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Highlights—August 28, 2004
- Parade: We Lost
Our Health Insurance. Excerpt: Ten years ago, PARADE Contributing Editor
Dotson Rader reported on the President’s Task Force on Health Care Reform, an important
federal initiative that sought to repair America’s failing health care system. At
the time, 37 million Americans were without health insurance coverage. While a majority
of the country favored a new national health care policy that guaranteed medical services
for everyone, Congress did not act. No national system of assured medical care for every
citizen was ever established. Today, 44 million Americans are without any health insurance,
an increase of 10 million since 1989, with 2003 marking the highest increase in a decade.
Eight out of 10 uninsured, including children, are in working, tax-paying families; more
than one-third are in households earning $25,000 to $49,999 a year. We asked Rader to take
another look at the nation’s health-insurance picture. What
follows is a portrait of three working people and their families, all of whom had to
make difficult choices in a society without a true safety net.
- Jim Hightower: CEOs
pay themselves $7,452 an hour (on average). Excerpts: A national magazine recently
featured a story about the paychecks of corporate CEOs. The cover featured a pink-faced
pig dressed in a business suit, and the title said it all: “Oink!” The magazine
bluntly labeled today’s executive class “a symbol of cartoonish greed,” asking
in exasperation, “Have they no shame?” The significance of this article is
that it was not the cover story of some leftie rag . . . but the April 14 issue of Fortune,
the very Bible of CEO-dom! Even some of the in-house set are astonished by the audacious
avarice of America’s top corporate
leaders, gaping open-mouthed at the miserable moral example of CEOs continuing to practice
the imperious ethic of “I.” These thieves in Guccis are grabbing all they
can for themselves at a time when their corporate performance stinks, shareholders
are being stiffed, millions of workers are being dumped, pensioners are ripped off,
unemployment is skyrocketing, college graduates are trading mortarboards for hairnets,
and the general economy is rolling into the ditch. The stickiest-fingered Iraqi looter
with a big cart and two mules has better ethics than our current corporate crowd. ...
CEOs are always eager to have the public focus on their published salaries as the measure
of how they’re doing compared to the corporate serfs—but the official salary
is the least of it, for the bulk of executive pay these days is “stealth wealth,” such
unpublicized payouts as bonuses, stock options, long-term comp, deferred compensation,
a catchall category called “other,” and a new one called SERP—Supplemental
Executive Retirement Plan. Like others in the company, top execs draw regular corporate
pensions, which pay all retirees a percentage of their annual salaries. But in the nineties,
CEOs began to chafe at this, for federal law capped these payouts at $160,000 a year and
... well, who can retire on such a paltry pension as that? So boards of directors began
setting up supplemental, executive-only pensions.
- IBM's Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan and other compensation for executives is
described in this
section of the 2003 Annual Report. According the AFL-CIO's
Executive Paywatch Database, "in 2003, S. J. Palmisano raked in $20,195,532 in total
compensation including stock option grants from International Bus. Machines. And S. J.
Palmisano has another $32,781,374 in unexercised stock options from previous years."
- Consumer's Union (non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine): The
Health Care Divide.
The False Promise of “Consumer-Driven” Healthcare. Excerpts: Last year,
Congress passed, and President Bush signed into law, legislation expanding high-deductible
health insurance. This law also includes tax-advantaged “health savings accounts” (HSAs),
designed to provide consumers with funds to use before they spend enough to meet the deductible.
The IRS recently released guidance that is likely to make these accounts even more appealing
to employers. Supporters of this approach would like you to believe that these so-called “consumer-driven” health
plans are consumer-friendly. Unfortunately, the term is merely a euphemism for a policy
that favors the healthy and wealthy and leaves the working poor and chronically ill to
carry a greater financial burden. In fact, a more apt term for this type of medical plan
is a “defined contribution
health plan.” Like defined contribution retirement plans such as 401(k)s, these
plans replace comprehensive benefits with more limited benefits and shift costs and responsibilities
to employees. In health care, this means a higher deductible (between $1,000 and $10,000),
combined with a tax-advantaged health savings account, possibly with a contribution from
the employer. Most “consumer-driven” plans build in a “gap” of
coverage, assuring that the employee must pay for some health care costs entirely out-of-pocket
before any coverage kicks in.
- Linda Guyer
speculates on how layoffs occur in IBM, and how they have a disparate effect on older
employees. Full excerpt: I don't think Palmisano, at his level, knows IBM is firing
people over 40 than under 40. What I think he does is demand
financial goals be met. Vice Presidents cut budgets and demand
better profit margins and cutting people is one way of doing this. Meanwhile, over in
Dogbert's evil HR empire, many studies are done on
the cost of employees. Hundreds of spreadsheets and powerpoint
graphics show employee costs broken down by country, skill set, time
of service, age, disabilities, medical benefit costs, pension costs,
comparisons to the competition, and so on. Consultants are brought
in to recommend ways to increase employee ROI - meaning how does IBM
get the most profitable work out of each human unit.
Then HR gets called in when a VP has to deal with a budget cut. The
VP is advised how to do the layoffs that accommodate the budget cut
in the most financially favorable way. A "disparate impact" results,
meaning more older employees are laid off. The older employees fight
back with a lawsuit, venturing into the legal limbo of trying to
prove "disparate impact". This alarms HR, who then advises VP's to
institute a program of "Forced 3 Ratings" to get the oldsters out on
the pretext of poor performance. The strategy is to do this quietly,
one employee at a time. No need to report layoff numbers to the
State Labor Boards, no press coverage, no headlines on the Alliance
web site. Employees are embarrassed and don't want to talk to the
press about this. Less risk of an age discrimination lawsuit. Very
HR's constant analysis for employee unit ROI also lead to the recent
rebanding in IGS - where many people are being forced into a lower
band. Some will get pay cuts, others will be too high in their band
for pay raises. This means in the long term they will be eligible
for fewer pension dollars. And of course the ultimate cost-saving strategy is "global
resourcing" meaning sending jobs from the US and Europe to (the
original term) low-cost countries. Much cheaper people units over
- KTLA Television (Los Angeles): Offshore
Jobs Bill Is OKd. Measure would prevent companies
from moving labor abroad. It now goes to the governor. Excerpts: The Legislature is considering
six measures to clamp down on California companies, as labor organizations argue
that the state should make sure it is not unwittingly sanctioning corporate behavior
that hurts Americans. The California Chamber of Commerce and other business interests
have been aggressively lobbying against the measures, particularly Liu's bill, AB 1829,
which now goes to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger after passing the Senate 21 to 14. Other
bills under consideration would prohibit the state Office of Homeland Security from having
any of its work done abroad; require all companies doing business in California to
report how many employees worked out of the country; and block healthcare companies
from transmitting abroad private medical information about patients. The Legislature
has already passed a bill requiring that call-center workers disclose where they
are located if a California customer inquires. The debate has largely been polarized
along partisan lines, with Republicans saying the measures would end up costing jobs
in California and Democrats saying the opposite. ... Barry Broad, a Sacramento labor
lobbyist, said the argument that moving jobs abroad increases jobs stateside is ludicrous. "That's
what they said about NAFTA," he said, referring to the North American
Free Trade Agreement. "All it is, is you fire a bunch of people here and replace
them with a bunch of people in the Third World and pay Third World wages, and somehow,
magically, the U.S. economy grows."
- University of California, Berkeley: Linguistics
professor George Lakoff dissects the "war
on terror" and other conservative catchphrases. Excerpt: Q: But wouldn't conservatives
argue, as they have with Social Security, that individuals can invest their money better
than the government? A: That's simple. Would you prefer to have the government build
and maintain the highway system, or do it yourself? Would you rather have a private
company owning the highway system and the Internet, and charging you God knows how
much to use them? You like the army, but do you want to build your own? How about your
own police and fire departments? No. You want a government that can do the things you
need, in the areas where private companies can't or won't do them or simply can't be
trusted to do them right. One of progressives' main goals is a better future for all. A
wise and efficient government is needed for that in hundreds of ways. When it comes to
government investment of your tax money, businesses benefit even more than ordinary people.
To start a business, you don't have to invent computer science or the telephone network,
you don't have to build a highway system. They're just there for businesses to use, as
is the Federal Reserve, the Treasury Department, the SEC, the Commerce Department, and
the courts. A company doesn't have to make up a way to adjudicate its disputes with other
companies; we paid for it already. Nine-tenths of the courts are there for corporate law.
Corporations get enormous benefits paid for by other taxpayers, but they've stopped paying
their way. Corporate income tax used to make up about 38 percent of all U.S. taxes. Now
it's less than 10 percent. Ordinary taxpayers are making the investments in infrastructure,
and corporate stockholders are getting the dividends. And that's just not fair.
- Associated Press: Ranks
of Poor, Uninsured Rose in 2003. Excerpts: The number of
Americans living in poverty increased by 1.3 million last year, while the ranks of
the uninsured swelled by 1.4 million, the Census Bureau (news
- web sites) reported
Thursday. It was the third straight annual increase for both categories. While not
unexpected, it was a double dose of bad economic news during a tight re-election campaign
for President Bush (news - web sites). Approximately 35.8 million people lived below
the poverty line in 2003, or about 12.5 percent of the population, according to the
bureau. That was up from 34.5 million, or 12.1 percent in 2002. The rise was more dramatic
for children. There were 12.9 million living in poverty last year, or 17.6 percent
of the under-18 population. That was an increase of about 800,000 from 2002, when 16.7
percent of all children were in poverty.
- Council for Affordable Health Insurance: Kerry
vs. Bush, The Future of Health Care Reform? [PDF].
Excerpt: Unlike Bill Clinton, who as a presidential candidate inspired a national
debate with his sweeping health care reform
plan, Sen. Kerry has proposed some measured changes intended to encourage employers
to continue — or begin to
offer — health coverage. Even so, the Kerry proposals would exacerbate the
problems of the current system by
redirecting it from its transition into a consumer-driven system to a government-driven
President Bush also supports relatively modest reforms, perhaps because two of his
previous campaign promises—a prescription drug benefit for seniors on Medicare and Health Savings Accounts — have
already become law.
- Washington Post: How
to Heal Health Care, by Bill Frist (Republican, TN) and Hillary
Clinton (Democrat. NY). At a time when much of our public discussion is riddled with
disagreement, there is an emerging bipartisan consensus in one vitally important area:
that the challenges facing U.S. health care require major, transformative change. Some
steps are already underway. Recently the Department of Health and Human Services announced
a 10-year plan to build a new health information infrastructure. And while there is
no consensus yet on all the changes needed, we both agree that in a new system, innovations
stimulated by information technology will improve care, lower costs, improve quality
and empower consumers.
- Connecticut Coalition for Universal Health Care: The
Case For Single Payer, Universal Health Care For The United States. Excerpts: Why
doesn’t the United States have universal health care as a right of citizenship?
The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee access
to health care as a right of citizenship. 28 industrialized nations have single payer
universal health care systems, while 1 (Germany) has a multipayer universal health
care system like President Clinton proposed for the United States. ... Myth One: The
United States has the best health care system in the world. ... Myth Two: Universal
Health Care Would Be Too Expensive. ... Myth Three: Universal Health Care Would Deprive
Citizens of Needed Services. ... Myth Four: Universal Health Care Would Result In Government
Control And Intrusion Into Health Care Resulting In Loss Of Freedom Of Choice. ...
Myth Five: Universal Health Care Is Socialized Medicine And Would Be Unacceptable
To The Public. ... Myth Six: The Problems With The US Health Care System Are Being
Solved and Are Best Solved By Private Corporate Managed Care Medicine because they
are the most efficient. (Editor's note: Each "myth" is refuted with a set of "facts"
and a "conclusion.")
- New York Times Opinion: America's
Failing Health, by Paul Krugman. Excerpts: Working
Americans have two great concerns: the growing difficulty of getting health insurance,
and the continuing difficulty they have in finding jobs. These concerns may have a
common cause: soaring insurance premiums. In most advanced countries, the government
provides everyone with health insurance. In America, however, the government offers
insurance only if you're elderly (Medicare) or poor (Medicaid). Otherwise, you're expected
to get private health insurance, usually through your job. But insurance premiums are
exploding, and the system of employment-linked insurance is falling apart. ...
The fact is that the mainly private U.S. health care system spends far more than the
mainly public health care systems of other advanced countries, but gets worse results.
In 2001, we spent $4,887 on health care per capita, compared with $2,792 in Canada and
$2,561 in France. Yet the U.S. does worse than either country by any measure of health care
success you care to name - life expectancy, infant mortality, whatever. (At its best,
U.S. health care is the best in the world. But the ranks of Americans who can't afford the
best, and may have no insurance at all, are large and growing.) And the U.S. system does
have very high overhead: private insurers and H.M.O.'s spend much more on administrative
expenses, as opposed to actual medical treatment, than public agencies at home or abroad.
Does this mean that the American way is wrong, and that we should switch to a Canadian-style
single-payer system? Well, yes. Put it this way: in Canada, respectable business executives
are ardent defenders of "socialized medicine." Two years ago the Conference
Board of Canada - a who's who of the nation's corporate elite - issued a report urging
fellow Canadians to bear in mind not just the "symbolic value" of universal
health care, but its "economic contribution to the competitiveness of Canadian businesses."
My health-economist friends say that it's unrealistic to call for a single-payer system
here: the interest groups are too powerful, and the antigovernment propaganda of the
right has become too well established in public opinion. All that we can hope for right
now is a modest step in the right direction, like the one Mr. Kerry is proposing. I
bow to their political wisdom. But let's not ignore the growing evidence that our dysfunctional
medical system is bad not just for our health, but for our economy. If link is broken,
view Adobe Acrobat version [PDF--111
- Cincinnati Post: Census:
170,000 Ohio jobs lost. Excerpt: Ohio has seen 170,000 people lose their jobs since
April 2000, according to numbers released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. That
translates to an unemployment rate that rose from 5 percent to 7.9 percent at the end
of 2003, the numbers show.
- Wall Street Journal: Steel
Union Backs Retired Executives
In Halliburton Suit, by Ellen E. Schultz. Excerpt: Retired executives at Halliburton
Co. who lost health benefits earlier this year have an unexpected champion: the steelworkers'
union. In an unusual move, the United Steelworkers of America filed an objection yesterday
in U.S. District Court in Houston asking the court to refrain from granting the company's
request for class action status in a lawsuit. Halliburton filed the suit earlier
this year against some of its retired managers. The situation is unusual not only
because Halliburton has taken its retirees to court in an attempt to sever benefits,
but also because a union is weighing in to defend them. These events are taking place
at a time when more employers are adopting aggressive legal maneuvers in an effort
to shed health coverage for retirees-both union and salaried. How this suit plays out
could have implications for all sides.
- SmartMoney: Falling
Through the Cracks. Excerpts: Hoping To retire early? You might want to reconsider.
According to insurance experts, the most expensive period of a person's life to
buy individual health coverage is between the ages of 55 and 64. Too young to qualify
for Medicare, they're also old enough to be considered highly risky by insurers.
And clients that are perceived as risky usually end up paying through the nose — if
they're lucky enough to be offered coverage at all, warns Alice Burton, director
of the state health policy group at Academy Health, a health research and policy
center. ... In all, 3.7 million Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 (13%) have
no health coverage whatsoever, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released on Thursday.
An additional 3 million Americans (10.5%) in that age group pay for coverage on their
own. Many experts warn that these numbers could rise as more companies drop their
retiree benefits in the face of rising health costs. That certainly has been the
trend over the years: in 1988, 66% of all large employers (200 or workers) offered
retiree coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's annual survey of health
care benefits; by 2003, that figure had plummeted to 38%.
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Make
Payroll Tax Part of Discussion. Excerpts: A couple of weeks ago I had a chance
to hear the president talk about taxes. "We didn't play favorites in the tax code.
We said, 'If you're paying taxes, you ought to get relief.' Seems to make a fair way
to me to make policy," he
said. "So everybody who paid taxes got relief." But that's not exactly
correct -- unless you add the word "income" before
the word "taxes" -- because more Americans are hit harder by payroll taxes.
More than 70 percent of all taxpayers now pay more in payroll taxes -- mostly for
Social Security and Medicare -- than they do in income taxes. The total collected
is projected to reach $747 billion in the current fiscal year, just short of the
$762 billion collected in income tax revenue. Both taxes collect about 41 percent
of federal revenue -- but just four years ago, payroll taxes accounted for only 32
percent of federal revenue. ... When I asked Bush about a payroll tax cut, he said: "Well,
obviously, I chose to provide tax relief by income tax cuts, not by payroll tax cuts,
and the reason why is payroll tax will affect the solvency of Social Security. So
I chose not to deal with the payroll tax." But the payroll tax has significant
implications for most Americans. For some households with incomes below the median,
the marginal tax rates are about 50 percent (including both income and payroll),
according to the Economic Policy Institute. This is a tax on working people. Switch
the source of the money around, say, most of the household income is generated from
capital gains (a preferred tax) instead of labor, then the rate might not exceed
15 percent. But beyond fairness, the payroll tax makes it that much more difficult
for businesses to hire new workers. Under the law, employers pay half the tax. Already
many businesses say they aren't hiring new workers because of the increasing cost
of benefits, including medical care. But one part of that equation is also the increased
cost of payroll taxes.
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Hunting
for an agenda, Bush has Social Security in his sights. Excerpts: In urgent need of some fresh ideas for a second term to present at
the Republican Convention, President Bush is framing an economic message called "the
ownership society." That sounds swell. Who doesn't want to own the personally
important things that make life comfortable? But what exactly does the slogan mean?
How do we get to this ideal society? The major policy incentives that advisers are
saying the president should tout aren't really new. Unless some secret surprise is
pending, it's old wine in a new bottle. ... Bush might propose a raft of tax credits
to reward people for buying property, investing in stocks and bonds and putting their
money in private health insurance or job retraining. The trouble with this, however,
is that you have to have the money to do those things. If you don't, then you don't
get a tax credit. The pressure to spend now on current needs is compounded by the fact
that the costs of most purchases are steadily going up but bank-account interest is
bogged down at little more than 1 percent. Bush is pushing for individually funded,
tax-sheltered savings accounts that would compete with 401(k) plans and other employee
accounts to which employers now contribute. The centerpiece of this patchwork tax catchall,
astonishingly, seems to be a revival of his 2000 campaign proposal to partially privatize
Social Security. When the stock market went into a swoon, Bush stopped talking about
the idea. But he raised the subject again in this year's State of the Union address
and in his economic report to Congress in February. ...
Now he calls the concept "personal retirement accounts." He claims this Social
Security "reform" would give individuals "control" over their own future
-- as in control to blow it as well as protect one's retirement. The plan would encourage
workers to set up their own retirement accounts as vehicles to siphon off some of their
payroll taxes that would normally go to support Social Security. Bush says that in the
long run it could reduce the growth of Social Security and cut the benefits it provides.
He thinks that is a good idea. He's wrong. Reducing benefits is a terrible idea. Social
Security is the bedrock of stability on which millions of retirees rely. And future retirees
should have that security. It is not irrelevant that these private accounts would also
benefit the banks and financial institutions that contribute generously to Republicans.
... The devotion to tax cuts as the all-purpose answer to everything is as dangerous
as it is shortsighted. A recent Congressional Budget Office study concluded that Bush's
cuts had shifted more of the tax burden from the nation's rich to the middle class. And
the big tax cut bears some responsibility for the federal budget deficit, now more than
$400 billion this year and growing. Vice President Dick Cheney once said deficits don't
matter, but those hefty interest payments the government must pay suggests they do.
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer guest commentary: Overtime
cut undermines workers, by John
Sweeney, AFL-CIO President. Excerpts: Yesterday, the biggest pay cut in American history
took effect: The Bush administration's overtime pay cut became official. It's a new
federal rule that could strip up to 6 million workers of overtime pay protection,
forcing them to work longer hours without fair compensation. Nurses, police lieutenants,
chefs, team leaders, working supervisors, assistant managers and financial services
workers are just some of the millions of workers who used to earn overtime pay when
they worked more than 40 hours a week -- and who will now lose that eligibility.
Not only will these employees no longer get overtime pay -- they'll be working extra
hours for free, earning only their base salary. That means a huge pay cut. Currently,
time-and-a-half premium pay for overtime work accounts for 25 percent of the income
of those who work overtime. That averages out to about $161 every week. And what
incentive will employers have to keep workers' hours reasonable if they don't have to
pay extra for extra work? Workers without overtime pay rights are twice as likely to
work more than 40 hours per week, three times as likely to work more than 50 hours and
three times as likely to work more than 60 hours. The fact is that workers will have
less time with our families, thanks to President Bush's new overtime rule.
|Coverage on H1-B and L1 Visa and Off-Shoring
- Jim Hightower: Who Needs
American Workers? Excerpts: Maybe you're one of the two million Americans who've
recently had their jobs offshored to India, Pakistan, and elsewhere, or one of
the millions more expected to have your jobs shipped abroad in the next few years.
If so, don't worry, Bucko, for a new growth industry has arisen that offers exciting
job opportunities for you discarded Americans. You, too, could become an "American
accent and culture trainer." It seems that while such corporations as Citibank,
Dell, GE, and Microsoft are eager to abandon the U.S. and move their telephone
service jobs to low-wage workers abroad, these English-speaking foreign workers
are...well, foreign, so their accents and cultural references can be jarring
to U.S. customers placing orders or seeking help. Thus, offshoring companies
are hiring Americans to teach foreign replacement workers to sound and behave
like Americans. Yes, this means you could end up teaching the Indian or Pakistani
or Russian who was given your job how to sound like you! ... Of course, it
won't be long before the corporations train low-paid foreigners to teach American
accents and culture to foreign workers––then there'll be no need for
American workers at all.
- ZDNet Australia: Offshoring:
Don't shoot the messenger. Excerpts: India's image
as a paragon of outsourcing took a severe beating last week after revelations
of offshoring jobs gone awry shook the entire medical fraternity in the United
Kingdom. Facing an acute shortage of medical transcribers, eight hospitals
in London decided to outsource transcription services. Instructions and letters
were dictated into digital voice recorders and the files forwarded to a company
called Omnimedical, which would then send the recordings to a team of transcribers
in India. In theory, it's a straightforward process but reality proved otherwise.
The mistakes in the transcriptions were so serious, it prompted the Association
of Medical Secretaries to go public with spokesman Michael Fiennes citing several
horrific examples in the Daily Mail: below knee amputation became "baloney amputation" and
phlebitis (vein inflammation) left leg was changed to "flea bite his left
leg". ... They say the prime motivation behind outsourcing the workload is
to provide better service to patients but they fail to address the ramifications
of such a move. The root cause behind the dearth of medical secretaries--a combination
of low wages and dim career growth--has been skirted in favor of offshoring,
the magic short-term solution. The monthly wage of medical secretaries in India
is reportedly one-third that of their British counterparts. The hospitals will
argue that cost wasn't the only factor in deciding to outsource. In fact, any suggestion
that hospitals willfully put patients' lives at risk would surely be met with
on the Alliance@IBM Site:
- ThinkTwice for August/September 2004 [PDF].
Articles this month include:
- Organizing IBM — Rev it up!
- The Employee Free Choice Act
- Take Action! Help us Strengthen Workers’ Right to Form Unions!
- New IBM Program to Help Employees
Whose Jobs are Offshored
- The Value of a Union Contract
- Offshore Contractors Target
State Government Work
- AFL-CIO: Union
Members Come to the Aid of Hurricane Charley Victims.
- Boston Magazine: The
Man Who Knew Too Much. A BU professor fights to publicize his report claiming
there's a link between cancer deaths and IBM plants. But Big Blue is doing
all it can to stop him. Excerpt: Dick Clapp knows cancer. "This is my bible," he
says, holding up a purple book thicker than an actual Bible. The title Cancer
Epidemiology and Prevention is printed on the spine. A plaque on the wall in
Clapp's tiny office at Boston University's School of Public Health recognizes
his work studying the prevalence of breast cancer on Cape Cod. Among the journals
lining his shelves is one he edited on sewage sludge. Not the most glamorous
topic perhaps, but sewage sludge can contain dioxins, which when spread on
agricultural fields can attach to vegetables and cause -- that's right -- cancer.
Clapp has spent many years trying to pinpoint the environmental factors that
cause this disease. He acted as an expert for the Woburn residents who sued
W. R. Grace and Beatrice Foods, claiming those firms were poisoning the residents'
well water with chemicals -- a legal battle that served as the basis for the
book and film A Civil Action , starring John Travolta. So Clapp was a natural
person to call when workers at an IBM semiconductor plant in San Jose, California,
sued, alleging they were contracting cancer from chemicals they worked with.
After he was hired by the plaintiffs to analyze data turned over by IBM, Clapp
concluded that the plant workers, compared to the national average, were four
times as likely to get brain cancer, twice as likely to get breast cancer,
and six times as likely to contract multiple myeloma, a rare cancer of the
plasma cells. But Clapp and co-analyst Rebecca Johnson never got a chance to present
these conclusions. In the first related case against IBM, brought by a woman who
had breast cancer and a man with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the judge ruled Clapp's
analysis inadmissible on grounds of irrelevance. When Clapp tried to publish the
study in a scientific journal, IBM threatened to sue. Though it denies that its
plants have caused cancer in its workers, IBM settled with about 50 former employees
in a second suit, demanding that the settlement amounts be kept secret. (More than
100 similar suits are pending in New York.) If IBM has its way, Clapp's analysis
-- which suggests, he says, that the company should have known its employees were
dying of cancer at high rates -- will never see the light of day.