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Consumer Reports

Ex-employees forming movement to stop jobs from going overseas | (KRT) J. Scott Kirwin's Web site sells a T-shirt that says "My job went to India and all I got was a stupid pink slip."

Kirwin's not sure if his specific job went to India, but he knows about the pink-slip part. After training employees of an Indian company to handle J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.'s software, he was out of work.

Since then, Kirwin, 37, of Wilmington, Del., has found a mission - and so have hundreds of displaced information-technology workers.

They are part of a national grassroots movement that is making alliances with manufacturing groups and organized labor to fight globalization and the loss of jobs to overseas companies and foreign guest workers.

"I just think what is happening is wrong," said Kirwin, who started the Information Technology Professionals Association of America last year. "I'm like a little poodle nipping at their legs, but if I save jobs, it will be worth it."

Driven by anger and a sense of betrayal, Kirwin and other displaced programmers, analysts and Webmasters have the technical savvy to blast their message via the Internet.

On Kirwin's Web site are more than 100 links to grassroots and labor groups: the Texas Labor Champions, the Oregon Association of Tech Professionals, even one called Outsource Congress.

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One link leads to an unemployed Connecticut programmer, John Bauman, and six longtime friends, who started The Organization for the Rights of American Workers in 2002 after realizing that only two of a dozen friends still had their jobs.

About half had trained their replacements - foreigners on temporary worker visas, who, they suspected, would eventually move the work abroad.

Last Tuesday, Bauman went to a news conference in Washington, D.C., of the Jobs and Trade Network, an alliance of manufacturing groups, trade unionists, and displaced information-technology workers. They came to support a bill by Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd to bar federal tax dollars from being used to take government work offshore.

Next month, Bauman's group and others will protest at an International Business Machines Corp. shareholders meeting. IBM's outsourcing has made it a lightning rod on the issue.

"We're doing it for our kids," said Bauman, who has been unemployed for 16 months and whose grown children have been unable to use their own software training. "Their jobs are going down the tubes."

Another link from Kirwin's Web site leads to Mike Emmons, 41, a Florida programmer, who, in 2002, after working with Siemens AG for five years, faced the choice of immediate termination or training his replacements, workers on foreign visas.

Emmons found Siemen's plan to move jobs abroad and shared it with politicians, including his congressman. But after learning that John Mica, a Republican, had accepted contributions from Siemens in 2002, he decided to run against Mica this fall.

To Emmons, the use of foreign guest workers and the offshoring of jobs are linked. "It's the golden egg that Congress has given the companies to take the jobs offshore," he said.

In Wilmington, Kirwin said he hoped to "create a sense of consciousness among IT workers." He said he feared that the coming generation of potential technology workers would have no place to learn and advance - to the detriment of America's future.

Advocacy, though, has not helped him support his wife and child. He is on his third job since losing his J.P. Morgan work last year.

"Here I am, at the most experienced in my life, and I'm making less than I did in 1999," he said.

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© 2004, The Philadelphia Inquirer Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services