The ‘Other Outsourcing’ is Just as Bad for Workers


Concerns over outsourcing have been often raised in the years since the enactment of NAFTA caused untold thousands of jobs to be shipped overseas. But that is not the only kind of outsourcing everyday Americans should be worried about.

Increasingly, middle-class workers are being jeopardized by the decision of many U.S. companies to subcontract duties they’ve traditionally handled to other employers, who in turn either fire workers or slash their wages and benefits.  Those left in the wreckage are either forced to find other jobs or get by on less while big business maximizes profits.

As an article in the Los Angeles Times states, “Unlike the effect of offshoring, with its relocation of jobs and plants abroad, economists know relatively little about the extent and effects of decades of subcontracting production and services to third parties in the U.S. But what research has been done suggests the practice has played a significant role in the nation’s troubling trends of stagnating wages and rising inequality.”

The business website Marketplace seconded the growing role of the movement. “Corporations have quietly been shedding permanent employees for years. Not just through offshoring and technology. American business farms out a surprising amount of work that used to be done in-house, from HR to IT, from marketing to maintenance. Witness the growth of the U.S. staffing industry, especially since the recession. The idea is to focus on ‘core competencies’ and farm out the rest.”

Workers are suffering because of this. And the Teamsters have seen it firsthand. The union joined workers at salad processor Taylor Farms in Tracy, Calif. in calling out its use to temp workers at the same facility where some are employed by the company. Salaries and protections were unequal. And they succeed in getting legislation passed in California that increased the culpability of employers who use temps in 2014. But the struggle continues.

If the U.S. is to truly narrow the economic divide in this country, it must address this issue head on and make sure workers are not the victims for corporate America’s excess greed.