Thursday, October 14, 2004

Nice Work If You Can Lose It

Forget location, location, location, last night President Bush's favorite answer was education, education, education. How has America lost so many jobs? Bush-the-Buck-Stops-Elsewhere said that our workforce just wasn't educated enough. His advice, "Get thee to a community college." But it's unclear what an AA will do for folks with PhDs.

Here's some news from the AFL-CIO:

White-Collar Jobs: America’s Growing Export
Ask anyone which sector of the U.S. economy comes to mind as the most likely to be shipped overseas, and chances are he or she will say manufacturing.

But though the United States lost 2.5 million manufacturing jobs since the Bush presidency beginning in 2001, U.S. corporations now are racing to outsource white-collar jobs—including work in computer sciences, engineering, entertainment, financial and medical services—to countries where workers earn far less.

Terry Antisdel was a Chicago-area engineering associate for Lucent Technologies Inc. and its predecessor AT&T for 35 years until his entire 42-member International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 81 was laid off in July. He figures his job will end up in India or China. “The words management used were a 'less-expensive offshore site,’ ” recalls Antisdel, who estimates Lucent will send a total of about 5,000 U.S. jobs offshore this year. “I feel let down,” he says. “Companies used to provide jobs for people, but now they’re just there to give money to executives, board members and shareholders.”

In late July, the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech), a Communications Workers of America affiliated group that helps high-tech workers win a voice at work, released a tape of a conference call in which IBM’s top human relations executives discussed transferring 3 million U.S. service jobs to countries such as China and India by 2015.

Testifying in June before a House Committee on Small Business investigating the globalization of white-collar jobs, AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees President Paul Almeida said, “If these cost-saving jobs shifts are taken to their logical extreme, even American corporations should be wondering where their future consumers will be located and how they will buy the goods and services.”

A Forrester Research study predicts U.S. employers will move about 3.3 million white-collar service jobs and $136 billion in wages overseas in the next 15 years, up from $4 billion in 2000.

White-Collar Jobs Going and Gone
The jobs already are leaving. By the end of this year, General Electric will have sent a total of 20,000 aircraft and medical research and design jobs to India and China, according to Business Week. And the Accenture consulting firm, which incorporated in Bermuda after splitting from Enron accountant Arthur Andersen, plans to send 5,000 accounting and software jobs to the Philippines in 2004, the magazine says.

According to WashTech, Microsoft plans to eliminate at least 800 full-time call-center jobs near Dallas and shift the work to India and Canada in the next fiscal year. It would be the largest one-time firing of full-time Microsoft employees in the company’s history. WashTech says a Microsoft senior vice president recently urged company managers to “pick something to move offshore today,” though Microsoft publicly has repeated it will not lay off U.S. workers and send the jobs offshore.


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