Brookings’ area employers cheat students

Nathan Hopper

Nathan Hopper

Thanks to the wonderful flotilla of Brookings employers, one need not look far to find a Low-Paying, exploitative job. Within Brookings proper, there’s at least a half dozen places eager to harness the low-wage potential of College Educated individuals. So don’t let anyone tell you that Brookings isn’t Someplace Special.

I’ll pick on Daktronics, just because they claim to be All About Students. Here’s what they say: “One of the primary reasons Daktronics founders Al Kurtenbach and Duane Sander started the company back in 1968 was to provide local South Dakota State University engineering and technical graduates with career opportunities in South Dakota.”

Here’s what they really mean: “One of the primary reasons Daktronics founders Al Kurtenbach and Duane Sander started the company back in 1968 was to take advantage of Ignorant College Students who don’t realize that by driving 45 minutes to Sioux Falls or moving elsewhere in the nation, they could earn more money.”

It’s really quite a beautiful system, from an Entrepreneurial point of view: Hire two college students and have them work 20 hours per week. Pay them a third, or a quarter of what a full time employee makes, offer no benefits, and have them share a desk and computer. That equals one full time person. Money in bank.

It also has the added benefit of keeping wages in Brookings low across the board – for every sector of work.

Even SDSU, a place one might think would offer students decent work opportunity, is more than willing to pay much less than a livable wage. If you’re going to really savor the experience of Exploitation, you can’t beat the wonderful system here. Overtime is grounds for termination. Pay is around $5.15 to $5.50. But everyone will be in the same boat as you, so maybe the horrid pay will be a nice conversation starter.

I don’t subscribe to the tired argument of “Well, work somewhere else.” Let’s face it: there is No Place Else. As a student, you are a walking sign reading “I will work for less than anyone else” to most Brookings employers.

Unfortunately, in a Right to Work state (such a clever name for being worker-hostile), you’ve not many options to fight for higher wages. But you have one: don’t accept such pathetic wages. Don’t take $5.15 or $5.50 or whatever, for a job you know is worth $10.25. Believe it or not, most businesses could afford to pay at least 25 percent more than they do. If they tell you otherwise, they’re Lying. If they can’t, then it’s a business run by Fools and not worth working for anyway.

People need to afford some basic luxuries. Once in a great while, it would be refreshing for an employer to make a little less money personally and pay employees a Living Wage. But that’s not the Brookings way.

E-mail comments to Hopper at [email protected].