Skinning, gutting, and cutting up catfish is not easy or pleasant work. No one knows this better than Randy Rhodes, president of Harvest Select, which has a processing plant in impoverished Uniontown, Ala. For years, Rhodes has had trouble finding Americans willing to grab a knife and stand 10 or more hours a day in a cold, wet room for minimum wage and skimpy benefits.You know, we have this system called capitalism, and under capitalism -- as opposed to, say, serfdom, or in the gulag -- people work for money. When you can't hire workers at the wage you are paying, what you do is raise your wages. You don't drive around the state searching for illegal immigrants who might be willing to do the work, or complain to the legislature, or to reporters. You pay more. And if you can't make money paying the wages you need to attract workers, you go out of business. Tom Surtees, Alabama's Director of Industrial Relations, understands:
Don’t tell me an Alabamian can’t work out in the field picking produce because it’s hot and labor intensive. Go into a steel mill. Go into a foundry. Go into numerous other occupations and tell them Alabamians don’t like this work because it’s hot and it requires manual labor. . . . If you’re trying to justify paying someone below whatever an appropriate wage level is so you can bring your product, I don’t think that’s a valid argument.It also really irritates me when employers complain that they can't hire people with the skills they need. What you do in that situation is train somebody to do the work.