Creating a Low Wage America
Nathaniel Popper’s account in the LA Times of labor disputes at Ikea’s factory in suburban Danville, VA, points out the decline of non-highly educated workers, especially when compared to similarly skilled and educated workers at the same company in Europe:
Laborers in Swedwood plants in Sweden produce bookcases and tables similar to those manufactured in Danville. The big difference is that the Europeans enjoy a minimum wage of about $19 an hour and a government-mandated five weeks of paid vacation. Full-time employees in Danville start at $8 an hour with 12 vacation days — eight of them on dates determined by the company.
What’s more, as many as one-third of the workers at the Danville plant have been drawn from local temporary-staffing agencies. These workers receive even lower wages and no benefits, employees said.
Swedwood’s [Ingrid] Steen said the company is reducing the number of temps, but she acknowledged the pay gap between factories in Europe and the U.S. “That is related to the standard of living and general conditions in the different countries,” Steen said.
I wonder if these low wages and benefits is what politicians and pundits mean when they talk about creating jobs in America? It sounds like a strategy for turning America into Europe’s Mexico.