From the November 2003 Idaho Observer:
Aliens have landed at TJ Maxx
by Gerald Tomaine
The current recession has hit the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania area hard. Hundreds of jobs were lost when telecom equipment makers Corning and Finet closed plants which they had recently opened. Another 800 jobs vanished when Thomson Consumer Electronics closed its television picture tube plant and moved operations to Mexico.
Many other manufacturing jobs have been lost here, only to be replaced with low paying retail jobs. So when TJ Maxx, a retailer who sells designer clothing and other merchandise with brand names such as Polo, Guess, DKNY and others recently opened a distribution center in Pittston Township, Pa., it was hoped to be a much needed shot in the arm for the local economy.
Local officials offered the company a boatload of financial incentives and tax breaks, and in return TJ Maxx promised jobs starting at $8-10 per hour. About 1000 positions were planned.
But, in a turn of events that has Pittson Township officials hopping mad, TJ Maxx began hiring at a starting wage of $6.50 per hour, and has for the most part passed over job applicants from the local populace in favor of cheaper immigrant labor. In comparison, Wal-Mart has a distribution center an hour away in Tannersville, where the starting wage is over $12 per hour.
In its defense, the company denies it ever promised an $8-10 starting wage, insisting that they only said wages would be competitive. Except for the fast food outlets, these are some of the lowest paying jobs in the area. What is more bizarre is that workers at the TJ Maxx distribution center are represented by a union( UNITE, an arm of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union).
TJ Maxx recently celebrated the grand opening of their new facility, but officials from Pittston Township did not show up for the ribbon cutting ceremony. But our story is far from over. In a recent investigation by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, it was discovered that 274 of some 500+ employees at the Pittston Township distribution center turned out to be illegal aliens.
Of course TJ Maxx denies any knowledge of this, stating that employees were screened by outside employment agencies. (No company EVER admits to knowingly hiring illegals.)
For now, the INS is not taking any legal action against the company, but fines of $1,000 per employee could be levied. All of the illegal workers have either resigned or been fired. At a recent job fair only a handful of applicants showed up to apply for employment at TJ Maxx. Needless to say, TJ Maxx officials have been left with proverbial egg on their faces.
Now if none of what you have read here bothers you, then there is nothing more to say. But if you believe that American jobs should go to, well, Americans, then don't shop at TJ Maxx.
NAFTA has already sent many American jobs out of the country, and other shady labor practices like the one described above are helping to drive wages down to slave levels.
If we let this continue, we could find ourselves living four families to a house made out of garage doors like they do in Mexico. I for one don't want that to happen.
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