Unions to Trump: Pick up your pen to end offshoring of jobs

A month-long caravan through the Midwest US ended in Washington DC on September 19 with a call for President Trump and Congress to take action to stop the offshoring of US jobs.

The caravan, called the Midwest Pickup Tour, began in Indianapolis, Indiana and stopped at seven other cities in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to hold rallies.

It was organized by the Communication Workers of America (CWA), Good Jobs Nation, and Our Revolution.

At the rallies, those in the caravan had a message for President Trump: pick up your pen and use your legal authority to sign an executive order that bans the awarding of federal contracts to companies that offshore US jobs.

The rallies also urged Congress to pass legislation such as the US Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act to protect US jobs from offshoring.

At the final rally in Washington DC, CWA President Chris Shelton said that Trump could and should end the practice of offshoring US jobs.

“It’s time that wealthy corporations stopped sending jobs overseas and abandoning our communities,” said Shelton. “It’s time that elected officials keep their promises. President Trump can sign an executive order today that stops telecom companies and other companies that send good jobs overseas from getting federal contracts. He could have done that seven months ago. Instead, major US companies continue to get taxpayer-funded federal contracts and send our jobs overseas.”

A recent report by Good Jobs Nations and Public Citizen shows that large federal contractors such as General Electric and United Technologies have been awarded billions of dollars in federal contracts while sending more than 50,000 jobs abroad.

“The Trump Administration continues to reward–not punish–US companies that offshore US jobs,” states the report.

Authors of the report compared information from a Department of Labor database and a database of US contracts with private vendors and found that the federal government has awarded $176 billion worth of contracts to companies that offshore jobs.

The report also said 41 percent of the top 100 federal contractors had offshored 58,913 jobs.

The top ten offshoring private contractors are General Electric, United Technologies, Honeywell, Hewlett Packard, General Motors, Siemens, Dell, Ford, Textron, and IBM.

Peter Knowlton, president of United Electrical Workers (UE), was especially critical of GE for offshoring good-paying manufacturing jobs.

“GE has been awarded billions of dollars in federal contracts, (but) it continues to pursue a strategy of destroying unions and driving down wages to improve profits and shareholder value.”

UE has been in a battle with GE over the company’s plans to move hundreds of good-paying jobs out of its Erie, Pennsylvania factory.

Matt McCracken, UE Local 506 executive board member in Erie, said that when he started working for GE, GE’s Erie plant employed 15,000 workers.

Those jobs paid “good livable wage jobs, that gave your family some hope of a better future,” said McCracken.

But since then, GE has moved profitable division after profitable division out of the plant.

“All those jobs were moved away by big business for an extra nickel in profit, all aided and abetted by politicians like Donald Trump,” said McCracken

Knowlton said that the president should go one step further to protect good-paying manufacturing jobs.

“He needs to condition federal contracts on the unfettered freedom to organize and join a union, to enable workers to secure better pay for themselves, their families, and their community,” said Knowlton.

Shelton said that Congress also has a responsibility to protect US jobs from offshoring.

Telecommunication companies such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile have closed call centers all over the US and shipped those jobs abroad.

Those companies in 2016 received $897 million in federal contracts.

Shipping call center jobs abroad has affected 18,000 call center workers, their families, and the communities where they live.

Shelton said that the US Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, introduced by Sen. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, would protect workers from offshoring.

It requires “that US callers be told the location of the call center to which they are speaking; offer callers the opportunity to be connected to a US-based center if preferred; and make US companies who offshore their call center jobs from the US ineligible for certain federal grants and taxpayer-funded loans,” said Shelton.

Sen. Bernie Sanders and four other US senators sent President Trump a letter urging him to pick up a pen and sign the executive order.

“We need to send a very loud and very clear message to corporate America: the era of outsourcing is over,” stated the letter to Trump. “Instead of offshoring jobs, the time has come for you to start bringing good-paying jobs back to the United States of America.”

“If you are serious about ending offshoring and helping the American worker, you will issue an executive order ending government contracts for companies that offshore American jobs,” concluded the letter to the president.

 

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Union joins consumer and environmental groups in suit to stop”one in, two out” executive order

The Communication Workers of America (CWA) joined Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, and the Natural Resources Defense Council in suing the Trump administration to block implementation of a recent executive order requiring federal agencies to eliminate two existing regulations for every new one that they issue.

The plaintiffs are concerned that the executive order will diminish protections against discrimination, public health, worker safety, consumer protection, and the quality of the environment.

CWA President Chris Shelton said that Trump’s so-called “one in, two out” Executive Order imperils worker safety by requiring the elimination of existing job safety regulations when the need arises to write new ones.

“This order means that the asbestos workplace standard, for example, could be discarded in order to adopt safeguards for nurses from infectious diseases in their workplaces,” said Shelton. “This violates the mission of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to protect workers’ safety and health. It also violates common sense.”

While President Trump touted his executive order as a boon to small business, the bulk of the order’s benefits will go to large corporations.

Public Citizen President Robert Weissman blasted Trump’s order as a gift to big business at the expense of workers, public health, consumers, and the environment.

“No one thinking sensibly about how to set rules for health, safety, the environment, and the economy would ever adopt the Trump Executive Order approach–unless their only goal was to confer enormous benefits on big business,” said Weissman. “If implemented, the order would result in lasting damage to our government’s ability to save lives, protect our environment, police Wall Street, keep consumers safe, and fight discrimination.”

Weissman also criticized Trump’s Executive Order for establishing a new regulatory budgeting system that requires the net cost of new regulations to be zero, meaning that agencies must offset the cost of the new regulations by cutting existing regulations.

“By irrationally directing agencies to consider costs but not benefits of new rules, it would fundamentally change our government’s role from one of protecting the public to protecting corporate profits,” Weissman said.

The public benefits of regulations are often ignored, but according to the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the public benefits of regulations often far exceeded their costs.

OMB has developed a methodology for estimating the costs and benefits of regulations and reports this information to Congress.

Project on Government Oversights reports that the draft of OMB’s most recent report estimates that the annual public benefit of all major regulations over the last ten years amounts to between $208 billion and $627 billion; on the other hand, the cost of these regulations ranges from $57 billion to $85 billion.

In 2005 when the OMB was headed by a Republican appointee of President George W. Bush, its cost-benefit analysis of regulations  found that the annual benefits over a ten-year period amounted to between $69.6 billion and $276.8 billion while the costs ranged from $34.8 billion to $39.4 billion.

In addition to ignoring the public benefits of regulations, the Trump Executive Order forces agencies to make what Rhea Suh, president of the National Resources Defense Council, calls the “false choice” of determining what public benefits must be sacrificed in order to write a new regulations.

 

“President Trump’s order would deny Americans the basic protections they rightly expect,” said Suh. “New efforts to stop pollution don’t automatically make old ones unnecessary.”

The plaintiffs’ suit if successful will prevent agencies from being forced to make these kinds of false choices.

The lawsuit was filed on February 8 in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. According to a statement issued by the plaintiffs, “the complaint alleges that . . . agencies cannot lawfully comply with the president’s order because doing so would violate the statutes under which the agencies operate and the Administrative Procedure Act.”

“When presidents overreach, it is up to the courts to remind them no one is above the law and hold them to the US Constitution,” said Patti Goldman, an Earthjustice attorney and one of the attorneys working for the plaintiffs. “This is one of those times.”