Union carpentry jobs are taking a beating across North America. United Brotherhood of Carpenters suffers as companies move production overseas.
It started in manufacturing, with factory work moving to China, Mexico, and other low-wage countries where everything form cabinets to shelves could be assembled for a fraction of U.S. labor costs.Now American companies currently employ nearly a million offshore service workers. And it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.
There is a saying that you can’t outsource the building of a bridge. But already union carpenters and millwrights are loosing work.
In the long term the reasons for this is simple. When their jobs go away, the unemployed and underemployed have no money to spend. This reduces demand, which reduces prices, cuts profit margins, and squeeze everyone including unionized construction workers.
As factory jobs vanish, some of those workers find there way to construction and carpentryjobs, frequently putting downward pressure on what companies need to pay. These concerns aren’t hypothetical economic models, but causes of real pain today in the U.B.C families.All across the country there are places where there use to be automobile factories. Many of those factories in place like Detroit and Flint employed union carpenters and millwrights until they shut down.
When automobile plants are gone the union carpentry goes with it. It was a steady income for carpenters and millwrights They would retool and reface every year during shutdown and over the holidays. Even though it’s not a full time job it’s a market that we have lost. It was a month or two at a time and now its gone. When you loose a plant you loose everything that is built up around the plant.
Austin Texas has earned the nickname Silicon Hills because of the technology companies that call the city home. There is alot of work creating "clean rooms" enviroments where microprocessors are made. Building these rooms requires highly trained craftsmen union carpenters. The trouble is, as this work is shipped overseas carpenters are loosing work.
Finally, it turns out that perhaps you can outsource the building of a bridge. Word has it that trade talks currently underway would make it possible for multinational corporations such as to bring laborers from other countries to work on projects in the United States, paying them same low wages they currently make. At least 3 million American jobs have been lost since NAFTA and more are to come.
More On Union Carpentry