A fantastic friend of labor and longtime fair trade advocate David Bonior, former Democratic Rep from Michigan, had a devastating Op Ed in the Times indicting Obama’s misleading SOTU rhetoric that TPP would create American manufacturing jobs.
And, for America’s remaining manufacturing workers, Nafta put downward pressure on wages by enabling employers to threaten to move jobs offshore during wage bargaining. A 1997 Cornell University study ordered by the Nafta Commission for Labor Cooperation found that as many as 62 percent of union drives faced employer threats to relocate abroad, and the factory shutdown rate following successful union certifications tripled after Nafta.
But when the Center for Economic and Policy Research applied the data to the theory, they found that reductions in consumer prices had not been sufficient to offset losses in wage levels. They found that American workers without college degrees had most likely lost more than 12 percent of their wages to Nafta-style trade, even accounting for the benefits of cheaper goods. This means a loss of more than $3,300 per year for a worker earning the median annual wage of $27,500.
The Nafta data poses a significant challenge for President Obama. As he said on Tuesday, he wants to battle the plague of income inequality and he wants to expand the Nafta model with T.P.P. But he cannot have it both ways.
I stand with Rep. Bonior and with our entire Congressional delegation.