- Congressman Tim Bishop
joined communications workers who lost their jobs in the recession to protest a program that would use approximately $10 million in taxpayer funds to help train workers in Sri Lanka for jobs in the outsourcing industry.
In a press conference at the New York State One-Stop Career Center in Patchogue, Bishop called on the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to drop its proposed pilot program that would help train 3,000 Sri Lankans in information technology, business process outsourcing, and call center support. Following their training, the tech workers would be placed with outsourcing vendors in the region that provides offshore IT and business services to American companies looking to take advantage of low labor costs.
"This is simply outrageous; this is perhaps the dumbest and most counter-productive use of taxpayer money that I have encountered in the eight years I have been in office," Bishop said, flanked by laid off members of Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1108 based in Patchogue. "Whether its $10 million or one nickel, I will fight against any taxpayer funds being used to subsidize outsourcing."
Bishop also wrote a letter to USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah urging him to suspend this program and any other programs that use American taxpayer funds to train foreign workers how to better take American jobs. USAID's proposed program "undermines assurances made by this Administration and Congress to the American workforce that we support policies to protect their jobs - and to U.S. businesses that we support policies that make it more cost-effective to hire American workers," Bishop wrote.
"I want to thank Tim for taking on this issue - we have hundreds of members of CWA who are out of work," said Michael Gendron of CWA Local 1108. "I guarantee that all of our members would love to have had the opportunity to get IT training to give them a different career path, to help them find new work, support their families, and live the American dream."
If necessary, Bishop is preparing to introduce bipartisan legislation with Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) that would amend the Fiscal Year 2011 State Department and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill to prohibit USAID from funding the program.