Outsource Me…

I am reposting this here, because it is considered a ‘Personal Blog’ and is not appropriate for my topic at Examiner.com.  I understand that, and I should have thought of that before posting it there. 

Thank you for reading and feel free to comment!

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I have been writing for Examiner.com since September 2010. Even though I applied for two other topics at the time as this one, my topic is Mesa Unemployment Benefits Examiner. I picked that as one of my choices because I was unemployed at the time (and still am), and it is a topic I can safely say I know something about. However, the topic turned out to be more limiting than I thought it would be. Even though the unemployment situation here locally and also nationally in the United States has gotten a great deal of attention, I am a local Examiner, and my content is supposed to be localized. Not only that, there are only so many ways and so many times you can tell your readers how to apply for benefits, and where to apply and so forth. Therefore I have also written articles about local job fairs and specific company hiring events; and have started reporting statistics weekly on the unemployment rate as they are released by the U.S. Department of Labor.

I have not written anything on my personal situation, and in fact I have made an effort to NOT bring my personal situation into the articles I have been writing. With my personal situation coloring so much of my daily life sometimes it is difficult to be impersonal about what I write. Because of that I have decided to start today with a description of how I came to be where I am now.

A little over two years ago I was laid off from my job at a major financial institution in Phoenix, Arizona. My job was to assist customers via email and telephone contact with questions about their credit card payments and other issues related to credit cards and online banking. After a rough few years during which I had been laid off a couple of times and lost a job I had worked at for over ten years, I felt with this position as if I were making some progress again. The job paid fairly well and the benefits were the best I had ever had on any job. I felt as though the company was secure and so was my position. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

One of the frustrations we had on the job in my position was that we frequently had to transfer customers to other associates when their issues were really not that difficult to solve. We simply did not have the proper access to assist them. Then one day not too long before I was laid off we were told things would be changing; departments would be consolidating and the responsibilities and access would be similar across several departments. Therefore we would have to transfer customers less often and would be able to deal with more issues ourselves. The company began to set up training classes so associates could learn new programs on the computer system, and associates began picking what sessions would be best for them. My team, which had gone through training together and onto the floor as a unit, would also be split up amongst several other teams.

Then we were hit with another announcement: the overnight shift would be shutting down and the associates working on that shift would have to be absorbed into the rest of the department.

What was behind this announcement? Outsourcing. Our call center was not a twenty four hour operation; it actually shut down at 8p.m. local time. However, there was an overnight shift that focused solely on answering email. During the day when we were not as busy on the phones, or there was a heavy volume of email we also answered some, but email was the only focus of the night shift. The company had now decided to ship the email department to Guadalajara, Mexico. Everyone, including the night shift now had to fill out shift bids. Since I was new I believed I was likely to be stuck with whatever no one else wanted; however I was pleasantly surprised to find I was able to keep the shift I was already working even after absorbing the night shift. Therefore I thought everything was going to be okay. Unfortunately I was wrong.

One day I was called into a conference room with my team manager and his supervisor and told I was to be laid off. They did not call it a lay off, but that is of course what it really was. My team was the newest team, so of course we were the first target.

I am still not sure how many people from my team were actually laid off, thought I know it was at least four. I also do not know if there were people laid off from other departments, or from other teams. What I do know is that my plans and my life were once again in turmoil, and it was and is, a direct result of outsourcing. Outsourcing can and does affect people; it can and does hurt people. When a worker loses a job to outsourcing it is through no fault of their own, and beyond their control.  And it is often something that is depressing and extremely difficult to bounce back from.

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12 Things You Need to Know About the Uprising in Wisconsin

12 Things You Need to Know About the Uprising in Wisconsin

 
Public workers and supporters picketing the mansion of Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, February 13, 2011

What’s happening in Wisconsin is not complicated. At the beginning of this year, the state was on course to end 2011 with a budget surplus of $120 million. As Ezra Klein explained, newly elected GOP Governor Scott Walker then ” signed two business tax breaks and a conservative health-care policy experiment that lowers overall tax revenues (among other things). The new legislation was not offset, and it turned a surplus into a deficit.”

Walker then used the deficit he’d created as the justification for assaulting his state’s public employees. He used a law cooked up by a right-wing advocacy group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC likes to fly beneath the radar, but I described the organization in a 2005 article as “the connective tissue that links state legislators with right-wing think tanks, leading anti-tax activists and corporate money.” Similar laws are on the table in Ohio and Indiana.

Walker’s bill would strip public employees of the right to bargain collectively for anything but higher pay (and would cap the amount of wage hikes they might end up gaining in negotiations). His intentions are clear — before assuming office, Walker threatened to decertify the state’s employees’ unions (until he discovered that the governor doesn’t have that power).

But he’s spinning the measure as something else — a bitter pill state workers must swallow in order to save Wisconsin’s government. So the first things you need to know are:

1. Wisconsin’s public workers  have already “made sacrifices to help balance the budget, through 16 unpaid furlough days and no pay increases the past two years,” according to the Associated Press. The unions know their members are going to have to make concessions on benefits, but they rightly see the assault on their fundamental right to negotiate as an act of war.

2. There are already 13 states that restrict public workers’ bargaining rights and it hasn’t helped their bottom lines. As Ed Kilgore notes,  “eight non-collective-bargaining states face larger budget shortfalls than either Wisconsin or Ohio,” and ” three of the 13 non-collective bargaining states are among the eleven states facing budget shortfalls at or above 20%.” 

3. This isn’t just about public employees. What even a majority of the protesters don’t know is that Walker’s law would also place all of the state’s Medicaid funding in the hands of the governor.  State senator Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton — one of the Dem law-makers who fled the state to block a vote on the bill — told local media that this amounted to “substantial Medicaid changes” that put “the governor, all of a sudden… in charge of Medicaid, which is SeniorCare, which is BadgerCare …and he has never once said what he intends to do” with those programs. But the provision led journalist Suzie Madrak to conclude that “the end game for all this is to defund state Medicaid programs and make it impossible to serve as part of the new health care safety net.”

4. Health-care costs, rather than workers’ greed, are what has driven up the price of employees’ benefits. But generally speaking, those public sector health-care costs have grown at a slower clip than in the private sector.

5. Public employees’ pensions account for just 6 percent of state budgets.

This has nothing to do with the state’s fiscal picture. Aside from potentially undermining Wisconsin’s public health-care system, it’s really about destroying the last bastion of unionism in the American economy: public employees. As Addie Stan wrote on AlterNet’s front page:

 

Walker is carrying out the wishes of his corporate master, David Koch, who calls the tune these days for Wisconsin Republicans. Walker is just one among many Wisconsin Republicans supported by Koch Industries — run by David Koch and his brother, Charles — and Americans For Prosperity, the astroturf group founded and funded by David Koch. The Koch brothers are hell-bent on destroying the labor movement once and for all.

Consider these facts:

6. Last year, more working people belonged to a union in the public sector (7.9 million) than in the private (7.4 million), despite the fact that corporate America employs five times the number of wage-earners.  37 percent of government workers belong to a union, compared with just 7 percent of private-sector employees.

7. Whether in the public or private sector, union workers earn, on average, 20 percent more than their non-unionized counterparts. They also have richer retirement and health benefits — the “union compensation premium” rises to almost 30 percent when you include those bennies.

That workers can still negotiate from a position of strength somewhere in the US is simply unacceptable to the right, and that’s what this is about. As you might expect, the tool they’re using in their campaign is a pack full of lies and distortions about public employees. Here are some answers to those falsehoods:

8. Public sector workers have, on average, more experience and higher levels of education than their counterparts in the private sector (they are twice as likely to have a college degree). 

9. When you adjust for those factors, they make, on average, 4 percent less than their private-sector counterparts.

10. Like any group of workers with a high union density, they have better benefits, on average. But even including those benefits,   state and local employees still make less in total compensation than they would doing the same work in the private sector.

11. In 2007, the average pension for a public sector worker was $22,000. Not exactly caviar dreams.

12. Many public employees are not eligible for Social Security — those pensions, and whatever they can put away on their own, is all that they’ll have in their golden years.

(Unless otherwise indicated, you can find links to the data for all of the above in my piece, “Right-Wingers Using Public Employees as 21st-Century Welfare Queens.”)

The Right has made great political progress getting Americans to ask the question: “How come that guy’s getting what I don’t have?” It’s the crux of the politics of grievance. Progressives need to get Americans to ask a different question: “What’s keeping me from getting what that guy has?” At least part of the answer is the Right’s decades-long assault on private sector workers’ ability to organize, and the latest battle is being waged in Wisconsin.

 

By Joshua Holland | Sourced from AlterNet

Posted at February 18, 2011, 1:12 pm

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Public workers and supporters picketing the mansion of Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, February 13, 2011

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Talking about When Employers Want to See Your Social Networking Profile

 
No way would I personally ever turn over my login and password to any site I belong to, whether it was a social networking site or any other type of site to any potential employer.  If that potential employer wants to see what their potential employees are doing, posting, or talking about on a social networking site, let them go look.  Maybe they could even be ‘friended’ to see what’s going on.  I don’t know.  However, I don’t think it’s at all appropriate to ask potential employees to hand over login and password information.  Would they hand over their information to me?  Granted they are not working for me, however that does not make it appropriate.  There are only a few exceptions I can think of such as terroristic threats, disseminating company information or making inappropriate comments about supervisors or fellow employees. 
 
I’ve tried to get across to some young people I know they should be careful about what they say and post on sites like MySpace or FaceBook.  Some of them get it, some just do not understand why it is anyone’s business.  For the most part I myself have difficulty understanding why what I post on Facebook, MySpace, my WindowsLive Blog or anywhere else should affect how I cam looked at by a potential employer.   I kind of equate this sort of thing with my credit rating affecting what I pay for my car insurance.  What my credit record says has nothing to do with how well or carefully I drive, or how likely I am to file an insurance claim.  In fact studies have shown those who struggle with their credit rating are actually no more likely to file insurance claims than anyone else, and may even be LESS likely.  However, insurers use the claim those with credit problems are more likely to file claims as their reasoning for using credit ratings to help determine insurance premiums.  I have a near perfect driving record; yet if I make a credit card payment late it can affect how much I pay to insure my car.  And it’s all legal.  The opinions I post in my blogs or on social networking sites have nothing to do with how well I do my job, so why should they have any effect on whether I am hired for a job?