Washington — Senate Democrats unveiled a package of legislation Wednesday aiming to reduce the outsourcing of American jobs and forcing corporations to disclose when they ship jobs abroad.
The lawmakers hope the bills will gain traction in the Republican-led Congress, in part because President Donald Trump has made it a priority to retain jobs in the states and bring them back from overseas.
Sen. Gary Peters of Bloomfield Township introduced a bill that would require publicly traded companies outsourcing jobs to disclose that fact in their public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“Certainly, Donald Trump has made many comments about how he wants to bring back American jobs and that he wants to stop the outsourcing that is occurring,” Peters told reporters on a call.
“This is a common sense, practical bill that should get his support if he is indeed serious about dealing with outsourcing.”
Peters says his bill would help consumers identify which companies are sending jobs overseas by requiring they disclose their total numbers of employees by location, including state and country.
Some companies have resisted disclosing such data, saying it would put them at a competitive disadvantage. Peters said they should instead view it as a competitive advantage.
“I believe American consumers would reward companies who hire American workers,” he said.
The legislation would also require companies to report the total number of employees and the percentage change in employment numbers for each state and country where they maintain operations. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana co-sponsored the bill.
The SEC currently doesn’t require disclosure of where a company’s employees are based, though a company must report total employees and anticipated changes in employment levels for corporate departments.
So a company may eliminate 700 U.S.-based jobs and move 1,000 jobs abroad and it would appear as a net gain of 300 jobs. This contributes to the difficulty in tracking the number of jobs lost to outsourcing.
“There isn’t one clear source that economists and policy makers can look at, as to how many folks are working in various countries,” Peters said.
“Folks may say this is an additional report that the company has to do, but it’s pretty clear the company knows where they send their paychecks every two weeks. This is pretty easy information to provide.”
Stabenow's Bring Jobs Home Act would close a loophole allows companies to deduct from their business taxes expenses for relocating outside of the United States. Stabenow, said current policy rewards corporations for sending jobs overseas.
Her bill would also reward companies that bring jobs home, by offering a tax credit for up to 20 percent of the expenses of relocating workers to the U.S.
The End Outsourcing Act, sponsored by Donnelly, would revise federal contracting policy to take into account whether companies have outsourced American jobs and claw back incentives and tax breaks for companies that ship American jobs to foreign countries.
Finally, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill’s Offshoring Notification Act would require companies to notify workers and communities if they are closing plants or laying off U.S. workers.