The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Death in an Alabama Factory for $8.50 an Hour

Feb 20, 2017

Regina Elsea was killed last year when the robot she was trying to repair suddenly moved and crushed her. She was working for Ajin USA, a car parts company, earning $8.50 an hour.

Chambers County, where the company was located, offered tax breaks and other financial aid to companies to locate there. Encouraged by such free taxpayer-backed money, car companies, with their high-tech robots and technologies, started to move to the region. People were hired, but most of the wages remained very low. In addition, much of the work was supplied through staffing agencies and was temporary.

Elsea was not an Ajin employee. She was employed through a staffing agency, Alliance Total Solutions. About 250 of the almost 800 workers at the Ajin’s plant were temps.

These companies pushed their inexperienced workers to the end. In her last weeks, Elsea worked 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, hoping to qualify for a full-time position and an hourly wage of about $12, according to the Financial Times.

This death was preventable. Ajin, like many other companies in the U.S., was cited several times for failure to provide its workers a safe work environment. But nothing was done about it.

Current U.S. government officials, like many before them, promise to bring or create jobs in the U.S. But, this is just the familiar hogwash. What workers find is work with low pay that demands long and hard hours, has no benefits, offers no future. Such work also brings danger, and in the case of Elsea, death.