Farah Musa is a worker at the St. Cloud, MN factory of New Flyer Industries bus factory, and a member of Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 7304.
Farah’s path to New Flyer was a difficult one. He was born in Somalia, and fled the war-torn country as a young man. He then spent years in Yemen in a refugee camp, and waited to be granted immigration status by the United States for almost four years. In October 2000, he came by himself to Minnesota and began a new life.
St. Cloud has a large community of East African immigrants, and St. Cloud alone has three active mosques. Over the past decade, Farah worked at other temp jobs, but was anxious for a better job to support his family. To get hired at New Flyer, he checked the website and called the temp agency Doherty Staffing Solutions for three months.
Six months ago, he was hired as a temp making $14 per hour, to work in the “audit line” department where the bus’s systems are checked and tested before the final inspection. The biggest problems he encounters are transmissions leaking and broken parts. Farah underwent training for four weeks, where he was paired with different people to learn the manufacturing skills he needs. Now he trains others, saying, “if they train you, I feel like you should train them.”
Compared to his previous jobs, Farah says, “its a better life here, it’s a better company, better people. I’m hoping to stay a long time.”
With his union job at New Flyer, Farah supports his wife and four children — two boys and two girls. Farah says his wife was relieved when he was hired at New Flyer: “when I get this job, she said, ‘right now you have a good place.” He works the second shift, so he is able to take his children to school and help his wife in the mornings. He also works overtime as much as possible including every Saturday, saying, “that’s why I like it.”
Farah sends some of the money he makes at New Flyer to his relatives who are in refugee camps in Kenya. “They need help,” he says. “One day, they will come here. But everything is not easy.”
In contrast, Farah says of Minnesota, “we have a good thing here — there are a lot of jobs. People here work.” Farah is very proud of the work he is doing, saying, “we take care of our customers.”
With his good job manufacturing American buses, Farah hopes to achieve the American Dream for his family. When asked what his hopes for his children are, Farah says without hesitation, “college. I’m thinking about them. I hope my kids go to school.”