Labor's Beef with Bush

In the brave new world of outsourcing, you get to train your own replacement worker

The new workers were flown into Seattle and assembled at WatchMark's offices. Bronstein was introduced to two people in their thirties, a man and a woman, and told to impart to them all she knew. "They were nice people, and excellent in their training and knowledge," she said. Bronstein said she could never, out of simple courtesy, bring herself to ask if they knew exactly what was going on. "It was an impossibly awkward situation," she said. "I didn't see any reason to put them on the spot about it."

From what she could learn, the new software testers would not be direct employees of WatchMark, but work as subcontractors employed by a separate firm. Their pay, she was told, was about $5,000 a year—one-sixteenth of Bronstein's.

Bronstein's unemployment benefits ran out earlier this year, and her severance is long gone. She has cashed in her 401(k), and she can't afford health insurance.

"This is happening all over in the IT world. It's epidemic; people are being replaced en masse," Bronstein said. "A lot of people don't talk about it, because a condition of their severance is to sign these very stringent non-disparagement clauses. But in addition to everything else they've done to me, I'm not going to be muzzled."

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