6.09.2004

White-collar offshoring a growth issue for unions TheJournalNews.com (6/9)

During his 15 years with The Boeing Co., Stephen Gentry never pictured himself wearing the union label.

Then the computer programmer from Auburn, Wash., was laid off last summer after training his replacement, a high-tech worker in India.

Now Gentry, who hasn't worked since, is among those convinced that America's white-collar workers have to band together to keep their futures from being exported to places where skilled labor comes cheap.

"I don't see any other options," said Gentry, 52, who's joined a Seattle-based union trying to organize tech workers around the country. "There's no loyalty anymore. I feel my job was taken by corporate greed."


We couldn't agree more. And we think we've documented this corporate greed pretty well.

The issue's potency, particularly during a jobless economic recovery, was proven last month when the Communications Workers of America negotiated a new contract with SBC Communications Inc. after a four-day strike. As part of the deal, the San Antonio-based phone company agreed to work with the union to bring an estimated 3,000 company jobs in India and the Philippines to the United States.

During the strike by CWA's 102,000 SBC workers, thousands of picketers around the country hoisted anti-offshoring signs saying "SBC Unpatriotic" and "Keep Jobs in America."

"There is something to be said for shaming a company if you say, 'This company will outsource good jobs from our community,' " said Christian Weller, a researcher at the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank. "In the current environment, it's a land mine for the company. There's a real receptive audience for this."


There's an audience for this because it's a real problem. Don't blame this on some mis-placed patriotic idea: this is about people earning a living and management making that goal more difficult.

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