Labor Day and the Vanishing American Worker

Labor Day and the Vanishing American Worker

by Joe Guzzardi

Unemployed individuals, especially during sustained jobless periods, suffer from stress that is often so intense that mental anxiety ultimately affects their physical well-being. Losing the self-identity and confidence that comes from having steady employment and regular income creates an enormous physical and mental challenge. The physical setbacks most likely to occur after job loss are headaches, backaches, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Since the unemployed no longer have work-related health care coverage, desperately needed treatment goes wanting, and physical disorders may worsen.

With tens of millions of Americans jobless and without health benefits in their underemployed status, the nation is experiencing an accelerating health crisis. Yet for decades, the federal government has persisted in issuing employment-based visas to foreign-born nationals. To be completely clear, a visa is synonymous with a job – a job that an American or legally present immigrant will not receive, because of the ready availability of cheap, imported labor.

The State Department issues so many categories of work visas that the exact total can be a mystery even to the most well-informed. Including qualifying family members of the primary visa recipient, the total is roughly 35. Whatever the Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies as an occupation category, a visa is most likely available to a foreign national to take the job.

The donor class persistently lobbies Congress, claiming acute worker shortages, and demands more foreign employees when domestic labor is plentiful. Even visas that expressly exclude work permission, the B-1 temporary business visitor, have been used to displace Americans. Despite the potential availability of able-bodied U.S. workers, Congress often increases existing visa caps. The H-2B for domestic nonagricultural workers is an example.

Daniel Costa, the Economic Policy Institute’s Director of Immigration Law and Policy Research, analyzed recent H-2B data and found that although the visa has an annual 66,000 cap, Congress and the White House have supplemented the total during the past few years. In 2021, 117,000 H-2B workers were present; in 2022, however, the program will increase to more than 150,000, a record high. The H-2B program has indirectly encouraged employers in the main hiring categories in which the visa is used – landscaping, construction, forestry, food processing, restaurants and hospitality – to engage in unscrupulous practices. Department of Labor statistics that Costa studied showed that between 2000 and 2021, employers stole $1.8 billion from U.S. and foreign-born workers.

Wage theft in the H-2B program is a grave concern. The Government and Accountability Office, after analyzing ten diverse cases, found thatdifferent industries with employees in 29 states failed to pay promised wages, overtime and charged H-2B workers exorbitant fees. The GAO also uncovered employers and recruiters who submitted fraudulent documentation to government officials, evaded IRS payroll taxes and laundered money.

Labor Day and the Vanishing American Worker

The total count of potential workers climbs daily. The anticipated 2.1 million illegal aliens that will cross the Southwest Border will eventually, for the most part, either be granted asylum or parole; both come with work authorization. Sadly, few in Congress and no one in the White House cares when a foreign-born worker displaces an American. Since 2000, the total foreign-born population, a record 47 million, has grown by 50 percent; it’s doubled since 1990, tripled since 1980, and quintupled since 1970 – all workers or potential workers.

The U.S. doesn’t need 150,000 H-2B visas, the total Costa anticipates, to mow lawns, serve meals or hang dry wall. Americans can and will do those jobs, assuming a living wage. In his earlier reports, Costa wrote that “no labor shortages [exist] at the national level in the top H-2B occupations.” But the federal government and its Chamber of Commerce toadies are indifferent to displaced U.S. workers’ plights, their families or recently graduated job-seeking college students.

American workers on Labor Day 2022 struggle with a labor market stacked against them. In theory, a solution could be implemented – immediately reduce, with an eye toward eliminating, unnecessary employment visas. Sadly, though, the White House has proven time and again that it refuses to put Americans first.

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Joe Guzzardi is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist who writes about immigration and related social issues. Joe joined Progressives for Immigration Reform in 2018 as an analyst after a ten-year career directing media relations for Californians for Population Stabilization, where he also was a Senior Writing Fellow. A native Californian, Joe now lives in Pennsylvania. Contact him at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org.

Minor League Victory Was Major Labor Win

Minor League Victory Was Major Labor Win

By Joe Guzzardi

Midway during the Major League Baseball owners’ lockout of its players, I promised myself that I was done. No more universal DH, ghost runner, launch angles, tender limbs, watered down Hall of Fame standards and – most of all – no more haggling between the billionaire owners, the multimillionaire players and meddlesome, anti-baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred. I pledged not to watch or listen to one-third of any inning of any 2022 game. Unlike more important self-help vows I’ve made, I stuck to my pledge – no small feat for a fan whose summers for the last seven decades have included daily baseball doses.

But another constant disappointment is the principal reason I’ve steadfastly refused to contribute one thin dime to baseball – its years-long miserly, shameful treatment of minor league players. Advocates for Minor Leaguers (AML) crunched numbers and found that the median annual salary for a minor league player today is $12,000. The federal poverty level is $12,800, and the 2021 average MLB franchise has a $1.9 billion value.

MLB team owners pay their minor hopefuls a standard $400 weekly salary at the Complex League level, $500 per week in Single-A, $600 per week in Double-A and $700 per week in Triple-A. Players are paid only during the regular season and playoffs, despite being required to perform year-round in off-the-field duties. Minor leaguers, whose numbers were slashed when Manfred mandated that 42 teams be eliminated, make an annual salary of between $4,800 and $15,400. Weekly payments for entry-level minor leaguers are less than what minimum-wage workers earn in some states for a 40-hour workweek.

Minor League Victory Was Major Labor Win

Unlike major-leaguers, minor leaguers don’t draw checks until their first regular season game. Professional baseball is specifically exempted from federal labor protections. However, teams still are subject to state wage laws which owners routinely ignored. Instead, owners contended that players should be classified as short-term seasonal apprentices similar to farm laborers, a specious argument that a federal judge rejected.

Harry Marino, who played four minor league seasons, and is now AML executive director, said: “Guys struggle with housing, nutrition and making ends meet on a fundamental level. The system is outdated, exploitative and needs to change.” Last year, one viral AML video showed how nearly a dozen St. Louis Cardinals Double-A affiliate Springfield players were forced to sleep on the floor of a hotel banquet room while on the road.

In 2014, three retired minor league players filed a lawsuit which claimed violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as abuses of state minimum wage and overtime requirements. Eight years later, MLB agreed in court to pay minor leaguers $185 million to settle. An early guesstimate is that as many as 23,000 players could share the money with an average payment to each of $5,000 to $5,500. MLB grudgingly told the court that it approves of the settlement.

Garrett Broshuis, the players’ lead lawyer and a one-time minor league pitcher, called the settlement a “monumental step” toward “fair and just” compensation for the players. Broshuis continued: “I’ve seen first-hand the financial struggle players face while earning poverty-level wages – or no wages at all – in pursuit of their major league dream.”

The minor leaguers’ court win is a refreshing victory for the good guys against the stuffed-pockets, Scrooge McDuck-type tycoons content to let their prospects subsist on a bologna sandwich and sleep on the floor while they eat wagyu beef aboard chartered jets. Good baseball is everywhere – high school, college, Little and Pony Leagues, and the Independent League. Fans shouldn’t support the MLB tightwads, and can find better, more enjoyable baseball outlets close to home.

Joe Guzzardi is a Society for American Baseball Research and Internet Baseball Writers Association member. Contact him at guzzjoe@yahoo.com.

Minor League Victory Was Major Labor Win

Man that hideth his wisdom William Lawrence Sr Cryptowit 9-5-22

Man that hideth his wisdom William Lawrence Sr Cryptowit 9-5-22

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William Lawrence Sr Cryptowit 9-5-22
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