In this video, workers at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis react to the company announcing that it will ship 1,400 local jobs to Mexico in what they described as “strictly a business decision.” You can hear the heartbreak and outrage in the voices of the workers who must now scramble to figure out how to take care of their families. Carrier makes heating, air conditioning, ventilation and other systems. The layoffs are scheduled to begin in 2017.
Aside from corporate greed, the main reason that Carrier can get away with something like this is the major flaws that have been built into international trade deals like North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. These kinds of deals make sure that these types of tragic moments happen more frequently.
First off, these deals provide companies that want to offshore to trading partners with extraordinary powers and legal rights they do not have under U.S. law–powers and rights that shift the balance of power further away from working people. Second, these deals put U.S. manufacturers in closer competition with foreign companies that pay low wages and don’t respect labor rights. This encourages U.S. companies to offshore in order to keep up with those foreign companies.
The third reason these deals encourage outsourcing is that they fail to level the playing field in terms of taxes. Such a deal could set a minimum level for corporate tax rates or create rules to prevent companies from gaming the tax system and pitting countries against each other. With those options left off the table, a race to the bottom is encouraged, where companies shift jobs to countries with lower tax rates, which, in turn, encourages higher-tax rate countries to lower taxes and the ripple effect those lower rates have on the economy and the government’s goods and services. A trade deal meant to create U.S. jobs would address this.
And lastly, of course, these trade deals eliminate tariffs in the trade zone, further encouraging companies to shift jobs to trade partners because corporations know they can ship goods back into the United States without paying tariffs, thus using the tariff cuts to increase U.S. imports instead of increasing U.S. exports.
This blog originally appeared in aflcio.org on February 11, 2016. Reprinted with permission.
Kenneth Quinnell is a long time blogger, campaign staffer, and political activist. Prior to joining AFL-CIO in 2012, he worked as a labor reporter for the blog Crooks and Liars. He was the past Communications Director for Darcy Burner and New Media Director for Kendrick Meek. He has over ten years as a college instructor teaching political science and American history.
Some 450 office clerical workers—members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 63—are back on the job this morning in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., after the ILWU and port employers reached a tentative agreement Tuesday night that will prevent the outsourcing of jobs.
ILWU International President Robert McEllrath said the unity and solidarity of the workers, members, their families and thousands of community supporters played a major role in the workers’ win. When the workers struck Nov. 27, ILWU dockworkers and other port workers refused to cross the picket lines.
“This victory was accomplished because of support from the entire ILWU family of 10,000 members in the harbor community.”
The key elements in the tentative agreement are new protections that will help prevent jobs from being outsourced to Texas, Taiwan and beyond. Union spokesman Craig Merrilees said:
“Really, it was getting control on the outsourcing…ensuring that the jobs are here today, tomorrow and for the future.”
The port workers had been without contract for more than two years and employers were threatening to outsource jobs from the nation’s busiest port complex—some 40 percent of all containerized cargo is handled in the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.
Details of the agreement that still must be ratified have not been released, but news reports say it is a six-year deal that is retroactive to June 30, 2010.
The workers don’t have ordinary clerk and secretarial jobs. The Los Angeles Times describes them as “logistics experts who process a massive flow of information on the content of ships’ cargo containers and their destinations….They are responsible for booking cargo, filing customs documentation and monitoring and tracking cargo movements.”
This post was originally posted on AFL-CIO NOW on November 6, 2012. Reprinted with Permission.
About the Author: Mike Hall is a a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety. When his collar was “still blue,” he carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse.
Walmart’s outsourcing of jobs is driving down wages at American factories, according to a report from the National Employment Law Project. Instead of employing its own factory employees, Walmart subcontracts many of the jobs to outside companies that have histories of low wages and labor violations, the report said. “These outsourced workers laboring on Walmart’s behalf toil at the bottom of a complex hierarchy of intermediaries and in alternative employment schemes that leave them vulnerable to significant worker rights abuses and unsure where to seek redress,” said the report, which also noted that workers at multiple Walmart-contracted facilities have sued their employers for violating minimum wage laws and cheating them out of pay.
This post originally appeared in ThinkProgress on June 6, 2012. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Travis Waldron is a reporter/blogger for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Travis grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and holds a BA in journalism and political science from the University of Kentucky. Before coming to ThinkProgress, he worked as a press aide at the Health Information Center and as a staffer on Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s 2010 Senate campaign. He also interned at National Journal’s Hotline and was a sports writer and political columnist at the Kentucky Kernel, the University of Kentucky’s daily student newspaper.
Is it patriotic to ship American jobs overseas? President Obama doesn’t think so. He’s right, of course. We live in a globally-connected world, but let’s face it: Home-grown corporations must first focus on their own backyards–a novel concept all to many, it seems.
Obama implicitly raised the question yesterday during his Insourcing American Jobs Forum which featured representatives from more than a dozen large and small businesses that have made decisions to bring jobs to the United States and to increase their investments here.
Pointing to the CEOs in the room, Obama said they ”take pride in hiring people here in America, not just because it’s increasingly the right thing to do for their bottom line, but also because it’s the right thing to do for their workers and for our communities and for our country.
I don’t want America to be a nation that’s primarily known for financial speculation and racking up debt buying stuff from other nations. I want us to be known for making and selling products all over the world stamped with three proud words: “Made in America.” And we can make that happen.
I don’t want the next generation of manufacturing jobs taking root in countries like China or Germany. I want them taking root in places like Michigan and Ohio and Virginia and North Carolina. And that’s a race that America can win. That’s the race businesses like these will help us win.
Lack of job creation in industries that pay solid middle-class wages is in part behind our nation’s rising inquality, and today White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Alan Krueger addressed the issue in detail.
TPM’s Sahil Kapur says Krueger blamed inequality on economic policies “tilted to favor top earners — including income tax reforms (presumably during the Bush era) and the ‘drastic cut in the estate tax.’ Central to the message is that inequalities in the system are “jeopardizing our tradition of equality of opportunity,” as Krueger put it.
“If we had a high degree of income mobility we would be less concerned about the degree of inequality in any given year. But we do not,” he argued. “Moreover, as inequality has increased, evidence suggests that year-to-year or generation-to-generation economic mobility has decreased.”
For too long, the 1 percent have sought and received tax breaks that actually created subsidies for corporations exporting good American jobs overseas.
America’s workers are not looking for handouts, they are looking for a chance to work hard and apply their best in the world skills in order to provide their families a middle class life.
This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now on January 12, 2012. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Tula Connell– “I got my first union card while I worked my way through college as a banquet bartender for the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee (we were represented by a hotel and restaurant local union—the names of the national unions were different then than they are now). With a background in journalism—covering bull roping in Texas and school boards in Virginia—I started working in the labor movement in 1991. Beginning as a writer for SEIU (and OPEIU member), I now blog under the title of AFL-CIO managing editor.”
The huge crowd outside the Verizon Center in downtown Washington, D.C., Saturday wasn’t there for a basketball game or concert. They came to tell Verizon to stop its attack on middle-class jobs.
The Verizon Center demonstration and dozens and dozens of other actions at Verizon worksites and Verizon Wireless stores are part of the growing support for the 45,000 Communications Workers of America (CWA) and Electrical Workers (IBEW) members forced on strike by Verizon Aug. 6.
The company, with $32.5 billion in revenue in the past three years, is demanding $1 billion in concessions from workers, which amounts to $20,000 per Verizon worker per year. While talks resumed last week, those demands remain on the table. Says CWA Communications Director Candice Johnson:
If wealthy companies like Verizon can continue to cut working families’ pay and benefits, we will never have an economic recovery in this country. This is a fight for all middle-class working families.
Verizon’s demands include outsourcing jobs overseas, gutting pension security, eliminating benefits for workers injured on the job, eliminating job security, slashing paid sick leave and raising health care costs.
CWA filed unfair labor practice charges against Verizon Aug. 12 with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), charging the company with refusal to bargain in good faith.
Union workers and community allies are joining striking CWA and IBEW members on the picket lines. Barbara Smith of CWA Local 1109 In Brooklyn, N.Y., told Labor Notes that when Verizon Wireless pickets are up:
pedestrians stop and thank us because they understand that this fight is about more than Verizon.
While Verizon is demanding that workers take home less, it paid its top five executives more than $258 million over the past four years, including $80.8 million for its former CEO Ivan Seidenberg. Friday night, more than 500 CWA, IBEW members and their allies held a candlelight vigil outside Seidenberg’ West Nyack, N.Y., home.
They carried a coffin to symbolize the death of the middle class. CWA Local 1101 member Ron Canterino, told reporters:
The middle class is dying here, and we’re here to be together as one class, one people—whether it’s union or nonunion working people.
Here are some other actions you can take to support the strikers:
“Like” the strikers on Facebook here and change your Facebook and/or Twitter profile picture in solidarity here.
Click here to demand that Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam value employees’ work and share his corporation’s success with those who make it possible.
Click here for a list of picket sites in the New York and New Jersey area. `
Click here to sign and Tweet an act.ly petition demanding Verizon drop its outrageous concessionary demands.
To Tweet about the strike, use the hashtag #verizonstrike and feel free to direct to @VZLaborfacts.
This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Blog on August 15, 2011. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Mike Hallis a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety. When his collar was still blue, he carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse. He has also worked as roadie for a small-time country-rock band, sold his blood plasma and played an occasional game of poker to help pay the rent.
In the past decade, more than 5 million manufacturing jobs and 850,000information sector jobs have disappeared—many of which have been shipped overseas. This outsourcing is encouraged by faulty trade and tax policies that corporate executives use to boost record-breaking profits and outrageous and obscene executive salaries.
But finding out specific information on specific companies sending American jobs overseas and devastating their communities has been nearly impossible—until today. The AFL-CIO and Working America’s new Job Tracker database lists information on more than 400,000 corporations that have exported jobs overseas, violated health and safety codes or engaged in discriminatory or other illegal practice. (Check it out at http://t.co/qbg7wwm.)
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, in a conference call with reporters this morning, said Job Tracker’s searchable by ZIP code and the interactive database gives
everyday people the opportunity to actually see what is happening in their community and shine the light on what corporations are doing. For the first time, working people have one place to see the real impact of the failed policies of the past that gave corporations the ability to ship American jobs overseas.
With this new data as a benchmark, working people will have the ability to separate the economic patriots from the corporate traitors at the ballot box.
Karen Nussbaum, executive director of Working America—the AFL-CIO’s community affiliate— said, “Because of Job Tracker, corporations who have taken advantage of lax trade policies in America and abroad will no longer”
be able to hide behind the veils of bureaucracy. Every night on our neighborhood canvasses, we hear from people who want to know which companies are profiting off the loss of their jobs. Corporations have created a global race to the bottom and working people won’t stand for it.
A recent Wall Street Journal poll shows 83 percent of blue-collar workers say outsourcing of manufacturing jobs is the reason the U.S. economy is struggling and why companies are not hiring. Jobs are the No. 1 issue for working family voters this year, said Trumka.
We must demand that our leaders show that they stand with working families—fighting to create jobs, rejecting unfair trade deals and putting us on a path to make things in America again.
Also, 39 companies had cases involving workers’ rights violations under the National Labor Relations Act, and 1,170 have received health and safety violations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).
Trumka said the Job Tracker provides the kind of information to help working families make their choices at the ballot box Nov. 2 and working families can use to determine who is on the side of working families.
The choice is clear—leaders who will fight to create and keep good jobs here in America, or the corporate traitors who insist on the policies that have rigged the playing field.
Job Tracker information draws on sources, including the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance records, Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notices, OSHA records and more. The Job Tracker site also enables visitors to use Facebook and Twitter and e-mail to report companies exporting jobs in their communities.
About The Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and have written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety.
Last week, NBC launched a new show that tries to find comedy in the all-too-real conditions of outsourcing. While the first episode was witty—making light of age-old cultural clashes and stereotypes, there is nothing funny about the reality of outsourcing and the impact it has both on the American worker and their counterparts around the world.
For decades, big companies like the one portrayed in “Outsourced” have been engaged in a global race to the bottom, constantly seeking to maximize their profits by cutting wages, benefits and working conditions. Corporations have learned to avoid local worker bargaining power by organizing themselves globally and exerting a downward pressure on wages along the supply chain that brings goods from manufacturing to consumers.
Meanwhile, there are currently 15 million unemployed workers in the United States. And the situation is not much better overseas, where many scrape by on substandard conditions and wages that have been outlawed for centuries in the United States.
Going back to the first episode, the angry, American workers who have just been laid off are portrayed only by a stack of bricks thrown through the boss’s window. This is then juxtaposed against the hapless, comedic and cheaper Indian workers who have taken over the call center.
But the bosses are all smiles because by pitting laid-off U.S. workers against workers overseas (and immigrant workers forced to look for work in the United States), companies like the novelty business portrayed in the show get rich while workers around the world, our nation included, struggle to feed their families, access health care and stay in their homes.
It is hard to find humor in the need for good jobs, fair wages and humane living and working conditions.
So, as not to leave NBC hanging (we at Jobs with Justice are solution oriented, after all), how about another idea for a new NBC sitcom called “Good Jobs, Fair Pay.” In this innovative new show, U.S. workers would have full and fair employment—all paid for courtesy of a small sales tax on Wall Street, otherwise known as a financial speculation tax.
Workers in other parts of the globe would join U.S. workers in having a standard minimum wage with equal purchasing power. Multinational corporations would have no incentive of moving from country to country, forcing workers into increasingly lower wages and conditions. And for comedic relief, CEOs would actually pay taxes like the rest of us and share their annual bonus with the workers in the plant.
About The Author: Sarita Gupta is executive director of Jobs With Justice, a national network of more than 40 local coalitions of labor, community, student, and faith organizations, working together to built a broader global movement for economic and social justice.