Unions, Schools Tackle Outsourcing Boom

Enrollment is down at computer engineering schools because of a perception that IT jobs can all be outsourced to India. Schools now must “outsource-proof” their graduates by teaching them skills that cannot be replicated elsewhere, such as project management, the Tampa Tribune reports. One study suggests that up to 29 percent of all U.S. jobs will “offshoreable” by 2030. In the United Kingdom, some hospitals are outsourcing medical transcription to India and the Philippines; others say doing so costs local jobs, and increases risk of fatal medical errors. The Newspaper Guild is protesting plans by the Boston Globe and the New York Times Co.

Labor Groups Tackle Child Exploitation

Cheap labor from children working in slavelike conditions is booming worldwide. But in India, Africa and Turkey, activists are taking on the problem with education and outreach. An estimated 100,000 boys under 14 work in Delhi’s sari mills, sold to middlemen by impoverished and uninformed parents. A local advocacy group, which says the boys are kept in filthy conditions and live and work in the same rooms, is pressuring clothing designers to commit to child labor-free textiles. Poverty also drives West African parents to send their children to work on Ivory Coast cocoa farms, where they suffer abuse and miss out on school.

Immigrant Labor: California’s Undocumented Economy

The coastside town of Pescadero worries that new immigrant restrictions will stifle the economy, and cost its schools as much as 60 percent of their students. Family farmers there are already losing workers to the higher- paying construction industry, the San Mateo County Times reports, and fear the new rules will put them out of business. In San Diego, competition is stiff for a pool of up to 400,000 undocumented workers in restaurants, construction, agriculture and childcare. The underground economy produces affordable services and housing, KPBS TV reports, driving a regional biotech and telecom boom. And at nearby Pitzer College, protestors say the arrest of 761 immigrants under “Operation Return to Sender” unjustly targets “good people” who contribute to the community, according to the San Bernardino County Sun.

The Labor Movement

By Martin Leatherman, Newsdesk.org
Even as income and union membership declines for America’s working class, problems of forced labor and low working standards worldwide are driving new activist movements. Many concerns are focused on the AFL-CIO, the leading federation of traditional U.S. industrial unions. John Sweeney, president of the group, is under pressure from dissidents to make huge changes in priorities, including a new emphasis on organizing over lobbying. Andrew Stern, president of the growing Service Employees International Union, is even calling for Sweeny’s removal. At its peak in the 1960s, about 30 percent of workers in the United States were unionized.