July 28, 2004


A perennial predicament: Cape firms, with few local takers for low-wage jobs in summer, stymied in bid to increase worker visas (Diane E. Lewis, July 28, 2004, Boston Globe)

Steve Hurley says that he hires the same crew of Jamaicans for his Cape Cod inn each year because they work harder, and Americans don't want his low-wage jobs anyway.

"We hired college students, and they'd come in drunk, or they wouldn't show up," said Hurley, 42, who runs the Hyannis Holiday Motel with his 77-year-old father. "Every week it was something. They would find a waitressing job and run off for a few extra cents, or cleaning wasn't their forte, or they would stay, but come Labor Day, they were gone."

Despite relatively high unemployment, Hurley and other firms on the Cape and Islands are backing legislation that would increase the number of unskilled foreign workers allowed in the country.

Bills in Congress, one sponsored by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, would exempt some workers from a cap imposed on the number allowed under a program called the H-2B visa, or raise the cap.

The bills are languishing, victims of anti-immigration fervor spurred by growing concerns over the outsourcing to other countries of information technology, software, telemarketing, and other jobs.

Stinkin' immigrants, come here and take all those jobs no self respecting white person would let their kid do....

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 28, 2004 9:32 AM

It is not just the jobs on the Cape and Islands that are affected by the influx of foreign workers. Skilled jobs all across America have been filled by lower paid foreign workers. The companies grips are not legitimate, they just want to have a bigger profit line.

Posted by: Jean at July 28, 2004 11:14 AM

Steve Hurley seems to be a bit confused about basic economics and business management.
If he can't find good help, or his help leaves for slightly better paying jobs, isn't that a rather large clew that he should consider raising his employees' pay ?


Not really.
"Lower-paid" foreign workers typically take un-skilled positions. Skilled foreign workers usually get paid as well as their native-born counterparts. Although said skilled foreign workers are filling positions that potentially could be filled by Americans, by and large the reason that the skilled foreign workers are here is because the jobs aren't being filled by Americans.
Americans would rather become lawyers and MBAs, rather than engineers and mathmaticians.

Although companies would, of course, rather have a higher profit margin, much of the gain from lower-cost foreign workers gets passed on to consumers.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at July 28, 2004 11:36 AM


Good point. I happen to work in the IT division of a major automotive manufacturer. Indians & Chinese cover at least 2/3 of the workforce here.

They earn every bit as much as Americans. And it is hard to see what it is about these jobs that would put off a self respecting white parent.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at July 28, 2004 12:11 PM

I was recently informed by Social Security that we had 6 employees using false SSN info. All had been with us more than a year, one, for 5 years. When I asked for proper paperwork they all filltered away. There was one manager, 2 cooks, 2 janitors and a dishwasher. Five from Mexico and one from El Salvador. What I have found is that my Hispanic employees work harder for the same pay, don't call in sick, love overtime and are respectfull of supervisors. We have little trouble finding persons who have no citizenship issues to fill these positions but the are frequently alcoholics or drug addicts, they are lazy, call in often and are more trouble to train and supervise. The reasons for this seem simple. Anyone willing to cook clean or wash dishes for $8 to $11 per hour (minimum wage in Seattle is $7.16hr) is by default either new to the labor force or has a bad work ethic and can't get a better job or has no ambition. Usually it is a combination of the latter 2. If I have to choose between a hispanic who has what may turn out to be citizenship issues and a person who is obviouslly a citizen but has been bouncing from job to job for the last 10 years I take the hispanic every time. These men work hard, do not complain, and when told how much you appreciate their effort they beam with pride and thanks. OJ is right. We need these people.

Posted by: Pat H at July 28, 2004 1:50 PM