NBC-WKTV News Channel 2 Utica, New York
Farmer hires refugees
Originally printed at http://www.wktv.com/news/local/46096862.html
ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) - David Schieferstine, a Rome dairy farmer recently hired two Burmese refugees from Utica to work at his farm.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County worked with Oneida County Workforce Development to find Ah Lu and Pah Lu. The two are unrelated but were the only ones out of nine who toured the farm who volunteered to enter a work program.
According to county officials, the money to pay for their on the job training comes from workforce investment training funds.
After six weeks, Schieferstine says that things have gone well.
"They pick up things fast, even with a communication problem we can teach them what we need to teach them, there's been a few times when they may be a little problem..."
Cornell officials say they want to expand the program in the coming years if this pilot program continues to progress.
Undoubtedly some of them faced better offers. On the other hand, it is not uncommon for refugees to turn down work, even when unemployed, if it does not pay as much as their last job or what they think their friends are getting. They often have trouble distinguishing between the pay levels at different kinds of work.
For instance, I've seen some who assume that McDonalds and Burger King must pay more than their factory jobs, presumably because McDonalds and Burger King are so "modern" and "American-looking."
Similarly, a while back I was helping a refugee look for work. (For several reasons, refugees tend to look for work in very inefficient ways. It's very frustrating to watch them, especially if they really need the job.) One thing I did was ask him to fill out an application for me, and, by chance, I happened to select a Burger King application. (Hey, I like Burger King when I go out for fast food even if I do tend to order off the value menu.)
Next time I saw him, he handed me the application, now filled out for practice, and I looked it over.
Much to my surprise, he had disqualified himself from possible consideration by putting down under "desired pay and desired wages," the wages and hours from his last job, a temporary job through a temporary service held at a factory. In other words, forty hours a week at slightly over ten dollars an hour. Obviously this is going to get the application placed in the "discard -do not consider" pile instead of in the "interview now" pile.