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Engineers using NAFTA Labor

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I know this one is going to cause a lot of Spamming and hot debate, but it
is still worth the discussion. First, I will go on record that I originally
defended protectionism in this country and was against the NAFTA provisions
for fear of losing work to cheap labor outside the US. Now I find that in
order to protect my own practice, I may have to change my position on NAFTA
in order to keep my doors open and compete with firms that have the
financial resources to do larger projects (tract developments) using both
engineering and drafting labor from outside the US. To compete, I may have
to hire trained help outside the US in order to compete.

One major problem is that I am in a small area where trained employees with
engineering and design/drafting experience is not available. To go out side
the area but still remain in the US, I can not hire without seriously
affecting my income and profit margin - forcing me to market work so as to
afford to employ labor.

Both parties in the US are backing the global economic markets and neither
are doing anything to prevent the growth of International coordination or
partnering. I know find that I must reconsider the necessities to compete
against more competitive labor by participating as chief engineer or record
but having the work done to my standards outside the US.

I would like to hear arguments from others who are feeling the pressure to
compete in the residential housing and low rise building design business by
consideration of lower cost labor from outside the US. I am not judging this
based on ability as foreign engineers would be trained to the provisions of
the current building code and the forthcoming International building code.
It is a question of economics - labor rates - assuming all else is equal.

I would appreciate your comments on this matter.

Dennis S. Wish, PE
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