Skip to content

American Jobs (Greg Spotts)

American Jobs


“If Nafta tonight threatened the jobs of editorial writers and network news anchors and Wall Street bankers, this bill wouldn’t have a prayer.”

That hard-hitting argument was made by Democratic Representative David R. Obey from Wisconsin as the House voted to renew NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement that has taken American jobs to other countries, from India to China.

Greg Spotts, a former MTV producer, quit his job and self funded his first film to document the aftermath of corporations outsourcing and offshoring their jobs in search for higher profit margins and a competitive edge.

At the beginning of the film, high school students present the findings of their research assignment: look at the “made in” labels for clothing stores in their local malls. In every case the cool jeans, the hip tops, all of the traditionally All-American styles from The Gap, Old Navy, Nordstrom, and Guess, were not American at all, but came from countries many of these young men and women will never see in their lifetime.

There was something said by one of the male students and by Rep. Obey that stuck with me throughout the movie and resonates today. “Americans, stuff that don’t affect us we don’t care about until it does affect us.” As simple a statement as that is, it is the key factor into why corporations make these decisions. In a way, it was also the match that sparked this film by Spotts, who had many friends around him that were out of work.

This led him to traveling to 19 cities across the country, including Denver, which had been affected by layoffs. Spotts interviewed the people, from textile workers to white-collar engineers, about their personal experiences with this shift in the U.S. workforce strategy, one that’s impacted their careers and caused huge financial struggles.

The film spotlights a laid off women that operated the towel making machine for Canon, the company that now makes their linens in China and pays workers 69 cents an hour. A computer analyst for Siemens who had to train her replacement from India that makes $5,000 a year compared to her $75,000 a year salary. Then there were a group of folks from Colorado who stirred things up with a ballot measure that would restrict state governments to only utilizing U.S. citizens and permanent legal resident immigrants in this country for state contracts.

“Denver allowed me to finish my movie,” explains Spotts. “I was editing to finish by the self-imposed deadline of getting it out by Labor Day. I had gone to D.C. to interview members of congress and look at possible solutions, baby steps to try to deal with this problem. When I came back and watched the footage, I wasn’t 100% happy with that ending. There’s a lot of people that have been fighting the battles for a long time on capital hill. But a lot of the battles have been lost. I just wanted something that was more hopeful and inspiring.”

American JobsIt was right around that time that Ron Stawicki, a proponent of Colorado 139, reached out to him. He, along with a crew of 100% volunteers, organized a ballot measure and gathered approximately 45,000 signatures. Unfortunately they ran short on time to meet the deadline and thus, fell short on the required total 100,000 signatures needed.

American Jobs, The Corporation, Fahrenheit 9/11, Outfoxed, and Super Size Me are all examples of how independent documentaries have become the new avenue for information and awareness, covering issues and filling in the gaps where the national media falls short or doesn’t even show up. We gain knowledge to critical aspects of what is and isn’t going on in this country that affects all of us.

American Jobs gets you going. It gets you pissed when you realize the selfish nature for government decisions, a government run by big business. These CEOs that make on average, $25,000 an hour, don’t seem to conceive of the bigger picture and domino affect on the economy and spending when people don’t have any money to live. The film presents numbers that show more jobs are not being created in the U.S. by sending them overseas, which is always the argument in favor of this policy.

It also reminds us that whether we’re one person with a bevy of camera equipment and an idea or a group of individuals who are fed up with the status quo, change can happen. It may not happen tomorrow or the next day, but it will happen as long as we don’t take our eyes off of what Washington and corporate America is doing. They have obviously taken advantage of our ignorance and apathy, giving tax cuts to corporations who take their business to other countries while Americans stand in unemployment lines, but those days are waning. Just look at what this year’s election has done to initiate action and unite citizens who are determined to take back our country. Look at the thousands of people who stood during their “pink slip” protest at the Republican National Convention.

The group here in Colorado hasn’t given up on their bill to right the wrongs in state government offshoring. They promise to be back again even stronger when the next election rolls around, which will more than likely, fire up the lobbyists for business groups and companies bent on preserving their bottom line and annual bonuses.

At the end of the film, Richard Armstrong, president of the National Hire American Citizens Society, an anti-outsourcing group in Parker and proponent of 139 sums it all up, “Democracy is not something you get, it’s something you do.”

The film will be featured at the Vision America Conference this Saturday at the Denver Convention Center, and can be purchased on DVD at


Sign up to our newsletter and get updates to your mailbox