December 4, 2011 |
Kazuo Okawa's luckless career as a "nuclear gypsy" began one night at a poker game. The year was 1992, and jobs were scarce in this farming town in the shadow of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. An unemployed Okawa gambled and drank a lot. He was dealing cards when a stranger made him an offer: manage a crew of unskilled workers at the nearby plant. "Just gather a team of young guys and show up at the front gate; I'll tell you what to do," instructed the man, who Okawa later learned was a recruiter for a local job subcontracting firm.
October 1, 2006 |
Shortly after dawn, the day laborers began gathering beneath a San Diego Freeway overpass in West Los Angeles. A house painter pulled up in a pickup, looking for an assistant. He offered $12 an hour. A worker jumped in. Next to arrive was a white-haired woman driving a Honda. Her garden needed a makeover. She'd pay $11 an hour. She departed with a second worker. On the freeway above, commuters were heading to offices in Century City and El Segundo. Down here, at the West L.A.
September 25, 2005
According to columnist Michael Hiltzik ("Border Policy Is Pinching Farmers," Golden State, Sept. 22), the only option America has regarding illegal immigration is to change our immigration policies again to favor those who violate them by legalizing millions of those who have blatantly broken our laws and those who profit from their labor. In 1986, "we the people" were promised better enforcement, only to find millions of illiterate, unskilled workers flooding our cities, destroying our public education and social service systems.
May 22, 2005
"We're Partners in This Crime," the headline on Andres Martinez's May 18 Commentary column, is absolutely correct. As for solutions, they begin by acknowledging that President Bush's "willing workers" concept is little more than a national job fair for businesses and private residents that don't want to pay living wages. A "willing worker" is generally a desperately poor, unskilled individual from the Third World seeking almost any kind of work. A "willing employer" is generally a mercenary and conniving firm or individual offering employment to willing workers at non-living wages and with terrible working conditions.
December 15, 2003
There is something about the illegal alien problem that reminds me of that parental game we play on kids at Christmas. "Santa's coming, Santa's coming. Tell Santa what you want." Then when the kids are nearly delirious after a month of anticipation, we scold, "Stop it. Wait your turn." It must be hard on a man to know of all the work that's right over the border but be told to wait his turn. To be hungry, or see your children hungry, gives a man few choices. Outside my window is a group of Mexican men eating their lunches, day laborers hired to repair my landlord's roof.
September 6, 2000 |
One of the unheralded benefits of Southern California becoming the trade crossroads of the world is that it offers hundreds of local unskilled workers a chance at really good job training. More than $3.6 billion worth of rail construction projects are now being built in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, with good jobs for construction workers, economic benefits for the region--and an innovation. The innovation is training.