BALTIMORE (WJZ)—The intentions are good. Put more Americans to work. But a federal order to raise the wages of foreign workers to attract U.S. workers to those positions could end up costing jobs.

Alex DeMetrick reports at least that’s the feat in Maryland’s seafood industry.

Some 280 temporary foreign workers pick crab meat in Maryland. Only a handful of Americans do this work. Charlotte Jones, who has been doing it for 65 years, knows why.

“The younger people, you know how they are. They like a job jumping into top dollar and insurance and all that,” said Jones, crab picker.

Picking pays minimum wage. But it is due to rise by $2 to $9.24 per hour for guest workers with legal visas.

The Department of Labor issued that order to make this job more attractive to Americans.

“American people will not do this work,” said Scott Poland, seafood truck driver. “No matter how the Department of Labor tries to spin it, it’s just not going to work.”

That’s because the packing houses are under intense competitive pressure from foreign crab, and paying the higher wage would mean passing it along to customers.

“Call the guy up and say everything is $1.50 higher, he’ll say ‘Well, I don’t want it’ because he can get it from everywhere else all over the world a lot cheaper,” said Robin Hall, G.W. Hall Seafood.

“We’re struggling trying to figure out ways to stay open, but right now it looks like we’re going to have to cease operation as of Sept. 30,” said Jack Brooks, J.M. Clayton Seafood.

Costing these women their jobs, and the ripple could affect American workers who drive the trucks and sell the fuel, and supply the products the industry uses.

“Instead of creating jobs like everyone wants to, this is the job destruction bill. It’s going to be suicide,” said Louie Frase, seafood truck driver

The industry claims every foreign worker creates two and a half American jobs. If the 280 in Maryland are let go, “several hundred American jobs are at risk here,” Brooks said.

“We’re all going to be out a job,” Jones said.

Maryland’s seafood industry, along with Virginia and Carolina, are petitioning Congress to stop the pay increase, which is set to take effect Sept. 30.

Alex DeMetrick

Comments (7)
  1. Fed Up says:

    Anytime the Federal government gets involved we lose.

  2. Bill says:

    I love the Democratic process! They know nothing of business but continue to kill the business sector in Maryland. Obama has spent three years continually driving our markets overseas and he will not be happy until we are completely dependent on other countries. This sounds like treason to me. Good Luck with your fight and always support the watermen.

  3. Michael Schearer says:

    The two most common errors of government economic policy are 1) short term benefit at the expense of the long term; 2) directed at specific groups rather than the economy as a whole. The rise in the minimum wage commits both of these errors, and as a result, we see the unintended consequences. Seriously, re-read this article again. Local businesses are closing because they cannot afford to raise a government-mandated minimum wage. This policy is costing local jobs.

  4. sheriff says:

    STFU all of you. You want to eat foreign crab meat that tastes like yuck!!…Fishy & has no taste because it’s pastureized, go ahead. Don’t blame it all on the Democrats. Favorable legislation from Republicans legislators have shipped more jobs overseas than any thing any president could have or has done including Dems & Repubs. Greed & stockholders are behind sending jobs overseas so wake up bone heads.

    1. TJ says:

      So you agree with raising the wage and letting these businesses shut down? This is a basic issue with liberal government stepping in to ruin an economic process. Even with the higher wages they still will be hiring illegals to do the work, which is another travesty in itself.

  5. Robert Long says:

    i agree. the people who want to save every last dollar they have send it over sea’s. they always have and always will. the raise for minimum wage is a good thing. it lets people make extra money so they dont have to struggle as bad. so stop the qq about people making more money. if it was not for the fact all these illegal’s in america and maryland we would not have the issues we have now. they are the ones taking all the local job’s because people want to save money. they could pay a legal person to do something for 10 an hour. so they pay someone who is not legal to do it for half the price. thats where this country is going to hell in a hand basket! so you all need to wake up!

  6. bryan says:

    take the people on WELFARE to do this job and kick the temporary foreign workers out of the usa. ITS TIME TO THIN THE HEARD.

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