You are here

"Labor's Hurricane George"

From Froma Harrop:

New Orleans offers a quick study of Bush labor policy in action: On Aug. 29, Hurricane Katrina strikes, causing widespread destruction. Four days later, President Bush commits $10.1 billion of the taxpayers' money to rebuilding New Orleans. Four days after that, he suspends the Davis-Bacon Act - the law that requires federal contractors to pay workers the going local rate.
Illegal immigrants, willing to work at less-than-prevailing wages, stream into New Orleans. And a mere six weeks after the last evacuee leaves the Superdome, we hear of complaints by illegal workers that employers are stiffing them of their meager pay.
So here you have it, a lesson on how to crush the market for blue-collar labor. And it could have been done in four PowerPoint slides...
There's only one sane explanation of why Bush would try to lower wages in a tight labor market: He intended all along to flood the market with cheap foreign workers.
It's a simple setup: (1) Get rid of Davis-Bacon, so contractors can offer below-market pay that Americans and legal immigrants won't touch; (2) continue to disregard the law that forbids companies to hire undocumented workers; (3) when people complain that the workers restoring New Orleans are not legal, say that they are taking jobs no American wants.
The one price that may never rise, in the Bush mindset, is the price of labor. Companies must cope with rising costs for energy, drugs or land. If they can't deal with it, they go out of business. But cheap labor is somehow an entitlement...

And, the Dems will say hardly a word about any of this.