[Marxism] Abuse of Latino Forest Workers

Brian Shannon Brian_Shannon at verizon.net
Thu Mar 2 08:25:21 MST 2006

"I heard that exploitation of workers is tolerated because of bottom- 
line dollars."


By Tom Knudson
Sacramento Bee, March 2, 2006

WASHINGTON - The abuse of Latino forest workers by U.S. Forest  
Service contractors emerged from the backwoods of America on  
Wednesday and stepped onto the national stage at a Senate  
subcommittee hearing that could be a spark for lasting reform.

"Evidence suggests we continue to have great difficulty enforcing  
health, safety, immigration and labor laws of this country when it  
comes to these contracts," said Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, chairman  
of the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests.

Congress first examined the issue in 1980, then again in 1993  
- . . .legislative action might be required to address some problems,  
including the mistreatment of forest workers who labor legally here  
as H2B guest workers.
. . .

"Exploitation of these workers has devalued (Forest Service)  
contracts to ridiculously low levels to where we can't compete," said  
Cindy Wood, a forest contractor whose firm, Wood's Fire and Emergency  
Services, is located in Plumas County. Wood was the last to testify  
at Wednesday's afternoon session.
. . .

Just reporting violations to the Department of Labor is "simply  
passing the buck," Wood said in her written testimony. "If the Forest  
Service representative knows enough to promptly report the situation,  
they should also be stopping all work."
. . .

In her written testimony, Wood told lawmakers about her firsthand  
experiences with the mistreatment of laborers on the Plumas National  
Forest, where she subcontracted work only to discover conditions  
including "unhealthy sleeping conditions for foreign guest workers in  
the field when it was freezing or snowing; unacceptable foot attire;  
and transport vehicles lacking proper license and other certification  

Cassandra Moseley, director of the Ecosystem Workforce Program at the  
University of Oregon, [said] "Half of forestry workers in Oregon earn  
about $4,400 a year," she said. "And more than 85 percent earn less  
than the federal poverty level for a family of four."

In her written testimony, Moseley said problems are rooted in a  
Forest Service culture driven by meeting work targets.
. . .

Wood blamed . . .the Forest Service's so-called "best value" bidding  
practices, under which the agency says it awards jobs based not on  
lowest bid but on the best overall value. . . . "We gleaned a lot of  
information from [a] meeting about the pressure ... to get more acres  
for the money at any cost, even at (the cost of) small business  
survival. How is that best value?

"I heard that exploitation of workers is tolerated because of bottom- 
line dollars."

FULL AT http://makeashorterlink.com/?H23D12ABC


More information about the Marxism mailing list