Sunday, June 28, 2009

IBM Outsourcing Skilled American Jobs

Wanna know where our jobs are going? The New York Post had a story today that has me fuming. It seems that New York City is shooting itself in the foot when it comes to saving jobs. New York City frequently awards contracts to private corporations. IBM was awarded a 1.9 million dollar contract with the department of finance to improve the city's financial data base. Who did they in turn hire? The New York Post reports as follows.

IBM won a $1.9 million contract with the Department of Finance to analyze its old main databases so they can be improved, but the company has transported "consultants" from Mumbai and other parts of India to do most of the work.

At least 17 employees hired by an IBM subsidiary in India have worked in New York since October, inspecting the city's computer systems, which hold property and other tax records, insiders said.

"It was a dream come true," said Sunny Amin, 25, who traveled from his Mumbai home to the Big Apple -- his first US visit.

Amin, who has an engineering degree from a college in Aurangabad, landed his first job with IBM-India.

While a bit lost at first, Amin said, he rented an apartment in Parsippany, NJ, and commuted by bus. After nine months on Wall Street, he's being sent to another IBM job, in Minneapolis, on his three-year work visa."

This is not a new development. American workers are caught in a vise grip. Workers must compete with computer programmers and tech consultants in developing countries who are happy to work for a fraction of what an American worker needs to survive. Whatever is left over is subject to foreign workers who come on temporary visas. Legally, a company has to prove that they tried in good faith to hire an American worker. But there are ways around that. If you advertise for say a systems analyst for an absurdly low salary, you will have qualified Americans shaking their heads in disgust as they leave a job interview. It can then truthfully be said that the corporation has tried without success to find a qualified American to do the job. Then you hire from India whoever you want. They will earn in America much more than if they worked for the company in their local office. Everybody wins, except the American worker.

For years we have been listening to garbage about how foreigners come to do jobs no Americans will do. Now we are seeing the naked truth. Jobs that were promoted a generation ago as the cutting edge in employment are now being outsourced. Skilled workers are being priced out of the job market just as surely as agricultural workers have been.

It is downright criminal that we are outsourcing valuable jobs at a time when unemployment is approaching the double digits for Americans who must pay a ballooning deficit with battered earning power.

The Post story adds an infuriating touch to the story about outsourcing The Post quotes a union chief as follows.

"It's like a slap in the face," said Robert Ajaye, president of Local 2627, a union of city-employed computer specialists. "We have people in house who could do this job."

Instead, he said, some city staffers have had to "translate" for Indian techies lacking English skills."

That is what I call cold blooded. You outsource jobs and then you bring in the workers most directly threatened to translate for the workers who are being used as pawns to hammer down their wages.

An American citizen has an obligation to pay taxes and possibly to bear arms for his country. This policy of outsourcing American jobs threatens America's tax base and currency. If America wants to help the developing world, let it expand the consumer base in those countries. If a company insists on effectively boycotting American workers, let them pay taxes on their savings. Additionally, American consumers should be political when they make any significant purchase. A company that treats its workers right and does not discriminate against American workers should be given high priority. My next computer will not likely be from IBM. Charity begins at home, and American workers need whatever help they can get in tough economic times. Shame on you, IBM.

P.S. I looked for an appropriate illustration for this article and a thought occurred to me. If you want to slam the lid on American jobs, why not do it in style and use a manhole cover that is imported from India? Put an American steel worker on the dole! Buy from overseas !


Anonymous said...

See India thinks about outsourcing American jobs, check out Nandan Nilekani’s (InfoSys co-founder) Twitter page –

Russell Smith said...

Thanks, Rudi, for your post, and for providing a forum on this important issue. I've got a different take than you. The statistics suggest it is likely that off-shore outsourcing leads to more jobs in the West, not fewer. Law Without Borders On the legal process outsourcing front, I've seen with my own eyes how off-shore legal outsourcing, especially high-end, legal services KPO (knowledge process outsourcing), creates more legal work in the West, as deals previously undone, and litigations previously settled (or never filed), due to excessive legal costs, are suddenly affordable. Affordability means more work for the Western lawyers involved in supervision, editing, negotiating, and/or appearing in court.

Russell Smith
SDD Global Solutions
high-end legal outsourcing