Poultry company president: Georgia’s anti-immigration climate has made Latino workers scarce

Last night, a Senate committee held a hearing on immigration in Gainesville.

One of north Georgia’s top businessmen – and former chairman of the National Chicken Council –addressed the lawmakers. A passage from the Gainesville Times:

Tom Hensley, president of poultry company Fieldale Farms Corp. that has locations in North Georgia, told the Senate Special Committee on Immigration and Georgia’s Economy that 287(g) already had a detrimental effect on the poultry industry in Hall County that would only be worsened by statewide legislation.

Hensley said despite using measures to ensure the company hired documented workers, the anti-immigrant climate in the state has driven the Latino workers he depended on away from his business.

“We were 67 percent Hispanic in 2004. Our turnover was 25 percent. Our workers (compensation) cost was $50,000 a month. Our health care cost for the whole year was $8 million. It was about that time that the federal, state and local governments let it be known that these folks are not welcome,” Hensley said.

“Fast forward to 2010, we’re about 33 percent Hispanic now. Our turnover is 75 percent. Workers comp costs are $150,000 a month. Our health care last year was $20 million. Those are staggering numbers, but that’s the economic reality.

“We need comprehensive immigration reform in this country. It has to be a federal program, not the state … you can’t have 50 different laws in 50 different states. I implore you, don’t pass any more laws.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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100 comments Add your comment

Pete

February 23rd, 2011
11:02 am

I hope the Repubs are happy. Thet are ruining the poulrry industry, the agricultural industry, the carpet industry, the construction industry, and the hospitality industry in this state. And their argument that there are “Americans” to take those jobs is just bull. Most Americans are not willing to work those kinds of menial, minimun wage jobs. Hispanics were recruited here in the first place because those jobs could not be filled.

BigChicken

February 23rd, 2011
11:02 am

Hire locals idiot! Americans should hire Americans. Period….Pay workers better and they would not turnover so fast! That or move the company to Mexico and ship the chickens back in.

Pete

February 23rd, 2011
11:03 am

THEY are ruining…

Pete

February 23rd, 2011
11:05 am

Well, if you “pay workers better,” the cost of goods will go up and folks will not like that. If you move the companies to Mexico, that would be devastating to our ecoonmy. You are “cutting off you nose to spite your face!”

Laurie

February 23rd, 2011
11:08 am

With unemployment in Georgia at almost 10%, there are people available to work these jobs. But with 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, they aren’t coming out of the woodwork for this type of work. End the benefit extensions, and people will start taking these jobs.

Toes the Line

February 23rd, 2011
11:08 am

@Pete…..”I hope the Repubs are happy” Don’t you mean “RUBES?”

Toes the Line

February 23rd, 2011
11:11 am

@BigChicken…. read the details: when Latino workforce was cut in half at Feldcrest (’04-’11), the worker’s comp increased 200% and medical increased 150%. You buying any more chicken?

mariela orellana

February 23rd, 2011
11:13 am

I do not want to do that back-breaking, early arthritis-causing type of work. I do not want my children nor my neighbors to do it either. But, someone has to do it. I agree. And native-born Americans are not going to do it. (How much more proof do we need, people?)

It is time to expand the number of work-visas. -However, not only for non-skilled workers. This country also needs highly-skilled workers in the areas of engineering & medical research, just to name a few.

PO'ed Pundit

February 23rd, 2011
11:15 am

Well, Pete…step up to the plate and take a job. Just because the jobs are deemed to menial for your likes, don’t make the illegals presence any more legal or acceptable. I for one would expect a cost increase in poultry and just about any other industry that is utilizing illegal immigrant workers. The cost increase will be much less in comparison to the cost of supporting them.

double

February 23rd, 2011
11:16 am

Outsourcing,pay more,best answere get off your lazy A– quit trying to pick your work.Let your pay be merit based.We are a spoiled society.The world does not owe you a living.

PR in GA

February 23rd, 2011
11:24 am

Oh so the illegals are leaving the poultry plants and everyone is scared to pay more for chicken?? I rather pay more for chicken than have some illegal alien working here in the states.. Maybe BIG brother who is hiring these illegals should pay a living salary and more americans will work there, I’m glad their leaving!!!! Americans will work!!! Pay right and they will come… E-verify works it’s just that big corporations don’t want to give up BIG profits!!! Good riddance now I’ll feel safer driving and won’t feel bad living here because I don’t speak spanish!!!!

Gus

February 23rd, 2011
11:29 am

Pete obviously is a chicken farmer. (There were plenty of people who opposed the abolition of slavery for economic reasons as well.) Industries which demand access to illegal immigrant workers despite the cost to the overall economy so that they can pay below-subsistance-level wages, provide little to no benefits and subject workers to inhumane conditions–all to fatten their wallets should not have a voice in this matter.

No artificial flavors

February 23rd, 2011
11:31 am

Here is what people are missing. As a Hall County native and former resident, I can tell you that you must look beyond the poultry industry to understand the economic effects that years of unchecked illegal immigration has had on the area. Sure, our chicken is a little cheaper due to lower wages and lower benefit costs in the plants but look at the ripple effect in the local economy, it’s been mostly for the worse. Local hospitals and health departments have been swamped with “free” care, schools have had to be built at record rates to handle the new boomers, and crime and gang activity has surged particularly with the second generation of youths from the otherwise hardworking immigrants. The court system has tripled in size to handle the load. I could go on and on but you have to weigh the unintended consequences of societal woes with the balance sheet of a couple of companies.

td

February 23rd, 2011
11:43 am

10% of the states adult population is receiving unemployment and another 25% is receiving Food Stamps. Cut off these programs and there will be a big labor force looking for these jobs.

Ariel

February 23rd, 2011
11:47 am

Working class Americans voting republican is like chickens voting for Colonel Sanders !

Keith

February 23rd, 2011
11:49 am

The answer is simple… raise your wages and charge a little more for your product, and you won’t need illegals. I’ll gladly pay a few cents more per pound to rid our nations of these people.

Eric

February 23rd, 2011
11:56 am

So I’m reading the article above and the comments that follow. Everyone is screaming they want immigration reform as long as it doesn’t affect them in any way. The bottom line is that illegal immigrants do take jobs that so many Americans are unwilling to do. And the producers of these products can pay them less so as to keep their costs down and therefore the prices down. I for one want solid immigration reform, and I’m willing to accept the cost of that. I’m tired of illegal imigrants coming to this country, making money they send back home to Mexico, rely on tax payer paid medical care to produce more offspring then they can reasonably afford to care for and a large number of them never paying a dime in taxes.

What angers me even more is that this businessman quoted in this article is pushing for less regulation so he can continue to skirt the issue of hiring legal workers. Why would he do that? Simple, he wants to pay less than a living wage so he can compete in the marketplace. I understand that, however what he is asking is that the government look the other way so he can line his pockets…which to me is unacceptable. I fully understand that if this country passes serious immigration legislation, I will pay more for a number of products. I am fully prepared to accept that. The problem is most Americans are not willing to pay more, so the cycle continues.

You want to solve the problem? Stop illegal immigration in it’s tracks, make it a felony to employ illegal immigrants with mandatory jail time. The person hiring an illegal is just as guilty as the illegal for being here in the first place. Take EVERY working age adult on unemployment and make it mandatory for them to work a job 30 hours per week previously filled by an illegal, while continuing to pay them unemployment benefits. That gives them a minimum of 10 hours a week for job searching in their chosen field. Give the farmer a tax incentive for using displaced workers so he can keep his costs low. Will this be expensive, absolutely. Will it rid this country of a vast majority of illegals, yes. Will it employ Americans, yes. The added benefit is all those displaced workers will eventually return to their field of work, and they will do so with an huge appreciation for the plight of unskilled workers in this country. If that doesn’t motivate them to pay a little more for the products they want to buy, then they are UNAMERICAN.

What makes me mad beyond belief is that so many folks complain about the problem. But nobody is willing to do something to fix it. This countries population has evolved into this entitled attitude, suggesting they are too good for low wage jobs while sitting back and collecting money for nothing. The government, whether it is federal, state or local owes you NOTHING. Get off your lazy hump and take ANY job that is available regardless of how big a step down it is for you. It will build some character, something this country used to be filled with, and along the way give you an appreciation for the next job you land.

People want lower taxes but no cuts in services that impact them directly. Do the math. The latest number says we are in debt to the tune of $14 trillion. Based on the census there are only 192,799,563 working age adults. That equates to $75k in debt for each worker. While the average income for a worker in the US is around $35k, that means each and every one of you will have to work for over two years and give 100% to the government to get us out of debt. People, open your eyes. We need MASSIVE spending cuts in EVERY area including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare, Unemployment, Defense, Education…nothing can go untouched. At the same time, we need a tax increase to get this country back on sound footing. It may not be popular, but that’s what it’s going to take.

The USA is one big community that needs to come together and SHARE the pain to get us back on top. And then when we are back on top…put a budget in place and follow it…just like most households have to do. A balanced budget should be mandatory for the federal government, just like it is for the states. If every household in America spent more than it took in, how long do you think it would take for everyone to be homeless?

Time to pull our heads out of our butts. It’s time for politicians to stop telling you what you want to hear, and telling you what needs to be done. But that would mean political suicide, so everyone continues to tout their plans to gain votes to keep them in office…while they know full well that it will never solve the problem.

Time for action folks.

Awkward

February 23rd, 2011
11:57 am

Enter your comments here

Awkward

February 23rd, 2011
12:05 pm

I would love to see the stats from the time before the illegals began to come in and take these jobs. Somebody obviously worked in the poultry plants and did these jobs because we’ve never had a shortage of chicken in the grocery store, the majority of it from North Georgia. One of my sisters actually worked in one of these plants back in the 60’s, she worked at night while taking college classes during the day. My point is, SOMEBODY did this work before the Hispanics came….what has changed? Why do folks think they are too good to do these jobs now?

Vickie

February 23rd, 2011
12:26 pm

Immigrants cost taxpayers, collectively, at least $113 Billion a year. Georgia is full of them. These chickens come at a huge price to American elderly and veterans who are constantly told there just isn’t enough money to give them a Social Security raise so they can eat those chickens. If the country’s future depends on throwing the border open and being overrun by the Catholic/Hispanic poverty/criminal class population explosion.

LJ Jones

February 23rd, 2011
12:35 pm

This company pays EVERYONE decent wages – the difference is the quality of workers! As a small business owner, it is very discouraging to see, but it has been the truth for us as well. Hispanics come here to work and build a better life. They don’t claim “fake injuries” to work the system – they show up for work – and seem to appreciate it. They don’t think they are “too good” to do the work – they don’t come in with a list of “here are the days I need off” – or a list of excuses as to why they cannot work. I want Americans to do the work! I want them to be legal – as an employer, they had to supply me all of the paper work and they paid taxes and made what everybody else did! As you know, I could not question if I thought the papers were fraudulent or I would be in violation of law! Show me someone who can pass a drug test, has a valid driver’s license and is humble enough to do whatever is required of him on job to earn a paycheck – and I will show you someone who will never be out of a job! Unfortunately, that has been in large part – the hispanics who are here!!!

Lum

February 23rd, 2011
12:42 pm

Good. I’ll happily pay the price it takes to have legal, American workers.

Booger Fling

February 23rd, 2011
12:46 pm

@ mariela orellana…

Show me your papers! Are you a complete idiot? Let all these immigrants loose on all the jobs and our unemployment rate in GA will be 30%. It’s no secrete the employers love cheap labor. More loot for them!

@ Keith…

Why pay more for the chicken?

I say keep the price the same and take the added expense for American workers out of the company’s fat cat bank account! So what if they have extra expense, the company owners will still be fat cat greedy snoody rich scum!

I’m not against anyone who “lawfully” comes to this country to better their situation. However, I have no simpathy for anyone who comes here illegaly and takes American jobs. E-varify is a joke. Start shutting businesses down that hire illegals and we will no longer have a illegal immigration problem.

Shevalsheshe

February 23rd, 2011
12:52 pm

Latino workers aren’t scarce. They’ve all gone to work better jobs – McDonald’s, construction, gardening, painting, etc. They’ve gotten smart and now realize that they don’t have to work in those nasty factories anymore. Granting them amnesty will just increase this problem and workers will be even more scarce for those types of jobs.

eatmotacos

February 23rd, 2011
12:59 pm

“In 2003, he,(Nathan Deal),persuaded fellow lawmakers to support a provision allowing farmers to market their chickens as organic even if they never ate organic meal, so long as they could prove there was a shortage of the feed. It was tucked into a giant $397 billion spending bill.

“Deal sought the provision on behalf of Fieldale Farms Corp., which is in his district.”

http://www.independentmail.com/news/2010/jul/31/nathan-deals-steady-career-leads-gop-bid/

Tom doesn’t have to worry, the Real Deal has his back covered. Voters who were dense enough to vote for Deal, will be picking up their share of the tab.

Another fallacy,(talking point), often repeated on this issue, is that when companies lower their cost by hiring illegal aliens, that automatically translates into lower consumer prices. In reality, it translates into more profit for the company.

terry

February 23rd, 2011
1:02 pm

the chicken farmers are trying to enrich themselves at the expense of the american taxpayer. i would be glad to pay more for chicken (or do without it) if it means getting rid of some of the illegal parasites that are sucking this country dry.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Martell Thornton, btedge. btedge said: RT @politicalinsidr Prez of major poultry co. tells GA lawmakers anti-immigrant climate has driven away Latinos. http://tinyurl.com/4c8bp8x [...]

cs

February 23rd, 2011
1:16 pm

boo hoo hoo………..you cant have your cake and eat it too. Well, you can if everybody else is paying the tab for your business practices.

dmcsga

February 23rd, 2011
1:20 pm

Guess what yeah let’s hire American’s who don’t want to do that job unless you pay them 4x the amount and they will complain and do a bad job causing more problem, plus they want all the perks and benefits. So in reality our cost of living will go up but our salaries won’t. So we won’t be able to afford chicken, bananas, lettuce or milk because it will go up 4x what it is now.

dmcsga

February 23rd, 2011
1:22 pm

I am not willing to pay that price, our economy is already crappy, I be damned if I have to pay more for chicken, produce in addition for the high gas prices that keep going up. Keep them here!

cs

February 23rd, 2011
1:24 pm

Hey LJ Jones , move your chicken plucking operation to “Latin” where Latinos are from I guess…or just Mexico or Central America. They can have the chicken plucking jobs and bring the NAFTA jobs like making washing machines etc and such back to America for American workers.

cs

February 23rd, 2011
1:29 pm

Raise your own chickens. They are easy to care for and you can even get some for egg laying too. When fryers get big enough, ring their neck and pluck them yourself. And when egg layers get too old to produce, do the same for them and make the best chicken and rice or dumplings you city nuts have ever eaten. Yall dont know what ya missing. Nobody needs a chicken plucking operation or need pay an arm and a leg for chicken to eat at home.

just an observer

February 23rd, 2011
1:31 pm

and this is a bad thing?

eatmotacos

February 23rd, 2011
1:32 pm

@ Shevalsheshe

“Latino workers aren’t scarce. They’ve all gone to work better jobs – ”

In Dalton, they have taken over jobs several tiers above menial labor. They have taken virtually all of the receptionist jobs, bank tellers, etc., because of the language barrier.

The sheltered illegal alien advocates here don’t have enough information to make intelligent comments on the issue.

Another Dalton observation. When carpet mills employed Bubbas, they spent every dime of their paychecks locally, which was recirculated into the local economy, and applied to local and state taxes.

Dalton’s Eastside Post Office sells more money orders than any Post Office in their district, which includes Knoxville and Chattanooga. This money is not only not being spent locally, it’s not spent in Georgia, or even in the US.

The negative facets of unabated illegal immigration far, far outweigh any conceivable positives.

chicken little

February 23rd, 2011
1:34 pm

Have a friend who runs a pizza restaurant. He loves illegals because he says they are scared not to come to work, even when they are sick (mmm, that isn’t mozarella on your pizza…), don’t ask for pay increases or health care, can be fired tomorrow if they are late to work (without asking for unemployment benefits), work 12 hour days, and don’t speak enough English to bother him with small talk. Yeah, not too many Americans want that type of work, but it has nothing to do with pay.

Ryan Shakur

February 23rd, 2011
1:57 pm

Lots of anger…lots of solutions. But when will anyone realize that the true mark is being missed? Does anyone even know what it is? My bet is no.

Does anyone know how to solve the problem + make the lost capital to this problem back? No…my suggestion: make money where the money is to be made. Right on their back(s).

It’s right in front of you. Think Georgia.

deegee

February 23rd, 2011
2:14 pm

Sure, just pay more and Americans will do the job. How much do we pay them? Twenty, thirty bucks an hour? Isn’t that what makes everyone hate union workers? They make too darned much money?

BTW, if you read Hensley’s comments carefully you will understand the he is now paying his workers more. They receive workers compensation and health care benefits that his hispanic workers didn’t need or want. Additionally, the high turnover rate digs way into his profits. He is advocating federal immigration reform, not the status quo. He doesn’t want GA to enact a state immigration law.

During the late 60s and early 70s the baby boomers were coming into the workforce. There was a glut of low-skilled, semi-skilled labor. As they became educated or otherwise moved up and on in their careers a labor vacuum was created. The children of the baby boomers are educated and unwilling to do low-skilled, semi-skilled labor. For that matter, they come out of college and expect to make $60K a year and live the same lifestyle as their parents.

Federal immigration reform is long overdue.

Ryan Shakur

February 23rd, 2011
2:16 pm

The solution: New state & federal tax bracket + one-time application process + criminal background clearance process + back of the line immigration process = REVENUE.

or

Wait for GA politicians to craft the silver bullet to cure Georgia of its immigration problem.

Choose.

Unamerican to do so (or you’re too blind to see this is American history): think about it like this, the first six presidents of this country were not citizens of America, but of Great Britian. There is NO recorded or documented proof of our forefathers’ immigration to America (meaning this Republic was founded on Pilgrim assumptions and not the Natives man’s authorizaton) …and the BS of being American in America still wreaks of Americans themselves being cheaters, liars, theives and murderers; abusers and pirates.

What are we escaping sending home the few, the proud, the Latino? Perhaps pennies to the dollar. Or perhaps, we’re escaping the told and written historic reflection of America’s conception.

Nacho Libre

February 23rd, 2011
2:54 pm

Have you been outside of the Home Depot on Ponce? There’s plenty of illegal, I mean, “Latino” workers. Ole!

not enough workers left after the boomers leave

February 23rd, 2011
3:01 pm

we better get our immigration problems fixed asap. in addition to having enough healthy, hard-working bodies, we cannot compete with china, etc without cheaper healthcare and cheaper labor costs. plain and simple.

hey eatmo

February 23rd, 2011
3:04 pm

the carpet i just installed at my home was the same per foot price as i paid 10 years ago! i appreciate all that you guys are doing up there in Dalton to keep costs down

stanley

February 23rd, 2011
3:05 pm

TD hit the nail on the head. You have to quit giving free $ via unemployment and foodstamps. The jobs are there people. Get your lazy a**es to work!

hey terry

February 23rd, 2011
3:05 pm

i think it’s the DOMESTIC parasites that are sucking the country dry

hey stanley

February 23rd, 2011
3:07 pm

as a small business owner, i’ll be darned if I’m gonna hire a bunch of hs dropouts with criminal records. immigrants are more reliable, harder working, and hungry. they constantly outshine the “local” help produced by the Georgia Public Schools.

Jim T

February 23rd, 2011
3:08 pm

No artificial flavors
February 23rd, 2011
11:31 am
Here is what people are missing. As a Hall County native and former resident, I can tell you that you must look beyond the poultry industry to understand the economic effects that years of unchecked illegal immigration has had on the area. Sure, our chicken is a little cheaper due to lower wages and lower benefit costs in the plants but look at the ripple effect in the local economy, it’s been mostly for the worse. Local hospitals and health departments have been swamped with “free” care, schools have had to be built at record rates to handle the new boomers, and crime and gang activity has surged particularly with the second generation of youths from the otherwise hardworking immigrants. The court system has tripled in size to handle the load. I could go on and on but you have to weigh the unintended consequences of societal woes with the balance sheet of a couple of companies.
=================================================================================
Now why would you want to confuse the issue with facts…..great post.

the watchful eye

February 23rd, 2011
3:10 pm

Saul Diaz was a penniless, unemployed, uninusured illegal alien living in Georgia when he was severely injured in a car accident. During his year long hospitilization Diaz racked up $1,000,000 in medical expenses.

The Gwinett Ga. hospital system has established 34 million outlay for illegal immigrants. The system has a moral obligation to treat all patients including illegal immigrants.

The whole issue is, if illegal immigrants were not here, like being in Mexico, the funds, services and all hospital services could go for the people who leagally reside and work in Georgia.

So all of the aforementioned expenses of the employeers of illegal aliens are large but pale in comparison to the costs to the health care system.

HL

February 23rd, 2011
3:11 pm

Why did the House Republicans vote to cut the spending for border patrol? Were they against undocumented workers before they were for them?

HL

February 23rd, 2011
3:16 pm

The Watchful Eye, It is not a moral obligation, it’s a legal obligation. A law passed and signed by Pres. Reagan mandates that hospitals do not turn away the ill. That law costs me and you an extra 1000 dollars. Most emergency rooms are filled with non-emergency patients because of this.
Community health centers would be cheaper but then someone would scream class warfare. Oh, besides border control, they also cut funding to community health centers.
The budget might need to be cut but why don’t they look at agriculture and tax breaks to corporations.

Lance

February 23rd, 2011
3:23 pm

Pete – You idiot. What do you wish to happen? Everyone is allowed into the United States illegally? What don’t you understand you moron. Maybe if the spineless Democrats will man up to debating on pricipal instead of running out of their own states to avoid a vote. Shameless is what that is….

Cat

February 23rd, 2011
3:27 pm

America has sold her soul to the Chinese, and all you morons can complain about are the Mexicans making $7.50/hour.

Please stop watching FoxNews, get off your obese legal rear ends, and go get these plentiful jobs at the chicken factories.
They can’t pay a decent wage, because if they did, we would not be able to afford poultry products. The cost wouldn’t be a couple of pennies as so many of you uneducated morans think, but considerably more.
These illegals not only purchase locally, they pay in CASH!!! They pay taxes, they pay into our broken Social Security (which they will never receive once they are eligible for retirement), they buy houses (helping our failing housing market), they buy cars, and they go to church. Stop blaming them for all of your woes. America has done this to themselves. You all want to continue to purchase houses for $500K, they want a BMW in their driveway, and send their spoiled tweeting kids to the best school their credit cards can buy.

The illegal population is living the American Dream we sold them. America can’t renig on the deal once it doesn’t suit us anymore.