Workers rights for New Americans

Are you happy with your job? Really take a moment to think about the question for a second. How often have you sat at your desk and daydreamed of something better, somewhere with just a few more windows or better dental? According to a Forbes study over half of Americans 52.3% are doing just that; they are not satisfied with what they do. Most of these American’s are White accounting for more 80 percent of the workforce, and earning approximately $55,000 a year on average.

Now take a New American and ask if he/she enjoys what they are doing. 75 percent of Janitors are native born. 65 percent of grounds maintenance workers are native-born. 65 percent of construction laborers are native born. 56 percent of maids and housekeepers are native born. Most New Americans aren’t getting an office job most are getting their hands dirty and doing the work that people that do have office jobs take for granted.

That being said most of these New American’s are getting their hands dirty while still struggling to put food on the table. In high-immigrant occupations the average salary is one-fourth lower than in occupations that are less than 20 percent immigrant.

Immigrants comprise only 13 percent of the U.S. population and only 17 percent of the labor force. Between, 2002 and 2012, more than half of the growth in the entire U.S. labor force was due to immigrants.

Many of these immigrants that do come over with exceptional skills and credentials, are often frozen out of the workforce or unable to work at a level that corresponds to their education. 25 percent of college educated immigrants are affected by underemployment relative to their skill level.

Each year more than 100,000 people from countries such as Mexico, Guatemala, the Philippines, and South Africa come to America on what is known as an H-2 visa to perform all kinds of degrading labor across a wide spectrum of industries. All those wonderful industries that when you get home you feel like you need to shower before you do anything else.

These immigrants work off the books, in many cases, living in the Unites States legally as part of a government program that allows the employers to import foreign labor jobs they say American’s won’t take or don’t want.

Immigrants come over expecting life to be better but many are mistaken. With this government program the government essentially allows the employers to control their lives. According to BuzzFeed this government program allows thousands of employees each year to mistreat their workers. Across America immigrant workers have complained about being cheated out of their wages, beaten, starved, in some cases even rapped. Almost none of these employers have been charged with a crime. Many New Americans comparing their situation to slavery.

Most of these complaints can be traced back to workers who are using H-2B visas. The H-2A and H-2B visas were created in 1986 as part of the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which split the H-2 guest worker program into two categories: H-2A was agricultural guest workers and H-2B was non-agricultural.

These visas allow employers something called a nonimmigrant program permit. This permit allows employers to hire foreign workers to come temporarily to the United States and perform agricultural and nonagricultural services or labor on a one-time, or seasonal basis. These jobs specifically the H-2B consist of what was explained earlier the jobs American’s don’t want to do, jobs like: cleaning hotel rooms, picking fruit, landscaping, herding sheep, working at the circus/carnival, and these are the half decent ones.longform-26613-1437748795-5

Many people aren’t aware of these visas or really care, but you should and here’s why.

These visas only allow the employee to work for the company that sponsored them, it prevents them from seeking other employment and they must leave the country when the job is over. In 2007 the program issued an all time high number of visas: 129,457 and that number is continuing to rise every year, with the number of visas given out doubling in the past 5 years alone.

Ironically, the original intent like most ideas that go south wasn’t bad at all, but not unlike Socialism or running a mile directly after eating volcano chicken wings, unfortunately not all good ideas work out for the best (or work out for my underwear). The idea of the program was to help employers that need seasonal or temporary workers: inso-facto smaller companies looking for a little extra help. However, it didn’t take long for someone to abuse the system.

Nowadays most people in the program are going to midrange to large companies that use these workers 10 months out of the year, every year.

Many of these companies that are getting these workers are what people like to call “body shops” and not the kind where you take your car when you need an oil change. No, these body shops are different these are companies that have no need for seasonal or temporary labor.

They take these foreign workers keep them and sell them to the highest bidder; the highest bidder being companies that couldn’t get their own H-2B workers. Starting to sound like something else we are all too familiar with isn’t it? That’s not even the worst of it.

These companies have had allegations even convictions of fraud and abuse of the H-2B workers and the program, most of the time right in front of government officials. In some cases people have even died on the job. This is from an official accident investigation summary taken straight off of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration website(osha): “On July 23, 2005, Employee #1 was a migrant farm worker in the United States with a contract as an H-2A guest worker. He was harvesting tobacco, when he complained of a headache. He was later found dead under a tree.” So, next time you complain that your boss is being a dick for making you stay an extra 5 minutes just think about “Employee #1”.

Still, the Department of Labor, nor osha, has ever barred a U.S. company from getting these H-2B workers. Even worse some of these companies that have been accused multiple times of abuse, continue to get these workers year after year, with no conscience for their mistreatment.

Employers value these workers so much because their legal status in the United States is tied to their employment, they more often than not have and provide for families in their home countries making them loyal and motivated workers. Not to mention many employers cheat these workers out of even the federal minimum wage, saving companies millions of dollars.

Some of these workers can’t afford food when they get home after working a 12-hour shift. American’s are not aware this is going on. We hear all the time about sweatshops in china, or Qatar, but the same thing is going on in the country under our feet. These people are modern day slaves and unless we put a light on it, these corporations are going to keep getting away with this abuse.

So next time you forget to put one of the cover sheets on your tps report and your boss gives you a hard time, try to remember there is much worse things going on in this country.

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