I wish everyone up here in the Union states – especially the ones racing to emulate the political and economic policies that have made places like Mississippi and Alabama the gardens of Eden they are today – could be forced to read a little about what is happening to the components of the auto industry that have been fleeing southward for the last thirty years. The UAW is staking its future on being able to unionize southern manufacturing and parts facilities with little success so far and none appearing likely in the near future. That says more about Southern politics than about the contentedness of the people who were only recently so excited about all of them jorbs comin' down from the North. Some members of the new industrial workforce in Dixie aren't terribly happy now that they are starting to figure out that you can earn more at Taco Bell than in The Factory.

Cleveland, Mississippi is on the top ten list of shittiest places I've had the misfortune to see firsthand in this country. It's home to a parts factory making auto seats for Faurecia, a massive French company with 274 factories around the globe. You don't build a factory in Cleveland, MS because you want to take advantage of the skilled labor force or well-developed infrastructure. You build a factory in Cleveland, MS because some Governor named Buck or Sonny or Cooter told the State Legislature to give you $100 million in tax breaks and new highway construction and you want to pay your workers as little as the law will allow. Then you proceed to pay your workers as little as the law will allow while explaining to them that you're actually paying them quite a lot for the decrepit backwater in which they were unfortunate enough to be born and either unable or (unwisely) unwilling to leave.

Protesters say Faurecia employees make a top wage of $11.64 per hour, while contract workers make $7.73 an hour.

Company spokesman Tony Sapienza said that with overtime, the typical Faurecia employee makes more than the $27,000 a year that is the median wage around Cleveland. Wages are often low in the heavily impoverished Delta.

"We are very confident that we are offering a very competitive wage," Sapienza said.

In other words, $7.73 per hour ($16,000 per year at 40 hours) with no benefits is a lot of money for You People! And it should be noted that $8.03 is the estimated "living wage" in Cleveland. For one adult. With no dependents.

Much like handing a pedestrian in Mogadishu $100 would make him rich by the standards of his peers, the entire logic of moving industry southward is and always has been "We can pay these (hicks / colored people) next to nothing and they'll be thrilled with it!" And it has worked for a while. But even in Cleveland, MS people are starting to figure out that a factory job with a maximum hourly wage of $11 – with half the spots filled by contracted temp labor making a why-bother $7.73 per hour – isn't much of a step up from the $8 or $9 per hour that most fast food chains are paying these days. What did Mississippi really get for whatever ridiculous buffet of subsidies they slopped in a trough for Faurecia? A factory half-filled with people making under $30,000 per year and half-filled with temps making barely over the poverty line. Oh, and someone's nephew making $150,000 to run the place. Even Management salaries are subject to the local cost of living argument, otherwise he'd be making a half million.

Take a good, hard look, Wisconsin. This is your competition, and these are the "jobs" that people like Gov. Homonculus are promising to bring to (or retain in) your state. If only you'd stop being so greedy and agree to work for next to nothing, maybe Job Creators wouldn't be forced to take massive bribes from Southern governments to give your job to someone who will be thrilled to earn the Federal minimum wage.

At least for a while, anyway.


  • Davis X. Machina says:

    The psychic wage must be huge.
    They're up to their neo-Confederate keisters in Freedom™, after all.

  • You said it yourself, Ed, "…pay your workers as little as the law will allow". So why rant against the employer if he's within the law? Or do you expect him to have a social conscience whilst it's okay for you to pay the guy who paints your apartment 'on the black' to avoid paying taxes?

    The answer is obvious: change the law by, say, raising the minimum wage to $20 p.h. and everyone will be happy – right? Except that you'll soon be saying bye-bye to Faurencia.

    Sad the way that works, hmmm?

  • I live in this nearly anointed shit hole WI. We have tried time and again, as you likely know to get rid of this goggled eyed homunculus but he is a slippery one! Excellent Rant! I'm afraid it is too late for our once great state, unless people start to realize just how he has pitted neighbor against neighbor and get their heads out of their asses. I don't see it happening in the near future though.

  • And he signed the bill yesterday at a place that has already shipped a bunch of jobs to Mexico and plans on sending more, even with the RTW bill. The company made $30 mil last year and the owner personally cleared over $1.3. But he promises he'll bring in higher paying jobs by the jobs fairy if we can just cut everyone else's wage to less than shit. Oh, and we're going to gut the state park system so that we have, and I shit you not, corporate sponsored camp grounds. Make sure to sign up for a week at the Waste Management State Park, not many sites available because half the CG is now a landfill. WI is now North Korea and Gov Scooter is Kim Jung Un, with a shittier haircut.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    And the race for the bottom continues, as we as a nation, swirl faster and faster around the toilet bowl, soon to reach a critical mass, and flush ourselves straight into the sewer!

    I have two recent college grad's in our family. One is working as an intern for nothing. Her boyfriend can't find a job – he already did the interning for nothing, and instead of offering him a job, they found someone new to work as an intern for nothing, for another 6 months.

    This will not end well.
    I see modern motorized tumbrels and laser guillotines!

  • @c u n d gulag
    "motorized tumbrels and laser guillotines" hey? That's a real job creation activity – I wonder who'll pay for their production and manufacture.

    As a matter of interest, what courses did your grads complete? Anything with "Applied" in it or was it "[something] Studies" that focused their minds?

  • @Mark

    In the English language there is the phrase 'black economy'. Look it up and be amazed – it has nothing to do with skin color.

    I'm more concerned that you, resident in the USA and the home of free speech, immediately have the knee-jerk reaction to the word 'black' you evidence here – how sad is that? Too much exposure to Jackson and Sharpton, perhaps?

  • Emerson Dameron says:

    At this rate, we'll have plenty of fancy new prison jobs soon.

    If you listen a bit more closely to the right-wing talking heads you presumably enjoy, you'll notice that the *best* regressive sophists pick one point and hammer away at it until it's good and hammered. (John Kobylt and Ken Champou excel at this, moreso than, say, Hannity.) Jumping around like you're doing now is known as the "Gish Gallop," and unless your audience is extraordinarily slow, it's a shitty rhetorical device.

  • FYI all (I mean Y'ALL), a LOT of the components the neo-sharecroppers at Faurecia are assembling are imported from China. I know because I used to send them there. And for Christ's sake don't read the comments under the Autoblog piece.

  • Y'know, there are two theories. One–you try to improve the world a bit at-a-time because you are part of a human/humane society. The other–you just throw your sabots into the works and hope that everything will be rosy after the revolution.

    If "the people" can't pass a local minimum wage OR a national living wage, then they are not following either plan: they are sheep. Give 'em time.

  • If you can't pay your workers a living wage, you have no business being in business. You have a shitty business model. And carrstone's recitation of right-wing talking points is just ridiculous. Many companies do pay their employees and do manage to stay in business and stay around.

  • kingeofdremes says:

    It doesn't make all that much sense to me why we equate "earning" with "getting paid" some amount. I figure we all "get paid" money, but people across the spectrum can "earn" a lot more or a lot less than is reflected in green.

    "Earns" implies that a person actually did something valuable for their company, whether tangible or not.

    "Gets paid" implies that they received an amount that had nothing to do with actual job performance, which seems a far more accurate way of looking at how the business world operates.

    The nephew was paid $150,000; whether it was earned or not is a separate (and philosophically touchy) issue.

  • It's a race to the bottom, but we're not in competition with Mississippi– we're in competition with Bangladesh and China. Until things like "eating" and "going to work with the reasonable expectation of not dying" are a guarantee in those countries, then there will a downward pressure on our workers' wages and rights.

    It's as if the international workers of the world need to join the International Workers of the World, or something.

  • They don't care if their children waste away slowly, as long as they can see an African-American child die quickly in front of them.

  • I do love the race to the bottom that the Republican party sponsors. It's almost as if they don't give a shit about any of us.

  • Speaking of repeating talking points…

    People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. Intellectual myopia, often called stupidity, is no doubt a reason. But the privileged feel also that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-given right. The sensitivity of the poor to injustice is a trivial thing compared with that of the rich. So it was in the Ancien Regime. When reform from the top became impossible, revolution from the bottomm became inevitable.
    –J. K. Galbraith, The Age of Uncertainty

    Is he right? What will it take for our corporate oligarchy to implode? Financial crisis? Naw, they're doing swell. Arson and insurrection? Naw, they've got local police forces for that. Global warming? It won't be them that suffers from drought, famine, and disease.

  • Y'all should take a Google Street View look around the plant. The road the plant is off of is only the very loosest definition of "paved."

  • Carrstone- You do not speak American. You may speak (or write) English, but the idioms and slang seem to escape you. Americans work "under the table" or "off the books" not "on the black". The Neo-Conferderate charge has more to do with *where* the factory Ed is speaking about is located than with your statement. Mississippi has been, and will be in the future, one of the poorest states in the nation, along with its neighbor Louisiana. The Mississippi Delta is full of communities in which lack what most of the country would call basic services. And so any economic development, with millions of tax breaks and hand-outs to hire people for the same as McDonalds? That's almost criminal. The taxpayers of the state of Mississippi are paying the plant to bring "good" jobs to the Delta, and instead would be better off sending the nice people checks and putting up a McDonalds, no government assistance needed!
    Wisconsin is facing a huge problem, not the least of which being that Minnesota, although worse off in the Great Recession, is passing them by leaps and bounds. With a much higher minimum wage, better benefits, etc., etc. Oh, and all those "job killing regulations" like making sure that companies don't fuck up the rivers, land, or air. Or worker safety regulations, etc. But hey, Wisconsin, you voted for that guy *three* times now. You get what you deserve. Move to Minnesota before they close the border. Half the population of the Cities (Minneapolis/St Paul area) are from Wisconsin or North Dakota anyway.

  • Too many people. Too many by (almost) a power of 10 world wide. Too few actual jobs. Right now it's cheaper to hire low wage no benefits workers than to automate the production. It all stops when no one can buy.

    To my mind the U.S. auto industry is a case study. For decades they have made marginal improvements to their product to the point where (after decades) it needs little maintenance that can be (moderatlely) cheaply done. But more than that, they've had to come up with creative financial ways to enable people to buy their product. Leases mainly. Long term financing of all sorts. You'd think that the producers of goods and services would be on the forefront of trying to get everyone paid enough to buy their products. Echo answers mournfully.

  • The ongoing reaction against the idea of human equality is depressing to watch. For most of history, most societies have consisted of a vast majority of ill-fed, uneducated commoners and a small layer of rulers on top. Any efforts to change this situation have been vigorously resisted, often by violence.

    To borrow a line from Pratchett, only very recently have some societies developed a third, roughly intermediate layer. Too far down to be movers and shakers, but too high up to be easily moved or shaken. There are powerful and well-organized factions at work who just HATE that this is true, and intend to undo centuries of political, social and economic progress. They are becoming increasingly visible, and they don't like that, either.

  • @khaled

    Nice catch. I always thought there was something off about carrstone's writing, I just thought it was all the black mold in his mother's basement getting to him.

  • Which would you rather have…
    Honda Fit 2007-2014 – Built in Japan
    Honda Fit 2015 – Built in Mexico

    "Honda says it has added some $1,000 to $1,800 of features to the 2015 model, while keeping the price virtually the same… Fits sold in the United States are now coming from an assembly plant in Celaya, Mexico. The move is saving Honda money, and that is reflected in its hold-the-line pricing"

    What makes me bang my head against the wall is the same idiots that want factories to move South to pay poverty wages are also True Americans(TM) that will only buy Made in the USA things and/or from USA brands. Real patriots, those.

  • Glad carrstone got caught out. Perhaps best to stay in his/her own province living on an industrial diet chased with righty swill. Uh, he/she almost got it right with the "black" thing, only it's not "working on the black". In Europe working "black" means working under the table. Anyway, don't know where this person resides, but it's probably somewhere with sunshine scarcity.

  • I will never cease to be amazed at the desperate hunger of Tories to tell Americans how we're doing America wrong.

    carrstone, I don't know if you know this, but we fought a war 200 years ago so we wouldn't have to listen to ignorant twits like you. Were you aware of that?

    Tell you what, "matey", if we need a recipe for blood pudding or some shit, we'll call on you. Till then, you've demonstrated ad nauseum that you have absolutely nothing useful, informed or thought out to contribute here. Piss off, guvnah. Sod off back to your own pathetic country. Choke on a jellied eel while rubbing one out to a picture of Margaret Thatcher. Whatever. Just quit posting your dreck here.

  • I thought "black economy" was the illegal/black market.
    Where as working "under the table", "off the books" or "cash economy"—or in the Australian "cash in hand"—were to describe the avoidance of taxes/regs.

    Some people are unclear on the concept of what the minimum wage is for.
    A) provide a basic LIVING wage
    B) at the very least ensure that I can achieve that basic living, without fear that some desperate fool won't under cut me.

  • A Different Nate says:

    Casey, your point would probably carry more weight if we'd stop electing homegrown twits to tell us how we're doing America wrong instead. They might be OUR twits, but they're still twits.

  • HoosierPoli says:

    It should be a sign of shame that America is the place that industrial countries outsource their labor to.

  • Bitter Scribe says:

    The only reason my sister and I got to live in a nice house and go to college was because my dad was in the UAW. I shudder to think what life would have been like for us today.

  • Skepticalist says:

    60 years ago when unions were strong and taxes high, the country was arguably in its best shape ever. Can't have that.

    Never has there been an better example of how big business loves America but hates Americans.

  • interesting thoughts on here – on another topic, what do some of you think about the west coast dock workers and their union making six figures with benefits while their counterparts working the inland warehouses make peanuts?

  • Dockworkers/longshoremen are being paid far more than what is reasonable, in this case. I agree that inshore counterparts should organize.

  • No, inshore counterparts should organize. Full stop. We should take note when our fellow citizens succeed, not attempt to tear them down.

  • "Dockworkers/longshoremen are being paid far more than what is reasonable, in this case."

    As compared to whom? Doctors, lawyers, pro athletes, stock brokers, actors, "on-air personalities"? Or were you thinking more along the lines of fast-food workers and Walmart employees?

    I was in the IBEW for eight years. There was some major suckitude in the union, but it was no worse than the suckitude in management–and the CEO was paid about 184 times what I was.

  • "True Americans(TM) that will only buy Made in the USA things and/or from USA brands. Real patriots, those."

    Not zackly.

    They will only buy things at Walmart and other MurKKKan big boxes. Fuck the local stores that DO sell stuff made here, unless they can sell it cheaper than Walmart sells the shit they import.

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