As CEO Dough Rises, Workers Fall as Flat as a Pancake

Pulling out may seem like a good idea in theory, but it sure as hell ain’t foolproof. In fact, sometimes it can be devastating.  

Take Indianapolis-based heating, air conditioning and refrigeration manufacturer Carrier. In February, the corporation announced to its 1,400 employees that their jobs were being sent to Mexico.

“This is strictly a business decision,” a Carrier executive told the bereaved and angry crowd of workers.

Newsflash, Carrier: This is NOT strictly business.

By pulling out of Indianapolis, the corporation guts the city’s school system of essential tax dollars, strips thousands of families of their incomes, and decimates the whole region. Carrier isn’t just shuttering a factory. It’s shuttering an entire community. And because it’s a corporation, it’s laughing all the way to the bank.

But, of course, the United States treats corporations like Carrier as royalty for behavior like this through tax breaks. CEOs also get monstrous bonus packages -- at an average of $15 million per year – for throwing Americans out of work when they can be replaced by workers paid a pittance in countries that allow environmental degradation.

Carrier gets the advantage of paying workers in Mexico the same amount per day that their workers here in America make per hour. The CEOs and shareholders reap all of the benefits.  American workers and communities suffer all of the pitfalls.

A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute found that the United States lost roughly 2.4 million manufacturing jobs to another such low-wage country -- China -- from 2001 to 2013. That doesn’t even include the past three years, and it doesn’t include jobs lost to nations such as Mexico and India.

What these corporations fail to care about are the long-term, unintended consequences of their actions. They do what feels good to them in the moment without any concern for the intense damage they will cause in the future.

Jobs lost means diminished, if not extinguished, American manufacturing capacity. This places the United States in dangerous territory in terms of economic and national security. Offshoring factories and jobs also means reliance on foreign countries for essential manufactured commodities and an inability to compete in the global market. If this rampant corporate withdrawal from America continues, regaining strength as a nation, if it’s even possible, would take decades.

The temporary satisfaction corporations and their CEOs receive by practicing unsafe and selfish business ethics puts the entire country at risk.

The last thing corporations like Carrier should be doing is screwing the very workers whose labor made them profitable by pulling out for ill-conceived, short-term benefit.

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