A Reminder of the Disturbing Consequences of Outsourcing

Jesús Espinoza

Jesús Espinoza Press Secretary, AAM

Sweatshops aren’t anything new. To save a few bucks, many American textile manufacturers have chosen to move jobs abroad to places with “cheap” labor. In fact, nearly the entire textile industry offshored. Some wanted to be able to get away with paying workers very little and not having to comply with regulations that protect workers.

But some sweatshop workers aren’t even paid. This week, the Associated Press (AP) reportedthat the Chinese government is forcing members of religious and ethnic minority groups into secluded indoctrination camps and then forcing them into factory work. This clearly falls under the U.S. and United Nations definition of slavery. That’s not all: It turns out that North Carolina-based Badger Sportswear, which supplies athletic gear to college campuses across the U.S., was actually sourcing its products from one of these camps.

The company announced it was suspending this arrangment while it conducts an investigation. But this case makes us ask an uncomfortable, but important, question: How many of the imported goods Americans use every day are made by modern-day slaves?

This is a grim reminder of why outsourcing has consequences, both in the U.S. and the places where domestic manufacturers send these jobs. American workers lose their livelihoods and then live through the painful experience of seeing their communities destroyed. Workers abroad are exploited—even enslaved.

Out of solidarity with workers everywhere, we can’t support companies that don’t care about the dignity of work and what it means to fairly pay someone for their time and contributions. Buying American-made products isn’t just about supporting American workers. It’s about being an ethical consumer who supports workers and rejects exploitation.

Although cases like this are happening all over the world, it’s an important reminder of the human costs of outsourcing. 

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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A Friendly Reminder

A Friendly Reminder