ONTD Political

Republican Lawmaker Hires Jobless Constituent To Work In His Yard For $8 An Hour

5:57 pm - 05/27/2011
Kathryn Treadway of Goldsboro, N.C., lost her job doing medical transcription work for a hospital early last year. The 35-year-old hasn't had an income since April 16, when an impasse between Republicans in the state legislature and Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue halted her unemployment benefits.
On Friday, she finally found a job -- doing yard work for a statehouse Republican who thought Treadway couldn't find work because she had a bad attitude.
Stephen LaRoque, the Republican who represents Treadway in the lower chamber of the North Carolina General Assembly, said he'd pay her $8 an hour to deal with dirt and debris in his three-and-a-half acre yard in nearby Kinston.
"She said she wanted to do some work, and I got a whole lot of work to be done, and so she’s over here this morning doing some work," LaRoque told HuffPost on Friday. "I got her emptying pots right now. We planted pots that we had plants in, and [she's] getting the old plants out, dumping the dirt back into something so we can reuse it."
Treadway got this job after an incredibly testy exchange with LaRoque on Thursday. She emailed him to demand that Republicans lawmakers relent and send Perdue a bill that would restore the Extended Benefits program without any strings attached.
The federal program provides the final 20 weeks of checks to long-term jobless who use up 79 weeks of state and federal benefits without finding work. It's only available in states with high unemployment rates like North Carolina, where the rate is 9.7 percent. And this year it's only available if states proactively change their laws so they can keep it, something North Carolina has been uniquely unable to do.
In April, Perdue vetoed a bill that would have preserved the benefits because Republicans attached a resolution to cut the budget by 13 percent. The governor said it would have resulted in massive state layoffs. The GOP lawmakers insisted that their resolution would have only taken effect in the absence of a formal budget by the end of July.
Republicans tried again this week with a less severe bill, but Perdue won't budge.
As many as 46,000 North Carolinians have stopped receiving checks so far.
Treadway offered LaRoque a description of how the seven-week impasse has affected her family.
"We have already been evicted from our home and are currently in the process of moving in with my parents; that is my husband and my 2 daughters, in a small 2 bedroom brick home," Treadway wrote. "I am begging you on behalf of our family, before we lose absolutely everything, to please work out a compromise and pass the extension of these benefits to give us more time to try to help ourselves."
"We are not just 'riding' out the benefits," she continued. "I assure you I look every day in the paper, online, by word of mouth, to try and find something to help support my family. My husband works his butt off but even he cannot support 4 people on $8 an hour, a car payment and house payment to pay, school, books, sporting events the children are involved in."
LaRoque replied that there were plenty of opportunities nearby.
"I'm sorry that you have been unable to find work," he wrote. "Since you live in Wayne County I would like to suggest that you look into job openings in our area. We have a new chicken processing plant in Kinston named Sanderson Farms and they currently have 191 openings available according to the web site link below."
Treadway said she'd already tried that.
"The last thing I need, sir, is another politician acting as if the problem is that I am not applying for jobs," she wrote. "When I applied at Sanderson Farms, they were so inundated with applicants that the [North Carolina Employment Security Commission] (whom I was told to go through) literally wrote my name on a piece of paper with HUNDREDS of other names and disinterestedly told me they would 'call me if anything came open.'"
LaRoque didn't buy it.
"Most anyone can find a job if they can pass a drug test and are physically able to work," he wrote. "I have tried to find people to do yard work but it seems most are too good for manual labor. Based on the tone of your email it is not difficult to see why you can’t find a job."
"For your information sir, I can pass a drug test and am not opposed to manual labor," Treadway replied. "If your yard happens to be within 20 miles of Goldsboro, by all means I'll be over there with a rake and shovel first thing tomorrow morning."
"If you really meant that you would be willing to work in my yard, then plan to come tomorrow morning," LaRoque wrote. "I'll pay $8 per hour. Let me know if you are serious."
When Treadway arrived at 9 a.m. on Friday, LaRoque said he was not surprised: "I take people at their word."
Treadway, for her part, had told HuffPost earlier that morning that she didn't know if LaRoque was being serious. She worried that, if she showed up with a shovel or something, he might call the police. Instead, LaRoque put her right to work.
But it didn't last long: Treadway quit after an hour.
"It was just too much. I'm not used to doing manual labor, and the crap he wanted me to do was something two men would do," she said after leaving. "I’m used to making $22 an hour. I'm not gonna sit there for $8 and hour and come home having a stroke."
The National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group, argues that unemployment insurance is designed to prevent people who lose their jobs from taking much worse ones, though people on Extended Benefits are supposed to take anything with pay comparable to that offered by the benefit program.
"The idea of insuring Americans against the economic harm that comes from involuntary job loss is to help them get back to a job somewhere close to where they fell off the economic ladder," NELP staff attorney George Wentworth said.
In other words, the benefits prevent surplus workers from driving down the cost of labor. Persuading a worker to downgrade from $22 an hour to $8 is what high unemployment does to the labor population as a whole. It also pushes skilled workers into less skilled positions, leaving talent untapped.
"I was having her doing some bending over. She said it was bothering her back," LaRoque said. "She stayed for about an hour and left. ... I gave her eight dollars and thanked her."
LaRoque said he hated that she left because he's still got so much yard work that needs doing. If you live near Kinston and want to do some yard work for $8 an hour, get in touch with LaRoque via his website.
As for the standoff in the North Carolina legislature, LaRoque said the focus is now on the full budget bill, which itself contains a reauthorization of Extended Benefits and could pass as soon as next week. Senate Republican Leader Phil Berger told HuffPost that Perdue’s office is paying close attention to the bill, but that nothing is certain.
"There’ve been some threats of a veto to that bill, as well," Berger said. "We are working to try to craft legislation that addresses what we are seeing as the concerns [the governor's] articulated in a way that's consistent with what we feel the people who elected us wanted us to do."


lykomancer 28th-May-2011 02:43 am (UTC)
Urge...to punch things...rising.
ditdatdo 28th-May-2011 02:47 am (UTC)
"I was having her doing some bending over. She said it was bothering her back," LaRoque said.

I'm not surprised. It's bothering my everything.
24_24_1_1526 28th-May-2011 02:50 am (UTC)
i hope he loses everything and is forced to see how most people have to live and deal with from the system we are so blatantly 'abusing'

fuck you fucker.
amyura 28th-May-2011 02:52 am (UTC)
So if you don't want to throw out your back for minimum wage, you've got a bad attitude?

I bust my ass doing yard work in my own yard for "free," but it's my property and my choice to do it. And if I paid someone, it'd be a hell of a lot more than $8 an hour. WTF.
lykomancer 28th-May-2011 03:05 am (UTC)
I was told just this last week that I was pathetic and had a bad attitude because I refused to work a 60+ hour per week job-- all standing, all physical labor, AND I walked an hour and a half to get there an back-- for little over minimum wage. (While suffering through a major depressive episode.)

This is a distressingly common perception. If you want to earn enough money for basics like bread and shelter, you'd better be prepared to work yourself to surgery for it.
lykomancer 28th-May-2011 03:17 am (UTC)
Heh. I was hired on at 40 hrs/wk for three weeks. By the time I quit-- literally after one week-- we were up to 56 hrs for six weeks, with talk that shifts would be extended from 10 hrs to 12. I basically called the hiring agent and told her to fuck off.
carolpent 28th-May-2011 05:33 am (UTC)
Because they're the ones who have a say in what they get, and dictate what other people get. They're also massively self-important.
dragonhawker 28th-May-2011 07:07 pm (UTC)
And then call those people lazy.
simonejester 2nd-Jun-2011 03:36 am (UTC)
You have my empathy. I was working two jobs during my first major depressive episode. *offers hugs if wanted*
sauron 28th-May-2011 03:06 am (UTC)
Everything about this is making me rage. As someone who couldn't find a job for 7 months, I like to say a big "fuck you" to this guy if he thinks having a "bad attitude" has anything to do with it. Try applying to everywhere and for anything and not even getting a single interview, see how your rich ass likes that for a change.
thecityofdis 28th-May-2011 03:46 pm (UTC)
I applied for over 500 jobs before I finally landed a gig after college, and that was only because I knew someone at the company in question.

Edited at 2011-05-28 03:47 pm (UTC)
shoujokakumei 28th-May-2011 03:08 am (UTC)
So in other words, if you're disabled or sick or simply not strong enough to move shit around in someone's yard for a wage you can't actually live on, you don't DESERVE to work!

*edit because I accidentally a word

Edited at 2011-05-28 03:09 am (UTC)
simply_blah 28th-May-2011 03:13 am (UTC)
"Most anyone can find a job if they can pass a drug test and are physically able to work," he wrote. "I have tried to find people to do yard work but it seems most are too good for manual labor. Based on the tone of your email it is not difficult to see why you can’t find a job."




I am so sick and so tired of hearing this bullshit excuse of 'not looking hard enough'. I can't fucking take it anymore.
lykomancer 28th-May-2011 03:19 am (UTC)
I kind of love you right now. ♥
simply_blah 28th-May-2011 03:21 am (UTC)
BB, I need some love right now.
lykomancer 28th-May-2011 03:27 am (UTC)
The system is broken. I know it doesn't help, and you sound like you know that, but I don't know what else to offer at this moment. I think that's the thing I hate the most about being poor: I can't help anyone. I can't even help myself. And that sucks.
simply_blah 28th-May-2011 03:30 am (UTC)
Sympathy helps a little, it really does. I don't get it at home.
simply_blah 28th-May-2011 03:21 am (UTC)
I have exhausted all options. I've gone to every single place in a shopping centers begging to just put in an application. I've gone to the Dept. of Labor. I've gone online. I've gone to job fairs. My sister couldn't even get me hired on as a housekeeper in her hotel and the fuckers were hiring housekeepers.

I don't have auto-insurance so that limits even hiring myself out as a sitter or nanny. To top it all off, my transmission is busted again.

What the hell am I supposed to do?

It's bad enough that my mother is being a total, raging witch about the issue. I don't care. I'll use the faux-word in this case because she's totally unrelenting about it. She doesn't get why I don't have a job and she's becoming verbally and emotionally abusive. "I can eat when I get a job." Shit like that.

So, when I hear other people espewing this idea that the reason people are unemployed is because they aren't looking hard enough, I rage.
simply_blah 28th-May-2011 03:24 am (UTC)
It's okay. I'm well aware that if I didn't live at home, I'd be out on the streets.
simply_blah 28th-May-2011 03:25 am (UTC)
Thank you. I really do appreciate that sentiment.
the_gabih 28th-May-2011 05:43 pm (UTC)
JFC, I'm sorry you have to go through that. :(

*internet hugs, if you want them*
romp 28th-May-2011 04:40 am (UTC)
I'm sorry you're encountering disbelief. If being unemployed was so great, if living with that sort of stress was desirable, we'd all live like that.

A conspiracy of all the unemployed?! That's some twisted logic. :(
simply_blah 28th-May-2011 04:42 pm (UTC)
It's because everyone they know has gotten a job. And I'm just like, "... WTF does that have to do with me?" How long has it been between jobs for them? Did they pass a credit check? Did they have very good references? Did they know someone? What?

I don't want to be unemployed. I want a job. I want a paycheck. I'm really very sick of having no money to buy even girl stuff and shampoo and deodorant. Not to mention, I'd like to have a meal that's not ramen.
nesmith 28th-May-2011 05:12 am (UTC)
This man is a despicable piece of scum. I hope someday he loses his job and finds himself in a desperate situation where his only option would be to carry circus elephants on his back for $2.00 a day. Perhaps he'd find some compassion.
gracepersists 28th-May-2011 07:33 am (UTC)
Dude's an asshole for sure, and I don't think the state of labor in America is fair whatsoever, but I think it's lame that she quit. A job is a job. I've worked my ass off for pocket change in the same sort of way because I wanted to support my family. It's not fun and even demoralizing, but sometimes you can't get anything better and you have to wait until that comes along. If it comes down to putting up with shitty work or kids not getting dinner, I know what I would choose.
curseangel 28th-May-2011 08:21 am (UTC)
If he had her doing work that was physically hurting her or too much for her (apparently her back was hurting and she said he had her doing the work of "two men" so..), then she had every right to quit and should have. She shouldn't have to break her fucking back or put herself in the hospital for $8-per-fucking-hour. Especially not in the summer, when heat stroke could be a concern, among other things. And she shouldn't feel obligated to go through that to prove a fucking point so people don't keep yammering on about how unemployed folk are just "elitists" who "think they're too good for" the jobs that aren't actually even out there... especially as they'll keep saying it whether she quit or not.

It's crap to say she shouldn't have quit. Yeah, it's a job, but I'll bet His Royal Assholeness gave her way more work than a normal employer would, just to make her prove she was "willing to work" or some shit. I'd be out of there in a flash too. Actually, I never would've shown up -- I do a job to do a job, not to be condescended to, demeaned, and used as a political point for barely over minimum wage.
nerdanel 28th-May-2011 09:24 am (UTC)
cyranothe2nd 28th-May-2011 06:24 pm (UTC)
I'll bet His Royal Assholeness gave her way more work than a normal employer would, just to make her prove she was "willing to work" or some shit. I'd be out of there in a flash too. Actually, I never would've shown up -- I do a job to do a job, not to be condescended to, demeaned, and used as a political point for barely over minimum wage.

A world of word to all of this.
simonejester 2nd-Jun-2011 04:58 am (UTC)
FULL POINTS, curseangel. *fistbump*
thecityofdis 28th-May-2011 03:48 pm (UTC)
Not everybody is capable of doing hard manual labor, sry2say.
kyra_neko_rei 28th-May-2011 05:22 pm (UTC)
She made her choice in her situation and with her priorities. You weren't in that position, she was. Feel free to make your own choice and feel proud of yourself for it when it's you in a comparable situation, but your priorities aren't relevant here.

Incidentally, the work that people are willing to do and the conditions they put up with have an effect on what is available for the rest of us. By quitting, she has stated that condescension, non-living wages, and work that will injure her, are unacceptable, which does that much to challenge an economic/political environment that would put that shitty choice in front of more of us who could have better options in a better economic/political environment.

PS: Really? You think it's physically disabled that she quit? How does that work?
emofordino 29th-May-2011 01:39 am (UTC)
thank you thank you thank you. motherfucking THIS.
dearmisterecho 28th-May-2011 11:23 am (UTC)
This North Carolinian is fucking furious and ashamed about this.
kyra_neko_rei 28th-May-2011 05:13 pm (UTC)
Huh. Eliminate a living-wage-paying, benefits-having, comfortable-working-conditions, non-streunuous job to save state money, replace it with a minimum-wage, strenuous, uncomfortable, injury-risking job with no benefits, and get your yard work done cheap in the process, all while patting yourself on the back for your generosity?

That's the worst misuse of the concept of charity since the letter-to-the-editor last year whining about how Sweden's social safety nets meant there were no opportunities for this lady's social/charitable organization to give charity to when they went there on a trip, and basically arguing that the US should avoid programs like Sweden so that there were poor people for her to offer charity to.
the_gabih 28th-May-2011 05:47 pm (UTC)
basically arguing that the US should avoid programs like Sweden so that there were poor people for her to offer charity to.

kyra_neko_rei 28th-May-2011 10:01 pm (UTC)

Some dipshit in the readers'-response part of the op-ed section of my local metro paper actually wrote in taking issue with someone's argument editorial for a strong social safety net because she's a member of this organization that makes a point of doing something good for the local community wherever they travel, and whining that when her local group visited Sweden, they couldn't find anything to do because the government had taken care of it all, and what about the charities? How can privileged people like her go around patting themselves on the back for helping the less fortunate if there are no poor people around to need help because their government has gone and made them not poor?

I could barely believe my eyes, that someone existed who was so dense and privileged and entitled that she wanted people kept in poverty so she could claim the credit for providing some of them with a little bit of help. But then I thought, if cognitive dissonance was fatal, the world would be vastly different than it currently is.
the_gabih 29th-May-2011 10:58 am (UTC)
...I don't even.

That's not just entitled/stupid, that's fucking heartless.
simonejester 2nd-Jun-2011 05:00 am (UTC)
Agreed. It's downright sick.
the_gabih 28th-May-2011 05:47 pm (UTC)
$8 an hour? I get more than that for freaking babysitting!
setosnicegirl 28th-May-2011 06:24 pm (UTC)

Hell, kids who mow people's lawns during the summer get paid more than this.
cyranothe2nd 28th-May-2011 06:18 pm (UTC)
What a douchebag. And now he can support his ridic views by saying, "Wahwah, she just didn't want to do my back-breaking yard work for $8 an hour! BOOTSTRAPS!"

I'd like to see this dick do that kind of work for so little pay. Christ, what an ass.
baked_goldfish 29th-May-2011 12:44 pm (UTC)
I always love when politicians bring up drug testing. I'd wager 75% of my white collar friends would fail miserably and uniquely if they ever had to take one.
bowtomecha 2nd-Jun-2011 02:18 pm (UTC)

I can get more money being a vigilante and possibly enjoy the outcome of that line of work. Just saying, Mr. Gofuckyourself.

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