[biztech-discussion] Re: Moving Forward #4

  • From: Barbara Mende <barbara@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <biztech-discussion@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 27 Jun 2004 07:40:27 -0400

Looking good! =20

Near the end you said "a couple" instead of "a couple of."

Personally I have never been fond of the privacy or CEO-pay arguments.
Everything else stands without them.  But since this is to our base it's
worth putting out for comment.


On 6/27/04 1:14 AM, "Al Weinrub" <Allen.Weinrub@xxxxxxx> keyed in:

> Dear Folks,
> I have prepared the following description of the anti-offshoring
> campaign we have begun working on. This preliminary campaign plan is to
> explain what we have been doing to the National Executive Committee,
> chapter chairpersons, and other NWU activists.
> It is also to serve as a springboard for more detailed plans.
> Please read over this campaign description. It is a bit long. Feel free
> to comment on any aspect of it, or on what you feel are the next steps
> in moving this effort forward.
> Al
> Executive Summary
> ---------------------
> The NWU is organizing an anti-offshoring campaign. It is targeted to NWU
> members, other writers, and high-tech workers on the union=B9s periphery.
> The immediate objective, given the current electoral season, is to press
> Congressional, Senatorial, and Presidential candidates to support
> specific anti-offshoring legislation. This is to be done by mobilizing
> our constituency to sign petitions, meeting with candidates to present
> these petitions, asking candidates to support specific legislation, and
> publishing candidates=B9 responses before the national elections.
> We hope to mobilize our constituency, which is directly or indirectly
> jeopardized by the offshoring of high-tech and writing jobs, to support
> legislation that:
> - curtails the use of public monies to promote offshoring of U.S. jobs
> - protects personal privacy by restricting or prohibiting the offshoring
> of personal financial and medical records
> The campaign is being organized nationally but will be implemented
> locally. In the longer term, we hope to build union activism on this
> issue, recruit new members on the basis of this work, and build
> alliances with other unions and organizations who oppose the offshoring
> of U.S. jobs.
> Strategic Perspectives
> ---------------------------
> While a full, long-term strategy has not been developed, a number of
> strategic perspectives guide NWU work on the offshoring issue:
> - The NWU does not see foreign workers as enemies, but rather as
> potential allies in opposing the prerogatives of multinational
> corporations. An improvement in the economic and working conditions of
> our foreign counterparts would be to our mutual advantage.
> - Political opposition to offshoring can slow it or soften its impact.by
> making it prohibitively expensive. This might be accomplished through
> legislation that forces offshoring companies to pay the social costs of
> shipping work abroad. Other approaches focus on removing tax incentives
> for offshoring, highlighting the risks to national infrastructure
> systems or personal privacy in work being done abroad, or calling on the
> U.S. government to stimulate a competitive tech industry in the U.S.
> - The NWU can't fight the impact of offshoring alone. Any campaign
> should include alliances with other groups concerned about the issue.
> The CWA has been quite outspoken, as have other unions and workers
> organizations, and various privacy groups and think-tanks are taking up
> the issue.
> - Any work the NWU does on the offshoring issue should have an
> educational component providing information about offshoring and how it
> affects writers in particular, and incorporating ways to bring that
> information to the attention of other writers and high-tech workers
> outside the union.
> Issues
> -------
> In organizing around the offshore outsourcing issue, namely in building
> opposition to the unfettered offshoring of technical and writing jobs to
> foreign countries, there are two general groups of people we need to reac=
> A) Our primary constituency--folks we are trying most directly to
> organize and mobilize. These are members of the NWU, other writers, and
> other high-tech workers. These are the folks with whom the NWU has the
> most affinity on this issue and who are most directly impacted by the
> loss of jobs.
> B) Our support constituency--folks among whom we are trying to build
> political opposition to offshoring: the general public, other
> organizations, political leaders, and institutions.
> The issues faced by these two groups are not the same, and therefore
> these groups need to be addressed with somewhat different emphasis.
> A) Our Primary Consituency
> In reaching out to our primary constituency--people who have lost their
> jobs or are likely to lose their jobs, or who will be negatively
> impacted by the loss of jobs in their professions--we need to address
> their special concerns:
> - Direct loss of jobs, loss of income, and erosion of standard of living.
> - Inability to find work in offshored professions: the jobs are going
> away permanently, so those who lose their jobs will face extended
> unemployment, and eventually will be forced into lower-paying,
> less-rewarding occupations.
> - Dropping wage and work standards for those who remain employed: a
> surplus labor pool will drive down wages and benefits, accentuating a
> trend begun with the bursting of the dot com bubble a few years ago.
> - A worsening job market in the offshored professions will force many to
> change careers, putting pressure on related jobs. Many tech writers, for
> example, will attempt to do other kinds of writing. This will be a slow
> and painful process for those whose jobs are offshored and will create
> substantial job competition for those in related fields.
> In addressing the above concerns, we need to undercut the standard
> economic arguments that justify offshoring and highlight the inequity of
> offshoring working people in order to increase the pay of CEOs. We can
> use the soaring rise in CEO and other executive pay to expose the
> ingenuousness of the "competition" and "profitability" justifications
> for offshoring. (If cost and competition were really such crucial
> matters of corporate survival, why not offshore the CEO positions?) Also
> we need to address the hypocrisy of the "upgrade-your-skills" and
> "be-more-competitive" arguments used by offshoring advocates
> B) Our Support Constituency
> In reaching out to the general public, however, the special concerns of
> our primary constituency are not paramount. In the U.S. economy, people
> are routinely forced to change jobs or careers due to economic
> conditions, and few will sympathize with technical workers in particular
> because of their relatively high salaries compared to blue collar
> workers. In addition, unionized workers and other blue collar workers
> are aware of white-collar workers' general disdain for unions and
> unionized workers.
> In reaching out to the general public, there are a number of concerns we
> can address:
> - Public funds are subsidizing and rewarding the offshoring of jobs. One
> aspect of this is tax credits, another is direct government subsidy
> (corporate welfare) of offending companies, a third is L-1 visa programs
> that jump start offshoring programs, a fourth is U.S. foreign aid for
> infrastructure improvements in countries that are low-wage havens
> (American taxpayers are paying to upgrade the Indian telecommunications
> network, for example).
> - Personal security. The pervasiveness of electronic records (such as
> medical records, life insurance, and individual financial records) makes
> them susceptible to invasion of privacy and the proliferation of private
> information. Even within the U.S., despite legal prohibitions against
> the invasion of privacy and prosecution of offenders, identity theft and
> illegal use of private data is rampant. Sending the processing of this
> data to countries which have minimal personal privacy laws and which do
> not prosecute illegal uses of personal information is inviting abuse.
> Abuse of medical records has already been reported in the press
> involving contractors who contract to contractors who contract to other
> contractors. No safeguards and a huge black market in the sale of
> personal information.
> - Economic downturn and indirect loss of jobs. The flight of jobs can
> have a devastating impact on all sectors of the economy. Money is taken
> out of circulation a big multiplier effect on many indirectly related
> jobs.. The impact is especially severe when there is no expansion of
> other parts of the economy. In past decades, you could argue that the
> expansion of the high-tech sector absorbed the impact of offshoring in
> the manufacturing industries. However, there is currently no expanding
> sector (not even the Iraq invasion is creating significant numbers of
> new jobs). In addition, the speed of offshoring will be much quicker
> than the offshoring of the past (there is no need to build factories
> abroad and the labor pool is already trained), making its impact much
> harder to absorb. Hence, the impact of high-tech offshoring will be more
> far-reaching and more permanent than offshoring in the past.
> - National infrastructure security. High-tech offshoring is all about
> information processing, and the processing of information has become a
> crucial aspect of our society--whether it be related to economic
> infrastructure (such as the electrical power grid, transportation,
> communications, and so forth), business information systems (such as
> bank or corporate records or technology secrets), vital services, or
> national defense. The regulation and security of such information
> systems that exists within the United States does not exist in foreign
> countries, especially those to which most of the offshoring is going.
> This makes the U.S. and its citizens vulnerable to theft, electronic
> sabotage, infiltration, disruption of emergency systems, and other risks.
> - Relinquishing technological leadership. By offshoring the development
> of new technologies to foreign high-tech workers, the U.S. is
> relinquishing its technological competitiveness. With foreign markets
> far surpassing the U.S. in size, the development of new technologies and
> new technical standards in foreign countries means that in the
> not-too-distant future, the U.S. will relinquish its technological
> leadership. Since this leadership has been a driving force of the U.S.
> economy, taking a back seat in technological development will have a
> significant negative impact on U.S. economic growth. In the same way
> that manufacturing industry has shifted abroad over past decades,
> information processing is currently shifting abroad, to be closely
> followed by the shifting of technological innovation abroad. Especially
> so, since the U.S. educational system is in shambles, compared to the
> training of high-tech professionals in many foreign countries.
> - Offshoring is being hidden from consumers. Consumers have a right to
> know who is doing the work they are paying for and who they are dealing
> with. This is a fundamental principle of ethical business practice and
> we see it every day when we are told over the phone that "this call may
> be recorded." Nevertheless the complex labyrinth of offshoring
> contractual relationships leaves offshoring invisible to consumers.
> The NWU 2004 Anti-Offshoring Campaign
> ----------------------------------------------------
> While all the issues discussed above are valid concerns of both our
> primary and support constituency, the NWU has very limited resources.
> The entire business/corporate lobby and power-structure strongly favor
> off-shoring and are dead set against any government restrictions on it.
> The corporate mass media echoes their position. They have been largely
> successful in winning broad public support for "free-enterprise" and
> "free-market" ideologies. Even a "progressive" TV show, West Wing, took
> the stance that (despite some hand-wringing) offshoring is unstoppable
> and, in the long-run, beneficial to all.
> We've seen such political onslaughts before, and experience has shown
> the difficulty of confronting such economic initiatives in the absence
> of a very strong working-class political movement. We believe that best
> tactical approach is to narrowly attack offshoring at its most
> vulnerable points. If we can get people and politicians to limit *one*
> aspect of offshoring, it becomes much easier to broaden that limitation
> to other aspects.
> With that perspective in mind, we are focusing on those issues which we
> feel will have the most traction, and for which there are already
> legislative initiatives under way, namely the first two of the issues
> discussed above:
> - Tax incentives and public agencies are subsidizing or encouraging the
> offshoring of high-tech and related jobs, thereby undermining U.S.
> workers=B9 livelihoods at taxpayers expense
> - Offshoring of high-tech work involving personal medical and financial
> data poses a broad personal privacy threat to U.S. citizens
> Given that offshoring has already become a political issue during an
> election year, our plan is to mount an effort to press Congressional,
> Senatorial, and Presidential candidates to support specific
> anti-offshoring legislation.. The campaign would unfold in the following
> stages:
> Stage 1: Prepare summary and in-depth position papers on the two
> priority issues mentioned above as well as campaign literature that
> counteracts the main arguments used to promote offshoring:
> Stage 2: On the basis of these positions, launch an effort to gather
> support from union members, other writers, the high-tech community, and
> other unions and organizations for legislation addressing these two
> priority legislative issues. This is an organizing-recruiting effort
> that can be taken up locally and coordinated nationally.
> Stage 3: Organize delegations to Congressional, Senatorial, and
> Presidential candidates before the election, presenting petitions and
> asking for these candidates' support for the corresponding legislation.
> The union will subsequently publicize their positions.
> Stage 4: Past November, we continue to work for passage of the above
> legislation and to organize writers and others behind this effort.
> This campaign focuses our efforts on a couple key areas that would have
> broad appeal, even among people who do not feel immediately in jeopardy
> of losing their jobs. It proposes concrete organizing activity. It
> translates into specific work required to prepare for and implement the
> campaign. And it provides an avenue for working with other unions and
> organizations to build political pressure.
> Current Work and Timetable
> ----------------------------------
> The work currently underway is the following:
> 1. Preparing Position Papers:
> We are currently recruiting members from an NWU offshoring discussion
> list to prepare issue summary positions and more in-depth background
> papers on the two focused campaign issues: public incentives to
> offshoring and personal privacy risks.
> We are also preparing outreach materials that debunk frequently stated
> misconceptions (FSMs) about the extent, economic impact, and
> justification for offshoring.
> 2. Building Alliances:
> We have begun discussions with WashTech, a CWA affiliate and its
> offspring TechsUnite organizations that have taken a leadership role on
> the offshoring issue.
> 3. Researching Legislation:
> We are beginning to research what legislation is in the pipeline both
> locally, state-wide, and at the national level.
> The National Executive Committee has assigned 1st VP Al Weinrub to
> assemble an organizing task force to lead the offshoring campaign and
> has provided some limited staff resources (Kenya Briggs will be working
> part-time with Al) to help spearhead that effort.
> We anticipate the following rough time table:
> Stage 1, Preparation: June - July
> Stage 2, Outreach Organizing: July - August
> Stage 3, Delegations and Publicity: August - October
> Stage 4: Post election

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