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Train Your Own Replacement 1011

An anonymous reader writes "Yahoo reports on how some employers are asking the workers they're laying off to train their foreign replacements - having them dig their own unemployment graves. 'Almost one in five information technology workers has lost a job or knows someone who lost a job after training a foreign worker, according to a new survey by the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers.' It looks like a real dilemma where if you refuse to hire your replacement, you are fired without severance and are ineligible for unemployment benefits, and if you quit, you don't receive severance and are ineligible for unemployment."
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Train Your Own Replacement

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  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @07:49PM (#8786732) Homepage Journal
    Train My Replacement?

    Sorry, it's not in my job description.

    • by Anonymous Crowhead ( 577505 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @07:52PM (#8786771)
      Sorry, it's not in my job description.

      Good advice. Someone please try it and report back. That is, if you can afford an internet connection after you are fired without severance or unemployment benefits.
      • by saden1 ( 581102 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @09:16PM (#8787610)
        Actually, I know of a contractor in our office that was asked to train an incoming contractor who was going to help him with the task assigned to him and he refused by saying "training is not in my job description." You know what management said? "Point well taken!" I realize that contractors are not the same as permanent employees but if you clearly express your unwillingness to fulfill the request in writing you are golden if you get fired or get nothing in return while others received severance packages.

        It is perfectly normal to say it is not in my job description when indeed it is not. Organizing all your work and documents into a nice neat folder should be all you have to do. I personally would write a letter clearly expressing my dissatisfaction and say no and that If they wish, they can retain my services as a contractor after I leave.
      • by macdaddy357 ( 582412 ) <> on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @09:25PM (#8787683)
        Train them incorrectly so they will break everything they touch. They will end up costing the blood-sucking bosses money. Either that, or go postal.
        • by BJZQ8 ( 644168 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:18PM (#8788067) Homepage Journal
          An individual that I know that is retired from a factory did something similar; when the company wanted him to train some "temporary replacements" for a strike. He was a machinist and ran very expensive, very large machines. Among these was a Jig Bore, a very large machine something like a vertical mill. It had powered axes, but had been rigged by some electricians to have its vertical power axis control on the back of the panel. The original knob on the front was a "dummy" and not hooked to anything. This was fine, as he knew about it. He didn't tell his "replacement" about it, however, and when the strike ensued, he turned the machine off and put it on maximum down feed. When they came back from the prolonged strike, the machine had a huge chunk out of its bed...where someone had turned on the machine and watched helplessly as it rammed its cutter into the table.
      • by Simonetta ( 207550 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:34PM (#8788197)
        In the USA, where the managerial class seems to be specifically bred to be missing significant portions of their brains, it happens all the time that employees are ordered to train their replacements. Then they are fired or terminated for chickenshit and denied unemployment benefits.

        This happened to me when I the small company that I was working for got taken over by its German parent company. The new six-foot eight-inch 30-year-old 'manager' came in and reassigned everyone to really stupid and degrading restructured positions. Then as they complained, each employee was fired.
        Then the fuckhead went out of his way to ensure that the fired employees couldn't get unemployment benefits, even when it wouldn't cost the company anything (I looked into this and it was true) and the employees had been working profitably for as many as seven years. He said that Germany was ruined by socialists and now that he was in the US, he could run the place like a 'pure capitalist'. I considered reminding him that just firing people on a whim and then making sure that that couldn't get benefits was not such a good idea in a country where everybody had a gun collection, but I decided that I really didn't need the weird shit that would come from such a comment so easily misunderstood by a foreigner.
        Sure enough the viruses, lawsuits, crank calls, and all sorts of nastiness started happening within a few weeks. Then the sales dropped off. Then the stock price went from 66 Euros to 1.5 Euros in a 12 month period (it's bounced back to 4.5 Euros).
        Then it was my turn to jump into the tree chipper.

        What a nightmare. No wonder people go postal!
    • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:02PM (#8786900)
      Train My Replacement?
      Sorry, it's not in my job description.

      Seriously, in most states a sudden take-it-or-leave-it change in your job requirements is a "just cause" to quit your job and still claim unemployment.

      If you weren't in the business of training people in India... and you don't want to get into that business, you shouldn't have to.
      • by Wylfing ( 144940 ) <brian&wylfing,net> on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:11PM (#8787009) Homepage Journal
        a "just cause" to quit your job and still claim unemployment

        Or, if you live in Minnesota, there is no such thing as an unjust cause. At first I was puzzled by this "dilemma," because in the Socialist Upper Midwest about the only way you can mess up getting unemployment checks is to be working a job on the sly.

        • Thanks, Bush! (Score:5, Informative)

          by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:48PM (#8787361) Homepage Journal
          Thanks for having Elaine Chao and the U.S. Dept of Labor hold seminars for employers - how to lower their costs by moving production overseas.

          Thank god I am safe at Vandelay Industries...

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:10PM (#8786996) Homepage
      no wrong attitude....

      train him WRONG... fricking screw them as hard as they are screwing you.

      sorry, but if your boss doenst know your job enough to train your replacement then, you will screw them nicely :-)

      just like how I rot13 all the sourcecode I write every night....

      it will take them decades to figure it out. espically when I tell them... "what??? It's psudeocode! you are tellimg me you hired someone so unskilled as they dont know what to do with a psudocode file?? I'll gladly help you as a contractor for $200.00 an hour, minimum 10 hour billing."

      sorry... but if they want to screw you, feel free to return their favor.... just do it legally...

      In my case, I was the local It that they decided that I could write apps, they never specified the language nor bought the tools... and yes I deleted all my self bought tools when I left... I dont want to violate any copyrights...

      oh and be sure to call OSHA and BSA and tip them off to unsafe working conditions and suspected software piracy, that is always good for a payback to a company.

      do I sound bitter? at least now I have a good job with a good company and they are smart enough to use CVS and buy the tools we need....
    • by MikeDawg ( 721537 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:48PM (#8787360) Homepage Journal

      Please. . . Most, if not all job descriptions I have ever seen (most had to also be signed, with an extra copy I can have), have including these very valuable words at the end: "Any other assigned tasks".

    • by demachina ( 71715 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @09:04PM (#8787489)
      Simple solution. Train them but train them badly, very badly. Train them with stuff that sounds plausible but is diametricly opposed to right. What are they going to do, fire you?
    • by Stopmotioncleaverman ( 628352 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @09:17PM (#8787625)
      Train my replacement?

      Do I look like a Sith lord?
    • by Glonoinha ( 587375 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @11:26PM (#8788579) Journal
      Train him.
      Become his best buddy. He is going to need a friend here as he is a stranger in a strange land.
      Take him out to experience fine American food.
      Introduce him to tequila. Lots and lots of tequila.
      While the tequila is flowing teach him 'drinking games' and insure that he will blow a .20 BAC.
      Make sure he gets home safe and sound by sitting in the passenger seat navigating while he drives home. Navigate him past all the friendly police officers.

      Nothing says loving like a DWI. God forbid the cops find a baggie of mariwa... maryjuan... mauriwan... shit. God forbid the cops find cocaine in his jacket pocket when they pat him down. Those pesky foreigners and their drugs. Welcome to PMITA prison.

      Only way to make it even funnier is you being totally sober at the time.

      If you are going to dream, dream big.
  • Train them poorly (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bihoy ( 100694 ) * on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @07:50PM (#8786743)
    No sense in helping them to look good eh?
    • by falzer ( 224563 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:04PM (#8786927)
      Yep. Get them started on reading Slashdot their first day.
    • Re:Train them poorly (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Razor Blades are Not ( 636247 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:06PM (#8786955)
      Train your replacement well. Tell him you're well aware that he is going to replace you, and that the pitfalls in his (new) position will be the foolish managers who've hired him because he is cheaper than you are, but less skilled. Tell him that as soon as he has enough experience he should immediately look for a new job, as you are now, because ultimately, he (and you) are better off working for someone with some fore-sight.

      You can sit together, looking at job sites all day looking for a new job. You will be seen as diligently performing this latest job function of "training". You might even earn some extra kudos from the PHB.

      It will be a bonding experience. You'll wander onwards into the job market - and he'll climb the corporate ladder at your old job.

      In a few years time, you'll have kept in touch, and can call him up to see if the company he's working at is hiring. He might even be your boss :)
    • Be careful (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:35PM (#8787248) Homepage Journal
      Think about the future.

      Are you going to need anything from this employer?

      For example, is it possible that you will be consulting and have a proposal in front of some of these people? That you might need a reference? That a prospective future employer might know your bosses professionally or socially?

      Be careful of burning bridges, unless you are willing to get burnt (twice).

      Alternatively, can you get something from your boss that will be useful to you? For example, maybe he will allow you to spend some time during the training period looking for a job with the resources you have at work. Or perhaps he'll help you network.

      I'm not saying the boss is a nice guy or deserves your loyalty, but you may be able to get a quid pro quo, small as it may be, and that would be better than nothing. At very least look at your self interest in the situation as cold bloodedly as you can manage.
      • by deacon ( 40533 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:53PM (#8788353) Journal
        Let's get something straight from the start:

        Companies do not "give you a reference"

        Companies will confirm or deny your date of employment, that is it.



        How does this work?

        Glad you asked!

        You hire a law firm which specializes in defamation lawsuits. They hire a company which calls your old employer and asks them leading questions about you:

        Was she a drunk? Lesbian? Stole pencils? Republican? etc. etc...

        Then your lawyer files a defamation lawsuit based on the bullshit that your PHB spewed over the phone..


        You get a few 10s or hundreds of K, your old PHB gets roasted with a blowtorch..

        Win Win!

        Remember, half the people on /. are like you, the other half are hired by your bosses to post misinformation to keep you in check and in line. These trolls can be recognized by post which say things like:

        You are not eligible for unemployment if you do not kiss your companies ass...

        The only people who decide what you are eligeble for are at the unemplyment office.

        CALL THEM!!!!

        God, If, when I was a dumb impressionable kid, I had a nickel for ever time I took some random persons (wrong!!) opinion as fact, rather than ACTUALLY CHECKING with the real authority involved, I'd have like 5 bucks of nickels, plus about 100K in real money.

        The saddest part, I guess, is that it is almost impossible to get kids today (no offense meant, seriously, I was one myself once) to listen to advice which empowers them rather than making them whores and bitches of their employers.


        Then again, I [] deserve it, cause I never listened to anyone older than me either.

  • A third option (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cpu_fusion ( 705735 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @07:50PM (#8786744)
    It looks like a real dilemma where if you refuse to hire your replacement, you are fired without severance and are ineligible for unemployment benefits, and if you quit, you don't receive severance and are ineligible for unemployment.

    I propose a third option:

    Train them to do things the wrong way, reap maximum amusement out of your last days at the firm, and laugh as you walk out the door.

    • by AbbyNormal ( 216235 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @07:57PM (#8786843) Homepage
      Rules for my job.

      1.) All code must be placed on a single line.
      2.) No comments are necessary...they take up space.
      3.) When in doubt, use a com object reptitively.
      4.) When in doubt, abbreviate. getFormName, should be: getFormName.
      5.) Safe threading is for cowards. Let the threads duke it out...Its the manly way.
      6.) Try not to use "if" or "for" statements. They take too much time.
    • by Tuna_Shooter ( 591794 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:16PM (#8787069) Homepage Journal
      Agreed This happened to me in 2001. The overseas "Consulting" outfit that was hired to replace me as an admin/dba received all the training i deemed appropriate. Needless to say after six months of unacceptable downtime on the servers- security breaches- software issues - and piss poor performance (although the stupid CFO and accountants were happy) i had sitting in my lap a very lucrative support contract. Same job - part time- twice the money. Go figure. The world is full of idiots and i'm starting to beleive they are ALL accountant types.
  • But... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @07:50PM (#8786747)
    I'm not in the computer industry, but I'm wondering how long it takes to train foreign workers? If your job is so valuable that it takes a few days to train someone to be as competent as you, then how does that reflect upon your job?

    Imagine training a foreign physician in what you do. How long would that take? 7-12 years?
    • Re:But... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mantorp ( 142371 ) <mantorp 'funny A'> on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:10PM (#8786995) Homepage Journal
      If your job is so valuable that it takes a few days to train someone to be as competent as you, then how does that reflect upon your job?

      I was involved in managing an outsourcing project. Not in the computer industry either as it happens, it was back office accounting. The replacement workers spent 8 weeks or so on site here, 4 weeks documenting the living crap out of everything, 4 weeks doing the actual work with the soon to be replaced staff looking over their shoulders then 4 more once back in India with their work being checked from here.
      Where I worked at the time we had other openings so no one directly lost their jobs because of this. The workers we got were generally overqualified for what they were asked to do and we paid them a fraction of what it would have cost to hire local staff. Think it turned out to be around $12000 per year per chartered accountant. That covered everything salary, overhead, insurance. Another benefit was that everything was now well documented and they constantly cross trained new employees to keep them from getting bored and to make sure we had replacments if someone over there quit.

    • Re:But... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by neurojab ( 15737 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @09:15PM (#8787605)
      >If your job is so valuable that it takes a few days to train someone to be as competent as you, then how does that reflect upon your job?

      The key phrase here is "as competent as you". If you're being outsourced, that's not the goal. It's a minor consideration. The company is not trying to buy competence... they've already got it (or one would hope). They're trying to buy a cheap warm body to make next year's balance sheets look a little better. Competence doesn't factor into the equation. The company hopes that eventually this new person will perform as well as the one they let go, but in the meantime they're quite happy to have significantly less productivity if it means they can pay them a small fraction of what they pay their current employee.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @07:50PM (#8786749)
    I don't have to worry about 'training' my replacement.
  • Been there done that (Score:5, Interesting)

    by greywar ( 640908 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @07:50PM (#8786751) Journal
    And whats worse-in my case the employer lied. "Oh no we're not training them to replace you, we just expect that you will be busy with other projects..." Yeah other projects like looking for work. They paid for it in the end....HAH! And when they asked me back to help "save the company"....I didnt feel much desire to.
    • by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:21PM (#8787116)
      My friend, you need to learn the way to get ahead in the world. When they ask you back, tell them you'll come back if you get your old boss' job. Or his boss' job. Seriously, that's what I'd do.

      Then again, it can be satisfying to watch the people who fucked you over lose their jobs as a company fails. But there are usually nice people who don't deserve to lose their jobs who'll get screwed over in the process too. Revenge is sweet, but getting your old boss' job, saving a company's ass, then using this line item on the resume to get an even sweeter job is far, far better for you in the long run, and is really the best sort of revenge you can ask for (not to mention you can't put "they begged me to come back and I told them to bugger off" on your resume).

      • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @09:10PM (#8787552)
        Or refuse to come back on as an employee, but offer to consult for an hourly fee that works out to something like 2-4x your old saliry. Just because it's a place that you don't want to come back to doesn't mean you can't milk them for a bit. Had a friend do that with great success. The company decided to replace him with someone that basically earned minimum wage and was fresh out of highschool. They called him up and told him they needed him to fix something, expecting it to be free, of course. He told them no, but he'd consult for them, I think $100/hour was what he decided on. He did, and fixed the problem his replacement had caused. He continued to get extra (and highly profitable) work in this fashion until the company finally went under.
  • Train 'em (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <{akaimbatman} {at} {}> on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @07:51PM (#8786755) Homepage Journal
    Let the employers make their mistakes. You're going to get laid off anyway, so you might as well use the time to start looking for a new job instead of whining about having to train your replacement. Unless you're extremely well organized, it's not like your replacement is going to get much out of your training.

  • BOFH (Score:5, Funny)

    by AbbyNormal ( 216235 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @07:52PM (#8786776) Homepage
    Cmon people...Start Training the BOFH way!

    BOFH: "In order to make sure that your computer is operating at its full capacity, you must daily feed your monitor water whilst holding down the degauss button".

    Trainee over phone:" Sir, this is no problem.." ***BZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzTTttttttttttttt***

    BOFH: "Next trainee. I'm going to like being replaced".
    • Re:BOFH (Score:4, Funny)

      by pla ( 258480 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:47PM (#8787350) Journal
      You forgot the most useful option...

      "Okay, now, log in to our CVS archive server... Oh, you don't have an account yet? Well, just use root for now, with password blah".

      Now, have them do some random crap until the right moment comes up (namely, a nearby coworker, while composing an email, missed a space between two words and didn't catch it).

      "Okay, now very carefully follow my next few instructions, because you can do some serious damage on this machine... We need to clear out some junk on /tmp, so type 'r', 'm', 'space', 'slash' [pause here a moment, reach over to your coworker, point at their typo, and say...] 'SPACE' [pause another moment, then describe some harmless path off of /tmp]. Okay, now hit return. This might take a minute, the crap can really build up there..."

      And, you can consider your replacement well trained, with plausible deniability that your trainee simply "misheard" you giving a suggestion to a coworker, and took it too literally.

      Train my replacement... Yeah, right. Cold day in Hades I'll train my replacement!
  • by Bobdoer ( 727516 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @07:53PM (#8786782) Homepage Journal
    Step one: learn that you're being replaced.
    Step two: train your trainee to be incompetent.
    Step three: laugh at the karmic justice of them firing you for being expensive and getting a useless employee in return.
    Step four: read the classified ads and fail to find a new job.

    At least both you and the company are screwed.

  • by Himring ( 646324 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @07:53PM (#8786783) Homepage Journal
    Fine! But Rasheed is not getting my red stapler!...
  • just face it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ( 629916 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @07:54PM (#8786796) Homepage
    In my company I have to train my potential replacements every day. The company wants to have the ability to layoff anyone, anytime without worry. In fact they have a big layoff once every few months. I'm getting used to it.
  • The Ultimate Plan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rckymntrider ( 754008 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @07:55PM (#8786804)
    1) Start working on a business plan 2) Train your replacement as poorly as possible 3) Collect your severance pay, use it as an investment together with an SBA loan 4) Go into business for your self
  • Common practice (Score:4, Informative)

    by NTworks ( 163511 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @07:56PM (#8786818)
    This is common practice at my job... I work as a state-licensed privately-run datacenter, to which state gvt agencies outsource their mainframe and other large scale Unix processing.

    When we sign a new contract for an agency, we send computer operators and other staff there for a week to get trained by the state employees that are about to get laid off
  • Unemployment (Score:5, Informative)

    by zoomnmd ( 163172 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @07:56PM (#8786822)
    Well, in Maryland at least, you do receive unemployment benefits if you are fired. Also, you can receive benefits when resigning in leui of being fired. A friend of mine just went through this.
    He worked for Lockheed Martin and was going to be fired.
    Instead, he resigned and received benefits. No severence though...
  • by RealAlaskan ( 576404 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:01PM (#8786893) Homepage Journal
    How could you not keep some little, vital secrets? How could you not allow critical misconceptions to go uncorrected? In short, how could you resist the temptation to totally, subtly screw up the guy you're training? Make sure that you don't pass on any crucial contacts, ``accidently'' erase or corrupt vital documents on your last day, the possibilities seem endless.

    Even if the guy you're training is well qualified, there is probably enough that is peculiar to your company and your job that you could do this. He might know that he's not getting the full story, but he won't know what you're leaving out.

    It seems to me that this is really asking for trouble, particularly for higher level jobs where the work isn't easily supervised. The story suggests that there are no counter-incentives to this, and I'm not sure how you could build any in, at least under U.S. labor law.

  • by 0WaitState ( 231806 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:05PM (#8786945)
    CVS? Nah, we tried that but it didn't work. We're using visual source safe now.

    Ok, first you model everything down each class and method level in UML, then you apply the elaboration bongfizzle according to rational unified process...

    We're targeting this release to run on the Longhorn codebase...

    I'm sorry, but you must adhere to the *letter* of the EJB spec. That means you cannot use*, cannot have worker threads, no socket communication, scheduled events, or application lifecycle events.

    You absolutely must check in everything before you go home at the end of the day. That way you don't lose anything if your workstation dies. Build failures? No problem, someone will fix it before you get in the next day.

    You can start coding as soon as you acquire linux licenses from SCO...
  • by pair-a-noyd ( 594371 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:08PM (#8786983)
    someone goes postal on this.
    This is insanity and no one wants to lose their job. And to be forced to train your replacement? That's just flat out wrong..
    There's a lot of unstable people out there, already under huge stress. Add this to the mix and you're asking for a body count....

    It's sad, it's scary but it will happen. Count on it..

  • by t_allardyce ( 48447 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:09PM (#8786987) Journal
    Remember the phrase 'slow learner'? well if your on the payroll to teach your replacement, and your worried that mis-training them will get you in to trouble, just remember the phrase 'slow teacher'! you could spend a whole year just teaching someone, very very very slowly and extra extra carefully, every single detail of your system until they kill themselves out of bordem. Then you can get started on the next one ;)
  • by corren ( 559473 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:16PM (#8787064)
    Here's what I don't understand. The article states $136 billion dollars of salary (per year) will be moved outside the US in the next 15 years. Don't these businesses realize that when they stop paying the american people to build their products, that the american people they rely on to BUY their products wont have any money because they pushed all the jobs overseas? What will McDonalds do when McDonalds are all automated and nobody has any money to eat at McDonalds? When a company moves all its staff but executive off shore, aren't they removing that much money in the very market they want to compete in, therefore hurting themselves in the end?
    • by chris_mahan ( 256577 ) <> on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:23PM (#8787142) Homepage
      As long as it doesn't affect the next 2 quarters of revenue on The Street, they can cash in their options and retire to the house in Santa Barbara's Spanish Hills.

      Short sighted? Yes. Welcome to Kapital-ism.
    • by whatnotever ( 116284 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:09PM (#8787998)
      Think about a single company, one out of thousands. That one company has a choice to either send jobs overseas or not. If it does, then it saves money, and because it is just one company, the impact on the economy is negligible. So it will have higher profits if it sends the jobs overseas. From a simplified, purely financial point of view, the company clearly wants to outsource and make more money.

      Now look at the collection of all companies in a country. As you noted, if they *all* outsource (not entirely possible, but let's go with it for the sake of argument), then they don't have local consumers for their products (also not quite right, because not all companies are consumer-oriented). So in fact they will all make *less* money, even though they are all pursuing an action that will maximize their profit...

      So what if one company then realizes the error of its ways and transfers the jobs back from overseas? Then it will have higher costs, but as it is again only one company, it will not be able to have a big enough effect on the economy to raise its revenue. So outsourcing is *still* the optimal policy for any single company, even though outsourcing was the cause of their lowered profit!

      The action of a single company sending jobs overseas will always make financial sense for that company. It's just the collective action of many pursuing their optimal policies that leads to low profit for all.

      Now, clearly this is vastly oversimplified, but I think it is a useful way of looking at it. It's somewhat related to the Prisoner's Dilemma (something to look up if you're interested) and game theory in general...
  • by LibrePensador ( 668335 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:17PM (#8787075) Journal
    Here's what will happen in reaction to this article.

    A lot of people will respond and tell us how angered they are over the injustices that it is being done to their peers. Then, they will move on to the next story, because in America individuality reigns supreme and the media has twisted our common history to the extent that people do not realize that it was trade unions that made possible the establishment of fair labor standards, such as sick pay, vacation time, a 40-hour week, health standards in the workplace, age-limits to enter the workfoce and so forth.

    People will complain about the raw deal that they get from corporations, yet fail to understand that they have been co-opted into thinking of trading unions as their enemy.

    So long as trade unions are vilified in this country and workers continue to believe that they can beat the system individually if they just continue to make themselves more knowledgeable and their skills more marketeable -all good and lofty things but not the solution to this issue- I will remain unimpressed by these stories for two reasons:

    1) They contain a pinch of xenophobia, at least most of them do.

    2) People are not looking for root causes and fool themselves if they think that foreign workers are not also continuing to make themselves more knowledgeable and their skills more marketable.

    It's time to collaborate with your peers with the same passion that you work on open source software: Union Makes Strength

    For those of you that fail to understand that life is sacrosact and that profits are not everything,do not bother. History has proven you wrong. Only a short time ago, a worker could not hope to reach his thirty's because his working conditions were so inhumane and miserable.

    Know your history, know your past. It will empower you to face the future.

  • by Naum ( 166466 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:22PM (#8787131) Homepage Journal

    First time was a crusher, guys sent from India, working for an offshore vendor - my primary task was to train them to take over for me, since I was terminated in lieu of them taking over systems support and development. Funny thing was my friend got me the gig there four years earlier but just about all of my training was of the OJT variety, though as a seasoned programmer, it doesn't take me too long to get the underpinnings of the system after I dig a bit. I got another offer, and even though it was for less pay and temporary, gladly took it to escape the burden. One of my team members trained a fellow for six months, thinking that the guy was going back to India. Then he suffered the ultimate insult as the individual got to relocate here and take his work from home position.

    Second time I didn't have a job lined up and a team in Mexico took over my function. While I didn't train these folks in person, I was charged with preparing a comprehensive how-to guide that covered every facet of system support and development on that particular application domain. Knowledge transfer was conducted via email and my prepared HTML kit that covered everything from overviews to FAQ on the system. It was easier to stomach, minus the person to person mode.

    You do it because as long as you're accepting a paycheck, you're obligated to serve as directed. At least that is the way I was brought up. A honest days work for an honest days pay and all that jazz.

    Within a 45 minute drive of my house, I tally >5-10K jobs gone, either to India or handled by immigrant visa worker here in the states. By those numbers, you may be assured that these arn't rinky dink outfits, these are corporate giants in finance, defense industry, semiconductors, etc...

    Maybe it's not come to your IT department yet. But the prospect will come soon to the executive management, unless you work for a very small shop, and they will consider it. I served a contract in the summer at a pharmaceutical company and the staff there boasted no way would offshoring and/or outsourcing pervade their organization. A few months into the assignment, senior management there announced a bold new initiative, a partnership with IBM that did indeed involve wholesale migration of their application and systems programming to Indian locales.

    Here's a list of firms that have indeed embarked upon campaigns that involved US workers training foreign replacements:

    • American Express
    • Bank of America
    • DHL
    • Honeywell
    • Intel
    • Motorola

    You can read about more companies here [] that have ex-IT workers that can share the same stories. These arn't satellite systems out on the peripheral horizon, only impacting a small percentage. If anything, I'd say the numbers quoted in the story are way under the mark, given these are core systems like accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, financial capture, EDI, MRP, reservation scheduling, accounting, etc...

    Yay globalism.

  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:23PM (#8787143)

    I know most of us "white collar" folks despise unions, but look at what autoworkers did when Japan and Europe started taking US auto companies to the cleaners, and the Big Three started treating people like shit. They unionized. Then they striked. The motto was: we don't care if you can't do as well if you can't treat us like shit. You won't do business at ALL if you treat us like shit. Unless you want to close shop and go into making floral arrangements, you'll negotiate with us.

    Honestly- what would happen if tomorrow, every IT worker simply got up from their keyboard at noon, turned off their cell phone/pager, and didn't come back for the rest of the day? We'd all be instantly fired in favor of people in India? Bullshit. Businesses are weak on the outsourcing front because they can't outsource everything. Strikes make it an all-or-nothing proposition, and contrary to popular belief, they can't just pick someone off the street; it still 'costs' quite a bit to hire someone. Unionizing doesn't make you the boss, but it does even the playing field, because as a single worker, you're rather powerless.

    Today, despite HEAVY competition from Europe and Japan, UAW auto workers:

    • Make $45k or more
    • Have a health/benefits/retirement package second to none
    • Have incredibly safe, well-lit, comfortable workplaces, with all the ergonomics they need.
    • Never get bored; they don't spend years installing door panels. They get rotated, often on a weekly basis, among different tasks. Guess what? That includes the training to be able to do the new task.

    Wouldn't you kill to be able to have most of that? I sure as hell would. Detroit is looking better by the second.

    ...and I have to say that as much as I have always despised the US auto industry for building incredible crap, they've gotten far better over the years. This is despite major manufacturers actually setting up plants here in the US, because it's cheaper! So much for the argument that worker-friendly policies make you unable to compete in the global market.

    Bank of America/Fleet just announced they're laying off 12,500 people. According to a BoA rep, guess what department will be one of the hardest hit? You guessed it- infrastructure, aka, Information Technology. Even better, most layoffs will be in the Northeast, because down in Georgia, land of the 2-year-old-strip-malls, real estate(and workers) are dirt cheap.

    Oh, you can also vote for politicians who support striking down at-will employment laws...

    • by wintermute42 ( 710554 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @09:26PM (#8787690) Homepage

      I'm all for organizing. I'm a member of a union that is associated with the Communication Workers of America.

      I would like to point out, however, that unfortunately there was a difference between the Japanese auto invasion and offshoring of US jobs.

      In the case of Japanese imports, workers and the companies where on the same side. While workers were losing their jobs, the US auto companies were losing money and market share. The politicians listened to the combination of labor and corporations.

      In this case labor (in our case, engineers and IT folk) are not on the same side as the companies. The companies profit by lowering the wages they have to pay. They get lower turnover among those they still employ in the US (since there are fewer jobs to skip to). So the employees lose, while the companies gain. And so far it is companies that are making political donations.

      This does not mean that labor can't have an effect. But it is important to realize that it may not be as easy as it was for the United Auto Workers working to put tarrifs in place to protect the industry from the Japanese.

      It is also worth remembering that the United Auto Workers were well established when the Japanese imports appeared. But it was not always that way. Ford, I think it was, tried to break strikes by hiring Pinkerton thugs, armed with ax handles. The unions are there because people worked to put them there. While it's true that many unions became corrupt and bureacratic many of them did not start out that way. They were built by their workers.

      Organizing takes a lot of time. Many union groups are small. That means that there is no money to hire a professional staff. The work is done by union members who also work a full time job and have families. And while they are working in the union, they may face the danger of job retaliation.

      So don't think that some union is going to come along and fix it for you. It can take a long time and it starts with you.

  • You IT guys.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zogger ( 617870 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:24PM (#8787148) Homepage Journal
    ... are missing it. Think about unionizing. And if you do, watch the union bosses and make sure they don't get blackmailed or bribed. That's it for advice. The two choices are watch jobs go away and paycheck shrink or vanish, or keep jobs, build better stuff, keep mo money for yourself and inside the nation where it recirculates and helps the economy as a whole.

    You are one of only two or three professions who have the clout-if unionized-to shut the country down business-wise, a *pretty_dang_ snazzy* bargaining chip. And there ain't didlly squat uncle sam or any coalition of corporate bosses could do about it, because YOU CONTROL ALL THE STUFF AND THEY DON'T KNOW HOW.

    You could force an end to outsourcing and H1B abuses, you could force "fair trade" over hideous and erroneously termed "free trade" scam billionaire's ripoffs with it's unequal excise taxes between nations (our exports are taxed a lot higher usually by other nations on most products), you could force "safe computing" as a standard on the manufacturers, you could actually stand a chance against the marketing weenies on important technical and engineering aspects..... you could make quality job 1 everywhere, and keep getting paid for it, instead of "ohh, it's shiny now, ship it out!" decisions...

    buy a clue, look at the article again...



    All you need is a union. If you wait, it'll be too late. Snooze ya lose....

    I bet just over slashdot you could have several thousand people start a union within a few days....or hours really
  • In the US too... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Spoing ( 152917 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:25PM (#8787163) Homepage
    I've just completed a contract where I was given the task of documenting a system that had already been installed. No big deal; I expect to do it.

    The first draft was 60+ pages, and along with describing how to maintain the sytem it also included notes on defects and poor practices that the sysadmins should address (there were quite a few ).

    The target audience for the document was someone with roughly my own skills who simply did not have the program-specific knowledge that I have. The document even encouraged the reader to improvise and adapt the notes; this was only one set of examples of how to do things and surely not the best or only way.

    Well, shortly before submitting the document I was given someone who not only wasn't my peer, they shouldn't have even had a job doing anything with computers at all. We're talking a programer who said...

    "I use the mouse to copy text."

    "What's Ctrl-C? Sounds like too much trouble."

    "Notepad is a very good editor."

    "It's not possible to compare 2 files".

    ...I could go on for hours, though I'll spare you any more brain dammage.

    The new instruction was that I needed to make sure this person could use the document I was writing. We're talking "Take a finger, reach around, stop when it gets moist" simplicity here.

    In the mean time, I was to also train this person to do exactly what I did -- in 1 month -- though it took me about 5 years to learn the basics myself (and I've been doing it for 15 years!).

    I've encountered both unreasonable and impossible tasks before, so I attacked this one with the same vigor. I spent most of the month training -- smiling -- and going away as often as possible to jump up and down in deep frustration.

    Because _this_person_ was my real audience, I threw out most of the original document, and re-wrote it with such gems as "here is how to create a desktop link" and "follow procedures, even if you think you don't have to" (this I've heard was ignored immediately -- 'too much trouble; I don't need to do all that').

    The only thing this person had was an H1B visa...and I'm guessing that they were both cheap and loyal (due to the threat of being deported).

  • by djplurvert ( 737910 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:27PM (#8787178)
    The best jobs are available to the best. Therefore, you will have the most choices when you are highly valued by your employer, ergo, the best time to leave your employer is exactly time that it hurts your employer the most.

    Always look for new work, always prospect for a better job, and always take it at the moment you are essential to your current employer.

    This generally won't happen right away so you don't have to worry about having too many jobs, but you should be planning this from day one of your hire on to any job.

    Now you're on your way out, here's what to do:

    First make sure your new employer knows that you absolutely cannot leave your current employer out on a limb. Now, take the normal range of notice given in your situation, let's say two weeks. Let your new employer know that you will be able to start at a date that is twice this interval, in this example one month. Further, let your new employer know that you might be able to start earlier if the transition goes well. This usually won't be a problem, the new employer wants you to get started solving his problems right away.

    Now, you have two choices depending on how you expect your current employer will react:

    1) Wait two weeks and give two weeks notice. If you are working for some seat of the pants operation they may react from emotion and tell you don't bother to come in on monday (see below). Start your new job tommorow.

    2) If you are working in a somewhat more proffesional environment, give your employer two weeks notice but let them know you will do whatever it takes to train your replacement. They are now on the spot to hire someone quickly, trust me, it will take two weeks. Now every minute you give to them to train this guy is like a gift, you are doing them a favor, you are a great employeee. Make sure they know you are in transition and that staying this extra time is a compromise but that you are willing to go the extra mile because they have been such a great employer.

    Bottom line, you control the situation, you leave on good terms, you have forced your employers hand.

    Things to remember:

    Employment is a two way street, if you aren't earning money for them (or earning indirectly by saving) then why are they hiring you? Thus, you don't owe your employer anything other than the services he contracted for. It's his problem if he can't make a profit. With that in mind, divorce emotions from your employment activity, if it looks better for you to move right now, then move right now, that's your employer's problem not yours.

    Always give notice late on friday afternoon for the same reasons they always fire people late on friday afternoon. You want to give them time to think about any reaction and divorce themselves from any emotional response. Even if your "Employer" is not prone to such a reaction, your managers and coworkers, and you, might be. By giving notice on friday you will have a weekend to relax and reflect on your decision, as will they.

    Not directly related, but remember at the exit interview, the correct answer to "Is there anything we cannot tell future employers" the correct response is "you may not tell them anything not allowed by law"

    happy job hunting
  • by hnjjz ( 696917 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:41PM (#8787302)
    They don't always tell you that you're training your replacements.

    A good friend of mine used to work as a IC designer for one of the large companies in Silicon Valley. Her group was given some ridiculous deadlines that were clearly impossible to meet. To "help" them speed up work on the project, the company brought in a bunch of engineers from one of its overseas sites. The foreign engineers spent several months here, working with my friend's group, getting up to speed on the project. My friends and her co-workers really went out of their way to help make these guys comfortable, taking them on shopping trips, inviting them over on holidays, etc. Little did they know they were training their own replacements. Shortly after the overseas engineers left, my friend's entire group was laid off and the project was moved to the overseas center.
  • Tricky Math (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dr. Bent ( 533421 ) <> on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @08:46PM (#8787343) Homepage
    Almost one in five information technology workers has lost a job or knows someone who lost a job after training a foreign worker lets see here. 1 in 5 people has either had this happen to them or knows of someone that it's happened to? So if I work in a company with 500 people and 3 of them wind up training thier own replacements (Which, of course, would be very well-known on the company grapevine), then I'm counted as one of the 1 in 5 who have had to "dig their own unemployment graves"? Theoretically, it could just be one really popular guy that was laid off like this and he was known by 1 in 5 IT workers.

    I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but if surveys like this are the best argument that can be raised for how much this is damaging the US economy, then we've got a long way to.

  • OB Homer Quote (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cookie_cutter ( 533841 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @09:04PM (#8787497)
    if you quit, you don't receive severance and are ineligible for unemployment

    Homer: You don't quit your job because you don't like it, you just go in and do it really half-assed.

  • Plan now... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BlackHawk ( 15529 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @09:23PM (#8787669) Journal
    Hey, you. Yes, you, reading Slashdot instead of working. C'mere.

    I can understand why you're feeling the way you do. I understand why you come to an office you hate, perform meaningless little chores instead of getting your real work done, and ignore... or try to... that little pressure you're feeling in your chest. The one that spikes when you read another email from management that includes the words "sacrifice", "competition", and "tough decisions".

    I know that you'd rather not think about it all. You'd rather just get back to doing what you were doing before the axes started dropping, and your division, your department, your team started getting thinned out, and their jobs transferred to the ones who were left. I know that you know what that feeling is, the one you don't think about too often... except in the middle of the night, after you've just had another "what if" discussion with your spouse about finances, trying not to think about the kids asleep down the hall.

    I know you're on, CareerBuilder, Dice... all of 'em. And I know you haven't had an interview in at least six months.

    You have to get up, off of your ass, and make plans. Then COMMIT. Then execute. DO IT. Go out, get the training. If the money's not there to get it, join a LUG, or whatever. Actually make friends (!), network your skills. Learn from each other. Reconcile yourself to the fact that this is going to get worse before it gets better.

    But it will get better. For some of us. The ones who planned, committed, executed. The rest are going to be sorry they waited. And don't crab about the Indians too much. Their time in the spotlight is going to be so damnably short, we're all going to be shocked... most of all, them.

    And when it's all over, and it will be, in about 3 years, when the economy comes roaring back and suddenly we realize that we're on the verge of losing all the Boomers who made up the majority of the workforce, then they're going to be scrambling for skilled labor. Only there won't be any.

    Or not much, that is. There will be the ones who planned...

  • It's illegal. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Baldrson ( 78598 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @11:57PM (#8788780) Homepage Journal
    The h-1b visa is not legally used to lower wages -- only to acquire unique talent that is not available in the domestic labor force. Therefore, if you are training your replacement and your replacement is here on an h-1b visa, you can take action against your employer.
  • sabotage training (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Wednesday April 07, 2004 @12:10AM (#8788873) Homepage Journal
    Accept the suicide training mission. Train them wrong. Take the severance and your fellow axed coworkers, and compete with the outsourced losers.
  • by websensei ( 84861 ) on Wednesday April 07, 2004 @12:23AM (#8788953) Journal
    I may get flamed and modded down for this but I'm going to put forth my honest opinion on this anyway. In my opinion, the shift to employing Indian and other offshore workers is not, in the grand scheme of things, as big a deal as some would have it.

    I work at a smallish company (around 250 employees including our offshore team) comprised of an engineering group split roughly 50/50 between our Boston-area (Mass., USA) office and our offshore contractors in Bangalore, India. Over the course of the last 2 years we've struggled with, and eventually found, a working balance between onshore and offshore talent. A 50/50 split (for most teams -- some are mostly offshore, and for others we can't find any good candidates outside the states) seems to work out best. More of the seniors/principals/architect roles are onshore, but we have some very senior people from india as well. Some of them come onshore for months at a time. In general they're treated just like regular employees. (In my personal experience I've actually preferred the personalities, dedication and skills of these workers on at least an equal basis with their local counterparts.)

    It is a model that does more than allow our young business to keep costs down. If we hadn't moved our callcenter offshore, the increase cost per customer care call might well have bankrupted us, or forced a major extra round of financing we might not have been able to obtain. The whole thing could have tanked and we'd all be out of a job. As it is now, we're enabling a booming middle class in a poverty-stricken 3rd-world country (which in the long view is a very good thing for the world), at the same time that we've gradually improved the quality of our average developer (and CSR rep) and found a stable, economically viable, harmonious balance.

    I know this is not the same experience many bitter recently-laid-off engineers have gone through, but it is *my* experience, and a perspective that doesn't get heard much.

    I honestly believe there will always be a market for onshore talent. startups will never be able to immediately get a whole operation offshore from the get-go. fledgeling companies will need local people on local hours able to meet face to face at any time. my take is, I'm going to continue to train both on and offshore developers, do the best damn job I can, keep honing my own skills the best I can, and it ALL improves my situation -- and my resume.

    working with people all over the world is a phenomenon that's not going to go away. so to the posters who suggest mis-training their potential replacements, I ask, which would you rather be: a whining dishonest saboteur who left a shambles behind in their position? or someone with solid experience working with international teams to create good software? to me the choice is clear.
    like anything in life, make the best of it, and of yourself.

    ps perhaps in this case my .sig is actually somewhat relevant, at least to the angry majority. taken from dante, it translates: "The only road to paradise begins in hell." hope you're all on that road, headed in the right direction.
  • by Punk Walrus ( 582794 ) on Wednesday April 07, 2004 @12:50AM (#8789107) Journal
    This has nothing to do with outsourcing to India, but a retail company where I worked back in 1991, during the previous Bush recession...

    Our company, which sold kitchen gadgets, had actually been doing well into the recession, and it surprised a lot of us. Stores in the mall all around us were closing down, and we were doing okay. Then, suddenly, we weren't. Our company tried franchising, and it was a DISASTER, and the owners lost a lot of money. We opened up two "mega-stores" which both flopped.

    We had this guy, called a "district manager," which was weird because we only had one district. He was this gung-ho, send-'em-to-seminars kind of guy who was used to his big bonuses every year. Around when things got bad is when he taught himself spreadsheet software, and started whacking away at all costs the spreadsheet told him to without reguard to whther it was actually a good idea or not. He cut staff drastically. The management (including me) protested, and proved how this made a bad problem worse, but this only seemed to make him more determined, and he got sneaky.

    He sent this "new guy" to my store, and asked me to train him to become an manager like myself. This guy was just awful. He was arrogant, didn't bathe, and right off the bat told me outright he would have my job. At first I thought, "Yeah, you won't last a week here." I was one of the top three salespeople in the chain as well as assistant manager. Two weeks later, I wrote him up because of some serious infraction, with the intent of letting him go, being the worst employee I had ever trained, but for some reason upper management wouldn't let me fire him. Even though a background check showed he was wanted in a nearby county for theft and appraisal fraud. You guys can see where this was going. Yeah, he WAS my replacement. Later I found out he was going to do my job for minimum wage, which was about half of what I made.

    Then the company sent me to a "penalty store," which is a store that is in a terrible spot, doesn't do well, has serious building problems, etc... basically, it was an attempt to make me quit. But I was too stupid to see the writing on the wall, so I got "changed to hourly," which meant a pay cut, no commission, and suddenly my pay was determined by upper management. My hour allotment got smaller and smaller, until "they didn't have hours for me" for a whole month. So I filed unemployement.

    The company denied I was laid off, and said I was only a contractor. The deputy who handled the case had them on speakerphone, and at some point they were stalling, she said, "Mr. Walrus, you'll get unemployment. I see this happen all the time, they just don't want to pay the taxes or unemployment." So I got my unemployment and a hard, stinging lesson.

    Afterwards, they decided I made it too hard, so they fired all the rest of the staff one by one for the weirdest stuff. Like the top salesman in the chain was fired because a "surprise secret audit" showed the register was missing $10, and so they threatened to put him in jail if he ever tried to claim unemployment. He sued and won.

    And the guy who replaced me? Tried to rob them blind. He stole account numbers from all the company's vendors, and made HUGE orders shipped to a Mailbox Etc address. Luckily for the company, one of the vendors tipped them off, and because of the amount of money involved, the police got involved, and set up a sting. He must have gotten wind of it, because before the shipments were sent, he fled town and was never seen again.

    At another company, years later, I was at the receiving end. The first day of work was the day the girl I was replacing was told she was being fired in 2 weeks. That was pretty stressful.

    I have seen stuff like this in the tech industry when I started in the mid 1990's, too. My second job I was at a QA company where they asked us to document everything we did when testing software. We did, and then they outsourced our jobs to Tucson, where people th

  • by sir_cello ( 634395 ) on Wednesday April 07, 2004 @03:22AM (#8789897)

    You should always have your eye on the horizon anyway: if you're asked to train up a new worker, just accept the mission and in the background, start looking for another job: if you find the other job before the training is complete, well that's a problem for your current employer, not for you: they set the wheels in motion.

    To refuse to train someone else is really unprofessional: all of these comments about getting one over on the new guy, or refusing to do the job are just more reasons in the mind of your employer to get rid of uncooperative employees and replace them with more professional ones.

    Knowing the bits about employment law that I do, I would say that even if it is not in your contract, you're obliged as a general condition of employment to transfer your job function to someone else if asked: that _doesn't_ mean you train someone in how to be a developer, or in a specific language, it just means that you impart the the tactical knowledge you have. In the same way that if your company is going through a quality process (ISO) you'll be asked to document the way you work. If you refuse, it really is grounds for dismissal.

"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."