Roughly 150 locals attended an August 12 job fair to apply for jobs at the Koch Foods’ plants in Mississippi.
The fair was run after the August 7 removal of 243 alleged illegal migrants in two of the company’s chicken processing plants, according to local authorities.
The local Jackson Clarion-Ledger newspaper reported 25 to 30 people went to the job fair in Forest, Mississippi. The report said:
Kamerio Whitley, a resident of the nearby town of Morton, spoke to reporters after he left the building. He said there were several positions available at the plant, including forklift operators.
Whitley said he applied for a job working at the plant’s rehang table, where workers hang frozen chickens.
The job starts at $12 an hour, which is decent pay for the area, Whitley said. “That’s not bad to start, and it can always go up,” he said.
The company is also trying to hire workers with online ads. Local officials made sure the hiring process complied with federal hiring regulations, according to WAPT 16.
Koch Foods is not part of the Koch brothers’ network of energy companies.
“By 10 a.m., a crowd of dozens was on hand … Most were black and spoke with accents from the American South. A few appeared white or Hispanic,” AP reported. The news service continued:
The 25-year-old [Eddie Nicholson] has worked in chicken plants before and was considering a return, but wanted to see if wages had gone up. Plants in recent years have typically paid $11 to $12 an hour, according to labor statistics, but Nicholson said he wants $15 an hour.
Like Nicholson, many who applied Monday were chicken plant veterans. They understand the arduous and sometimes dangerous work of slaughtering, butchering and packaging chicken, from hanging up live chickens, to pulling off skin, to cutting with super-sharp knives, to boxing up chicken, much of it done in near-freezing temperatures. The line moves fast and people repeat the same motions over and over.
“It’s definitely hard,” said Cedric Griffith of Magee, who said he’s been working at McDonald’s after getting fired from another chicken processor for missing too many days. “You’re going to lose of lot of weight. Nine times out of 10, when that week is over, you’re tired.”
The area’s unemployment is high, and the wages are low.
From 2000 to 2009, the labor-force participation rate in Mississippi dropped by 9 percent, according to an August 8 report from Krikorian’s CIS. The drop from 78 percent to 69 percent leaves 494,000 U.S.-born adults out of the workforce in 2019, said the report, titled “The Employment Situation of Immigrants and Natives in the First Quarter of 2019.”
Federal data from 2018 shows that half of the meat cutters in the state were being paid less than $12.23 per hour.
But wages have spiked upwards for Americans when employers were forced to give up their illegal workforces. Enforcement actions aided African-American bakers in Chicago and Somali refugees in Iowa and throughout the Midwest after the 2006 enforcement at the Swift & Co. meatpacking company.
AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka sides with the illegal migrants at the Miss. meatpackers, b/c progressives control the labor movement. https://t.co/91hVR6ZqtB
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) August 10, 2019
Also, the processing firms have been under pressure to raise wages in President Donald Trump’s go-go economy. In May, for example, Sanderson Farms offered $15 an hour wage to workers after June 2. “Sanderson Farms has about 15,000 workers in Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Texas. About 13,000 [earn] hourly wages,” AP reported.
But MSNBC’s correspondent Marian Atencio suggested that only Latinos can do the slaughterhouse jobs, saying, “This is pretty grueling work at these poultry plants and … poultry is an industry that has become — as many of these industries that rely on low skilled workers — dependent on Latin American immigration.”
However, at least two U.S. poultry plants are investing in European made-made machinery to make their legal workforces more productive. The extra productivity will allow the worker to do more work and get paid more. In Frederick, Pa., Bell & Evans is using machinery made by a Dutch firm, Myen, to build a 560,000-square-foot which can process 2.6 million birds per week. In Harrisonburg, Shenandoah Valley Organic is working with Meyn to upgrade its 65,000-square-foot facility.
JBS, a huge Bazilian-owned meat processor, has already developed advanced meat processing technology for use in labor-short Australia.
Each year, roughly four million young Americans join the workforce after graduating from high school or university. This total includes roughly 800,000 Americans who graduate with skilled degrees in business or health care, engineering or science, software or statistics.
But the federal government then imports about 1.1 million legal immigrants and refreshes a resident population of roughly 1.5 million white-collar visa workers — including approximately 1 million H-1B workers and spouses — plus roughly 500,000 blue-collar visa workers.
The government also prints out more than one million work permits for foreigners, tolerates about eight million illegal workers, and does not punish companies for employing the hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants who sneak across the border or overstay their legal visas each year.
This policy of inflating the labor supply boosts economic growth for investors because it transfers wages to investors and ensures that employers do not have to compete for American workers by offering higher wages and better working conditions.
This policy of flooding the market with cheap, foreign, white-collar graduates and blue-collar labor also shifts enormous wealth from young employees towards older investors, even as it also widens wealth gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, and hurts children’s schools and college educations.
The cheap-labor economic strategy also pushes Americans away from high-tech careers and sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions.
The labor policy also moves business investment and wealth from the heartland to the coastal cities, explodes rents and housing costs, shrivels real estate values in the Midwest, and rewards investors for creating low-tech, labor-intensive workplaces.
Joe Biden comes out against worksite enforcement by ICE because they are "cruel policies" for illegal migrants & their children. But enforcement of the nation's worksite laws is vital for Americans and their children — and Americans get to vote in 2020. https://t.co/ZOs0JyQZlw
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) August 9, 2019