HELP US KEEP REPORTING. DONATE TO ORLANDO WEEKLY PRESS CLUB.

Low tide for summer wages 


Some days I read the paper, and some days I just whap myself upside the head with it. This is one of my whapping days.

It's a story in USA Today about how there's such a shortage of summer workers this year that amusement parks, fast-food chains, bars and other summer tourist businesses are desperate for hired help. How desperate? So desperate, says the newspaper, that they've recruited workers from Slovakia, Lithuania, Spain, Macedonia and other exotic places to take summer jobs in America's beach towns and recreation parks.

Wait a minute. They have to import someone from Slovakia to work in a beach restaurant? "We're crying," one restaurant owner in Florida told USA Today. "We run help ads in the newspapers and sometimes we don't get anyone." He hired some workers from Czechoslovakia.

But here's the real story -- they're paying a pittance! The reporter writes that these businesses have tried everything, including "raising wages" to attract Americans. But it turns out they're only paying $5.25, $5.50, $5.75 an hour. The owner of a Wendy's franchise in Florida is quoted as saying that he raises the wages of those who stay for a month: "Once you find a good worker, you can't worry about how much you pay them -- you've got to keep them." Guess how much his big pay raise is? To six bucks an hour!

It's not like these businesses are hurting. As one business representative said: "Nobody is crying about their profits this summer."

I guess not, since they can bring Slovakians to keep American wages down. And get this: To import these workers, they're using a special visa program that lets foreign college students spend six months working in and touring the U.S. of A.

USA Today pitched the story as though it were the businesses that were being squeezed -- rather than Americans being squeezed out of these summer jobs.

Jim Hightower is an author, radio commentator, public speaker and political sparkplug from Austin, Texas. For more populist commentary, visit his website.


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.

Speaking of Jim Hightower

More by Jim Hightower

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 27, 2020

View more issues

Calendar

© 2020 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation