The Current Occupant came to Nike's headquarters this week to tout the latest wage slavery deal for corporate America. Even though it added 2000 professional jobs at its headquarters to fulfill its obligation under a controversial tax break served on gold plate by desperate legislators, most of Nike's manufacturing work is done overseas in low-wage zones. Americans make only 1% of the products that produced $27.8 billion in revenue. Last year a third of Nike's remaining 13,922 American production workers were laid off. The corporate search for lower wage costs across the globe is relentless. When wages went up in China, Nike switched most of its production to Vietnam. Vietnamese production workers earn less than 60¢/hr. About 340,000 workers slave for Nike in Vietnam.
The downward pressure on American wages will be even greater if the Trans Pacific Partnership goes through. Vietnam would be a member state of the trade agreement. As the capitalist Cato Instute puts it, such trade pacts "lower the risk premium" on offshoring jobs. Americans displaced from better-paying manufacturing jobs are forced to compete in the labor surplus for domestic employment at lower wages (translation: McJobs) according to government statistics. Nike is undoubtably pushing for TPP because it would get yet another tax break in the form of reduced tariffs on Vietnamese and Malaysian-made goods. As if the company needed more subsidies. Right now Nike pays less than $10 to produce a shoe it sells for over $100 according to labor expert, Professor Robert Reich. How many American export goods can a Vietnamese worker at sixty cents an hour afford? Obviously the answer is not many, if any. But cheap labor can never get too sweet for the corporate fat cats and their political front men.