American Workers heading for Iraq
Title: High contract pay luring US poor
Source: Boston Globe
Date: May 23, 2004
From the article:
- Late on the night of April 9, Sylvia and Allen Petty sat on the front porch of their small rental house in the hill country northwest of Austin and talked about the future. With six daughters, ages 4 months to 14, it was the only time of day they had to themselves, what they called their "midnight dates."
They had been discussing for a couple weeks the idea of Allen Petty, 31, going to Iraq. Two fellow truck drivers at his company in the adjoining town of Marble Falls had left for jobs driving trucks for KBR, a subsidiary of Houston-based Halliburton Co.
That day, insurgents in Iraq had attacked a KBR convoy and killed four contract employees. But Allen Petty's $30,000 salary did not stretch far enough. The family had no insurance, no money for movies or new clothes, no savings, no credit, and their car was on loan from Sylvia Petty's father.
"We really prayed," she recalled. "This is a beautiful town, but we're not making it here. I told him, 'Baby, you have to go.' "
Allen Petty applied to KBR for a truck-driving job the next day, one of thousands of Americans competing, despite the dangers, for jobs with the contractors working to supply the US military or rebuild the country. After a week of training, he left for Iraq on the first Saturday in May.
Many of the KBR recruits, like Petty, are working poor. They are willing to dare the hardship of 12- to 14-hour days seven days a week, and the risk of kidnapping or worse, to bring back $80,000 or $100,000 in a year.
This is where the concentration of wealth has gotten us. Thousands of American workers are putting themselves in harm's way halfway around the world to make enough money to live. Meanwhile, executives make millions of dollars per year.