race to the bottom

The Triangle Fire Goes Global

trianglefireOn March 25, 1911 a fire broke out in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory where 146 workers died. The company had blocked the exits and the stairwells so employees couldn't leave or take a break. As the fire spread, workers were trapped and the only escape was to jump ten stories to their deaths. The outrage sparked reforms and unionization for U.S. garment workers.

Over 100 years later on November 24th, 2012 the exact same thing happened. Workers burned alive and jumping to their deaths has gone global. In a history repeats itself Déjà vu, we've outsourced our history of worker exploitation and lack of safe work environments along with American jobs. Once again, fire escape routes were locked by managers and workers couldn't escape the flames. In Bangladesh 112 people were killed in a garment factory fire.

The flames at the Tazreen Fashions factory outside Dhaka spread rapidly on the ground floor, trapping those on the higher floors of the nine-story building. There were no exterior fire escapes, according to officials, and many died after jumping from upper floors to escape the flames.

As firemen continued to remove bodies Sunday, officials said at least 112 people had died but that the number of fatalities could go higher.

The American Economy On Purgatory Mountain

CBS 60 Minutes profiled one town near Purgatory mountain, Asheboro, North Carolina to show what's really wrong with the U.S. economy. It's not taxes, small government or big government, or even the deficit. The real problem are jobs going offshore, companies treating workers as disposable and the never ending race to the bottom on wages, global labor arbitrage.


Multinational Corporations Are Hiring....Abroad That Is

U.S. multinational corporations are hiring. The problem is most of that hiring is happening abroad. In an updated BEA summary on sales, investment and employment by Multinational Corporations for 2010, we have a 0.1% increase in hiring for jobs in the United States while MNCs increased their hiring abroad by 1.5%.

us mnc employ

Worldwide employment by U.S. multinational companies (MNCs) increased 0.5 percent in 2010, to 34.0 million workers, with increases in both the United States and abroad. Employment in the United States by U.S. parent companies increased 0.1 percent, to 23.0 million workers, which contrasted with a 0.6 percent decrease in total private-industry employment in the United States. The employment by U.S. parents accounted for roughly one-fifth of total U.S. employment in private industries. Abroad, employment by the majority-owned foreign affiliates of U.S. MNCs increased 1.5 percent, to 11.0 million workers.

U.S. multinationals account for 20% of U.S. hires in the private sector. Yet from 1999 to 2009, U.S. MNCs decreased U.S. employment by 1 million workers while expanding employment abroad by 2.9 million. The U.S. share of employment by MNCs went from 75.2% in 1999 to 67.7% by 2010.

The Race Continues

The race to the bottom. But this time the supporters of the ideology that is leading the race to the bottom are not hiding behind slogans such as "small government", "government is the problem" or "trickle down economics". No, no, they are coming right out in the open. For example this New York Times article: here.

The authors of this article don't waste any time. Check out the first paragraph:

American workers are overpaid, relative to equally productive employees elsewhere doing the same work. If the global economy is to get into balance, that gap must close.

But it gets better:

The big trade deficit is another sign of excessive pay for Americans. One explanation for the attractive prices of imported goods is that American workers are paid too much relative to their foreign peers.