Sunday, May 15, 2005

Outsourcing - Alaska Airlines takes the right route

Alaska Airlines has outsourced the jobs of 472 baggage handlers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The unionized baggage handlers had turned down a management offer that promised no outsourcing for four years, in return for wage and benefit cuts.

In an industry where airlines are facing high fuel costs and fierce competition, by outsourcing the work to contract workers from Menzies Aviation, Alaska Airlines will reduce costs by an estimated $12million per annum.

The outsourcing of baggage handling, along with other measures implemented by the airline, will hopefully ensure the airline will remain viable in a very difficult and competitive environment. Failure of course, would result in the loss of even more jobs.

Despite the often uninformed anti-outsourcing rhetoric, outsourcing can benefit all, including the local economy.

I know from experience that in may areas, outsourcing has caused a boom in the local economy. Workers have used their severance pay to establish businesses that ended up employing more people than were outsourced. Rather than continuously looking at outsourcing as a negative, it is about time people started looking at it as a concept that has far more advantages and potential than drawbacks.