The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Free Trade Isn’t the Problem. It’s Capitalism

Mar 28, 2016

A lot of politicians running for president this year, especially Trump and Sanders, have made an issue about trade agreements and free trade, saying that this is the reason why there are not enough jobs. Yes, it is true that corporations will move some jobs to wherever they can get the work done more cheaply, sometimes to other countries, or other states. But this is only a small part of the problem.

When politicians tell people that the reason for lack of jobs and low wages is trade agreements, they are not telling the truth. They are covering up for the corporate bosses who are cutting wages and moving work right here inside the country. The auto industry is the perfect example of this. Today, the auto companies are building as many cars and trucks in the U.S. as they were 25 years ago, but with less than half the numbers of workers. Where did all the jobs go? A lot of them were eliminated through speed up. Every year the companies balance out jobs and add this work on the remaining workers. Today every autoworker does twice as much work as they were doing 25 years ago.

Other jobs at Ford, GM and Chrysler were eliminated through outsourcing - moving work to other companies, not in Mexico or China, but to lower wage companies right here in the U.S., in Michigan and the Detroit area. Look at all the work at DTP that used be done by Ford workers, but is now out sourced: Clean-up done by Hydrochem workers, railcars loaded by Autoport; parts delivered by Ceva and Penske; parts sorted by CLI, door panels and IPs built by DMS and Faurecia workers. Thousands of Ford jobs have been lost by speed-up and outsourcing. In fact, many of these jobs are still here, but being done at lower wages.

This is what the corporate strategy is – work people faster for less money. This is the real problem. And this is what the politicians from both parties do their very best to cover up.