Perils of Outsourcing
By Norma Sherry
Are American workers at risk of losing their jobs? Damn right
they are. Particularly if they pursued what they thought were
safe jobs in today's commerce.
When American workers lost their blue-collar jobs they stepped
up to the plate and educated themselves in the technologies
that they were told would assure them security. Sadly, corporate
America lied. Not only are American workers losing their coveted
jobs, but in unprecedented moves they are being asked to train
The consequences are mortifying.
By now, most of us have experienced calling an organization
we have done business with before only to find the overtly
sweet voice on the other end of the receiver has a thick,
almost unintelligible foreign accent.
Well, folks, get used to it.
By the thousands jobs are being exported, or the new word,
outsourced, to India, Hong Kong, Peoples Republic of
China, Panama, Manila, The Philippines; and many other countries
where the local citizens speak English. Jobs are moving offshore
to any country where the populace is accustomed to working
for pennies a day. Any sum above a dollar in many cases, is
the beginning to middle-class wealth and vast change of lifestyle.
Are you wondering how to safeguard yourself? It's not very
promising, but here's the scoop. All manufacturing careers
are going overseas. It's as simple and as appalling as that.
Since 1986, 15 million high-paying manufacturing jobs have
left the US and American workers. Need a second to take absorb
that? It's startling, I know. But the horrifying truth is,
sooner than you think, not a single automobile, airplane,
or ship will be assembled or manufactured in the land of free,
home of the brave. It won't be long thereafter, that all manufacturers
wanting to stay competitive will seek to bring their businesses
to the millions of workers overseas. After all, they are willing
to work for a pittance without the contrivance or interference
of nasty unions, health benefits, 401K's, and the multitude
of perks the American worker has worked hard to achieve.
Be on notice, American workers. If your job can be performed
as well elsewhere, you are in grave danger of being made redundant.
If your job relies on computer skills, telephone skills, manufacturing…
your days are numbered. Any job that can be performed in another
location, preferably outside of the realm of American wages
and American work-related laws, are going.
If you're a nurse or a physician, a medical technician,
a physical therapist, even a nurse's aide, you're safe… at
least for the time being. But if you're an x-ray technician,
watch out. According to Irwin Kellner, a professor of economics
at Hofstra University in New York, already many films are
transmitted via the Internet and read abroad. Kellner also
says, however, that "We will manage not only to muddle
through but to create jobs to add to our overall well-being,"
He also says he has, "…faith in the system. Somehow or
another, we'll create jobs that can't be exported overseas."
Other experts in the field are not quite so idealistic.
Diane Morello, research director and VP at Gartner, Inc.,
estimates that "based on her preliminary calculations, at
least 500,000 jobs will be lost to offshore outsourcing by
the end of 2004." Her company report also dimly states, "one
out of 10 jobs in the US computer services and software sector
could move overseas by the end of next year". Furthermore,
the study indicates that "while professionals in the computer
industry will be especially hard-hit, IT jobs in other sectors
such as banking, health-care, and insurance will also feel
the impact, with one in 20 being exported to emerging markets
such as Russia, India, or other countries in Southeast Asia.
According to the Washington Post, 2.5 million factory
jobs have disappeared since 2001.
If you're a draftsman, an architect, a computer programmer,
a graphic designer, your days are numbered. If you're a plumber,
electrician, construction worker, contractor, bricklayer,
you're secure for now.
A young software executive states, "He's allowed to
hire whomever he wants - as long as they live in India or
Australia." Another American executive says, "We've
got one company that's closing a support facility here to
move it to Asia, and another that doesn't even try to fill
jobs at home. There's something vaguely unpatriotic about
all this. Especially when the jobs are answering the phone
to talk to American customers or developing programs to be
sold primarily to American companies."
Stuart Yasgur and Ernie Nounou wrote in Business Week
Common knowledge says that we are in the midst
of a 'Jobless Recovery.' After all, while the United States
economy recovered statistically from the 'mild' recession
in 2001, unemployment has risen from 4% to 6% - a whopping
50% increase. Urban centers like New York City, which had
a January unemployment rate of 8.6%, have been particularly
hard hit. What is not commonly known, however, is that jobs
have been created during this recovery, just not in places
like New York City, San Francisco, or even Flint, Michigan.
Jobs have been created in places like India, Jamaica, the
Philippines, and even Sri Lanka. The National Association
of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom), an association
of software and IT-enabled services companies, estimates
that India's IT-enabled services industry grew by 70% during
So, dear reader, if you pick up your telephone and dial
an out-of-state customer support number, don't be surprised
if your phone call is redirected outside the United States
and the techie on the other end is speaking to you from another
Our jobs and the jobs of our fellow Americans are being sent
abroad so that giant corporations can save money by farming
work outside of America and far from American workers. I don't
know about you, but I'm mad as hell and I don't want to take
The very companies we made rich by buying their products
- their computers, their software, their clothing, their kitchen
gadgets, their televisions - are thanking us by taking the
jobs of our citizens and moving them, excuse me, outsourcing
them, to countries and a workforce far from our shores. They're
doing this for one reason and one reason only: the Almighty
Dollar. It's despicable.
If we don't do something and do something quick, it's going
to be too late. Our lifestyle and our wealth will cease to
exist as we know it. The wealthy few will be the corporate
entities that outsourced their workforce.
After Shirley Turner, a Democratic state senator from New
Jersey discovered that a program from her state, Families
First - which provides welfare recipients with grocery debit
cards - had been outsourced to Mumbai, India, she proposed
bill No. 1349. Her bill, which was approved unanimously by
the New Jersey Senate in December 2002, would require all
state contracts to be performed by either US citizens or foreign
citizens who work legally in the United States.
Following her lead, Connecticut, Maryland, Missouri, and
Wisconsin all have similar bills under consideration. However,
folks, this is a very small pebble making tiny ripples. It
is time we stepped up to the plate.
We need to revolt. We need to get mad as hell and unwilling
to take this anymore. Not just because corporate America is
a lethal indignity; not just because truth in advertising
is a lie; not just because American jobs are being shipped
out of the country. We need to realize we are the power, we
can make this a better world, a better place in which to raise
the next generation. We can start here and now and tell the
Microsofts, the McAfees and Nortons, the Gateways, the Dells,
our telephone companies, our insurance companies, and our
Internet providers that if they want our business, they are
going to have to earn it… and they're going to have to keep
on earning it.
We need to boycott products that are outsourced. We need
to write letters to our representatives and our local newspapers.
We need to make our voices heard. We need to parade in front
of corporate offices and hold banners high and shout out loud
"We are mad as hell and we are not going to take this
anymore!" We need to write to the CEOs and write them
again and tell them how we feel. But first and foremost, we
need to stop buying their products and their services.
Finally, we need to safeguard ourselves by being prepared
for the possibility that we may need to fit into a new workforce.
Norma Sherry is co-founder of TogetherForeverChanging.org,
an organization devoted to educating, stimulating, and igniting
personal responsibility particularly with regards to our diminishing
civil liberties. She is also an award-winning writer/producer.
Her email: firstname.lastname@example.org