Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CA Vineyard Tried to Hire Americans, But It Was a Total Failure, A "Social Experiment Gone Awry"

"With a nearly 12 percent unemployment rate in California, you'd imagine most job openings would have applicants lined up around the block, but one local man says he had a difficult time keeping almost any workers on the job.

John Salisbury owns Salisbury Vineyards in Avila Valley and Paso Robles. He needed 32 grape pickers fast for the harvest season in late September and put the call out for anyone to apply, even if they didn't have any experience, advertising on his website and on the radio.

"The idea is to be able to pick them in that one day and get them while they're perfect, but if you have to wait two or three more days, you've maybe missed a peak time," he said.

Workers had to be able to lift 35 pounds, keep up with crews and provide all necessary documentation.

Salisbury now calls his experience a social experiment gone awry. It was ill-fated from the beginning; Salisbury started with 40 applicants, but only seven actually finished the job."

Read more here

HT: Joe Lais

22 Comments:

At 11/22/2011 1:59 PM, OpenID voxrationalis said...

Why Americans Won’t Do Dirty Jobs - by Elizabeth Dwoskin: “Tom Surtees is tired of hearing employers grouse about their lazy countrymen. ‘Don’t tell me an Alabamian can’t work out in the field picking produce because it’s hot and labor intensive,’ he says. ‘Go into a steel mill. Go into a foundry. Go into numerous other occupations and tell them Alabamians don’t like this work because it’s hot and it requires manual labor.’ The difference being, jobs in Alabama’s foundries and steel mills pay better wages—with benefits. ‘If you’re trying to justify paying someone below whatever an appropriate wage level is so you can bring your product, I don’t think that’s a valid argument,’ Surtees says.

 
At 11/22/2011 2:23 PM, Blogger Bill said...

It is all a matter of compensation. There is a wage level at which I (a professional with a graduate degree) would pick grapes or tomatoes and there is a lower wage level at which downscale blue collar Americans will do it. But only illegals will work for less than the legal labor market demands. And this is why farmers and business love illegals. So, I am quite unimpressed with this argument.

 
At 11/22/2011 2:46 PM, Blogger Marko said...

What did he do before?

 
At 11/22/2011 2:48 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Bill,

I don't think it is unreasonable to work hard for ten bucks an hour no matter who you are. I picked cotton for 5 cents a pound in the mid 1960s. That made every job after that seem easy. I see a lot of work ethics missing today, but that might just mean I am getting old.

 
At 11/22/2011 3:02 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Raise the wages and benefits.

That, or automate it if you cant do it inside the bounds of the law.

 
At 11/22/2011 3:12 PM, Blogger Bill said...

Our farmers in Georgia are saying they can't get workers to pick their crops or pluck their chickens since our new immigation laws went into effect. I would be interested to know if it's the low wages or government transfer payments that are keeping "legals" from taking the jobs.

 
At 11/22/2011 3:15 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

bill-

"But only illegals will work for less than the legal labor market demands. And this is why farmers and business love illegals. So, I am quite unimpressed with this argument."

what you ought to be unimpressed with are the minimum wage and labor exclusion laws.

keep in mind that an "illegal" is only so by fiat. we could just as easily allow them in as temporary workers.

the US had open borders for most of its history, to our enormous benefit.

sounds to me like you are excited to pay more for your food and wine.

sure, this might save a US jon in picking grapes, but the reduction in demand for wine based on higher prices will cost another job somewhere else. even if wine consumption remains constant at a higher price (doubtful) you still have less money in consumers pockets as a result, meaning there is something else they don't buy, so ooops, we lost that job again.

this who "so raise wages" argument is self defeating. doing so costs as many jobs as it saves and results in declines in the real standard of living. increased wages only make sense if there is increased productivity.

in the intermediate and long term, increasing wages without productivity causes net economic losses, not gains.

sounds like you need to go get some skills seth.

 
At 11/22/2011 3:16 PM, Blogger Sean said...

"The sixth-generation farmer immediately cut twenty applicants because they only wanted cash so they didn't jeopardize their unemployment checks."
Smart move on their part. If you living in homes with CA prices, you don't want jeopardize a steady pay-check for seasonal work you're not used to.
It does raise a valid concern about the nature and structure of employment insurance.

"Though some of those who left were in their 40's and 50's, Salisbury says he's frustrated with those just past their 18th birthday, some of which were volunteered by their mothers."
An 18-yr old really can go home to mommy and daddy and wait it out for a better job: they have a choice.

Yep, most Americans just aren't that desperate yet.

 
At 11/22/2011 3:25 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

also note:

welfare is a de facto minimum wage.

why work hard (and picking fruit is hard, i picked strawberries in junior high) for $80 a day when you can make more than that on the dole?

$80/day X 250 day workyear = $20k/year. most welfare vastly exceeds that even before you add in foodstamps and medicaid.

if you have unemployment benefits, they are likely better too.

in CA, i'd get $450 a week, more than a 5 day week picking grapes.

so why in hell would i want to break my butt for a temp job?

individually, it would be absurd for me to trade $450 for $400 i had to work hard for.

looked at systemically though, this is a terrible outcome. i am getting paid not to be productive and jacking up the price of work for no good reason.

if the state bought a house and refused to let anyone live in it to jack up rents, you'd call at an absurd waste of resources.

labor is no different. those on unemployment should be offered jobs like this. if they don't take them, oops, there go your benefits.

 
At 11/22/2011 3:57 PM, Blogger Sean said...

morganovich,

"labor is no different. those on unemployment should be offered jobs like this. if they don't take them, oops, there go your benefits."

1. Offered by whom?
2. If this existed, it would have to be means-tested. what, Granny won't get out of her wheelchair to pick grapes? On the street!

More rational would be to allow such jobs to replace welfare and unemployment insurance at a partial rate? (Made 10$/hr instead of the usual 50? Let's give you $45 of the insurance, or something like that).

 
At 11/22/2011 5:24 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

what's the unemployment rate for teens?

back in the day.... college students would work at whatever they could find to help pay for books and tuition....

no.. they just get a loan... and occupy wall street.....

;-)

 
At 11/22/2011 5:25 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

if you get food stamps or unemployment or welfare... why not do these jobs ?

 
At 11/23/2011 6:55 AM, Blogger geoih said...

Quote from morganovich: "this who "so raise wages" argument is self defeating."

Your argument is based on the assumption that the market is static. All prices are changing all the time. Why should grape picking labor prices be any different?

This collectivizing of the market prices ("... the reduction in demand for wine based on higher prices will cost another job somewhere else.") is just an illustration of opportunity costs that happen all the time, everywhere. The same argument could be made if the wine prices went down.

 
At 11/23/2011 9:20 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"back in the day.... college students would work at whatever they could find to help pay for books and tuition"...

Well there's the problem right there...

It 'seems' that most states don't allow much in the way of young people (age 9 and above) to be working now a days...

So where does today's young adult (age 17 and older) acquire the most basic of job skills necessary to to get even better job skillls?

 
At 11/23/2011 9:34 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

well Juanos... I would AGREE... it makes absolutely no sense at all to hand out entitlement benefits without a requirement to work but I'm not sure how we would have entitlement beneficiaries work for profit-making enterprises on the cheap.

You'd also have to be willing to pay for their child care while they work, right?

 
At 11/23/2011 10:15 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

"1. Offered by whom?
2. If this existed, it would have to be means-tested. what, Granny won't get out of her wheelchair to pick grapes? On the street!"

the welfare agencies look at the want ads, talk to employers, and send people in. if they do some rudimentary matching of skills and ability to jobs, your granny example is eliminated.

if you go in and take the job, great.

if you refuse, well, then you lose welfare equivalent to what it would have paid.

the problem is that we are subsidizing indolence and creating a labor shortage while record numbers are on the dole.

that's a preposterous outcome.

 
At 11/23/2011 10:29 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

geo-

"Quote from morganovich: "this who "so raise wages" argument is self defeating."

Your argument is based on the assumption that the market is static. All prices are changing all the time. Why should grape picking labor prices be any different? "

i don't think you understand what i am saying.

let me try again.

the notion that increasing wages without an increase in productivity is a social benefit is false.

if you increase wages, it ups prices, which decreases real consumption by a like amount.

you cannot gain from doing it.

seth repeatedly makes these childish arguments about "make employers pay more" and "force them to hire" like it solves something.

my point is that it doesn't.

arbitrary wage hikes cannot increase real economic activity.

there is no net benefit to what he is suggesting.

sure, if you want your grapes picked and no one will do at at the wage you offer, you need to up your wage, but this is wasteful and distortionary if the reason for it is that they are better off getting paid tax dollars to produce nothing.

 
At 11/23/2011 11:59 AM, Blogger geoih said...

Quote from morganovich: "the notion that increasing wages without an increase in productivity is a social benefit is false."

There's no such thing as "social benefit". You cannot aggregate separate individual subjective values into some collective social benefit.

The value of a product is inputed back to the factors used to produce it. If a price goes up, then the value of the factors go up. This all happens over time, so if the price of something that was cheaper (or more expensive) to make in the past is now higher (or lower), then the value of the same factors now will go up (or down) because they are now worth more (or less).

But the value of something in the past is just a fact of history, and not a determiner of value today. People may use the values of things in the past to try to predict the value of things today, or in the future, but history does not make the determination of the present value. The present value determines the accuracy of the predictions of values in the past.

 
At 11/23/2011 1:16 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

" the problem is that we are subsidizing indolence and creating a labor shortage while record numbers are on the dole.

that's a preposterous outcome. "

while I may not be in total agreement on the details - I do agree largely with the overall premise.

 
At 11/23/2011 3:18 PM, Blogger Sean said...

morganovich,

"1. Offered by whom?
Indeed.

the welfare agencies look at the want ads, talk to employers, and send people in. if they do some rudimentary matching of skills and ability to jobs, your granny example is eliminated.
Do we really have welfare agencies in full competition with job placement agencies? Should we? I'm not sure. That sounds like a sizeable government investment.



the problem is that we are subsidizing indolence and creating a labor shortage while record numbers are on the dole.
Yes, that is a problem.

 
At 11/23/2011 3:32 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

The Alabama farms can't afford to pay the same as the foundary's. They won't be able to compete and they would be selling a pound of lettuce for $10.

Why doesn't anyone understand that?

 
At 11/23/2011 8:46 PM, Blogger Sean said...

Unknown,

Why doesn't anyone understand that?
Why do you think people don't? Like any story, you can look at it from multiple sides: from the perspective of the consumers, the laborers, the suppliers, and more.
But the bottom line is the food chain at current prices depends on people willing to work essentially at subsistence level. And most Americans don't want to be in the position of being those people for any length of time when there is any other alternative. Currently there is.

 

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