Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Since 9/11 immigrants have a harder time making it in America. More restrictions. Fewer options. So they take what jobs they can get. They can't get much legally. When they do it's jobs like janitorial work subcontracted by UNICCO to other places. Waiting for something better is no option.
So they take it. It's eaither that or working in the fields, if the season permits, and they pay worse there. Being a "janitor" is a step up from that. Or you could work in a flag factory, sewing peicework flags - no union there either. Or you could work for a vendor who drops you and 36 dozen roses or sunflowers on the side of a busy road so you can sell them all. No shade, no protection from the elements, no bathrooms and no food or water (unless you brought some with you.) Sort of like soft pretzel vendors in Philly, but a little more like slavery than "protestant work ethic." You are picked up when the sun goes down, unless it's a weekend when you make the most money for the "owner" in the evenings.
Can they wait tables? Not unless they are bilingual and have passed the health inspection certificate (and many from foreign countries can't afford to see the Dr. to get a certificate.) Can they clean cars in a car wash? They can for a daily wage, no pay packets as far as I know except fo the managers and cashiers. The men who do the job get paid daily.
Can they work fast food? Again, most places expect bilingual employees and the wages are often lower with no benefits.
Day laborers? Sure, you get no bennies and you just wait in the day labor line hoping some construction crew needs you for a day. I've helped SVDP clients, Americans and immigrants, who have been stiffed by the people who hire them at those places. One person dug ditches for 8 hours and was paid for 6.
If they don't like the job get another one? OK, which one would you do instead of cleaning toilets in a nice air conditioned building?
When is the last time you, as a college educated person, looked for full time work with no money in the bank, no support system and no "fallback" of government money to help you? And how long did it take you to find something you could live on?
Try figuring out the take home pay of someone who makes $6.70 per hour. Then live on it for a month or two. Just that money, no falling back on what you have in your account. Pay your bills, or pretend you're looking for a place to stay and see what you can rent for the wages you'd be making. How long is it going to take you to comne up with a first/last and security for an apartment? How can you get a place if your previous address is Havana Cuba and you have no "established credit hisotry" to fall back on?
See how much you have left to eat and pay bills,if you can manage to sublet a place for find a room to rent and then and the pretend you get sick.
Figure out how much of your check goes to pay a doctor, or better still see how much time you have to take off work to go to a doctor (no work no pay) if you can find a free clinic that will see you. Then figure out how much the actual cost of a simple antibiotic, a cough medicine and maybe advil would cost you. What percentage of your pay is that?
Now add two kids to you "expense list".
Then ask your employeer to pay a "living wage" which in Dade county has been established by a Dade County Ordinance as $9.81 hourly with benefits or $11.32 an hour without benefits. When he refuses what do you think you should do? Roll over and play dead? Stop eating? Live in the streets? Or stirke?