Monday, August 5, 2013

TPP would only worsen service industry wages

Low-wage workers across the U.S. stood up last week to restaurant and retail giants to demand better pay and the right to organize. But the problem would only get worse if Congress approves the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

So-called “free trade” deals like the TPP have devastated the American workforce. In the wake of NAFTA and other job-killing trade deals, multinational corporations have increasingly taken what were once good-paying jobs overseas. NAFTA alone has eliminated nearly 700,000 U.S. jobs since it took effect in 1994. In all, U.S.-based multinational corporations cut 3.3 million American workers from their rolls between 1989 and 2011.
Those jobs were replaced by lower-paying service industry jobs in the fast food and retail industries. These, of course, are jobs that can’t be moved overseas. But companies have taken advantage of their employees by paying them as little as possible, often with no guarantee of set hours or benefits. These are not entry-level jobs for teenagers, as more and more fast-food employees are college-educated adults trying to raise families:
All the evidence is seen in an aging service-sector workforce. Data shows that the workforce at McDonald’s and other chains is attracting more middle-age employees, supplanting the youth workforce that once made up the bulk of the fast food jobs. Using U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, NBC News reports that only 16 percent of fast food jobs now go to teens, down from 25 percent a decade ago.
… Many of the older fast food workers are well-educated, with 42 percent of employees over the age of 25 having at least some college education, including 753,000 with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
The real fear, however, is that workers will continue to slide into economic oblivion due to U.S. trade policy. The U.S. is one of 12 nations currently negotiating TPP and it could be the most dangerous trade deal to date due to its shear size.
Part of the problem is that Congress has ignored how trade agreements hurt U.S. the workforce. Celeste Drake, a trade and globalization policy specialist with the AFL-CIO, told House lawmakers Aug. 1 that needs to change:
If working families’ preferences play little or no role in shaping trade and globalization agreements, then it should surprise no one that such agreements harm instead of benefitting workers and their families.
The first step to protecting U.S. jobs  is to make sure Capitol Hill doesn’t approve “fast-track” authority. That would allow the TPP to come before lawmakers for just a quick up-or-down vote, with no amendments and limited debate. You can sign onto a petition that demands Congress fulfill its constitutionally mandated duty to review trade deals here.
It's time to stop letting big corporations ship American jobs overseas and dump good wages and benefits overboard!