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Friday, March 06, 2009

An article about unannounced layoffs reveals the larger truth
Posted by Jill | 5:12 AM
The WARN Act requires companies to give 60 days notice to employees that a layoff is coming. This isn't 60 days notice to those being laid off, but a blanket warning so that EVERYONE can live in utter, abject terror for the next 60 days. Still, that's better than being blindsided, which is what companies can do under circumstances not covered by the WARN Act.

In a New York Times article today, the deeper truth about American corporations is buried in an article focusing specifically on IBM, whose CEO, Samuel Polisano, announced strong January quarterly profits and told employees in a newsletter at the time, “Most importantly, we will invest in our people.” Of course he didn't say which people, because he then turned around and laid off 1400 of his company's employees. (For the record, Polisano made a cool $24.35 million in 2008. No, he's not running IBM into the ground the way other highly-paid executives are doing to the companies they run, but it's somewhat disingenuous for an executive to talk about investing in his employees and then axing over a thousand of them.)

But IBM IS hiring -- just not for well-paid jobs and not entirely in the US:
In January, for example, it said it would open a call center in Dubuque, Iowa, for corporate customers. It is to employ up to 1,300 people. And Mr. MacDonald, the human resources executive, said I.B.M. was hiring analysts and engineers to work on Internet software, health technology and smart electrical grids.

But I.B.M.’s American employment has declined steadily, down to 29 percent of its worldwide payroll of 398,445 at the end of 2008. The cuts have also come sooner and deeper in North America this year than in recent years.

As part of a government filing last week, I.B.M. said its work force in Brazil, Russia, India and China had climbed to 113,000. These are markets with faster growth than the United States, and less expensive skilled labor.

In interviews, I.B.M. workers whose jobs are being eliminated were mainly chagrined that the undisclosed cuts, and the timing, seemed to contradict the company’s public statements.

Rick Clark, 50, an engineer in East Fishkill, N.Y., had worked for I.B.M. for 11 years. He said he was disappointed in I.B.M. this time because the job cuts were deep and spread across so many businesses and came at a time when I.B.M. has been proclaiming its success. “I do think I.B.M., like other companies, has used this recession as an excuse to lay people off,” he said.

But the important fact to keep in mind is this, as Ross Eisenbrey of the Economic Policy Institute says at the end of the article:
“All our multinational companies are increasingly less American, except when they are asking for tax breaks and increased government spending in their industries,”

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