Noam Chomsky on Jobs

Political Activist


Recession unemployment jobs won't come back

In the 1930s, unemployed working people could anticipate that their jobs would come back. If you're a worker in manufacturing today (the current level of unemployment in manufacturing is approximately like the Depression) and current tendencies persist, those jobs are going to come back.

The change took place in the 1970s. There are a lot of reasons for it. One of the underlying factors was the falling rate of profit in manufacturing. It led to major changes in the economy--a reversal of the several hundred years of progress towards industrialization and development. Manufacturing production continued overseas--very profitable, but no good for the work force.

Along with that came a significant shift of the economy from productive enterprise--producing things people need or could use--to financial manipulation. The financialization of the economy really took off at that time.

Source: Occupied Media, by Noam Chomsky, p. 26-7 , May 1, 2012

Spread "industrial democracy" of worker-owned enterprises

NYC's City Council, under the influence of the Occupy movement, passed a resolution, against corporate personhood. The resolution establishes that "corporations are not entitled to the entirety of protections or 'rights' of natural persons, specifically so that the expenditure of corporate money to influence the electoral process is no longer a form of constitutionally protected speech" and calls on Congress "to begin the process of amending the Constitution."

In the longer term, there are many things that can be done. For example, in Ohio, there's a significant spread of worker-owned enterprises. A lot of this derived from a major effort, 30 years ago, when US Steel wanted to sell off one of its major installations. The work force and the community offered to buy it and run it themselves--industrial democracy, essentially. That went to the courts and they lost; although with sufficient support they could have won. But even the failure, like many failures, has spawned other efforts.

Source: Occupied Media, by Noam Chomsky, p. 60-1 , May 1, 2012

Obama backed EFCA, then visited scab/lockout company

A labor journalist wrote that "while running for office, Obama said he strongly backed the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a long-overdue labor law reform measure that should be part of his promised economic stimulus plan." However, when Obama took office, EFCA quickly vanished. Pres. Obama decided to show his solidarity with workers by giving a talk at a Caterpillar plant. The hardline CEO of Caterpillar rescinded the contract with United Auto Workers in 1991, instituted a lockout, threatened to bring in "permanent replacement workers" (scabs), and later did so, for the first time in generations in manufacturing industry. The practice was illegal in other industrial countries. It is hard to imagine that Obama and his advisers purposely chose a corporation that led the way to undermine labor rights. More likely, they were unaware of the facts.
Source: Hopes and Prospects, by Noam Chomsky, p.217-218 , Jun 1, 2010

Free Trade Agreements move jobs to non-union areas

Under Reagan, the US managed to drive labor costs way below the level of our competitors (except for Britain). Thatís produced consequences not only in Mexico & the US but all across the industrial world. For example, one of the effects of the so-called free trade agreement with Canada was to stimulate a big flow of jobs from Canada to the southeast US, because thatís an essentially non-union area. Wages are lower; fewer benefits; workers can barely organize. So thatís an attack against Canadian workers
Source: Secrets, Lies, and Democracy, by Noam Chomsky, p. 19 , May 2, 1994

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Page last updated: Oct 28, 2021