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IBM United States

IBM Offers to Send Laid-Off Staff to Other Countries 493

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the employees-aren't-people dept.
TheAmit writes to tell us that many recently laid off IBM employees have been offered jobs if they will only move somewhere it is cheap to employ them. IBM's new Project Match program offers some financial assistance for moving and immigration help for visas. "However, the move has not gone well with the IBM staff union. Slamming the offer, a union spokesperson said that not only were jobs being shipped overseas, but Big Blue was trying to export the people for peanuts too. He added that at a time of rising unemployment IBM should be looking to keep both the work and the workers in the United States. "
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IBM Offers to Send Laid-Off Staff to Other Countries

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:26PM (#26758675)

    on low pay and see how long that idea will last.

    • by Toe, The (545098) on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:35PM (#26758791)
      That really is a brilliant idea. If they want to show leadership, they should do just that. See the chart at the bottom of this page [ibm.com]. What does $5.8 million come out to in Indian wages? (Sure that. a termination package, but I think it gives a hint.)
      • by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Friday February 06, 2009 @06:05PM (#26759157)

        If they wanted to avoid criminal charges for treason, they should be forced to do that. Unfortunately it's not defined that way in the US, although perhaps "aid and comfort to our enemies" might entail employing them and moving our industrial base to their countries.

        This country is an expensive place to live and work because, as a democratic society, we've voted ourselves a lot of cruft. Some of it is good, some of it is excess. There is a price however, and the price is wages.

        Corporations want to circumvent this cruft by simply moving away from the problem (while simultaneously leeching the benefits of it, by maintaining themselves in the US). They leech on our society, using it to protect them while they grow their businesses, taking full advantage of what the country has to offer...while simultaneously selling it out. If it isn't stopped, we'll bleed dry.

        Hopefully people will look at this statement from IBM and say "I don't want to live in China, there's no bill of rights, their legal system doesn't work well [for us], there is no personal freedom, and it's barely a democracy."
        s/China/wherever/g

        Then ask why it is that IBM, who is based in Armonk, NY, should be able to make a profit by undermining our democracy - bypassing laws our government created to benefit us, because they don't really want to pay for it.

        I may agree with them that there's a lot of inefficiencies and excess in some of the things that drive our wages up. But the proper solution is to work within the system, not erode it.

        • by Daimanta (1140543) on Friday February 06, 2009 @06:49PM (#26759675) Journal

          "I don't want to live in China, there's no bill of rights, their legal system doesn't work well [for us], there is no personal freedom, and it's barely a democracy." ... but we sure do LOVE the shit they are selling us!

          • by DigiShaman (671371) on Friday February 06, 2009 @08:09PM (#26760371) Homepage

            Actually, I thought about moving to Shanghai.

            While you have zero political freedoms, you have a shitload of personal ones. For example, you can drink a beer and walk the street. Light of some fireworks 3am at night 24/7. Solicit your services or wares at any public place. Build a home without fucking deed restrictions...etc

            Basically, 180 degrees ass-backward from the US.

            • by magarity (164372) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:25PM (#26761329)

              I'm living in China because my spouse's company transferred us here. I applied to IBM here and they wanted to hire me and send me back to the USA at the Chinese pay level as an intracompany transfer which they use to avoid the H1-B process (although as a US citizen I didn't even need to apply for the intracompany visa). The pay was a bit under $800/mo for database technical consulting work that's in the $120+ range in the US for the consultant, nevermind what the company charges. Obviously I turned that down, but I have to wonder how many Chinese get sent to the US with this kind of pay thanks to the intracompany visa scheme. The interviewing manager said they "do it all the time".

              BTW - the firecrackers 24/7 is only for 2 weeks around Chinese New Year. They go back to being illegal except for permits tomorrow at midnight. And you might build a house without restrictions but you can't own the land. The government at any time can move you out and take it back for some odd reason - and while eminent domain abuse happens in the US, at least there you get paid fire sale rates for your house before they knock it down.

            • by Quinapalus (1335067) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @12:39AM (#26761915)

              There are quite a few states without open container laws. Ditto for fireworks.

              As for building your home without deed restrictions, that will depend on the place you are living. I imagine that rural Mississippi has many less requirements than say, San Francisco.

              Actually, Mississippi meets all of your requirements. No open container law, no prohibition of fireworks, and few deed restrictions. In addition, you can vote, and your property can't be taken away without compensation.

              Also, in Mississippi, you can do other stuff that you cannot in China, like own an handgun. Or vote.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by tristanreid (182859)

          First of all, it's not treasonous to employ people from another country. That's just silly. Most of the countries in the world are not our enemies, particularly the ones where we do business. We have this thing called a trade embargo, you might have heard of it. We've been using it against Cuba for longer than I've been alive. No company that I know of has advocated that their employees move to Cuba, FYI.

          Secondly, the reason this is an expensive place to live and work is not because we are a democracy, or

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by phallstrom (69697)

            We net benefit when companies run themselves as efficiently as possible.

            Maybe. Maybe not. Henry Ford made the argument that he needed to pay his employees enough that they could afford to buy a Ford automobile. He probably would have been more efficient paying them less... right up till he went out of business because no one could afford his product. So there is a line somewhere that a company shouldn't cross if they want to stay in business long term. Although I suppose in this case once the US stops consuming because it can't afford it, those companies will just move on

          • by Savantissimo (893682) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @12:57AM (#26761969) Journal

            The Real Owners [youtube.com] George Carlin:

            There's a reason education sucks, and it's the same reason it'll never ever be fixed - it's never going to get any better, don't look for it, be happy with what you got, because the owners of this country don't want that. I'm talking about the real owners now. The wealthy big business interests that control things, and makes all the important decisions.

            The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they're an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners.

            They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They've long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They've got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies, so that they control just about all of the news and information you hear.

            They've got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying - lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else.

            But I'll tell you what they don't want. They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that. That doesn't help them. That's against their interests. They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they're getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago.

            You know what they want? Obedient workers - people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it.

            And, now, they're coming for your Social Security. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it.

            They'll get it all, sooner or later, because they own this fucking place. It's a big club, and you ain't in it. You and I are not in the big club.

            By the way, it's the same big club they use to beat you over the head with all day long when they tell you what to believe. All day long beating you over the head with their media telling you what to believe, what to think, and what to buy.

            The table has tilted folks. The game is rigged, and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. Good honest hard working people: white collar, blue collar it doesn't matter what color shirt you have on. Good honest hard working people continue (these are people of modest being) - continue to elect these rich douchebags who
            don't give a fuck about you. They don't give a fuck about you - they don't give a fuck about you.

            They don't care about you at all - at all - at all,
            and nobody seems to notice.
            Nobody seems to care.

            That's what the owners counted on. The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white, and blue dick that's being jammed up their assholes everyday, because the owners of this country know the truth.

            It's called the American Dream cause you have to be asleep to believe it.

            -George Carlin

            (Listen to him [youtube.com] - the power of the words heard is so greater than read, it's the difference between seeing a punch and taking one.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by postmortem (906676)

          You are absolutely right. Some of things are fault of us, citizens - for not making laws that protect a worker or citizen from corporate abuse.

          An example is a company who makes record profits and lays off people, just to please analysts and maintain stock price.

          In "at will" states worker have almost 0 rights. The illusion of rights comes from that workers have unique talent or skills that are not easily replaceable in a high numbers. So company "plays nice" just to keep the workers because they are irreplac

        • by mochan_s (536939) on Friday February 06, 2009 @09:59PM (#26761191)

          If they wanted to avoid criminal charges for treason, they should be forced to do that. Unfortunately it's not defined that way in the US, although perhaps "aid and comfort to our enemies" might entail employing them and moving our industrial base to their countries.

          Great thinking. Why don't we create a blanket law when you can charge anyone, any company on vague reasons as "aiding and comforting enemies"?

          This country is an expensive place to live and work because, as a democratic society, we've voted ourselves a lot of cruft. Some of it is good, some of it is excess. There is a price however, and the price is wages.

          It's "democracy" now that has to do with the wage differentials. A company will hire someone if the wage they pay is less than the benefit to the company. Here it was the case since the our engineers were the best and the workers the most productive. When did that change?

          Corporations want to circumvent this cruft by simply moving away from the problem (while simultaneously leeching the benefits of it, by maintaining themselves in the US). They leech on our society, using it to protect them while they grow their businesses, taking full advantage of what the country has to offer...while simultaneously selling it out. If it isn't stopped, we'll bleed dry.

          Yes, vague patriotic remarks, booming us and them rhetoric and "bleed us dry", a physical pain equivalent. Don't let realism get in the way of all that.

          Then ask why it is that IBM, who is based in Armonk, NY, should be able to make a profit by undermining our democracy - bypassing laws our government created to benefit us, because they don't really want to pay for it.

          IBM should look to be as profitable as possible, as innovative as possible and as much a market leader as possible without breaking any laws. If the government wants to be protectionist and say no import of labor for production of IBM products, I'm sure they'll agree. It might mean that foreign companies will then be able to produce the items that IBM produces for a fraction of the price and kill IBM. (*example the auto industry and the UAW*)

          See this is part of the problem with people on slashdot. We want protectionism when it comes to our jobs. We want to be paid highly and all foreign competition that would potentially lower wages should be taken off the market. But, we don't care when all the factories move overseas where we can potentially buy a dozen computer off each paycheck, or buy all sorts of "toys". We want protectionism in what we produce and free market in what we consume.

          I may agree with them that there's a lot of inefficiencies and excess in some of the things that drive our wages up. But the proper solution is to work within the system, not erode it.

          I say let the wages be worth it. If a third world person in a third world university with the crippling infrastructure and education system can get a good enough education to do the same work at the same quality, then it's kinda silly to ask the government to protect my job. I'd like to think that I'm worth every penny that I'm being paid.

          I know people are scared and I felt scared a lot. But, I just feel we have to be worth it and IBM will have no problems hiring Americans since they're worth every penny they pay. We have first worth infrastructure - fast internet, great libraries, great pool of engineers, scientists etc and to be threatened by a foreigner who has to study in an under-funded university with inept professors and out of date hardware and knowledge is crazy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by manekineko2 (1052430)

      Insightful?

      I'm sick and tired of all this populist bull that is everywhere these days. Populism has a point, but the variety that seems popular right now is just empty rabble rousing based not on logic but emotion. Yes, it's all the CEO's fault, those fat cats are the ones who put us in this situation.

      What percent of the costs of IBM do you suppose are general labor, and what percent is upper management?

      IBM is a publicly traded company. If you could gather enough people who actually put their money where

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 06, 2009 @08:12PM (#26760399)

        I'm sick and tired of all this populist bull that is everywhere these days. Populism has a point, but the variety that seems popular right now is just empty rabble rousing based not on logic but emotion. Yes, it's all the CEO's fault, those fat cats are the ones who put us in this situation.

        High-flying CxOs have been insisting for *years* that their insultingly high remuneration packages are justified because they are the ones responsible for success.

        Well, that means they must also be responsible for the failures. They are reaping what they have sown. Given that the average person could live in luxury for the rest of their lives on the annual income of some of these people and, well, you're not going to see a whole lot of sympathy from the common man.

        Fuck 'em. They were the ones running the show. How are the bad times not their fault, if the good times were supposedly their achievement ?

      • Yet another instance of the prisoner's dilemma.. We're each better off individually to buy the cheapest thing possible regardless of where it comes from, but as a society we'd be better off to support only businesses that contribute back to our economy (i.e. American businesses).

        Protectionism, in the forms of high taxes and tariffs, has given many European countries a very comfortable lifestyle. Why not the same for us?
      • by timrichardson (450256) * on Friday February 06, 2009 @11:40PM (#26761709) Homepage

        The fact is that for 20 years the US has been bringing the smartest and brightest internationals to work in the US: other governments paid for the first 12 to 15 year of educating these people, but in a global economy, they go to where they add the most value. I bet a lot of IBM's US patents have significant contributions from foreigners who live in the US. The same economic forces that attract PhDs means lower skilled jobs get exported. We can all except that manually harvesting wheat or hand-making horse shoes are low-skilled jobs that long ago got swept aside by technology. Perhaps it's hard to accept that this process never stopped happening.

        Sorry for any typos, but the typing pool that I normally use to take my dictation seems to have disappeared in the past 50 years.

    • HAHAHAHA (Score:3, Interesting)

      by linhares (1241614)
      I wish some /.ers would just quit whining.

      He added that at a time of rising unemployment IBM should be looking to keep both the work and the workers in the United States.

      This is the most basic law of capitalism. America is about creative destruction at its best. [wikipedia.org] For all this daydreaming, if a job can be done elsewhere for a lower cost, it will in the long run [wikipedia.org]. By IBM or someone else like with weird "Tata" names.

      IBM must assure its survival; not keep inefficient jobs. If Lehman can die, so can IBM.

      The USA has the best universities and the best talent in the globe--that's where IBM (and all others must concentrate, the hardest,

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by plasmacutter (901737)

        Someone failed multi-round game theory.

        Structural unemployment ceases to be productive when sectors get shipped overseas faster than people can recover their training costs. If politicians dont put a stop to offshoring, the US will turn into an impoverished, third world backwater.

        The USA has the best universities and the best talent in the globe--that's where IBM (and all others must concentrate, the hardest, most value-added tasks).

        Sorry, but only above average people can accomplish the "hardest, most value-added tasks", and the kicker is no company wants to TRAIN them. Today's grads are learning it the hard way:

        "Im interested in an entry level position"
        "do

  • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:27PM (#26758679)

    So all those laid-off engineers will get a job in sales? [dilbert.com]

    Good job I don't get to place purchase orders where I work!

  • I can't believe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Presto Vivace (882157) <marshall@prestovivace.biz> on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:28PM (#26758689) Homepage Journal
    that this is going to go well for IBM. Management is openly admitting that their present American workforce has the skills they need; it is just a question of cheap labor. This is not the time for a company to be picking this sort of fight.
    • by cfulmer (3166) on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:34PM (#26758769) Homepage Journal

      You're right. They should just lay them off and hire new people overseas. That's a much better way to treat them.

      • by Lulfas (1140109) on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:36PM (#26758805)
        They are doing the same thing, in effect. They already laid them off, now they want to move them somewhere else so they can get the joys of paying them 5 dollars an hour but not have to figure out what Ishmael is saying.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          To be fair countries that have lower wages also have lower costs of living so it balances out. This is why Polish people can come to the UK and live and send what would be considered a decent amount of cash back home.

          I would consider taking on the offer. Keeping a job with a view of coming back when the economy is better and getting to see the world isn't a bad deal.

          Regarding the comment above saying this proves that Americans have the skills but IBM is just being cheap. That could be but companies do
          • by dangitman (862676) on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:55PM (#26759031)

            To be fair countries that have lower wages also have lower costs of living so it balances out.

            No it doesn't. When you come back home, you'll be totally broke, because the money you earned overseas is almost worthless.

            This is why Polish people can come to the UK and live and send what would be considered a decent amount of cash back home.

            You've just described the opposite situation! Of course it makes sense for people from poorer countries to go work in wealthier countries. But that's not the situation being discussed here.

            • by enjerth (892959)

              This is why Polish people can come to the UK and live and send what would be considered a decent amount of cash back home.

              You've just described the opposite situation! Of course it makes sense for people from poorer countries to go work in wealthier countries. But that's not the situation being discussed here.

              I believe the point was that after paying living expenses here they can send a modest amount of money overseas, where it's comparatively a boatload of money, to support their family.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              So you move you and your family to an upper class neighborhood in India where they live almost at the same standard of living they do now. In some ways it'll be better, in some ways it'll be worse, but you'll be costing IBM half as much while earning twice as much compared to the cost of living. It's not a tempting offer for me, but at least they're getting the chance to keep their job and try living somewhere else for a while.
          • by geekoid (135745)

            It doesn't track one for one.
            These countries don't have a middle class.
            To live the same lifestyle, you will need to still make more then the typical local.
            Now, if tyou want to move to a 3rd world country and live like crap, then sure.

      • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:39PM (#26758849) Homepage Journal

        which they would if they could get equivalent work;which they can't.

        Typically outsourcing works becasue you can get a many to one ration and still save money.

        I executives I know that have done, or looking at doings outsourcing talk about being able to get 5 engineers for every single American engineers and save money.
        Management needs to be there, and it needs to break the project done into several smaller projects to take advantage of i. Even after that it's still half the cost.

        Personally, Corporations tax rate should be based on the percentage of people that work out of country.
        100% of your work force in the US? then no corporate taxes. Base it upon work, not hired employees.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by novakyu (636495)

          Personally, Corporations tax rate should be based on the percentage of people that work out of country.
          100% of your work force in the US? then no corporate taxes. Base it upon work, not hired employees.

          So, on that scale, a foreign company doing business in U.S. will pay outrageous taxes because most of their employees are in their home country, i.e. not the U.S.? Geez, that's going to bring investors who are desperately needed especially during an economic downturn.

          I don't think you thought your plan through—just like most plans that involves getting the government to meddle in private businesses.

        • I think it's the right line of thinking, but putting on my evil corporate leadership that I'd say: contract work. No one in my company would be located outside of the US, but some people who aren't in my company will do all the work for me.

          In essence corporate taxes are being paid through employee wages and benefits. But it doesn't quite cover all the cost advantages. In one company I worked, the employer considered my liability to be roughly 2.5x my salary. This included my benefits, the building I worked

        • by dhall (1252)

          > Personally, Corporations tax rate should be based on the percentage of people that work out of country. 100% of your work force in the US? then no corporate taxes. Base it upon work, not hired employees.

          Strangely a simple but elegant solution that is catchy enough that even a politician might consider it. What IBM is doing is effectively negating any argument they would have in hiring ANY H1-B's. They obviously have the qualified workers, they don't don't want to pay them.

          This corporate tax gimmick i

      • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:45PM (#26758897) Journal

        >>>They should just lay them off and hire new people overseas. That's a much better way to treat them.

        I hope that was sarcasm. Speaking for myself, I'd rather accept a job overseas than be sitting on my ass (like I'm doing now). You can always continue the U.S. job search from India, and then when you find a U.S. job (if you find a U.S. job), you quit India and come back home.

        • by vux984 (928602) on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:52PM (#26758987)

          I hope that was sarcasm. Speaking for myself, I'd rather accept a job overseas than be sitting on my ass (like I'm doing now). You can always continue the U.S. job search from India, and then when you find a U.S. job (if you find a U.S. job), you quit India and come back home.

          Sure if your single and you rent and your life fits in a cardboard box, go for it, its little more than a plane ticket. Try doing it when you own a home and have a family. The financial costs alone, never mind the stress...

          Last time I moved it cost over 20k. (And that's not with an expensive moving company... that's just all the hits from real estate fees, lawyers fees, inspections, etc ad nauseum.) To move with a moving company, probably would have been closer to 40k+. Do that twice in a couple years... you'd probably be further ahead not moving and spending the time unemployed.

    • Isn't this really about H1Bs and such?

      It's a sensational headline, that's for sure, but for the vast vast majority of Americans in the work force, with families and roots in America it's not even remotely an option. If you're here in the US on an H1B then it's a different kind of issue.

      Also, FWIW, if it really is labor costs alone (and it probably is,) this is about as perfect a time as there is. When you have GM going to congress begging for money while their laborers are making near $80k a year w

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dpilot (134227)

      >This is not the time for a company to be picking this sort of fight.

      Naah, it's exactly the right time to be picking such a fight.

      When the job market is tight, pretty much any employer can lay off 10% of the workforce, and tell the rest to work harder. If you don't like it, leave.

      Lather, rinse, repeat.

      Eventually things will break, because while you can do more with less to some extent, keep cutting and eventually things WILL break. The workers left haven't the resources to do it right, they're cutting

  • Back Home (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CambodiaSam (1153015) on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:28PM (#26758691)
    What if that happens to be your home?

    I know IBM must employ a lot of workers on visas. Are they targeting that group?
    • Re:Back Home (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:40PM (#26758861)

      Other companies have done it in the past. Told all their visa employees that they could either stay and risk getting laid off, or go back to their home countries for a fraction of the wages.

      You know, that went well with everyone but the visa employees.

      Americans felt that 'go home you towelhead' feeling swell up within them and were happy, partly because they were not the ones being touched. Managers felt happy because they could lay someone off this way and show some savings they were required to.

      Govt had gotten the full taxes (including social security and medicare ) out of them, so the system was happy. They were liable for lease breakage fees, so the apartment owners were happy. They had bought stuff here and spent their salary here so the shops were happy.

      The visa employees did not have any rights or votes, so no one really cared about them or their plans or inconveniences. Afterall, how dare they live any more comfortably than out of a suitcase? Who told them to lease an apartment? Who told them to buy a car? a home?

      all the comany is required to do is buy them a return ticket on the slaveship (or return flight).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CAIMLAS (41445)

        Correct me if i'm wrong, but I would assume that most visa workers are there with the preconception of it being a temporary stay - you know, because visas are temporary. The people I know who have taken the route of living overseas on visas know this, and act accordingly: they live for the moment, enjoy the culture, and sack away as much money as they can.

        Anyone who is in a foreign country, buying property and possessions for personal consumption, is a fool to expect to not have to leave it all behind: your

  • Obviously (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:28PM (#26758697)

    Americans workers would like to work in America for American wages. However, are they also willing to pay the prices of American made products?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by drsmithy (35869)

      Americans workers would like to work in America for American wages. However, are they also willing to pay the prices of American made products?

      If certain employees' salaries weren't so outrageously high, would American-made products really be that much more expensive ?

      • by dangitman (862676)

        If certain employees' salaries weren't so outrageously high, would American-made products really be that much more expensive ?

        Yes, they would. And who are these "certain employees"?

        • by novakyu (636495)

          If certain employees' salaries weren't so outrageously high, would American-made products really be that much more expensive ?

          Yes, they would. And who are these "certain employees"?

          Unionized workers, of course. Haven't you heard about the troubles of American auto makers?

          People like to fuss over high salaries of executives, but for most companies (I'm not sure if I'm willing to speak for investment bankers that decided spend much of the government bailout money on their executives), their salary is a very tiny fraction of the total gross revenue or the salaries of all those unionized workers (especially those ones who can't be fired because of the union, even though they contribute no

          • Re:Obviously (Score:5, Insightful)

            by dangitman (862676) on Friday February 06, 2009 @07:05PM (#26759799)

            Unionized workers, of course. Haven't you heard about the troubles of American auto makers?

            Yes, I have, and it has nothing to do with unionized workers. It has to do with mismanagement and less than compelling products.

            As for your original question, the cost of American-produced goods involves many more factors than the cost of labor. So, even if you "got rid of the unions", American goods would still cost significantly more than Chinese.

            Here's a thought: we get rid of the union

            So, you propose to eliminate freedom of assembly?

            and let's see if America looks like a good place to build a productive workforce.

            It would certainly look a lot more like fascism.

      • by mad_clown (207335)

        Are you suggesting that CEO wages (rather than massive legacy costs associated with union agreements) are the chief driving force behind the high price of American goods?

      • by westlake (615356)
        If certain employees' salaries weren't so outrageously high, would American-made products really be that much more expensive ?

        and how many of the Japanese cars the geek so admires were built in the low-wage states of the Mississippi Delta?

    • Re:Obviously (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Frosty Piss (770223) on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:48PM (#26758933)

      However, are they also willing to pay the prices of American made products?

      Americans have grown to feel entitled to a certain standard of living that is disproportionate event to other Western nations. This is because we've been buying on credit. What Americans need to do is live with fewer toys. And, perhaps if we pay the price for American made toys, we will appreciate them more.

      • by esocid (946821)
        If I had to grow up playing with this stuff [toysmadeinamerica.com] I'd have grown up craving anything not made in the US. GI Joes (Hasbro - made in China), Playmobile (Germany), Battle Beasts (Japan), Erector set (France) was the stuff I grew up with, with occasional wooden stuff made in the US. Hell I had a huge box full of wooden blocks used as toys. Parents aren't going to buy their kids something they won't use, simply because it was made in the USA
        Cheap plastics from overseas and electronics are the toys of choice today.

        $$
        • by esocid (946821)
          Can't even believe I left off Lego (Denmark). I think the point I was trying to make was why shy away from toys that promote creativity and thinking simply because they aren't made in the US?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nschubach (922175)

      As recent events tend to point out... no. People want cheaper stuff and that comes from overseas.

      I know it's a bit off-topic but I feel that our own government is making this worse as time goes on. The only way to reverse the loss of jobs is to start cutting government agencies and military spending while giving tax breaks to all Americans. If I wasn't getting nearly 40% of my income taken out each month, I'd gladly take a 30% pay cut which would be more like a 10% pay raise in cost of living adjustment.

      • Re:Obviously (Score:5, Insightful)

        by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:57PM (#26759061)

        The US has the lowest effective tax rates in the world among developed countries, mostly because of the lack of nationalized health care.

        The reason wages are higher in the US vs. other countries has much more to do with worker productivity and demand for labor than anything to do with tax rates.

    • Re:Obviously (Score:5, Insightful)

      by urbanriot (924981) on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:51PM (#26758973)
      You deserve the 5 points of insightful, you hit the nail right on the head. As a computer reseller, people don't so much care about quality or the fact that we assemble our computers here in Canada... they want whatever's cheapest and they'll morally validate their decisions however they can.
      • why does that instinct require moral validation?

        that is an instinct which has driven the entire history of human innovation and technological progress

        the guy who goes "say, i could make a mechanical loom powered by a waterwheel, and sell yarn at $1/ yard rather than $10/ yard" does you a service. of course, he also puts 5 human yarnspinners out of work

        but based on some sort of "moral validation" argument, we should not pursue technological progress. we shouldn't, in order to continue employing the human yarnspinners, and to continue paying $10/ yard for yarn

        no, sorry, not going to happen

        this "moral validation" argument is hollow, and is really just an argument for luddites, and an absurd one at that, since we are both sitting at computer keyboards, arguing over fiber optic cables: innovations that would otherwise be impossible, innovations that, ironically, some of which happened at ibm

        innovation is something that flows directly from human laziness and cheapness. we want more for less. and our minds are such that we can actually dream up ways to make that happen with novel organizational structures, energy sources, and bizarre new materials

        so i say, fuck "moral validation", fuck the yarnspinners, and fuck the out of work american ibmers

        progress isn't all fun and games, and is often cruel. but one of those laid off ibmers will innovate the next big thing that will employ the children of those laid off ibmers, and none of them will question the principle of creative destruction, and they will look at their father's mode of employment the way we look at blacksmithing jobs and chimney sweeping

        • by lgw (121541) on Friday February 06, 2009 @07:29PM (#26760009) Journal

          If those out of work yarnspinners find a job payng half as much, but that number of dollars buys 10 times as much stuff because everything is now made in factories instead of being handcrafted, everyone wins. That's pretty much what happened, and a fundanmental flaw in Marx's reasoning about capitalism (he totally missed the fact that workers wages don't need to rise to improve their standard of living).

          Technology trumps everything, standard-of-living wise. It's the reason that 99% of Americans have a higher standard of living than 95% of everyone who has ever lived. Now we Americans just need to stop buying toys on credit, suffer through the pain of that adjustment, and we'll be back on track.

          The current pains are the result of finally having to pay for what we've been consuming. Nothing more. I went through that pain personally about 10 years ago, when I was nearly a year's pay in high-interest debt before I had my moment of clarity. My (now debt-free) standard of livig is higher now than then - just a temporary hardship, nothing fundamental.

    • by DrLang21 (900992)
      If quality American made products hadn't become such a niche market that they have become difficult to find and outrageously expensive, I would be more than happy to buy them more regularly. This is why free trade is fake. Tariffs are in my opinion a necessary evil and do good things when administered with care (an unpopular position for me to take as a Libertarian). We can't possibly compete in our own back yard when the US dollar can buy a whole lot more in China than it can here.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      If I pay the price of an American made product, will that extra expense make it back to my pocket on my paycheck? Or will it end up in the CEO's pocket?

  • Same situation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by olddotter (638430) on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:32PM (#26758751) Homepage

    I'm waiting to find out if my job will be moved to a country where the "cost of a comparable person" is 1/3 what it is in the US. Even in that situation I'm not sure how I feel about this politically and morally. How ever as the unemployment rate goes up, and more white collar high paying jobs move else where, I believe this will become a hot topic politically.

    There are many ways I see this as a bad sign for the US. Innovation happens where the engineering talent is located. If the worlds best engineers are no longer heading to the US (for high paying jobs) then the US will not longer be the center of innovation it has been for the last 50 years.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      If that was true, why is IBM trying to get American engineers to move overseas?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SoCalChris (573049)
        I would assume that the cost of moving an employee across the world is probably cheaper than recruiting and training a new employee who knows absolutely nothing about the work they'll be doing.

        They'll get the best of both worlds. An employee who is already trained, and has an established work history, at the price of a overseas employee.
      • If that was true, why is IBM trying to get American engineers to move overseas?

        IBM is just looking to cut costs. They are not looking at what is in the best interests of the US economically or strategically (militarily speaking). Read the wikipedia entry on "Tragedy of the Commons." [wikipedia.org]

        Since shortly before World War II the US has in general been the destination of choice for the best minds in the world. Don't believe that? Look up the birth country and nationality of people who worked on the Manhattan Project. [wikipedia.org] If that had not been the case Nazi's would have had atomic weapons first an

        • by xenocide2 (231786)

          As I understand it, World War II started without the US, and many of the minds on the Manhattan Project fled to the US to specifically avoid the Nazi regime. Niels Bohr, for example, was nearly arrested and escaped to London. His underling Heisenburg, however, remained and participated in the Nazi nuclear program.

          So yes, very shortly before WWII, the US was an attractive place for intellectuals, compared to Hitler.

      • by nschubach (922175)

        Because then IBM wouldn't have to pay Uncle Sam 30-40% of your wage in taxes. They can give that to a country that doesn't wallet rape their employees.

        • Actually most countries do take the percentages you wrote (or even more); IMHO the main difference is that none of them throws that money in "wars of terror" nor contributions for a dubious selection of big banks.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by JesseMcDonald (536341)

        These jobs were already moving overseas. Now IBM's offering their existing employees a chance to keep their jobs, plus assistance with travel, visas, etc., provided they're willing to move with the jobs and accept local wages (along with a corresponding decrease in cost-of-living). This can only be seen as an improvement for their American engineers compared to the original plan.

        Obviously IBM is also benefiting from the arrangement, since they manage to keep some of their trained employees, but they had alr

    • by thej1nx (763573)
      Innovation, as per perception, happens where ever the Management(owner is located) since it doesn't matters who conceived the idea, but rather who marketed it successfully. I don't see a problem with where the engineers are located, as long as American companies are still their paymasters, and thus the owner of their ideas.

      And millions of people in the third world immigrate all the time to find better opportunities than available at home. Americans can either adapt and do the same, or choose to be stubbo

  • Long Ago (Score:2, Funny)

    by Mastodon (757726)

    It was once well known that IBM stands for "I've Been Moved."

  • by DeadDecoy (877617) on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:37PM (#26758835)
    I have a few tech friends from India and it's funny because one of them said that on a yearly salary in the US, they could retire comfortably back home. Fact is, a dollar goes really far in other countries and companies could probably provide an even better standard of living for their employees if they were located in other countries. Now, I'm not saying that this is the ideal situation. Just that the reality for some companies is that they cannot or will have trouble surviving/remaining competitive when another company, based in a cheaper location, can undercut them by a significant amount. It's not simply a matter of CEOs fattening their profit margins but that eventually, efficiency will take over. What I believe will happen, is that an economic homeostasis will occur (over several decades) whether we like it or not.

    Ah, pay me no heed as I'm just ranting.
  • Sign here. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:50PM (#26758957)

    Our culture has put such a premium on the price of goods, at the expense of quality, that it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone when (like all other resources), labor also finds itself subjugated to this rule. You are now on the dollar menu, Citizen. Ah, but let us rail against our evil corporate overlords instead--it's so much easier to blame anyone but ourselves for this. Labor is dead in this country. You've got "at will" employment, anti-union legislation, and did you know we are the only industrialized country on the planet without a Labor party? Our entire culture has been split up and sold off piece by piece thanks to "intellectual property". You don't own your car, your home, or anything that costs more than about $5,000 these days, stuck paying student loans for the next thirty years, with debt-collection law changes now on the books that make starting over an impossible proposition. We call ourselves a "capitalist" society where the individual has the power and the choice, but tell me dear reader, when was the last time you bought something that didn't come with a contract or a legal document stating what you could and could not do? Want to watch a movie? Read the FBI warning. Use a computer? Read the End User Licensing Agreement. Drive a car? You'll need insurance and a car loan for that. Live in a house? An apartment? Sign here please. You can't even enter a building without "giving consent to search", no cameras or recording devices please (except for us, see the black globes?). Freedom? Where, pray tell, is your freedom?

    One Nation, Under Contract. Please sign on the dotted line.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ljw1004 (764174)

      We call ourselves a "capitalist" society where the individual has the power and the choice.

      A "democracy" is one in which each individual has equal power and choice. Contrast to "capitalism" where each dollar has equal power.

  • If I was 20 years younger and with no debt I would jump on it.

    Brazil.... hmmmmm... they work hard, but they also party hard

  • by tthomas48 (180798) on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:51PM (#26758981) Homepage

    IBM is gaming their stock price not competing. If they wanted o compete they would want a highly paid domestic workforce that would buy their customers products thus making their customers flush with cash and wanting to buy some more IBM consulting.

    Has IBM announced consulting price-cuts to go along with their now lower wages? If not then they're really not competing. They're just trying to get a larger profit margin out of their current pricing scheme. We should start calling bull on this sort of thing. Let's change the headline to:

    "IBM hopes to raise stock price by sending laid-off staff to other countries where the can rehire them for cheaper thus boosting their profit margins."

  • by mad_clown (207335) on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:52PM (#26758985)

    The general reaction seems to be that IBM is in the wrong here.

    I think it's also possible to interpret this as a sign that IBM recognizes that the people it's laying off are both a valuable resource that it doesn't want to lose as well as a resource that it cannot afford to keep paying. The union's reaction, of course, is hardly surprising of course -- it has its own interests in mind.

    Naturally, this offer isn't one that will appeal to everyone. Obviously laid-off employees with families probably aren't in a position that they can just uproot and move to another country. For others, though, I can see this being an intriguing opportunity.

    I know that if I were in this position -- laid-off, facing unemployment, and offered the chance to go live overseas and stay in the company, I'd seriously consider it.

    TFA calls it an "innovative" solution. That seems about right. It's not perfect and it's clearly not motivated by altruism, but it might actually work out for some people.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by diamondsw (685967)

      Had they not just reported record profits they might have a leg to stand on. As is, they don't.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Daishiman (698845)
      Honestly, having worked several years in outsourcing at IBM, our American customers were as full of shit as we were.

      American IT workers have a sense of entitlement where they believe that the quality of their work is inherently superior simply because of their origin. Truth is, there's a lot of brilliant minds in the States, but like most places it is full of mediocre people.

      One of my ex-customer's IT shop was run by a bunch of 60-year-olds who didn't know how to use SSH or automate user creation on AIX m

  • in 2-3 years (Score:3, Interesting)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquar ... m ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:56PM (#26759047) Homepage Journal

    ibm will be an indian company

    i have spoken to an employee of ibm, who lives and works in the hudson valley (ibm's historical stomping grounds), and he is being relocated to bangalore under this exact program. he is indian anyways, so not that huge of a deal, and he even looks forward to the massive decrease in cost of living

    but he's done a lot of recent improvements on his home, like installing 45K worth of solar panels (not including the 10K new york state gives him for doing that), and now he has to sell his home in the current real estate environment. ugh. i don't think this ibm program has a home value relief program?

    according to him, ibm had already planned the move in semisecrecy for years, on a 10-20 year timetable. but the worldwide economic recession has meant a rapid acceleration of the process

  • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Friday February 06, 2009 @06:06PM (#26759187)
    I live in Vancouver, Canada. I used to work for a software company here that was acquired by a company headquartered in Washington, DC. In the summer of 2006, once the 'merger' was complete those of us that worked in Vancouver were given an option: Move across the continent and to a new country and join the DC head office, or be let go. The majority of us chose to stay and found ourselves unemployed.
  • IBM "Union" (Score:3, Informative)

    by CannonballHead (842625) on Friday February 06, 2009 @06:17PM (#26759321)

    For those that don't know, there isn't one. I believe what the summary is referring to (and possibly the article itself, which of course I didn't read) is Alliance@IBM [allianceibm.org], a ... well, rumor site that gets a lot of disgruntled workers on it.

    IBM has a ton of international employees but I believe the largest percentage of employees is in the US. It'd be interesting to compare, say, HP, IBM, Intel, etc., with percentages of employees and where they work, etc.

    I guess, in order to make people REALLY happy, they should have just laid off workers and said goodbye for good, huh? Offering to re-locate and stay employed, pfffft, how stupid. Right.

  • At least they seem to be trying.

    EDS was like this too, in the good old days. They always had a job for you if your current customer went away, but you may have to move a LONG way away.

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