How Safe is Your Job?

     How secure is your job in today’s new world economy? A lot of us feel that with UPS being the big winner by carrying all the free trade goods between nations, that our future looks pretty bright. But will the US be able to compete in the drastically altered world marketplace and if we can’t, how safe will our jobs be?
     I think we all agree that the recovery we are supposedly experiencing isn’t producing any real jobs here at home. How many drivers are seeing new manufacturing starting up on their routes? Are there any jobs coming back to America that were off-shored in the past 10 years? UPS is doing a great job of streamlining its operation to compete in the scaled down US economy. But the success of our economy in the past decade was fueled by consumer spending and without good jobs, spending can’t go on forever. Free trade?
     Until American workers can compete in the world market, the captains of industry will continue to overlook us. The problems that Toyota is having has shed some light on just what American workers are up against in this new world competition. Toyota has always kept its operations pretty secret and most of us assumed that Japanese workers were just like us. We always thought it was the low wage Chinese workers that we had to worry about.
     But check this out.
     In an article entitled “Toyota workers raised safety concerns with bosses in 2006 memo“, in the LA Times, the plight of Japanese car workers was exposed. In an effort to kill Detroit carmakers as its main US rivals, Toyota quietly took the hammer to its workforce. “Over the years, even before the recent worldwide recalls, Toyota was warned about declining product quality and worsening working conditions at its Japanese plants.”
      When Japanese Unions reported the abuses, they were ignored at home and abroad. “The report linked Toyota to human trafficking and sweatshop abuse in connection with its importing of foreign guest workers from China and Vietnam to work in its Japanese factories.” “Many are pressured to work overtime without pay, the report claimed, adding that there were signs similar practices were emerging in the United States.” 
This is the new world economy that US workers are supposed to compete in. Not only are wages and working conditions in the third world countries intolerable by our standards, but even in places like Japan we are competing against practices like free overtime. How many hours of free overtime would you work this month to compete in the free trade world economy? 
     “In 2002, at age 30, the father of two collapsed at his desk of sudden heart failure. It was 4:30 a.m. and Kenichi Uchino had finished his assembly line shift hours earlier. But as a team leader, he was responsible for completing his paperwork on his own time.” “The pattern had long concerned Uchino, who routinely worked 14 hours a day. In his final month, his wife says, he worked 144 hours of unpaid overtime, a common practice known as “service to the company.””
So this is what we are up against when we talk about competing in the world market and bringing jobs back to America. This is what free trade has brought and our corporate leaders want us to compete for these new jobs. As the US manufacturing base continues to shrivel, how many drivers will UPS need and what will be expected of us?
     How safe is your job?