Monday, January 12, 2004

Off-shoring software development Technology | No safety net for programmers

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration determined that programmers like Fusco do not qualify, because of the nature of what they’d produced on their old jobs: software. The government cited commerce and trade rules that classify software as a “service” and “not a tangible commodity,” rather than an “article” as the trade act stipulates.

In other words, code doesn’t count.

Fusco’s lawyer doesn’t buy it. “When stuff is offshored, it’s done over there, and then it’s imported through the communication lines back to America,” says attorney Michael G. Smith, who is now bringing a class-action lawsuit against the Department of Labor and the Department of Justice, on behalf of Fusco and other tech workers like him. “When the work is offshored, we think that all programmers should be eligible for benefits.”

With the growing trend towards off-shoring software development, the fact that the DOL isn’t qualifying programmers for federal aid is worrisome if you’re a developer. What it really indicates is that the brick and mortar industries are better represented by labor unions, who’ve been more successful at lobbying Congress for protection.

I doubt we’ll see union organizing in the software world — but this begs the question how we’re going to address this issue. Off-shoring isn’t going away. And the tech world is showing signs of organizing politically. Unlike in “traditional” manufacturing, management is much more politically active than the workers. Until that changes, I doubt we’ll see a sea change in actions like this one.


  1. 60 Minutes on out-sourcing to India

    Maybe the Communications Workers of America would like an opportunity to increase the cost of labor. I've read of out-sourcing sysadmin tasks, but until foreign connectivity is better than domestic connectivity — and the hardware starts moving abroad — I doubt that the System Administrator's Guild will become more than a professional organization. That makes me feel better about my profession, because some companies think that we _can't_ work from far away.

    What I wonder is what will we do when all the good jobs are gone?

  2. There's absolutely no need to 'Doom and Gloom' about our economy. If you want a job you have to fight for it. You have to convince the employer to hire you.

    Maybe this means we need to start working for less pay? We need to decide to live a less prosperous life. But, on the other hand it may just mean that instead of a bachelor's degree you need a Masters. Instead of a single internship you need a couple.

    Instead of a portfolio with small samples of your work. You need to give the employer a full fledged DEMO that may take you longer than you migth be willing to take to put together a portfolio.

    Planet Earth is all about Fighting for things. You either fight until you win. Or you sit around moping and doom and glooming society until your eyes ball out.

  3. Blogspammer ID: Raymond Donald Pairan Jr., Labor Activist

    ouch. this guy got around a long time before he found me (he had to dig very, very deep - 20th page of google looking for '"job loss" blog'). not pushing a product, exactly, but certainly pushing a political agenda...