This post originally appeared at Protect American Jobs.
The 2016 Democratic Platform Drafting Committee on Thursday in Washington held its second session of the Mid-Atlantic Democratic Platform Forum, the first in a series of regional events designed to engage every voice in the Democratic Party. Platform Drafting Chair Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Democratic National Convention Committee CEO Rev. Leah D. Daughtry led the forum. The committee heard from policy experts as well as Democrats from all walks of life in an effort to inform the Democratic National Platform.
Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Local 300 member Michael Smith was invited to address the platform under the theme “Moving America Forward: Education, Jobs and the Economy.” Smith delivered an emotional statement about his experience as an American worker whose job was outsourced, receiving a rousing standing ovation from the panel and the audience.
“I believe in America and am proud to live in America. But the America that has given corporations the right to produce products across borders and overseas, and then return those products that were once produced by American workers for sale in the very communities suffering from the corporate decision to displace me, is failing me, my family, my co-workers, our communities and the very essence of America’s future,” Smith told the panel.
Smith said he believes workers like himself and his brothers and sisters in Chicago are often viewed as statistics, not people.
“I and millions of other working Americans have been stripped of our individual identities and essentially thrown on the statistical scrap heap,” he said. “Those that close their eyes to the personal devastation of a job loss in our country, and only count us as numbers, fail to realize the impact of corporations that hollow out the essence of America’s economic vitality, by taking American jobs to countries with low-wage economies and return these foreign products to the U.S.
“American workers lose their jobs, workers across borders and oceans are exploited for their low wages, products are made in these low-wage economies, shipped back to the States at the same price, and the increased profits end up in the pockets of the CEO that already makes nearly $20 million per year. Everyone in this business model loses except for the CEO. Workers in the United States, workers in Mexico, workers everywhere lose. American consumers, American communities and the entire American economy loses,” Smith said.
“I stand here before you today so that you can see that behind each worker, and each statistic, is a family. And these families are broken financially, emotionally injured and tossed into a state of hopelessness as we try to pick up the pieces. As we seek to find new work, we encounter tens of thousands of others that are similarly situated, vying for an ever-shrinking job base that increasingly provides lower and lower wages and few, if any, benefits.
“I worked for Nabisco in Chicago, at the largest bakery in the United States, where generations of workers and their families have worked over the course of the last 60 years. Moms, dads, uncles, aunts, cousins were part of the Nabisco family for decades. Our work and the work of those that came before us were the financial anchors in our community and the basis for the family’s economic health.
“We were able to send our kids to college because of these jobs and the labor we provided. We were able to buy homes for our families because of these jobs and the labor we provided. We were able to earn defined benefit pensions and put additional money into saving for our retirement so we would not be a burden on our families and society in our elderly years, all because of these jobs and the labor we provided. Our community provided good public schools because we paid taxes on our income and property and because our employer was required to pay taxes.
“I am not just a number. And I am not just a statistic.”