SEATTLE - A new website is being touted as a tool for determining the local effects of outsourcing American jobs overseas. The database, called "Job Tracker," was unveiled on Thursday by the AFL-CIO's Working America
Type in a zip code, and you'll find lists of companies with overseas workers, federal labor or safety violations, and more. On the list of companies that outsource, there are hundreds in the Seattle-Tacoma area, 13 in Spokane, 56 in Vancouver and three in Yakima, to name a few.
President Richard Trumka says the site is not intended for political purposes, but to spotlight information that companies often prefer to keep to themselves.
"Like every issue, it will have political ramifications because of who supports the solution and who doesn't. But the primary purpose is not political here - the primary purpose is to formulate and enforce policies that will create jobs and help the country."
Trumka acknowledges some of the larger companies are adding American jobs as well as hiring overseas. He expects many more names will be added to the site as people report them and researchers confirm those reports.
Even the state of Washington outsources some jobs overseas, but not many, according to Jeanine Livingston, contract administrator for the Washington Federation of State Employees
. She says the Legislature took up the issue a few years ago, after some agencies had bad experiences putting call centers in India and Mexico.
"Those lingering projects in the IT world are still there, although less of it is outsourced and more of it is done in-state. I mean, we have a great wealth of IT resources here, so to outsource in this state really doesn't make much sense at all."
Livingston says the IT work still being done overseas is for the Departments of Labor and Industries, and Corrections. The state outsources for the same reason as corporations, to save money. She notes, however, that many of the contracts with private companies have not resulted in the desired savings.
The AFL-CIO estimates that since 2000, the U.S. has lost almost six million jobs to other countries between the manufacturing and IT industries.