The CWA News | TPP: Means More U.S. Jobs Will Be Sent Overseas

Volume 74, Issue #3 | Fall 2014

  • 2.7 million jobs lost since the U.S. and other nations allowed China to join the World Trade Organizations in 2001.
  • 700,000 lost under NAFTA since 1994, despite promises that 170,000 new jobs would be created.
  • 60,000 jobs lost under the Korea Free Trade Agreement since 2012, despite promises that 70,000 new jobs would be created.

TPP would make this grim situation even worse. TPP gives special rights and benefits to companies that offshore investment and jobs to places like Vietnam. Meanwhile, workers in Vietnam suffer under poverty wages, unsafe working conditions and abuse of internationally recognized workers’ rights and standards. We’ve had enough of bad trade deals that hurt U.S. jobs and workers.

Bad Trade Deals and Immigration

Trade and immigration are connected. One-sided trade deals like NAFTA and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) are written to benefit foreign corporations while devastating families and local communities. It’s clear that families will continue to flee their homes until they can live their lives without constant fear of violence, have access to decent work, and exercise their rights without retaliation.

After NAFTA came into force in 1994, more than 1.3 million Mexican farmers were driven from their farms and out of business. US agribusiness, subsidized by U.S. taxpayers, sold corn in Mexico at extremely low prices, making it impossible for farmers in Mexico to compete. More than 2.5 million Mexicans lost their livelihoods as a result of NAFTA farm imports. As a result, undocumented immigration from Mexico rose from 332,000 in 1993 to 530,000 in 2000, a 60 percent increase.

NAFTA supporters claimed the agreement would promote prosperity in the U.S. and Mexico and actually reduce pressure to migrate. But it was just another broken promise. While half a million manufacturing jobs were created in Mexico from 1994 to 2002, according to a 2008 report, “NAFTA’s Promise and Reality” by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, nearly three times as many farm jobs were destroyed. And those manufacturing jobs disappeared a few years later too, as corporations sought even cheaper operating costs. Under NAFTA, Mexico’s jobs and wages fell while prices and poverty rose.

The same bad deal for small farmers was included in CAFTA and the Peru Free Trade Agreement. Under CAFTA, family farmers in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala have been overrun with subsidized agricultural imports from U.S. agribusinesses. Agricultural imports from the United States in those three CAFTA countries have risen 78 percent since the deal went into effect.

The labor provisions in CAFTA are virtually worthless. More than six years ago, workers in the U.S. and Guatemala declared that the Government of Guatemala was failing to effectively enforce its labor laws, a violation of CAFTA. Despite six years of consultation and the implementation of an “Action Plan,” little has changed; the government continues to fail to enforce its labor laws and employers violate worker rights with impunity.

And it’s not only governments in Central America. The U.S. Government has been sitting on a CAFTA complaint alleging serious violations of worker rights by the Government of Honduras for two years.

Kiss Your Job Goodbye

For workers in the service sector, TPP would be a complete disaster. The deal provides more incentives to corporations to send service sector jobs overseas. It undermines the ability of the federal government and most states to give preference to U.S. firms when awarding service sector contracts. In fact, it would forbid the U.S. from requiring that a foreign firm set up an operation here to provide services. The result: Corporations in other countries couldn’t provide information technology and call center services to U.S. consumers without hiring a single U.S. worker.

We’ve already lost millions of service sector jobs. TPP would make it worse:

At least 3.4 million service sector jobs will have been offshored from 2003-2015, according to Forrester Research.

More than 1 million IT, finance, and other service jobs at U.S. companies will have been offshored from 2002-2016, according to The Hackett Group.

More than 200,000 U.S. call center jobs were lost from 2006- 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Legislation that could help keep good jobs in the U.S., like the Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, would be blocked.

Bargaining is Even Tougher When You’re Competing with Vietnam

As corporations send more jobs offshore, they put downward pressure on workers, especially union workers, in terms of wages and working conditions. That makes bargaining good contracts harder than ever.

Val Givens, a member of Local 6222, was part of the CWA bargaining team for the AT&T Internet contract. She knows what TPP means for CWA members.

“I saw firsthand the connection between these trade deals and our bargaining. I saw and heard, at the bargaining table, the connection between the wages we can negotiate and these trade deals.

“About six years ago, AT&T agreed to bring 5,000 Internet services jobs back to the U.S. from the Philippines. Our union made that happen. We were really glad to see those jobs come back to the members. These jobs mean everything to our members and their communities.

“During bargaining last year, the head of labor relations who was leading the management bargaining team actually said, ‘if you want to keep pushing for a wage increase, that’s fine, but we can always send the jobs back overseas.’”

Why is it so easy to send our jobs overseas? Why can management at the bargaining table threaten to offshore our jobs? Why do our elected leaders negotiate a trade deal like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that encourages companies to move to low wage countries, like Vietnam, and to undercut our wages and our jobs? Why don’t they protect our jobs?

We’ve got to push hard to stop these trade deals like TPP. We need to make sure everyone knows that TPP is a disaster for working people and our communities.

Buy American Laws Can Be Challenged by Foreign Corporations

The Buy American Act, passed in 1933, requires that the U.S. government give preference to U.S.-made products in its purchases. Other federal laws extend the requirements to third-party purchases that use Federal funds, such as highway and transit programs.

TPP would require that all corporations operating in any of the TPP countries must be considered the same as a U.S. firm when it comes to government procurement contracts. That means the U.S. would agree to waive Buy American procurement requirements for everything from materials needed for bridge and highway repairs to customer service support for government programs. TPP negotiators are looking to give away billions of dollars in government procurement that has created good jobs and helped support our communities. Most likely to benefit from this provision is the government of China, which controls numerous operations in Vietnam.

TPP supporters claim that this means that U.S. firms now can bid on contracts in other countries on an equal footing. It’s a bad bet. The U.S. would be giving the 11 other TPP nations access to a procurement market that’s 10 times bigger than what the U.S. would have access to. And the U.S. already has trade deals in place with some TPP countries, like Japan, that allow U.S. firms to bid on procurement contracts.

Think TPP Means Cheaper Products? Think Again

The loss of good jobs has a cascading effect through-out the economy. The rush of corporations to send manufacturing jobs overseas has affected other businesses and local governments, who cut work and services. The combination means a big drop in the tax base of many communities, just at a time when citizens who have lost their jobs need support.

We’ve seen this play out already, in too many communities.

In Michigan, 352,000 manufacturing jobs were lost from 1998-2011. Detroit especially suffered, losing half of its automobile industry, or 66,300 jobs. The ripple effect of declining tax revenues resulted in the loss of 26,000 public sector jobs.

In Ohio, 381,000 manufacturing jobs were lost during 1998- 2011. Cleveland alone lost 85,100 manufacturing jobs.

In New Jersey, 171,100 manufacturing jobs were lost while Trenton alone lost 36% of its manufacturing jobs. This weakened the state’s revenue base, along with the efforts of Republican Governor Chris Christie to give handouts to corporations and the wealthy while attacking the jobs, health care and retirement security of public workers.

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