The IT employees at Northeast Utilities in Connecticut tried to save their jobs. The contacted local media, local politicians. They told anyone who would listen what was going on.
They were going to lose their jobs. It was a shock, not just for the IT workers, but for the state.
Northeast Utilities was a stable employer. Its customers were in the state. It couldn't move to China. It couldn't abandon the state. And so people thought.
But then Northeast Utilities merged with NStar, a Boston utility. (Now known as Eversource Energy).
Soon after the merger, the trouble started. The utilities leadership hired India-based IT outsourcing firms.
The IT employees learned they would lose their jobs. Some 200 of them. Good jobs.
Local politicians held a press conference to express their outrage. But it was pointless and everyone knew it.
Some of the IT workers were training their foreign replacements. They did this because of the severance. The younger IT workers could and did bolt, but the older workers needed the safety net. Not much choice.
But someone in the IT department started putting up American flags in the cubicles. Along the hallways. Small American flags. The type you wave at a Fourth of July parade.
The flag is our most powerful symbol. It represents sacrifice, love of nation, shared beliefs, endurance. These workers wanted it known that they are Americans.
This flag display would have disappeared with the IT workers. But one person took a photo. It was quick. You can tell by the blur.
The severance agreement, with its onerous non-disparagement clause, tried to silence them. But this photo has not been silenced.
We now know what the last stand of displaced workers in an IT department looks like. It is part of our American memory.