4.01.2004

Displaced Workers in Harrisburg, Pa., Area Call Attention to Outsourcing The Miami Herald (4/1)

From the AFL-CIO's nationwide "Show us the Jobs" bus tour...

Since January 2001, the United States has lost 544,000 information-related jobs, including 17,600 in Pennsylvania, according to the tour organizers. Some of the 51 tour participants -- outsourcing victims who represented each state and the District of Columbia -- were less forgiving than Smith with the corporations that shed their jobs.

When Pat Fluno was laid off at Siemens AG in Orlando, Fla., the 54-year-old data consultant suffered what she described as the ultimate indignity -- training her replacement from India.

"The visa holder that replaced me sat at my old desk, answered my voice mail and worked on the same systems and programs that I used to work on -- but for one-third the cost," Fluno said. "Training my replacement was the most humiliating experience of my life. No American should be forced to train their foreign replacement one day, and file for unemployment the next."

Fluno found a new job six months ago, but for less pay and fewer benefits than she received at Siemens.

"The so-called experts, quoted by the media, tell people like me to update my skills to become more marketable," Fluno said. "I hold a master's degree and the highest level of certification that I can for my programming specialty. My job still exists, but my higher salary does not. No training class can help me find a job when the bottom line is cheap labor."

And there it is: the bottom line is cheap labor. They don't have to pay Americans when they can get cheap labor overseas and until we take steps to level the playing field we won't be able to compete.

And what steps are those? Well you gotta spend money to make money and until we actually start investing in our people through education and healthcare (among other areas) and enforcing trade rules we'll never be able to compete and this will just remain a race to the bottom.
"I think what we're up against is this tremendous spin machine that the [Bush] administration has," Gittlen said. "One part says, 'This economy's growing, it's great. We just haven't seen the jobs yet.' The second part of it is, 'Just have faith and jobs will appear.' "

But given that we have no faith in George Bush we don't feel like we can take that chance.

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