Recently, performance storyteller Mike Daisey performed an adaptation of his new work, Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory on NPR's This American Life. Daisey traveled to Foxconn's massive manufacturing facilities in Shenzhen, where 400,000 workers make, among other things, Apple products. Daisey, a longtime Apple and technology fan, creates a fresh and horrifying look at the factories where conditions are appalling, and where worker suicides can't be covered up.
We all want technology, but wouldn't it be in our interests to manufacture high-tech goods in the United States, where conditions can be monitored and where wages would go to the people who buy the products? That's the question President Obama asked at the January 11 White House forum, Insourcing American Jobs. Insourcing is, according to the White House, "the decision to keep factories and production facilities here in the United States--or even bring jobs back to the U.S. from overseas." As Obama said:
"I don't want America to be a nation that's primarily known for financial speculation and racking up debt buying stuff from other nations. I want us to be known for making and selling products all over the world stamped with three proud words: "Made in America'."
It will be difficult, as recent reports note:
"The United States lost more than a quarter of its high-tech manufacturing jobs during the past decade as U.S.-based multinational companies placed a growing percentage of their research-and-development operations overseas, the National Science Board reported Tuesday."
Yet, the White House pointed out bright spots in the nation's manufacturing sector: "As of October, American exports totaled $2 trillion - an increase of almost 32 percent above the level in 2009." And "the manufacturing sector is recovering faster than the rest of the economy. Through the course of the past two years, the economy has added 334,000 manufacturing job, and that's the strongest two-year period of manufacturing growth since the 1990s."
Of course, insourcing applies to service jobs, as well. For instance, many U.S. companies moved their calls centers to low-pay, overseas locations - after having received rebates and incentives to establish them here. As a result, CWA supports passage of The United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, which "would protect U.S. consumers and helps level the playing field against companies that off-shore their call center operations overseas."
The United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act would protect US consumers and helps level the playing field against companies that off-shore their call center operations overseas.
Speed Matters and CWA strongly support the White House efforts to increase job retention and growth in the U.S., and to improve working conditions for workers everywhere.
Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory (This American Life, NPR, Jan. 6, 2012)
President Obama at the Insourcing American Jobs Forum (White House release, Jan. 11, 2012)
U.S. losing high-tech manufacturing jobs to Asia (Washington Post, Jan. 18, 2012)
Everything You Need to Know About Insourcing (White House release, Jan. 11, 2012)
The United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act (CWA website)