The Hartford began paring down its IT staff after outsourcing a number of tech and back office jobs to IBM in 2007. 110 IT staffers were initially let go, and IBM subsequently laid off a number of former Hartford workers that were transferred to Big Blue under the outsourcing deal as the company moved a number of the positions offshore.
Under TAA, workers who've lost their jobs due to offshoring can get government subsidized training for new occupations, income supplements, healthcare tax credits, and other benefits.
Workers laid off from IBM facilities in Plano, Texas, and Oklahoma City filed for TAA assistance last month, according to a notice published Wednesday in the Federal Register. That follows a notice on Monday that said former workers on IBM's Hartford Financial Services contract have been declared eligible for TAA help. An IBM spokesman declined to provide details on the job cuts at those locations.
IBM workers and contractors laid off from operations in Armonk, NY, Cambridge, Mass., Columbia, S.C., Research Triangle Park, NC, Cambridge, Mass, Piscataway, NJ, and other locations have also have been deemed eligible for TAA assistance in the past year, according to federal records. IBM reduced its U.S. workforce from 115,000 to 105,000 between 2008 and 2009, according to the IBM employee group Alliance@IBM. IBM employed 134,000 U.S. workers as recently as 2005.
Many IT vendors, from HP to Microsoft, have moved some work to foreign locations, but IBM clearly has made offshoring part of its corporate DNA. At one point, it even tried to patent the process.
This new round of outsourcing talks involves IBM, the American tech and computer company. It has an outsourcing subsidiary in India, called IBM India, as well as its newly re-branded international business outsourcing unit, IBM Global Process Services.
According to Highmark employees, the IBM scouts are, at least for now, tailing "business operations" workers whose jobs involve enrollment and membership responsibilities, among others. (When a new customer signs up for a policy, for example, the particulars of that policy must be keyed into a computer database.) ...
One Highmark employee, who declined to be identified in this story for fear of losing her job, said employees at the company's Downtown headquarters were rattled. "I am so worked up at my desk. I was sitting up there crying," she said. She also said some employees considered it insulting that they were being observed by representatives of the very company that will be asked to replace some of their job functions. "We were all appalled," she said. "That's like adding insult to injury." ...
IBM also sent consultants to Highmark's West Virginia affiliate, Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield, on a similar scouting mission. County commissioners in Parkersburg, W.Va., sent a letter to Highmark, asking it to reconsider outsourcing West Virginia jobs to India, according to the Parkersburg News and Sentinel.
You see, before it was the Casperkill Recreation Center, it was the IBM Country Club. In the sixties, seventies, and eighties, IBM prided itself on being family-oriented. The company held annual family outing days, provided Christmas gifts and holiday parties for children of employees, and provided a recreation facility for families to gather and spend their summer days. IBM employees in the Hudson Valley were automatically members of the IBM Country Club. This was a class-blind facility, not just for managers and executives. Every employee and their family members could use the facilities, free of charge. ...
The IBM Country Club was a benefit that most of us took for granted as employees, and some may not have appreciated it until it was taken away. Over the years, changes were made to make the club more self-sustaining. First, employees were asked to contribute to their annual membership; this started as a modest fee (I recall less than $10 per year) that jumped to a couple hundred dollars per year over time. But IBM couldn’t afford to keep the facility.
After the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, a government-backed compensation fund provided nearly $6 billion for those injured or killed. But eligibility for that program ended in 2003, before many of the illnesses developed that advocates now say were caused by exposure to the toxic World Trade Center dust and debris. The most recent death blamed on Ground Zero exposure was retired NYPD detective Kevin Czartoryski, 46, who died last week after a battle with lung disease.
"The great hypocrisy is this is going to the people best able to pay for this stuff," says Nell Minow of The Corporate Library. "Executives should pay for this on their own or be covered by the same plan as everyone else at the company."
"But dependency on government has never been bad for the rich. The pretense of the laissez-faire people is that only the poor are dependent on government, while the rich take care of themselves. This argument manages to ignore all of modern history, which shows a consistent record of laissez-faire for the poor, but enormous government intervention for the rich." From Economic Justice: The American Class System, from the book Declarations of Independence by Howard Zinn.
Rand Paul recently expressed a similar sentiment in the immediate aftermath of his Senate victory. "We're all interconnected in this economy," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "There are no rich, there are no middle class, there are no poor. We all either work for rich people or sell stuff to rich people." For Paul, the "cater to the rich" economy is already here. The key now is to expand it, starting with extending tax cuts for the wealthiest to spur their spending and investment and create more jobs.
He also wants to know exactly how much money the Fed lent to millionaires and billionaires during the financial crisis. He specifically asked for information on loans given to businessman H. Wayne Huizenga, billionaire hedge-fund manager John Paulson, Dell Inc. founder Michael Dell and Christy Mack, the wife of former Morgan Stanley chief executive John Mack and dozens of other borrowers.
"The emergency response appears to any objective observer to have been a clear case of socialism for the rich, and rugged free-market capitalism for everyone else," the Vermont Independent wrote. "Much of the information that you have provided on your website raises bigger questions than it answers, and some of the information mandated by the law appears to be missing."
That’s a good question because one of the first things Mr. Kinzinger and many of his fellow freshmen did after examining their new offices on Capitol Hill was to hang out an “open for business” sign to the world of big-money lobbying and corporate fund-raising.
To pay off his campaign deficit, Mr. Kinzinger held a “debt retirement breakfast” on Nov. 19 at the Capitol Hill Club. Suggested donation: $5,000 for political action committees, and $2,400 for individuals. The political action committee of the National Automotive Dealers gave him $2,500 after the election, among other corporate givers.
As The Washington Post reported on Monday, several dozen freshman lawmakers have held these fund-raisers around town in the days after the election, raising at least $2 million in just the last month. The high-spending campaign that ended in November was odious enough, but there is something even more unsavory about giving to a candidate after the election, when the outcome is known and the link between power and currying favor is even more evident. ...
Representative Eric Cantor, the incoming Republican leader who has also vowed to shake up the ways of Washington, is having a fund-raiser this week at Ceiba, a high-end Washington restaurant, to celebrate the Seinfeld-inspired holiday of Festivus. The minimum contribution to Mr. Cantor’s political action committee is $500, although it is free to those who have already maxed out their donations.
As of this morning, I have not seen any revenue estimates, but the leaks suggest the price-tag will be $700 billion to $900 billion. And while the package is being spun as much-needed stimulus, it contains an awful lot that will do little or nothing to boost the economy. Among those provisions that are a waste of money if you are interested in short-term economic growth: extending the patch on the Alternative Minimum Tax, continuing the high-bracket tax cuts, extending dozens of expiring tax provisions, and restoring the estate tax at extremely generous levels. Add it up, and one-third or more of this new “stimulus” will do little if anything to boost growth. ...
The worst element of the deal is the proposal to resurrect the estate tax, but at a rate of 35 percent. This is unconscionable given the nation’s fiscal mess. Never mind the proposed exemption of $5 million, which is bad enough. If you are among the mega-rich, that is merely a bauble on your Christmas tree of life. The real gift here is the proposal to let the richest of the rich pass on estates to their heirs at an even lower rate than in 2009. Obama now gets to explain to GS-3 federal clerks why they get to take one for the team while those estates of up to $10 million pay no tax and estates of $100 million pass on nearly $70 million free and clear. Restoring the estate tax to 2009 law would increase the national debt by $265 billion over 10 years. This version will cost lots more than that.
This is political self-immolation. Blue-collar workers abandoned Democrats in large numbers in the fall; wait until they learn what the trade deal means for them. Seniors went south, probably because of Republican lies about cuts in Medicare; wait until anyone over 40 who's lost their savings hears about Alan Simpson's plan to take it to the "greedy geezers." The $60 billion each year in Bush tax cuts for the richest Americans could pay for universal preschool for America's children, or tuition and board for half of America's college students.
So while next year’s defense spending, narrowly defined, is expected to come in at $711 billion, when you include all the extra dollars hidden away in other parts of the budget, that number will rise to as high as $1.45 trillion. That would represent around 40 percent of next year’s budget. ...
Nonetheless, America’s elites have coalesced around the idea that in order to keep our tax rates among the lowest in the wealthy world, we’ll need to swallow some painful “shared sacrifice” (which in Washington usually means working people sacrificing some economic security and the wealthy getting another tax cut). But it’s important to recognize that it’s an ideological choice to view the projected “budget gap” as a structural, economic problem driven primarily by the growth of “entitlements” -- it’s not a belief grounded in objective fact. ...
In large part, the status quo is maintained by the influence of the defense industry -- it lavished $136 million on law-makers last year. It’s almost comical at times, like when money for a new jet engine was forced through Congress over the objections of the Pentagon, which insisted that the costly project was “unnecessary and a waste of money.”
And in part, it’s driven by what may be the greatest false dichotomy in our national discourse: that we must choose between cutting our military spending and “maintaining a strong defense.” The flaw in that is a matter of simple math: we not only spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined, we spend six times what second-place finisher China does on its military.That means we could cut our military spending in half -- making the budget deficit disappear in a few years, without raising taxes and while fully funding Social Security and Medicare -- and we’d still outspend our largest rival by threefold.
Here's the real story. For three decades, an increasing share of the benefits of economic growth have gone to the top 1 percent. Thirty years ago, the top got 9 percent of total income. Now they take in almost a quarter. Meanwhile, the earnings of the typical worker have barely budged.
The vast middle class no longer has the purchasing power to keep the economy going. (The rich spend a much lower portion of their incomes.) The crisis was averted before now only because middle-class families found ways to keep spending more than they took in -- by women going into paid work, by working longer hours, and finally by using their homes as collateral to borrow. But when the housing bubble burst, the game was up.
Democrats have privately admitted that they were prepared for Obama and newly empowered Republicans to agree to an extension of tax breaks for the wealthy, but added that they never expected the generous estate tax deal and some other provisions in the package.
It's sorta the same thing in politics -- if you want to know what a bill really does, it's more important to watch corporate lobbyists' reaction than to listen to the politicians pushing the bill. That's because whereas politicians have a vested interest in making themselves look good for purposes of reelection and party advancement, lobbyists jealously represent Big Money, without regard for partisanship or electoral maneuvering.
It's particularly important to keep this axiom in mind as President Obama now insists that his tax cut "deal" is a big win for average Americans. Because as much as we'd all like to believe the president, the real truth about who this bill serves is embedded in this story from Bloomberg, "Obama Tax Deal Wins Praise From Business-Lobby Critics":
"President Barack Obama won praise from business groups that have criticized his labor, health and financial regulatory policies after he agreed to extend (all Bush) tax cuts... "
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