Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Foreign Workers on Mackinac Island

I recently made a trip up to Mackinac Island for a relaxing getaway with my sister and my mom.  We had an amazing time on the island doing typical tourist things like souvenir shopping and dining.  However, one thing caught my attention and prompted me to ask the following question:  Why are there so many foreigners working up here?  Jamaicans, Russians, Eastern Europeans...they were all there doing various jobs including retail and hotel service.

Michigan has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and it made me wonder why people from other countries were being brought here to do the work that an unemployed Michigander could do.  After all, living and working in picturesque northern Michigan sound pretty nice!  So, I started asking the locals.

According to some residents of the island, the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island firmly believes that Jamaicans are the hardest working and cleanest group of people in the world, and therefore they employ them in great numbers at their hotel.  Locals speculate that there is another underlying reason as well...employing a black person in a service role the way it was done historically.  Homegrown African Americans are not willing to take on a job like this and assume the role of the servant to the more affluent members of society.  Again, according to the locals, management feels that the immigrants make better workers because they are thrilled to have a job, and willing to do the grunt work without copping and attitude.  If that is true, that is a sad state of affairs.  I believe that there ARE good people in Michigan who would be happy to have a job.

I am not opposed to giving foreign born people a chance to come to America and work toward a better life.  My ancestors were once in their shoes.  It just troubles me that they are actually preferred by employers over Michigan residents who need work.

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