Thursday, December 6, 2012

American Unemployment and the Influx of Burmese Factory Workers in My Hometown.


American Unemployment and the Influx of Burmese Factory Workers in My Hometown.

I grew up in Logansport, Indiana – a town that at one time revolved around the railroads, the Wabash and Erie Canal and was settled at the confluence of two rivers – the Eel and the Wabash.  It is not on a direct road to or from any major population center; yet, the Tyson Foods facility there employs more than 400 Burmese workers.

Many of the Tyson workers first moved to Ft. Wayne to work in the Vera Bradley factory. Many were granted refugee status because of the oppression of the Myanmar regime. The refugees took manufacturing jobs that American workers refused to accept because of the pay scale and benefits.  When Vera Bradley moved manufacturing overseas, many of the Burmese workers took jobs with Tyson and began commuting.

According to my parents who have toured the facility, the Tyson operation is state of the art.

From my perspective the question that begs answering is this-why should American factory workers receive unemployment benefits when there are manufacturing jobs available that comply with federal wage laws? Why was it necessary to relocate Burmese refugees to the heartland of America to work in U.S. factories? If a Burmese refugee can afford to commute the 160 miles round trip from Ft. Wayne to Logansport, why should a local receive unemployment benefits rather than take a job at the nonunion Tyson plant?

Yes, Indiana is a Right To Work State. I currently live in Virginia, another Right To Work State. The biggest difficulty in extending the Washington, DC  Metro rail service to Dulles Airport from DC has been the Commonwealth of Virginia insisting that its Right To Work laws supersede any union favoritism in the contracts involving DC companies. 

Nobody should be forced to join a union to work. And companies should not be forced to hire union labor – which inflates wages and benefits to the level that the US cannot compete internationally. And it is really the solid gold benefits that inflate the costs including the onerous hoops one must jump through to fire someone who is not productive. 

Apparently the Burmese, many of whom lived in refugee camps in utter destitution,  still see America as the Promise Land, where those who start at the bottom and work hard can ultimately succeed. They are willing to work for a fair wage.

And alternatively, if the US quit importing workers to perform work US citizens refused to do, companies would have to improve wages and benefits to stay in business.

It is a conundrum. But in my humble opinion, it would seem that Congress should concentrate more on allowing market forces & tariffs imposed for moving jobs overseas and for importing foreign labor to change American manufacturing rather than pandering to those looking to immigration reform.

We do not need more cheap labor. We need to keep the labor force in America employed by changing how we do business. Stop importing foreign workers. Tax companies on any imports for goods manufactured overseas. And eliminate the stranglehold that corrupt unions have in those states that have not adopted Right To Work Laws.

Bravo – it appears Michigan may be next in line to pass this legislation that is vital to making America work.

There was an error in this gadget