The recession that began in 2008 is now reaching its tipping point. More jobs are now being created and new companies have begun to re-appear on American shores. But two recent facilities in Michigan have become the root of complaints against the Obama Administration with regard to the alleged misuse of US stimulus tax dollars.
According to the complaints filed by the local labor unions, jobs created by the two new facilities in the area are reserved for Korean nationals. This means that although these plants will help the local and national economy as a whole, they will not do much to counter the unemployment rate of Americans. Michigan is known to have the worst unemployment rate in the US.
The companies in hot water are LG Chem and Dow Kokam. Both companies are into the electric car industry and are getting a combined $300 million taken from the stimulus program. The companies’ main products are electric batteries.
Mark Mangione, a representative of the almost 1,000 labor union members in west Michigan, says that the local residents are angry because they are expecting to see job creation for Americans. Instead, the labor unions claim that Koreans are the primary beneficiaries of the job creation.
Plant owners, say in their defense, that the jobs Korean nationals filled require unique expertise in the handling of highly sophisticated equipment. They add that all Korean workers are temporary and legal. When asked how many of their workers are Koreans Dow Kokam says it’s around 150 as of last December. Meanwhile, LG Chem refused to give any statistics.
However, labor unions argue that they have pictures showing Korean nationals doing hands-on work that can be done by Americans. Examples of these jobs include installing the machinery, piping work, doing electrical work, mill right work and installing the machines in the plant.
In addition, the two mentioned Korean-owned plants bought a lot of Korean equipment and supplies; therefore helping the economy of North Korea more than America.
The labor unions have written complaint letters to the Department of Labor and the Obama administration but received very few answers. So the group filed an appeal based on the Freedom of Information Act to access the payroll records of both LG Chem and Dow Kokam.
The appeal also included a request to access the contractors of the companies who are tasked in performing construction work. The government responded with 18 companies and at least 11 of them are Asian firms.
Meanwhile, officials from the Energy Department remain confident that all laws have been followed. They also support the statement released by both companies that the stimulus money provided by the government has indirectly helped create 300 fulltime jobs and 2,000 temporary construction jobs.
Labor unions say that they are happy that businesses have come to their state; they just hope that all the job vacancies will be filled by Americans.
The situation in Michigan may not be isolated as other states may have experienced these too. Unless the government comes up with a way to measure the true economic worth of businesses, Americans will continue to be unemployed even after the recession.
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On the other hand, most of these young workers have very little or no formal work training. Thus, they are the most susceptible to being hurt or to being injured while at work. There is also a higher number of work-related injury occurrences among younger workers especially if the workers do not have sufficient experience or training, do not have enough knowledge about or are unable to follow safe work practices, and do not have proper supervision.
The records of the Louisiana Workforce Commission show that in the years 2007 and 2008, seven hundred young workers were involved in work-related injuries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics declared that during that period, there were a total of 31,140 young workers who suffered from work-related injuries all over the country and ninety-seven of these cases even resulted in the death.
These numbers may be alarming but the government and the employers could help each other and take the necessary steps to prevent work-related accidents and to make sure that the young workers remain safe.
First of all, before employing young workers, or any employee for that matter, the employers should make sure that the workplace is safe, hazard-free, and conducive to the good health of all the employees. The items or the machinery which could be potentially harmful to workers should be removed, have the proper safety precautions, or, at the very least, be vigilantly watched over.
Next, the employers should always provide adequate guidance and training for everyone, especially for younger workers. The employers should make sure that the young workers fully understand their tasks and what is expected of them. As much as possible, employers should avoid assigning younger employees to work on heavy machinery. If the job of the young workers entails using equipment, the employers should see to it that the young workers know how to operate the equipment properly and safely.
The employers should also make sure that young workers are supervised by more experienced employees who are familiar with the tasks and who could provide assistance for the young workers in need. The employer could assign a senior employee to be the buddy or the partner of a younger employee. The senior employee could also be in charge of giving more training to the young employee. The senior employee will make sure that the young charge will be doing the job correctly and that the charge will be safe while at work.
In addition, the employers should take safety in the workplace seriously by coordinating with managers and senior employees and working together to draft a special safety/operational program that will foster a more secure place of work and which will help prevent or minimize work-related injuries or incidences. The employers should also initiate having regular safety meetings to make safety/operational program known to the employees, especially to the younger workers, and to reiterate the importance of strictly adhering to the program.
Lastly, the employers should also establish a trusting relationship with their employees, especially the younger workers. The employers should be visible, approachable, and should encourage the employees to approach the superiors in order to raise the concerns of the employees, to voice out their worries or their problems, or to give any opinion or reaction.
Indeed, employers could take a few simple steps to make sure that their employees, particularly the younger ones, are protected, safe, healthy, and happy when they are at work.
If you are in Louisiana and you are in need of a worker’s compensation or a personal injury lawyer, you can get in touch with the attorneys of John Fox and Associates. Call the toll-free number 1-866-994-1912 or 1-504-891-3303 or send a message through email at email@example.com.