MI Sen. fights for accountability in outsourcing

U.S. Senators Gary Peters (MI), Debbie Stabenow (MI), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Sherrod Brown (OH) and Jack Reed (RI) today reintroduced legislation that would help identify businesses that are sending jobs to foreign countries by requiring publicly traded companies to publish reports detailing the number of employees per location, including by state and by country.

The Outsourcing Accountability Act would also direct these companies to disclose the total number of employees and percentage change in employment figures for each state and country where they and their subsidiaries currently operate.

“Publicly traded companies are already required to disclose how many employees they have. This bill takes the added step of requiring these companies to disclose where these employees are,”said Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. “Michiganders deserve to know whether companies are supporting job growth right here in the United States. By providing additional information to consumers, this legislation incentivizes companies to hire in America while holding accountable companies that outsource jobs to other countries.”

“We should export our products, not our jobs,” said Senator Stabenow. “Companies should be held accountable if they chose to move jobs out of this country and I urge my colleagues in Congress to support this legislation.”

“Many companies proudly market themselves as U.S. based or owned despite maintaining a substantial workforce abroad,” said Senator Feinstein. “Requiring companies to publicly state where their workforce is located will help consumers identify which companies are prioritizing Americans and which are putting profits first.”

“In order to recognize companies that hire American workers, we need more information on where workers are based,” said Senator Brown. “It’s not enough to say you’re dedicated to employing American workers – this will hold companies to the promise to keep workers and business here at home.”

The bill is supported by the United Steelworkers and the United Auto Workers.

Currently, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires publicly traded companies to disclose certain information about their employees, including the total number of employees and anticipated changes in the number of employees working in different corporate departments.

However, companies are not required to publicly disclose where employees are based, making it very difficult to accurately track the number of jobs they are eliminating in the United States and moving to foreign countries.

For example, a company could eliminate 700 American jobs and create 1,000 jobs abroad, but under current requirements without disclosing the location, those numbers would appear as a net gain of 300 jobs.

The exact number of jobs lost to outsourcing can be difficult to estimate because the data is difficult to find.

To estimate, researchers have to look at a variety of data sources that can range from local newspaper stories in foreign media outlets to filings with foreign governments and even construction blueprints for new factories in other countries to guess at how many people the facilities might hold.

Peters has long pushed efforts in Congress to require companies to publicize these figures. He first introduced legislation on this issue in 2012 as a member of the House of Representatives.

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