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Look Into Their Eyes

These people lost high-tech jobs to low-wage countries. Try telling them that offshoring is a good thing in the long run.

Look Into Their Eyes

Kyle Bonds

Camp Hill, Pennsylvania

Bonds, 44, was a contractor at IBM when he heard rumors of work moving abroad. Figuring his job could be next, he took a lower-paying but more secure post elsewhere.

"If I had stayed, you would be talking to a truck driver with a waitress wife."

Myra Bronstein

Mercer Island, Washington

Bronstein, a software engineer, says she had to train her offshore replacements herself or risk losing her severance package and unemployment eligibility.

"My industry just crashed and burned. I think it's shortsighted to try and get another job in this field."

Charles Buhrmann

Greenville, Texas

Before his position went to Canada, Buhrmann was a contractor for an insurance company's policy management system. Now he designs Web sites part-time for $8.50 an hour.

"If they're going to offer a job overseas for half the pay, why not offer it to the person here?"

Melissa Charters

Los Angeles, California

Charters had 15 years of experience in IT when her job as a system security administrator was outsourced, then offshored to India. She's becoming a home-economics teacher.

"How can our country's information stay secure when it's all being done over there?"

Lidia Estes

Bedford, Texas

Estes, 55, learned her job managing programmers with Computer Horizons was going to be offshored in late 2002. Now, the woman who has worked in IT since she was 19 sells Mary Kay Cosmetics.

"I don't know what to do. This has been my whole life."

Linda Evans

Matthews, North Carolina

In 2002, Evans's programmer husband was laid off and forced to train his Indian replacements. A new employer threatened to fire him after he was interviewed by a local paper.

"We never feel safe. When he gets called in for review, he thinks, 'This is it—it's all over today.' "

James Fusco

East Brunswick, New Jersey

Since IBM sent his work to Canada, Fusco has a new job as a systems analyst—at less pay. He has joined a lawsuit seeking retraining for software workers.

"The most important thing I've lost is an intangible. It's the loss of a secure feeling, because I really lost a career."

Michael Gist

Fort Worth, Texas

For Gist, 41, a software engineer who was replaced by a temporary worker who later went back to India, losing his job meant more than losing income. Although he now runs a home-furnishings store, he's lost his passion.

"I just love writing code. I'm a computer geek inside and out."

Corey Goode

Dallas, Texas

Goode, 34, had a contract job with Microsoft to support its call centers. It included secretly setting up user accounts for workers in Bangalore who'd replace domestic employees. Just before his first child was born, he says his own job moved to India.

"Globalization is here to stay, but we need to ease the growing pains."

William V. Grebenik

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Since he lost his $65,000 job as part of a Windows NT support team at Agilent, Grebenik's freelance technical training business—which pays about a fourth of his old salary—is his sole source of income.

"We talk about efficient use of labor. But how many real estate agents do we need?"

Doug Hill

Livonia, Michigan

Hill's six-figure contract job at Lear Seating was offshored to the Philippines in 2000. Now he works as a benefits administrator for $10 an hour and worries about making his house payment. Disillusioned with politics, he won't vote this year.

"I believe [offshoring] is unstoppable."

Sherry Holt

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

After her position as a database administrator with Computer Horizons went to Canada, Holt left her family in Texas and moved to Pennsylvania for a similar position.

"I would love to get back. But I'm a realist. I have to support myself."

Veer Hossain

Lawrenceville, Georgia

When Hossain's team at GE Power Systems was offshored, part of his contract project-management job was sent to India and part was taken by a worker on a temporary visa.

"[Offshoring] effectively lowers folks' salary potential."

Natasha Humphries

Santa Clara, California

A former Palm software engineer, Humphries, 30, says she traveled to India to train her replacements, and has testified before Congress about her experience.

"How much time does [any job] buy me before I find myself in this situation again?"

Jesse Kieffer

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Two months after he trained replacements from Singapore to do his network administrator job, Kieffer found a similar position—at a 10% pay cut. He feels lucky.

"For the economy as a whole, I suppose [offshoring] is one of those things."

Bill King

Cranford, New Jersey

Four times between 2001 and 2003, IBM told King he would lose his job. The software developer managed to hang on as the work he'd been doing was offshored—until the fifth time. He's training to be a home inspector.

"That way, if I work for an idiot, I'll know why. It's myself."

Scott Kirwin

Wilmington, Delaware

Kirwin worked alongside Indian temporary-visa holders before his job went to one who, he believes, later went offshore. The experience caused Kirwin, 37, to form the IT Professionals Association of America.

"I have a lot of education, but I feel like I can't use it."

David Kurn

San Francisco, California

An 18-year veteran at Tandem and Compaq, Kurn lost his $156,000 job in 2001. A year later, he landed a brief deal to train Indian contractors supporting the software he'd been working on when he was laid off.

"Companies in India are producing people as well-trained as I was."

Phil Lockit

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Before being laid off by Actiontec in 2003, Lockit, 54, had helped write technical manuals that were eventually used by offshore call-support centers.

"I wrote up the directions so an idiot could install them. I actually wrote off my own job."

Sab Maglione

Somerville, New Jersey

After his IT job was offshored, Maglione, 44, found another—at almost 40% less pay and nearly twice the commute. Now the programmer is looking again.

"What industry do I choose that's not faced with the same situation?"

Phil Marraffini

Coral Springs, Florida

Marraffini, 47, had spent 25 years in the IT industry when he was asked to train a group of Indian workers who would later replace him.

"It's been so depressing seeing something you've worked for all your life disappear."

Sakiko McDowell

Pueblo, Colorado

When her job was offshored to Singapore, McDowell, 26, found a new contract position—for half her previous pay. She may go back to school.

"I understand the companies moving people offshore, but the government should do something."

Terry McSweeney

Paramus, New Jersey

After three years as a programmer at Guardian Life, McSweeney saw his job disappear last spring. He says managers had mentioned the possibility earlier, saying it could free his group to learn new skills.

"They didn't tell you that the skills would be resume writing."

Debi Null

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Null, 49, worked at HP and Agilent for more than 20 years before she was downsized and rehired as a contractor. That job moved to Singapore. Now she works three jobs: in retail, in real estate, and at a call center.

"We're experiencing something we will read about in history."

John Ogden

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Ogden suspected his company had been moving its call centers overseas when he started getting calls from irate customers upset with the service. About a month later, he was laid off.

"This is a different type of terror. You can't really see it, and it is far, far reaching."

Jim Pace

Bethany, Connecticut

After losing his job as a contract business analyst, Pace was unable to stay on when the department he worked in was offshoring jobs. Now selling cars and working with a labor advocacy group, Pace worries about the effects on the economy.

"For every lost job, there's a lost taxpayer."

Clifford Paino

Lincoln Park, New Jersey

Before Paino was laid off from his job as a systems analyst in 2002, he trained a woman in Ireland who was supposed to "work parallel" with him. In 2003, he took a job at the same company on a contract basis.

"I am so lucky to be working, I forget about the 40% pay difference."

Lisa Pineau

Plano, Texas

After Pineau's job went to Canada, she tried medical transcription before she realized that field, too, was being offshored. Now Pineau, 46, and her husband, who's also in IT, are looking at franchising opportunities.

"We live every day not knowing."

Steven Pokrandt

Renton, Washington

A quality assurance engineer at WatchMark, Pokrandt learned his job was going to India last spring. Unemployed for seven months, he found contract work. Neither he nor his two kids have health insurance.

"We want cheap, but we don't want to put up with the consequences."

Joan Pounds

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Pounds found out that her software support job was moving to India last summer. Now she's working part-time in senior health care. She sold her home and has cashed out her 401(k).

"If you're [unemployed and] not paying taxes, you can't fund the government."

Sarah Ross

Dallas, Texas

Burlington Northern offshored Ross's $57,000 systems developer job to India. Now her family is living on her husband's wages.

"Would I take less money? Yes. I will dig a ditch if it means having food on my family's plate."

Ted Seeber

Beaverton, Oregon

Software developer Seeber, 33, was out of work for more than two years after his job was offshored to India just after 9/11. Now he commutes 40 miles each way to his new job.

"The multinational corporations are basically selling away the American economy."

Sona Shah

Montclair, New Jersey

Shah has been battling her former employer, ADP Wilco, in a lawsuit for several years. One of her complaints: how she says she was replaced by workers on temporary visas, some of whom returned to India.

"[The insecurity] is always hanging over your head."

Roxanna Sieber

Villisca, Iowa

Sieber did home-based keyboarding for a college textbook typographer. But the work went to the Philippines and India two years ago. Her age (58) and rural location haven't helped.

"I have never replaced that income, and I may never again."

Steve Snider

Raynham, Massachusetts

Snider's job at 3Com went away when it cut the networking equipment he worked on and began developing another line in China. His team could easily have done the work, he says.

"A company that's struggling extremely is willing to do extreme things."

Otto Strampfer

Redondo Beach, California

Strampfer was working as a consultant when his company hired Indian programmers. After training them, he lost his job and the work went to India.

"I can't believe people are saying it's great to send jobs overseas when we have people unemployed in America."

Robin Tauch

Plano, Texas

Just after receiving a great review, Tauch was told to train two men from an offshore outsourcing firm. Since losing her IT job last year, she's applied for 75 posts without landing an interview. She's thinking about becoming a teacher or secretary.

"I'm considering moving back in with my parents."

Andres Urv

Seattle, Washington

Since his software engineering job moved to India, Urv has pondered writing a novel. The premise: What's left after everything that can be offshored, is?

"It has made me pessimistic. I feel like I have to whore myself out. You'll do it for 65? I'll do it for 45."

James Victor

Coral Springs, Florida

Victor was evicted from his apartment after his contract programming job at First Data was offshored. He's working again, but says he has little hope for the future.

"Here I am 51, and I don't see myself in a situation where I can ever retire."

Keith Welch

Roswell, Georgia

After his contract work for GE Power went to India last spring, Welch landed a software-development job—with a big pay cut.

"People are offshoring the most expensive jobs, but they're already eyeing other professions. Where does that leave the U.S.?"

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A version of this article appeared in the Table of Contents - April 2004 issue of Fast Company magazine.