Report: Top 100 federal contractors offshored tens of thousands of jobs
David Shankbone (CC)

WASHINGTON (PAI) — The top 100 federal contractors, including firms such as General Electric, General Motors and United Technologies, sent almost 59,000 U.S. jobs overseas from 1995-2015, a new report from consumer watchdog group Public Citizen reveals. And that may be a large underestimate, it adds.

Using U.S. data about the contracts the firms hold, plus federal figures on workers and firms that seek federal Trade Adjustment Assistance – a small program that’s supposed to aid U.S. workers who lose their jobs to unfair trade – the report found the height of the offshoring occurred in 2008, during the depths of the Great Recession.

But the larger point, said Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch and the union-backed campaign Good Jobs Nation, is that billions of taxpayer dollars are still going to firms that export U.S. jobs, and they shouldn’t.

The report, Federal Contracting With Corporate Offshorers Continues, shows the largest federal contractor, Lockheed Martin, holds $43 billion in federal contracts. It also offshored 953 jobs whose workers applied for and got TAA aid.

The #2 contractor, Boeing, holds $26 billion in contracts and offshored 1,238 jobs.

The report said the pattern of letting federal contractors offshore U.S. jobs continues under the GOP Trump administration. That’s despite the president’s campaign trail promises and despite his highly publicized “rescue” of some 700 jobs Steelworkers hold at a Carrier plant outside Indianapolis. But full data for 2016 and the start of this year are not available yet.

Nevertheless, news reports have pointed out that since Carrier is a subsidiary of United Technologies, the firm’s overall reliance on federal business could have played a part in UT’s decision to save some – but not all – of the Indianapolis Carrier jobs.

GE, whose former president, Jack Welch, became infamous for saying he wanted to put factories on a barge to escape U.S. taxes, regulations, decent wages and labor law, finished first in offshoring jobs under TAA. Some 8,736 GE workers have received the aid. GE holds $1.89 billion in federal contracts.

United Technologies, with 5,738 workers who lost their jobs offshore and got TAA aid, was second. It held $6.48 billion in federal contracts. GM, #100 in contracts ($334 million) was #4 in offshoring workers (5,303), just behind Hewlett-Packard (5,331).

The Communications Workers made the point, which the report states, that TAA money to workers who lost their jobs to unfair trade understates the problem. That’s because TAA, except under the Obama administration’s stimulus law, only covers factory workers, not service workers. So call center workers, whose firms have been offshoring jobs, are excluded.

And TAA relies on workers, or their firms, to apply for the aid. It also does not cover workers who lost their jobs because those jobs – such as, say, a server in a diner next to a steel plant – disappeared when factories closed and their customers disappeared.

“CWA has exposed the offshoring of good call center jobs at companies including T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Xerox, Sykes Enterprises and many more,” the union said in a statement. “We’ve joined with” lawmakers “who proposed legislation to stop rewarding offshoring and with those who called on President Trump to sign an executive order that would help keep good call center jobs in the U.S.”

The report says AT&T holds $755 million in federal contracts, and offshored 544 jobs, while Verizon has $681 million in federal business and offshored 344 jobs. T-Mobile, Sykes and Xerox are not among the top 100 federal contractors, so they were not in the report.

“Companies that receive lucrative federal government contracts to provide call center services are among the leading exporters of call center work to overseas locations, eliminating good jobs at home. That’s not where our tax money should be going. The U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act will keep good jobs here and hold corporations accountable. That’s what working people want,” said CWA President Chris Shelton.


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.