(08/04/2007)
By Bob Weaver

Arnoldsburg resident Joe Skaggs laments the plight of Calhoun's working poor, with few opportunities locally or in nearby regional counties.

"I found a couple of jobs in other counties, but it's hard to afford the 100-150 mile drive to a job because of high gasoline prices," he said.

Even those regional jobs are drying up.

Skaggs recently lost his job at Spencer Veneer, a minimum wage operation with few benefits that suddenly closed.

Tens of thousands of jobs, mostly low-paying have left the state, because of the "free trade" globalized market.

Skaggs said "Even low pay, minimum wage with poor benefits are not cheap enough for these companies."

He said Spencer Veneer's operation is going to their other location in the US where "about 98% of the workforce can't speak English."

Skaggs said Veneer was a hard, dangerous place to work.

"Most injuries were not reported, while others were covered up," in a plant that had significant problems ending in a death, and severe injury for several workers.

"We were threatened with our jobs regularly," he said, "even though our work load doubled and tripled when they closed a Canadian plant."

"When all is said and done, it surely must come down to owner greed," Skaggs concluded.


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