Sunday, December 20, 2015

Pro-Corporate Democrat Hates American Jobs

Senator Barbara Mikulski (D- Maryland) endorsed Hillary Clinton for President, who claims she is now against the TPP trade agreement. Mikulski's website says "Mikulski announces increased support for U.S. jobs and innovation ... TPP, TTIP and other trade negotiations on the agenda for FY15 will bring jobs to the U.S. and increase export opportunities for American companies." So it appears she supports the Triple Trade Treaty Threat to American workers.

The Economic Policy Institute says: Senator Mikulski wrecks labor standards in H-2B guestworker program:

Senator Barbara Mikulski wants the public to believe that replacing U.S. workers with lower-paid foreign guestworkers is somehow good for us and good for the economy. That’s nonsense. The economy needs good-paying jobs for U.S. workers, not jobs that pay $5 an hour less and get filled by indentured workers recruited from foreign countries.

Sen. Mikulski claims that her efforts to gut the Department of Labor’s H-2B visa program regulations are all about trying to protect the Maryland seafood industry, which she claims is at risk because few Americans are willing to take oyster and crab-shucking jobs for minimum wage.

What she doesn’t tell the public is that the H-2B visa program she’s expanding—while simultaneously gutting all of its rules—is used mostly to bring in landscape laborers and gardeners, not crab pickers. Her claim that bringing in one poorly paid gardener creates four jobs in the U.S. economy—a claim concocted by a conservative think tank—is utter baloney.

You can find some economist somewhere who will defend almost any claim, but that particular claim is indefensible. Bringing in landscape laborers on H-2B visas who are indentured to their employers and can’t bargain for better wages and working conditions lowers wages for Americans who would otherwise get those jobs, and it leaves more money in the employer’s pocket, but it doesn’t create additional jobs. As EPI has shown, there are no labor shortages in landscaping or other H-2B occupations, but employers want H-2B workers instead of Americans because they can control them and keep them in shocking conditions.

H-2B visas are also used to bring in indentured construction laborers at wages far below prevailing wages. Ask a construction worker in Baltimore what he thinks about seeing what used to be decent-paying construction jobs go to people from thousands of miles away when thousands of Maryland construction workers are still unemployed.

If Sen. Mikulski weren’t so concerned about the corporations itching to bring in another 200,000 guestworkers, she could guarantee an adequate supply of seafood workers by restricting the 66,000 H-2B visas already available to jobs where a real labor shortage has been found—where employers offer higher wages and still can’t find qualified workers—rather than supporting an amendment that drastically cuts wages and labor protections and opening the gates for a race to the bottom

Senator Barbara Mikulski will not be running for re-election, so it will be interesting to see what lobbyist she will go to work for after leaving office.


  1. The "other side of the coin" (so to speak) is the practice of foreign/guest-worker remittances: sending most/almost-all of one's paycheck back to family in the home country [and, thus, living four-(or more)-to-a-room here, in cramped homes and apartments, sometimes "hot bunking" (see USN for details).

    1. "See USN for details" --- what is this?

    2. "Hot bunking" is a USN (US Navy) term for having slightly more bunks than one-half of the crew complement; while one-shift is working, the other shift is sleeping; thus, the bunks are "rotated". IIRC, it's common practice on subs, not on surface vessels.

  2. To understand the real changes in the US economy over the last 60 years, compare two eras at General Electric:

    “Stockholders are confined to a maximum return equivalent to a risk premium. The remaining profit stays in the enterprise, is paid out in higher wages, or is passed on to the customer.” - Owen Young, President, General Electric Company (1922-1945)

    “The shareholder is king - the residual claimant, and is entitled to the whole pot of earnings.” - Jack Welch, Chairman and CEO, General Electric Company (1981 – 2001)

    Corporations today no longer serve as providers of large scale opportunity by building and maintaining strong commitments to their workers and their communities. Instead, their main function is to maximize share price (shareholder value) and compensation for top employees.

    As the shareholder revolution took off in the 1980’s, corporations largely stopped borrowing money to invest in business expansion, and instead borrowed money to return to shareholders in the form of dividends and stock buybacks.

    High corporate profits no longer lead to a higher level of investment. The corporate shareholder revolution has benefited from historically low interest rates, which has driven the cost of borrowing to historically low levels.

    Sanders is the only candidate talking about this. It ain't just the global economy that is driving down wages folks.