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Outsourcing Jobs, Union-Style

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Well-known member
Apr 12, 2008
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real world
Outsourcing Jobs, Union-Style

Posted 07:00 PM ET

Politics: These days, what would a firm that outsourced 400,000 U.S. jobs be called? The answer: labor union. Monday's Canada-Colombia free-trade pact is its masterpiece.

Leo Gerard, the proudly Canadian president of the United Steelworkers Union, is one of many who ought to stand up and take a bow.

He and his fellow Big Labor union bosses loudly opposed the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement, using their political muscle to keep the already-negotiated deal on ice in Congress and the White House for nearly five years.

It's come at a massive cost to American workers' jobs.

Gerard's native land put its free trade agreement with Colombia into force Monday, meaning tariffs have been cut to zero on 80% of all goods Canadian companies sell to Colombia.

Meanwhile American companies continue to shell out tariffs of 15% to 50% more.

That means American market share on wheat, barley, chemicals and machine-tool parts — made of USWA steel — that once belonged to America will shift to Canada. Already U.S. market share is down — corn, for one, plunged 56% in 2009. It may go to zero.

Now hundreds of thousands of jobs will also be going to Canada, instead of the U.S.
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How's that for an outsourcing accomplishment? By opposing free trade deals, Big Labor is shipping jobs abroad by the hundreds of thousands. It claims to represent the little guy, then kills jobs in the U.S.

Not only will 250,000 high-paying American export jobs not be created — as estimated by the U.S. International Trade Commission — but nearly 400,000 American jobs will actually be lost too.

That's what a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study found if the U.S. failed to pass its free trade pacts with Colombia, South Korea and Panama — valued at $13 billion in total trade — while other nations signed their own.

And now, it's happening.

Besides Canada going live with Colombia free trade on Aug. 15, the European Union put its own free trade deal with South Korea into force last July 1. In just six weeks, Europe's exports to Korea have shot up 16%.

The big loser? Us. As in, U.S.

"Today's entry into force of the trade agreement between Canada and Colombia means that — for no good reason — U.S. workers and exporters are now disadvantaged in Colombia, a key export market for American-made goods and services," said House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas in a joint statement.

"Our trade agreement with Colombia was signed in 2006, years before Canada and Colombia even began their negotiations."

Considering the huge scale of job outsourcing, what could unions' opposition to free trade possibly have gained them?

When a company outsources, its motive is clear: to cut costs, improve productivity and be near vibrant markets. That lets the enterprise expand and perhaps boost jobs here.

But unions gained nothing for their workers by opposing free trade. Their stated motive was simply to punish Colombia.

Unfortunately, their strategy of forcing American companies to pay $3.5 billion in tariffs to another government is both damaging and absurd.

Their narrative — including claims that Colombia's government is a systematic human rights violator — make no sense either, given that companies trade with companies in Colombia, not the government.

But the lies fell like rain — such as the canard that Colombia persecutes labor union activists. In fact, Colombia's human rights situation has sharply improved following the freeing of its markets in 2002.

A recent State Department country report noted that a union member was six times safer in Colombia than a member of the general public.

Nor is Colombia the "most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists," as Big Labor's media meme goes. Last year, National Public Radio's Juan Forero reported that that title actually belongs to Venezuela.

Canada paid these lies no heed. Now it's snapped up Colombia's market. Somehow, Big Labor seems strangely unbothered that Canada has the market — and the jobs.

It all shows the hypocrisy of Big Labor, whose opposition to free trade pacts isn't about saving jobs, but about losing them.

Are they proud of their disgraceful record?

With Canada taking what was once our market, Big Labor owns this jobs disaster.


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