2008 July 19 Saturday
Poultry Processors Want Cheap Immigrant Labor

The poultry processing industry wants more immigrant labor to lower its labor costs.

Now, poultry processors in Virginia and across the country are taking their case to Congress. Last week, several hundred industry leaders met in Washington to lobby for immigration changes and an improved document-checking system as well as relief from environmental rules that have doubled the price of the feed corn they buy for their birds.

If the poultry processors aren't hiring immigrants (legal and illegal) to lower costs what other possible reason could they be doing this?

"We depend on immigrants. If they all went away today, people like us couldn't operate," said Jim Mason, president of the cooperative, who visited a half-dozen congressional offices. "People think we hire Hispanics because we can get them cheaper, but it is absolutely false. We do everything the government asks and more to make sure our workers are legal, and we turn a lot of people away. But if an ID is stolen, there is nothing we can do."

What kind of suckers does he think we are?

Americans will do this work. Take away the Mexicans and Guatemalans and the work will still get done - albeit at higher hourly rates. Plenty of people would like to move up from minimum wage fast food jobs to slightly better paying jobs in factories and agricultural products processing plants.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 July 19 11:08 PM  Immigration Labor Market

z said at July 20, 2008 10:02 PM:

Poultry processing in slaughterhouses, which is filthy-blood-splattered work, used to pay about 12 bucks an hour..................now they get away with paying $7.50 an hour. Who do you think pockets the profits?

The thing is, is that if you let even one plant hire the illegals, then other plants are forced to find them to keep up. This mess started under Clinton. Stopping it wont be easy.

What is so pathetic about the whole situation is that the Juans and Miguels they hire will someday vote and vote for hard-left political candidates who will want a 10-dollar-an-hour minimum wage anyway. So here we are, killing the white working classe's birthrate for cheap labor in the now, virtually guaranteeing more expensive labor in the future when the electoral balance is shifted to the left by demography. The A-hole lobbysits dont think that far into the future though, and are only thinking about THEIR OWN McMansions in the now, not how their grandchildren will wake up in a country where getting a conservative elected will be damned-near impossible 30 years from now.

Immigration is bringing in more democrats every single day.......................who want to elect Obama despite Juan McCain's pandering to them. You'd think these idiots would learn. What is so irksome to me personally is that those who bargain for this constantly bring up the "free" market. The "free" market provided them with labor, at a higher price than they wanted to pay-----so they circumvent it at first opportunity. The "free" market provides our wives those little shoes they like at prices we all think are too high, but we dont shoplift them. Employing illegals is theft. Simply declaring them "legal" doesn't make it morally right. Declaring "rape" legal does not make forced sex consensual.

HellKaiserRyo said at July 20, 2008 10:39 PM:

Relax, relax conservatism will still exist...

The Bell Curve predicts a " new kind of conservatism is becoming the dominant ideology of the affluent - not in the social tradition of an Edmund Burke or in the economic tradition of an Adam Smith but 'conservatism' along Latin American lines, where to be conservative has often meant doing whatever is necessary to preserve the mansions on the hills from the menace of the slums below"

Conservatism will still exist then. As a liberal, I might support some conservative policies now if it would prevent that conservatism.

averros said at July 21, 2008 4:18 AM:

> Who do you think pockets the profits?

Consumers. If you learn a little bit of economics, you'll know about the thing called "norm of profit", which is, basically, what profits converge to the same percentage across the economy - if there's competition. If some sector yields higher profiths than the rest of the economy, the investors see that as an opportunity and create more production capacity. Which increases supply and, therefore, decreases prices, and thus profitability back to the economy average.

The only way to maintain higher profits than average for a long time is to restrict entry to the market by potential competition. This is called "protectionism", and because it is impossible to maintain protectionist policies over the entire world it merely results in shift of production from protectionist places to less regulated. Which is why most real goods nowadays are made by Chinese, not Americans.

As for Juans and Miguels voting for democrats - well, they merely follow Americans who vote for collectivists be it Republican fascists or Democratic socialists. At least these mexican idiots as you called them are willing to work at dirty and dangerous jobs to make their life better - while white bozos are only good for whining that mexicans are stealing their jobs.

D Flinchum said at July 21, 2008 3:04 PM:

"This mess started under Clinton."

This mess started under Reagan with increasing illegal immigration, the 1986 amnesty, and no enforcement to speak of. Both parties share the blame here.

Randall Parker said at July 21, 2008 5:44 PM:


I feel happy for you that you are able to feel morally superior to both the Democrats and the Republicans. I hope that feeling of moral superiority is extremely enjoyable because both parties are going to get much worse. So you'll be able to feel even more morally superior.

As Hispanics become a much larger fraction of the total population the Republican Party will shift leftward to try to stay competitive. So the Republicans will become worse and you'll be able to keep on seeing them as just as bad as the Democrats. It won't matter that the Republicans won't be as bad as the Democrats. What will matter is that your delusion will allow you to see them as such. So your morally superior position will be maintained in your own mind and in the minds of your fellow shrinking ranks of libertarians.

Mercer said at July 21, 2008 7:04 PM:

I live a little north of the area discussed so read about it the local papers. The first comment is correct that this work used to done by natives for twelve dollars per hour and is now done by immigrants for seven or eight.

Averros understates the immigrants work ethic. Not only do they work in the poultry facilities for less than the "white bozos" but they also run their own small business - selling crystal meth. This heavy work schedule apples only to the immigrants. The immigrants' children start joining organizations like MS-13 and the Latin Kings around age ten.

As a Virginia taxpayer I don't think the possible lower price of a Thanksgiving turkey compensates for all the benefits of this diversity.

Bob Badour said at July 21, 2008 8:03 PM:


You are contributing to the illegal immigration situation with all that cheap turkey you eat! Bad Randall! Bad! ;)

HellKaiserRyo said at July 21, 2008 8:40 PM:

Yup ... those immigrants should vote Republican as they are enterprenurial. The drug trade is essentially a free market.

This is a post from peakoil.com :

"The drug trade is essentially a free market - there are no government controls (other than banning) and there is free and open competition including removal of competitors. The cartels and organizations that work in it are examples of the market at work."

Cheryl Southerland said at July 22, 2008 8:33 AM:

I to am opposed to this rash of illegal immigrants that are in this country solely on the basis of "lower cost of labor". I can site so many instances in the last 8 years that it would take a book to cover it. But the crimes that they commit while they are here and get away with are beyond the scope. We think that they have problems in Iraq? Well, as a mother of two sons that have been there and seen what is going on here, there is not much difference. My husband and I moved to a little farm town in Idaho a few years back. This is a town of 450 people and no law enforcement of any kind. Because, who needs them right? Well the Immigrant workers (and that is being nice) come there on a seasonal basis to work the farms. I opened a restaraunt while we were there and hired from the town to fill my job openings. It was then that I found out what really goes on there. One of my waitresses had been raped brutally by two of them two years before this. She was going to the nearest medical center on a regular basis for counseling for this (which she had to travel 60 miles one way), but the fear in her was evident and she was always scared. This town had approximatley 8 streets to walk down all within a square mile. She eventually quit and her job and her family moved to another state because of her fear. Why you ask? I'll tell you. The two wetbacks that raped her, gave false names when they came there. When the sheriff's dept. investigated they some how disappeared and went back to Mexico and couldn't be traced because of the false identities. But that didn't stop them from coming back every season to work the farms and it didn't stop the farmer from hiring them for cheap wages when they did come back. With another name mind you. They came back and threatened her and her little girl who was two at the time with a repeat if she ever told the authorities that she had seen them. So she was forced to leave. What kind of justice is that? This can be verified. It is a known fact in this little town that it is not safe for young girls of any age to walk alone there.

averros said at July 22, 2008 5:56 PM:

Randall - are you feeling irritated by my putative display of moral superiority? Let's talk about that. What exactly irritates you when you observe someone who is more successful than yourself and unashamedly considers it to be deserved? Is is the first time you meet someone who came to US with spare change as the only posession and made good by, well, working?

What is your problem?

A propos - I respect those poor Mexicans a lot more than whiners who were born with all advantages they could get, blew it, and blame everyone but themselves. That pretty much includes all xenophobes - no matter how intellectually sophisticated they pretend to be.

Afraid of competing with Hispanics? Well, you may want to talk to your therapist about your inferiority complex.

Mercer said at July 22, 2008 8:00 PM:


Randall and I are not competing with Hispanics to get poultry jobs. After reading Fast Food Nation I feel sorry for the people who work in meat packing plants.

Whats my problem with these illegal workers? They pay less in taxes then what their families receive Medicaid and public school expenditures. The children of these workers, according to the Woodstock police chief, have no interest in the turkey business. They prefer the criminal gang lifestyle.

I am sure the prison, medical and schooling costs of these Hispanics far exceeds any savings I get on my Thanksgiving turkey.

These turkey plants are within commuting distance of West Virginia. WV has one of the weakest economies in the US. I am sure these businesses could get legal workers from there. They would probably have to pay more and treat their workers better than the illegals.

Randall Parker said at July 22, 2008 9:04 PM:


I have no idea how successful you are. You've only recently claimed to be a millionaire or some such. I'm not interested in your income or net worth. It is not clear to me why you think it is relevant. I argue with rich venture capitalist friends whose political views run quite a spectrum. I do not find that their wealth predicts their views. One likes Mexican immigration. A few others agree with me on immigration. But they all respect political analysts who are poorer than any of us because those analysts offer great insights. Their insights come as a result of spending more time on understanding than on the pursuit of wealth.

Your display of moral superiority: Look, I've read the Libertarians. I've read the Objectivists. I probably read them when you were a kid in Russia. But I learned enough to see that they too have flaws in their logical models. I came to understand that all the arm chair philosophers who try to create big systematic moral philosophies base their models on simplifying and erroneous assumptions about human nature. It annoys me to read some young libertarian fool spout off on how they have found the one true way because I'm annoyed when people choose pretty models over empirical evidence.

Competing with Hispanics? I rarely if ever meet any in my occupation. I'm trying to remember the last time I did but can't think of any.

Xenophobes: I like the way you ascribe all sorts of feelings and motivations to me that are inaccurate. You've got a model to explain people who take opposing views. You are so confident in your model that you figure you know the psychology of those who disagree with you. But, again, your model is simplistic and wrong.

HellKaiserRyo said at July 22, 2008 9:50 PM:

Regarding your VC friends, Randall, do you see a shift towards the aforementioned conservatism that Murray and Herrnstein speak of? Do you think that strain of conservatism is becoming more popular among the affluent?

Randall Parker said at July 22, 2008 10:09 PM:


The VCs will spend to protect themselves against social pathology. But they'd rather that the decay doesn't happen. Look, being rich is a lot more fun in the US than in, for example, Mexico or Brazil. You are far less likely to get kidnapped. Law enforcement isn't corrupt. Your possessions are safer. The VCs I know are aware of all this. They are very smart people.

Jerry Martinson said at July 22, 2008 11:56 PM:

I think it is not unreasonable or immoral to come up with effective enforcement techniques for our immigration laws. Generally I think the legal immigration that is occurring in this country is a very good thing - and I know hundreds of examples where I think it is working very well. I also think the laws that we have on the books are not perfect, and they often could result in unforeseen situations that are unfair to some individuals if the laws were to be effectively enforced. I also empathize with most people working illegally in this country because in many cases if I were in their shoes, I'd be doing the same thing. However, there is nothing wrong with expecting the executive branch to enforce the laws that the legislative branch has passed (and president signed). Anarchy is not the system of government that I prefer. Yet this is what we are getting, and in some circles it is considered politically incorrect to suggest that breaking the laws is wrong.

If enforcement of laws is lax, there is a serious problem with fairness that results. What good is writing laws in the first place if everyone ignores them? When I was a kid I had several neighbors and family members who worked for a meat packing plant that paid well and they enjoyed a middle class life. While we get slightly cheaper meat, these people are getting screwed by our government not being able or willing to enforce the law.

I think if you wanted to prevent the blatant kind of "I9" fraud that is occurring now and causing this problem, it would be a fairly straightforward matter to require the I9 to have a notary public to supervise a scannable thumbprint on the form. The thumbprint would then be entered into the federal fingerprint database in West Virginia and looked up in the database to check for unauthorized duplicates using the same identity. The key is to have a notary do it so that an unconnected 3rd party is would have to be in on a conspiracy to defraud the I9 form which is a lot less likely to happen. If upon INS audit, an employee doesn't match the fingerprint on the I9, then you've got a fairly easy criminal case to prosecute against the employer and employee since there is a documentation chain. Some people might object to this on "privacy" but if the alternative is continued immigration anarchy.

Bob Badour said at July 23, 2008 1:11 PM:

I have worked with three Hispanics. All were/are quite good.

One was formerly a physicist in Cuba. After Solidarity took over Poland, the commies still considered it part of their turf; even though, they no longer held sway there. Castro was careful not to allow both the physicist, Carlos, and his wife to leave the eastern bloc at the same time, but they let him travel while his wife was in Poland.

When his flight stopped in Gander for fuel, Carlos ran across the tarmac with his arms in the air screaming "refugee" or something similar. Later, his wife joined him in Canada. He couldn't get a job in Canada as a physicist so he took up software development.

Another was from Mexico City. A Canadian company sponsored him for immigration after he proved his ability in Mexico.

I work with the third right now. He is another contractor at my client. Again, quite good.

I actually like having competent competitors to work with. I don't find them threatening in any way.

Kenelm Digby said at July 25, 2008 3:41 AM:

I couldn't give a damn whether chicken is $1 a pound or $2 a pound or whatever it is these days - in the greater scheme of things this is only a pettyfogging irrelevancy.
But the point is that the Mexicans stay for good and breed on US soil - leading us to the inexorable conclusion that mestizos will form the plurality of USA's population before this century is out, and after that how knows.
The parallel is with slavery in the 17th and 18th century, the plkanters thought they were on to a good thing 'Why profits are uo, production is up, the 'people' are richer - all good, sound economics' - no doubt hireling economists of the day composed long-winded, pompous theories to justify their position.
But just look t te backwash 200 years later.

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