Verizon Communications Inc. consultant Timothy Donovan was told that opening global trade barriers would lift everyone from the mail room to the executive suite, but there he was Wednesday, on strike for the seventh straight day, calling on his employer to protect workers' jobs, wages and benefits.
If trade agreements could help U.S. workers, Donovan said, he'd be all for them.
"This is a political issue that (we've) been chewing on for more than 200 years," said Farok Contractor, a professor of management and global business at Rutgers Business School in Newark. "Every political cycle this issue comes up."
The U.S. is squarely in the middle of the global economy. It is a member of the World Trade Organization, which spells out trade rules among 154 countries. And it has its own free trade agreements with 20 countries that are meant to even out the playing field and allow exporters to sell their products cheaper, Contractor said.
Contractor said the benefits are palpable. Americans have access to lower-priced goods, giving consumers more spending power. A recent check of Target's web site, for example, found a Magnavox 46-inch-screen, high-definition television set on sale for $349.99.
Contractor said many corporations have taken the profit they've generated in the global economy, and, instead of giving workers raises or better benefits, have invested in technology to become even more efficient; rewarded shareholders by increasing dividends; and awarded executives bonuses.