According to one mine owner, American workers' declining work ethic is at fault, not his desire to cut wages by half [Coal Co. Takes Heat for Recruitment Plan].
"It is common knowledge that the work ethic of the Eastern Kentucky worker has declined from where it once was," [Sidney Coal Co. President Charlie] Bearse wrote to the state mining board. Bad attitudes and drug abuse, he argued, were affecting attendance "and, ultimately, productivity."
Bearse's appeal to the board: Relax an English-only policy in the mines so he could bring in Hispanic workers.
It's an incredible insult to American miners to say they have "bad attitudes" considering the difficulty of the job, particularly after the recent deaths in mining accidents. Bearse also asserts that there are worker shortages, presumably because mining is a job Americans no longer want to do, even though it remains one of the few middle-class occupations in Appalachia.
The intent of the owners is the same old exploitation strategy: bring in thousands of foreigners to force wages down, just as they did with the meatpacking industry, which once had jobs providing middle-class wages to American families. Now meatpacking has reverted to the terrible conditions which Upton Sinclair chronicled in The Jungle a century ago.
For a more realistic view about American miners' willingness to work, see Tragedies haven't cooled demand for coal jobs in Ohio. [by Rita Price, February 19, 2006, The Columbus Dispatch ]
Despite dangers made vivid by tragedies in West Virginia, people would love to sign on. Officials expect a surplus of applicants when a mine opens this year about 60 miles southeast of Columbus in Perry County.
See? There are plenty of English-speaking citizen workers available, but they are not wanted by industry today.