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    Highlights for week ending November 22, 2003
  • Wall Street Journal: Employers' Caps Raise Retirees' Health-Care Costs. Limits Shield Many Companies From Rising Outlays for Coverage; Passing Burden to Retired Workers. Excerpt: Although employers complain about the rising cost of providing retiree health benefits, many companies in fact face limited financial exposure to health-care inflation -- no matter how sick their retirees get or how long they live. That's because at least half of the nation's major employers, including International Business Machines Corp., CSX Corp. and Aon Corp., have established ceilings on the amount they will spend each year on an individual retiree, according to a survey of 435 large companies by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Hewitt Associates. Once health-care costs reach the ceiling, the increases are passed along to retirees. As a result, retirees have seen their out-of-pocket costs skyrocket in recent years.

    IBM, for example, in the early 1990s capped the amount it would spend on health-insurance premiums for retirees over age 65 -- $3,000 a year for eligible people who retired after 1992, and $3,500 a year for those who had retired earlier. IBM's cost of retiree health care reached the ceiling of $3,500 per employee in 2001; since then, all premium increases have been passed along to retirees. Retired systems engineer John Kotson, 69 years old, paid nothing for his retiree health coverage when he retired in 1989 after 32 years with IBM. In 2001, his premiums were $91 a month, and they have tripled since then -- $312 a month for Mr. Kotson and his wife. With deductibles of $1,014 a year, plus $456 in the Medicare Part-B premiums (which cover doctor's visits) that IBM requires him to pay, plus paying 35% of the cost of their prescription drugs, the Kotsons' out-of-pocket medical-related costs are about $6,000 a year, or almost 25% of Mr. Kotson's annual pension of $24,900.

    "It doesn't take a genius to see that pretty soon you can't afford the IBM coverage," he says. But while Mr. Kotson's costs will keep rising, IBM's won't. In fact, the amount IBM spent on retiree health care last year actually fell 8.3%, to $566 million from $617 million in 2001. Meanwhile the amount that IBM retirees paid spiraled 67%, to $119 million. If link is broken, view Adobe Acrobat version [PDF--43 KB].

  • Skip Bogard (National Committee Chairperson for Persons with Disabilities and Medical Issues, Alliance at IBM) has scanned an excerpt from IBM's 1984 People and the Company publication. The excerpt reads: We take frequent employee opinion surveys, and among other things, the results show that our tradition of full employment is one of the reasons people like to work for IBM. Naturally, we can't guarantee full employment, but we are dedicated to do all that we can to protect the jobs of all employees during periods of economic hardship.

    Second, there is the matter of employee benefits. We have one of the most comprehensive benefit plans in industry, and it is completely company-paid. It covers you and your family not only during your period of employment but also during your retirement years.

    Third, IBM places considerable emphasis on continuing education throughout an employee's career so that he or she can continue to learn and to grow. This is largely the result of the fact we are a high-technology company and that we operate in a dynamic environment, Our employees must keep abreast of changes. View original page from the publication in Adobe Acrobat format [PDF--244 KB].

  • BenefitsLink.com: What Will Judge Posner Do Next? Balm or Bomb for Cash Balance Plans? (Alvin D. Lurie, Esq.) 5-page working paper. Excerpt: "That IBM would appeal the decision of the trial court quickly became known, but hopes for a reversal were tempered by the knowledge of the cash balance cognoscenti that the appeal would go to the same court that had just decided Xerox: the 7th Circuit, with the author of that opinion, Judge Richard Posner, the likely author of an opinion on the IBM appeal. Speculation is rampant that Judge Posner ... will not overturn the lower court decision." Speculation is rampant that Judge Posner, if he is indeed sitting on the appeal panel, will not overturn the lower court decision. That common wisdom is based on the not-surprising assumption that Posner has closed the book on the cash balance design, and would be most unlikely to give relief to IBM that he had denied to Xerox. IBM Has a Chance. I submit the inference is unwarranted, and that the better guess is that IBM has a fair chance of prevailing in his court, if the judge has his way. I base this principally on several grounds. (Editor's note: Extensive coverage of the Cooper v. IBM lawsuit is available in the August 2, 2003 edition of these highlights).

  • Alliance@IBM: IBM Global Services "Re-banding". Lower job levels and pay cuts to be rolled out throughout US IGS. Excerpt: Every IGS job was examined in terms of responsibility and band level, and each employee will be called in to their manager's office to discuss the results. Some employees are being lowered from band 10 to band 9, or band 9 to band 8. Earlier this year, some employees who work in support type jobs were lowered from band 6 to band 4 or 5. In some cases, individual employees are getting pay cuts. We have heard that pay cuts may be as much as 35% in some cases.
    • "ibmaccountant" comments. Excerpt: The fact is that IBM management, in all its wisdom has decided to cut costs rather than focusing on improving the customer value proposition. They are even focusing on the one component of the total billable resource cost that is smallest in saving them money in the short term but puts the company at risk the most in the long term. ... The rumored target is 35% for ITS downward, but 0% upward. Managers are already bracing for the "winter of discontent". They are already backtracking on this program now called an "initiative". The Price Waterhouse team idiot that sold this to our Fuehrer forgot to mention the downsides. This is a major problem that will be addressed quickly. Now you and I know why the big layoffs in IGS have been delayed, don't we? Wait until the banding project is complete and they will be cheaper to layoff since their severance is based on base salary...if they are still around because they expect 7-9% to resign in disgust, especially those oldsters that are 2nd choicers that will have their final 5 year's pay for the pension calculation flushed down the tube.
    • Linda Guyer comments: Excerpt: I suspect you are right about the band 10's being the ones to lose up to 35%. That seems to make sense. As I see it, quite a few people were hired during the dotcom bubble at very high salaries - remember when we long-term IBMer's were upset at the salaries that the new hires were getting, compared to our own? - and now their salaries are out of whack when IGS tries to compete by proposing services work with people at high rates compared to the competition. The problem I have is not with IBM trying to have competitive billable rates - but with the 7-11 layers of management that add to the billable rates and which *really* makes IBM expensive. Why not address the problem by reducing the layers of management?????
    • "ancientblueconsultant" comments: Excerpt: IBM is trying to do several things under the banner of "Skills". First, they are continuing their selective layoffs of older employees near the end of their careers to capture the final pension buyouts. These folks are being told they have outdated skills on the way out the door. Second, employees who were hired in the Internet boom days are near vesting and they are getting laid off to save on pension costs as well. Third, a customer survey (no details available, so it might even have been made up) results are being used to reduce the band levels of all billable employees in IGS. The first unit affected was BCS, now they are moving to ITS and SO. The objective is to reduce rates by lowering bands. If your pay is affected, so be it, because they actually want you to quit before the 5 year vesting period is achieved, so they can take the vested assets and keep them.

  • USA Today: Homebred CEO summons IBM's past, present, future. Palmisano is also looking at trust and teamwork among IBM's divisions. "We have to change how people work and then reward that behavior," he says. Palmisano put about half of his 2003 bonus — estimated at $3 million to $5 million — into a pool that senior managers will divide based on teamwork. Yale's Sonnenfeld says, "This isn't the way a lot of others in his position have functioned." Implementation begins with today's internal messages, which describe the values. Methods for making the initiative stick are still to come. The company is looking at ways to change performance evaluations, career paths, training and other practices to reflect the values. In a draft of a letter asking for support from top executives, Palmisano wrote: "I am under no illusions about what it will take to add values to how we run a company of our size and complexity."

  • Computerworld: IBM cutting 200 jobs in software division.

  • Associated Press: IBM Lays Off 150 Employees in Sweden.

  • Dow Jones Business Service: Former IBM Nurse Testifies Co. Feared 'Mass Hysteria.' Excerpt: A former International Business Machines Corp. nurse testified Wednesday that the company kept medical records with signs of chemical exposure from Silicon Valley workers to prevent "mass hysteria" and manufacturing lines from shutting down. The fear was so great it spawned an unwritten policy to find alternate " lifestyle" causes for symptoms that employees might have developed from exposure to chemicals such as acetone, isopropyl alcohol and Freon, said nurse Audrey Misako Crouch. Ms. Crouch said that during her six years -- from 1977 to 1983 -- of working at a clinic in IBM's disk-drive and circuit-board manufacturing plant, she would see 40 to 60 people in a four-hour shift for ailments as varied as a cut and a sore throat to signs of chemical exposure such as lightheadedness, dizziness and headaches. When employees were given medical records, the documents were handed over in sealed envelopes to be delivered unopened to a manager, Ms. Crouch testified. IBM "didn't want the employee to share this information with other employees," she said. "It was to stop mass hysteria. That was the coined term that I remember." ... If a patient had an abnormal liver-test result that could have come from working with chemicals, "we were told to ask about alternative lifestyles," she said. "How much alcohol did you drink? Did you have a diet high in fat? Those were the kinds of questions you were to ask the employee." On several occasions, Ms. Crouch testified, she was reprimanded by her supervisor for wanting to send an employee home after detecting what she believed were signs of chemical exposure. The workers were returned to the production line, she said. "Our job was to keep the employee healthy and send them back to the line," she testified.

  • MS-NBC: Medicare bill would enrich firms. Measure will steer $125 billion to health care industry, businesses. Excerpt: The largest chunk of that assistance, according to congressional budget estimates, would be $86 billion worth of payments and tax benefits for employers, giving them a new subsidy for the health benefits that many already provide to retirees. Health maintenance organizations, hospitals and physicians also would be paid more by the government for treating the 40 million elderly and disabled people in Medicare, the estimates show.

  • New York Times editorial, by Paul Krugman: AARP Gone Astray. Excerpt: It (the Medicare bill) contains several Trojan horse provisions that are clearly intended to undermine Medicare over time — it will allow private insurers to cherry-pick healthy clients in selected cities, and it will heavily subsidize private plans competing with traditional Medicare. Meanwhile, the bill prohibits Medicare from using its bargaining power to cut drug prices; drug company stocks have soared since the bill's details became public. ... Over the years AARP has become much more than an advocacy and service organization for older Americans. It receives more than $150 million each year in commissions on insurance, mutual funds and prescription drugs sold to its members.

    And this Medicare bill is very friendly to insurance and drug companies. Senator John Breaux, one of only two Democrats who participated in negotiations over the bill, takes the controversy as a good sign: "No one got everything they wanted." But as Jonathan Cohn points out in The New Republic, drug and insurance companies got exactly what they wanted: no efforts to limit prices, generous subsidies and lots of additional business. For example, insurance companies that offer an alternative to Medicare will not only be able to pick and choose their customers, but will also get 30 percent more per client than the government spends on the average Medicare recipient. ... So it should come as no surprise that Medicare "reform" appears likely to be another triumph for the coalition of the bought-off — a coalition that, sadly, includes AARP. If link is broken, view Adobe Acrobat version [PDF--26 KB].

  • CBS News: The Predator Class. Excerpt: I believe there is now a professional, well-trained elite, supported by large institutions, that is adept and willing to use corrupt practices to accumulate wealth. Despite assurances from game-theorists and anthropologists that the criminal cadre in the species remains a constant percentage over time, I believe today's mainstream, sanitized, and institutionally sanctioned financial crime rackets are being run by a new breed of crook. There have always been scandals and crooks in the history of American money, but our predator class is a distinct creation of the late 20th century.

  • MS-NBC: Drugmakers protect their turf. Medicare bill represents success for pharmaceutical lobby. Excerpt: No industry in negotiations over the $400 billion Medicare prescription drug bill headed to the House floor today outpaced the pharmaceutical lobby in securing a favorable program design and defeating proposals most likely to cut into its profits, according to analysts in and out of the industry. ... After objecting for years to proposals to add prescription drug coverage to Medicare, the pharmaceutical lobby recently shifted positions and poured enormous resources into shaping the legislation. Since the 2000 election cycle, the industry has contributed $60 million in political donations and spent $37.7 million in lobbying in the first six months of this year. The lobbying continued in earnest this week with a television and print advertising campaign urging passage of the bill. In one series of witty commercials sponsored by the industry-backed Alliance to Improve Medicare, elderly citizens look into the camera and demand: “When ya gonna get it done?”

  • Mark your calendars. The next IBM Stockholder's meeting will likely be held the first Tuesday morning in April. Janet Krueger provides details, including the Alliance@IBM's plans for the meeting.

  • Computerworld: Job Satisfaction Survey: What's wrong here? The tepid economy has created a slow burn in the IT workforce. With a boatload of work to do, little training and a lack of confidence in their companies, today's IT workers are feeling overtaxed, disenfranchised -- and boiling mad.

  • Austin American-Statesman: AARP under fire for endorsement of GOP Medicare reform bill. Advocacy group defends decision to back measure pushed by Newt Gingrich. Excerpt: Gingrich, speaking Wednesday to a gathering of conservative leaders led by Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, took credit for bringing AARP closer to the Republican viewpoint and said he had argued that the group had made mistakes earlier by backing the failed Clinton White House health plan and a previous health insurance program. But to critics, Gingrich's behind-the-scenes involvement on the Medicare bill underscored one of the key arguments of critics against the measure: that it would enrich drug companies and insurers at the expense of seniors who depend on the program. Throughout his congressional career Gingrich has been a favorite of pharmaceutical companies, which lavished contributions on him and his party. Since 1990, for example, drug manufacturers, the insurance industry and the employees of both sectors have donated $313 million to congressional candidates, nearly three-fourths of which have gone to Republicans, according to the watchdog group Center for Responsive Politics.

    During that same period, AARP has grown from a senior advocacy group into what critics say is a multimillion-dollar business, a large portion of its revenue derived from the same health and insurance industries that have aligned themselves with the Republican Party. ... In its latest annual report, the AARP disclosed that membership dues produced $186 million while royalties accounted for $218 million of its yearly operating budget. According to a report by consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, AARP earned $107.8 million in royalties on health insurance products alone last year, 17 percent of its $635.8 million in operating revenues. And the $400 billion Medicare reform bill "should dramatically accelerate AARP's future royalty income," perhaps by as much as $20 million a year, the report said.

  • Computerworld: Study: U.S. high-tech industry lost 540,000 jobs in 2002. The AEA predicted that another IT 234,000 jobs would be lost this year. Excerpt: The study found that all but three states lost high-tech jobs in 2002. California lost the greatest number, shedding some 123,000 tech jobs. Texas was second with 61,000 jobs lost. And Massachusetts lost 40,000 IT jobs. According to the AEA, Wyoming and Montana were the only states to add technology jobs between 2001 and 2002. They were joined by plus the District of Columbia. Colorado led the nation in the concentration of high-tech workers in 2002, with 98 high-tech workers per 1,000 private-sector workers, followed by Massachusetts, Virginia, New Mexico and Maryland.

  • MS-NBC: White House wins fight on overtime. Opponents abandon effort to block new rules from passage. Excerpt: The Senate voted in September to block the regulations. The House originally backed them in July but reversed its stance last month in a nonbinding vote. Negotiators trying to reconcile versions of the spending bills approved by the two chambers have struggled to resolve the overtime issue. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, had sponsored efforts to block the overtime changes and blamed Specter’s reversal on Bush administration pressure. “Just in time for the holidays, the White House has delivered another gift for big business, along with a pay cut for millions of working families,” Harkin said in a written statement. “This is hugely disappointing to me, and a real blow to the working men and women of this country who depend on overtime pay.”

  • New York Times: How to Make the Deficit Look Smaller Than It Is. Excerpt: To ensure the proper use of the Social Security surplus, Vice President Al Gore in 2000 proposed segregating the funds into a sort of lockbox. George W. Bush, then the Texas governor, also supported this concept, although his understanding of Social Security was revealed to be something less than complete. (In November 2000, during a campaign speech, he famously accused opponents of wanting "the federal government controlling the Social Security like it's some kind of federal program.") In the past three years, President Bush and Congress have viewed the Social Security surplus more as a cookie jar than a lockbox. The three budgets that Congress proposed, and President Bush signed - for the fiscal years 2002, 2003 and 2004 - used $480 billion in excess Social Security payroll taxes to fund government programs. According to the budget office, administration policies call for an additional $849 billion of excess Social Security funds to support government operations over the next four years.

  • American Medical News: Insurers increase defined-contribution plans. Health plans large and small are coming up with products of non-managed-care type in reaction to employer dissatisfaction with the growing cost of HMOs. Excerpt: The only trend he does see is that employers, health insurers and the government are intent on pushing more health care costs onto consumers, a situation he expects could create an enormous backlash against doctors and hospitals. Defined-contribution plans and those with medical savings accounts, Reinhardt said, make consumers responsible for where their health care dollars are spent, but just try to find out what a specific procedure costs before having it done. It's impossible to comparison shop, he said, because the costs are closely guarded. "Imagine going blindfolded into Macy's and being told to buy shirts," he said. "You pick a shirt, they say, 'We'll send you a bill later,' then you drive home. Now, you understand how health care is bought. If you wanted to get prices on health care ... you couldn't get it. Prices for drugs, you can't get them. Imagine unleashing people into a market where they don't know what they're buying and don't know the price of what they're buying. I can't imagine American consumers saying, 'I feel empowered.' They'll hate their doctors and their hospitals, and there could be a big backlash if MSAs became widespread."

  • Skip Bogard: I will pay for IBM documents for Sept 2003 and Nov 2003 layoffs (OWBPA reports). Full excerpt: Hello, I'm Skip Bogard, former 19 1/2 year IBMer in IBM Software Group, RTP. I'm WILLING TO PAY MONEY for a copy of two IBM SWG prepared documents. GOOD MONEY! ...$2.00 for EACH PAGE in the IBM REPORT(s) ...PLUS I PAY YOUR SHIPPING COSTS! These are ~not~ IBM Internal-only documents! I'm not asking anyone to break a business conduct guideline or law by selling me a copy. What I need what are the OWBPA reports for the two most current SWG layoffs: - Sept. 2003 (400 terminated by Steve Mills) - Nov. 2003 (200 terminated by Steve Mills).

  • This week's good news—Business Week: The Top Givers. Today's philanthropists aren't leaving the good works to future generations -- they're making their mark now. Excerpt: Perhaps the only thing harder than building a great fortune is giving one away. At least that's the conclusion you might draw after looking at how hard the megagivers on our second annual ranking of top philanthropists work at the task. At No. 1 on our list, William H. Gates III and his wife, Melinda, are the reigning royalty of a new class of self-made superphilanthropists. Along with Michael and Susan Dell, PeopleSoft co-founder David Duffield and his wife, Cheryl, and eBay Inc.'s first president, Jeffrey S. Skoll, they're schooling society in the ways of conspicuous donation. Combining their billions with their enormous personal capital, these benefactors are attacking some of the world's most intractable social problems, from poverty to public schools. And in a year when nonprofits have been savaged by drastic government budget cuts, their donations are helping to reinforce an unraveling safety net. The new philanthropists' demand for measurable results, efficiency, and transparency -- for bringing a businesslike rigor to philanthropy—is already trickling down to the lowest levels of the nonprofit world.

  • For the last several years, IBM has been reducing medical benefits for both employees and retirees. Janet Krueger explains why there's nothing we can do about it. Excerpt: Unlike pensions, which are protected by the federal ERISA laws, there are no federal laws that protect health care promises. Such a law has been introduced for the past 3 years, but has not received enough support to even get to the floor of the house or the senate. See www.nrln.org for information on the proposed legislation, its status, and what you could do to push for more support. Conclusion: Unless the laws are changed, IBM can continue reducing retiree health care with immunity. It is neither fair nor moral, but that does not make the actions illegal. The only way to fight something that is immoral but legal is with very public outrage. Are IBM retirees ready to do that?

  • Burlington (Vermont) Free Press: Lawyer representing ex-IBMers in age discrimination suit to visit South Burlington. Excerpt: The lead attorney representing ex-IBM workers in an age discrimination suit against their former employer will be in South Burlington today and Saturday to hold four informational meetings about the legal action. "We're going to meet with clients and prospective individuals and provide information to former IBM employees who were terminated, who think they were terminated because of age discrimination," Jeff Young, an attorney with McTeague, Higbee, Case, Cohen, Whitney & Toker in Topsham, Maine.
Coverage on H1-B and L1 Visa and Outsourcing Issues
  • SiliconIndia: AT&T to layoff 10% of workforce, to outsource work to India. Excerpt: The paper said that the company, based in Redmond, Washington State, has been looking internally for employees interested in spending several months in India to help train workers of whatever company is chosen to handle customer support functions.

  • Business Week: An Irresistible Offshore Tide for Jobs. Indian tech giant Tata's chief isn't worried about moves to keep work in the U.S. Economics, he says, makes the trend unstoppable. Excerpt: President George W. Bush and the field of Democratic Presidential hopefuls all pledge to stem the migration, and Congress recently reduced the number of H1(b) visas, which allow foreigners to work in the U.S. In the 2003 fiscal year, which ended in September, the U.S. issued some 195,000 H1(b) visas. In the new fiscal year, the number has been cut to 65,000. So is S. Ramadorai worried? Not a bit. The chief executive officer of Tata Consultancy Services, India's largest information-technology services company, isn't impressed by political rhetoric or posturing. The economics of "offshoring" are just too powerful for businesses to ignore, he says. Privately held TCS is among the top tier of Indian software and services outfits, along with Infosys Technologies and Wipro. Indeed, it claims to be the first of India's Big Three to top $1 billion in revenue.

  • Austin American-Statesman: Dell sending some jobs back to U.S. Corporate customer complaints prompt the change. Excerpt: In a surprising about-face, Dell Inc. is moving some technical-support jobs back from India to the United States. The new U.S. employees will provide phone-based tech support for business customers, which account for the bulk of Dell's revenue. Dell employees in India have been answering some of those calls. Calls from individual customers will still be routed to call centers in India. "We felt a little noise and angst from our customers, and we decided to make some changes," said Gary Cotshott, vice president of Dell's services division. "Sometimes, we move a little too far, too fast." ... Nevertheless, Dell's about-face could provide at least a little "I told you so" comfort for Dell technical-support employees in Central Texas who were laid off in 2001. Dell cut 5,700 jobs that year, most of them in Central Texas, as the high-tech slowdown began.
This week on the Alliance@IBM Site:
  • San Francisco Chronicle: IBM put gag on medics. Ex-nurse testifies company tried to avoid illness blame. Excerpt: A former IBM occupational nurse testified Wednesday that a manager ordered medical staff never to say workers' ailments were caused by toxic chemicals, and instead to blame symptoms on allergies, alcohol or fatty foods to avoid workers' compensation claims. The testimony at the IBM toxics trial in Santa Clara appeared to reinforce claims by ex-workers Alida Hernandez and Jim Moore that the computer giant created a hazardous workplace that caused them to develop cancer. In the lawsuit, which is being closely watched by the high-tech industry, the two plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages. While IBM maintains it looked out for worker safety, testimony by two former IBM managers Wednesday portrayed Big Blue as a secretive company where management strived to keep employees in the dark about risks of toxic exposure in the workplace.

  • See The Executive Rats! ... IBM Executives guilty of plotting to send jobs abroad and fire US employees! Read their own words on how you will lose your job. Excerpt: These talks show, that IBM is intensively working to rapidly transfer large numbers of high paying IBM jobs from the United States to low wage countries. The talks describe how laws, unions, and work councils in European countries prevent IBM from taking negative actions regarding employees, such as transferring jobs from those European countries. In the talks IBM HR management Photo of man wearing Alliance@IBM t-shirtagrees with WashTech CWA union organizers that dignity issues are at stake and agrees that union organizing is IBMers best hope to prevent massive job loss here in the US.

  • What is your issue at IBM? We'd like to hear from our web site visitors. Please submit your comments about employment at IBM, on why you visited this site, why you joined the Alliance, what issues are of concern at your workplace, how this web site has been useful to you, or any other related topic.

  • Why we need the Alliance@IBM.

  • Order an Alliance@IBM Golf Shirt!!! ...Your boss will love it.
This week on the TechsUnite site:
  • AT&T Wireless Exporting Tech Jobs to India. Washington Employees “Livid” About Training Replacements. Excerpt: The layoffs happen by ones and twos, AT&T Wireless employees say. Some employees are quietly called into a manager’s office and simply told that their jobs are being eliminated. Others are told that they will be participating in a “pilot project” where they are expected to train an employee of an offshore outsourcing firm how to perform their job. The goal of the pilot project, they later learn, is to move jobs to India, where qualified, English-speaking employees will work for as little as 10 percent of the salary U.S. workers are paid. That's how as many as 70 percent of approximately 3,900 IT employees, most based at company facilities in Redmond and Bothell, Wash., will lose their jobs, say reliable sources at the company who asked not to be named. ... In addition, the employee says, employees have been told to cooperate and train their replacements, or they will lose their severance packages, and face possible legal action. “If you want to outsource, fine,” the employee says. “But you don’t have to torment and totally demoralize your employees on their way out the door.”

  • IT Industry: A Race to the Bottom? Excerpt: Starting during the tech boom, though, U.S. technology companies made clear that the “higher paying” part wasn’t on their agenda. By pumping up the number of technologically skilled immigrants allowed into the country and outsourcing growing numbers of tech jobs abroad, these firms are well on their way to guaranteeing that whatever jobs of the future remain in America pay as little as possible. Worse, in the process, they’re discouraging more and more young Americans from studying science and technology, and thus encouraging a dangerous dumbing-down of the nation’s future workforce. Try preserving superpower status after a generation or two of that. ... This, then, is the answer that globalization cheerleaders have for high tech job flight: Cut high tech pay, cut health care systems to pre-1930s levels, promise all American workers that they can become another Einstein or Gates, and spend who knows how much money on this fool’s quest. Spreading this claptrap is contemptible. Taking it lying down would be unforgivable.

  • Thousands Blast FTAA in Miami Protests. Excerpt: The protesters said FTAA, a NAFTA-like trade treaty strongly pushed by GOP White House occupant George W. Bush, will speed up the flight of jobs and factories from the U.S. and Canada. Citing federal figures, the AFL-CIO estimates the U.S. lost a net of 879,280 jobs so far to NAFTA-inspired factory flight. Some protesters note that Mexico, which was supposed to benefit from NAFTA, saw a drastic drop in living standards after it was approved a decade ago -- and that it now suffers from former U.S. factories fleeing for even-cheaper labor in China.

  • Take the Tech Worker Challenge! Avoid speeding IT employers who don't care if they run you over and crush you, your career and your future. See if you can help nine tech workers get to the other side of the street -- and organize for improved conditions and benefits at work, a say in state and federal policies affecting tech workers, and the freedom to choose union representation. Try to avoid getting laid off with no notice, having your job shipped overseas, being illegally blacklisted, having your pension robbed, and more.

Happy Thanksgiving to our American Friends!Thanksgiving Turkey

Courtesy of a friend in Orange County, CA, we offer this Thanksgiving parable...

A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity.

John tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to "clean up" the bird's vocabulary. Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even ruder.

John, in desperation, threw up his hand, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute.

Fearing that he'd hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John's outstretched arms and said "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I'm sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior."

John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird continued, "May I ask what the turkey did?"

"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have too much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." — Franklin D. Roosevelt
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