Refugee Resettlement Watch

NC Perdue chicken plant happy to get refugee labor

Posted by Ann Corcoran on February 20, 2009

I don’t know what exactly is going on in North Carolina.   First we heard that there are no jobs for refugees there.   Then earlier this week I saw confirmation that there is competition between the non-profit government contractors (volags) for territory in NC (more later) to bring more refugees.   Then this morning I see that the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) is happily supplying refugee labor to Perdue (and Perdue is looking for workers).

From the Richmond County Daily Journal:

Since 1962, thousands of Burmese people have escaped government-sponsored social, political and religious persecution – including torture and forced labor – by coming to America.

To date, 53 of them have been hired to work at Perdue in Rockingham.

Community leaders got to learn about the culture of the new employees at an informal luncheon at the plant Thursday afternoon.

According to Jim Brown, complex human resources manager at Perdue, the new Burmese hires fill a void because they are very eager to work, and they meet all of the necessary human resource requirements.

So companies like Perdue call the refugee agencies which act as (taxpayer- funded) human resource agencies.  I wonder, are there taxpayer-funded employment agencies helping Americans compete for these jobs?

“We have a 40 percent turnover rate per year, and it is very costly. If you have 1,300 employees, and 40 percent of them leave every year, that’s over 500 new people that you have to train.”

Which is why Perdue called to see what they had to offer at the Raleigh office of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), a non-profit that provides services and addresses the needs and rights of persons in forced or voluntary migration worldwide.

“It’s very common for employers to call us, especially when they get new business contracts and need workers quickly,” said Marlene Myers, a North Carolina State Refugee Coordinator with the NC Department of Health and Human Services.

As usual this article is a refugee story puff piece except for the token mention of a little problem.   One attendee at the luncheon asked— what about American workers in this time of extreme unemployment.

Jamie Moss-Godfrey of RE/MAX Realty, who attended the luncheon, said that she expressed concern over recruiting employees from outside the county when the already high national unemployment rate is expected to rise.

She is comforted by someone who tells her, its o.k., these refugees have been here for 7 years already.   Really?

“Then one of the presenters told me that most of these people have been here for seven years and are already part of the current unemployment statistics, and I felt much better after that. the panel was open to all types of questions and concerns.”

Well, that’s funny.  I just went and looked at refugee databases here.   I went back to 2002 (7 years) and only 16 Burmese were resettled in North Carolina that year.  In 2003, the number was 26, 116 came in 2004, 86 in 2005, 57 in 2006 and guess what else I found?   A whopping 544 Burmese were brought to North Carolina in 2007.  I don’t have the numbers for 2008 but I bet that it is even larger.

I do have the number of Burmese brought to the US in 2008 for the whole country—-18,139.   And, as one of the refugee advocates pointed out at lunch:

…..they aren’t “going back” any time soon.

 

For new readers:  USCRI is the federal contractor whose subcontractor, the International Institute of CT, was suspended by the State Department in Waterbury, CT when it didn’t take care of the Burmese refugees it was contracted to care for.

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