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Issue: 015 CPU: Working in the Computer Industry 12/19/95
An electronic publication for workers in the computer industry
- ABOUT BOX
- LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
- FEATURE: An economic advocacy organization
for scientists and engineers?
- FEATURE: A visit to the Microsoft factory
- BOOK REVIEW: Windows on the Workplace:
Computers, Jobs, and the Organization of Office Work in the Late
- BILLBOARD: RSI request, new journal
Job listings, California Workers' Rights
- LABOR BYTES
- EOF: Top this!
1. ABOUT BOX
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Editors for this issue: Michael Stack and Jim Davis. We may be contacted by voice at (510) 601-6740, by email to cpu-owner @ cpsr.org , or by USPS at POB 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).
In the recently-settled 10-week Boeing strike, one of the big issues was the moving of skilled jobs to cheaper overseas operations. Boeing workers in the U.S. had been asked to train visiting workers from Poland and India, with the likelihood that the U.S. jobs would be eliminated in favor of low-wage high-skill labor markets abroad. The same thing, of course has been happening in the computer programming field.
"It actually never crossed my mind that I'd get replaced by a Filipino," Walter Korzeb told the Wall Street Journal (10/9/95). Korzeb lost his computer programming job at the SEALAND unit of transportation conglomerate CSX last June when it farmed out some of its coding to workers in India and the Philippines. In addition, Korzeb and some of the other 100 programmers that were dumped had been asked to train the Filipinos. Initially the new programmers will work in the U.S., but in time, most of them will work overseas. According to a Sealand executive, the switch to overseas programmers will save the company about 30 percent on such expenses. The National Association of Securities Dealers also recently replaced 30 programmers, about half of whom will do their coding in India after being trained here.
According to the _WSJ_, industry associations are "tenaciously defending" these arrangements. William Schroeder, CEO of DIAMOND MULTIMEDIA SYSTEMS, the computer peripherals maker, told the paper, "There are only so many technically competent, or technically brilliant, people, and you need to go anywhere in the world to find them." Since skilled people can demand a premium salary in the U.S., Schroeder says that it is understandable that employers will seek cheaper alternatives abroad.
According to the Financial Times (10/7-8/95) MICROSOFT CEO Bill Gates, thinking about the road ahead, sent a letter to Congress (and cosigned by CEOs of HEWLETT PACKARD, INTEL, SUN, and TEXAS INSTRUMENTS) saying that: "The availability of computer and software engineers on a timely basis is critical to our business success. Delays in design, development and production mean a loss of market share that may never be recaptured." According to Edupage's sum-up of the article: "The CEOs are worried about immigration laws that would deprive them of skilled labor. Microsoft's labor force is 5-7% foreign-born. An emigration expert at the Carnegie Endowment Fund observes that companies are perfectly capable of moving operations offshore if the talent they need is denied them."
We have commented on this before, but I think it bears repeating, over and over again. The danger in this question of jobs, and immigrant labor, and availability of qualified local engineers (see e.g., the story below from re: the discussion that has been going on on the Young Scientist Network's list) is pitting engineer against engineer on the basis of nationality. The problem, of course, is not the Filipino or Indian or Polish engineers, but companies' desire and willingness and free ability to move work around and to exploit the wage differences. The net result here is the steady grinding down of wages to an international level (Korzeb, the Sealand programmer, found another coding job, at about 20% less than what he was making before). While the goal should be equal pay for equal work, this is moving in the wrong direction.
It is worthy of note that the striking Boeing workers won several concessions on subcontracting, including (according to Reuters) requiring the company to offer any worker affected by work sent elsewhere the right to be retrained and transferred to another available job in the company.
We would like to start a national working group within CPSR on the issues that face us as workers in the computer industry. If you are willing to be on such a working group, please send a note to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In CPU 014, Jim commented on his visit to the August DefCon III in Las Vegas. He went expecting free-wheeling hacking and open views to find instead a libertarian/conservative government/security- establishment job-fair. Since that time, John Markoff of the _New York Times_ reports sightings of a related new species of hacker. Rather than merry pranksters, manufacturers of mischief and mayhem, liberators of information, this new breed are busy on such projects as making sure the net is safe for, of all things, COMMERCE! It hints of a "philosophical shift", Markoff writes, a "new generation... more vigilant than vigilante". In the past he's made noises in the same vein, canonizing Tsutomu Shimomura for his cyber-sleuthing in a couple of breathless front page stories assisting the "good-guys" -- the FBI -- track public enemy no. 1 Kevin Mitnick (book and movie are soon to follow). According to the Markoff unearthings, the likes of Dan Farmer and his SATAN program are old school (bad) whereas the pencilnecks from Berkeley in the picture on the front of the business section (10/16/95) are now the young Turks (good), kindly assisting the likes of 'poor' Netscape w/ their security problems. What's the world coming too when the young and talented spend their time at such sanctioned pursuits? What will their parents think?
On a more general note, an interesting _NYT_ article (12/5/95) finds that the strike is now a "dull sword". The article looks at the UAW ordering of Caterpillar strikers back to work after one of the "biggest and longest strikes of the 1990's" though 80 percent of the strikers rejected Caterpillars last offer. The workers have little choice as the UAW is to cut their $300 dollar a week strike benefits. "By their own admission, [the strikers] gained nothing by their walkout and, indeed, still face losing valued rights and benefits." Cat survived because temporary workers are increasingly skilled, laid off often from other industries, notably aerospace, and secondly, many manufacturing companies are now less dependent on highly skilled workers than they used to be, as much of the human skill required of tool-and-die making has been replaced by computer-controlled machines. "Caterpillar's production rolled along. Sales rose during the strike. Profits rose. And the stock rose."
Now consider France. One thing that cannot be said about the French strike is that it is ineffectual. It is interesting to see how the stories around the strike tend to deflate the incendiary pictures that accompany the text. "It's Not 1968" proclaims the _NYT_ of (12/6/95). The same story talks of the European-wide "problem" of economies over-burdened providing five-week vacations, comprehensive free health care and generous pensions. Those profligate Europeans.
[See related story below re: the German-industry wide agreement that includes engineers there. - jd]
3. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Congratulations on yet another fine issue of CPU. I am glad to see that the quality of your publication has remained the same through the hiatus in issuing it.
As an Irishman (albeit one who works in Silicon Valley), I am always faintly bemused by your mention of Ireland as one of the low-wage alternative countries to which companies delegate their "less interesting" programming tasks. Perhaps it is just my bias as a foreigner, but I have a hard time seeing this as a bad thing. To flog a dead horse a little further, "one man's loss is another's gain".
On a related note, it should not come as a surprise to anyone that US companies are so readily outsourcing their "skilled menial" work to other countries. Are not these the same companies that funnel money into the pockets of the elected representatives who toil ceaselessly to further shrink the pool of educated, employable Americans?
-- Bryan O'Sullivan
I have a comment on your recent posting. You said:
>... Although the current wind
>may be blowing out of the Gingrich camp, reality has a way of
>eventually asserting itself.
Did it occur to you, sir, that the wind blowing from the Gingrich camp is, indeed, "reality asserting itself" after years of collectivist policies that are proven not to work?
Back off the leftist pap. You wanna do some good? Then figure out how to get rule 1706 of the 1986 tax reform act repealed. You can blame that piece of legislation directly on that fine leftist Senator Daniel Moynihan (D-NY). This rule forces independent contractors in the IS industry into positions of involuntary servitude to the pimps in the "Body Shop" industry.
Still, thanks for your article and good reporting, ... if somewhat leftist biased. :-)
-- larry (Lawrence T. Hardiman)
There is much to heed in Dave Kadlecek's comment in CPU#014:
> IT IS EASIER TO OBTAIN FORGIVENESS THAN PERMISSION?
As a seminarian friend once explained it to me:
Never ask, "Is it all right to smoke while I pray?" -- the answer will, of course, be "No," based on the division of attention, etc. Ask rather, "Is it all right to pray while I smoke?"
-- David Moody
ON SKILLED WORK
[in response to a letter in CPU.014...]
> I can only state that it is my contention that the future for skilled
> computer programmers is indeed bright.
This writer and those with similar views might want to look into US labor history, particularly in such books as _Case Studies on the Labor Process_, ed. by Andrew Zimbalist, 1979.
This book and a considerable number of similar studies document the consistent thrust of capitalist enterprises to deskill the skilled. From the steel industry strikes of the 1890s to the anti- Taylorism strikes of the 1930s to the save-our-jobs strikes of the 1990s, workers with good-paying, interesting jobs in which they exercised considerable judgement and autonomy have been stripped of it all by automation controlled by management. Only a century ago steel-making, a no-brainer job, most people would assume, was a highly-skilled artisan craft much like programming today, even to the point of many workers being independent contractors hired on a per-project basis working on the employer's premises. Then management learned to automate steel-making and, guess what, goodbye to some of the best work in the industrial age. Other examples abound, from that period to the present, when experienced, highly-skilled airline flight deck crews are being reduced in size and replaced by fly-by-wire automation, satellite positioning, and entry-level crews.
The same thing will happen to programming and related work, including my own work, technical writing. The question is, how shall we respond?
-- Mike Bradley
ON NON-COMPETE AGREEMENTS
I am faced with signing a typical NCA, at least I think its typical, in Massachusetts. The key problem is a passage that restricts my ability in the future to use any of the skills that I acquire as a result of working for this company. I have learned that the restriction is not legally enforceable in its most strict, literal interpretation, but I don't have any strong sense of how much of it can be or may be enforced if I were to leave my job.
The passage states: "I agree that for a period of two years after the termination of my employment with the Company for any reason whatsoever, I shall not, directly or indirectly, within the USA or its Territories or Possessions or within any other country in which the Company or any licensee or affiliate is engaged in or actively contemplating engaging in any activity described below i) engage in, ii) own an interest in, be employed by, or consult for, or act as an advisor to, any business, person or entity which engages in, or iii) otherwise participate in any way in research, development, manufacturing, marketing, selling or licensing activities, or in any other activity, in the field of [my company's business area (rather loosely described)]"
I'm looking for other people's experiences. Has this sort of thing ever been unreasonably applied against you? Has it scared off potential employers from hiring you, whether or not you voluntarily or involuntarily left the company with which you had the NCA? Should I refuse to sign it in its present form and risk termination? (I have already requested some rewording and my request was politely rejected.) I would also appreciate pointers to net-news discussion groups where such things are discussed from the perspective of the worker. Thanks to all who reply.
-- name withheld upon request
[We will print the responses here in CPU - ed.]
ON DILBERT & SCOTT ADAMS AND GETTING FIRED:
Dear CPU editors:
in CPU14, you wrote:
DILBERT: Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert cartoon-strip of "management malfeasance" was fired from his technical post in a Pacific Bell engineering group, ...
I'm sure I won't be the first (not, indeed, the last) to point his out, but Scott made pre-emptive statement (presumably) designed to refute the assertion that he was simply "fired"; see: http://www.unitedmedia.com/comics/dilbert/pacbell.html
I don't send this message simply to fill up your mailbox with near-identical "corrections", but to say that if you truly have reason to believe that Scott was actually *fired*, it would be good to know what those were. Needless to say, you otherwise run the risk of annoying Scott and Pacific Bell.
Many thanks for an interesting and informative edition of the newsletter, anyway.
[Thanks for the note -- we repeated what was reported in the _Wall Street Journal_ (8/8/95, p. B1), which used the word "fired": "At least he did until Jun 30, when he was fired from his technical post in a Pacific Bell engineering group, ostensibly for budget reasons." According the web page above, Scott Adams says he had given a standing offer of resignation if "my costs exceeded my benefits." Last spring, a new boss took Adams up on his offer. "The reason given was budget constraints...," writes Adams. "It was a local management decision, not a 'Pacific Bell' decision from the top... Was there any Dilbert-related motivation behind my boss asking me to leave? Nothing of that nature was mentioned to me."
Actually, this raises the broader question of termination of employment, and how "we" relate to that. We have a relatively rich vocabulary for dealing with the end of the work connection: "fired" perhaps is the most blunt. "Laid off" suggests in other industries the possibility of being recalled, and is certainly a gentler term; "terminated" is a kind of management-speak, suggesting cutting a cord, instead of doing something to the worker. "Discharged" and "let go" are nice ways of saying "fired." In the contingent-work field, contracts "expire" and just aren't "renewed". If you are older, you may be "asked" to "take early retirement" (or risk being transferred to nowhere on the graveyard shift, as happened with IBM employees). In England workers are "made redundant", which might have a specific legal meaning there; I saw the term used in connection with factory closings or jobs being eliminated via technology. Some industries (e.g., high levels of management or government) seem to require a signed letter of resignation in advance, so the person isn't "fired", instead, the letter of resignation is "accepted."
I suppose there is some stigma to being "fired", where the worker assumes it is some failure on his or her part, and ther term often implies some malfeasance or negligence on the part of the worker. This, of course, is an emotionally (and physically) deadly way of looking at the process of losing a job (getting fired). The numbers are just too great, across too many industries these days, to see getting fired as a personal shortcoming.
Was Scott Adams "fired"? We shouldn't pretty up the process. Adams says he was asked to leave his job at Pacific Bell. Bluntly speaking, he was fired. - jd]
The feature in CPU.014 about the call to SuperMac from Trinidad during the coup _attempt_ is an interesting story, but it seriously distorts the facts. At the time the coup attempt took place, I was a grad student at U.Texas-Austin, and a good friend who is a citizen of Trinidad kept me informed about events; I also had the chance to later read press accounts of assault on the parliament building and subsequent events.
I hope that one of the large number of Trinidadians who study and work in North America will see this and _really_ set the record straight. In the meantime, I feel obliged to point some things that are flat wrong in the story.
>> The official was very polite, thanked him for the effort, and hung up.
>> That night, the legitimate government of Trinidad fell. One of the
>> BBC reporters mentioned that the casualties seemed heaviest in the
>> capitol, where for some reason, there seemed to be little return fire
>> from the government forces.
In truth, muslim extremists mounted an armed assault on the parliament building and police HQ, both in Port of Spain. They succeeded in taking over parliament and holding the prime minister hostage, after he was shot in the leg. However, the loss of life was very small, I'd say less than 10 people. The army of Trinidad moved into the capital to restore order, and the insurgents surrendered after a week without further bloodshed; they were eventually put on trial. So the legitimate government did not in fact fall, and a national election took place the next year without incident.
So, I'm afraid we must consign this story to one of the alt.folklore groups.
-- Chris Walton
[Thanks for the correction! - eds.]
4. FEATURE: AN ECONOMIC ADVOCACY ORGANIZATION FOR SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS?
[The overlap in this next post with the CPU charter should be clear - jd]
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 1995
From: Mark Nockleby
Subject: Science and Engineering Economic Advocacy
I just posted the following article to the Young Scientists Network Digest (YSND). You can learn more about the Young Scientists Network at the following web-site: http://snorri.chem.washington.edu/. (Editor's Note: The web address has been changed, it is now http://www.physics.uiuc.edu/ysn/) Since this article addresses labor organizing issues in science and engineering, I feel that it is appropriate for this list as well. This article will likely appear in YSND #1866 or #1867.
[Also, the "myth" referred to in the article below is the myth that there is a shortage or an impending shortage of scientists and engineers in the United States.]
Below is the concluding page and a half of David North's book "Soothing the Establishment." While most of the book is focused on its subtitle, "the impact of foreign-born scientists and engineers on America," North's concluding comments address issues that are much more general, and therefore very appropriate for the readership of this list.
I think that the excerpt is particularly interesting in light of the recent "Why should I pay my American Physical Society dues?" thread in YSND, and the posts of Kevin Aylesworth in YSND #1780 and of John Quackenbush in YSND #1839, which were eclipsed by the "Is the Myth dead enough" debate and the immigration/meta- immigration debates respectively.
Finally, the numbers enclosed in square brackets refer to the few comments I couldn't resist making [They appear at the end of the article].
[North recommends] Drastic Modification in Science and Engineering Economic Advocacy
Working out an arguably appropriate public policy, however, is a small step compared to the real challenge of implementing reform in this field, where both the myth and virtually all the political power are on the side of the status quo and where those hurt by the status quo are scattered, politically dysfunctional, and sometimes totally unaware of what is happening to them. Most important, the very structure of the organizations that represent the scientists and engineers are such that they are almost completely useless when it comes to economic advocacy for their working membership.
Scientists and engineers today, although better treated financially than they have been in the past, are approximately where factory workers were in the early 1930s. There were organizations within labor then that dealt with economic advocacy-- the old craft unions-- but they were unwilling or unable to organize the factory workers.
Rather than trying to modify the ways of the old American Federation of Labor, John L. Lewis (of the Mineworkers) and his younger allies (such as Philip Murray and the Reuther brothers) simply set up new organizations, under the umbrella of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO).
Something like that needs to be done today. While the technical and professional societies can continue to do their useful educational work, some other entity needs to enter the picture, to lobby effectively for a greater emphasis on science and math in the K-12 schools, for better funded undergraduate and graduate education in science and engineering, and for better pay for working engineers and scientists.
There are at least three organizations that are paying attention to these issues: The Young Scientists' Network, the Professional Employees Department of the AFL-CIO, and the American Engineering Association, Inc., which speaks primarily for contract and technical workers. One of the new tools available to these groups, and used extensively by the Young Scientists, is the E- mail network. Perhaps these three could, with others, establish a new umbrella organization that would speak up [for] bench scientists and engineers.
Such an organization would be less likely than existing technical and professional societies to turn a blind eye to the unpleasant notion of competition between foreign-born and native-born workers. Such an organization might also tackle the even more troubling prospect, particularly in software development, that science end engineering work will simply leave the US and be performed elsewhere (e.g., India) where skilled professionals abound and where wages are much lower than in the United States.
Further, such an organization might have enough imagination to sit down with the poverty lawyers who work for farm workers in order to learn from the agricultural experience how to protect the economic interests of scientists and engineers, a strangely powerless group of American workers.
But what is really needed is a towering leader, someone who can bring national attention of these issues-- another John L. Lewis-- but that prospect appears to be slight.
 North, David S. Soothing the establishment: the impact of foreign-born scientists and engineers on America / David S. North. Lanham, [Md.]: University Press of America, 1995.
 A web resource for AFL-CIO is at http://www.aflcio.org/
 I am a little amused by North's reference to farm workers, as it reminds me of something the (then) physics board chair at UCSC was quoted as saying during the 1992 graduate student employee strike. He was quoted as saying that he felt more sympathy for farm workers in Salinas and Watsonville, California, than he did for graduate students.
 Any volunteers for "towering leader"? :)
5. FEATURE: A VISIT TO THE MICROSOFT FACTORY>
Interview with Reed Schuler (email@example.com) Age 10
October 18, 1995, Tour of Microsoft Plant, Bothell, WA
Today we went to the Microsoft factory in Bothell where they copy the disks, package things, and put things in storage. We saw people putting disks in slots and copying the information on to the disks.
Seven or eight hundred people work in the factory.
We saw people in fork lifts putting the packages up on the shelves. We saw people packaging disks and manuals. We saw big machines sealing plastic bags with disks inside of them. We saw a lot of Mariner screen savers and Space Shoot 'em up screen saver games. We saw about five people playing games and not working at all. Most of the people looked very busy, they looked like they were working very hard. They get paid by the hour. They were very busy and didn't talk to us. They didn't even look up. The people wore casual clothes - some wore caps, T-shirts, and jeans. You could wear just about anything but they probably wouldn't like it if you were a male and you came in wearing a dress.
I might have seen a supervisor but I didn't know if I did.
The guy that was leading the tour was involved in a little bit of the programming of Windows 95.
Would you like to work there? No. I'd rather be self-employed. It would be boring just putting things in boxes all day.
If you were self employed, what would you like to do? I'm not sure. Maybe I could program computer games and sell them to companies.
What did the other kids think about working there? 75% of the kids in my class would like to work there. I think it's because there was no boss there and because you got free pop and because you can play computer games when no one is looking.
The tour guide worked in the building. There were lots of jobs: copying disks, putting them on shelves with fork lifts. Once you were "Certified" for one job you move around to other jobs and pretty much which job you wanted to do that day. They pay you according to how many jobs you're certified for, for a maximum of three of the five jobs. If they are certified for four or more jobs they get paid more than their supervisors and usually get promoted.
How old were the people that worked there? The average person was 20 - 30 years old. You can start there when you're 18.
Microsoft has 12 factories like this in the United States. The Bothell plant is the largest software processing plan in the United States.
What products did they package up? We saw them packaging Flight Simulator, Microsoft Encarta, Civilization, Dangerous Creatures, Isaac Asimov's Ultimate Robot. The Robot software lets people design robots using different parts.
What do you think is the worst thing about working there? Maybe the pay but I don't know how much they get. Also it would be pretty boring just sticking disks in bags and just putting manuals in boxes.
We asked the guy why they didn't have more automatic machines that did everything for them. He said that people don't break down and they're much cheaper.
Did you get any free software? No, Bill is a skinflint. (Just kidding...)
6. BOOK REVIEW: WINDOWS ON THE WORKPLACE: COMPUTERS, JOBS, AND THE ORGANIZATION OF OFFICE WORK IN THE LATE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Windows on the Workplace: Computers, Jobs, and the Organization of
Office Work in the Late Twentieth Century
Monthly Review Press
Paper $10, Cloth $22
Joan Greenbaum is piqued counterpoising the popular (countermanding) adages: "technology makes workers more productive" and "technology makes more jobs that it replaces" (pg. 8). Allowing the former, she finds evidence supporting the latter "elusive", particularly in office-work. Technological change is difficult to distill from the overriding flux of managerial machinations, including work organization and business restructuring. Rather, the author, following after the thesis of Harry Braverman, looks behind technology to managerial motives. The core of the book is made up of a history demonstrating that technological deployment in the office is held on a tight-rein, made fit preordained conceptions concentrated particularly on cutting labor costs by routinizing work, speeding up processing and generally making ever-fewer do more.
The first half takes a look at how office work has changed since the fifties: From personal secretaries and mainframes to "just-in- time" employees and computer networks; from "The Organization Man" to the virtual organization; and from the office as factory to home as office.
The evolution of programming work -- as the author once was apparently a beast of this kind -- is a minor thread running through the book: How computer work was split into operations and programming, how programming later was in turn divided into system's analyst and 'programmer' and so on. Software, she remarks, was able to take advantage of an on-going process routinizing and breaking-down of work -- making it that much easier to realize in code. Edward Yourdon (of _The Decline and Fall of the American Programmer_ fame) and his cronies, Tom DeMarco and Michael Jackson, come in for special criticism as proponents of a software systems development philosophy that agreed w/ the prevailing managerial methods. They looked at "*information flow* rather than social relationships, *problems* instead of workplace situations, personnel-file *skill descriptions* rather than tacit knowledge, and *rule-based procedures* over on-the-job experience." (pg. 81) The author contends that the techniques taught (for a hefty consulting fee) by Yourdon et al. in the '80s whereby large complex problems are broken down into smaller and smaller "more-solveable" problems, after another popular consultant, Frederick Taylor before them, makes real work invisible.
The book's second half on modern day tendencies -- the "flexible worker", "reengineering", the growth in contingency labor (perhaps as much as 30% of the workforce) -- is the more (self-)interesting section.
"Two economic issues have become strikingly clear. The first deals with the restructuring of the *labor market*... As corporate or long-term company jobs are dismantled, more people are being pushed into highly competitive labor markets for short-term, temporary, or freelance jobs. This has the effect of keeping salaries and wages down. The second issue concerns the restructuring of the *labor process*... More jobs and pieces of jobs have been combined, making work more intensive. And as more office workers need to use computers to get their jobs done, more are expected to have computer skills -- which means that managers don't necessarily have to pay them for these skills." (pg. 29)
The book is written in plain language peppered throughout with photographs, cartoons and sidebars explaining terms and histories. Vignettes of people's stories (reminiscent of Barbara Garson's _Electronic Sweatshop_ which this book mentions) illuminate how office work has changed -- not often for the best but always to flatten craft and increase "productivity" as gauged by some crude measure. The author ends w/ a (couched) criticism of the "ideology of individualism" that keeps workers divided finding need of a collective bargaining whether in some union form or euro-style "works council" as the only way out of the downward spiral of falling wages.
7. CPU BILLBOARD:
REQUEST FOR RSI STUDY INFO
I was wondering: had you ever run into any articles outlining the ratio of the cost of preventing RSI vs. the cost of treating them? I'm trying to convince my worker's comp insurance to buy me some ergonomic equipment (that I even have a prescription for) but that they're refusing to buy. Perhaps if I can cite studies, they may be more convinced of the efficacy. Thanks.
NEW QUARTERLY JOURNAL: SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING ETHICS
Science and Engineering Ethics is a multi-disciplinary quarterly journal launched in January 1995 which is dedicated to exploring ethical issues of direct concern to scientists and engineers covering professional education, research and practice as well as the effects of innovations on the wider society. An international editorial board has been appointed which represents a broad range of expertise. The journal will publish original research papers, reviews, comment pieces, letters, editorials, book reviews and conference reports. It will also publish special issues devoted to single topics of importance; these include Trustworthy Research (in 1995), Computer Ethics (in 1996) and Peer Review (in 1997).
Notes for authors, subscription information and review copies of the journal can be obtained from the publishers, Opragen Publications, P.O. Box 54, Guildford, Surrey GU1 2YF, United Kingdom, Tel/Fax +44 (0)1483 560074.
Manuscripts can be submitted to one of the editors as follows:
Professor Raymond Spier
School of Biological Sciences
University of Surrey
Guildford GU2 5XH
Tel/fax +44 1483 259 265
Dr. Stephanie J. Bird
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
Tel (617) 253 8024
Fax (617) 253 1986.
THE MEGA JOB BOARD
If you are in the job market, check out:
It's a "meta-list of on-line job-search resources and services."
Also, six major newspapers have combined their help wanted listings in a CareerPath database available on the World Wide Web. You can check out ads from The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, San Jose Mercury News and The Washington Post, by various job categories (including "computer", "electronic", "engineering", "science", etc., using keywords. Tune your web browser to http://www.careerpath.com/.
NOW AVAILABLE: CALIFORNIA WORKERS RIGHTS, SECOND EDITION
The job rights of practically every worker in the state of California, along with tips on whom to contact if those rights are violated, are clearly spelled out in a handy new edition of the popular book, CALIFORNIA WORKERS RIGHTS: A Manual of Job Rights, Protections, and Remedies. This eagerly-awaited second edition, published by the Center for Labor Research and Education at the Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley, is a 250 page, easy-to-use guide to the special and distinctive rights of California employees.
California Workers Rights covers hiring, job-related privacy rights, pay, benefits, safety and health in the workplace, workers' compensation, organizing rights and protections, blacklisting and investigations, "whistleblowing," discharges and harassment, and personnel records. The manual does not discuss federal government workers or independent contractors, although the authors caution that some workers mistakenly consider themselves independent contractors when in fact they fit the legal definition of employees and thus have employees' rights. Many workers have additional rights because of collective bargaining agreements, but this book clearly sets out the "floor" of protection for unionized and non-unionized workers.
California Workers Rights can be ordered from:
The Center for Labor Research and Education
2521 Channing Way #5555
Berkeley, CA 94720-5555.
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9. LABOR BYTES: MISCELLANEA
OUTSOURCING: _Economic Notes_ reports that outsourcing is a growing fad. "When bewildered computer users call for help with Windows 95, they won't reach a Microsoft employee. The software giant has turned over operation of its help desk to an outside firm."
"Such outsourcing is 'the single hottest part of the restructuring that is going on in corporate America,' management consultant James Emshoff told _Staffing Industry Report_ (8/28). Microsoft has lots of company among blue chip organizations: GM, IBM, UPS and Sears among others have all turned over pieces of their operations to others, typically cutting labor costs and jobs in the process."
The article notes that "IBM hired temp company Norrell to manage secretarial pools, process office and travel expenses and handle calls for its marketing and field support divisions in 1992. At first, IBM required Norrell to hire former IBM staffers and pay them the same wages and benefits they got at Big Blue. Norrell accomplishes the contracted tasks with 3,000 workers, 750 fewer than did the same work as IBM employees. And last year, IBM started allowing Norrell to lower its pay scales: IBM pays the average executive secretary $42,000 plus $14,000 in benefits, compared with Norrell's average of $32,000 plus $9,000 in fringes (_Forbes_, 9/11)."
JUSTICE FOR JANITORS TARGETS HEWLETT-PACKARD: In mid-November, the Justice for Janitors campaign launched an organizing drive targeting HEWLETT-PACKARD, as well as a company that contracts with HP for janitor services at several northern California locations. A rally and press conference outside HP's corporate headquarters Nov. 15, sponsored by a community and religious coalition called Cleaning up Silicon Valley, brought together about 100 janitors and their supporters. Union leaders said they were targeting HP because the firm is the biggest client of the janitor services firm, Somers Building Maintenance. The action came after several labor-community delegations had failed to convince HP to press its subcontractor to stop labor practices the union calls intimidating and illegal. (_People's Weekly World_, 12/2/95). H-P, according to a fact sheet that it issued, says that it is a neutral party in the dispute, and it reserves "the right to select union or nonunion contractors as we see fit." For more on why H-P might not be a neutral party, see CPU.004 and CPU.006 -- the contracting companies benefit from the low-bid system, while saying what happens at the companies they contract with are not their problems. Somers is trying to break J for J's organizing effort, by setting up its own company union, according to Roxanne Rivera, an organizer with the Service Employees Union.
NAFTA CUTS BOTH WAYS: According to a PR Newswire item (11/9/95), under the NAFTA labor agreement, the Union of Telephone Workers of the Republic of Mexico (STRM) has filed a complaint with the Mexican government body overseeing NAFTA compliance, citing violations of U.S. workers' rights at SPRINT's LA CONEXION FAMILIAR (see CPU.011 and CPU.012) facility near San Francisco. In July 1994, 235 workers lost their jobs when Sprint shut down their plant one week prior to a union election. "Ministerial consultations are being planned to review charges that Sprint shut down the plant in an attempt to deny workers their right to organize an union."
Meanwhile, SONY workers from Mexico and attorneys with the Mexican Association of Democratic Lawyers charged that the Mexican government and Sony have conspired to violate workers' rights at Sony manufacturing facilities in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Workers there have tried to form an independent union, separate from the "official" Confederation of Mexican Workers, only to be fired for their efforts. The firings are possible because the official unions say the independents are not official union members. The protests are seeking to reinstate the fired workers.
JOBS, JOBS, JOBS: THINKING MACHINES, in Chapter 11, is reorganizing. One of the pioneers in parallel processing computers, the Boston-area company is now down to 180 employees, from its high of 425 a few years ago. (_WSJ_, 11/9/95). IBM, APPLE and HEWLETT-PACKARD have thrown in the towel on TALIGENT, their software joint venture. About 200 of the 350 workers there will be canned. A few weeks earlier, the KALEIDA multimedia operation was shut down, and its 79 workers told they will be considered for employment by Apple or IBM. (_WSJ_, 12/1/95, New York Times, 11/18/95). According to the SF EXAMINER (11/7/95), as many as 500 jobs may be cut from APPLE to boost shrinking profits, probably by year-end. ADOBE is eliminating 150 administrative and sales jobs -- about 7 percent of its workforce -- following its acquisition of FRAME TECHNOLOGY (_SFE_, 10/31/95)
In the telecom industry: GTE continues its planned cuts, eliminating 4,700 jobs by the end of this year. (_WSJ_, 10.17/95) SPRINT announced recently that it plans to eliminate 1,600 jobs over the next 2 years. The job cuts in the local telecommunications division represent about 6% of the unit's work force. And AT&T announced that it was offering half of its supervisory workforce -- 77,800 managers -- financial incentives to leave the company by January 13. The buyout comes less than 2 months after the company announced it would split into 3 separate parts -- telecommunications, telecom equipment, and its ailing computer branch. AT&T currently has 302,000 workers. According to the _WSJ_ (11/15/95), "insiders report that some workers are finding it hard to cope under the stress of the breakup announcement and the coming cutback. 'People are scared that they may not have a job after January,' said one manger recently." In January, the company will decide who stays with the company and the spinoffs. About 130,000 jobs are up for review. The computer unit has already announced cuts of 8,500. One analyst said that for every 10K employees eliminated, AT&T could add 15 cents per share to earnings. According to the _NYT_ (11/15/95), AT&T intends to "trade in" current employees for new ones in an attempt to upgrade a the company's skills. A recent American Management Association survey of companies showed that many companies were laying off employees and hiring at the same time.
Jan Timmer is stepping down from the head spot of PHILLIPS ELECTRONICS next year -- he oversaw massive job cuts at the Dutch electronics giant, where some 60,000 jobs (out of a workforce of 310,000) were eliminated. When he set up a Europe-wide satellite TV debate for employees on how better to serve their customers, many staff were more interested in knowing how safe their jobs were. According to Reuters (12/4/95), when asked by one employee if they were all expected to become Japanese-style workaholics, Timmer replied, "As far as I am concerned (being) workaholics is enough."
UNISYS, which is splitting into three units, is expected to go through another round of job cuts in an effort to cut expenses by $400 million. The companies revenue per employee is "only" $160,000, compared to IBM's $300,000. The company did not say how many of the remaining 35,000 workers at the company would be dumped. (_WSJ_, 10/9/95) INTELLICORP, maker of corporate network software, is laying off almost one-third of its approximately 115 workers. (_WSJ_, 10/16/95) INTELLIGENT ELECTRONICS, a reseller of computer equipment based in Pennsylvania, is getting rid of some 300 workers in a cost-cutting move (_WSJ_, 9/14/95)
We received this report: Not quite "man-bites-dog", but at the end of June, GE INFORMATION SERVICES shut down it's Dublin, Ireland, development center. The center was opened in 1986 with a subsidy from the Irish government, and a large group of bright, fresh-out- of-computer-science-class, programmers. The Dublin center was intended to replace programming work that was usually done at geographically dispersed locations -- close to customers -- by more experienced, and better paid, GE programmers. Unfortunately, Dublin completed very few projects successfully. The shutdown notice mentions Dublin's geographic isolation; meanwhile, the company has been trying to shift work to the TATA group, in India.
INTEL is building a chip plant in Shanghai which will employ 900 workers; the announcement coincided with a memorandum of understanding with Shanghai for the city's officials to "preferentially recommend Intel Pentium processors" as the architecture for personal computers in a variety of projects and future developments. (Dow Jones News, 11/29/95). Elsewhere in Asia, IBM is moving half of its LCD panel assembly operations from Japan to the Philippines in a cost-cutting move. (DJN, 12/06/95). AMD is building a chip plant in Germany; the $1.9 billion factory will employ 1,400 workers (the capital/job ratio is going up -- the Intel plant in New Mexico was reported to cost $1 billion, with 1,000 jobs.) (_NYT_, 12/16/95).
ARE THE HALCYON DAYS OVER? While German engineers have had the backing of the powerful Metalworkers Union there, many companies that fall under the industry-wide contract have been complaining about their recent contract. With cheap labor available now in the former socialist economies, new labor-replacing technologies making inroads, and stiffer competition from lower-wage, less- organized economies (including the U.S.), the German companies seem to be gaining ground against their workers. Companies are finding ways to evade the contract, through separate side agreements or by just ignoring contract provisions. Still, going it alone has its dangers -- when Digital Equipment tried to negotiate its own agreement last year, it faced strikes and ended up paying its workforce more than the nationally negotiated wage. (_WSJ_, 10/17/95) Germany is held up as a model of high-wage, high-growth economy, but these trends suggest that global economic pressures are affecting fortress Europe. Of course, events in France show that it's not over till it's over...
Still, there's some money to be made in the industry. Of course, there's Bill Gates at the top of the heap, but some of the other veeps at MSFT are not doing so badly either -- the _NYT Magazine_ (11/5/95) noted that Steve Ballmer was worth a few billion himself. And then there's Jim Clark of NETSCAPE turning billionaire, and Steve Jobs earning a nice $1 billion from his investment in PIXAR.
10. EOF: TOP THIS!
[The following appeared on the job-tech list recently... jd]
In less than a year, my son will be one year old. By that time I would like to have found interesting work which offers the opportunity of professional challenges and growth. I decided to start the job search as soon as I could in order to make more contacts and to become better qualified for potential employment. To achieve maximum qualifications for Your firm, I agree to work FOR FREE for one year as "remote" employee of Your firm and connect with You by means of e-mail. Also, I will master the field in which You direct me.
I am searching for employment as a programmer. I have 3 years development and system administration experience in (MS-PC- Novell)-DOS, Windows, Assembler, C, C++, Pascal, Clipper,Foxpro, SQL, Novell, RS232, modems, Internet, FIDO, NBUmail, UUCP, IBM-PC, Graphic. My favourite programming language is C++. I am most interested in networking and computer graphics.
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