Directed by Greg Spotts
Spotts' documentary is about the toll that working Americans and the economy have suffered as a result of the NAFTA treaty and low-wage foreign competition. It is being released along with a companion book entitled CAFTA and Free Trade: What Every American Should Know just at the time that Congress is debating the CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement) treaty, which would open up trade between the United States and El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Costa Rica.
It begins with a look at the textile industry. Spotts investigates the garment workers of Los Angeles, California and then crosses the country to visit the town of Kannapolis, North Carolina, which was economically devastated when the Pillowtex textile mill that supported the town was moved to China. One interviewee talks about perpetuating this downward spiral because they have no money, and since they have no money, they can only afford to buy items that are cheap, and all the cheap items are produced outside the U.S., so American companies have to leave to compete.
We see archival footage of the battle on the floor of Congress as Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri and others warn of the problems that NAFTA could unleash and the need to protect American workers. Proponents of the bill argued that it would cause workers with lower skills to improve themselves and get higher paying jobs. Those arguments are quickly refuted when Spotts interviews IT people from Seattle and Florida who talk about their jobs being shipped overseas. It turns out their jobs weren't safe either. One woman, who was making $75,000, talked about how she lost her job to an Indian worker who the company only paid $5,000. She sounded defeated as she pointed out that she couldn't compete against 15 workers.
Spotts also looks at how the private company Boeing, once king of the airplane makers, is being overtaken in the marketplace by Airbus, a company owned by a European consortium that is subsidized by European governments. Also, Boeing is having the screws put to them because countries like Japan are only willing to buy planes on the condition that Boeing opens up manufacturing plants in their countries.