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Manufacturing Illusions

By       Message Robert B. Reich       (Page 2 of 2 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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President Obama praises "unionized plants" -- such as Master Lock, the Milwaukee maker of padlocks he visited last week, which brought back one hundred jobs from China. But the President has not promised that if reelected he'd push for the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to organize a union. He had supported it in the 2008 election but never moved the legislation once elected.

The President has also been noticeably silent on the labor struggles that have been roiling the Midwest -- from Wisconsin's assault on the bargaining rights of public employees, through Indiana's recently-enacted right to work law -- the first in the rust belt.

The fact is, American corporations -- both manufacturing and services -- are doing wonderfully well. Their third quarter profits totaled $2 trillion. That's 19 percent higher than the pre-recession peak five years ago.

But American workers aren't sharing in this bounty. Although jobs are slowly returning, wages continue to drop, adjusted for inflation.

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The fundamental problem isn't the decline of American manufacturing, and reviving manufacturing won't solve it. The problem is the declining power of American workers to share in the gains of the American economy.

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Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

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