(Computerworld viewed a photograph of the cubicle flags, but decided not to publish it to protect A.B's identity.)
The flags were displayed, cubicle after cubicle, much like way flags are hung on homes in a residential neighborhoods on the 4th of July. They were visible to anyone walking down the hall. "That was the only thing that we could do," A.B. said. "We felt that we were making a statement. But to be honest, I don't think the Indian workers fully understood what was going on."
To illustrate this point, A.B. recounted a conversation with an offshore outsourcing visa holder. A.B. worked directly with one of the offshore firm's visa employees, whose job it was to help train the overseas workers.
"I know he was over here to do a job," A.B. explained. "I treated him as a colleague, even though I was resentful."
The offshore outsourcing employee was pleasant, and a couple of weeks before A.B.'s job ended, he asked: "That Monday, you are going to another job?"
"I said, 'No, I'm not going to another job," A.B. recalled. "'You are taking my job. I don't have another job to go to.'" A.B. explained that as an older worker it would be difficult to get another full-time position.
The offshore outsourcing worker later sent A.B. a Facebook friend request. "I don't think he comprehended the situation over here — that we were losing our jobs, we didn't have jobs to go to," A.B. said.
The Facebook friend request was not accepted.
In the last month, the offshore outsourcing workers, again via WebEx, essentially took over A.B.'s job. It became A.B.'s role to follow along to make sure that the offshore workers executed various tasks correctly.
While this was going on, more and more H-1B workers appeared at the company, filling more of the offices.
Before the offshore outsourcing had begun, there was an internal study to compare the costs of insourcing versus outsourcing. A.B. did not see the study, but wonders what would happen if the U.S. government were to impose restrictions on the H-1B visa and raise the cost of using it, and whether that could change the economics of offshoring and encourage more insourcing.
A.B. talked about hopes for getting U.S. lawmakers to visit the company and count the number of Indian workers and the number of American workers. Efforts to arrange meetings with lawmakers were unsuccessful.
"They are going to find more Indian workers than American workers," A.B. said. "For every India worker that's there, that used to be an American."
The American flags have since been removed from the cubicle walls.
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