I Did a Job my Legal Friend Didn’t Want to Do

Contributor who wished to be known as John Galt

A friend of mine recently posted the following comment on his facebook profile: “Data proving Americans will not do the jobs of migrant laborers. Keep out immigrants and the fields will go fallow. All the idiots who argue that illegal immigrants take the jobs of Americans will probably just ignore this…” Being one of these “idiots” I was curious to see my stupidity elucidated so I clicked on his link. The article was from the SF chronicle and it presented the following evidence as the crux of the argument: analysis from AP from last January to June, California farmers posted ads for 1,160 farmworker positions open to U.S. citizens and legal residents. But only 233 people in those categories applied after learning of the jobs through unemployment offices in California, Texas, Nevada and Arizona.

The argument is capped off by the nod of a government official, one Lucy Ruelas: “It surprises me, too, but we do put the information out there for the public,” said Lucy Ruelas, who manages the California Employment Development Department’s agricultural services unit. “If an applicant sees the reality of the job, they might change their mind.” It got me thinking.. what is the reality of these jobs?

If its not too bad, this sure looks like a solid argument. How can I maintain my position that Americans DO want these jobs if roughly 1 out of 6 positions is even applied for? Looks like I’m done for. But before throwing in the towel I decided to try to do the job my friend didn’t want to do: I thought I should be more like Stephen Colbert and try to apply for these jobs myself. I cruised on over to http://www.edd.ca.gov/ clicked on “Find a job”, gave them my SS#, birthday, filled out some personal information.. tried to register as “johngalt”, failed (someone already took it), frustratingly chose a different username and finally I was in. Okay!! Here we go!! Let the job seeking begin! The first thing I did was to see the total number of jobs out there at all. Here is a screenshot of what they have for all of California as of 9/27/2010:

Notice the whopping 243 Farming jobs. Wow. Quite a staggering number for a state of nearly 2M unemployed people. Anyway, lets click on that. Here is what you see:

Woohoo, 69 jobs for farmworkers. Lets see what those jobs are…

Beekeeper helper at $14.50/hour doesn’t sound too bad. You probably get to wear one of those sweet suits and eat lots of honey. So I clicked on that one. Here are some juicy bits of the job description:

ASSURANCES – Employer provides free housing to workers. Housing includes free kitchen facilities so worker can prepare own meals. After a worker has completed 50% of the work contract, employer must reimburse the worker for the cost of transportation and subsistence from the place of recruitment to the place of work. Employer provides free transportation between employers housing and worksite to any worker who is provided housing. Employer furnishes at no cost to worker all tools necessary to carry out the work. Employer guarantees to offer each worker employment for at least three-fourths of the workdays in the work contract period and any extensions. If employer affords less employment, employer must pay the amount which the worker would have earned had the worker been employed the guaranteed number of days.

Wow. You get free housing, reimbursed transportation, workers comp? No kidding. Sounds like a sweet deal. You’re telling me Americans don’t want these jobs? Ok but maybe that beekeeper one was a special case. Lets try another job. I clicked on the crappiest sounding one: Farmworker, Laborer $9.90/hr. Here is the description:

Job site in Wheatland, Wyoming. Anticipated period of work is 10/01/10 to 08/01/11. Assists during farrowing and helps baby pigs survive birth and infancy, castrates, notches ears, vaccinates, grinds and mixes feed, flushes hog waste into holding pits. Repairs and maintains machinery, plumbing, and physical structures in farrowing, nursery and finishing buildings. Operates farm equipment for silage and hay production, harvesting corn. Drives pickup truck to obtain parts and supplies. Basic literacy and arithmetic. Clean driving record. Housing with cooking facilities provided for workers only at no cost to workers

Wow free housing again. But uh oh. I gotta move to Wyoming for 10 months? Hmmm. Lets try a few others..

The $11.45 one: JOB SITE IN Pearl City, Hawaii.

The $9.78 one: Job is in Pecos, Texas.

One of the other $9.78 ones: Job site in Kyle, Texas.

Hmm.. I’m starting to see a patern here. In fact I clicked on every one of the paltry 69 offers posted and found jobs only in these California locations (one job for each city village unless otherwise indicated): Tulelake, Napa, ARBUCKLE, Susanville, Bard, Carson, Newcastle, Wasco, Corning, Del Mar (possibly) – 2 jobs for a HORSE SHOW GROOM, Petaluma, Riverside, Brawley, Dixon, Rio Vista, Winchester, West Hills, and last but not least, Bakersfield, came in with a prodigious 3 job offers. The total number of farming jobs in California: 23. On the other hand, I counted 27 for Texas. So on the California unemployment website I can find more farming jobs in Texas than in California? Yeah that’s useful.

So it seems that in order to get one of these farm jobs, I most likely have to migrate hundreds of miles (unless I happen to live in Bakersfield) to a remote location, perhaps even in a different state, and at best expect to be employed for 8-9 months. Americans don’t want these jobs? No kidding! Its not like we would turn down free housing, food (in some cases) and $10/hour. It’s the drive stupid! Who wouldn’t rather go work in McDonalds where you don’t have to drive 200 miles to work or possibly move to a completely different state. Who would move? A person that has no home: an illegal immigrant. As always.. the devil is in the details. But nice try there, Associated Press and my facebook friend. I guess just one of us took home the message of Stephen Colbert: do your own research.

This has been John Galt speaking.

Disclaimer: It may be possible that everything I found on the website will magically change come January to June, when AP collected its statistics. It is late September after all. So there is still hope for me to be an idiot. Keep your fingers crossed.

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