The problem in the United States is not what workers do or what they produce. It’s how they do what they do.
Employers, not workers, are the ones who decide how labor is performed. And when they can outsource jobs to contractors—and, as a result, avoid unions, workplace regulations, and adequate pay and benefits—they can exercise even more power over their workers, including of course the ones they continue to employ.
That, and not the loss of manufacturing jobs to foreign companies, is the real problem facing the American working-class.
A big reason that US manufacturing jobs paid well was unionization. This is also a reason that factories were exported to lower labor cost regions. Bringing manufacturing jobs back to the US won't necessarily lead to a return to the wages paid previously when unionization was strong in the US and labor power was able to confront owner/management power through collective bargaining. US labor power has declined significantly since then and there is no indication of it returning.
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David F. Ruccio | Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame