babble home - news for the rest of us
today's active topics

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
FAQ | Forum Home
  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» babble   » walking the talk   » labour and consumption   » Labor's Savvy Charge on China Trade

Email this thread to someone!    
Author Topic: Labor's Savvy Charge on China Trade
Babbler # 195

posted 21 March 2004 06:12 PM      Profile for robbie_dee     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
This sort of follows-up on some of the strands in the Outsourcing thread, but I thought it was different enough to merit its own topic.

Labor's Savvy Charge on China Trade (Business Week 3/19/04)

Say this for the AFL-CIO: It knows how to put George Bush on the spot. As the Presidential campaign centered on jobs and foreign competition heats up, the labor federation fired what could be a potent election-year broadside: It asked the Bush Administration on Mar. 16 to decide whether worker repression lets China price its exports below their true market value, thus unfairly taking U.S. jobs.
LOGICAL LINK. Despite the politics, the AFL-CIO's 100-page brief marks a milestone of sorts in the debate over trade and labor rights. For years, labor and its allies have demanded that labor standards be included in trade pacts. But their complaints often have been dismissed as self-interested protectionism. Now, for the first time, labor's so-called fair traders have articulated a coherent intellectual position that makes a logical link between trade and labor rights.

Even some ardent free traders think the AFL-CIO's petition must be taken seriously. "You can't just dismiss it as protectionist. In a market economy, wages are set by the free interaction between workers and management, which doesn't exist in China," says William A. Reinsch, the President of the National Foreign Trade Council, which represents 300 large U.S. multinationals such as Boeing.

Labor's argument is so elementary that it's astonishing no one has ever spelled it out in such detail before. The brief contends that China's well-documented labor repression allows its factory owners to pay less than they would if the government enforced its own labor laws. These savings in turn lower the price of China's exports to the U.S., giving it an unfair trade advantage -- much as a direct government subsidy to a factory owner would do.

From: Iron City | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 3838

posted 21 March 2004 08:56 PM      Profile for beluga2     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Good. I've been saying some variation of this for years about places like China, or Indonesia, or wherever. I've always thought that the cost of rubber hoses, electrodes, fingernail-extractors, etc., should be counted as a direct government subsidy to the foreign corporations that benefit from the lower wages thus obtained.

It's always been a bit bizarre that intellectual-property theft (like, say, pirating CD's) is seen as intolerable under the rules of "free trade", whereas goons beating the shit out of labour organizers is not.

[ 21 March 2004: Message edited by: beluga2 ]

From: vancouvergrad, BCSSR | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 2777

posted 21 March 2004 11:35 PM      Profile for radiorahim     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Unfortunately, the world being what it is, you sometimes have to wait a while for an argument to take hold.

China has now pretty much obtained a world monopoly on the production of "light" manufactured products.

At the same time the United States, China's largest export market is experiencing massive job losses, and those losses have even moved into the so-called "white collar" sector.

So now, turning up the heat on labour conditions in China has become a "mainstream" idea.

From: a Micro$oft-free computer | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged

All times are Pacific Time  

Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic    Move Topic    Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
Hop To:

Contact Us | | Policy Statement

Copyright 2001-2008