My hope for this week’s newsletter was to be opining on the H-1B rule changes that have been hotly anticipated for the past several days. But alas, nothing published to date.
In absence of the rule changes, I would like to be able to encourage professional white-collar workers to reach out to the presidential campaigns of both the Republican and Democratic candidates. It would be great to hear both Biden and Trump speak to how they will end the scourge of offshoring and outsourcing jobs in our manufacturing and services sectors. However, all I see are workers making their appeals to just one party and one man in particular – Donald Trump.
It was Trump who went to bat for the workers of the Tennessee Valley Authority, and it did not go unnoticed. According to the New York Post, a worker at the GE plant in Schenectady, NY, said of Trump, “I almost spit my coffee out, he’s a hero in this building. Our plea is please do not send more of our work overseas.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York is the Senate Minority Leader, one of the most powerful members of the Senate. He is the Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, the party purportedly of the working man and woman. Yet, New York workers feel more comfortable reaching out to Trump!
This week, a worker at Peabody Energy copied us on a two-page, handwritten letter s/he sent to Trump praying he would help the way he did the TVA workers. The employee recently learned s/he would be without a job, as would colleagues, as Peabody was offshoring work to India. This person stated:
“I am writing you today to inform you that Peabody Energy announced to its IT and corporate services staff that it will be outsourcing 60 – 65 American jobs to India over the next few months. With your recent dealings with TVA’s similar situation, I pray that you will also be able to save us from our jobs being outsourced …”
I called Peabody Energy. I had a brief conversation with the COO who directed me to the Chief Human Resources Officer, Paul Richard. He didn’t pick up. But I did leave him a voicemail stating my name, organization, phone number and could he confirm that their “India Expansion Plan” did indeed include the offshoring of 65 jobs? Wouldn’t you want to be a fly on the wall when he listens to that message …!
Also this week, an IT worker who recently retired at the age of 75 wrote a letter to Republican Sen. Rick Scott thanking him for “doing the right thing and standing up for American workers and voting against the S. 386 outsourcing bill.” In the letter he stated that he had planned to retire at 65, but “the H-1B program severely hampered my ability to earn a good living for my family. It was only because I was willing to take repetitive pay cuts and persist and sacrifice that I was able to continue doing the work that I loved and was trained for.”
Earlier this year Vanguard announced that it will be outsourcing 1,300 jobs to Indian IT consulting firm Infosys. These “Team Members” will be “rebadged” and become Infosys employees in a building not far down the street in Malvern, PA. I wonder how many will still be at Infosys 12 months from today. We know from recent polling that blue-collar workers are flocking to Trump in Pennsylvania. How many more Vanguards will it take before white-collar workers/professionals begin flocking to him as well?
A job is as basic a bread-and-butter issue as you are going to find. And it is the bread-and-butter issues that win presidential races. It would be great to see both parties competing for the vote of our workers/productive classes. However, one seems to be more consumed with identity politics and ideology than with solving problems.
I’m reminded of a passage from Jack London’s book, “Iron Heel:”
“I know nothing that I may say can influence you. You have no souls to be influenced. You are spineless, flaccid things. You pompously call yourselves Republicans and Democrats. You are lick-spittlers and panderers, the creatures of the Plutocracy.”
In this novel the country is run by an Oligarchy referred to as Iron Heel and the two-party system and the institutions of the Republic were merely a façade.
In the novel there is massive unemployment:
“We called these wretched people the people of the abyss, and it was to alleviate their awful suffering that the socialists had introduced the unemployed bill. But this was not to the fancy of the Iron Heel. In its own way it was preparing to set these millions to work, but the way was not our way, wherefore it had issued its orders that our bill should be voted down.”
No doubt the real-life situation in the darkest days of the Great Depression was much like what London was describing in his novel. Fast forward to today, and we see that consistent theme. The rich and powerful operate global empires from which they derive great profit from the easy movement of people, capital and jobs across international borders. And much like in the novel, our attempts to put an end to this kind oppression and manipulation are frustrated at each and every turn. Today’s oligarchs just like the ones in the novel have a solution to our unemployment woes.
But their way is not our way. They want to see wages around the world ground down. At that point, they might consider making investments in American citizens whom they now find to be expensive, undeserving and expendable. But that is not our way! We are going to fight them for each and every job they attempt to outsource and offshore. We will fight them in Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Pennsylvania! And much like in the time of my great grandfather who fought for living wages in the coal mines of Mahanoy City, we will eventually prevail.