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Park Concessionaires Growing Desperate for Workers


    Growing up in New Jersey, I had little connection with national parks, and no idea at all that summer vacations during college could have been spent working in places like Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier or some other idyllic national park location.
    Today's youth also either don't know, or could care less, as some parks are so strapped for help that executives at some of the concession companies are being forced to scrub toilets and bag groceries.
    In a Los Angeles Times story, the problem is associated by concessionaires primarily to federal immigration programs that have drastically slowed the arrival of foreign-born help. Others, though, say the pay and benefits don't measure up with young Americans' desires.


I have always wanted to work in the Park Service. It is not a livable wage.

Judy, this is about seasonal workers for the private concessionaires in the park. This story has me absolutely irate for a million reasons. When I cool down from that and my 96-mile bike ride, I want to say more. Just note this; when the hold up on the visas for foreign workers got to be too much in Yosemite, Delaware North hired 88 American college students. Ummm...seemed like the students were there for the picking. There are several reasons that the concessionaires prefer to hire foreign workers, though. They stay longer, they have nowhere to go and so won't quit, they work very hard (in part to pay off the ridiculous prices they have to pay just to get to and from the United States to work, and it just happens that the workers come from countries participating in the United States guest worker program, a program related to trade agreements. I need to research this more, but I continue to hear that there are tax write-offs for hiring workers through the guest worker program. The whole story is not being told. The foreign workers are wonderful; I've met many of them. Unfortunately, many of these workers are not being told the entire truth about their employment or their employment options. Some are downright bitter. I am not convinced either that the sizable number of Americans who could do this kind of seasonal employment actually know these opportunities are available. The most common reaction I've gotten from people who knew I worked summers in Yellowstone was wondering who I knew to get such a job, even though it was as easy as could be to be hired. I've noticed Xanterra spamming various parks employment sites like CoolWorks (but also Myspace Yellowstone groups and places like that) looking for American workers. Yet, the word isn't out there. I bet I'm one of a handful of people in my city to have seen them. Why? Because they only appear in the places someone like me is bound to go. The guest worker program provides an inexpensive way to recruit workers, but I think that the parks concessionaires if they really wanted to could be a whole lot smarter about advertising these jobs of a lifetime. I don't believe for a second that they are telling the full story (and this article didn't quite either). It's a shame because foreign workers are barely breaking even (and some don't) to work here while domestic workers don't even seem to know such jobs exist. Yet, the concessionaires and governments are making a lot of money off this labor. It ticks me off. Okay, I lied; my fingers wouldn't stop typing. I'm even hotter; so I had better stop. Angry, Jim

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