Can Doing What Seems to be The Right Thing Turn Out To Be The Wrong Thing?
I n Promoting Protectionism, American Labor May Be Putting US Workers At Risk
By Danny Schechter
Author of Plunder: Investigating Our Economic Calamity
Leo Gerard of the United Steelworkers union is one of America's most progressive and outspoken labor leaders. I was impressed when I met him at a Cornell University conference that brought environmental organizations and labor unions together to fuse a forward looking consensus on the need for green jobs as key to the transformation of our declining industrial base.
A union blog speaks of us being in the best of times and the worst of times. The best because we finally have a Democratic president sensitive to labor concerns. The worst because American workers are up against hard times as unemployment grows because of a financial crisis that labor had no role in. Among the trends cited: "30 years of stagnant and declining wages while workers productivity climbed by 75%; lower take home pay than in 1973; Yawning inequality."
Yet for all the union's activism and militancy, it has also been looking for someone to blame for this situation. Rather than focus on Wall Street's predatory practices or financing job outsourcing, it has turned its anger on workers on the other side of the world. China has become "the enemy." It is seeking protectionism in the belief that that can save American jobs.
Their target are tire companies in China that manufacture the least expensive tires on the market for cars and light trucks and sell them in America. The union argues that its imports are stealing American jobs and "disrupting the market" and has petitioned a government body, the International Trade Commission (ITC), to slap limits on them.