HIGHTOWER: Squeezing American Out of a Summer Job

Some days I read the paper ... and some days I just whap myself upside the head with it! This is one of my whapping days.It's a story in the USA Today about how there's such a shortage of summer workers this year that amusement parks, fast food chains, bars, and other summer tourist businesses are desperate for hired help. How desperate are they? So desperate, says the newspaper, that they've recruited workers from Slovakia, Lithuania, Spain, Macedonia, and other exotic places to take summer jobs in America's beach towns and recreation parks.Wait a minute. They have to import someone from Slovakia to work in a beach restaurant? "We're crying," one restaurant owner in Florida told USA Today -- "We run help ads in the newspapers and sometimes we don't get anyone." He hired some workers from Czechoslovakia.But here's the real story -- they're paying a pittance! The reporter writes that these businesses have tried everything, including "raising wages" to attract Americans. But it turns out they're only paying $5.25, $5.50, $5.75 an hour. The owner of a Wendy's franchise in Florida is quoted as saying that he raises wages of those who stay for a month: "Once you find a good worker, you can't worry about how much you pay them -- you've got to keep them." Guess how much his big payraise is? To six bucks an hour!It's not like these businesses are hurting -- in fact, they're expecting their best season ever. As one business representative said: "Nobody is crying about their profits this summer."I guess not, since they can bring Slovakians to all the U.S. beaches to keep American wages down. And get this -- to import these workers, they're using a special visa program that lets foreign college students spend six months working and touring in the good old US of A.This is Jim Hightower saying ... yes, USA Today pitched the story as though it was the businesses that were being squeezed -- rather than Americans being squeezed out of these summer jobs.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close
alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.