A good time to contact your elected representatives is anytime they are in the home district. Sometimes there are weekend “Town Hall” meetings organized by the Congresspersons to get voter inputs. Plan to attend and speak out on issues of concern to you.
Other ways of getting your views heard include:
Details on the CARE network and issues are found at http://www.ieeeusa.org/forum/care/CAREKit2003.pdf
An effective approach to prepare for a visit with your representative’s district office is to review the IEEE-USA policy position statements, select one or two in which you have a personal interest to focus on, and then print these out as a leave-behind for your visit. You can personalize your issues with your own experiences, those of associates, or with your views of how the district may be affected by the issue. You should be able to convey this in a quarter-hour visit, so make an appointment.
If you arrive a few minutes early, you may be able to get some extra time if a previous appointment ends early. Identify yourself as a member of IEEE, but make clear that you are speaking for yourself. Positions adopted by IEEE-USA are official, but your views as a constituent are valued. Even if your representative is not in the district office, because Congress is in session, the district staff are there and these are good people to know. The chief of staff and legislative aide have the ear of the representative, and will make sure that your views are weighed along with others.
The LegislativeActionCenter can help if you can’t make personal visits. Details on current hot issues are found at http://www.capwiz.com/ieeeusa/home/ together with the tools for drafting e-mails in your own words to send on issues of interest to you.
A debate has developed over whether U.S. engineers' failure to keep skills current has contributed to the current high-tech unemployment problem. That was a claim made by employers in the heyday of H-1Bs - we couldn't supply qualified American engineers to meet the needs, so they needed dispensation to import guest workers having the required skills. As the market has contracted, e.g., the collapse of the telecommunications industry, and other work has been moved offshore (e.g., EDS, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, HP, Sun, Intel) we find that we have a 6.4% official unemployment rate for EEs; add in "discouraged workers" who haven't actively sought work in the past month, and the total climbs to 10.6%.
The Spring 2003 Occupational Outlook Quarterly from BLS looks back at ten-year projections of demand for 338 occupations, and finds that for EEs, where a 40% increase has been forecast between 1988 and 2000, there was actually a 16% decrease in demand in that period. For software types, their forecasts were much better. http://www.bls.gov/opub/ooq/ooqhome.htm
The movement of jobs offshore through outsourcing is getting a lot of attention now, in addition to the H-1B visas used by guest workers and the L-1 visas intended for temporary intra-company transfers (to spread specialized product knowledge to other parts of the company) but being increasingly abused to provide workers for “third party” positions in other companies.
Three videos about H-1B, L-1, and offshore outsourcing are available for your viewing at http://www.zazona.com/shameh1b/MediaClips.htm
The first one is the Lou Dobbs Moneyline feature called "Exporting America," that ran on CNN in May. This one is 21 minutes long. Ron Hira of IEEE-USA is interviewed.
The next two are from WKMG-TV in Orlando - follow-ups to the "Stolen Jobs" feature done last fall that was captured on the IEEE-USA CD-ROM. These ran in early August and included Capitol Hill testimony by Pat Fluno, one of the software engineers laid off by Siemens after she trained her Indian replacement, and interviews with George McClure and Chris McManes of IEEE-USA. These are much shorter.