When I announced over the Internet I was forming the Programmers Guild in 1998 to do what you suggest, I expected 10,000 people to immediately sign up for the mailing list. It took over three years to get 1,000 to join us.
I believe we are still the only programming group invited to testify before congress (twice). We have been bringing a string of discrimination complaints to the government. We have been fighting to get the New Jersey ban on offshoring passed.
Programmers, especially younger ones, have little interest in organizing. They look out for themselves and thats it. Our membership survey showed just one under the age of 30. I estimate that in the entire country we have fewer than 5,000 politically active in-the-field programmers.
Programmers tend not to be very forward thinking. When I testified before the judiciary committee in 2000 I was working at Dun & Bradstreet. At the time my coworkers were chiding me about my useless activity and how it was costing me so much money. Shortly thereafter, their CIO announced they were all being H-1Bd. If every programmer waits until he or she gets laid off before becoming active, there is no hope.
The reality is, if programmers dont start doing as you advocate, there will be no programming profession in the U.S. in a few years. (Try to buy a mens dress shirt made in the USA.)
Founder, the programmers guild
Former Chairman, the programmers guild
2 weeks short of being a 2nd year Law Student
Your article about a lobbying group for IT really struck a chord with me and everyone else in IT thats paying attention.
The problem right now in a nutshell is that the politicians dont represent the people, they do the things that will generate them the most cash for their next re-election bid. It seems likely that the big companies that are shipping jobs overseas (i.e., IBM, HP, Bank of America, etc.), are also donating generously to various politicians to stay out of the issue. Money talks. Same thing with H1-B.
The IT community needs to seriously unite as a lobbying group and present a formidable opposing force to these larger companies that are only concerned about the moving their stock price up in this subdued economy.
Would this benefit me? You bet. I have a job that could be shipped overseas. Would this also benefit the economy? You bet. Who do these corporations think will buy their goods and services if everyone has a job that includes the phrase, “Do you want fries with that order?”
This effort to pump up stock prices is shortsighted. They are trading immediate gratification for long term prosperity. If the larger companies wont care about this, the politicians definitely should. Its a shame their view is obscured with lots of cash. An IT lobbying group would provide the needed counterbalance to this problem.
I enjoyed your article on IT needing a voice in politics. I have been looking for this for quite some time. I am interested not just for IT, but all technology professionals still left in the US. The most recent eWeek issue also noted that Electrical Engineering unemployment went to 7 percent! You have no idea how disturbing that is. As a electro-mechanical engineer for 20 years (now lost in the CAD world), I have watched millions of manufacturing jobs disappear, but I always figured the real high-tech was secure (its only the technology that makes our military powerful). Now even the electrical/electronic/computer science field is being bled off, outsourced, etc.. It is amazing to see how bad “raw capitalism” can become. When Ciscos employees said that stock options were to be expensed, Chambers said he would send all the tech work overseas. What a great American he is!
The solution is as simple as you alluded to. We need NERDPAC, and we need it now. I would pay $100 easily to join. I would be glad to volunteer for it. And the agenda can be totally simple to start: end absolutely all guest tech worker programs or all the programmers/engineers/technicians are going to stay home. What would the country do?
I would like to think things would change quickly when nobody has access to our skills, but only the popular media can really put the pressure on Washington, and this media feeds off of the corporations that send everything to China now. Imagine if nothing said Made in China; WalMart would disappear, and we know that cant happen. Of course, the Pentagon already has people in it that are planning for China as the real adversary, so there must be people in the Pentagon that are not happy at all about moving our industrial base there. I wonder if a magazine like eWeek could get to those people at the Pentagon and find out what they think? I wonder if a magazine like eWEEK could go undercover and expose what life is really like for the Chinese tech people (with no rule of law, trial by jury, multi-party voting, EPA, OSHA, EEOC, intellectual property rights)?
Keep up the good reporting.
Stephen J. Schoonmaker
I could not agree more. IT needs a Voice, a Union, something to help curb the onslaught of negative outcomes for IT professionals in America. I have a few more thoughts to offer you on this subject.
1. Using the word VOICE as an acronym, I came up with Voicing Overlooked Issues for Computer Engineers. Catchy, and coincides with the mission at hand. Would need someone HIGHLY recognized in the IT and/or Entertainment industry to champion the cause. Someone like a Bill Gates or, better yet, George Lucas. George Bush might be a stretch.
2. I have often thought that there should be an organization (non-profit, corporation, consortium) that would take the lead on creating ONSHORE company/ies that could offer jobs to the outplaced IT workers in America. It would work much like the offshore companies, offer less pay, but offer rewards in challenging opportunities. Hey, some of these people would probably be very happy with, say $30-40 per hour (going rates with offshore vendors) rather than pulling down 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet. For this to work, the champion of the cause would have to ignite and charge Corporate America with offloading the offshore companies and replacing offshore workers with American workers through these ONSHORE organizations.
These are just my brief thoughts on the subject matter. Feel free to use this information in any way. If you feel there is anything else I can do to assist in this ongoing idea/effort, let me know.
Martin D. Gilmore
VP & CIO
Right on, brother.
It is so annoying when I see rich individuals and corporations writing their own laws. I would prefer laws based on the common good and common sense, but it the ground rules are known and documented, lets raise $20 from 50,000 people and get it over with.
But we do not all share common goals. In 1986, the software companies got the late Sen. Moynihan to pass a law making it illegal for programmers to be independent contractors. The companies felt that they could get cheaper labor if people did not have a choice. The law is still on the books, but, thankfully, it is not often enforced. And there are technicalities for getting around it.
Thanks for a good common sense article.