Most Americans today are aware that jobs are being outsourced to China, India, and other nations at an alarming rate. From factory jobs to white-collar, high-tech positions, the exporting of labor is one of the most controversial issues in America.Yet few people know much about the other end — about the people who are actually working these jobs and how their own lives have been throw into tumult by these new economic forces. Andrew Ross spent a year in China, interviewing local employees and their managers in Taiwan, Shanghai, and the far western provinces. In this engaging and informative book, he shows how the Chinese workforce has inherited many of the same worries as American workers, such as job instability, long hours, and awareness of their own expendability. He reports on the daily reality of corporate free trade and explores the growing competition between China and India. This is an eye-opening exploration of an unseen side of our globalized world.
A cultural critic and frequent commentator on labor issues (No-Collar), NYU professor Ross positions himself in stark opposition to Thomas Friedman's enthusiastic embrace of free trade's extremes, particularly when it comes to American corporations outsourcing jobs to foreign nations. He notes, for example, that there is no evidence to support the assurances of free trade advocates that displaced workers will eventually reap economic benefits from losing their jobs to cheaper markets. China has become one of the key suppliers of cheap labor, leading Ross to wonder what workers there think of their role in the global economic struggle. Wandering around office parks and expatriate social gatherings in Shanghai, a recent magnet for foreign investment, he lays out a compelling ground-level perspective and discovers that workers in China suffer in ways similar to their American counterparts. Management, he writes, follows the same techniques worldwide, playing on employee insecurity to keep wages down. Ross also outlines the history of China's efforts to attract foreign investment, especially in competition with India, and to bring economic development to its remote western provinces. His firsthand reporting is so engaging that even more of it would be welcome, but the economic analysis offers a strong counterpoint to advocates of outsourcing.