The Value of “Cheap Labor”


“The American Dream.”

We’ve been conditioned to believe that the American Dream is all about home ownership, and living in peace and prosperity.

Well, in a country that is facing rising home foreclosures , under constant fear of being the target of terrorist attacks and where the declining value of the US dollar compared to the world’s largest and smallest currencies is steadily falling, one has to wonder just what is today’s American Dream that makes people risk their lives to come here.


The easy answer is jobs.

Yet, critics of the undocumented workers say they drag wages down and are a burden to towns and cities. These same critics overlook the fact that undocumented immigrants are pumping money back into local communities and actually help those rural communities and towns that see their young people opt for life in the big cities rather than toil in meatpacking, agriculture, etc. hard-labor jobs.

It’s no understatement to say the undocumented migrant worker is breathing life back into some communities rather than sucking those communities dry.

Even the U.S. Census recognizes this fact of life.

Without immigrants pouring into the nation’s big metro areas, places such as New York, Los Angeles and Boston would be losing population, according to a study conducted by the US Census.

But as it seems, these critics may get their wish regarding some of the undocumented returning south of the border.

In the last two months, several companies have revealed that they are moving or opening manufacturing plants in Mexico.

The candy maker Hershey’s, Brownstown, an Indiana company that produces spare tire carriers, winches and tool kits and a casket production company Marshfield,
and Nortel.

On the surface, this is exactly the kind of help Mexico needs for its economy.

Yet, something a Hershey executive said, should give critics of undocumented labor cause to pause:

At a Feb. 20 analyst conference in New York, Hershey’s chief executive Richard H. Lenny said the company is missing out on cheaper labor markets. Labour costs in Mexico are 90 per cent lower than the United States, while the cost is 95 per cent lower in Asia, he said.

In addition, raw materials are 10 per cent cheaper outside the United States, Lenny said.

“Hershey will have a more globally dispersed and appropriate network with Mexico and Asian production,” Lenny said.

We know Mexican labor is cheap compared to the United States but rather than lose jobs to a country with cheap production and labor costs, isn’t it to our advantage to keep those jobs in the United States?

Using “cheap labor” in this country can be better monitored so no workers are exploited, workers higher in the workforce chain can maintain their job security and those companies don’t have to lose any time or money in relocation, rebuilding, rehiring and retraining.

There’s value in “cheap labor” — for everyone.

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