Election Or Not, What Happens To Sensata-Style Workers?

A group of workers whose jobs are being outsourced to China is touring the “rust belt.” They are trying to make an election point. But what about the day after the election?

Sensata Workers – More Jobs Going To China

Two weeks ago I wrote about the workers at the Sensata factory, You Should Know About Sensata – It’s What The Election Is About,

Workers facing outsourcing by Bain Capital are camping outside the Sensata factory in Freeport, Ill. They are asking Mitt Romney to show up and help save their jobs. They say they will stay camped there until Romney shows up and stands with them – or with Bain.
Mitt Romney can can use this to show us if he wants to be president of the whole United States, or just president of, by and for the outsourcing 1 percenters.

All Mitt has to do is show up and help these workers. He says he is not part of Bain, and wants to be President of all of the country. Mitt Romney can can use this to show us if he wants to be president of the whole United States, or just president of, by and for the outsourcing 1 percenters. He could – and should – do that.

The Bain Workers Bus Tour

Workers from Sensata have left Missouri and are stopping in are stopping in Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, the presidential debate in Hempstead, NY — and are (eventually) heading toward Boston where both Bain Capital and the Romney headquarters are located.They want Romney and Bain to ask them not to send their jobs to China. You can read about their progress at BainWorkerBus.com.

The thing is, these workers might be at this plant, run by this company, but there are millions of workers – millions – in the same boat. Or whose jobs have left or are leaving on the same boat, anyway.

The Chart That Says It All

It is more than just these Sensata workers — they are a symbol of the damage that our terrible “trade” policies have done and are doing to our country. A company can just close a factory here, open it there, bring the same stuff back to sell in the same stores here and call that “trade?” And they can get tax breaks for doing that? They can use the threat of doing that to bust unions and cut our wages? Polls show that We, the People overwhelmingly want this changed, yet it doesn’t change.
Look at the chart in this post at Think Progress: After Nearly A Decade Of Declines, Manufacturing Jobs Begin Rebound. It shows what happened to our manufacturing base literally immediately after George ‘W’ Bush took office. Seriously. Look at this chart and see if you can just guess why we have such a terrible economy today.

During the Bush administration we lost more than 50,000 factories and at least 6 million manufacturing jobs directly to China. (Never mind the effect on the supply chains, the grocery and clothing stores where those people shopped, etc… The foreclosures, the bankruptcies, the misery…) We have a huge trade deficit with China — money that we send to China and then complain that there is not enough money to do things here.
Imagine how our economy would be doing if we had actual trade with China, where we buy things from them and they buy just as many things from us?

After The Election

After the election the country is going to be diverted into a battle over how much more damage we can do to ourselves. Instead of addressing the trade deficit — the cause of our budget and jobs deficit — our plutocrat-funded elites are going to play a Shock Doctrine game of whipping up hysteria about the budget deficit. They are going to terrify the public about “the fiscal cliff” that occurs when the Bush tax cuts expire, and when the deal that put off the hostage-taking over the debt ceiling cuts the military budget, and then the safety net.
Instead of addressing jobs and inequality and wage stagnation and trade and climate and crumbling infrastructure and manufacturing policy and, and, and, they are going to all try to outdo each other offering ways to cut the things that We, the People do for each other — all to keep taxes low for the super-wealthy. Some call this the “Grand Bargain” where they offer up austerity — working so well in Europe — instead of jobs.
Bob Borosage wrote about an alternative approach. Since Jobs Fix Deficits, let’s wait on attacking the budget deficit until there are enough jobs. He calls this a “Jobs Trigger” – enough jobs triggers the time to cut the deficit. From Good Jobs First: No Grand Bargain Without A Jobs Trigger,

Poll after poll shows that voters are concerned most of all about jobs and the economy. Yet in Washington and on the campaign trail, attention has turned to deficits and how to get our books in order.
[. . .] The presidential candidates and Congress should be pressed to adopt a budget version of the “jobs trigger.” Putting people back to work is the first step to getting our books in order. So Congress should pass a fiscal trigger as part of any grand bargain: Comprehensive deficit reduction measures will kick in only when the economy is moving, and unemployment comes down to 5 percent or so.

Please go read the whole post, We must all demand a jobs trigger after the election. Jobs first, then fix the deficits.
And to fix jobs, we have to fix “trade.” We have to stop this idea that it is OK to close a factory here, open it there, then send the same goods back here to sell in the same stores, and use the threat of doing that to even more of us to force wage and benefit cuts, bust unions, etc.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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