Tuesday, January 02, 2007

How Much per Hour to Die?

W & C Construction Inc. of Ladson and its president, Larry Wilkins, have arrived at the top of the INFAMY list this morning. They are the one company mentioned by name in an article about child labor regulation in South Carolina. This unlucky and invidious firm hired the brother of another of its illegal workers, and the brother turned out to be 16. How do we know? He died at the construction site. We all know that area construction sites and lawn services rely heavily on illegal aliens for workers, but WHY?

Here's the situation. Sixteen-year-old illegal Guatamalans will work for less money than even 21-year-old Mexicans. And all illegals will work for less money than Americans. Which is why I want to shout at the television set when a politician states that "illegals take jobs that Americans won't do"--yes, won't do at that price!!

How many decades, and how many dedicated workers, did it take to arrive at a workplace that is safe and non-exploitative for American laborers? Why do we have a minimum wage? Why do eight-year-olds no longer work in mills?

The use of illegal aliens of any age negates those laws in one fell swoop. How can illegals complain about illegal and unsafe working conditions? Whom do they go to if the employer is not paying the minimum wage or shorts them in their paychecks?

Josue Daniel Martinez Castillo was not the only illegal alien to die working in construction last year; he represents the tip of the iceberg. What about those injured on the job? Forget Workmen's Comp for them!

And the employer makes out like a bandit--which he is! And now so many illegals work for so many companies that a firm cannot successfully bid on a contract unless it employs cheap illegals like every other firm. So it goes in Beaufort County we know. I'd love to see the Newsless Courier investigate THAT issue in the Charleston County bid process!

Now for the cold, hard facts.
  • Because Martinez Castillo was too young to be working on a roof, the child labor violation cost his employer $11,000.
  • OSHA lists three other underage fatalities in SC since 2003, all Hispanic [and all illegal, I would bet].
  • The employer was also fined $302 for "faulty recordkeeping." [You would assume the small amount represents just one faulty record--but you would be wrong. Six workers had no records; 11 of the remaining 18 employees' were incomplete--pitiful! A pitiful effort and a pitiful fine.]
  • The company didn't even know the teenager's correct name until his father showed up with his birth certificate.
  • Another $2,375 fine was levied on the company for "safety violations" after the boy's death.

Unanswered questions:

  • What was Martinez Castillo's rate of pay?
  • Did his family receive any compensation other than picking up his body? [I bet not!]
  • Is his cousin still working at W & C Construction?
  • How much did the company save on labor costs on that job site by using illegals?
  • Who is following up on the company to see that it walks the straight and narrow in the future?

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