Newsletter #144 – Who’s Working in Tennessee? (Part 2 of 2)Posted: September 9, 2014
The August 2014 Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) analysis can tell you who isn’t working in Tennessee. Their conclusion based on the same data the federal government uses to determine labor market participation shows that the jobs in Tennessee are going to legal and illegal immigrants:
“Tennessee’s working-age immigrant population grew 176 percent from 2000 to 2014, one of the highest of any state in the nation. Yet the number of natives working in 2014 was actually lower in 2000.”
With Chamber of Commerce support for both amnesty and refugee resettlement, this should come as no surprise.
Bridge Refugee Services is a refugee resettlement agency in Knoxville. It partners with Church World Services (CWS), one of the nine national resettlement organizations. A volunteer refugee advocacy group has posted the complaints they received about Bridge’s treatment of refugees. One post addresses four reported worksite injuries in over eight months that the refugees claimed Bridge did not help them address. The volunteer that works with the refugees opined that the “agency even sided with the temporary employment agency that placed the refugees, and is more concerned about keeping up their employment placements than they are with the refugees’ welfare.”
In the federal resettlement contracting business, employment numbers are very important, however illusory they may be, as exposed by a former Bridge Refugee Service caseworker. Despite any reported problems, Bridge continues to receive federal grant money. The last publicly available report in 2010 shows $902,445 in taxpayer funds.
“We come for the jobs”
So says Mohamed-Shukri Hassan, a Somali refugee who was resettled in Tennessee. After working for the TN Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) and CAIR-Hamas promoting American Center for Outreach (ACO), Hassan now works as the Program Director for the TN American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC). All three organizations stress non-assimilation in favor of multicultural accommodations.
Shukri also served on the board of NICE (Nashville International Center for Empowerment), an organization that started out just assisting refugees with government money but which grew into a full-fledged refugee resettlement agency. NICE’s new status brought much more public money into its accounts. In 2013 it received over $800,000 in taxpayer money to fund its operations. Representatives from Dell and Toshiba also serve on NICE’s board.
And not to be left out, Will Alexander, Sen. Lamar Alexander’s son who is now the chief of staff of Gov. Haslam’s Department of Economic and Community Development, has also served on NICE’s board. Crony is as crony does.
One stream of NICE’s public money comes under the heading of the “Match Grant” program. This program allows public money to flow into resettlement agencies by matching public dollars with cash and in-kind donations for which the agency sets the dollar value of the donated goods. This particular program is supposed to offer an alternative to cash welfare.
The U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement places such a high premium on shifting refugee healthcare costs to states, that its FY2013 Match Grant written guidelines advises resettlement agencies to use vouchers if necessary to avoid having weekly cash payments that make refugee clients income ineligible for food stamps and Medicaid.
Flower Foods: has Bridge Refugee Services knocked on their door?
In March, 2014, Governor Haslam and ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty announced the opening of Flower Foods bakery operation in Knox County. (see detailed announcement here.)
Food processing and manufacturing plants seem to be a popular source of jobs for refugees. Tysons Foods is known to be a big supporter of refugee labor. In fact, Tyson’s HR Manager was a board member of CRIT (Center for Refugees and Immigrants of TN, an organization with an “interesting” history.)
Knoxville’s Flower Foods can look closer to home to find refugee employees. In fact, they can look in-house to John Swale, Director of Outsourced Services. Swale serves on the Board of Directors of the International Association for Refugees (IAFR) based in Minnesota. He also served for 10 years as a Field Director for Refugee and Ethnic Minority Ministries.
Companies more like Flower Foods such as Creative Snack also looks to Church World Service to “find its employees.” CWS is the same resettlement organization that partners with Bridge in Knoxville and Chattanooga.
Diane’s Desserts in Minnesota offers an instructive object lesson for Flower Foods. In 2012 resettled refugee Somali workers at Diane’s Desserts in Le Center, Minnesota, walked off the job to protest a new company policy about skirt length which was issued after a worker’s long skirt got caught in machinery. Even though the female workers could still cover their legs with pants, it was unacceptable to the Somali workers.
Predictably, CAIR-Hamas stepped in to help the workers that quit their jobs file complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Accommodating religious demands like dress and prayer time are just some of the trade-offs crony capitalists have to make for cheap labor.
So, are you wondering who’s working in Tennessee?