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IT workers replaced by foreign labor may regain federal benefit

Patrick Thibodeau | June 25, 2015
As Southern California Edison (SCE) began replacing its IT workers with foreign labor, several IT employees asked the U.S. government for help. They submitted an application for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), and explained why they believe trade played a role in their job loss.

To be eligible today for TAA, an employee has to physically make an object. IT workers that can demonstrate that they were part of a manufacturing process may be eligible, but getting approval is tougher. The exclusion of IT workers from TAA has had a clear impact. For instance, Bank of America workers applied after a 2014 layoff when six IT positions were transferred to India. There were layoffs in other departments as well. But the Labor Dept. said its investigation showed that the bank "does not produce an article," meaning manufacture something, and the employees' applications were denied.

Separately, TAA applications provide mini-chronicles of what some U.S. workers are facing in the labor force.

Take, for instance, a request for help by some claims and customer service workers at insurer Aetna in 2012. The Aetna employees wrote: "We were sent emails asking if we would be willing to go to India, Manila and the Philippines to train workers to take over our jobs in claims and customer service. We have documentation that our jobs were eliminated due to outsourcing."

AT&T employees seeking TAA help in 2013 wrote: "Offshore contract firm has won the contract to provide IT services for IT operations. Workers performing this work now for AT&T have been declared surplus."

 

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