Anti-offshore outsourcing groups banding together

Groups hoping to slow the migration of skilled jobs to low-wage countries say it will take a combination of actions affecting U.S. visa, trade policies and tax laws to stem the flow of jobs overseas.

But even then, “you can’t stop it altogether, nor are we saying that we should stop it altogether,” said Sen. Christopher Dodd, (D-Conn.), a leading opponent of offshore outsourcing. But the trend toward offshoring is “so overwhelming” that “some effort to try and put the brakes on it, to slow it down, consider what we are doing” is needed.

That attack is well under way. Dodd recently introduced the U.S. Workers Protection Act, which would prohibit the use of federal funds in offshore work. Last year, he introduced legislation that would set restrictions on L-1 visas, which are used by companies to transfer overseas employees into jobs in the U.S. Critics say the visa program has become a vehicle for facilitating job losses.

Last month, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, (D-S.D.), introduced legislation requiring companies that intend to move jobs overseas to disclose their layoff plans three months in advance.

Dodd and others were on hand at the National Press Club recently to announce formation of a new organization to spearhead the attack against offshore outsourcing. Major unions and grassroots organizations that have sprung up around the country to fight the offshoring of IT and manufacturing jobs today said they had formed the Jobs and Trade Network — an umbrella group to represent those concerned about the issue.

There are some 15 groups involved, including the United Steelworkers of America, a number of AFL-CIO organizations, including some that represent professional employees, and the American Engineering Association, as well as some manufacturing associations whose members are being hurt by current trade policies.

“We’re going to take our country back from the greedy and unpatriotic, unethical and short-sighted actions of multinational companies, big-box retailers and others,” said Fred Tedesco, president of a Bristol, Conn.-based manufacturer, Pa-Ted Spring. He is one of the leaders of Mad In USA, described as an ad hoc group of people, companies, labour groups and chambers of commerce that oppose trade policy.

The legislative attack is still in its early stages but it’s growing and could ultimately affect business processes if it succeeds.

Take privacy law, for example. Leo Gerard, the international president of the United Steelworkers, said he would like to see a requirement that a patient’s approval would be needed before medical information or test results could be sent offshore for analysis or processing.

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