Repost from the old site.
There have been quite a few articles lately about meatpacking plants in the US. Through the 1960’s and 1970’s, these were union jobs all filled by hard-working Americans. That’s all gone now, and all of the work is now being done by illegal aliens or more recently refugees from foreign lands. Most of these articles have screamed about how no Americans are willing to do this kind of work.
It’s quite interesting how plenty of Americans were willing to do this admittedly unpleasant work in 60’s and 70’s, albeit at union wages that you could buy a house and raise a family on. The unions were broken via a corporate conspiracy. This plot has been unveiled an Atlantic Monthly article, but I have not been able to find it.
First of all, the meatpacking companies moved their plants away from the large cities to smaller towns. It happened in LA – they moved to Las Vegas. There was no business reason at all to move to Vegas – it was done for the sole purpose of breaking the union. They hoped to break the unions by having the old employees stuck in Los Angeles and not being willing to move due to family ties.
The idea was to get the local rural people around Vegas to work for nothing, along with the few loyal workers who might move to Vegas to follow the company, who would work for less than previously, but not for as little as the new hires.
When they couldn’t find workers to be dupes for them (surprise!) they somehow managed to bus in Mexicans. From Mexico? Apparently. This was in the early 80’s, when Ronald Reagan, still champion of so many working class White Americans called Reagan Democrats, was President.
The US construction companies pretty much broke the unions, one by one, in the 1970’s and especially in the 1980’s. Somehow, an incredible cultural narrative has been constructed that tells us that only Hispanics, especially illegal aliens, are capable of or expected to do construction work.
When my friends worked construction in 1975-76, you could buy a house and raise a family on those wages, which would be the equivalent of $40-45/hour now for union jobs laying drywall. If you go around now looking at construction jobs, look hard, very hard, for the sight of a White man working construction. He barely exists.
It’s all Hispanics doing the work. Mostly illegals, but the market is so flooded with low-skilled labor that you even have a lot of legal Hispanic immigrants and even Hispanic Americans doing this work. The business owners scream and fuss and carry on that they can’t get White workers to do this work anymore. That’s because it doesn’t pay crap.
I do not really want to diss on any ethnic group. I’m sure back in the union days there were Hispanic-Americans who could cut the high standards of union work, where you cut it or you’re gone. Nowadays, for whatever reason, the private housing built by cheap-labor Hispanics – legal, illegal, whatever, is well-known to be garbage.
Everyone knows this, the White workers like my own brother who are constantly browbeaten by their bosses (“You better shut up and knock it off or I’m going to replace all of you with Mexicans!”), the hip Whites tuned in to the construction scene, probably even the businessmen-criminals themselves.
The problems often start cropping up within a year or so after the builder’s warranty ended. Sagging roofs, foundations so poorly laid they start cracking and splitting. Pipes so poorly fitted and installed they cause leaks; with the predictable high cost of ripping out wallboard to replace them.
That’s the price of that cheap Hispanic labor for you. One would think that after labor costs declined from $42/hour in 1976 to $4-10/hour in 2008 (2008 dollars), the businesses could “pass on a lot of those savings to the home buyer.
That’s what the right-wing and business crowd always tells us is so glorious about crap wages – the consumer saves bigtime. In the case of homes, not one nickel got knocked off the price, ever. All those savings just translated into extra profits for the builder.
There is a rightwing, classist line that the crushing of the US worker occurred because US union workers had gotten fat and lazy and were demanding too much money! The poor suffering businessmen just could not make a profit anymore! They were in danger of losing their yachts, and their mansions were about to be foreclosed!
In the 1970’s, a lot of US businesses started screaming hardship. That’s because our standard of living in this country was as high as it has ever been (1973). Wages were rising right along with productivity, and no capitalist will stand for that for very long.
At this time, most unions said that if the companies opened their books to independent auditors of the unions’ choosing, the unions would take the cuts the company was claiming were needed. The whole thing was just a massive lie because none of the companies ever opened their books. Chrysler did, but only because they were forced to.
The whole thing was a shell game – a plot to make it look like if they did not offshore, they were going to go out of business. As it turned out, they went ahead and offshored anyway.
All of the offshoring happened because at this time, business schools started teaching the profoundly unpatriotic notion that the purpose of a business is to generate vast paper profits for their skyrocketing bonus and stock option plans. Prior to the 80’s, most CEO’s weren’t compensated so lavishly for short term stock actions, and they managed it like a family business.
It really was a cultural shift, and it once again coincided with Mr. Reagan, whom 53% of Americans say is a hero.
On American Renaissance, a worker tells the saga of one of these shlock MBA’s:
The place I worked for just had a president of one of its divisions leave. The man was a complete failure. No product came in at schedule or expected cost. He instituted stupid money wasting policies that could be found in any of the CEO worshipping books around. He walked away with over $40 million for his 5 year stint as a lowly division president – $30 million from stock options.All the stock growth was just from being in the right place at the right time. Now that we can’t grow the top line, because our primary products have completely penetrated the market, we are talking about moving production overseas. There is nothing wrong with our workforce, nor are they greedy and lazy. We just can’t get the stock price up and too may bonuses are dependent on it.
There you have it. All the mergers, all the demands for wage and pension cuts, all the hiring of illegals and refugees and cheap labor this or that, all the breaking of unions, all of this is just to get the stock price up so executives can fatten their wallets on the bonuses. It’s doesn’t have anything to do with international competition or any of that.
You think any MSM media source will tell that? Dubious. Lou Dobbs, the sole populist voice in our nation’s mass media? Perhaps. Good luck finding another one.