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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Oakland Bay Bridge: Chinese Paid $12 a Day

The Chinese are Building an American Bridge!

The Oakland Bay Bridge was seriously damaged during the 1989 earthquake, and it is now being reconstructed... Much of the construction of the Oakland Bay Bridge is happening in China.  By Chinese workers paid $12 a day.  

(Photo Ryan Pyle for the New York Times)

Please read the whole article, and I hope you find it as disturbing as I do.

More about Chinese making iPods in slave labor conditions:
Chinese suicide & iPod sweatshops  
This, to me, was one of the worst parts of the article:
Zhenhua (the Chinese subcontractor) put 3,000 employees to work on the project: steel-cutters, welders, polishers and engineers. The company built the main bridge tower, which was shipped in mid-2009, and a total of 28 bridge decks — the massive triangular steel structures that will serve as the roadway platform.
Pan Zhongwang, a 55-year-old steel polisher, is a typical Zhenhua worker. He arrives at 7 a.m. and leaves at 11 p.m., often working seven days a week. He lives in a company dorm and earns about $12 a day.
 “It used to be $9 a day, now it’s $12,” he said Wednesday morning, while polishing one of the decks for the new Bay Bridge. “Everything is getting more expensive. They should raise our pay.”

This was a state of California project, and it was estimated that having the Chinese slave-labor workers manufacture the bridge pieces saved the taxpayers of California 400 million bucks.  

But how much did California lose in wages, taxes, and the multiplier effect of having a large project conducted in California?

So why do we have such high unemployment again?  

Because the Chinese will work for $12 a day.  

And most of us don't think that Americans should work for peanuts.

Some Republicans and Libertarians want to repeal the "government (minimum) wage".

However, I have read much written by Republicans and Libertarians who believe that rescinding the "government wage" would bring unemployment down.  At what cost to our country and to our humanity?

Shame, shame on anyone in California who was a part of awarding this contract to the Chinese.  

$12 a day indeed.


  1. I don't know who you are, but thanks for putting this out there. I saw the little bitty blurb in the Times and was appalled. I am uncertain if the folks finishing the bridge are here, in the US, or the whole thing was shipped in. Either way, yes, we're using slave labor. This is HUGE news.

  2. Hi Anonymous.. Thanks for reading my blog! Yes, this is appalling, and that's why I added it to my blog. I wrote a few months back about Chinese workers making iPods also in slave labor conditions.

    I don't know why we as a country are so cavalier towards the issues of international labor (and the ramifications for workers in developed countries) that there isn't more outrage and more protests about this. And this is especially egregious because it is a government project! Why is this legal?

    From reading the article, it appears that parts of the bridge were assembled in China and then shipped over here in pieces... quite large pieces, of course.

    Thanks again!

  3. This is what capitalism gets you. You charge more and we will ask for more pay. We get paid more and they will charge more. Now our pay is to high and they look to China. America is the land of the free. Free to choose to do business with whom you wish. Do a little research into America and you'll get upset for sure. In the mean time check out the welders and pipe fitters unions requiring $50+ dollars an hour per employee to stand around staring at the job waiting for the foreman to tell them to do it. True story, my brother stood for 8 hours staring at the task while other more senior union workers wouldn't allow or do themselves the task until told. From that, I hope china gets our welding and pipe fitting jobs. We don't deserve them!


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