Has Tucker Carlson ever visited a slime line in Western Alaska? - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, July 12, 2020
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Has Tucker Carlson ever visited a slime line in Western Alaska?

HE CRITICIZES THE WORKER VISA PROGRAM, BUT SERIOUSLY…

Conservative television host Tucker Carlson sees nine Republican senators who need to be removed during their next primary. On the list are Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan.

Alaska’s senators and seven others signed a letter addressed to President Donald Trump, asking him to protect seasonal guest worker visa programs.

Some critics say that guest workers compete with Americans for scarce jobs during a time when unemployment has reached 25 percent nationwide. Carlson is one of those critics, saying white collar jobs are going to foreign workers, and should be reserved for Americans.

But in Alaska, guest workers are employed in fish processing plants in remote locations, sometimes at sea. Finding enough Americans who will work the long and extremely hard hours for the short fishing season in Bristol Bay and Dutch Harbor is nearly impossible for fish processors. They recruit Americans year round, aggressively seeking workers at job fairs in the Lower 48.

But for the short, intense fish processing season, they have to fill in with workers from overseas. Not enough Americans have applied for these jobs in recent decades. These have always been jobs that were filled with foreign workers. It’s how the Alaska commercial catch gets to the world.

Thus, the guest worker visa program, a vital support for the high-quality protein that Alaska supplies the world, and that America needs more than ever during times of national meat shortages.

A search for seafood processing jobs comes up with dozens upon dozens of available jobs, but the work conditions are more like warnings; these jobs are clearly not for every worker. They are tough jobs in rough conditions. Being an able-bodied young person who has no health condition to manage is key. Being able to stand in wet, cold, and dangerous conditions, wearing rain gear, rubber gloves, and face masks, and working quickly around sharp knives and equipment, are other requirements. You’d better not have a back condition or need a shot of insulin. Seafood processing has no time for that — you’re lucky to get a bathroom break.

“This job requires working constantly with hands, some heavy lifting, and standing for long periods of time. Employee must work quickly in order to meet production deadlines and shall have the ability to understand and follow instructions and safety rules. The work environment can be very wet, and cold,” is how one seafood processor describes the general work conditions.

Anyone who has ever worked a slime line will tell you that summary is an understatement. You’ll be taking Advil the rest of your life after a few summers of this work.

Seafood processors perform a variety of tasks that can include anything from sorting, cutting and cleaning, grading, packing salmon roe to cleanup. Most of the work is repetitive and tedious. Some work can be very strenuous such as stacking 50 lb cases of frozen product, pushing freezer racks or carts of salmon. Working conditions vary with the assignment, but are generally wet, cold and noisy,” the job description continues.

“Working in a processing plant is not an experience for everyone, and everyone should understand their limitations. If you have any doubts at all, it is in your best interest not to apply for this type of work. People with back or wrist problems should consider employment in another industry,” the company warns.

The conditions that these workers endure are grueling and can run more than 16 hours a day. It’s not the white-collar job that Carlson is seeking to protect — these are not the doctors and dentists. They’re not jobs that mothers hope their children will aspire to. They are summer jobs for a very limited group of workers during a very brief period of their lives.

“You must be ready and able to work all hours assigned. Meal periods and breaks must be taken as scheduled. Our Seafood processing locations are very remote areas in Alaska. Housing is dormitory style. There are no health care options nearby. Communication is very limited,” the company says, adding that room and board in dormitories are provided, as is transportation to and from the point of hire.

Tucker Carlson believes there are enough Americans to do these jobs, but decades of experience of seafood processors tells otherwise. Only a small slice of the workforce can endure the conditions of seafood processing operations in Alaska. For those who can, they can’t even make enough money in one summer to guarantee that they can live on that sum the rest of the year in the United States. The money might last them a year in the Philippines.

Carlson also ignores the fact that Americans are now getting an extra $600 a week to sit at home. There’s no way those Americans are going to consider the slime line as an alternative. Sen. Dan Sullivan fought to tie employment insurance more closely to workers’ previous wages instead of awarding all workers the $600, giving some workers more money on unemployment than they would make returning to work. The Sen. Sasse amendment failed 48-48.

The nine senators who wrote to Trump include Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas, Mike Crapo and James Risch of Idaho, Michael Rounds of South Dakota, Todd Young of Indiana, and James Lankford of Oklahoma. Carlson has called for their removal during the next primary.

For Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, that won’t come for two more years, but Sen. Dan Sullivan is up for election this year. He has a challenger from the far left of the political spectrum, and now he has Tucker Carlson biting at him from the right over something about which Carlson has just enough information to be dangerous.

Carlson is usually a proponent of federalism — allowing states to determine what it is they need. Each state is different and has its unique needs. The slime line in Alaska is a place few Americans will go. But it may be a place that Carlson needs to put on his bucket list and visit.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • I like Tucker. He doesn’t bend much if the wind changes direction. It may be time for Graham to go. He has become a Rino.

    • I like Tucker, too, but he’s wrong on this issue.

      • No he is not. It’s his opinion. You can’t be wrong.

        • That’s ridiculous. If I were of the option that you should die, then I can’t be wrong???

          • I don’t think, in fact I know, and Tucker was VERY CLEAR that he wasn’t talking about “ slime line jobs” . The whole premise of your rebuke is way off base, about as far as you can get.
            Specifically, he talked about Silicon Valley jobs , that Google and Amazon regularly fill will outside , college educated , workers that accept 15-20% pay cuts so Sergey Brin and Jeff Bezos can get richer.
            Journalism is dead, and you and your laziness are helping to throw lime on it’s rotting corpse. Bravo!!

      • I watched, he was referring to white collar jobs. The slimeline is far from that classification.

      • These companies hire slave labor. It’s not that Americans dont want the job..its the company who want to pay slave labor prices. This company should be put OUT OF BUSINESS

        • Liberal anti-American columnist looking for a small exception to disprove a much larger concept.

    • The article is factually wrong. Look at the show again Tucker didn’t say seasonal work permits. Tucker is saying those Senators are allowing high paid tech workers to still come in and compete for full time tech jobs that lower the base pay of USA workers and we have 40 million unemployed.

  • He needs to put his money where his mouth is and actually put in a whole week on the slime line. His tune would change long before the week was up! He’s too soft to handle that kind of work.

    • People who have never seen or participated in the work done on a slime line should not criticize the worker visa. Tucker Carlson should visit for a day or two. Just as many Americans won’t work the fields in CA, even fewer Americans will work in the cannery. Fishing is big in many Asian countries and they earn much more here than in their own countries. Plus they are hard workers

      • I did the job for 2 years, including multiple shifts longer than 20 hours, carpel tunnel, back pain and crab asthma that probably contributed to lung issues. Companies doing business in the USA should not be allowed to destroy workers like this, no matter where they come from. Least of all for the wages they pay.

  • I think you need to investigate this further. They bring up Mexicans and promise them more than they give. Many return never to come back.
    It’s a scam for employers to pay very little.

    • It depends on the fishing season. On a medium or big run of salmon the workers get all the work they want plus overtime and they make a lot of money. On a poor year the cannery workers, the fishermen, tender operators and processors are all in the same boat and make very little money. Almost everyone involved understands that it is impossible to predict how much money anyone will make before the season. Everyone hopes for the best and those of us involved in the industry appreciate the cannery workers. I grew up both fishing and working in the canneries. Every cannery had a dedicated cannery crew that was usually from the Philippines and they were artists in their own right, had their own dorms, own cooks and were highly respected. College students from the US usually supplemented them as a way to earn college money and everyone was working in partnership. I have lots and lots of pictures of that whole process and time of life. And it still goes on but in a different form but we still see when all the cannery workers fly in to town to work and we’re grateful for them and hope the salmon run is good so they can make good money.

    • Thanks for telling the truth
      Jobs profiteering from paying slave wages should not exist anywhere and certainly not in America.

  • No foreign workers until all Americans are working. Raise the wages to get the labor as the corporations are getting well payed. The problem is wages as the company management is probably getting well paid. Maybe they should take our two senators jobs first.

  • You know Hillary Clinton worked on a slime line in a cannery in Valdese while she was going to college right. I’m guessing if Hillary can do it nearly any American can.

    • She worked one day, then quit.

    • You know that’s bs too, right? But I’m in agreement ,Americans should be filling those jobs first.
      Nobody is too good.

  • In my young life of 70 yrs I have had opportunity to work in various career fields but primarily electrical construction, healthcare and shipping. However, back in “69” I came Back ( the place of my birth) to Alaska in the springtime as an eager college student looking for work. My first employment in Ak was as abullcook At ARCO lake 1 on the Sag River the North Slope. Excellent pay, good living conditions ,superb food but NO social life. I quit after 7 continuous 72 hr weeks just to get a break. That job was with USI worldwide catering . Next job after a reprieve in Anchorage was at Larsen Bay Manning the retort boilers for some cannery outfit on the dock. It was difficult and somewhat dangerous work because we were exposed to very hi temperatures that cooked the already canned salmon in huge long tubes that had a small gauge RR track lead into it. The work was sporadic in that we had some down time while the fish was being cooked. Still it as long hrs but decent food and we slept in an ancient bunkhouse but with individual rooms. I never worked the slime line although I did volunteer to hose it down after they had shut it down for the day and after my retort day had ended but didn’t end up getting the double time that I was told we would receive. Anyway, I knew that I had it easy compared with the slime line workers and I worked with two native men who were excellent workers, one of them was a young man in his 20s or 30s in excellent physical condition who was a real “ take charge” guy and the obvious 3 man crew boss. The other guy was an older guy, perhaps 50 some who had a slight build and seemed rather tired. But still a highly reliable worker who gave 100%. I think I only stayed two weeks and left for some reason or other perhaps just to get back to Anchorage with a pocketful of money. My experience was invaluable, short as it may have been, to understand the difficulties of cannery work and the challenges of community living in a remote community. I wish more Alaskans would have that experience althoughI don’t know of a single person currently engaged in and pursuing that type of work. Alaska’s labor requirements have always been unique and continue to be highly specialized. That’s why a one size fits all standard is not appropriate. I agree with the two Alaskan senators ( although reluctantly with Murkowski with whom I prefer to be at odds)

    • Agreed. Definitely an experience! I was in the slime line. My hands were so cold all the time, I begged and got the position of “egg lady.” 😉 Still cold, but not as bad as dealing with my hands in constantly running cold water.

  • Why can’t they tweak the guest worker program, to include only specific industries ? Or write a new bill delineating what jobs are & are not allowed to employ seasonal guest workers. Seems that would satisfy both sides of the problem.

  • It’s not just the slime line workers. Over 100,000 million residents of the USA are currently unemployed. Many college graduates are either unemployed or grossly underemployed due to H1B. Our politicians need to help those who are citizens and legal immigrants obtain employment, not outsource jobs…..

    H1B Visa: Immigrant Workers Are the Majority in Silicon Valley
    Narayan Ammachchi
    January 24, 2018

    Silicon Valley is reportedly so heavily dependent on H1B visa holders that it might become a veritable ghost town if deprived of them — foreign tech employees are in fact the majority in Silicon Valley, according to the Silicon Valley Competitiveness and Innovation Project (SVCIP) Report.

    An analysis of the 2016 census data by the Seattle Times also found that foreign workers account for 71% of workers in the San Jose area. Silicon Valley remains the “center of the tech universe,” the paper declared.

    Outside of the Valley, just about every large technology center in the country relies more on foreign workers than domestic ones.

    More than half of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) workers in the Valley are foreigners, with California natives accounting for barely 18% of the workforce.

    In New York City, 43% of STEM workers are from other countries, according to SVCIP researchers.

    No doubt that most of these foreign workers have landed a job in the country through the H1B visa program.

    • 100,000 million, or 100,000,000,000…that’s a lot of people more than the number of people in the world by a few.
      .
      Slime line workers are in no way comparable to Silicon Valley workers or doctors.

      • oops, 100 Million unemployed. Not comparing slime line workers to Silicon Valley workers.. Just stating that H1B Visas are being abused and costing USA workers excellent paying jobs.

  • These conditions are grueling because the processors allow them to be grueling and their bleak regard is enabled by having asian “guest workers” brought in by bought politicians like Sullivan and Murkowski. If Americans won’t take the jobs because of the low pay and long term health-threats created by these jobs, then the job conditions need to change. Low pay is one thing, but knowingly maintaining conditions that weaken one’s health without commensurate pay is something entirely different and closely akin to immoral.

    Over the past thirty years, we’ve outsourced every part of our country’s economy except for government, finance, and service sector jobs. Enough already. If you’re under 40, odds are that peering into your future is a disheartening exercise.

    Tucker is right.

  • Treat these workers like crap and pay slave wages while charging room and board at the company store for squalid living quarters. Gee I wonder why Americans won’t work there. I’m with Tucker, time to end these Chinese-Like slave labor camps here in Alaska.

    • Those guest workers are lucky they didn’t get fishing jobs, if they complain of squalid living quarters. Shore plants also provide meals for three shifts, fishing, not so much.

  • As someone who supports the President’s immigration policies and building a southern border wall, this article is spot on. I worked one season at Whitney Fidelgo Processors during my college days, I was a top athlete in school and in excellent physical shape. I will never forget working on the slime-line and the physical toll it took in my body. I remember having to stand in warm buckets of water to keep my feet from becoming numb from the cold. I worked with a group of the young college students who like me lasted one season, however, we were the minority. Most of the crew were of other nationalities.

    Today when oil companies are hiring exploration seismic crews, most all are foreign nationals from Laos, Mexico and Vietnam , the minorities on these crews are a few Americans who usually can’t not endure the tough sometimes extreme terrain, long physical hours and clear the required drug testing.

    Most compelling comment MRA points out is Americans out of work on CARES Act unemployment insurance, many workers are not returning to employment because they are making more money staying home.

    We have predominantly become a nation of spoiled titty-babies, until Americans are willing to do the jobs that foreign nationals will do, this leaves Senators Murkowski and Sullivan to make a tough choice, but what other options are there to fill these type of jobs?

    • These aren’t the only hard jobs in this country. I was a roofer for 50 years when it’s 80 degrees out its 100 on the roof. But I wouldn’t be hired as a superintendent because I didn’t speak Spanish so Americans don’t come first, they get sh__ on

  • Suzanne, Tucker Carlson is saying American should be put to work first. And I believe that no one should be on food stamps or welfare as long as there is a job opening in the United States some people have to move in order to make money Americans are no different. When people apply for support state workers have access to job postings they should refer them to those jobs rather than just handing out money.

  • Several issues are different. We now have 30% of our work force unemployed. College kids need jobs. The seafood industry is a small part of this program. If need be, carve out a notch for it but don’t allow corporate America to capitalize on cheep labor for many high paying jobs that should go to citizens.

  • what percentage of the jobs imported are fishing? how many are stem jobs? in seward most all of the waiters and bus staff are foreign,,, i cant imagine some local kids would not take those jobs of we didn’t incentive small business to import them. your point on the fishing industry is well taken. i worked the meal plant,,, those on the slime line are lucky. they got fresh fish to work. meal plant not so much. i would be interested to know how many stem jobs are being filled in ak by foreign workers.

  • If those jobs don’t pay enough to attract American workers then you need to raise the wages. It’s no longer acceptable to pay slave wages so the corporations can get rich. You’ll just have to pay a little bit more for your Filet-O-Fish sandwich.

  • I’ve worked a slime line, but it was in Anchorage or I never would have done it. Working it in Anchorage was no less grueling. Long hours, always cold and wet, and the real money comes with the OT. I was young and healthy at the time and it was still hurting my hands. Many of the people I met working there were coming from all around the world and using the funds of this job to pay for their travel. There was nothing sinister about their motives, and very few people would stick with such a job. I don’t think I made it through the entire summer myself.

    I agree that Tucker needs to look at this issue with more depth.

  • Back in the 1960’s I worked, stacking 55 lb.cases of canned salmon in the holes of the old Liberty Ships that Alaska Steam run. I was living in Kodiak then. $3.00 @ hr. strait time and $4.50 overtime. If you did not brake shift, you stayed on overtime. So I worked 20 hr. shifts for the 3 or 4 days we were at a cannery, then traveled to the next cannery on the ship until they had a full load. I was making more than a Journeyman Carpenter because of the overtime. I got my stake that way. Those were very good days. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

  • I hope someone has a connection so Tucker can read this. And I had no idea that Sullivan had pushed that we NOT over pay workers with Fed money.
    We already see the results of this. Numerous businesses cannot rehire or new hire because the unemployed workforce is “making” good money already!
    Unintended consequences of looking generous.
    Kind of like how we judge parents who spoil their kids to a fault, Dan tried to avoid this. But it’s too late now. The kids only want sugar cereal, a new car, and a goose that lays golden eggs. “And I want it now, Daddy!” said Veruca Salts in Willy Wonka.

  • The seafood industry is a scam. Its a minimum wage job in horrible work conditions. That same fish is being sold in whole foods for 18 dollars a pound. The fisherman get paid very little as well. The only people that can afford to live off that salary are foreigners that have a low cost of living back home. To them its a ton of money. Its not that Americans won’t do the job its that they aren’t dumb enough. Plenty of Americans work in construction and other hard labor occupation. If the seafoods processors weren’t so greedy they could find workers that weren’t mentally ill or homeless

  • Well, he’s right about this much: Murk needs to go.

  • We have many college students who have an opportunity to get money to pay for their college loans, but many think they are too good (snobbery) to work in canneries. I worked in the canneries back in 73-74 and we had college students from the Lower 48 coming up here to work to get pay for their schooling…..Yes, it’s hard work, yes, there are some people with health problems (and not just druggies)..that would not be able to work…but if you’re needing $ to pay off your loans. (With the pay scale on overtime “anything over 8 hrs per day or 40 hrs/week.) You can make it pay..If you’re not buying pot/drugs and saving your money for school/loans. And no, it it’s not a white collar job. With businesses still not opening up, you have a chance..to get some needed extra money to pay for your college..

  • Tucker is not wrong, but he doesn’t see the complexities of this issue! I worked into Semiconductor manufacturing for 20yrs as an EE before that industry was destroyed and moved overseas. Many, many engineers were brought in from overseas through the guest worker program in an effort to lower wages. We had many engineers in this country passed over for foreign workers, which is not right. Due to child labor laws, children can’t pick in the fields like I did, Mexican children and families are exploited instead, paid less than minimum wage and given no benefits. The system needs to change!

  • Fish, like many other goods nowadays, is a global commodity. Alaskan salmon specifically is a global commodity and is competing with farmed salmon from all over the world. It’s easy to say raise the wage and raise the price, the problem comes when you start selling Alaskan salmon for 3 or 4 times the amount of farmed salmon…not as many people will buy that and soon there will be no Alaskan fishermen let alone the processing jobs that come with it. Just like with the oil pumped up from under Alaskan soil, there is a big market out there and we are a minor player.

    • We see what happens when big markets get hit with pandemics right? Or are we still learning that lesson?

  • There was a time when a summer on the slime line was a right of passage for Alaska high school grads. And a great addition to one’s college fund.

    • I agree with the essence 100% but you can’t pay for college on my type of salary like that now

  • If there were willing American workers, there would be no need for guest workers, that has been a fact since the first canneries and salteries

  • You mean there could be a temporary shortage of workers? Maybe, and just hear me out, maybe a shortage would translate to higher wages…? Call me crazy

  • “Finding enough Americans who will work the long and extremely hard hours for the short fishing season in Bristol Bay and Dutch Harbor is nearly impossible for fish processors.”

    That means they aren’t offering high enough salaries. The whole point of the guest worker visa program is so businesses can hire workers at salaries below what they would have to pay Americans.

    • Hmmm… Let’s take his good observation and “disprove” it with some obscure example. Typical.

  • Hey Suzie, if you pay someone enough they will do any work. Even in the fish industry.

  • Wondering if Upton Sinclair ever visited a ‘slime line’ in Alaska. This whole thing sounds very much like his description of the working conditions in the Chicago meat packing industry of the early 1900s. They exploited poor immigrant labor then as well.

    • Give me a break.

  • I am a home improvement contractor originally from Ireland but have lived in Florida for 25 years .A big percentage of our work involves painting which is an absolute doddle compared to whats described above but I have had so many problems finding any kind of reliable help that I just gave up looking ,now I do smaller jobs on my own with a lot less stress and no babysitting. I would gladly hire Latinos (and pay them well) who are great workers ,happy to be at work every day and have pride in their work but I would be heavily fined if caught using undocumented workers . Its such a shame since there’s so many Latinos out there just looking for a chance to give an honest days work .

  • The over arching problem in this issue is currency manipulation. Inflation has driven the value of our dollar down resulting in a loss of buying power. It isn’t economically profitable for a young American college student to spent a summer working like this without returning home with enough money to pay tuition. Otherwise, many young, fit American youth would be willing to take on a blitzkrieg of hard work if it was worth the effort.

  • Raise pay and watch the jobs fill.

  • I like Tucker Carlson he reports things that Politician throw under the rug and act like everyone else is wrong. Keep it up Tucker let’s vote some of these pollitician out of office. Especially the ones who been in office for 20 or 30 years.

  • Sorry to say but Rep Don Young and Senators Murkowski & Sullivan are the slimes. All three have terrible voting records on immigration, open borders and protecting American citizens and the American job market. I have a friend who worked the slime line for several years about 40 years ago. Those days the slime line was a great paying job. She worked her way through law school working the slime line. Now, the slime line employers just want cheap foreign labor. I quit voting for Young, Murkowski and Sullivan years ago because they are traitors to American workers.

    • Tell us again how many years ago you started voting against Dan Sullivan?

      • Nov 2014 and will again this Nov 2020

  • Young Americans are basically lazy and spoiled. They want maximum wages for minimum work. I’m a hardcore conservative and this episode of Tucker made my blood boil. Been on the phone with Senator Graham’s office to voice my concerns about this issue but after reading this article and doing more research I basically realized that there are no one size fits all answers for this problem. I have learned from experience as a small business owner that good employees are damn near impossible to find. Especially from the younger generation of American workers. They want high wages and less work. I think we can thank the Democrats and progressives who are constantly pushing the socialist agenda for this problem. These senators are faced with a serious dilemma for sure but at least they are Republicans with conservative values

  • I recorded and listened to this segment twice. He very clearly said “white collar” workers. I don’t think you can consider slime line white color. The point is big companies want to hire foreign engineers and such because they can pay them much less. I do understand that professional immigrants have a much tougher time getting visas than say workers in the fields or low paying jobs. Problem is when the US has lost 48 million jobs I don’t think it was a great idea to write a letter supporting this. Many white collar people have lost their jobs including nurses. Maybe the Congress should spend more time writing bad pills without reading them and workers wouldn’t be receiving $900 a week in unemployment. Why would you go back to work? Oh, you have character! Yes, Republicans tried to stop it but was too late.

    • He very clearly also said “not just lettuce picking jobs” “those fabled jobs Americans just won’t do.” You must have missed that part. Go back and listen again.

  • Pay more you’ll get the labor.

  • Not all pandemics are equal. Some things are more expensive than paying essential workers a living wage. And yes, I have “visited” a slime line. As many college students of the 90’s did because of the money.

  • I am surprised to see so much support for raising the minimum wage.

    • How expensive was the “free” labor of the cotton plantation?
      .

      These minimum wage workers are subsidized. And if they stay they don’t assimilate. Do the math.

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