September 03, 2007
Mexican Trucks On a Highway Near You
The Teamsters Union's request to halt a Bush Administration plan to allow trucks from Mexico on U.S. highways has been rejected by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This move will affect both union and non-union truckers further shaking up the labor market and U.S. trucking firms. The Bush Administration's plan will also compromise border control and highway safety. I am a bit surprised there isn't more of an uproar over this.
The plan will only be in effect for a year as a test or experiment. I guess next year at some point they will tally up how many fatalities were caused by unsafe trucks from Mexico and then decide on whether or not to expand the program?
I don't know the full extent of the program i.e. how will they ensure these vehicles meet U.S. standards, what labor laws will govern these drivers etc but I will look into it.
October 09, 2005
Immigrant Worker Shortage
Attitude and Policy shifts towards immigration in the United States is coming to a head in California where farmers are facing a possible severe labor shortage:
California Faces a Shortage of Farm Hand for Harvest (Financial Times subscription required)
California's farmers are being racked by one of their periodic bouts of anxiety over the shortage of field hands. They want help urgently to replace low-cost labour being lost to the relative comforts and better pay of work in construction and retailing - and the thousands of undocumented immigrants being kept out of the state by more stringent policing of the Mexican border.
In the longer term Mr Nassif's organisation, in an uncommon alliance with unions and other growers' groups, supports a proposal in Congress to reform immigration law. The plan, known as "Agjobs" in its current manifestation, would allow immigrants willing to stay in agriculture for a set number of years to earn the right to permanent residency in the US.
Defining the scale of the problem is difficult because of farming's reliance on a largely undocumented workforce. According to the California Farm Bureau Federation, another leading lobby group, the industry usually needs about 450,000 seasonal workers at this time of year.....
October 02, 2005
There is a thought provoking post on the blog Marginal Revolution on immigration.
Is the reason for the explosive growth of immigration from Mexico the fact that the Mexican population on average is getting wealthier and therefore can afford the costs of leaving their home country?
July 13, 2005
Low Wage Industries and Immigration
Today's NY Times features two articles on the experiences of low paid immigrant workers in the US service sector.
In Among Janitors, Labor Violations Go With the Job (registration required), reporter Stephen Greenhouse illustrates the difficulties faced by non-union immigrant janitors.
In a related article, Lawsuits Charge Fraud in Cleaning Business (registration required), the same reporter exposes a fraud whereby immigrant workers were duped into investing thousands of dollars into false cleaning franchise operations
May 16, 2005
Immigrants and Wages
Yesterday, I posted a brief blog on immigration and its effect on the African-American community. Today the blog Marginal Revolution links to a study by David Card on the effect immigrants have on wages. David Card is one of the economists who did the study and wrote the book Myth and Measurement about minimum wage effects.
If you recall their study showed that the rise in the minimum wage of NJ had no negative effect on employment levels in the state. In fact, they saw a rise in employment.
The paper can be downloaded here: Is the New Immigration Really So Bad?
May 15, 2005
Vicente Fox's Comments
Recently Vicente Fox made comments which have shocked many Americans:
Speaking in Spanish, he said, "There is no doubt that Mexicans, filled with dignity, willingness and ability to work, are doing jobs that not even blacks want to do there in the United States."
I think this says alot about how Vicente Fox and the Mexican elite view those of African descent.
His comments however have opened the door, slightly, to discussing illegal immigration and how it affects African-Americans. This is a taboo subject mostly because in the United States real class analysis has been absent among the left with many viewing societal issues through a lens of 'politically correct' notions about race. It also doesn't help that those most affected by illegal immigration are those with the least amount of voice in our society.
I worked for 10 years in a low wage plant in NJ and in those years I saw how African-American workers were systematically pushed out and purposely not hired. In many cases immigrant workers sided with company managers of the same ethnicty in attempts to "ethnically cleanse" different departments. We had a union and there were larger problems that brought everyone together and I witnessed some amazing moments of cross-racial solidarity but I also admit there were serious underlying racial problems.
UNITE-HERE is the only union, or in fact only group i have seen, take up the immigration issue and how it affects African-Americans. They may be the best to deal with it since HERE is known for its progressive work on immigration.
UNITE-HERE dealt with this problem by adding new language to their Hotel agreement in the San Fransisco area:
This year, Locals 2 and 11 added new language to their existing contract proposals on immigrant rights, and the hotels agreed. But the Multi-Employer Group, the hotel owners' bargaining collective, didn't accept a related proposal asking the hotels to set up a diversity committee and hire an ombudsman to begin increasing the percentage of African-American workers.
There is also a recebntly completed academic study that looks at the issue. I will try to find a link for it.