Page 24


otlir WE’LL LEND YOU A LOAN. Awe &moo NATIONAL BAN\( I I th and Interregional In Union there’s strength. For a new car, a new camper, a piano, a diamond ring, a boat, a new stove or dishwasheror just about anything you might want. Because anyone that works as hard as you, deserves all the good things. And we want to help you get them. A loan that’s good for you is good for us. MO temporary subsistence. They learn no new skills or even get the opportunity to learn English. They have no job security and no resources to fall back on and, hence, no bargaining power. The high unemployment and underemployMent rates in the barrios in which they live are not abstract statistics to them but constant reminders of their position in the labor force. They all know what it is like to try to live in the barrio without work. The best that the majority of these men can do is to pit themselves against their co-workers in trying to impress their immediate supervisor on the job. He is the man who will pick the men who are to stay on when lay-off time rolls around. And though they can quit, moves for the majority of these men are horizontal similar jobs with similar companies. The companies which exploit the minority labor market defend their practices with the usual hackneyed apologetics. The Mexican-Americans, they say, are low productivity workers. They are unskilled and difficult to train because of the language barrier. Besides, company spokesmen argue, white workers will not take the jobs. So they argue . . . But in reality the central concern of most production companies is not the quclity, but the quantity of labor that they can get. The majority of all production jobs require nothing more than manual skills that are easily learned. Despite all the rhetoric about skills and ethnic backgrounds, there is only one overriding consideration for these companies the price of labor. And the attractiveness of the Mexican-Americans as a class of workers is not their capabilities, real or potential, but their price. THE NET result of these minority labor practices combined with social and cultural barriers is an effective economic blockade for the urban Mexican-Americans. Inside the blockade it looks like this: in 1971 a full 29 percent of the Mexican-American families in the Southwest were somehow existing on incomes below the subsistence level. Mexican-American men employed as operatives had median earnings of $6,000 in 1969; as non-farm laborers, $4,500; and in farm jobs they earned an average of $3,100. The blockade works against the women as well. In 1970 the median earnings of Mexican-American wives in the Southwest was little more than $2,000. In 1971, the median family incomes of Mexican-Americans lagged 31 percent behind those of white families. Mexican-American families are typically larger than white families and by dividing the median family income by average family size we can get a median per capita family income. These simple calculations reveal that while white families had $3,059 of income for each member, Mexican-Americans have only $1,709 per person. This means that most Mexican-Americans have to live on close to Against the background of this analysis, current thinking on minority issues deserves serious re-thinking. The thrust of efforts for achieving wider opportunities for Mexican-Americans has followed the same three-point strategy as efforts which have been made on behalf of education for children and youths, and \(which has been primarily realized in the Re-evaluation of this strategy in light of the active forces working against minority workers provides a new perspective: Teaching youths and adults new skills might help individuals better their situations, but in the present labor market new skills cannot help Mexican-Americans workers because of the current industrial manpower demand for low-priced, unskilled laborers and operatives. Over-subscription for the fewer skilled jobs is of benefit only to employers. Increased education for youths and children is ideally a step in the right direction, but schooling, in itself, will not counteract the economic forces against minorities. Increased employment opportunities for minorities have been mainly in the public sector of the economy. Though these efforts are a positive step for a few minority individuals, they have had little effect on the economic blockade against minorities in the private sector. One of the main results of public employment of minorities has been an appearance of progress while the reality has remained basically unchanged. The issue of minority labor practices in America is related to the larger problems of the manpower demands of modern commodity production. Mass production work, with its specialization and rigid division of labor, creates a demand for more operatives and laborers than it does for skilled craftsmen. The increasing shift to service industries has similar consequences. How the wage worker should be compensated for his labor has been a major issue and source of conflict since the beginning of the industrial revolution. But so long as reserve pools of low-priced minority workers are exploited and maintained, neither the plight of America’s minorities, or the larger economic issues of our times, will be resolved. Sept. 19, 1975 11 Bob and Sara Roebuck Anchor National Financial Services 1524 E. Anderson Lane, Austin bonds stocks insurance mutual funds optional retirement program