American factory labor has been, and continues to be, exported so much that it will soon be a memory.
We all know unscrupulous corporations and other large companies build new factories in other countries to pay less wages and insurance to the foreign workers. People in China and third world countries have lower costs of living, and demand less pay. Most other countries also provide free healthcare for their people as well, along with everything we see as fringe benefits: retirement accounts, workplace insurance, etc. (people will argue this, citing how horrible it is to live there and so on, but it is true most people in the world outside america have better healthcare access). By the time companies pay the standard American demanded wages for factory work- 12.ish - plus insurance and benefits, it totals nearly 25. per hour per employee. This is average, meaning lots of people make much more: the managers, supervisors, maintenance, electricians, inspectors, etc. Even if temps are used, and paid 7.25 an hour, the temp service charges a huge premium and the company pays almost the same. Usually they are trying to save on paperwork more than money. There is so much more to this though than wages.
The work ethic is rarely if ever mentioned. I worked in several factories for many years, and can assure you there are very few dedicated workers. Most talk more than work. Many wander the plant and visit one another. Some even read books or write letters. When they are working, many drop everything when the line stops. If there is a maintenance issue, nearly all will wander, talk, and even go have a sit somewhere. Very few will start cleaning, helping maintenance fix it, or help other lines out. The ones that do are rare, and are never rewarded for it. The slackers likewise are virtually never punished.
A rare few factories run tight ships, but most let their workers run amok with talking and taking extended breaks. At a couple I worked at, the employees stretched their 15 minute breaks into 30, and their half hour lunches into 1 and 1/2 hours. Except weekends- then they took even longer breaks.
This is American labor: high wages and extensive benefits for mediocre labors. Introduce foreign workers into American plants and you will always see a shocking difference in work ethics and standard practices. These differences are noticed by plant managers. They are reported to district and corporate level managers.
The few hard workers that exist in America- and there are some- object and preach about American labor and quality. Meanwhile, the rest- mostly slackers- simply do not care and continue the practices mentioned earlier. The real workers are rare. This becomes a money problem for companies. Why is it they are paying us so much when people of other countries will do the same and more, for much lower pay??
I posit that it was not policies or laws or ignorance that exported American industrial labor- it was American laziness and arrogance. Asinine laws such as NAFTA and free trade policies enabled companies to export jobs, but they would not have utilized these if our labor was worth keeping to begin with.
As far as I am concerned, factory work sucks ass, to put it mildly. Let them do it if they want to. Pity the Chinese. We as Americans think we are smarter; better. Let's act like it then. Retrain into new careers: white collar stuff, whatever. And those of us who do not or cannot, well, blame the American lazy asses that created the situation to start with. The Chinese are just people trying to make a living like you and I. They are humans with families to support and food to buy for their kids. If you want to work in some other blue collar type business, then there is the mexican problem to deal with- but that is another subject.
Find a way, somehow. There is no choice.
(c) james platt
(c) james platt