Friday, February 08, 2008

English-speaking Americans are being demoted for not speaking Spanish as Oregon begins to strictly enforce language rules.

As per conversation on Daniel's blog, the issue was brought up regarding Americans being required to learn Spanish in order to get or keep their jobs.
Some of the postings in response to that thread, indicated that no one has been required to learn Spanish and/or that it was okay for an employer to require employees to learn a new language as an amended job requirement.

Anyway, case in point ...

Hat tip to Lars Larson for pointing out the following article.

June 2006

Fire Crew Bosses Who Can't Speak Spanish Can Lose Jobs.

the Denver Channel, 7 news --

Officials are now having to lay off firefighting bosses who are not bilingual for safety as many new hires in Oregon only speak Spanish.
"What we do know is 85% of the crew makeup is of Hispanic dissent." Said Jim Walker of the Oregon Department of Forestry, "our main concern is that they are safe, and they are in a safe environment, and a law that deals with communication."
The argument is for safety reasons, all bosses must speak the same language as their crews on the fire line. They want to make sure that the leader of the crews can quickly communicate during an emergency.
"If you have one Spanish guy on the crew, as an English crew boss, you can no longer be a crew boss. You have to step back to a squad boss, which is a demotion." Said Jamie Pickering.
Pickering, can no longer work as a crew boss and supervise 20 firefighters. He can now only manage a squad of four firefighters.

The language requirement change in Oregon was made in 2003 after devastating wildfire season in 2002 which had contractors scrambling to find help.
"We're living here. We should speak the language." Said Manuel Franco, a contractor for fire crews.
"Why doesn't the state require these crew members to speak English?" The state does not have a clear answer.


Blogger : JustaDog said...

Why? Because the governor of Oregon wishes to continue to show he is a compassionate governor to even the illegal aliens - especially Mexican illegals.

While he shows them his compassion he has become a worthless disgrace to everyone else - especially those here legally and who are continually drained of our money in the name of taxes and fees.

11:34 PM  
Anonymous justablogger said...

It is simply a job skill. Language like any other skill can, and will, be required by employers. If you don't know how to speak the language that is required by your prospective employer, you can certainly learn. If you can't learn, then maybe you have a disability. Then that puts you in a whole different category.

I actually require my employees to either know some Spanish, or they can take it while employed. The company pays for the classes, which they can do while being paid.

Really, though by the looks of your anti-immigrant pals with their misspelled signs at rallies that I saw on the news last week, I suspect learning another language before mastering your own should be the last thing on your to-do list. Still the same, once you folks do master your native language, English, take another language. It is a great way to improve your mind.

3:02 AM  
Blogger Robin said...

you're correct and I agree with you, that if an employer requires you to speak a certain language if you want the job, then you should speak the language's job requires.

however, we should note that the "common" majority language of the United States is still English.

English is still by law a requirement for citizenship.

also by law, you have to prove that you have the right to work in the United States, i.e. the INS I-9 form that all employers are required to have on their employees.

however, right to work in the US does not necessarily mean that you have to speak English, it just means you have to be here legally.(I think that's fair)

I also agree with you that it wouldn't hurt to know a little bit of Spanish. I have often thought about taking a course myself. On the same token, it wouldn't hurt for some to learn a little English as well.

8:26 AM  
Blogger : JustaDog said...

You can always find a socialist in a crowd when the subject comes up. The anonymous commenter - "justablogger" refers to "illegal aliens" as "anti-immigrant".

This is the typical diversionary lie these scums always take, to twist illegal aliens into "those mean anti-immigration racists".

Ya gotta love it though - they are so transparent.

I have my own business and I make it a point of NOT hiring illegals. Also, the only language allowed is English. It's not because I hate Mexicans, it's because I love America.

10:04 AM  
Blogger : JustaDog said...

BTW - if one wants to improve their chances of succeeding in the global business world it would be far better to learn Chinese than Spanish.

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As we move closer to that unilateral government, we move closer to a single language. I do not think it will be Spanish. Perhaps French, English or an Asian language but not Spanish.

10:33 AM  
Blogger Rod Nichols said...

The story circulating on the web that claims Oregon fire crew bosses are being fired/demoted because of their inability to speak Spanish is erroneous.

Here are the facts:

The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) has no requirement that its employees speak Spanish, and does not demote or fire anyone because they don’t speak Spanish. And to our knowledge, no crew boss on the private contract fire crews that we use has ever been fired on account of not being able to speak Spanish, either.

ODF and its partner federal and state agencies in Oregon and Washington contract with private companies to supply fire crews, including crew bosses, for frontline firefighting work. These crews work under the guidance of incident management teams provided by ODF and other state and federal land management agencies.

Because English is the language of firefighting in the U.S., we must have the ability to communicate with all crews. Accordingly, the interagency contract requires that the leaders of contract crews speak English. This requirement covers the crew boss and the three squad bosses on a typical 20-person crew.

Companies may choose whom they hire for their crews. If a company elects to hire employees who do not speak English, then the supervisors of that crew must speak English as well as the language of any crew members who don’t speak English. This is a matter of good communication, safety and effectiveness for the agencies that hire crews under the contract. Over the years, the contract crews, including those with some non-English-speaking firefighters, have established a good record of safety and performance.

For more information on the language requirements for fire crew bosses, visit the Oregon Dept. of Forestry website,

Rod Nichols, Oregon Dept. of Forestry

2:50 PM  
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10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was demoted and transferred at my job. Upon my demotion I found out that it was because I do not speak Spanish and was not a Hispanic. I am Sicilian and the company knew of this along with my beliefs but was not long after they knew of the beliefs they demoted me and transferred me. I know some Spanish French German Romanian Italian etc. But nowhere in the rule book did it say i had to know Spanish nor did it say i had to be a Hispanic. I was also forced to apologize for the past managers mistakes that i had nothing to do with. The company is mostly Hispanic anyways i can live with that and since i was transferred i can not communicate to other people because they do not know English. Why must we learn a new language just to please the new hires? why do they get away with it? If i went to mexico and refused to learn Spanish would they make the accommodations to have their managers speak English? I do not think they will! Now where is the help for this?

7:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if there is a on english speaking person on a fire squad. he or she enters the home thats on fire and the person inside says get my kids please get my kids? Now are the people whose home is on fire suppose to speak spanish too?

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