United Professionals launched itself a few minutes ago with a teleconference featuring, among others, author Barbara Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch) and UP Director and former Accenture outsourcing executive Bill Holland (who wrote Are There Any Good Jobs Left? Career Management in the Age of the Disposable Worker).
UP is a non-profit organization, said Ehrenreich, for three groups of people: "[white collar workers] who are unemployed, underemployed… or anxiously-employed — people who know they’re not far from a layoff."
Potentially structured like the AARP, UP expects to provide a "space where people can talk to each other," Ehrenreich said. "This function is important for overcoming some of the shame of the unemployed." It also expects to do advocacy work around issues that are important to white collar workers and to provide services such as affordable health insurance.
Holland said he expected other issues to emerge "and we will address those as we can."
Does the organization take a stand that all outsourcing and offshoring is evil? Surprisingly, no.
"We probably have a variety of perspectives," said Holland. "Outsourcing has come out of the economic reality of global competition. The question is, what are we going to do about that?"
"The anecdotal evidence is adding up," he said. "People going through this are experiencing very serious health issues. We can’t simply turn a blind eye toward that… The proponents for globalization and outsourcing talk about how there will be disruptions in the workface. I suggest that it doesn’t have to be that way. As a nation we need to explore that."
"We’re concerned that this is happening where people don’t have much of a safety net," said Ehrenreich. "There goes your health insurance. After a while, perhaps there goes your house. If we’re going to have that degree of mobility [in our jobs], there has to be some stability."
Although UP expects to become a force in influencing public policy, Ehrenreich said it would be non-partisan. Seed funding was provided by Service Employees International Union.
An annual membership will be $36.50.