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Highlights—September 4, 2004
- U.S. Department of Labor: The
History of Labor Day. Excerpt: "Labor Day differs in every essential way from
the other holidays of the year in any country," said Samuel Gompers, founder and
longtime president of the American Federation of Labor. "All other holidays are
in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over
man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over
another. Labor Day...is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation."
- An Eclectic List of Events in U.S. Labor
History. Excerpt: Most citizens of the United
States take for granted labor laws which protect them from the evils of unregulated industry.
Perhaps the majority of those who argue for "free enterprise" and the removal
of restrictions on capitalist corporations are unaware that over the course of this country's
history, workers have fought and often died for protection from capitalist industry. In
many instances, government troops were called out to crush strikes, at times firing on
protesters. Presented below are a few of the many incidents in the (too often overlooked)
tumultuous labor history of this country.
- Common Dreams Progressive Network: AFL-CIO
President John J. Sweeney Remarks for Labor Day Media Roundtable. Excerpt: This Labor
Day finds union members deeply and actively involved in campaigning for a fundamental
change in the direction of this country because they, like other working Americans, see
the bottom falling out of their basic way of life—and
it’s been falling out fast in the last three and a half years under the policies
of President George Bush. They see work being devalued. They see good jobs with health
care and pensions becoming rare. And they see forces lined up to give more and more
power to corporate interests that are driving job standards down. As I travel the country,
I see what this means for working families. The plant worker whose job went to China
and who now works in a grocery store for half the pay and no benefits. The middle-aged
couple who both lost their jobs and are doing everything they can to hold onto their house.
The I.T. worker who trained her replacement in India, can’t find another job and
has exhausted her unemployment benefits. The young couple with a child who work full-time,
but don’t have health insurance. I’m
sure you know the statistics, but let me just remind you that President Bush promised
5 million new jobs - - and he’s 6 million jobs behind on that promise. He will
be the first President since Hoover and the Great Depression to end his term with
more people out of work than when he began. But it’s not just about the number
of jobs. The fact is that we are losing good jobs, and those we are gaining are not
- AlterNet: No Picnic. Excerpt: Labor Day 2004 is anything but a picnic for the vast majority
of America's 147 million member labor force. No matter how you slice it, most US workers
are worse off than they were at this time last year. The average real wage – that
is, adjusted for inflation – has
actually fallen over the past year. This is in spite of the fact that the economy has
grown by 4.7 percent. In other words, even when the economy is growing, most of the
people who make it grow aren't getting anything out of it. This continues a long-term
trend – briefly interrupted in the late 1990s – that has dominated the last
30 years. Over the last three decades the median real wage has grown by only about
8 percent. In other words, the majority of the American labor force has failed to share
in the gains from economic growth. This by itself is an outrage and ought to be a major
political issue in an election year. Prior to the "Age of Greed" it was normal
for the wages of most workers to grow with productivity. If that had happened over
the past three decades, the typical (median) family income would be more than $60,000,
instead of the $43,300 that it is today. This is not a utopian "what if" scenario
but rather what would have actually occurred if most American workers had not lost so
much bargaining power. Most of this loss stems from policy changes rather than just "market
forces." For example,
the decline in union membership and strength results from legal and institutional
changes that have made it extremely difficult for workers to organize unions and bargain
collectively. Tens of thousands of workers are illegally fired each year for organizing
or attempting to join a union, and companies can refuse to bargain with unions for years
even when they are legally obligated to do so. Human Rights Watch found that the United
States had a "culture of near impunity" for employers who violate basic labor
- New York Times: I.B.M.
Offers $10,000 to Owners of Contaminated Houses. Excerpts: The I.B.M. Corporation
announced yesterday that it was willing to pay $10,000 each to the owners of nearly
500 contaminated homes in the upstate village of Endicott if the owners give up their
right to sue for property damages caused by industrial pollution. Residents have
complained that ventilation systems I.B.M. has installed in their homes since 2002
to prevent toxic vapors from building up in the basements have hurt property values.
Last year they asked Attorney General Eliot Spitzer for help in protecting home values.
... Residents of Endicott had a mixed reaction to the announcement of the payment program. "My
gut reaction is that sounds like a buyout," said
Edward M. Blaine, the director of a community outreach program who has owned a house
in there for 31 years. Mr. Blaine, 52, said he was not sure that he would accept the
money and give up his right to sue if he cannot sell his house at market value. "If
I had to say yes or no right now I'd probably say no," he said. "I need to
think about it." Joseph T. Havel has no doubt. "I'm not taking it," Mr.
Havel said. "It's
like a payoff, isn't it?" Mr. Havel is a taxidermist who used to work in his basement
until state environmental officials discovered that the plume of groundwater contamination
was giving off vapors that were seeping into the many basements, including his. He
has since abandoned the basement and built a workshop in the garage. "If I tried
to sell my house right now, I probably wouldn't get any more than $60,000," he
said. "People across the street from me have been trying to
sell for over a year." He said the house had an assessed value of $102,000.
- Society of Actuaries: Retirement
Planning - Calculating Risk of Retirement Woes. Excerpt:
A new retirement calculator -- dubbed "The Retirement Probability Analyzer" --
is available from the Society of Actuaries Web site for people who want their projections
to be a bit more sophisticated than those offered by most online calculators. Most
free, online retirement calculators let you test the durability of your nest egg using
basic factors, such as age, life-expectancy, monthly income expectations and the size
of your savings. But the Retirement Probability Analyzer takes it a few steps further,
by also accounting for pension assets, expected investment returns, and the effects
of an immediate annuity investment. Unlike many other retirement calculators, the Retirement
Probability Analyzer doesn't seek to tell people how much money they might need to
retire. Instead, it aims to help retirees and near-retirees estimate -- based on the
amount they have now -- how long their funds might last.
- New York Times: Citing
Higher Costs, U.S. Plans Rise in Medicare Premium. Excerpts:
A day after President Bush heralded his efforts to help the elderly cope with increased
medical expenses, federal officials announced the largest premium increase in dollars
in the Medicare program's history, raising the monthly expense by $11.60 to $78.20.
The increase, which amounts to 17 percent, results largely from increased payments
to doctors and reflects rising medical expenses generally, officials said. The rise
has nothing to do with a program that will start in 2006 to offer prescription drugs,
for which beneficiaries must pay a separate premium. The increase immediately became
grist for an increasingly contentious presidential campaign. Phil Singer, a spokesman
for the Kerry campaign, released a statement saying, "After
doing nothing about the record increases in the cost of health care over the last
four years, George Bush is presiding over a Medicare system that is socking seniors
with the largest premium hike in the program's 40-year history." Scott Stanzel,
a spokesman for the Bush campaign, said that "President
Bush has worked to increase health care access and affordability, including guaranteeing
Medicare recipients prescription drugs."
- Vault's IBM
Business Consulting Services message board is a popular hangout for IBM BCS employees,
including many employees acquired from PwC. Some sample posts follow:
discount with Cell, DSL?" by "adios_73". Full excerpt:
I will be joining IBM BCS after labor day. In the offer, nothing mentions
about the discount with mobile phone plan or DSL? anybody could tell
us some? In addition, which model of IBM laptop be used for BCS consultant?
- "Laugh" by "feldspar".
Full excerpt: That's because BCS doesn't reimburse broadband/internet charges
anymore and won't cover your mobile bill either unless you are Band 8 (Mgr)
or higher, or have Partner approval. In the past, consultants were classified
as "Mobile Employees" which entitled us to reimbursements for
ISP, second phone line, cell, fax, printer, office supplies, etc. but the
firm recently stated that consultants were technically not "Mobile" employees
(what?) and reclassified all staff from "Mobile" to "Field" or "Work
Partly from Home" some such status. However, you will be encouraged
to sign up with one of the firm's "preferred" cellphone carriers
as IBM no doubt gets some kind of financial kick-back. In return, you'll
get between 5-15% off of your monthly bill, depending on the provider.
Use IBM's preferred vendors anyway, as you don't want your expenses pushed
back from the Accounting folks in the rare instance that your Partner approves
expensing your mobile bill; you won't be reimbursed unless you're with
a preferred carrier. Also keep in mind that the actual reimbursement policy
for phones may vary by sector (or project), however, as I believe P&L
is calculated by industry so the different sectors seem to write up their
own rules. Either way, don't hold your breath. Laptop: it depends. You
may get a newer model ThinkPad -- no one (except for possibly Partners
and APs) receives the most current or top-of-the-line ThinkPads. They're
usually a year or two or three old. If you're really unlucky, you'll get
the old laptop of a consultant who recently resigned. Seems quite likely,
since so many folks have been leaving.
at last, free at last........Thank God" by "deep_eye".
Full excerpt: First, a strong and heartfelt thanks to all whose insights,
advice and wisdom on this board gave me the kick in the pants to get
moving on a new job campaign and leave the festering environment of BCS
behind. It paid off! Not only am I going, but at a 45% salary jump with
a real authentic bonus plan - I know, hard to believe, but true - there
really is another world out there. My hope for you all is that either
things improve here, or you too, are able to transition on to an organization
where you will be respected and rewarded. Second, to those of you who
are convinced that this is still some kind of Shangra-La and that the
posts are the rantings of a handful of complainers, hopefully, you too,
will wake up and smell the brew. Life is too short to go through the
meat grinder every day - good luck.
(sic) vs Quantity" by "Dose of Reality". Full excerpt:
The gross hire rate is definitely above plan, even though revenue and bookings
are below plan. We are replacing departing staff, and resignations are much
higher than plan. The other driver is the fact that at the elevated utilization
targets, it is much more difficult to find the right staff available when a project
is sold. The higher the overall utilization, the less “prime stock” we
have on our shelves, and the less likely we will have the right product at the right
time. There has been a moderate amount of “just-in-time” hiring to close
these acute gaps. More important than the quantity of staff turnover and recycling
is the quality of the incoming staff. From what I have seen, both the experience
level and talent level of the new hires are significantly lower than that of
the staff they are replacing. There are still a few pockets of experienced selling
and PM talent, but they are the exception not the rule. We are getting a combination
of inexperienced newbies and retreaded experienced hires whose careers have
stalled and are desperately seeking “greener pastures”. Our skill leverage
factors are way off-spec.
Case of chasing an ever shrinking tail" by "Dose of Reality". Full
excerpt: The implied resource strategy, whether by design or due to obliqueness
is to continue to recycle staff. It is clear that the effect of the compensation
and reward model is to cap longevity at 2 to 3 years, at least for the performers
that are not just coasting along in the bottom 25%. No one in the average to above
average and up categories will stay and continue to perform with stagnant mediocre
base salary and no reward for performance. We will continue to ratchet compensation
and staff quality down in a self-sustaining death spiral - lower resource quality
yields lower revenue, which yields lower profits and higher targets, which yields more
compensation squeezes, which yields lower resource quality..... The push to make the
quarterly numbers will not allow us to reverse course. We are so highly leveraged operationally
that revenue contraction magnifies the effect many times over. The organizational
model with its layers of management fat requires growth to sustain it. It will bottom
out eventually, but we will no longer be competitive in the consulting space. We
will be left with "B" players
and newbies, who may eventually get some recognition, but on a different plane
from where we started. No one ever saved their way to prosperity. It's a variation
on a theme - We believe our people are our most critical liabilities.
voluntary attrition" by "tsm94". Full excerpt: In talking with
several RDMs and partners the voluntary attrition rate for BCS is around 25%
- 30% as of June / July for 2004. This includes people who have transferred from BCS
into other lines of business within IBM. In response, we've increased our hiring plans
for 2004. However, as someone else noted, those coming in are "just in time" hires
and lack the experience of those being replaced. This situation is likely to
get worse if BCS continues to miss targets and raises / bonuses opportunities look
grim. In addition, as we watch colleagues depart, we lose our network and sense of
'belonging' (assuming it once existed)- this attrition will only increase as quality
staff continue to leave and are replaced by inferior clones.
even sadder" by "deep_eye". Full excerpt: When you really think
about it. I personally know several extremely talented people who left when their
requests for even meager raises were laughed out of the room. Now, IBM will pay premiums
for individuals who have limited experience, skills (in some cases no skills
or experience at all in the practice area they hire into)or aptitude for consulting.
I've seen a few of them already, 3 months ago, their greatest concern was whether
they could simultaneously hit the keg party and still be able to pass their Finance
101 final the next day - this will be the future core of BCS - Great strategy, someone
should get a bonus for it.
Irony Is..." by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: ...someone will
get a bonus for it. Bonuses in the higher echelons are based on yearly profit performance.
Cost reductions help in the short term. The problem is that they create a much
larger "off-book" liability – the
loss of organizational cohesiveness and momentum. The “payment” on this
liability is due in 12 to 18 months - the amount of time it takes to run out the
contracts that were sold when the current crop of experienced employees were in
good faith killing themselves for their perceived career opportunity, and the amount
of time it takes for a critical mass of staff to depart. Leadership will worry about
that next year. That’s why we have had three years
of this – it’s a vicious cycle, and we are running out of levers to pull
to maintain the illusion of company health. But then again, whom do you blame?
They are just playing the game according to the rules that have been set up for
them.The idea of a balanced scorecard for management is just too foreign to IBM.
Also, there is always another crop of fools to come in and help to bail water.
- "ibmoptioneer": Redeployment
- Round 1. Full excerpt: Colleagues, IGS will have its first
major round of "re-deployments" in the next
few days and weeks. This is the new way of reducing salaries,
benefits and headcount without a single severance payment. The sheep will be herded
and sent down the cattle chute to be shorn
of their dignity then tarred and feathered. and to those of you who think this only
happens to you once a
year...you're in for a surprise. Plan of 2-5 "re-deployments" a
year with each action reducing your salary more...
- "ibmoptioneer": Re:
notified redeployment program. Full excerpt: The "wow" is yet to come.
That's when they do this (redeployment) to
an employee several times a year, to reduce labor costs and keep the
lower classes in check. Management now has a potentially foolproof way to create 2-tier
force, one that has and one that doesn't have while at the same time
promoting the fact they have no layoffs and markedly reduced
severance expenses. Instant labor expense reductions based on market conditions.
now no different than tools to be displayed on the wall and used and
disposed of at management's will. The next stop? A brain dump to take your knowledge
and make sure you
can't use it anywhere else. They take everything else not attached to
your body now when you leave. That's coming, my friends...and your
apathy brought it.
- "rtporbust": re:
notified redeployment program. Excerpt: I am sorry to hear that you are
being outsourced. Unfortunately, if you refuse the offer of comparable employment, IBM
will take that as your resignation. In other words, if you refuse
what they call comparable - including a cut in pay, band, and even a
change in shift - then they will regard it as if you quit, instead of
that you were terminated. Bottom line? You will not be able to collect unemployment
No money until a new paycheck comes rolling in. This is a new,
diabolical little scheme to reduce the amount of unemployment
insurance IBM has to pay ... and to prevent you from collecting
unemployment until you find something new - after they decided you
had to go.
- "ibmmike2006": re:
notified redeployment program. Full excerpt: Brian,
Now don't you wish you had a person, sitting beside you (Your Union
Steward) across the table from the manager who is telling you your
job is gone as a result of Offshoring with IBM chasing short term
profits at the expense of long term employees??? My wife is a Union member, pays
her dues and when job discussions
come up like a layoff or even some personnel issue, she can request
her Union Steward to sit beside her as management sitting across his
big desk discusses an issue with her. There are some things that the
Union cannot attend, but, those instances are rare where the steward
is locked out. My wife is kind of shy, so it helps to have someone
there to provide a "Check and Balance" to arrogance or demeaning
conversations that can take place by a manager behind closed doors
especially when they bring out the "jack boots". It keeps the
manager "on their toes" which is good, lessens the manager "abuse" as
there is a witness, and probably, like civil rights, is the right
thing to do. She could still be laid off, but, it would have to be
done with a respect and dignity for the employee and not a big black
The myth that Unions prevent layoffs is just that, a myth just
propaganda by the AntiUnion folks. Unions came about because of
abusive employers, forgetting that employees are "People too". I
guess it is easy for those who are not in the sights and
targetted...yet to hide and crawl in cracks to lower their
visibility as not to be raised up to the bullseye. Everyone is a
target as they age at IBM except, of course, third level and above
managers. They seem to find a nitch and latch on to it until they
want to retire unlike, non-management. It must give them comfort,
knowing that my pension I will never see, all those years of tax
writeoffs by IBM, will now be funding the IBM executives SERP and
EDCP for their retirement, in the case of Sam, $677,000 a month for
life with an income worth $300,000,000 if Sam lives to the ripe old
age of 85 with 25 years of $8,125,000 annual SERP pension. Oh yes,
$160,000 comes out of the IBM Pension Trust fund (Congress limited
Pension Trust payouts) that non-executives have their pension funded
from. The other $7,965,000 comes from the SERP funded from 40
something's who lost their pension due to "downsizing", the $18
Billion dollar surplus and the other older employees who were forced
out before their pension maximizes in their late 50's and early 60's.
What is the difference between civil rights of a minority, and
the "civil job" rights of a non-minority employee? Do employees have
rights? Oh, unlike human civil rights, job civil rights have no laws
it seems. Right to work, fire at will, and get out. Look for another
job, and so what your house if foreclosed, your savings is gone, and
your commitment to your kids education is forfeited. If you look at the fellows, the
IBM executives, these guys are all in
their 50's with sights of retiring after age 60. Yet, they seem to
have no respect for long term IBM employees their age and give them
30 days to find a job. What is wrong with this picture? Well, while you are employed,
can do something. Join a Union
for $10 bucks a month.
- Linda Guyer: Reasonable
vs Comparable job offers. Full excerpt: To everyone here, Look at what is happening
to employees, including perelandra777. IBM is setting all the terms and the rules.
When the rules aren't written down, IBM gets to decide what happens to an employee.
Like management discretion for severance. Like how many days does an employee get to
look for another job before being ousted. Your entire job and career are decided for
you. Don't you feel a bit helpless and powerless in this situation?
Folks, if there were a union in place - and by a union I mean you and me and other
employees joining together and deciding we want to be a union and represent ourselves
- everything would be negotiable. We could participate in the definition of "comparable" and "reasonable".
We would not have to accept IBM's definitions. We could negotiate the length of time
for looking and the terms of new jobs that are acceptable. No one would be in the dark
wondering what would happen to them!
I am sorry but I've just been to the CWA National Convention where employees of companies
other than IBM have no medical co-pays, have seniority if downsized for other positions in
the company before any outsiders are hired, have grievance procedures that the company must
adhere to, and on and on. I want to cry about what could be at IBM for employees if they
would only get out of their thick shell of fear and join the union. http://www.allianceibm.org.
JOIN NOW OR BE IBM ROADKILL!
- Janet Krueger: Re:
Any employees here? Excerpt: In the old days (60s and 70s), when a project was phased
out, IBM would
do their absolute best to find the people who were no longer needed
equivalent jobs. If there were openings in other locations, but not at
the original location, IBM would pay for both M&L and extensive
retraining, EVEN IF there were non-IBM workers available that could be
hired more cheaply. And if the people did not want to be relocated for
family reasons, they were left on the payroll at the original location,
and told to do 'self-education' until their skills could be utilized
To name a specific example, when over 1,000 electrical engineers were no
longer needed in Poughkeepsie and Kingston after FS was canned, some of them
were left on the payroll in NY with nothing to do for over a year. And many were
transferred to other locations and retrained into entirely
different career paths. Not at all like today's IBM!!!
And don't tell us that today's economy is different -- at the time there
were few, if any, jobs available, and the competition was blissfully
laying workers off without worrying about them. What did IBM get out of the deal,
you might wonder... The most loyal and
dedicated workforce in the country, many of whom regularly worked
100-hour work weeks without complaint if the customers needed help;
definitely something that cannot be easily acquired!!!
- "rick914": Re:
Any employees here? Full excerpt: I will pipe in here since I DID go through the
process. Yes I was
given 30 days to find a job. When I did apply I was over qualified, or
the position had just been filled (the 4 or 5 job postings that told
me that are still open- still has friends inside who can look). I did
have a few managers just out right tell me they needed folks but there
was a division wide freeze on hiring because of the layoffs. If you
applied for another division they had to have an opening for a 'new
hire from the street' before you could be considered. Now Jetski I
know you always know better and have been thru this process before so
please tell me IBM's side of the story?
- Communications Workers of America: Fired
Comcast Worker Regains Job, Back Pay Under NLRB Settlement. Excerpt: Stephen White, who was spotlighted at the Democratic National
Convention as a victim of growing corporate abuses against workers, won reinstatement
to his job at Comcast Corp. White had been fired in March from his Comcast job in
Montgomery County, Md., for trying to organize a union. In a settlement reached with
the National Labor Relations Board that settled outstanding unfair labor practice
charges, White regained his job plus back pay of more than $22,000. The Communications
Workers of America filed charges on behalf of White and other Comcast workers who
have been fired or otherwise punished for exercising their legal right to union representation,
and has challenged the company for other anti-union tactics. CWA has been working
with Comcast employees nationwide who want a union voice but have been thwarted by the
company's continuing attack on worker rights.
- Republican National Committee: Text
of Bush's acceptance speech. Excerpts: Many of our most fundamental systems the
tax code, health coverage, pension plans, worker training were created for the world
of yesterday, not tomorrow. We will transform these systems so that all citizens
are equipped, prepared and thus truly free to make your own choices and pursue your own
dreams. ... Another priority in a new term will be to help workers take advantage
of the expanding economy to find better, higher-paying jobs. In this time of change, many
workers want to go back to school to learn different or higher-level skills. So we
will double the number of people served by our principal job training program and
increase funding for community colleges. I know that with the right skills, American workers
can compete with anyone, anywhere in the world. ...
As I've traveled the country, I've met many workers and small business owners who have
told me they are worried they cannot afford health care. More than half of the uninsured
are small business employees and their families. In a new term, we must allow small
firms to join together to purchase insurance at the discounts available to big companies.
We will offer a tax credit to encourage small businesses and their employees to set up
health savings accounts, and provide direct help for low-income Americans to purchase them.
These accounts give workers the security of insurance against major illness, the opportunity
to save tax-free for routine health expenses, and the freedom of knowing you can take
your account with you whenever you change jobs. And we will provide low-income Americans
with better access to health care: In a new term, I will ensure every poor county in America
has a community or rural health center.
In this time of change, government must take the side of working families. In a new
term, we will change outdated labor laws to offer comp-time and flex-time. Our laws should
never stand in the way of a more family-friendly workplace.
Editor's note: Excerpts from Senator John Kerry's acceptance speech at the Democratic
National Convention are provided in the July 31, 2004,
edition of these highlights.
- MS-NBC: Workers feel overworked, overwhelmed.
Excerpts: Nearly two out of three say workload has increased this year. Excerpts:
Even though the economy has added 1.5 million jobs over the past year, that has not come
close to making up for the 2.6 million jobs that disappeared in the recession of 2001
and its aftermath. Employers have responded to increasing demand mainly by squeezing
more out of existing workers — often after multiple rounds of layoffs. ... DiPietro
said it is long past time for companies to stop rewarding employees simply on the basis
of how many hours they work and to focus instead on results, a concept known as performance-based
management. "With salaried employees especially it’s really difficult in many
professions to stand out,” he said. The result is that many companies have a fostered
culture in which workers succeed by arriving at the office before their boss, staying
late, working weekends and staying in touch constantly. But there is a better way,
he said. “Best-practices companies are focusing more on the achievement of goals,” he
said. “It puts the focus on the more important thing which is the work — not
the number of hours it takes to achieve the work.”
- "ctman1452" comments.
Excerpt: The Plutocrats dream is the middle class nightmare for us as we all are
finding out if capitalism is unmoderated by government. There are only two
classes in a such a capitalist society; the rich and everyone else. The main initiatives
in the "Ownership society" are reducing or
eliminating those government interventions and moderating programs that have
evolved to enhance and better the life of most of the middle class. ... And yet
his (President Bush's) folky charm like Clinton's sophisticated and well crafted
words were highly on display too. Yet he and his scripted
protagonists use the lowest common denominator of mind control; the "Big
If you say something about someone long enough and loud enough many people start
to believe it; they attacked Kerry and
denigrated his character to cover their lack of any real achievement
for middle class America and wrapped themselves in the flag of war
leadership which became a form of self fulfilling prophesy after the
Iraq war was initiated. The key questions remains "Are you better off now than
ago". Do the trends in those four years portend better times in the
next four years?"
- Communications Workers of America: Hundreds
Decry Bush Assault on Overtime. Excerpt:
As Bush administration rules rolling back overtime rights for millions of workers took
effect Aug. 23, CWA members and hundreds of other unionists protested in front of the
U.S. Department of Labor - a building one activist denounced as "the scene of the
crime." Speakers blasting the new regulations included Republican Senator Arlen Specter
of Pennsylvania, a steady champion of workers' rights among the Capitol's dwindling
number of GOP moderates. "The fight is not over," Specter told the cheering,
sign-waving crowd. "The
band of Senate moderates may be small, but it can be decisive and determinative.
Your voice today will be heard." By giving employers the right to reclassify many
workers as administrators, executives or "learned professionals," economists
project the new rules could cost at least 6 million people their right to overtime pay.
The rules are the most sweeping changes ever to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, which
established the 40-hour workweek and required employers to pay time and a half for extra
- The Daily Mis-Lead: Bush
To Alter Economic Stats Again. Excerpt: Last week, the Census Bureau released statistics
showing that for the first time in years, poverty had increased for three straight
years, while the number of Americans without health care increased to a record level.
But instead of changing its economic and health care policies, the Bush administration
today is announcing plans to change the way the statistics are compiled. The move is
just the latest in a series of actions by the White House to doctor or eliminate longstanding
and nonpartisan economic data collection methods. In a Bush administration press release
yesterday, the Census Bureau said next week it "will announce a new economic indicator" as "an
additional tool to better understand" the economy. The change in statistics is being
directed by Bush political appointees and comes just 60 days from the election. It
will be the first modification of Census data in 40 years.
- TechsUnite.org: WashTech
members invited to Kerry forum. Excerpts: Kerry, who arrived late, said, "I'll
make this quick - I know you have to get to Canada to buy your drugs," referring
to how many American who live along the Canadian border do make the trip for affordable
prescription drugs. In his speech to the crowd, Kerry focused primarily on the issues
of jobs, health care and the environment. He said if elected president, he would "Bring
you jobs that pay you more than the jobs going overseas," addressing the major
concern of tech workers: Offshoring. Kerry pointed out that the economy still hasn't
recovered after three and half years of Bush policies. He said Bush's continually saying
prosperity is "right around
the corner," is something Herbert Hoover often said as well. Some of the statistics
Kerry listed were:
How Kerry plans to alleviate the situation is through rebuilding manufacturing; insisting
on labor and environmental standards in trade agreements to give U.S. workers a fair
playing field on which to compete; addressing the issues of global warming, air and water
quality; research for curing diseases and investing in alternative energy. "All of
these solutions create jobs," assured Kerry. Kerry stated he would make health care
for all his first legislation once elected. To pay for these programs he would roll back
Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy.
- 1.4 million Americans lost health care coverage in 2003; 5 million since Bush took
- Wages are down an average of $1,500/year
- Average credit card debt is $9,000 per person
- Someone files for personal bankruptcy every 19 seconds
- CWA News: In My
Opinion: A Nation of Health Care Haves and Have-Nots. By
CWA President. Excerpts: Here's a stark fact: Today, for the first time in more than
40 years, the majority of all private sector employees have no coverage at work,
reports the independent Labor Research Association. Only 45 percent participated
in employer health plans in 2003, a drop from 52 percent in 2000 and 66 percent
in 1990, according to Labor Department figures. (Among full-time workers only,
coverage dropped from 76 percent in 1990 to 56 percent in 2003.) From 2001 to 2003,
that amounted to almost 9 million workers under age 65 who lost employer health
benefits, according to the Center for Studying Health System Change. Not all were counted
among the rising number of uninsured because many became eligible for taxpayer-funded
programs for low-income workers. The number of Americans completely without health
insurance coverage stood at 43.6 million in 2002, having jumped by 2.4 million
in a single year.
- CWA News: BellSouth
Settlement Brings Job Security Gains, Health Care Protection.
Excerpts: Intense negotiations with BellSouth Corp., produced a tentative settlement
that achieves CWA's goals of strengthening job security and safeguarding health
care for workers and retirees, among other gains. The agreement covers some 46,000
workers in nine states. The new five-year contract package boosts across the board
wages by more than 10.5 percent over the contract term, with an additional 4 percent
lump sum this year. It also provides for pension increases of 12.5 percent and
team incentive awards, based on BellSouth's profitability, of 12 percent over the
contract term. These awards are based on workers' total wages. CWA District 3 Vice
President Jimmy Smith said the CWA bargaining team "worked
very hard and successfully accomplished the goals our members set out earlier
this year: improving job security, gaining access to new jobs in the growth areas
of BellSouth, and of course, maintaining our quality health care for active and
retired members." ... The tentative settlement preserves fully paid health care
premiums for active workers and retirees. It includes some increases in health care
co-payments for medical services and prescription drugs, but overall, at a much lower
level than BellSouth was initially seeking from workers and retirees. Since June
14, when negotiations got underway, BellSouth had pressed for extensive health care
cost shifting to workers and retirees. CWA made it clear to the company that it would
work with BellSouth, as it has for decades with major employers, on measures to ensure
quality health care and contain costs, but it would not accept the company's demand
to shift premium costs to active and retired workers.
- CWA News: Bush
Camp to Jobless: Pop Pills, Stop Whining. Excerpt: Tell your jobless
friends or those flipping burgers because they lost a higher-paying job with benefits
that the "compassionate" Bush re-election team has figured out how to help:
anti-depressants. "Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy - or go on
Susan Sheybani, an assistant to Bush campaign spokesman Terry Holt. Her comment,
overheard by a Reuters news service reporter, came on the heels of recent advice
from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce president, who said people affected by outsourcing
should "stop whining." He called for even more jobs to
be sent overseas, arguing in a speech in San Francisco that outsourcing is good
for corporations' bottom lines.
- New York Times commentary by Paul Krugman: Bush's
Own Goal. Excerpt: A new Bush campaign ad pushes the theme of an "ownership
society," and concludes with President Bush declaring, "I understand if you
own something, you have a vital stake in the future of America." Call me naïve,
but I thought all Americans have a vital stake in the nation's future, regardless
of how much property they own. (Should we go back to the days when states, arguing that
only men of sufficient substance could be trusted, imposed property qualifications
for voting?) Even if Mr. Bush is talking only about the economic future, don't workers
have as much stake as property owners in the economy's success? But there's a political
imperative behind the "ownership society" theme:
the need to provide pseudopopulist cover to policies that are, in reality, highly
The Bush tax cuts have, of course, heavily favored the very, very well off. But they
have also, more specifically, favored unearned income over earned income - or, if
you prefer, investment returns over wages. Last year Daniel Altman pointed out in
The New York Times that Mr. Bush's proposals, if fully adopted, "could eliminate
almost all taxes on investment income and wealth for almost all Americans." Mr.
Bush hasn't yet gotten all he wants, but he has taken a large step toward a system
in which only labor income is taxed. The political problem with a policy favoring
investment returns over wages is that a vast majority of Americans derive their income
primarily from wages, and that the bulk of investment income goes to a small elite.
How, then, can such a policy be sold? By promising that everyone can join the elite.
Right now, the ownership of stocks and bonds is highly concentrated. Conservatives
like to point out that a majority of American families now own stock, but that's
a misleading statistic because most of those "investors" have only a small
stake in the market. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that more than half
of corporate profits ultimately accrue to the wealthiest 1 percent of taxpayers,
while only about 8 percent go to the bottom 60 percent. If the "ownership society" means
anything, it means spreading investment income more widely - a laudable goal, if
But does Mr. Bush have a way to get us there? There's a section on his
campaign blog about the ownership society, but it's short on specifics. Much of the
space is devoted to new types of tax-sheltered savings accounts. People who have looked
into plans for such accounts know, however, that they would provide more tax shelters
for the wealthy, but would be irrelevant to most families, who already have access
to 401(k)'s. Their ability to invest more is limited not by taxes but by the fact that
they aren't earning enough to save more.
- Los Angeles Times: Bush
Makes His Pitch for 'Ownership Society'. The agenda includes Social Security,
housing and healthcare, with people, not government, making more decisions — and
more payments. Excerpt: In George W. Bush's America, there seem to be few societal
problems a little ownership wouldn't help solve. Social Security in trouble? Let
workers set up private accounts to partially finance their own retirements. Healthcare
system broken? Get Americans to self-insure and monitor their own medical expenses.
Communities in distress? Help more low-income people buy homes. ... But the very
features that make the "ownership society" appealing to some demographic
groups make it a potentially bad deal for others, critics said. They said the president's
proposals to promote private retirement and medical savings accounts represented
back-door assaults on Social Security and Medicare, the big government insurance
programs that shielded millions of people from poverty by spreading risk among
rich and poor, healthy and sick. If workers begin to view privatized Social Security
accounts as the preferred vehicle for retirement savings, it might be easier to
gradually scale back the traditional government-financed insurance pool, they said.
If enough Americans open personal healthcare savings accounts, it might be easier
for employers to scale back medical benefits and for government to reduce coverage
under Medicare and Medicaid. "These programs were designed to be insurance systems," said
former Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich. "If you privatize
them, you leave individuals vulnerable to bad luck. The very nature of social insurance
is that it is social." Opponents said the new tax-preferred savings accounts,
though theoretically available to everyone, would mainly appeal to wealthy Americans
with enough discretionary income to take full advantage of them. They cited studies
showing that only a small percentage of Americans currently made maximum allowable
contributions to 401(k) plans and Individual Retirement Accounts.
|Coverage on H1-B and L1 Visa and Off-Shoring
- From Mike Emmons of
Greg Spotts movie American Jobs will
debut very soon. He has interviewed many people across the country, regarding
job loss, replacement. We were interviewed in April and will be a part of his
movie. We are the Siemens folks that were ordered to train our foreign replacement
workers from Tata Consulting India in the USA on congressional H-1b and L-1 visas.
He's also interviewed others from the tech industry. The movie has been
noted in several newspapers across the country and from what I hear, it was previewed
at the Democratic National Convention last month.
News stories: Seattle Times: Outsourcing:
Orlando Business Journal: 'American
Jobs' filmmaker in Orlando to interview former Siemens employees.
- ComputerWorld: Outsourcing
issue flares up at chip conference.
One panelist called it 'a really bad deal for workers'. Excerpt: On Monday,
the same day the California Senate passed a bill that would ban state agencies
from contracting services to companies that use overseas labor, opponents and
proponents of offshore outsourcing clashed at a conference at Stanford University.
A panel of two venture investors, a scholar, a laid-off software engineer and
two chip industry chief executives debated the issue. Most panelists came out
in favor of moving jobs overseas, to the dismay of many attendees at the Hot
Chips event, sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
... Meanwhile, the California bill banning outsourcing for government agencies
is expected to pass the state assembly, according to local news reports. The bill
will then land on the desk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has yet to take a position
- CNET News.com: For CEOs, offshoring
pays. Excerpts: Chief executive officers at the companies shipping the most U.S.
jobs overseas seem to be pocketing some of the savings, according to a new report.
The study, published by two groups concerned with economic inequality, found
that average CEO compensation at the 50 firms outsourcing the most service jobs
abroad increased by 46 percent in 2003. CEOs at the 365 large companies surveyed
by Business Week only saw an average raise of 9 percent, according to the report
from the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy. ... "These
50 CEOs seem to be personally benefiting from a trend that has already cost hundreds
of thousands of U.S. jobs and is projected to cost millions more over the next decade," the
- Associated Press: Labor
Secretary Defends Job Outsourcing. Excerpts: "People talk about (outsourcing)
a lot," Chao said in an interview after appearing before Missouri delegates at
the Republican convention. "The anxiety belies the numbers." Vice presidential
candidate John Edwards seized on Chao's remarks and called
it another example of President Bush's misguided economic
policies. "Today a member of his cabinet said that outsourcing American jobs
overseas creates jobs," Edwards said. "Like most Americans, I have no idea
how they could say that." Chao said the administration is concerned about every
lost job, but realizes job shuffling is part of a dynamic economy that constantly
requires workers to get new training.
- CIO Today: U.S.
Election 2004: The Offshoring Factor. Excerpts: Not everyone agrees
that government is powerless to solve the offshoring dilemma. "Politicians could
take the savings back by taxing and red-taping offshore outsourcing to death," W.C.
Bradley CIO Jim Poole says. "Companies that commit to offshore outsourcing now
may regret it after the election." ... But are politicians prepared to take action?
Yes, says presidential candidate John Kerry. "We should not have an economic
strategy that celebrates outsourcing or treats it as always inevitable. We live
in a global economy and we cannot and should not stop outsourcing. But we should
not encourage outsourcing with special breaks and a failure to enforce our trade
agreements and trade laws," Katie McCormick
Louieveld, a member of Kerry's campaign economic policy team, told NewsFactor's
CIO Today. President Bush also was given an opportunity to address the issue
with NewsFactor's CIO Today, but neither his campaign officials nor his White
House staff wanted to comment. Instead, Ali Harden, a campaign publicist, said,
in effect, that the President was too busy to comment. ... There also could be
a security risk to shipping jobs
and technology overseas. "John Kerry is very concerned that much of the critical
technological inputs for our national defense and homeland security are being
outsourced to foreign countries. He believes this has the potential to threaten
our national security. That is why he supports stronger 'Buy American' guidelines
for defense and homeland security," says
Louieveld. ... Voters will decide at the polls which candidate's tax cut plan
is most likely to save jobs. President Bush believes tax cuts to companies will
create more jobs at home -- a claim disputed by the findings of the U.S. Labor
Department and every technical worker now seeking employment at the local Wal-Mart.
Kerry believes giving tax cuts to companies that create jobs for Americans at
home, and enforcing trade agreements so that jobs exported are better balanced with
jobs imported, is the answer.
on the Alliance@IBM Site:
- Yahoo! News: R.I.P. - The
American Call Center? Excerpts: Offshoring clearly
has become an entrenched trend in the contact-center industry. Some 3,000
U.S. call centers will close by 2008, according to a new report by Datamonitor.
of America union Local question new direction of Broadcasting.
- Endicott Interconnect
Technologies Employees' Page (updated 08/17/04).
Excerpt: EI now has a serious attrition problem along with EI business plan
bugs. Daily, EI employees are resigning for new jobs. We just heard that
600 applications and resumes sent to Lockheed Martin, came from EI employees!
A unionized EI could help stop some attrition and help attract new employees
and benefit everyone at EI, including owners. EI fired two project managers
in EI's Panel Manufacturing business. The reasons for these dismissals
are not clear; however, once again these firings represent the loss of
long term expertise at this fledgling company. As it stands, EI has lost
the trust of the workforce and promises are not
enough. EI employees need contracts, to restore any faith in the EI
business venture. It would be a good business move for EI to start
working with the Alliance@ IBM/CWA Local 1701. Something needs to be done
to keep the expertise of the former IBM employees at EI. A labor
contract would be a good start.
| In Politics:
- American Progress Action Fund: President Bush: Flip-Flopper-In-Chief
the frames of the Republican National Convention, by
George Lakoff, professor of linguistics at UC Berkeley.
- In These Times: We’re
Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore, by Garrison Keillor. Excerpt: Something
has gone seriously haywire with the Republican Party. Once, it was the
party of pragmatic Main Street businessmen in steel-rimmed spectacles who
decried profligacy and waste, were devoted to their communities and supported
the sort of prosperity that raises all ships. They were good-hearted people
who vanquished the gnarlier elements of their party, the paranoid Roosevelt-haters,
the flat Earthers and Prohibitionists, the antipapist antiforeigner element.
The genial Eisenhower was their man, a genuine American hero of D-Day,
who made it OK for reasonable people to vote Republican. He brought the
Korean War to a stalemate, produced the Interstate Highway System, declined
to rescue the French colonial army in Vietnam, and gave us a period of
peace and prosperity, in which (oddly) American arts and letters flourished
and higher education burgeoned—and there was a degree of plain decency
in the country. Fifties Republicans were giants compared to today’s.
Richard Nixon was the last Republican leader to feel a Christian obligation
toward the poor.