Wednesday, April 12, 2006



The following is an outline of some of the activities of Harris Miller—announced Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from Virginia—in his former capacity as President of the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA)

His organization has been one of the loudest cheerleaders in support of the offshore outsourcing of American jobs. In this regard, here are just a few of ITAA’s antics under Miller’s leadership:
  • During Congressional deliberations on the 2004 American Jobs Creation Act (the so-called FSC/ETI legislation), the ITAA opposed retention of a labor-backed Senate amendment by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CN) to prohibit off-shore outsourcing of federal contracts.

  • Opposed an amendment by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) to the FY 2005 Agriculture department appropriations bill to prohibit the offshore outsourcing of and all federal contracts related to the federal food stamp program;

  • Fought AFL-CIO state efforts to restrict the off-shoring of state contract work in over a dozen states. A few examples include:

  • The ITAA successfully lobbied CA Governor Schwarzenegger to veto a series of anti-off-shoring bills that would have: precluded the state from funding the employment training of individuals located outside the U.S. or from entering into contracts with contractors for services performed overseas; prohibited work involving information vital to homeland security from being performed outside the U.S.; and required the disclosure to patients of any personally identifiable medical information to be transferred outside of the U.S.

  • In NJ, the ITAA opposed legislation to prohibit off-shore outsourcing of state contracts and blasted NJ governor James McGreevey for issuing Executive Order No.129 prohibiting state agencies from contracting with a vendor (or their subcontractors) which performs such services in a foreign country.

  • Lobbied for Congressional passage of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and is one of the lead business groups affiliated with the American Business Coalition for Doha (ABCD), one of the major pro-free trade, business lobbying coalitions.

  • Opposed a Buy American amendment added to the 2005 Homeland Security Authorization Act by Rep Don Manzullo (R-IL) that would require 50 percent or more of components in products acquired by the DHS be made in the U.S. The ITAA described such “Buy America” provisions as “a lose-lose proposition for the nation”.

  • On 10/20/03 Miller testified before the House Small Business Committee on the off-shoring of white collar jobs. The Atlanta Journal—Constitution 10/21/03 edition described his remarks this way:
As U.S. companies send more high-tech work overseas, they are creating a ''downward pressure on salaries'' that may help slow American job losses, a technology industry leader told Congress on Monday. Indeed, U.S. workers may have to get used to lower wages, said Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America.

Unlike the late 1990s, when the tech sector was booming, U.S. workers no longer can expect employers to offer ''six-figure incomes to technical people with little or no actual on-the-job training,'' Miller told the House Committee on Small Business.

Americans must face the ''hard truth'' that offshore companies not only offer information technology services for ''a fraction of the cost,'' but they can ''compete for increasingly more sophisticated and complex IT work,'' he said. The silver lining of this wage pressure, Miller said, is that ''a more competitive payroll picture may undercut [U.S. employers'] need to move jobs offshore.''

The ITAA has supported business led efforts to eliminate overtime protections for U.S. workers:

  • The ITAA supported of H.R. 1119, legislation in 2003 to allow workers to “choose” flex time instead of overtime pay (Source: 6/4/03 news release by House Committee on Education and the Workforce) ;

  • In 2000 they partnered with the notorious union busting firm of Seyfarth-Shaw (Chicago) to co-sponsor a forum on (overtime) exempt and non-exempt employees in the IT industry.

  • Miller’s reaction in a 5/17/05 article by C/NET NEWS that the new Bush overtime regulations could produce a spate of lawsuits to protect worker rights, were described this way:
But Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America trade group, has a grimmer view. Moving to more of a 9-to-5, clock-punching culture will hurt the country's computer sector, he argues. "One of the strengths of the tech industry has been that there has not been a lot of we-against-they mentality regarding labor and management," Miller said. "You run the risk of losing the collaborative relationship that has been so productive."


  • The ITAA is the lead lobby urging Congress to allow in hundreds of thousands professional guest worker under the H-1B visa program that allow foreign workers to come in a take American jobs from highly skilled workers here in the U.S. (a.k.a. in-sourcing);

  • They have opposed DPE/AFL-CIO recommended pro-worker reforms in both the H-1B and L-1 (intra-company transfer visa) programs to stop abuse of the program particularly replacement of U. S. workers. (Source: Q and A at hearings before the House International Relations Committee on the L-1 visa, 2/4/04).
Under Miller, the ITAA has opposed efforts by labor’s congressional allies to prevent the privatization of federal jobs. Most recently the ITAA sought elimination of an amendment by Senators. Kit Bond, (R-MO) and Barbara Mikulski, (D-MD)., to FY 2006 Transportation/Treasury/Housing appropriations bill to requires: a public-private competition before any work performed by 10 or more government employees can be awarded to a private company, and; that private contractor bids must be lower by either 10 percent of personnel-related costs or $10 million - whichever is lower.

ITAA supports making permanent the temporary congressional ban prohibiting the states from applying state sales taxes to commodity sales over the internet. If allowed to tax these transactions, states could raise nearly $16 billion dollars annually in needed fiscal resources for vital public services such as education, roads, health care such as Medicaid, law enforcement, social services etc.

A 11/20/03 article in Tech Worker News entitled “IT Industry: Race to the Bottom”, summed up Miller’s work:
By pumping up the number of technologically skilled immigrants allowed into the country and outsourcing growing numbers of tech jobs abroad, these firms [U.S. technology companies] are well on their way to guaranteeing that whatever jobs of the future remain in America pay as little as possible. Worse, in the process, they’re discouraging more and more young Americans from studying science and technology, and thus encouraging a dangerous dumbing-down of the nation’s future workforce. Try preserving superpower status after a generation or two of that.This year, technology and other white-collar outsourcing has become so widespread, and the economy’s job-creating powers have become so feeble, that the issue has become front-page news and the public is revolting. Like their counterparts in the rest of the economy, the multinational tech-outsourcers and their apologists have begun to react with a combination of almost refreshingly honest arrogance and insultingly incoherent deception.In the former category, tech industry spokesman Harris Miller takes first prize. President of the Information Technology Association of America, Miller spent the late 1990s insisting that America faced a tech worker shortage so enormous that only a flood of immigrant techies could fill the gap. He also warned that, without such tech worker imports, these firms would send the jobs overseas.Now, as unemployment in technology still tops 8 percent despite months of better economic growth, Miller has shifted toward defending outsourcing as a “hard truth” that Americans must face. The nation’s main hope for stemming this job flight? As Miller told Congress, “downward pressure on salaries.” In other words, U.S. technology workers should plunge deeper into the global race to the bottom.More funding for technology education would help, too, he added. But Miller was surely relieved that no Congressmen asked him how this would improve America’s competitiveness with foreign workers who he argued can “compete for increasingly more sophisticated and complex IT work” at “a fraction” of U.S. costs.

Prepared by: Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO 2/6/06

Sources: Except where otherwise indicated, all references are derived from documents published on the ITAA website as of 2/1/06.

Note: This document was transmitted to me with permission to publish by Marcus Courtney, President of "Washtech", Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, Communications Workers of America, Local 37083, AFL-CIO.


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