Carrier Shutdown Sheds New Light on Trade Fight


The discussion of lost jobs due to bad trade deals can often seem like an academic exercise, with statistics spewed about how agreements like NAFTA or the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have or will impact jobs.

But a very real world example about the damaging effects of trade came to light last month, when air conditioning manufacturer Carrier announced it was closing two facilities in Indianapolis beginning next year and moving them the Mexico. Some 2,100 U.S. workers earning middle-class wages would lose their jobs because of it.

The company’s announcement of the closing was taped by workers, who became understandably irate by the news. The video went viral, and America now had a real-life understanding of how trade can hurt everyday Americans.

A recent New York Times article explains how that moment has fueled the bipartisan brush fire growing against past and proposed trade deals:

“In living rooms and barrooms across Indianapolis, conversations with Carrier workers … crystallize what has become an extraordinary moment in the American political and economic debate. As both political parties belatedly recognize the anxiety and deep-seated anger of blue-collar workers nationwide, the more-trade-is-good bipartisan consensus that has long held sway in Washington is being sundered.

“What isn’t evident in the video — or in the furious debate it has spawned — is that both the company and its soon-to-be former employees are reacting to the same transformative quarter-century of American economic policy aimed at lowering trade barriers and staying globally competitive.”

The Teamsters, of course, are not new to this fight. This union and many others have lined up against TPP now and NAFTA and other trade pacts in the past because they decimate U.S. jobs and lower wages as well. That said, pro-worker allies welcome the new attention on this issue from those on both sides of the aisle.

Results, however, are how victories will be weighed. For the good of workers everywhere, defeating TPP remains paramount.