'Bain bus' protest a vehicle for bigger debate about workers
“The overarching message here is we don’t just have a jobs deficit; we have a ‘good jobs’ deficit,” Annette Bernhardt, the report’s author and a policy co-director at the National Employment Law Project, said at the report’s launch.
Low-paid jobs or minimum- wage jobs accounted for just over 20 per cent of job losses during the recession. Many of these jobs were outsourced. Since employment started growing in recent times, low-paid jobs accounted for almost 60 per cent of all job growth.
Bain Capital’s story is just a small symptom of a much bigger overall shift in the economy, and of globalisation in general.
In his campaign for president, Romney – a champion of free markets and small government – has sought to use his business experience to his advantage. He has argued that his private-sector knowledge of building companies makes him the best candidate to turn around the ailing US economy.
While some firms he invested in were overleveraged with debt and collapsed, leaving many workers high and dry, others flourished and went on to create even more jobs.
“Bain Capital invested in many businesses,” a Romney spokesman said in a written statement. “While not every business was successful, the firm had an excellent overall track record and created jobs with well-known companies like Staples, Domino’s Pizza and Sports Authority.”
The Obama campaign, in the meantime, has been portraying Romney as a heartless capitalist and “outsourcing pioneer”, more interested in making money than in creating jobs. But the president has yet to move beyond blunt criticism of outsourcing to outline a detailed strategy of how to take advantage of the inevitable march of globalisation.
On the Bain Bus, there’s little doubt over which candidate will offer them a more secure future – but there’s also recognition that miracles won’t happen overnight.
“Barack Obama needs our support,” says Libya Wilson. “The bad things he was left with won’t change overnight, I was always told patience is key to life – and that’s what we need to remember.”
Simara Martinez (21) from Boston worked for Dunkin’ Donuts until recently. She helps her mother out, who also works two low-paid jobs. “I just don’t want a cold-hearted businessman who’s on the side of the rich,” she says. “I want someone who cares for people. We might as well vote for someone who will try to change things for us, rather than someone who doesn’t give a damn.”