Will The Gutting Of Midwest Manufacturing Continue?

Organized labor delivered its votes to President Obama nine days ago, as did voters who at least sympathize with the causes of labor. Now the question is, will Obama deliver back—and by deliver, I don’t mean coming through for the elites who run the unions and profit off the dues, but for the authentic interests of the rank-and-file. There’s little reason for optimism.

The reports surfaced earlier this week that labor leaders met with Obama regarding what to do about the “fiscal cliff” the overly dramatic Washington term for a needed deficit reduction package that will automatically trigger on January 1 if the White House and Congress don’t reach an alternate accord. Nowhere in the reports was it evident that labor was willing to flex its muscle in to pressuring the president into a change on the trade policies that continue to gut Midwestern manufacturing.

Midwestern votes handed Obama the White House. What will he hand them back?

Both parties have a record of running roughshod over manufacturing workers, and Obama has continued in that bipartisan tradition. The most recent example came in October 2011 he submitted free trade deals with South Korea, Panama & Colombia to Congress for approval. All three nations, particularly the latter two, have lower wage & environmental standards than the United States. The lowering and elimination of tariff barriers (taxes placed on imports) mean corporations are free to move plants to these countries, pay substandard wages and ship back into the lucrative American market without penalty.

The Congress, led by the Republican House, enthusiastically passed all three agreements. Apparently Speaker Boehner and Obama can play nice together on certain topics. And the agreements themselves all had their origins under George W. Bush. Apparently this is one mess Obama wasn’t anxious to blame on his predecessor.

It probably comes as no surprise to the average voter that the GOP elite would do the bidding of corporations. The leadership of the Democratic Party, the current White House occupant included, have done a much better job spinning themselves as defenders of the working class, even as they cooperate with the implementation of policies that continue to destroy the Rustbelt.

The reason Obama—and the Democrats in general—are successful in this bait-and-switch game is that the leaders of organized labor cooperate. The elite leadership is more interested in a radical left-wing political agenda, while its members want wages, benefits and job security. The elite leadership knows they can keep their power base just as easily by bringing more government workers into the mix, thus making their private sector counterparts expendable.

Right now is the time for the rank-and-file in the Midwest to stand up and be counted. They handed Obama a win in every state except Indiana. It is he that is properly subservient to their economic interests, not they to his left-wing agenda. Demand that Democrats in the Senate and in the White House start the process of repealing these agreements and replace them worker-friendly trade policies that base tariff rates on the trading nation’s wage and environmental standards.

I didn’t vote for President Obama, first and foremost because of his radical pro-abortion posture and his assault on religious liberty, but also because I’ve been quite convinced of his double-talk on working-class economic issues. Those that did vote for him ought to call in their chits now.

Dan Flaherty is the author of Fulcrum, an Irish Catholic novel set in postwar Boston with a traditional Democratic mayoral campaign at its heart, and he is the editor-in-chief of TheSportsNotebook.com



  • MichaelP71

    There are people who nees these jobs here. Not everyone can be a knowledge warrior. Some people excel by working with their hands. Seems like to me an “unimportant” class of people are being pushed to the fringe and down a class.

  • Hoosier

    It wasn’t Indiana’s fault.

  • Kevin Bensema

    Free trade agreements are not inherently anti-labor. “Substandard” can be a relative term – if a worker overseas is making half what a US worker would make, but has enough money to support his family and put some of that away for the future, that’s a fair wage. Workers overseas shouldn’t be denied the opportunity to compete because in America we have a ridiculously high standard for ‘the good life.’

    I really think don’t think it’s wrong to ship jobs overseas. Workers in South Korea are just as much people as workers in America – as long as it’s not using slave labor, free trade agreements allow American consumers to pay less (so lower wages here don’t mean as much) and foreign workers to better their lot.

  • Joe M

    Looks like unions just ran Hostess Brands down the drain. Obama bailed out the auto companies. Will he bail out the second largest bread producer in the world?

    • Randall

      Here we go folks. Now that the Kenyan usurper has been reelected, Unions and Obama are collaborating to destroy private business. Fun fact: Michelle asked B. Hussein to destroy Hostess first to get rid of snack foods, so she can pimp her ridiculous “mandatory health food” agenda. Entenmann better watch their backs, they are next. No more coffee cakes. Everyone will have to eat government-mandated granola and organic carrots for Sunday breakfast.

      • GoP is Dead II

        There ya go again. Nice job of broadening your tent by blaming the workers. The reality is that the Wall St. hedge fund managers who have been running the company into the ground for the past eight years have squeezed every last cent out of Hostess, putting their inexperienced chums with diddley experience in the baking industry in upper management positions. It’s big business, high finance, and atrocious management that has driven Hostess into the ground. Will these guys pay the price or will the workers? Guess who will pad their pockets with the sell off? Uh, not the 18,000 workers. So here you guys go again, rallying in support of the greed of the select few instead of standing up for the salt of the earth who have offered all sorts of concessions to management but who will now suffer as a consequence of that greed. You guys really know how to broaden that tent by parroting the right wing talking points of TV and radio personalities who don’t even believe the nonsense they’re peddling. I mean, gee, you don’t even really believe the stuff you’re writing, or are you really that silly?

        • chris1616

          Hostess was run
          by Wall Street hedge fund Ripplewood (big Democrat donors in that fund) which is headed by Tim Collins….A DEMOCRAT with ties to
          Dick Gephardt. Look up how much they donated to Obama. Tim, the greedy manager running the company, quadrupled his pay at the expense of the salt of the earth workers.You need to stop getting your information from the Daily Kosmanaut- it makes you look like a fool.

          • Independent

            So why are you siding with Ripplewood and Tim Collins? Shouldn’t you be supporting the workers? Oh, I forgot, Republicans will support Democrats when they similarly happen to be greedy businessmen. Birds of a feather, peas in a pod . . .

          • Joe M

            Who is siding with Ripplewood or Collins? The point is that the people you wrote are the bad guys happen to be on your side.

          • Union Worker

            It’s very clear that you are both siding with corporate finance and management whether it be Republican or Democrat and first, foremost, and always blaming workers and our unions. To me and many like me, you know . . . the 99%, this isn’t a Democrat-Republican issue. It’s an issue of right vs. wrong, justice vs. greed,. callousness, and reckless profiteering of the few at the expense of the many. You only seem to care about pressing Republican talking points which betrays your absolute partisanship

          • chris1616

            Not siding with them at all. Just pointing out the plank in your eye.

  • Rob

    I guess the free market isn’t as efficient as sometimes claimed on this site…

  • http://www.facebook.com/chansen.stone Chansen Stone

    We can’t grow our economy by isolating it from Asia. We have to compete and fair trade agreements allow us to compete by opening our nation, removing tariffs, and insuring that our intellectual property is (more) protected. There really isn’t anything honest at all in this article.

    • Frank Samson

      C.S., may we kindly ask that you make a comment without casting aspersions on the author? Disagree if you must, bu please be charitable.

      • D. Day

        May we kindly ask that an article be published on CV bereft of aspersions and nonsense? Union leaders have been very critical of President Obama agreeing to NAFTA-like agreements. But they realize that the same and worse would be the result if the Republican Party ever takes the White House again. So please lobby the congressmen in the GOP to oppose these types of agreements instead of always being supportive of them and anti-union to boot.

        • Lew Alcind

          D.Day, you are not helping.

    • Randall

      What I can’t understand is that the election is over and the anti-Catholic Soros trolls are still out there, spewing their lies and filth on good internet sites like this one. Can someone please ban users like Chansen, who are obviously only here to stir up discontent?

    • Joe M

      Chansen. I agree that protectionism is not the best route for America, rustbelt workers included. However, I don’t see anything “dishonest” in this article. It’s true that Obama and other Democrats have spun themselves as protectionist. But, other than symbolic bailouts, they haven’t done anything I’m aware of to change current trade agreements.

    • Giacomo Sephard

      Perhaps it’s not nice for me to admit it but I rather enjoy knowing that despite their supposed electoral “victory,” folks like Chansen are still bitter and resentful enough to be lashing out at their perceived “enemies” over the internet. The Young Democrats have become like a little army of Richard Nixon’s (rest his soul), only not as clever or effective. And even Mr. Nixon’s administration lost in the end.

      • Joe M

        Good point. Their mere presence on this site indicates that deep down, they don’t believe that this election was the “mandate” they claim it is.

        • GoP is Dead

          Just like deep down, we knew Obama was going to lose because you kept presenting “proof” from Faux News that Romney was going to win.
          Perhaps it’s not nice for me to admit it but I rather enjoy knowing that the Republican Party has morphed into the un-American party, championing overseas investment and jobs for foreign workers at the expense of jobs for American workers who would thus purportedly be able to pay less for cheaply made foreign goods (if we had jobs). Thank you, K. Bensema!

          • Brian A. Cook

            You would like to see a one party rule of America- as long as it is the Democrats who do the ruling. That is refered to as a DICTATORSHIP. Obama is our Chavez, our Castro. You may get your wish!
            “A democracy is always
            temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of
            government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that
            voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the
            public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for
            the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury,
            with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose
            fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.”

          • Jokerman

            Romney was your Franco. You got your wish and you did yourselves in. And next time around, you will even try to out-Franco yourselves. You are so dependable. It’s so nice to have reliable folks like you around. There is order in the universe. He-he.

          • Joe M

            I have not posted anything from Fox News on this site, let alone anything meant to be proof that Romney would win. Perhaps if you had more confidence in your convictions you would be less compelled to embellish by lying about people you disagree with.



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