Tag Archives: stimulus

Obama Sees Light at end of Tunnel in a Shrinking Economy

Obama Says “pointed in the Right Direction”

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US food stamp list tops 34 million for first time

For the first time, more than 34 million Americans received food stamps, which help poor people buy groceries, government figures said on Thursday, a sign of the longest and one of the deepest recessions since the Great Depression

Enrollment surged by 2 percent to reach a record 34.4 million people, or one in nine Americans, in May, the latest month for which figures are available.

It was the sixth month in a row that enrollment set a record. Every state recorded a gain in participation from April. Florida had the largest increase at 4.2 percent.

Food stamp enrollment is highest during times of economic stress. The U.S. unemployment rate of 9.5 percent is the highest in 26 years.

Average benefit was $133.65 in May per person. The economic stimulus package enacted earlier this year included a temporary increase in food stamp benefits of $80 a month for a family of four. Full Story

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Demand At Food Banks Up, Even In Well-Off D.C. Suburbs

Mezmure Dawit, 22, showed up at the food bank in Fairfax, Va., looking for help. He said he’d lost his job as a maintenance man at an apartment building last month and he needed food for his 14-year-old brother and 18-year-old sister.

He said their father had left them five months ago. “He just left. No money, nothing,” said Dawit, wearing crisp blue jeans and a striped shirt. “It’s been hard, man.”

As the national unemployment rate nears 10 percent, more and more people are turning to food banks for help keeping food on their plates. Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief charity, reports that demand at food banks across the United States is up 30 percent from last year.

Feeding America spokeswoman Maura Daly told the Huffington Post that as recently as May of last year, 90 percent of Feeding America’s clients cited food and fuel costs as their reasons for needing assistance. By December 90 percent were citing unemployment as the primary reason. Full Story

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U.S. Recession Worst Since Great Depression, Revised Data Show

The first 12 months of the U.S. recession saw the economy shrink more than twice as much as previously estimated, reflecting even bigger declines in consumer spending and housing, revised figures showed.

The world’s largest economy contracted 1.9 percent from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the last three months of 2008, compared with the 0.8 percent drop previously on the books, the Commerce Department said yesterday in Washington. Gross domestic product has shrunk 3.9 percent in the past year, the report said, indicating the worst slump since the Great Depression.

Updated statistics also showed that Americans earned more over the last 10 years and socked away a larger share of that cash in savings. The report signals the process of repairing tattered balance sheets following the biggest drop in household wealth on record may be further along than anticipated.

“The current downturn beginning in 2008 is more pronounced,” Steven Landefeld, director of the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, said in a press briefing this week. The revisions were in line with past experience in which initial figures tended to underestimate the severity of contractions during their early stages, he said.

Jet-setting to Vacation Homes on Federal Money

Bailed-out banks’ CEOs used company jets for personal use

Chief executives of some banks that received federal money, including Bank of America Corp, Morgan Stanley and Regions Financial Corp, used company jets for their personal use, the Wall Street Journal reported on its website.

Flight records showed many occasions when banks receiving federal money flew their planes to destinations near resorts or executives’ vacation homes in Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean, south Florida and Aspen, according to the paper.

“We are implementing a new policy in 2009, under which personal use of aircraft will not be permitted,” a Bank of America spokesman told the paper, but declined to comment on specific trips.

In some cases, it was clear that bank executives were traveling for personal reasons; for other flights, many of which were over weekends or holidays, the passengers and purpose couldn’t be established, the paper added.

A spokesman for Morgan Stanley declined to comment to the paper on individual flights, but said its policy was to allow CEO John Mack personal use of corporate jets, with the cost “fully disclosed” in annual proxy filings.

A Regions spokesman also declined to comment to the paper on the trip or the cost estimate, but said all travel on company jets “either for personal or business was within our policy.”

The banks could not be immediately reached for comment by Reuters.

Inspector General Walpin: Resign or We’ll Terminate You

Obama Fires Inspector General Gerald Walpin for doing his Job

Gerald Walpin speaks: The inside story of the AmeriCorps firing
Dispute that resulted in firing involved stimulus money

The White House’s decision to fire AmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin came amid politically-charged tensions inside the Corporation for National and Community Service, the organization that runs AmeriCorps. Top executives at the Corporation, Walpin explained in an hour-long interview Saturday, were unhappy with his investigation into the misuse of AmeriCorps funds by Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star who is now mayor of Sacramento, California and a prominent supporter of President Obama. Walpin’s investigation also sparked conflict with the acting U.S. attorney in Sacramento amid fears that the probe — which could have resulted in Johnson being barred from ever winning another federal grant — might stand in the way of the city receiving its part of billions of dollars in federal stimulus money. After weeks of standoff, Walpin, whose position as inspector general is supposed to be protected from influence by political appointees and the White House, was fired.

Walpin learned his fate Wednesday night. He was driving to an event in upstate New York when he received a call from Norman Eisen, the Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform. “He said, ‘Mr. Walpin, the president wants me to tell you that he really appreciates your service, but it’s time to move on,'” Walpin recalls. “Eisen said, ‘You can either resign, or I’ll tell you that we’ll have to terminate you.'”

At that moment, Walpin says, he had finished not only a report on the Sacramento probe but also an investigation into extensive misuse of AmeriCorps money by the City University of New York, which is AmeriCorps’ biggest program. Walpin says he told Eisen that, given those two investigations, neither of which was well-received by top Corporation management, the timing of his firing seemed “very interesting.” According to Walpin, Eisen said it was “pure coincidence.” When Walpin asked for some time to consider what to do, Eisen gave him one hour. “Then he called back in 45 minutes and asked for my response,” Walpin recalls.

The method of Walpin’s firing could be a violation of the 2008 Inspectors General Reform Act, which requires the president to give Congress 30 days’ notice, plus an explanation of cause, before firing an inspector general. Then-Sen. Barack Obama was a co-sponsor of that legislation. In the case of Walpin, Eisen’s efforts to force Walpin to resign could be seen as an effort to push Walpin out of his job so that the White House would not have to go through the 30-day process or give a reason for its action. When Walpin refused to quit, the White House informed Congress and began the 30-day countdown.

Eisen’s phone call came after months of increasing conflict inside the Corporation for National and Community Service. “We issued two reports that the management of the Corporation and the board of directors didn’t like, because they criticized what the board was doing,” Walpin recalls. There is no question that Walpin discovered misuse of federal money in Kevin Johnson’s program, known as St. HOPE, and at City University of New York. But as a result of those investigations, relations between Walpin and top executives became frosty, and he says they cut him out of Corporation business that should normally include the inspector general. Full Story

See: Obama’s $6 Billion Forced Servitude Program

IBM’s Anti-American Labor Practices

Today, on International Workers’ Day, I bring you a story on IBM’s labor practices. The post IBM Outsourcing Thousands of Jobs to India has been one of the most widely read and commented articles on this blog. Understandably, there is a lot of agitation around the issue of outsourcing American jobs. I recently spoke with Alliance@IBM Representative Rick White on what is transpiring at IBM. Following the interview are a series of videos with IBM in the news. The hypocritical comments from IBM CEO Sam Palmisano in the first video, and his audacity to ask for stimulus money, are reprehensible.

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Can you tell us a little about your role in the Alliance IBM. What are you attempting to accomplish?

I’m presently the Treasurer, Web Maintenance, Organizer, and Health & Safety Representative for Alliance@IBM CWA Local 1701. Alliance@IBM was formed in August of 1999 as a union and employee advocate for IBM employees, domestic USA.

We’re a National/Local which is not an oxymoron; but appears that way. We represent all IBMers that want to be represented by CWA (Communications Workers Of America) and we also serve as a Local for each IBM USA location where we have active and public members. Since the 1990’s, 40% or more of USA IBMers have been working from home. Many of these workers are in IBM departments that are scattered around the world, i.e. their boss could be in Texas, their co-workers as far away as China; while they work at home in Poughkeepsie, NY.

We also work closely with unions in Europe and Japan that are firmly placed in IBM locations there. Since IBM is an “International” company by definition, we believe that it should be unionized internationally. That status is yet to be realized, but we’re continuing to work at it.

Our goals are preserving and improving our rights and benefits at IBM. We also strive towards restoring management’s respect for the individual and the value we bring to the company as employees. Our mission is to make our voice heard with IBM management, shareholders, government and the media. While our ultimate goal is collective bargaining rights with IBM, we are building our union now and continue to challenge IBM on the many issues facing employees from off-shoring and job security to working conditions and company policy.

Our membership is large by local standards, but very small by national standards. We have @5000 total supporters and about 360 dues paying members, out of a company population of about 120,000 USA wide. The reasons we formed in 1999 were centered around IBM’s treatment of it’s workers; both blue-collar and white-collar in regard to the Pension swindle and layoff practices, and other issues in the 1990’s. We forced IBM to change its policy on its Cash Balance pension plan in 1999, from no choice for IBMers with less than 25 years of service; to the option for an additional 35,000 IBMers (40 years of age and 10 years of service) to choose between the Cash Balance pension and the defined benefit pension (the one workers with 25 years service had).

We even got help from the Senate Finance Committee, when they asked then IBM HR director, Tom Bouchard to testify before them and explain why there was such a disparity between the two plans. Mr. Bouchard announced and offered the choice between the two plans on the day he testified before the committee.

How many jobs have been lost at IBM in 2009? Prior to then?

That is a hard question to answer. Mostly because of the churn, over the years and the offshoring and outsourcing; which has been happening in IBM, steadily since the 1990’s. The other reason is that IBM rarely announces the numbers. When they do; its a hard figure to confirm. IBM USA employed roughly 135,000 people in the 1990’s…we’ve run the calculations many times, and the number keeps changing because of the way IBM does business in other countries. We can never get a net job loss. My guess is somewhere between 15,000 and 25,000 jobs or more, since the 1990’s. Again, it’s very hard to know for sure. (Note: Resource Action is IBM’s term for firing. it’s not a lay-off because the workers are not recalled to work.)

How many of those job losses were a result of outsourcing?

Again, very difficult to answer. It’s very complicated; or appears to be as a result of IBM’s practices world wide. In 2007 and 2008 IBM replaced 14,000 jobs world-wide. We still don’t know for sure, how many of those were here in the US.

Did IBM offer to relocate the employees to the countries the jobs were being outsourced too?

No. IBM usually tells employees being RA’ed that they have 30 days to find another job within IBM; however, behind the scenes, IBM freezes internal IBM hiring for IBMers being fired. It’s nothing but an egregious ruse.

You may also be referring to an IBM company policy called “Project Match”; which offers IBMers that are fired, an “opportunity” to move out of the United States and go to IBM Brazil, IBM Russia, IBM India, IBM China, IBM Vietnam, IBM Philippines, etc. Supposedly, IBM pays for the trip, but that’s it. Once the ex-IBMer leaves he/she cannot have their USA IBM job back. They must work for the IBM location they chose and figure out how to function in the same job capacity, for say 40% of their pay or less in their new ‘home’ country. They are also assigned the additional task of training the employees in that country, once they arrive.

For example, an Operation Analyst may make between $40,000 and $60,000/year working in the US for IBM. When he/she becomes an IBM India employee in the same job, they make about 250,000 rupees or $5,000.00/year. Living conditions are unknown to us so far. Rick Clark, fired IBM employee spoke to the press about his experience during his RA and subsequent offer to go to another country. To read the interview with Rick Clark: If You Want a Job…

Were there employees who chose the option of relocation?

There may be. We haven’t confirmed any yet. Our Comments sections have mentioned people actually doing it, but they didn’t leave their name or contact information. My guess is, not many take it.

What is the solution to keeping these jobs in the U.S.?

One step to take is for IBMers and ex-IBMers to speak out about this and come forward and testify, if necessary, to the Federal govt about this program and the offshoring. Globalism may not be stopped; but we should stop giving bailout money and tax breaks to companies that offshore and outsource, without regard to the impact on the USA.

IBMers need to organize and get IBM to the bargaining table. In exchange for very limited outsourcing, a union contract could stipulate a process that benefits both the workers and the company. The details could be worked out to everyone’s advantage.

Explain what an “At Will Employee” is.

Basically, “At Will Employee” means that a worker has the right to quit without notice for any reason or no reason; and the Company has the right to fire the worker without notice for any reason or no reason. The workers have no bargaining rights whatsoever, under this policy. The Dept. of Labor will not help workers who are fired under this policy. That’s why a union contract is so important. Most workers in the USA today do NOT understand “At Will Employee” policy.

How are labor laws skewed in favor of corporations (such as IBM) over the employee?

They have high priced lawyers that have subverted labor law in favor of the corporations. They have used labor law cases and sympathetic labor board members to turn labor law against the employees. They use their power, money and influence to run roughshod over workers.

Most present day labor policies are derived from the NLRB decisions on the multitude of cases brought before the NLRB, between unions and management of a company. These are disputes, over a large list of reasons for filing an Unfair Labor Practice or other reasons, between labor and management. Many are only significant to the particular company or union and do not affect the whole USA. For example, a union organizer gets fired for “misconduct” during an organizing campaign at a particular company. The union files a ULP (Unfair Labor Practice) and the case goes to an NLRB appointed administrative judge. The judge decides in the union’s favor, and the company appeals to the NLRB labor board. The NLRB also decides in favor of the union organizer. The company appeals to the US District court of appeals The Court decides in favor of the company. This means only union organizers in that Court’s district are affected by that decision; however, if the union appeals to the Supreme Court, and the Court hears the case and then decides in the company’s favor, the decision applies to ALL union organizers in that situation, in the entire country.

A relatively recent case (2004) was the reversal of the Weingarten Rights. The right of employees to have union representation at investigatory interviews was announced by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1975 case (NLRB vs. Weingarten, Inc. 420 U.S. 251, 88 LRRM 2689). These rights have become known as the Weingarten rights. The reversal basically removed Weingarten Rights from non-union workers, enacted in 2000, under the Clinton Administration. Which means that workers called into the boss’s office for a disciplinary meeting or investigatory interview, etc.; no longer have the right to have a co-worker witness the meeting and/or exchange between the affected worker and his/her boss.

Union workers still have Weingarten Rights. Here is a link to a Weingarten Rights explanation: EMPLOYEE’S RIGHT TO UNION REPRESENTATION

How common is it for an employee nearing their retirement to be fired from their job at IBM?

Fairly common since the 1990’s. IBM disguises the reason, to steer clear of age discrimination law suits; Although there have been Class Action law suits filed, in the past.

A review of their Resource Action packages will show, statistically, that the older workers (45-60yrs) are affected in greater amounts than the younger ones (18-35yrs).

Are there currently any online petitions or actions in circulation?

We currently have a “Take Action” on our web site to contact The President, Vice President, and the respective Congressional and Senate Reps for the person’s districts: Take Action” is “Job cuts and job shifting offshore by IBM!

Where can readers learn more about issues re to IBM?

Our web site is chock full of information about IBM: AllianceIBM There are also many articles on the internet that discuss IBM and its practices and Globalism in general.

From Endicott Alliance

From Endicott Alliance

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IBM CEO Palmisano

IBM criticized for plans to shift U.S. jobs to India while seeking stimulus money

IBM draws criticism for job cuts, outsourcing

Obama’s Proposal to Loan the IMF Billions of Dollars

Obama proposes $100 billion U.S. loan for IMF

President Barack Obama on Monday proposed a $100 billion U.S. loan to the International Monetary Fund to boost the IMF’s resources and urged a bigger stake in the IMF for emerging powers.

In a letter to U.S. congressional leaders, Obama said the U.S. funding “does not represent a budgetary expenditure or any increase in the deficit since it effectively represents an exchange of assets.”

The $100 billion is part of commitments made by Group of 20 countries at a London summit on April 2, which agreed to triple IMF resources to a total of $750 billion to help the IMF respond to crises in emerging market economies as a result of the global financial crisis and economic downturn.

The U.S. funding will boost the IMF’s so-called New Arrangements to Borrow, or NAB, a facility which allows member countries to provide credit to the IMF to deal with crises that may threaten the stability of the global financial system.

Obama said the NAB was “woefully inadequate” to deal with the severe economic and financial crisis.

“The deteriorating conditions threaten to worsen the recessions in these countries and could cause currencies to collapse,” Obama wrote.

“Together, these factors, particularly if they become more acute, will further lower global growth and, as we saw during the Asian financial crisis, they will cause U.S. growth, jobs, and exports to fall even more sharply,” he added. Full Story

Jim Rogers: “abolish the World Bank and IMF”

Related Stories:

Funding the IMF for the ‘New World Order’
G20 – A New World Order for Global Recovery
How the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Undermine Democracy and Erode Human Rights: Five Case Studies

IBM Outsourcing Thousands of Jobs to India

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IBM draws criticism for job cuts, outsourcing

IBM’s reported plans to lay off thousands of U.S. workers and outsource many of those jobs to India, even as the company angles for billions in stimulus money, doesn’t sit well with employee rights advocates.

Business Week reports that IBM’s workforce increased from 386,558 in 2007 to 398,000 at the end of 2008.

IBM employees are being dealt a double blow, said Lee Conrad, national coordinator for Alliance@IBM, a pro-union group that has been fighting IBM’s outsourcing for years.

“We’re outraged that jobs cuts are happening in the U.S. and the work is being shifted offshore,” Conrad said. “This comes at the same time IBM has its hand out for stimulus money. This to us is totally unacceptable.”

IBM wants a share of the money in President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for projects updating power grids, creating electronic health care records and furthering the use of broadband.

“In the research we’ve done working with the transition team, we know that $30 billion could create 1 million jobs in the next 12 months,” IBM CEO Sam Palmisano said in January.

The problem is where those jobs would be, said Ron Hira, a professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Full Story

Video

Obama’s Army Soliciting Support

Organizing For America

CNNs Jim Acosta reports that President Obama has called on supporters that helped him during the presidential campaign to again go door-to-door in support of his budget.