Keeping the Poor Out

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Recall that Bush, in the wake of Katrina, was able to suspend federal labor laws that require federal contractors to pay a prevailing wage.

That was bad enough.

But now it seems that not only are workers at companies with federal contracts being paid below the prevailing wage, but they are being radically underpaid. Body and Soul links to an LATimes story today which notes that some workers are only being paid $4 an hour!

Jeanne then writes:

If all you care about is putting up structures, cheap is good. If you’re trying to rebuild a community, the most important thing is giving people something to come back to. Four dollars isn’t it. If anybody cared about the community, they’d be paying way more than prevailing wages, and giving evacuees priority on getting the jobs.

Somehow we have trained these corporations to believe that national disasters are a time for them to profit. But this gets things all wrong. A system that privileges the profit of a construction company over the basic welfare of those who will live in the area after it is rebuilt is a system that has been turned upside down. Indeed, what good will it be to rebuild that community if you underpay the very people who are supposed to live that community?


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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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