Wednesday, May 28, 2008

It's not fair

There was an interesting article in the Deseret News (Salt Lake City) regarding the plight of Hispanic workers. They are complaining about low pay and losing their jobs. And they feel discriminated against because they earn less than other workers.

The article was carefully crafted to avoid the immigration status of the victims in the spotlight. And the facts and figures they quoted spoke in general terms rather than apples-to-apples comparisons.

At the end I found myself quoting Clara Peller: “Where’s the beef?”

Before we get into the meat of the article’s pity plea, I’d like to quote a few figures of my own. From the United States Census 2007 Current Population Survey we find that there are 6,850,000 illegal aliens WORKING in the United States.

But there are 10,104,000 teenagers out of work (age 15-17). But they should be in school, right? And they can only work part time, right? And some of the illegals are doing dangerous work, right?

There are also 22,344,000 citizens ages 18-64 who are not working. Surely we can replace those 6.8 MILLION illegal alien workers with our own. At least we should be able to put a serious dent in that number as long as the employers are legitimate. If they are nothing more than exploiters then we can’t fix the problem, but if they are legitimate business owners we can fill those jobs with Americans.

OK, now about the article. Overall, Hispanic women who work full time earn a median weekly salary of just $460 a week, according to a recent Pew Hispanic Center analysis of Current Population Survey data. That compares with $615 for non-Hispanic women.

Hispanic women born in the U.S. fared better than Hispanic immigrants, making $540 a week compared with $400 for immigrants, according to the Pew data. Mexican immigrants made the least, with median earnings of only $368 a week. That's just 60 cents for every dollar earned by a non-Hispanic woman.

Did Pew Hispanic Center, that bastion of true data, just slip something by us? I think they did. Was there anything in that data to compare the type of work or level of education required? Or are they Socialistic enough over at Pew to expect everyone to earn the same amount, regardless of the job?

Quoting again, Olga Vives, executive vice president of the National Organization for Women, says immigrants' wages are largely impacted by three factors: their legal status, education level and language barrier. NOW gets it. She might add “skill set” to the list, but she isn’t hiding the facts like reporter Debby Bunkley is trying to do.

Now, the bureaucrat rings in with, And Elena Bensor of the Utah Labor Commission says Hispanic women, particularly the undocumented, are less likely to report being victims of unscrupulous employers. However, even legal immigrants may be the target of on-the-job discrimination because of the assumption they're undocumented.
“That's because some employers threaten to turn workers in to immigration authorities for deportation if they report unpaid wages or sexual harassment, she said.
"One challenge in dealing with immigrant populations is that they do not want to create waves," Bensor said. "There's a reluctancy on their part to actually pursue and file complaints. They want to stay under the radar."

Once again Bunkley fails to completely identify Elena. Elena is the Fair Housing Coordinator for the labor commission and a Latino activist in her spare time (Generacion Floreciente Board of Directors and various other committees and boards).

I’m not following Elena’s logic that somehow people with work papers are reluctant to complain. It sure sounds like a hit-and-run comment to me.

The article goes on to lament the lack of women in construction jobs by talking to Hispanic women who think it is unfair that they can’t have the $14/hour roofing jobs. (Here’s the employment test – Put two bundles of shingles on your shoulder and climb that ladder.)

Now, Bunkley dazzles us with the woman-on-the-street expert.
However, whether perceived or real, many Hispanic women feel there is on-the-job wage discrimination based solely on their gender.
"Sometimes, even if the woman has the same skills as a man, a manager will give the women less money," said Dores Nuila, a mother of nine children. "There's a lot of sexism."
Nuila, who quit high school, actually earns $3 more an hour than her boyfriend, at her $13-an-hour customer service job. Throughout the years, though, there have been times when her boyfriend was the primary income-earner."

It looks like Debby needs a new Rolodex, unless she doesn't bother with the facts when she writes her pity pieces.

Source: Hispanic women face wage gap compared with others in the U.S. by Deborah Bulkeley and Laura Hancock, Deseret News Published: May 28, 2008

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