November 22, 2005 - 12:00pm ET
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General Motors workers woke up to the news yesterday that GM will cut up to 30,000 jobs in the next three years and close up to 12 production plants. The cuts could be devastating to towns like Doraville, Ga., where GM employs a significant percent of the population. And while auto giant GM's well-publicized financial and health care woes may be national news, scores of smaller companies are also cutting and exporting jobs without attracting a media frenzy. It's one reason Working America, an AFL-CIO affiliate, has created a new web tool called JobTracker to keep tabs on who's cutting what.
JobTracker is a public database searchable by industry, company name, state or ZIP code. Even if you're not searching for a particular stat, it's sobering to plug in a ZIP code and see how many companies are laying off workers and exporting jobs—and to realize it's happening hundreds of thousands of times over, all across the country. JobTracker also compiles statistics about OSHA (employee health and safety) violations, and national labor law violations. (Wal-Mart, for example, has 174 separate locations where workplace health and safety violations have been found, and seven labor law violations. And that doesn't even take into account last week's raid that found 125 illegal workers on a Wal-Mart site in Scranton, Pa.)
Considering the vast scope of industry closings and outsourcings nationwide, information is the citizen-activist's best primary tool. And the fact that a bigwig from the National Association of Manufacturers called JobTracker "a desperate tactic" means that it's coming a little too close for comfort for industry heavyweights. That in itself is a start.
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