Ithaca Blog

Friday, August 08, 2008

Lost Jobs Upstate: The Wal-Mart Factor at Work

Two major manufacturers announced permanent job layoffs in central New York today.

BorgWarner, a car part manufacturer, is cutting 240 jobs in Ithaca and Cortland. Honeywell is closing a plant in Skaneateles Falls that makes scanning devices to read barcodes. 290 workers will lose jobs. Honeywell is shifting production to a new factory in China.

The Wal-Mart corporation, the world's largest retailer, insists on low prices which many suppliers cannot meet without paying substandard wages to workers. This is most easily done in China, where a large population, widespread poverty and a lack of worker protections has created a segment of workers that in the U.S. would be defined as indentured servants.

Replacing 290 workers in New York with workers in China will make it easier for Honeywell to compete for Wal-Mart's business.

In turn, fostering slave labor enables Wal-Mart to drive other retailers out of business, thus increasing its power over suppliers. The job losses today in central New York are another turn in this spiral.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

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