Got the labor blues? Cry on Ky.'s shoulder
Bill Henson's Dec. 8, Page 8 Perspective column tells us a labor shortage ``frustrates many'' in the industry. He implies that the only areas with any labor left are the inner cities. Well, I'm not buying it and here's why:
My mostly rural eastern third of Kentucky has a labor surplus, and my problem is we have too many people wanting to work and too few jobs.
My hunch is that there might be a few more rural areas like mine that are in the same boat. My sense is also that in rural areas you are more apt to escape some of the problems (such as crime, lack of a work ethic and high occupancy costs) likely to be encountered in urban settings.
There are still a few select pockets of double-digit unemployment where labor abounds. What kind of numbers am I talking about? When a custom injection molder came to the area, the local employment office was deluged with 100 calls per day when the word got out. Once this molder was ready to accept applications, it received nearly 900 applications responding to the first nine positions. The real problem, according to the firm's human resources director, was the headache she got from having to sift through so many responses.
The people in this area are not unskilled. Many have extensive experience with processor-controlled, heavy manufacturing systems, especially those coming from the coal industry. Since 1978, productivity in the coal industry in Kentucky has increased 232 percent in output per miner per year. That progress could only be accomplished with sophisticated equipment and techniques, and a work force eager and willing to adapt to high-tech systems.
The aforementioned molder tests applicants for mechanical aptitude, and many applicants set new corporate records. There were so many high scores the benchmark score for employment consideration had to be raised to allow a manageable number.
No, unions do not hold sway here. The percentage of the work force unionized today in eastern Kentucky stands at about 5.1 percent, vs. the U.S. average of 14-15 percent, most of which is basic service industries, not manufacturing.
In short, I know a way to relieve the current pressure on wages that otherwise might just touch off an interest rate hike. I know a way to find an overwhelming supply of labor chomping at the bit to prove themselves on the job. Stop complaining: Rural areas like mine are open for business.
Douglas D. Halsey
East Kentucky Corp.
Prepreg could solve telephone-poll query
This is an answer to the Nov. 17, Page 8 Mailbag ``Where are recycled telephone poles?''
FRW Inc., a technology development corporation in West Warwick, R.I., is in the final development stage of a seamless tubular sleeve made from prepreg unidirectional thermoplastic composite tape and targeted for corrosion-resistant pipe applications in the oil and gas industries.
The unidirectional tape is interlaced by a proprietary process with a great degree of control. The resultant product is a pipe with a zero to 90 degree orientation of the reinforcement fibers in a thermoplastic resin.
This profile could be used for the production of telephone poles. The use of recyclable thermoplastic resins and glass-fiber reinforcements could answer the question: Where are the recycled telephone poles?
West Warwick, R.I.