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News :: Globalization : International : Labor
New Hampshire's Exploited Foreign Student Workers
04 Jul 2004
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Last year I had the pleasure of talking with many of the foreign student workers imported into the Lakes Region for the Summer. These students come from overseas, brought in by their employer/sponsors, to work during the Summer, helping local businesses meet the needs of the vacationers flocking to the region for this brief period upon which many of New Hampshire's small business's depend. This year is no different and many of these students, each of whom has paid around one thousand dollars for transportation to our neck of the woods, are back again, hoping to earn enough money to get them through the school year back home. What most locals do not understand is how terribly exploited, underpaid and under-respected many of these student are. They can be found working in the local fast food outlets, super markets, gas stations and hotels. A few of these businesses treats these workers very well, but the vast majority exploit their eagerness to work and the difference in pay between their homelands and New Hampshire. The result of this exploitation is overwork, underpay and frustration.

New Hampshire's Exploited Foreign Student Workers

Gilford Resident

Last year I had the pleasure of talking with many of the foreign student workers imported into the Lakes Region for the Summer. These students come from overseas, brought in by their employer/sponsors, to work during the Summer, helping local businesses meet the needs of the vacationers flocking to the region for this brief period upon which many of New Hampshire's small business's depend. This year is no different and many of these students, each of whom has paid around one thousand dollars for transportation to our neck of the woods, are back again, hoping to earn enough money to get them through the school year back home.

In a part of New England where diversity is almost unknown, it is a breath of fresh air to see these students, many of whom are from Eastern Europe, add some character to our otherwise bland existence. What most locals do not understand is how terribly exploited, underpaid and under-respected many of these student are.

They can be found working in the local fast food outlets, super markets, gas stations and hotels. A few of these businesses treats these workers very well, but the vast majority exploit their eagerness to work and the difference in pay between their homelands and New Hampshire. The result of this exploitation is overwork, underpay and frustration.

Many of these students are very well educated, yet while in New Hampshire, the English only population rolls their eyes at their limited English and mocks them as if they are subhuman. On the contrary, I've found them to be brilliant. I asked the owner of a local fast food shop about his experiences hiring these students and he beamed with pride over how well they were working out, "I've been bringing them back for years." he said. "They are hard working, inventive and have introduced many improvements in our processes. Unlike many in the local population, these workers want to work."

Last year, I told some of these workers that I sometimes publish on IndyMedia and they consented to interviews. They wish to keep their identities secret because of fear of retaliation during future returns to New Hampshire. The following is a summary of what I learned.

Among the worst of the employers in the Lakes Region Area (think Laconia) is the Margate resort. The Margate pays its foreign workers less than it pays local workers. Some of the managers at the resort are know to systematically steal the tips out of guest rooms before foreign house keeping workers are able to access the rooms. Arbitrary firing of workers is common at the Margate. At least one story I heard implied that a male worker was fired when he turned down a female manager's advances.

Burger King in Laconia is also known to pay foreign workers less. They promise hours of work that they do not schedule. Working more than full time is important to these students and some of them maintain two or three jobs while in New Hampshire. When an employer promises work but does not deliver, these students are left without work. It costs a great deal for them to come out to New Hampshire and work for the summer. They depend upon their earnings not only for living while in New Hampshire, but for paying for their transportation to and from New Hampshire and survival at home during the school year.

Shaws Supermarket places foreign workers in lower positions than American workers. During the summer, only the foreign workers are required to do such tasks as cleaning up the grounds outside of the supermarket and collecting carts (this is in addition to their other duties).

I asked the workers if there were any exceptions to this poor treatment of foreign workers. Several pointed out that Gilford Mobil Mart treats its employees very well, pays the foreign workers the same rate of pay was the local workers and treats them with the same respect as it treats local workers.

My advice for those of you visiting the Lakes Region for Summer vacation is to give your tips directly to the persons cleaning your room at the hotels whenever possible. At other locations, be quick to praise their work and let their bosses know that you value them. You might wanted to ask their bosses, pointedly, if they pay them equally. Letting the business owners of New Hampshire know that you care about and are aware of their exploitation of foreign workers may pressure them to treat these delightful people better.


This work is in the public domain.
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Re: New Hampshire's Exploited Foreign Student Workers
06 Jul 2004
This is interesting. I had a job a few years ago outside Portsmouth with a handful of Russians and Ukrainians on my crew. They were all great kids to work with and party with. I wonder, were they there through the same kind of program? What programs are these? How many visas do they secure each summer? Is there any more pro-active way (besides posting on a nearby IMC) to help these kids win their rights?
Re: New Hampshire's Exploited Foreign Student Workers
06 Jul 2004
my oh my how awful these foriegn students spend a few short months in vacation paradise yet they are making somewhat less than they "should" be oh its a pity. We should legaly mandate they be payed $23.00 and hour to scoop ice cream, yeah yeah that will fix this travesty of justice.

In fact I understand Dick Chenney and George Bush personally own all those ice cream stands and vacation locations and just make it look like they dont with help from the NSA and Mossad.

"They were all great kids to work with and party with."
Re: New Hampshire's Exploited Foreign Student Workers
07 Jul 2004
Geez, heavy enough on the sarcasm?

I live and work in the States, and I dream of vacationing elsewhere. Who said the States were paradise?
Re: New Hampshire's Exploited Foreign Student Workers
07 Jul 2004
Two years ago I met a couple foreign students from Poland that came to Portsmouth NH to work. The exploitation of these workers started at the agency that arranges to find them employment. There was no housing provided for them and no information given. Finding a please to stay in a town that has no youth hostels or public transportation and in the middle of the summer season and for only two months it’s just about impossible
They arrived at the bus station with their bags and no place to stay. . The irony of this is that they worked in a motel. The pay was minimum wage and the work was for forty hours a week. Their only option was to rent a small room in a bed and breakfast for $800 a month one hours bicycle ride from town. Luckily by accident or by chance they found a room for less, and closer to town . In order for these students to save the $2000 or $3000, to go back home with, they had to get a second fulltime job at minimum wage.
So much for that vacation paradise Mr. Ignorant johnny boy edwards
The points is that rather than paying something closer to living wages we import labor from over seas to work for slave wages.
Re: New Hampshire's Exploited Foreign Student Workers
07 Jul 2004
The point is also that the economy of these kids' home countries are so screwed up that they have to go abroad to make money to pay for school. Whose fault is that? Well, a lot of it has to do with advice from the IMF and the World Bank. Even in the case of countries that aren't in debt to these organizations, they often turn to them for advice as the supposed experts--and the World Bank is probably the only place that will provide such advice for free. Not to mention that the IMF and World Bank head up an informal global creditors' cartel--if your economy does not get their approval, you basically can't get loans from any private international banks, which a lot of poor countries need. (Am I saying taht these countries should have stuck with the old Marxist-Leninist system? No. I'm just saying that the transition to capitalism was really badly handled. And, in all honesty, I think a transition to socialism with a human face would have been a better idea anyway.)
Re: New Hampshire's Exploited Foreign Student Workers
08 Jul 2004
I agree with the last post. Besides looking at the problems with treatment in this country (and we must do something about them, though I don't claim to know how), we need to look at why people from other countries come to the United States looking for work. Spare the "land of opportunity" schtick and maybe we can discuss what the previous post mentions: the IMF, World Bank, and then the WTO and specific agreements such as NAFTA, CAFTA, and more. Outsourcing of US jobs is a problem as well. "The business of America is business," former president Calvin Coolidge said. Most people, in the US and abroad, when placed in a position of power, will ignore morals and violations if it makes them a pretty penny. That's capitalism. (This is by no means an excuse for the digusting behavior the article mentions, but rather a call to realize these incidents aren't isolated. They happen throughout the country and the world. Dig it?)
Re: New Hampshire's Exploited Foreign Student Workers
11 Jul 2004
This is horrible!! They're working and earning money for school!! What a travesty!!! This must stop now! We shouldn't let any of these poor students come work here anymore so they don't get taken advantage of anymore. That'll fix the problem. I hold John Ashcroft personally responsible because he sucked the employers' brains out.... and I'm sure Cheney was there too because Halliburton is making $0.01/hour from these foreign students!!!
Re: New Hampshire's Exploited Foreign Student Workers
16 Jul 2004
At first I thought the the culprits for underpaying and disrespecting these workers were bad employers and rude customers.

Silly me.

It's apparently the World Bank's and IMF's fault, not to mention capitalism.

I wish I had used that reasoning with my boss during all my teenage joe-jobs.

/sarcasm