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CPSR - CPU, Issue 11

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Issue: 011 CPU: Working in the Computer Industry 08/02/94

CPU is a moderated forum dedicated to sharing information among workers in the computer industry.



  2. /*COMMENTS*/







  9. EOF


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PLEASE RE-POST THIS FREELY, especially at work. CPU material may be reprinted for non-profit purposes as long as the source is cited. We welcome submissions and commentary. Mail sent to the editors or to CPU will be treated as a "letter to the editor" and considered printable, unless noted otherwise.

CPU is a project of the "Working in the Computer Industry" working group of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility / berkeley Chapter.

Editors for this issue: Michael Stack and Jim Davis. We may be contacted by voice at (510) 601-6740, by email to, or by USPS at PO Box 3181, Oakland, CA 94609.

CPU is a project of the "Working in the Computer Industry" working group of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility / Berkeley Chapter (though views expressed herein are not necessarily those of CPSR... and while we're at it, neither may they be those of our employers).


What do readers think of certification for professions in computing?

At CFP '94, one of us heard a representative of "business" profess there was no need for certification, as the current labor market favors buyers. The inference was that "business" has no problem obtaining the level of skill or the quantities it desires, so certification of professional competency is superfluous.

A recent _Computerworld_ article (5/2/94, cited in _Bits and Bytes_, 6/13/94) states, "there is a growing movement afoot to license I.S. professionals."

"Several professional organizations like the IEEE Computer Society and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) are drafting agendas on competency training and government licensing for computer programmers. Supporters say this will protect the public from buggy software and incompetent employees and consultants, while detractors point out that the technology changes so fast that the tests would have to be updated constantly..."

Other pressures for an industry-wide standard are brought to bear by the companies who will administer the tests themselves. Educational Testing Services, the setters of the SAT, the GRE etc., own an enviable monopoly that has little danger of disappearing overnight (It is because of ETS that we're all evaluated on how well we mark x's in little boxes -- and not by any other means). Others are angling for some similar action.

On the other hand, by standardizing skill descriptions and minimal competencies in some industries (notably the longshore industry), workers were able to push forward the "hiring hall" concept, where hiring decisions were taken out of the hands of the companies, and work could be distributed evenly to everyone in lean times.

What other issues come to mind for readers? Write and let us know.

-- The Editors


By the Editors

The issue of contracting programming to imported workers has taken a new turn with a push by Citizens for Visa Reform (CFVR) ( to reform the visa law. CFVR argues that the U.S. is not generating enough programming jobs, whether through growth or attrition, to absorb recent graduates from U.S. universities. They argue that "technical professionals [are losing] their jobs or [seeing] their pay reduced because of the cheap foreign labor being brought to this country." The group's solution is to prevent non-U.S. nationals from being able to work in the U.S. by changing the visa programs that grant temporary work status.

CFVR's position raises two immediate questions: is it true that not enough jobs are being created? and if so, what is the best way to deal with it?


In an early July posting to, CFVR estimated the number of new programming jobs becoming available each year: "The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are 550,000 computer programming jobs in the U.S., with a growth rate of 4.4% per annum. This yields about 24,000 net new jobs in 1994 for computer programmers. Assuming a retirement rate of 3% (this is probably higher than the actual rate due to the growth of the profession) 16,500 people will leave the profession this year. Total new entrants required for the software industry in 1994 should then be about 40,000."

After ruminations and some conjecture, CFVR concluded that "[t]here are at least 50% more people entering the software programming labor market than new jobs being created. This amounts to an over supply of 22,000 workers or about 4.3% of the overall labor force."

Among the typical net controversy generated by the posting was a reasonable refutation by one poster. Using the some additional government figures, the poster noted:

"The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are 156,000 computer and office repair jobs (which includes installation and maintenance of machinery), 282,000 computer equipment operators, 37,000 computer peripheral equipment operators, 565,000 computer programmers, and 463,000 system analysts. This adds up to a total of 1,503,000 jobs in computer related fields. This does not include engineers, technicians and the other closely related fields. Assuming a 4.4% growth rate that would yield 66,132 new jobs a year. Assuming a retirement rate of 3% this would have 45,090 additional jobs each year. That would have 111,222 total jobs in the computer industry in 1994."

The counter-poster concluded that, after looking at the number of computer science graduates, "[t]here is a need for 45,917 new computer professionals each year or about 3.1% of the overall labor force... If, instead, you take into account only the computer programmers and the system analysts, you would have 1,028,000 jobs leading to 45,232 new jobs each year and a retirement of 30,840 workers. Still using the full 22,000 of H-1B workers and assuming every college graduate goes into one of these two fields, this would lead to 10,767 too many jobs a year. This is about 0.1% of the overall labor force."


Overall figures of job growth or job loss, however, obscure other, more profound changes in the computer industry and the job market that may have more to do with use non-domestic engineers.

A confluence of changes driven by newer technologies, a saturated market, and the internationalization of the technical labor market are rocking our industry. Locking out non-"Americans" is a shortsighted and futile solution, and plays into the hands of the most reactionary political solutions to the problems we as a society face.

We have reported in every issue of CPU the massive layoffs that have hit especially the mainframe and mini companies, but also the much smaller PC and software houses. At the same time, the PC industries are maturing and monopolizing, as historically has happened to every industry, and the market growth is slowing to the point where competitive pressures are forcing companies to cut into once fat profit margins (see, e.g., "The softening of software", _The Economist_, 1/8/94). The Internet and other fast and relatively cheap communications systems, the emergence of international computer standards, cheap transportation, etc. have made an international labor market for technical skills possible (see, e.g., CPU.001).

And companies aren't just exploiting the visa program to bring programmers here from India or France or Russia. It is often easier to take the work overseas. Witness a few _recent_ stories (see back issues of CPU for more):

  • Oracle announced that it is setting up its fifth software R&D center outside of the U.S. in Bangalore, India, which will be the U.S. company's largest abroad when it reaches full operation in two years (_Wall Street Journal_, 6/24/94).

  • IBM, Motorola and Texas Instruments, among others, already have production and research facilities in Bangalore so it comes as no surprise when the _WSJ_ notes that "India's computer software exports totaled $330 million in the year ended March 31, up 47% from a year earlier. The country's software industry is increasingly moving from lower-end products toward more sophisticated, higher quality applications." (6/1/94).

  • Apple announced plans to set up a development and educational project in the Ukraine. Apple will train programmers, assign them basic programming and market Ukrainian software inventions abroad (There are roughly 500,000 computer programmers among Ukraine's 53 million citizens. Half of the country's programmers are said to live in Kiev). Ukrainian programmers will write software for Apple at a quarter of the price that such work would cost in the West (_New York Times_, 6/3/94). Apple has also used indirect means to bring about the same ends by licensing software like the handwriting-technology used in the Newton from ParaGraph International, a Moscow software house.

  • Corel added a spreadsheet to their desktop graphics publishing package for a fraction of its American cost by licensing it from a Russian concern (_WSJ_, 6/8/94).

    With competitive pressures rising and profit margins shrinking, and an international labor pool to pick from, companies are doing what they have always done since the dawn of capitalism -- screw workers, pit them against each other, and force salaries to the lowest possible level. Forget seniority. Forget promises of "no layoffs". Forget the "we're family here" attitudes. Forget the fact that being over forty and being laid off in today's computer job market for many people is being consigned to the employment phantom zone. Companies do what their shareholders and Wall Street analysts and directors and venture capitalists expect them to do -- they dump workers, and cut salaries and benefits, and take advantage of tremendous poverty in other countries. Blaming the problem on "cheap foreign labor", as does CFVR, points in the wrong direction, and offers no solution. We need to be clear about this. COMPANIES LAYOFF PEOPLE AND CUT SALARIES. WORKERS DON'T.


    Rather than targeting the visa program, we should be targeting the companies that take advantage of it and removing whatever incentive exists for importing labor whenever that labor is readily available locally. How? If companies use visa workers, those workers should be paid at the same level as U.S. programmers, with the same benefits. Commissions to the placement firms should be on top of the scale salaries that the contract employees get. Severe penalties should be levied against companies that abuse contract employees, or that use contracting houses that abuse their contractors. Foreigners of uncertain position in a strange land are easy targets of ill-treatment and low-wages. (See, e.g., CPU.007 for complaints against Hewlett-Packard in its use of overseas contractors). Rather than making foreigners scapegoats, we need to revive the spirit of "an injury to one is an injury to all", and consider them as fellow-workers.

    Workers at companies that are moving operations overseas need to think strategically and internationally. Can pressure be brought to bear on the companies to insure that workers overseas receive the same pay and benefits?

    And if the problem in fact is not enough jobs being created by private industry in this country, no amount of visa reform will fix that. Instead, we need to consider public sector employment as the answer. We could put unemployed engineers to work in raising the overall level of computer literacy in this country, extending the Internet to every community center and school, or whatever (E.g., something like the proposed U.S. Tech Corps. (see below), except with pay).

    California Governor Pete Wilson has targeted immigrant workers as the root cause of California's problems (along with welfare mothers), and is whipping up anti-immigrant hysteria in his 1994 re-election bid. The CFVR position is an adjunct to that motion, directed at the technical professions.

    [Thanks to for tipping CPU to this.] 4. PISS-POT: CONTRACTOR REFUSES H-P TEST AND LOSES JOB

    by Evelyn Pine, <>

    On May 17, Bill Knutson, a freelance technical writer, was asked by the employment agency which had just hired him to do an eight week technical stint for Hewlett Packard, to take a drug test. Knutson, who has worked for Apple, Sun, Unisys, Novell, Convergent and a number of other companies, refused. He lost the contract.

    The testing requirement had nothing to do with Knutson's past performance on three previous contracts with H-P. He is a victim of a new policy instituted by H-P at the first of this year: All new hires and temporaries must be take a urine drug test.

    Knutson's plight is the convergence of anti-drug hysteria, the corporate herd instinct and a deep disrepect for workers. Knutson initially presumed that the policy of drug testing was demanded by the federal government. But Mark Kelly, the H-P staffer who created the policy, told Knutson, it was the result of perceived pressure from other private companies who wouldn't contract with H-P unless H-P could guarantee their employees were drug free. Hewlett Packard is one of the last of the Fortune 100 companies to implement drug testing.

    At this point, Hewlett Packard is hiring very few new people, mostly temporaries who receive no health insurance or other benefits and have no job security. H-P won't contract technical writers directly, but only through employment agencies, who take part of the writer's fee -- and administer the test for the company. According to Knutson, H-P and other companies perceive drug use as a "blue collar problem," but feel that have to test everybody or risk suit. Of course they don't REALLY test everybody. At H-P, technical writers are hired as outside services through an internal job center which requires urine testing. Accountants, auditors, and lawyers are hired by a different process and are exempt from the test. It is unlikely that the H-P board pissed in a bottle before okaying layoffs and reorganizations that cost jobs.

    The fallout of Knutson's case, discussed at length on the WELL and UseNet, has included supportive email, letters of complaint to H-P, an Associated Press story about the incident and a hardcore group of contractors who have determined that they won't work for H-P.

    Meanwhile, Knutson, who is getting married in September, is still looking for work. He can be reached at


    [The following was posted recently by an ex-IBM worker. His name has been withheld by request. Here's a trench-level view of Robert Reich's et al pitch that education and training is the solution to the crisis in post-industrial job creation.]

    I've had plenty of discouragement in trying to collect unemployment benefits after being recently laid off.

    I was one of a the thousands of workers laid off by IBM in New York in March of 1994.

    The New York State Department of Labor (DOL) explains that unemployment benefits are only available to people who are currently seeking a job. Having decided to go back to school full time for 2 to 3 years to make a big career change, I am not actively seeking work, and therefore I am not eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

    The DOL allows applicants to submit a "form 599" which, if accepted by them, provides for the payment of unemployment benefits to *some* people who are not currently seeking work because they are instead going to school.

    To qualify for "599 status", you must be taking at least 12 credits in school, or have at least 12 classroom hours per week. You can't get by with saying, "I'm a slow learner - to me 9 credits is a full-time load." You can't say, "I'm taking only 9 credits because I'd like to get A's in school, rather than B's and C's." You can't say, "I'm taking only 9 credits because I have to juggle my education with taking care of the baby [or other personal responsibilities]." You can't explain to them that some educational programs involve just a few classroom hours or confer just a few academic credits, but nevertheless require a large amount of homework projects and study time.

    To qualify for 599, you must be in a program which has a specific ending date or graduation date, and you must prove that the projected completion will be within two years. You can't be in a 3- or 4-year program. You can't be giving yourself a flexible schedule, such as allowing the total number of classes per semester to depend on how difficult the program proves to be after you get into it.

    (I see no logical reason for their concern about "years", since unemployment benefits are only paid for a maximum of 25 weeks in any case.)

    If your educational objective is a career change, they will sometimes reject the 599 application because you merely WANT to make a career change. They may only give you 599 status if you can convince them that labor market conditions are FORCING you to make a career change. You can't simply say, "I'm changing careers because I hated my previous occupation, and I'd rather kill myself than do that kind of work again."

    One very frustrating thing is that the DOL representatives give us plenty of disinformation, as though they believe they are talking to idiots. For example, they don't even admit that the limit of their power over us is that they can deny us the unemployment checks we are requesting. Instead, they tell us things like, "It's illegal for an unemployed person to go to school without the permission of the DOL." To get any information from their office, one always has to sort out the facts from the falsehoods.

    Suppose you *do* get 599 status, but you're registered for classes which will begin in a couple weeks, or suppose you're on a two- week vacation between class sessions. In that case, the DOL requires you to be searching every day for employment which is to last for the next couple weeks. You can't explain to them that it makes no sense to take a job which you will have to quit in two weeks. I told them that, and their representative told me, "If you do get such a job, you couldn't quit it anyway. It's illegal for a person to quit a job in order to go to school." (More disinformation, of course.)

    Then there's a program called ETI (Educational Training Institute). ETI is a private company which has won the bid for a federal contract to distribute public money for the retraining of unemployed people. It would be nice if they would help pay some of my tuition, but their requirements are even more restrictive than the DOL's requirements. Whereas DOL requires you to demonstrate that you expect to graduate from school within 2 years, ETI requires that people who are laid off from work anytime in 1994 must show that they can graduate from school by the end of 1995. Some people manage to get ETI tuition assistance by modifying their educational objectives, like one person who was forced to drop a registered nursing program and switch to a practical nursing program. Many other people have no way to complete their education within the short time required even if they do adjust their objectives.

    The IBM Corporation has been getting lots of good press extolling it's supposed philanthropy in "helping" the people it has laid off. Once again, there are severe restrictions for receiving this assistance. For example, the individuals who lost their jobs in March have access to a free resume-printing service - available only until June of the same year. Since an outdated resume should never be used, this offer is of no value to those who will be going back to school before they start their job-hunting, or those who haven't had enough time even to decide on what new careers they want to go into. The company is also offering to pay the workers laid off in March of 1994 up to $2500 (taxable) for school tuition reimbursement, but all bills must be submitted to them by August of 1995.

    Is anyone being fooled by this facade of generous reforms? All these bureaucratic agencies, corporate as well as government, seem insistent on "helping" unemployed people in ways that are so restrictive that their "help" is often rendered useless.


    Date: Sun, 12 Jun 1994 17:48:25 -0400
    From: LEE19@DELPHI.COM
    > My name is Lee Conrad and I'm the national organizer of IBM
    > Workers United in the United States. As the IBM company
    > continues to fire thousands of employees and reduces our
    > standard of living, it is imperative that IBM workers organize
    > to protect our self interests.
    > We have managed to bring together IBM workers from 13 countries
    > and have held 6 International conferences. The name of this
    > group is IBM Workers International Solidarity. Our first meeting
    > was held in Tokyo in 1984. We have many contacts in Europe. We
    > need to locate and know more about IBM workers and working
    > conditions in Central and South America, as well as Australia.
    > Any help will be greatly appreciated.
    (Lee also does the IBM Workers United newsletter, _Resistor_. 
    Issue #42 features Lou Gerstner's new office furniture. Write Lee 
    at the above email address or c/o IBM Workers United, P.O. Box 
    634, Johnson City, NY 13789).
    Date: June 1994
    From: Elisabeth Freeman and Susanne Hupfer, Yale University
    > The Ada Project (TAP) is a WorldWideWeb (WWW) site designed to
    > serve as a clearinghouse for information and resources relating
    > to women in computing.  The WWW is growing at incredible speed,
    > and is already host to a wealth of scattered information on
    > women in computing.  The goal of TAP is to provide a central
    > location through which these resources can be "tapped."  TAP
    > includes information on conferences, projects, discussion groups
    > and organizations, fellowships and grants, notable women in
    > Computer Science, and other electronically accessible
    > information sites.  TAP also maintains a substantive
    > bibliography of references.
    > TAP serves primarily as a collection of links to other online
    > resources, rather than as an archive.  We hope that you, the TAP
    > user community, will help us keep TAP as up-to-date as possible.
    >  We also welcome your comments and feedback regarding use of the
    > site.  TAP pages include "submission" and "feedback" icons to
    > aid in the sending of information and comments.
    > To access TAP, use Mosaic (or another graphical or textual WWW
    > viewer) to open the URL:
    Date: Sat, 14 May 1994 00:35:37 -0400 (EDT)
    Subject: RSI Network Newsletter
    Consider joining the RSI Network Newsletter. It is a free 
    publication, distributed over Internet once every two months, with 
    occasional supplements. Since it is a moderated list, the traffic 
    amounts to about 20K/month on average.
    The RSI Network Newsletter covers all topics of interest to people 
    with arm, hand, wrist, shoulder injuries from typing, or people 
    who have to cope with computers even though they have an injury of 
    this sort.
    Getting On the List:
    Send a mail message to:
    The Subject doesn't matter. Put this into the body of your
    message just as it appears here:
    subscribe rsi
    Issue 18 came out in June. The first issue appeared June of '91. 
    Topics covered have included: How To Earn A Living, Surgery, Wrist 
    Rests or Forearm Supports?, Voice Recognition & Word Prediction, 
    Status of RSI Lawsuits, Product Reviews, as well as lists of 
    support groups and sections covering member letters, reading, 
    resources, hardware and software.
    This was pulled off of the LABOR-L list. To subscribe to LABOR-L 
    send the message SUBSCRIBE LABOR-L   to 
    listserv@VM1.YORKU.CA -- Ed.)
    From: Rich Rose
    Rich Rose is a student at American University developing a guide 
    to Internet resources pertaining to labor. The unfinished list is 
    intended for labor reporters but, hopefully, others will find it 
    useful. The list notes where the ftp server for the Bureau of 
    Labor Statistics resides (, where to find employment 
    figures (telnet, gopher 
    or gopher /labor) as well as items on labor 
    legislation and worker safety. Write him at if you would like the list, have 
    comments or items to add.
    Date: June 16, 1994
    From: Gary Beach, Publisher, Computerworld
    > Anyone who has written code, maintained a network, or planned a
    > company information system knows that implementation is
    > everything. Surprisingly, so do thousands of U.S. school
    > teachers and administrators.
    > Throughout the U.S., our schools say that a shortage of
    > technical talent is their largest obstacle in moving the
    > "information superhighway" from vision to reality. Their tight
    > budgets and a dire shortage of technical skills stand in the way
    > of implementing technology where it is most needed: the local
    > classroom.
    > A solution may be in sight.
    > Computerworld, the national newspaper of information systems
    > management, is working jointly with the White House Office of
    > Science and Technology to develop the U.S. Tech Corp.
    > Modeled on the U.S. Peace Corps, the U.S. Tech Corps will rally
    > the talents and skills of more than 1.9 million computer
    > professionals to assist public schools in planning and
    > implementing information technology. Through contributions of
    > their time and expertise, these volunteers will play an integral
    > and crucial role in building local roads to the national
    > information superhighway. Even an hour a week of discussion and
    > planning can help your local school.
    > The U.S. Tech Corps will be operated with assistance from the
    > White House, the National Education Association, and the
    > National Association of School Administrators. Volunteers will
    > receive a U.S. Tech Corps certificate signed by the President,
    > as well as local recognition. Of course, the greatest reward may
    > be the satisfaction gained from contributing your valuable
    > skills to the future of our school children.
    > [Action Items: What else is needed? Do you think that your
    > fellow computer professionals will respond favorably or
    > unfavorably to this proposal? How might the U.S. Tech Corp be
    > made to work?]
    > Comments to
    Subject: "Snake Oil in a Computer -- The Pseudo-science of 
    Write Michael J. Vandeman if you are interested in modeling and 
    statistics being used to obtain specious ends. Michael writes: 
    "The issue is programmers being involved (or used) in dishonest 
    projects that use computer programs to 'prove' convenient lies." 
    He has written on transport, exposing the faulty reasoning and 
    statistics used in justifying the expansion of transportation 


    Date: Mon, 11 Jul 1994 10:42:27 -0500 (CDT)
    From: Dave Kinnaman 
    > We are Allen Davis & Associates, National Technical Search, a
    > company dedicated to using available technologies to provide
    > more options to individuals either actively conducting job
    > searches or just keeping their eyes on the job market. We
    > provide descriptions of over 100 new software and IS jobs
    > weekly. We have been posting the listings on our own bbs for
    > just under two years and recently have made them available for
    > anonymous ftp.
    > If you prefer to access our listings via anonymous ftp, you can
    > find them at in the directory /pub/adassoc.
    > If you would like to see the last ten weeks of listings, you can
    > retrieve hotline.txt/zip/exe from our bbs at 413-549-8136 (to
    > 14,400 bps) N-8-1 (ANSI/BBS terminal emulation). Our bbs also
    > has a library of career resourses.
    > You can reach us by fax at 413-549-7542 or by phone at
    > 413-549-7440 or
    [Forty U.S. corporations have formed a non-profit employer 
    association to recruit individuals.  We'd be interested in hearing 
    people's experience using this or any of the services listed here 
    -- Eds]
    > IF YOU HAVE INTERNET ACCESS, following are several options for
    > accessing Online Career Center (OCC).
    > 1) VIA GOPHER - The gopher address is:
    > >NOTE: ***** DO NOT "TELNET" TO THIS ADDRESS *****  You will NOT
    > be asked for a password. If the password prompt appears, you
    > have probably tried to "telnet" to this address instead of
    > reaching it via "gopher".
    > 2) VIA GOPHER - [If you have a gopher menu]  Select: "All Gopher
    > Servers In The World"  ["Online Career Center" appears on the
    > gopher menu.] Type: / Type: Online Career Center [RETURN]
    > 3) VIA TELNET - Telnet to:
    > Login: gopher [RETURN] Select: #2--More About Gopher [RETURN]
    > Select: #11--Other Gopher Servers [RETURN] Select: #1--All
    > Gopher Servers...[RETURN] Type: / Type: Online Career Center
    > [RETURN]
    > Select "Open" from the "File" menu URL To Open: gopher
    > ://
    From:  THE COMPUTISTS' COMMUNIQUE, Vol. 4, No. 26
    Date: June 30, 1994
    Subject: Job Services
    > The Employment BBS List can be obtained from George Smith
    > (, 214-306-3393, or on Fido
    > 1:124/9032 under the name employ. The list includes independent,
    > recruiter, state, and federal BBSs. An update is planned for
    > 7/1/94. [, m.j.o.entry, 6/25/94.]
    > The new OPTIMIST mailing list is for software-industry job
    > postings. Send a "subscribe optimist-l" message to
    > Optimum Executive Search
    > (, (415) 703-9000, (415) 703-9191 Fax.
    > [, 6/17/94.]

    (Write Ken Laws at if you would like to know more about TCC -- Eds.)


    DIGITAL WORKERS RESPOND: DIGITAL EQUIPMENT reported a $1.75 billion loss for its fourth quarter, including a $1.2 billion charge to cover the elimination of 20,000 jobs. 9,200 jobs were cut in the fourth quarter, the largest quarterly decrease in its history. In CPU.010, we noted that DEC's goal was 85,000 workers, half of its workforce in 1989. Now, the goal is 65,000 workers by the time the "restructuring" is complete, and to have 77,800 by the end of 1994 (_New York Times_, 7/27/94). The _Wall Street Journal_ (7/15/94, 7/19/94) notes that Digital has decided to speed up cuts so that rather than take two years, as previously announced, the layoffs are instead to be completed by this time next year.

    Digital also earned special mention (_WSJ_, 7/17/94) because they're the brunt of a little seen phenomeon in the computer industry -- labor protest. "In Italy on May 19, a one day protest against planned layoffs kept about 80% of Digital's employees away from work... To Digital's job-cutting and reorganization plans, workers responded, 'No Grazie!!' In France, after a partial one- day strike in May, a court is scheduled to rule soon on a union lawsuit seeking to block Digital's planned layoffs there", the list goes on with walkouts and demonstrations at German and Swiss Digital offices. Work-stoppages have also taken place at OLIVETTI, BULL and IBM.

    "'Traditionally, this branch of industry isn't unionized,' says Bert Thierron, secretary-general of the European Metalworkers Federation. In the past, he says, the industry was prosperous, grew quickly, paid well, and offered good working conditions. 'Now with the recession, workers understand all isn't possible -- and they want protection.'"

    Estimates have 30% of the computer industry unionized, up from 20% a few years ago. Digital's European Workers Council is seeking recognition by Digital as the legal representative of all the company's European workers. They want Digital to consider alternatives to layoffs, such as job-sharing, or spinning off some groups of employees as independent contractors.

    THE FAWNING OF THE AGE OF MICROSOFT: _Newsweek_ recently went gaga over MICROSOFT in a recent feature story (7/11/94), while at the same time providing some um interesting insights into industry workplace trends. "Microsoft is not a job; its' a way of life." says the head of the Chicago project. According to the story, Steve Ballmer -- Gate's No. 2 -- once had it that "[t]he trouble with this place is too many wives, women and girlfriends" while prowling the halls on Sundays to see who was at work. The article notes a tension between the new recruits and the older generation now aging, getting married, having kids and "getting lives."

    The average age at Microsoft is 31, but Bill wants them younger. Half are hired right out of college. Gates would like it to be 80 percent. "Young people are more willing to learn, come up with new ideas," he says. According to the _Newsweek_ reporter: "After all, when pushing the frontiers of technology, going where no one has gone before, experience doesn't count for a lot."

    Isn't it rather that Bill is thinking along the lines of the old Jesuit adage, "Give us the youth and we'll shape the man[sic]"... and they're cheaper?

    CUTS AT NOVELL?: "Insiders say 1,000 to 1,500 jobs, as much as 15% of Novell's workforce, could be cut in the next few weeks," according to a recent _Business Week_ (8/8/94). WORDPERFECT, recently acquired by Novell, is expected to bear the brunt of the cuts. The articles describes WordPerfect as "notoriously bloated," with sales per employee (a common metric for measuring productivity) at $128,000, where Novell is up at $269,000. (Microsoft has $279,000 in sales per employee; Adobe leads the list at $313,000 per employee. Others: Borland, $226k; Autodesk, $226k; Louts, $221k; Symantec, $219k; Intuit, $204k; Aldus, $189k.) Novell is being seriously squeezed by Microsoft.

    PAY: According to the Commerce Department, earnings for male computer programmers have risen 12% since 1990, vs. 6% for all male workers. Pay for female programmers is up 21%, vs. 13% for all women. Did you get your raise? (_BW_ 1994 Bonus Issue)

    DON'T ASK! About 100 employees of the ASK company, most of them with ASK's INGRES subsidiary, have quit because of the human resource policies of COMPUTER ASSOCIATES, which recently acquired ASK. Computer Associates has refused to continue ASK's policy of extending benefits to unmarried domestic partners, including those of gay or lesbian employees (_NYT_, 7/1/94).

    TELECOM: The Council of Economic Advisors released a White Paper June 14 predicting the economy could grow by an extra $100 billion over the next decade if the Clinton administration's proposed telecommunications legislation is adopted. CEA estimated 500,000 new jobs would by created by 1996, and employment in the telecommunications and information sector could increase from 3.6 million to 5 million workers by the end of the next decade (BNA Daily Report for Executives 6/15/94)... But, though new telecom businesses are flourishing in the metropolitan New York area, as converging technologies and loosening regulations combine to encourage entrepreneurial efforts, economists are skeptical that the new small-scale ventures can generate enough jobs to replace those lost by downsizing by the telephone industry. (_NYT_ 7/5/94)

    _TELECOM DIGEST_ (7/22/94) gives the other side of SPRINT's recent closing of a San Francisco subsidiary, LA CONEXION FAMILIAR. 177 workers were set to vote on unionizing in a National Labor Relations Board election. The Communications Workers of America have charged that the closing was illegal and are seeking an injunction that will re-open the office. According to a CWA filing with the National Labor Relations Board, "Sprint abruptly closed the office on July 14 to retaliate against the workers for seeking to organize ...and to block what portended to be the first successful unionization campaign so far at the aggressively anti- union long distance company... While Sprint claimed that it closed the operation for economic reasons, this past March the company general manager told the _San Francisco Chronicle_ that La Conexion had been growing as much as 20% a month for the past two years and that he projected a tripling of annual revenues by 1996..."

    [Thanks to the Red Rock Eater list, and to EDUPAGE for some of these items. Edupage is a thrice-weekly update of computer and telecom news. To receive EDUPAGE, send the message "sub edupage " to]

    9. EOF

    Now that _Wired_ is out, it's cool to be into tech stuff. But that wasn't always the case! In the interest of preserving a bit of social history, and "lest we forget":

    A computer programmer happens across a frog in the road. The frog pipes up, "I'm really a beautiful princess and if you kiss me, I'll stay with you for a week". The programmer shrugs his shoulders and puts the frog in his pocket.

    A few minutes later, the frog says "OK, OK, if you kiss me, I'll give you great sex for a week". The programmer nods and puts the frog back in his pocket.

    A few minutes later, "Turn me back into a princess and I'll give you great sex for a whole year!". The programmer smiles and walks on.

    Finally, the frog says, "What's wrong with you? I've promised you great sex for a year from a beautiful princess and you won't even kiss a frog?"

    "I'm a programmer," he replies. "I don't have time for sex.... But a talking frog is pretty neat."

    [For all we know, this could be really old news. When we asked our source where this came he replied: "Don't know where it came from. Came to me from our human resources crowd. Must be really dead on the net if it came by that route."]

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