Category Archives: Labor

UC-San Francisco fires U.S. workers, hires abroad


It’s a story that would’ve added fuel to the anti-immigrant hysteria of the Trump campaign, but at its heart its all about a state firing its own citizens and replacing them with cheap labor.

Replacement workers ostensibly hired because of a shortage of American workers able to fill those positions from which American workers are being hired and replaced with cheap labor that happens to come from India.

It’s a story about libertarian chickens coming home to roost, the spawn of Proposition 13, the corporate tax giveaway sold to California’s as s savior of the homes of the elderly.

Proposition 13 was the long con, devised by Howard Jarvis, a man whose aim was to destroy government [we know because he told us so].

From the Los Angeles Times:

Using a visa loophole to fire well-paid U.S. information technology workers and replace them with low-paid immigrants from India is despicable enough when it’s done by profit-making companies such as Southern California Edison and Walt Disney Co.

But the latest employer to try this stunt sets a new mark in what might be termed “job laundering.” It’s the University of California. Experts in the abuse of so-called H-1B visas say UC is the first public university to send the jobs of American IT staff offshore. That’s not a distinction UC should wear proudly.

UC San Francisco, the system’s biggest medical center, announced in July that it would lay off 49 career IT staffers and eliminate 48 other IT jobs that were vacant or filled by contract employees. The workers are to be gone as of Feb. 28. In the meantime they’ve been ordered to train their own replacements, who are employees of the Indian outsourcing firm HCL Technologies.

The training process was described by UCSF managers by the Orwellian term “knowledge transfer,” according to Audrey Hatten-Milholin, 53, an IT architect with 17 years of experience at UCSF who will be laid off next month.

“The argument for Disney or Edison is that its executives are driven to maximize profits,” says Ron Hira of Howard University, a expert in H-1B visas. “But UC is a public institution, not driven by profit. It’s qualitatively different from other employers.”

By sending IT jobs abroad, UC is undermining its own mission, which includes preparing California students to serve the high-tech industry.

Chart of the day: American institutional fears


Even though big banks have brought the nation close to ruin and corporations have eroded our privacy, offshored our jobs, and proivatized the commons, Americans still think Big Government is their biggest institutional threat.

From Gallup:

blog-charts

Headline of the day: They’re coming for your job


From the Mainichi Shimbun:

Insurance firm to replace human workers with AI system

  • Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance Co. is planning to slash nearly 30 percent of its payment assessment department’s human staff after it introduces an artificial intelligence (AI) system in January 2017 to improve operating efficiency.
  • While concrete examples of AI systems making human workers redundant are currently rare, observers have pointed out that such cases are likely to increase.
  • The insurance firm will introduce an AI system based on IBM Japan Ltd.’s Watson, which according to IBM is a “cognitive technology that can think like a human,” and “can analyze and interpret all of your data, including unstructured text, images, audio and video.” The Watson-based system will be tasked with reading medical certificates written by doctors and other documents to collect information necessary for making payouts, such as medical histories, length of hospital stays, and surgical procedure names.
  • In addition to determining payment amounts, the system will also be able to check customers’ cases against their insurance contracts to find any special coverage clauses —a measure expected to prevent payment oversights. The type of payments the AI is expected to oversee at Fukoku Mutual totaled some 132,000 cases in fiscal 2015.

Headline of the day: A really, really good law


The creation of email spawned a number of consequences.

But for millions of us, email created a way for bosses to intrude in our lives at any time or place.

We suspect the reason is that while phone calls are direct human contact, complete with vocal tones and inflections signalling anger and disgust at intrusions into our private lives, emails are simply blips dispatched into an impersonal mediasphere, free of all that human messiness.

And for all of us who’ve been badgered on nights, weekends, holidays, one country has passed a law giving workers the right to be emauil free off the job.

Vive la France!

From BBC News:

French workers get ‘right to disconnect’ from emails out of hours

  • France employees are getting the legal right to avoid work emails outside working hours.
  • The new law, which has been dubbed the “right to disconnect”, comes into force on 1 January.
  • Companies with more than 50 workers will be obliged to draw up a charter of good conduct, setting out the hours when staff are not supposed to send or answer emails.

Greeks hold strike, marches against austerity


With the reign of austerity continuing in Greece, an ultimatum accompanying the modest debt relief granted the nation by the financial oligarchs of the Troika earlier this week, Greeks held a general strike today and turned out on the streets.

From Kathimerini:

A nationwide strike in Greece against spending cuts disrupted public transport, state-run schools, ferries and national rail services Thursday, and left public hospitals running with emergency staff.

More than 7,000 demonstrators marched in three separate demonstrations in the capital to protest against cost cuts the government is taking to satisfy its bailout creditors.

“We can either accept our continuing descent into poverty or fight against it,” theater actor Dionysis Xenakis said.

He was joined at the rally by musicians playing drums, as a nearby group of demonstrators chanted “People, fight back. They’re drinking your blood.”

Protests were held in cities around Greece, with more than 5,000 at marches in the country’s second largest city, Thessaloniki.

Troika agrees to modest debt relief for Greece


Greece, the European nation hardest hit by the Wall Street-sparked Great Recession, has been granted some modest debt relief, but conditions set the Troika [the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank, and European Commission] mandate that the regime of austerity continue.

That means that cutbacks in pay, pensions, healthcare, and other social programs will continue, along with privatization of national resources and higher taxes on necessary consumer goods.

But the conditions set also require that the government maintain a high surplus, a measure ensuring that austerity pains will continue.

From Ekathimerini:

Monday’s decision at a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels to approve short-term debt relief measures for Greece was a “decisive step towards stabilizing the Greek economy and restoring trust,” the government spokesman said on Tuesday.

Speaking to the press, Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that the government will continue negotiations with its eurozone partners for longer-term measures to reduce Greece’s huge debt pile, but stressed that Athens will “under no circumstances” agree to more belt-tightening once the bailout program is complete.

Tzanakopoulos was referring to the International Monetary Fund, which has demanded more structural measures in order to join the Greek program.

“The IMF cannot pressure the Greek government for new measures and not its European partners for lower primary surplus targets,” Tzanakopoulos said, referring to a demand that Greece maintain a primary fiscal surplus of 3.5 percent after 2018, a factor considered crucial by the IMF.

His comments echoed those of Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos who warned international creditors, including the IMF, on Monday not to pressure Athens to implement measures it had not previously agreed to.

But the IMF isn’t as happy with the deal as Tzanakopoulos indicated and has called for a halt to further austerity measures, as well as a lower GDP surplus, reports To Vima:

The International Monetary Fund welcomed the short-term debt relief measures that were announced at the Eurogroup, however it noted that they are not sufficient.

An IMF officer reportedly told Bloomberg that the Fund insists that the primary surplus targets after 2018 must not exceed 1.5% of the GDP, since anything higher is unrealistic.

As the officer commented, the targets set must not require austerity and argued that the fewer years the high targets are maintained, the lesser the impact will be on the country’s growth, since the 3.5% GDP target will require additional reforms in the pension and tax system.

The officer also called Athens and Brussels to present measures to be taken, should the primary surplus target of 3.5% be maintained after 2018.

The Troika’s official statement is posted here.

Headline of the day III: The puritanical libertine


Form the Independent:

Trump gives ‘assurances’ he will scrap laws protecting gay people

  • Donald Trump has reportedly given “assurances” that he will take action to undermine laws that are seen as protecting the rights of gay people in the US.
  • LGBT advocacy groups have been fielding calls from many people “scared” by what a Trump presidency will mean for them, according to the CEO of one such group.
  • And a Republican Congressman, Steve Russell, says he has been led to understand the new administration will back his drive to allow federal contractors “religious freedom”.