By Alton Mitchell
Residents around Chambers County are familiar with the name Regina Elsea. Elsea is a young bride to be who was fatally wounded at the Ajin USA plant in Cusseta last summer. Following findings by OSHA and a hefty lawsuit filed by the family members the latest segment of the story of the fatal accidental death of Elsea has hit the national media.
On March 23rd, Bloomberg Businessweek ran an article highlighting the death of Elsea. The focus of the article states that the automotive job boom in the southeastern United States has come with a heavy price.
The article opens by explaining the tragic set of circumstances that led to the death of Elsea then goes on to explain that the state of Alabama has become the new Detroit of the United States. The nickname is tied to the rapidly expanding automobile parts industry that has taken the state by storm following the demise of the textile industry in the state.
As the article continues it goes into depth about the conditions in plants are not favorable through activities such as long work hours and low paying wages. The article pinpoints the working conditions for Elsea who according to Bloomberg’s article worked 12-hours shifts, seven days a week with hopes of moving from temporary employee status to full time at Ajin. That would give her a raise from $8.75 an hour to $10.50 an hour.
The article also pinpoints accidents at another parts supplier located in north Alabama. It does cite that the automobile industry and its suppliers have become a major part of Alabama’s economy by creating more than 26,000 jobs statewide with a payroll of $1.3 billion last year alone. A bulk of those in the Chambers and Lee County regions.
The accident that caused the death of Regina Elsea resulted in a $2.5 million dollar fine from OSHA for safety violations found at the plant. Following the fine imposed by OSHA family members of Elsea filed a civil lawsuit against Ajin USA. The results of the case have not yet been decided.