years via the H1-B visa program. Although organizations like Programmers Guild have been trying to shine a light on this issue, journalists have been culpable along with big business and the Federal government in surpressing wages and pushing Americans out of this industry by being dismissive “even Bill Gates says we need to import people”.

    So, this isn’t a matter of “bottoms up” degredation of American well being, its also middle out. Wouldn’t it make more sense to hire Americans, train them / give them the opportunities and create a syphon effect to pull people up from the lower rungs?

    We have plenty of population that is unused or underutilized, but pundits keep saying we need more. What we need is to reivest in ourselves and stop throwing away our own people for short term business interests.

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  • Stford

    yep look at the computer games industry  My record is 5 days with out sleep.  I applied to one job and they said you had to do a two week test with out pay! 

    so much for the knowledge ecconomy
    steve

  • Anr

    Small employers hiring American workers are often just as guilty of exploitation. I managed a small town convenience store with less than a dozen employees. The owners refused to pay over time and would routinely short employees hours. They refused to pay the clerks for the half hour or so it would take them to prepare for opening and/or closing the store, no one ever received holiday pay and on the very rare occasion a clerk might receive a raise above federal minimum wage they were expected to fall all over the owners with great thanks for that extra nickle an hour. The agencies expected to enforce current laws make it much too difficult to report employers. I had to call an out of state agency who only received voice mail to which they would call me back. Try doing that with your boss breathing down your neck.

  • http://www.facebook.com/herbert.chance Herbert Chance

    This is a topic also concern Americans!! Talk about the working poor! Im a truck driver, and my father made more than I do now, and he drove 60years ago. I spend weeks from my wife,and kids, if you add the hours, a kid at McDs makes more than me! I have no rights, and companys offer nothing for long term employees! Greed has destroyed this nation. Better pay is not going to help, you got to start with the greed! Like when hurricane Katrina hit, they passed a law for price gouging. Pass a law that says, if you sell, haul, or produce a product, any profit over 100% of cost to produce, is to be divided amoung the lowest paid going up the line, then we all can get our fair share. We cant beat China, because we steal from our own. Wall Street CEO works at a company for 3 years, and get millions when company go bust, but the janitor thats been working there for 30years get nothing, and they take his 401K! Greed Shall Imprison us All!!

  • JGC

    I wonder why “The Middle Class” program from today, July 11, is closed to discussion.

    • Drew Down

      That’s likely my fault and I sincerely apologize to everyone on the board. I stooped to a certain Troll’s level, even though I knew better, and I’m pretty sure I was flagged for abuse. Add in a dash of over-zealous moderator and some failure to pay attention to context and Voila! There went my Freedom Of Speech. I’m going to try this again but if you’re paying attention you’ll already have noticed there are a lot of missing comments on this particular board and several Guest comments which have been removed.

      I am truly grateful for the insights many have provided over the years and am thankful to all for allowing me to participate in the discussion for quite some time now. It may seem like a silly little thing to no longer be able to engage in the conversation to some, but this was literally my last real source of interaction with the outside world. I am going to miss the interaction here more than I can express.

      And once again: Best of luck everyone, we’re going to need it. End of message.

  • shadowodahs

    What I don’t understand is that many of your do not understand your rights, and if you do you still do not stand up for yourselves. There are already laws in place that protect workers. You need to stand up for yourselves. 

  • Slipstream

    Another fine show that pointed out the continuing inequities and abuses in the labor market that I don’t doubt are still going on.  Unfortunately absent from the program was a voice from the right – interesting how they seem to go missing whenever a discussion of this kind comes up and prefer to rail against unions and socialism.  More unions is what is needed here.  Unfortunately most unions have badly hurt their causes by being too beholden to their own long-term members and allowing the right to portray them as lazy collectors of hard-working taxpayers’ money.

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.nicholson.714 James Nicholson

     And what? oh yea. 50 days or so ’till Tampa/RNC. Bring some Occu pie . 

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  • Tmatthews731

    Just to let all of you know, You can turn in a complaint about a company to the labor board and not have your name mentioned anywhere.  The labor board will do the research and discipline the company as needed.  Labor Board does work!!!!

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  • Mittens Romoney

    Oh, what’s the big deal. These workers keep complaining and loafing. The fact is that we need less regulation to stand in the way of patriotic, god-fearing job creators like Mike, my buddy and the owner of that plant. 

  • Bin

    These are the working conditions waiting for ALL of us, unless we the people wake up and reclaim our country from the corporate oligarchs. Wake up, America!

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  • rfdew

    Like the commenter stated below, this is waiting for every single one of us until we take it back. It makes me sick to see what is happening to my country.

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