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Workers Hopscotch Across USA for Temp Checks

November 30th, 2010 · No Comments


By Jere Downs, The (Louisville,

what many migrant workers want for the holidays: a job.

Hard-up retirees and unemployed workers with children have converged on this
rural town in RVs and campers to spend a few months earning $10 an hour
filling orders at an Amazon warehouse.

Amazon offers a free place to park and plug in. When work ends Christmas
Eve, the campers pull out.

Many have lost their homes and live on the road, home schooling their
children along the way. Others are retirees who had planned to see the
country but now work along the way to supplement depleted investments. Those
not old enough for Medicare typically lack insurance.

“We are among the economic refugees. We are lucky to earn enough to get our
laundry done and eat macaroni and cheese,” said April McFail, 52. “I think
it says America needs something different. This is supposed to be freedom
and a good life. Now it is a sad note.”

McFail’s husband, Terry, lost his job last year at Dow
$18 hourly in southern Michigan. They lost their home to foreclosure in May.
Pooling $8,000 in savings, they purchased a 1987 Winnebago and hit the road.
They worked as campground hosts in South Dakota for the summer, arriving in
September to begin work at Amazon.

A short time later, April McFail’s diabetes forced her to quit the Amazon
job. She could not manage 10-hour shifts four days a week lifting packages
up to 30 pounds each. Health care benefits left over from her husband’s job
at Dow expire Tuesday.

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