U.S.-certificated airline mechanics are facing a systematic decline in pay because of immigration law and regulatory loopholes. I saw firsthand how a foreignowned aircraft repair firm exploits both those loopholes to drive down airline mechanics’ wages – within the borders of the United States. Singapore Technologies Engineering owns two of the largest MRO facilities in the United States: S TMobile Aerospace (MAE), inMobile, Ala., and San Antonio Aerospace (SAA) in San Antonio, Texas. The company recruits non-certificated foreign workers, bringing them into the U.S. legally to replace U.S. workers at lower pay scales. It can do so because Federal Aviation Administration regulations allow non-certificated mechanics to work on airplane. Also because immigration law allows foreign workers in specialty occupations to work temporarily for employers in the U.S. under H-1B visas. I visited S T Mobile Aerospace with two other United Airlines mechanics. Combined, we have more than 60 years’ experience. We were sent to Mobile to recover an engine for Pratt andWhitney. While we were there, we befriended some of the MAE foreign workers. Combined, these ten or so workers had less than half the years of experience we had. The MAE workers were assigned to complete the engine preshipping process and to help us where needed. We did just fine on our own, but we enjoyed the company. While there, we marveled at how many of these workers it took to perform even the simplest task like removing a tail cone. We also saw the extraordinary amount of time spent on each job. How can this be a cost savings to the airlines? We noticed that each crew’s tasks were precisely pointed out by the shift supervisor who spoke to only one man. We later learned that man was named the “lead” because he could translate English to other crew members. The shift supervisor would return at infrequent, long intervals to check on the progress and assign tasks. He and he alone, carried the necessary FAA-mandated paperwork. This maintenance crew at MAE was from the Philippines. They were very pleasant.We made friends quickly and in limited English managed to communicate well enough. They explained how they used certificates and licenses from their own country to obtain foreign visas and secure guaranteed work even before they left home. I, in turn, explained to them how a jet engine operates. Some were obviously hearing this for the first time but I don’t blame them. God bless any worker who does all he can for his family. According to my new friends at MAE, a contracting company is offered a certain dollar amount to fill a vacancy. The agency, such as AircraftWorkersWorldwide, in Daphne, Alabama, will find people in other countries, like the Philippines, who will leave their homes and family in search of work. After paying a fee, they are then helped to obtain the required and necessary documents, brought to the U.S. and put to work as contractors. They start at a fraction of the amount paid by theMRO to the original contractor. Then, in some cases, higher paid American workers are put on the street and the process begins again. The contractor walks away with a nice chunk of change in this exchange. The men I talked to earned anywhere from $8 to $12 dollars an hour with the lead earning the top pay. They all realized they were paid only a portion of what the contract company was taking in. “But what about American workers you put out of a job?” I asked. Their unapologetic answer was simply that “the money here is better than our country. Even if it is lower than what Americans make, our families have to eat too and mostly, we were invited.” Unfortunately, that is true. These foreign workers are not to blame for the loss of American jobs. They too are exploited. Our fight is not against these workers.We are only against them being used to undercut wage standards. Equal pay for equal work is the answer to this problem. These men should be paid competitive salaries to remove the big profit incentive from the whole system that exploits them and replaces us. The visa system should not be used as a labor discount outlet to supplement the lavish incomes of corporate management. It’s pure greed that drivesMAE and SAA to pit us against lowwage immigrant workers. Profits for US airlines are also a big temptation to send work to lower-cost repair facilities within our borders. We need standards and proper oversight to allow fair and competitive pay and benefits for qualified foreign workers and to end the loopholes that allow the importation of exploitable immigrants. Only then can we stop the race to the bottom. It’s time we remind those in power that all workers, regardless of country of origin, are united in demanding we be treated fairly because labor does indeed, create all wealth.