“Like a moving assembly line”
One afternoon in mid-May, several workers who left their shifts at Assembly Solar said they were grateful for the job, which paid them $ 16 an hour, health insurance and 401 (k) contributions. Two said they moved to the area from Memphis and two from Mississippi, where they made $ 9-15 an hour – one as a cook, two in construction, and one as a mechanic.
Jeff Ordower, an organizer of the Green Workers Alliance, a group promoting better terms on such projects, said workers outside of the state often find jobs through recruiters, some of whom make promises of pay that don’t come true. and that many workers were in the red before they started. “You don’t get any money until you get there,” said Mr. Ordower. “You borrow money from friends and family just to get to the gig.”
Assembly Solar workers described their job of installing panels: Two workers “throw glass”, which means they lift a panel onto the rack, while a third “catches” it, which means he or she the panel leads to its place. Then another group of workers goes by and attaches the panels to the shelf.
One of the men, who identified himself as Travis Shaw, said he usually worked 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. six days a week, including overtime. Another worker, Quendarious Foster, who had been on the job for two weeks, said the workers had motivated themselves by trying to beat their daily record of 30 “trackers,” each holding several dozen panels.
“Solar is like a moving assembly line,” said Prisco, the recruiter’s director. “Instead of moving the product down the line, people are moving. It replicates itself over and over again on 1,000, 2,000 acres. “