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Laid-Off Abbott IT Workers Won't Have To Train Their Replacements ( 284

dcblogs writes: An angry letter from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) protesting Abbott Labs' IT employee layoff may be having an impact, but not the way the senator wanted. The layoffs are part of plan by Abbott to shift some IT work to India-based Wipro, a major user H-1B visas, and Abbott is proceeding with the cuts despite Durbin's plea "to reconsider this plan and retain these U.S. workers." Abbott put the number of impacted IT employees at "fewer than 150." Durbin's letter has it at 180. But Abbott may be making changes in how the layoffs are conducted. IT employees, who only spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they were initially told they would be training replacements. But Abbott said Friday that the "affected Abbott IT employees are not being asked to train their replacements." The firm's statement appears to confirm the latest employee accounts of what's going on. One worker said the replacement training may be limited to employees who aren't losing their jobs. The training of replacements was a major issue for Durbin. In his letter to the firm, Durbin wrote: "To add insult to injury, the Abbott Labs IT staff who will be laid off will first be forced to train their replacements."
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Laid-Off Abbott IT Workers Won't Have To Train Their Replacements

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  • Sit back and enjoy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 19, 2016 @06:06AM (#51730201)

    The sheer capacity of a whole nation to harm itself repeatedly in the name of a long debunked economic fantasy is, as always, astounding.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 19, 2016 @08:31AM (#51730577)

      This is why America needs, and will get, President Trump. Every now and then America needs a savior. It the past it has needed great leaders like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and John F. Kennedy, and such people have always arrived at just the right time. America once again needs a real leader to give it direction and to show it the way, and that leader is President Trump. He is controversial because he is right. America needs to once again put Americans first, even if this means putting in place economic trade barriers, immigration barriers, and even physical walls. President Trump will lead America to a greatness it hasn't sen since the days of JFK.

      • by paiute ( 550198 )
        Trump would do exactly the same as before, call it a different name, declare it a great success, and then distract the media with bombast.
        • When the majority call him out for going back on his word, he will laugh and call him idiots... just like he has always done and always will do. We take personal integrity for granted in politics because we see such little evidence of it, but mark my words we will see the difference between a person who has a little personal integrity and absolutely no personal integrity if Trump is voted in.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cashman73 ( 855518 )
        Trump himself has used and abused the H1B visa system, and he's admitted it. Why? Because as a businessman himself, even he recognizes the opportunity to save money by importing cheaper foreign labor. Anyone that believes that Trump is somehow going to change his ways and be America's great labor force "savior" is just delusional.
      • Germany needed a savior too, and it got one. At the risk of false Godwin accusations, it was Adolf Hitler.

        I don't think Trump himself is extraordinarily evil (being a businessman, a certain amount of evil is necessary and he has more than enough of that). I cannot say as much, however, for many of those he attracts to his flag, and he hasn't been very diligent in chastising them. I worry that he'd prove the old adage about power corrupting.

        What we really need more than a charismatic savior is for the variou

      • America needs to once again put Americans first

        Which, of course, Trump will not do. Trump puts Trump first, last, and always. When he even bothers to lie about it it's so transparent as to be pathetic.

      • For all his faults (and they are legion) Trump is at least starting up a conversation on left wing politics again. Tariffs, protectionism, etc, etc. He's also done something nobody has given credit for, namely removing the dog whistle from the GOP. Yes, he's saying a lot of Racists and Xenophobic things, but it's nothing we haven't been hearing on Fox News for years but just with a wink & a nod. Bringing that stuff out in the open is important. As long was he hide it behind implied racism we can pretend
  • Cheers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FunkSoulBrother ( 140893 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @06:08AM (#51730211)

    Probably should have organized instead of acting like they unique Libertarian snowflakes like half of the IT staff I've every worked with, who were convinced they were the best and didn't want to be dragged down to the level of their fellow man.

    I guess the ones that were the best are now training their replacements.

    • Re:Cheers (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rally2xs ( 1093023 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @06:30AM (#51730263)

      Yeah,its a marvel how supposedly smart IT workers are not as smart as their blue-collar parents that knew that without a union, they were going to get shit and shoved in it. If you are an employee of any type, you need a union or you're going to get screwed, its that simple. So just continue being high and mighty, and go get in line at the unemployment office. Oh, and vote for Trump, who will end this crap.

      • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @08:16AM (#51730529)

        The biggest problem with IT workers is that they feel that their work and effort is not being recognized, and their pay and benefits are not being proportional to the effort and intelligence put in.
        Unions will not fix that problem, but hinder it, as the top employee will be treated the same as the lazy and/or inadequate employee. As well Unions tend to have a wider agenda and will expand to beyond just your field, and to a wider scope. When it comes to negotiations they will agree on such things such as laying off the few high salary people in order to get twice as many cheaper employees, as they will bring in more money for dues.
        Also with a Union shop, you learn to keep your mouth shut for any ideas that may be against the union, otherwise you are in trouble.

        I have worked in unioned and non-unioned shops. Unions make sense for blue-collar jobs, because such jobs easily replaceable and are open to abuse towards a persons health and safety.
        Government/Teaching jobs also does make sense for Unions because of the fickle nature of elected officials who are in charge, who may want to fire a teacher for failing the Football star so he can't win the big game. Or having the son of a member of the house of representative in detention for abusing an other student.
        White-Collar jobs such as IT have much less health and safety concerns, and it is expensive to replace a good IT worker. Also most companies really fail miserably when they try to outsource, and in time they bring back local workers. Also IT workers can often find jobs in less time then blue collar workers.
        I was Laid off in 2008, I was able to get an other job rather quickly.

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )

          because such jobs easily replaceable and are open to abuse towards a persons health and safety

          IT has become that on both counts in many places where very long hours for months are expected.

        • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @08:52AM (#51730661)
          So you are saying that the CEO of a company really puts in 800x the effort? Where does he get time for that 32,000 hour work week and still find time to perfect his golf swing?
          • So you are saying that the CEO of a company really puts in 800x the effort? Where does he get time for that 32,000 hour work week and still find time to perfect his golf swing?

            Why do people keep bringing this up? It isn't about effort. It is about how little they can pay to get someone who is perceived to have the capability they need. Do you think that the person who answers the level 1 help desk line and reads off a script should make as much as the network architect? What if they both work the same number of hours? Do you think that the person who images the new PCs that come in should make as much as the person who runs the data center? Once you concede that point, it i

            • The post I was responding to said, specifically, that people at the non-800x level were not properly recognizing the effort and intelligence put in. I was challenging that, since without unions we get a CEO that is paid at 800x the rate, we must explain how the CEO is putting in 800x the effort (and is 800x more intelligent) to for that argument to hold true. At any rate, I've never seen a union pay scale without tiers for various levels of work so the whole argument is kind of beside the point anyway. W
              • by uncqual ( 836337 )

                It isn't about effort or intelligence. It's about supply and demand and the impact of doing a good vs. a great job.

                Anyone who is not severely disabled can clean a toilet so the supply of those with that capability dramatically exceeds the demand and the pay is low. If the toilet is not cleaned perfectly or it takes one person 5% longer to clean it than another, the impact on the organization owning the toilet is not perceivable so there's little reason to pay someone much more because they are a little bett

          • Put a shitty CEO like that of Nokia in your company and you tell me his work is not more important?

            Sorry but we are not all that unless we work for an IT company. That is economic reality. You do not raise the share price. You do not increase sales. You do not make the product your employer sells so why should they pay you? What makes you so special?

            The chef at a Chillis brings in millions each year. In comparison you as a sys admin cost money and the only reason you are not paid minimum wage is an outage c

        • "The biggest problem with IT workers is that they feel that their work and effort is not being recognized, and their pay and benefits are not being proportional to the effort and intelligence put in. Unions will not fix that problem, but hinder it, as the top employee will be treated the same as the lazy and/or inadequate employee"

          Is it not that you said that IT workers *as a class* have these and these claims? How is it not that bargaining also as a whole can't result into a better output?

          "Unions make sen

        • You seem to be only familiar with blue-collar unions. That's possibly because most white collar professions that have them don't go by the "union" name. They call themselves professional associations, licensing boards, that sort of thing. They don't necessarily do all of the same things, but unions also aren't just about negotiating salary. They can do a lot more than that.

          But really, even your assumptions about what a union will do is flawed. Haven't you ever seen how trade unions work in skilled labor?
      • by dbIII ( 701233 )

        Oh, and vote for Trump, who will end this crap

        I'm not sure if you are being sarcastic or not but Trump has been a perpetrator of such crap.

        Sick of the USA having to act as world policeman due to being the leading nation? Then vote Trump so those Chinese can get a taste of what it's like to be on top - that will show them!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rally2xs ( 1093023 )

          Yeah, Trump has done some of those things as a businessman, but he didn't necessarily like it, it was just forced upon him if he wanted to win the bid.

          Its like the founding fathers. Some were even slave owners, but every last one of them hated the institution of slavery, and wanted to abolish it. They couldn't, tho, or they wouldn't have been able to form a union of states amongst the southern states which depended on slaves to operate their great plantations. There would have been less than 13 colonies

          • Guest workers are common in the third world, looks like the USA wants to join that club. Does deliberately destroying your countries economy count as treason? Loyalty to your country means more than saluting the flag and reciting a pledge of allegiance on command.
          • "Yeah, Trump has done some of those things as a businessman, but he didn't necessarily like it, it was just forced upon him if he wanted to win the bid."

            So, you mean that once in government, he will sell himself to the big corporations, not that he necessarily like it, but because it's just forced upon him if he wanted to win his golden retirement.

            "Its like the founding fathers. Some were even slave owners, but every last one of them hated the institution of slavery, and wanted to abolish it."

            Yes, because,

      • What's hilarious to me is how so many of these same people panicking now don't give two shits about illegals flooding in from our southern borders and depressing the low-skilled jobs market (yay! cheap nannies, housekeepers, and gardeners!), but are now howling because the exact same thing is happening to THEIR jobs. The only exception that these foreign workers are sanctioned by the US H1B program rather than simply being ignored by our policy makers at the top.

        Democrats and Republicans, I'm sad to say, a

      • Oh, and vote for Trump, who will end this crap.

        +5 Non sequitur.

      • I agree with your general sentiment that IT workers tend to live in some kind of libertarian paradise that doesn't exist sometimes. Many even don't want government funding for projects and companies. That might be an ideal (depending on your political ideology), but there's no point a martyr industry. Healthcare, education, law, medicine... mega bucks by government and regulations. So what if try to keep a piece of the pie to ourselves.

        The problem is that unionizing doesn't work for private sector workers a

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by radish ( 98371 )

        I work in tech, and my wife is (was) a teacher. She was forced to join a union she didn't want to join. She was forced to take a deduction from her paycheck to pay for a union she had no interest in supporting. That union stalled pay negotiations for years so she never got a raise, despite getting stellar performance reviews. She was screwed over by her management on more than one occasion, and the union did exactly zero to help her. Let me repeat that - they literally shrugged and said she was on her own.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tyr07 ( 2300912 )

      It takes a lot of time to be an expert in the IT field. Lot of problems are unique, require research and investigation into the problem. They may come run a script on your PC that takes five minutes but it took hours to identify the cause of the issue and write the script.

      You'll get a lot more call center like support, where the buck is passed and no one really knows how to fix it, or cares to put the time in figuring it out for you. You'll get "Oh, have you tried turning it off and on? Oh that didn't work?

      • by mjm1231 ( 751545 )

        You need to purchase a whole new PC"

        The move to cloud and virtualization means that more and more often this is going to be the cheapest solution.

      • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )

        You'll get "Oh, have you tried turning it off and on? Oh that didn't work? You need to purchase a whole new PC".

        Unfortunately, this is an economic truth now. When a fair PC is $500 bucks, it makes little sense to pay $100s an hour to fix it, unless it serves a highly specialized purpose, which is rare.

    • Um...ya...

      I've with unions ( as IT ), and I've worked without. I *vastly* prefer without. Unions may provide job stability ( after you've been there long enough to have seniority on younger staff, mind you ), but then IT doesn't exactly get raises by being loyal anyway.

      Unions only protect those who don't want to be bothered developing themselves to be more valuable, in my experience.

    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      What would've been the difference? Organized laborers not only get laid off all the time, they get laid off even quicker due to the fact that they are more expensive and less productive than any other laborer. The IT would still go to India, the workers may suggest they would go on 'strike' which would give them reason to lay them off even faster.

      Unions are no longer the organizations they were in the early 1900's, now they are just a dues-collecting layer of middle-management that will go along with whatev

  • they also wouldn't have been paid, either. IBM does the same thing. take severance now, or stay for another 2-6 months at full pay while training, then leave.
  • It's been clear for at least ten years that companies are exploiting a loophole in the H1B law that allows them to outsource to another company which just happens to have foreign employees. In all this time, Senator Durbin and his 534 accomplices have not had the time to fix this loophole. (Also the insanely low salary threshhold.) No one has even proposed anything. But they have time for grandstanding to make it seem that they're trying to help. One can only conclude that they want to keep things the way t
  • by west ( 39918 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @07:49AM (#51730463)

    While I'm desperately trying to remain as productive as at least 6 Indian employees so I don't get off-shored, I have to admit I'm left with the awkward question "Do I deserve to be part of the 1% (household income $48K) solely on the basis of hereditary privilege?"

    I have a feeling we're entering the era of the "Great Equalization". And I have to say, that it absolutely sucks for those who, as part of the developed world, were automatically part of the elite. And if its bad for me, it's going to be terrible for my children.

    I just wish I had better moral claim than "I was born rich, so I deserve to remain rich."

    • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @08:28AM (#51730563)

      Beyond pay, this also veers toward indentured servitude type stuff going on. Once here, the employer holds an unreasonable amount of power (firing means deportation). This is a very dangerous trend.

      Not to say H1-B is always abused, I know some brilliant H1-B folks (company got H1-B to specifically get those people by name, and I get the impression they are paid a premium as well). But the trend of do some labor gymnastics to replace local with H1-B systematically... that's a problem.

    • Think not in terms of what you deserve, but in terms of what you want, and what you can get.
    • Unless you make $12 an hour you need to be more effective than six. Try fifty or sixty. That said, the good news is that it is still doable. The bad news is that it probably doesn't matter anyway because even if fifty or sixty can do half the quality of you, most companies are still willing to pay for it. Yes it is that bad.
    • You shouldn't have to justify your higher salary based on your nationality (or apparently feel horrifically guilty about your "hereditary privilege". Christ, the PC crowd has really gotten to you). These corporations enjoy the privilege of being located in the US, a safe and prosperous democratic republic. As such, there is some inherent overhead in the form of higher taxes and wages because, to put it simply, they're located on prime real estate. There are all sorts of accounting tricks to help with th

      • It's not hard to understand the proper fix..

        So, what's the proper fix ?

        • We need to make sure users of the H1B program can't skirt the intent of the law, which they're absolutely doing right now by outsourcing to specialist contractors who hire nothing but H1Bs. They're simply using this program to drive down IT wages, rather than using it as a mechanism to bring in labor for jobs that can't be filled domestically. That loophole needs to be closed, and more importantly, enforced.

          Of course, understanding the fix at a conceptual level is easy, but as with many things in life, ac

          • The heart of the problem is that a market inefficiency exists, and only a few people that benefit from that inefficiency (the overpaid US worker) wants that inefficiency to be protected.
            • That's a way of looking at it. But generally speaking, as a nation, we don't let markets do whatever they wish, right? Because in many cases, markets don't do what's humane or just for the population at large, and especially not for individuals. For instance, market forces don't care about whether a company pollutes the environment, or whether a person is injured or defrauded, so we pass laws to protect consumers related to safety, fraud, and many other fectors. Markets may dictate that someone is worth

    • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )

      When it gets down to it — talking trade balances here — once we've brain-drained all our technology into other countries, once things have evened out, they're making cars in Bolivia and microwave ovens in Tadzhikistan and selling them here — once our edge in natural resources has been made irrelevant by giant Hong Kong ships and dirigibles that can ship North Dakota all the way to New Zealand for a nickel — once the Invisible Hand has taken away all those historical inequities and smeared them out into a broad global layer of what a Pakistani brickmaker would consider to be prosperity — y'know what? There's only four things we do better than anyone else:
      microcode (software)
      high-speed pizza delivery

      Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

    • That is an awkward question, only because it's the wrong one to be asking.

      Do you deserve to be part of the 1%? If you believe so, then yes you do.

      "You don't get paid what you're worth, but rather what you hustle."

  • Change the law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Britz ( 170620 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @08:49AM (#51730645)

    Angry letters will change nothing. The senator (lawmaker) simply needs to do their job. You wouldn't even need to end the H-1B program. I think the problem is more the way it is designed to enable slave labor and thus drive the cost of employment down. If H-1B applicants would have more rights, they could demand higher wages. Instead they are kept as slaves that will not only lose their job but also get deported. Making their legal position similar to those that have an illegal immigration status. H-1B simply legalizes illegal immigration for the employer. If H-1Bs had more power, they could and would demand higher wages. How about unionized H-1Bs? Freedom to stay in the US for a guaranteed period of time. And to top it off: Training obligations for the company that requests them.

    Or you can simply abandon the H-1B outright.

    Btw: Trump loves himself more than anything else. And as a builder he profits from illegal immigrants. Thus he won't do anything about illegal immigration. Simple as that. He has proven that he lies all the time. So we can disregard what comes out of his mouth. Thus we have to look at policies that are likely. And for someone who makes a *lot* of profit from illegal immigrants it would be downright stupid to prevent that from happening. Is Trump stupid?

  • I am wondering whether it should be illegal to require an 'about to be laid off employee' to train their replacements. IMHO, the requirement should be limited to employees who are resigning of their own accord.

    • "I am wondering whether it should be illegal to require an 'about to be laid off employee' to train their replacements."

      Why not? If you are holding a given position is perfectly within requirements to be able to demonstrate your knowledge about it. See, no one is asking for or expecting professional-grade training, but just fulfilling your job. You still get your paycheck by the end of the week so since the company is still fulfilling its part of the agreement, why shouldn't you fulfill yours?

      If you don't

    • Why should it be illegal? I would have no trouble training my replacement as long as I'm getting a paycheck. I would be looking for another job the whole time unless they promised me a severance package that made it worth staying around and having an employment gap.

  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @09:35AM (#51730835)

    Set the minimum salary for an H1B visa holder at $150,000/yr and watch this problem solve itself. Have the salary requirement increase annually based on CPI.

    H1B visas were supposed to be for highly skilled workers when talent is available locally.

    We all know the H1B program is simply to drive down the cost of IT labor.

    Trump - are you listening?

    • From Dec 2015 debates, []

      Cavuto: Mr. Trump, as the leading presidential candidate on this stage and one whose tax plan exempts couples making up to $50,000 a year from paying any federal income taxes at all, are you sympathetic to the protesters cause since a $15 wage works out to about $31,000 a year?

      TRUMP: I can’t be Neil. And the and the reason I can’t be is that we are a country that is being beaten on every front economically, militarily. There is nothing that we do now to win. We don’t win anymore. Our taxes are too high. I’ve come up with a tax plan that many, many people like very much. It’s going to be a tremendous plan. I think it’ll make our country and our economy very dynamic.

      But, taxes too high, wages too high, we’re not going to be able to compete against the world. I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is.

      After being reamed for it, he change his mind, but there is no reason to believe he would not change it . He is just running his mouth and will saying anything that will get him elected to president. Who knows what this guy would actually do if he were elected.

    • Absolutely. Seems like a simple, easy solution. It's a win for the guys who otherwise have to queue up for years for H1B, and it's a win for the guys that dont want to compete for jobs with people paid three times less than them.

  • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @10:14AM (#51731003)

    Makes perfect sense...

    "You're not skilled enough to do this job, so we need you to train this H-1B guy we hired to replace you at half the cost."

  • by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @10:44AM (#51731141)
    I've heard horror stories about Wipro. Maybe Abbott will get itself in real trouble as a result of this decision. That would be about mot juste.
  • by Karlt1 ( 231423 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @11:19AM (#51731309)

    If these "IT Workers" are software developers, dev ops, or network admins with marketable skills, and are either in a decent metro area or are willing to move, is a layoff any more than a slight inconvenience?

    In 2011, I worked for a small software company (around 30 people) and we all knew that the end was coming and that we would all lose our jobs. Management was very open about our condition. Most of the survivors stuck around in hopes that our options would be worth something (they weren't) or that we would at least get severance package (we all got a month).

    Within one month, every developer had another job, all more than likely paying more than we were making.

    In 2014, I was in a department with 14 developers and we all saw the way the department was heading. All of the developers found another job within six months. The only reason some stuck around was because they were close to the 3 year vesting period. But all could have found something sooner.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"