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#872291 - 09/11/03 03:07 PM Americans Need Not Apply
mhr Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/03
Posts: 128
Hi All,

In the linked article from CIO magazine, the travails of American programmer Daniel Soong are chronicled as he recounts his battles with corporate outsourcing.

The article says best what many refuse to believe; American industries, like IT, are slowly being dismantled as the work is moved offshore.

The most telling comment in the article is the response Soong received when he tried to secure work in Bangalore, India.

"It would be really interesting to work in Bangalore," he says. "But I was told, 'Daniel, it is against the law for you to work here. You can come here on vacation, but you can't work here.'"

Enjoy
------
http://cio.com/archive/090103/people_sidebar_1.html

No Americans Need Apply

Daniel Soong, who lost his programming job to Indian offshore companies, is willing to relocate to India. But Indian officials have told him they don't hire Americans.

BY BEN WORTHEN
CIO Magazine
SEP 1, 2003

DANIEL SOONG GOT his first computer in the fifth grade, a Timex Sinclair that used an audiocassette player for a disk drive and the family's black-and-white television for a monitor. It cost about a hundred dollars at Radio Shack and wasn't good for much more than writing a few snippets of code in Basic. But that was enough to hook him. By the time he was in high school, he was taking calculus and advanced mathematics. He declared computer science as his major after his first semester at Sacramento State.

When he graduated in 1995, information technology was booming. The Internet was on its way to commercialization, and entrepreneurs were looking to capitalize on the growth potential in IT. For Soong, a job in the field was a natural next step on a journey he'd started when he was 10. "I wasn't looking to get rich or anything," he says, just searching for a steady job doing something he loved.

Now age 30, Soong doesn't even have that. He has been out of work since January 2002, when ChevronTexaco outsourced his job to India. And like millions of other Americans, he can't find work in IT. Soong doesn't see his situation improving anytime soon, and you can hear the despair in his voice. "There's no sense of hope," he says. "No hope for college graduates, no hope for people looking for a job, no hope for any of us."

It wasn't always that way. After graduating from college, Soong stayed in Sacramento for two years working as a programmer in the data warehouse group at Intel. He then left to work as a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers, based out of Boston, a job that sent him across country and all over the world. It was a dream job. In 1999 he returned to California to join a mortgage dotcom, but interest rates were high and the fledgling company never got off the ground. Soong was laid off three months after he started.

He wasn't worried, however. "My skills were in demand," says Soong, who is an expert at several database and programming languages including SAP ABAP/4, Oracle SQL, C++, HTML and Web Development Tools.

After briefly working on a contract for HP, he moved back to the East Coast for a full-time position with Accenture. But again he was laid off. "I was in a building with 500 people," says Soong. "Then they started to offshore. Nine months later we were down to 50 people."

By this time, Soong was desperate to find a stable position, and in October 2001 he seemed to have found it; he accepted a contract position with ChevronTexaco in San Ramon, Calif., to help the oil giant finish a $200 million to $300 million SAP project. He hoped that at the end of his six-month contract he could join the company full-time. But Soong soon noticed something that would not bode well for his future with the company: It had a lot of workers on H-1B and L-1 visas, and every day their ranks seemed to grow.

Meanwhile Soong and his fellow consultants weren't training ChevronTexaco employees, but visa candidates and offshore personnel. The American employees and contract workers were slowly being let go, 20 every two weeks or so. With 1,000 cubicles spread out over two floors, the changes were hard to notice. "It was subtle," says Soong.

So subtle that he was shocked when his turn came. In January, halfway through his six-month $60,000 contract, Soong was called in to an office on the fifth floor to meet with two senior managers he had never seen before. "People kept telling me I was doing an excellent job," he says. "Why would they get rid of me?" Nevertheless, they told him he wasn't performing well enough. "They tried that on me. I told them my program works great, I had trained everyone, and my full-time ChevronTexaco manager can back me up. The room was silent for a minute." Only then did one of the managers close the office door. "Then they just said well, they came up with another excuse." (Chevron Texaco declined to comment for this article.)

Soong began looking for work, but he soon realized the job market had changed. No one he knew could find a job. At one point he had a lead on a job in Texas. The company wanted to hire him, but it had signed a contract with a consultancy—Tata. Still, the company arranged an interview for Soong. "[The interviewer] hung up on me after 15 seconds," says Soong. He started making inquiries. His friends told him that Tata only interviewed Americans to be in compliance with the equal opportunity employment commission, and that no Americans were ever hired.

After three months of joblessness, he was forced to move back into his parents' home. Browsing the Internet, Soong found a community of people in similar circumstances. He spent months talking online to his fellow unemployed programmers. But he never joined an organization or even attended a meeting until May, after he heard about Kevin Flanagan, a programmer at Bank of America's Danville, Calif., office—and a former Chevron employee—who shot himself after he was forced to train his Indian replacement worker.

"It could have been any one of us," Soong says. "His desperation came from the fact that he felt alone. That is the desperation we all feel."

Shortly after Flanagan's death, Soong went to his first meeting of an unemployed tech workers group called No More H-1B—a bold step for someone who never thought of himself as particularly political. He now attends meetings at least every other week with Programmers Guild and Communications Workers of America. For the past two months he has been handing out fliers in downtown San Francisco, writing letters to his elected officials and trying to get proposals into the state legislature that would make it illegal for state contracts to go to companies that offshore work.

Every day Soong makes the rounds of employment agencies. When he is lucky he gets a temporary job answering phones or testing video games, nothing that ever pays more than $10 an hour. Most days he doesn't work. "I've been able to pay my bills at the end of the month," he said in early June, "although this month may be a little tough." Two weeks later, Soong canceled his cell phone and e-mail accounts.

He still gets occasional interviews, but he feels that they are just for show and that the companies will send the job overseas. Soong recently decided to send his resume to India, to see if he could get work there.

"It would be really interesting to work in Bangalore," he says. "But I was told, 'Daniel, it is against the law for you to work here. You can come here on vacation, but you can't work here.'"

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#872292 - 09/11/03 03:40 PM Re: Americans Need Not Apply
.rvaga* Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 2046
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Actually mhr 'ol buddy 'ol pal, this is an interesting story, as it points out the human suffering and consequences of outsourcing jobs.

I don't see any solution, perhaps others can. Every time I think through some sort of government intervention, it won't work.

The only thing I noted, is that Mr. Soong has been unemployed for 18 months, longing for the good old days (" In January, halfway through his six-month $60,000 contract" - he was making $10K per month, not baaaad!). The good old days are gone, he must find a new career, and perhaps should have been taking courses to equip himself to go in another direction.

The situation is becoming critical for many, but if it were me, I would not be sitting around for months waiting for something that will not reappear.

It's very sad, this guy was/is highly educated and competent (not like a lazy goof-off, waiting for the next government handout, or expecting the government to provide the solution).

Complaining and expecting "the government" to fix things is not the answer, or at least not the full answer.

What is the answer? What is a possible solution to outsourcing our service sector?

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#872293 - 09/11/03 04:22 PM Re: Americans Need Not Apply
mhr Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/03
Posts: 128
Hi rvaga,

Part of the answer was in the last paragraph of the article.

Make it illegal for guest workers here just as it is illegal for guest workers in India.

The second step is to reintroduce tariffs that level the economic playing field and enable a roughly equivalent competitive environment between countries.

These two steps would protect both our domestic industries and workers.

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#872294 - 09/11/03 04:33 PM Re: Americans Need Not Apply
shantinik Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/23/01
Posts: 4271
Loc: Olympia, WA
My brother (a Republican all his life) is a double leg amputee. Lost them in an auto accident in 1986. After a year of rehabilitative therapy, artificial limbs, getting a ramp in his house, etc. etc., instead of living on various forms of disability at government expense for the rest of his life, he decided to recareer. (He couldn't perform his old job any longer.) He trained as a computer programmer, and landed a job with a brokerage house based across the river from lower Manhattan. Took him 3 hours to get to and from work everyday, but he felt wanted, and no longer helpless, and the pay was pretty good.

He developed quite a bit of seniority. But last Christmas, actually, the day before Christmas, he was laid off. Work being sent to India. But there's more. It seems that the company systematically let go of their "disabled" workers -- they were, apparently, worried about their health care expenses now, but more crucially, they crunched the numbers and figured out that it would cost them a small fortune when these workers retired. So better to dump 'em.

Of course, my brother and the others could bring a case before the EEOC. But the EEOC people told them that because they have been so decimated by defunding in the past 3 years, a case could take 6 years or more to resolve, if at all. (And by then, the company would be laying off so many more non-disabled workers, it would be next to impossible to prove discrimination in any case.) Besides, his lawyer said, the company had crunched the numbers, and has concluded that it is cheaper to pay off a couple of EEOC losses almost a decade from now (which simply amounts to back pay), rather than to have to pay health care expenses during that period, and two decades from now.

My brother (who is 49) will likely never work again. Not only is there no need for programmers, no one is going to hire a disabled one, for reasons already stated. He can't get back on the forms of disability he could originally, because he proved that he COULD in fact work (by working.) The state's department of vocational rehab., hit with more budget cuts from the federal government, won't pay for his retraining, because, after all, he IS now trained (even if not in a field in which he can gain employment.) He can't go to work for Wal-Mart. :rolleyes: Once his COBRA runs out, he'll be on Medicare, but won't be able to pay for his prescriptions, and when it comes to his artificial limbs, forget it.

Just one of the 2.7 million. Bush will go down in history as the first President since Hoover with fewer net jobs in the country at the end of his four years than at the beginning. But I don't particularly think he minds. After all, business is looking up, and when business gets better, more jobs can be exported.

Just another day in the neighborhood.

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#872295 - 09/11/03 08:13 PM Re: Americans Need Not Apply
phykell Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 697
Loc: UK
It's happening here too. I work for a company not completely dissimilar to Accenture, and I've had to help interview Indians to replace my job and the jobs of my colleagues. Luckily, I have another role within the company, but for how long I wonder? It seems like this is something we are all just going to have to accept, and someone is going to have to pay for. Hopefully, I will secure myself a job in management, though that's the last thing I want to do, and I've no doubt I will see all the UK (and US) IT technical expertise, move to other countries. After all, where exactly will it stop? Taking IT as an example, after the support jobs all disappear, then development is next. And do you think it will be sensible to pay UK project managers? Of course not. All we have to do now is tell the Indian companies what we want, and they will do it, but what happens when they realise we now depend on them? Do you think their prices will remain low? Of course not, but by then, technology will have advanced, and it will become that more difficult for us to get back up to speed. We will have to hire them at exorbitant rates, and we will have a huge skills shortage as our companies can no longer afford professionally developed IT systems software. I guarantee, that this is a very short-sighted strategy. It's all about making profit at the expense of people, so what's new?

So who's next? Well, just about anybody. Why pay someone several hundred pounds to do your taxes for you when you can hire an off-shore accountant at a fraction of the price. Will our solicitors (that's lawyers to you Americans - kind of ironic isn't it?) become nothing more than representatives in court while all the legal knowledge is held offshore? Sounds to me like the only safe jobs are going to be in health-care, the armed forces, and of course, senior management...
_________________________
If you vote me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

========

Evil cannot be conquered in the world. It can only be resisted within oneself.

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#872296 - 09/11/03 11:44 PM Re: Americans Need Not Apply
.rvaga* Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 2046
Loc: Portland, Oregon
 Quote:
mhr:
Make it illegal for guest workers here just as it is illegal for guest workers in India.

The second step is to reintroduce tariffs that level the economic playing field and enable a roughly equivalent competitive environment between countries.
These two steps would protect both our domestic industries and workers.
[/b]
Doesn't this kinda go against your usual liberal perspective? In other words, how are you (figuratively speaking) going to make it illegal (exclude) one group, without making it illegal for all that work in related or unrelated fields?

As to tarriffs. Historically, have they proved to be effective in "leveling the playing field?" How much of a tarriff would offset an individual salary of $10K per month?

I just don't think it's a solution. Or maybe it is, and I just don't get it.

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