Monday, November 7, 2011

Washington State Now Using Inmates to Pick Apples

Washington apple growers have been unable to find enough migrant workers to pick their crops inspite of a wide-spread campagn to recruit pickers.  This is a side effect of the anti-immigration movement nation wide since nearly 400,000 undocumented workers are being deported annually.

Photo:  The Wenatchee World

State apple growers sounded an alarm in recent weeks of a severe shortage of pickers. Signs were put up at orchards. Ads were taken out on radio. Newspapers and TV stations reported the story of the shortage after Gov. Chris Gregoire put out a call for help. Many unemployed workers did apply for jobs, but few stayed.
"It's hard work," she said. There are seven guards to make sure the inmate workers stay on the job until it's done, but it's an expensive proposition for the grower, Wilis admits. McDougall will pay $22 an hour for each inmate. Inmates are paid minimum wage, but deductions for crime compensation, incarceration costs, child support and other bills reduces that to between $1 and $2 an hour. Most of what growers are charged pays for transportation, housing and security. Most inmates picked three or four 800-pound bins of apples in that first day.
So again, we find evidence that undocumented immigrants are not taking jobs away from "normal citizens".  American citizens just don't want to do this kind of work, even if they are out of a job.  And with 9 percent of us officially unemployed, that's a lot of people unwilling to take such a job.

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