Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Mass students lose jobs to foreign workers who are more ambitious

Though the Massachusetts unemployment rate of 7.6 percent stands well below the 9.1 percent national one, it is still high enough to raise questions about just why Cape businesses are in such desperate need of foreign labor. The reason, according to both the foreign workers and the business owners who employee them, has to do with work ethic. Ceperkovic, for instance, works 70 hours a week doing two jobs ("I got them like this," he says, snapping his fingers), though some foreigners he knows work over 100 hours a week.

His multiple languages come in handy; in what sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, three ladies -- a French, German and American -- recently entered his store, and he was able to communicate with each of them in her native tongue. "They don't ask about pay, overtime, take long breaks. They just do it," Alexandra Ivanov, a 21-year-old Bulgarian currently spending her third summer in Provincetown working at a fudge shop and a clothing store, tells me about her fellow foreign laborers. "I don't think Americans could do it like us."