For the last three years, Publix has hired hundreds of Peruvians and Brazilians for its stores in south Fort Myers and Naples during tourist season because the company says it can't find locals to fill those spots.Patten is playing with words because common sense would dictate that even if Publix hasn't directly replaced local Floridians they have most certainly displaced them by denying them job offers. Florida is suffering a 14% jobless rate so there should be no question there are many Americans who would take these jobs. This is just one example of a Floridian that needs a job at Publix:
The South American cashiers, baggers, deli, bakery and grocery clerks work part time at more than 20 area locations, said Publix spokeswoman Shannon Patten. The company began hiring them in late 2008, when Lee's unemployment was about 6 percent.
Lee County's unemployment rate is almost 14 percent and about 38,000 residents are jobless,
The Publix workers, who are forbidden to speak to the press, have short-term visas known as J1s and are college students, Patten said.
Although numbers aren't broken down by county, there are 7,756 J1 visa-holders in Florida, said U.S. State Department spokeswoman Darlene Kirk. The department calls it an "Exchange Visitor Program," allowing foreign college students to "become directly involved in the daily life of the people of the United States through travel and temporary work." Publix doesn't reciprocate in the exchange.
"Since our students come from the southern hemisphere," Patten said, "their summer break coincides nicely with our winter tourist season. ... These students are not replacing American workers."
The South American cashiers, baggers, deli, bakery and grocery clerks work part time at more than 20 area locations, said Publix spokeswoman Shannon Patten. The company began hiring them in late 2008, when Lee's unemployment was about 6 percent.The biggest losers are high school and college aged Americans who can't find jobs because they are being displaced by foreign students. This anonymous comment to the article is very illustrative of the problem:
"It is our experience that potential workers that live year 'round near our stores are interested in permanent jobs, not temporary ones," Patten said.
Many Southwest Florida jobseekers and the people who help them disagree.
"Are you kidding?" asked Rita Hursell. The 46-year-old nurse's aide, who's been out of work since 2007, is on food stamps and lives with her parents in Lehigh Acres.
I teach at a high school here in Lee County and when I showed this article to my students they were very upset. Many have been trying to find jobs for almost a year and can not. Publix is one of the jobs I recommend since I have family working there (in Jacksonville) and they love the benefits and work environment. Now, we find out they are denying local kids the opportunity to work and learn how to work so they can bring in cheap labor from out of the country. Yeah, today's youth are not what they used to be, but who is going to step up and help the schools train tomorrows leaders? We can't do it by ourselves.This is a poignant quote from the article that should be kept in mind when you read what kind of jobs the foreign students are hired for:
Barbara Hartman, spokeswoman for the Career and Service Center in Fort Myers says she's surprised Publix would turn to foreign workers. Usually, she says, companies hire non-citizens for positions that are either specialized or in remote places—neither of which the Publix jobs are.The following Q&A from the article (right side column) is loaded with information about how Publix is using the J-1 Visa program to hire foreign students:
"I'm just at a loss as to why they would not be able to find enough candidates to fill those positions," Hartman said.
Q&A with Publix spokeswoman Shannon Patten about its J1 visa workersPerhaps the best way to determine the desirability of Publix jobs in Florida is to go to one of those "third party" bodyshops to see more details. Interlatina is a good place to start because they produced a flyer to recruit foreign student employees for Publix. The flyer makes such a good case for working at Publix it's difficult to imagine why Americans can't be found for these positions:
" How many J1 workers does Publix employ in Southwest Florida, at which stores do they work and what they do?
We have more than 100 students working in various positions such as cashiers, baggers, deli clerks, bakery clerks and grocery clerks.
" How does Publix find them?
We work with a third party that helps coordinate students who want to be a part of this program with employers who have agreed to participate in the program.