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Interesting Links: Feb 15, 2016

February 15, 2016 6 comments

Here are links to a few interesting articles I came across recently. They are about how corporations will ALWAYS screw over their employees.

Link 1: I wonder if layoffs inspire disloyalty…

According to the FBI documents, the relationship between Liew and Spitler lasted for years. Liew flattered Spitler, who was bitter about DuPont’s business strategies and its decision in the ’90s to fire thousands of employees. Spitler also admitted to agents that he felt insecure about not having attended a top university (he got a degree from Tri-State University in Angola, Ind.) and was constantly worried about losing his job. Liew made Spitler feel valued and understood. He sent him a gift basket every Christmas, the FBI reports show, and helped pay for the funeral of Spitler’s daughter, who’d committed suicide in 2006. When Spitler would call to thank Liew for his generosity, the businessman would steer the conversation to business and titanium dioxide.

Spitler provided Liew with information about DuPont’s processes—even sketches of key components—and allowed him to root through boxes in his house and take whatever records he found. Spitler told federal agents that Liew paid him $15,000 for DuPont-related documents, including a blueprint to a plant in Delaware. The schematics provided details of flow rates, pipeline sizes, temperatures, and chemical compositions. As such, it was considered one of DuPont’s most critical trade secrets, U.S. law enforcement officials contend, and Liew used the documents to prove his bona fides to Chinese executives.

Link 2: Why Pay Employees to Exercise When You Can Threaten Them?

Wellness programs that penalize employees have been controversial and challenged as illegal. “Some people tend to think that the loss framing is a little bit harsh,” said Patel. That tactic puts more of a financial burden on employees to cover health insurance. Others argue it’s a way to discriminate against less healthy workers. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed several lawsuits against companies for designing what it believes are discriminatory wellness programs, though the agency has been largely unsuccessful so far. Employers like penalties because they work. And so far, judges have ruled in their favor. “We’re seeing the courts take a little bit different view of incentives,” said Patricia Nemeth, a partner at Nemeth Law PC, which specializes in labor law. “And it sounds like the view that the courts are taking is the one that’s working.”

While Patel’s new study did prove the power of taking money away, it only framed the incentive as a loss—it was actually still a net gain: The researchers gave participants money, and then took it away for failure. “They never had anything to lose in the first place, at the end of the day you made the same amount,” Dr. Patel explained. Some wellness programs are more aggressive, straight up making people pay for noncompliance. Broward County, a defendant in one wellness court case, required people who opted out of its program to pay $20 every other week. The plaintiff alleged that the threat violated the American With Disabilities Act and that the penalty made the program nonvoluntary. In that case, a federal appeals court in Atlanta ruled for the employer.

Link 3: Gearing Up for the Cloud, AT&T Tells Its Workers: Adapt, or Else

To Mr. Stephenson, it should be an easy choice for most workers: Learn new skills or find your career choices are very limited. “There is a need to retool yourself, and you should not expect to stop,” he said in a recent interview at AT&T’s Dallas headquarters. People who do not spend five to 10 hours a week in online learning, he added, “will obsolete themselves with the technology.” Kevin? He admires his younger brother, but he is among the many AT&T lifers who are not that keen to participate in this reinvention of old Ma Bell. “I’m riding the copper train all the way down,” he said. He talks about the changes with obvious affection for both his brother and his longtime employer. In interviews, many veteran AT&T employees around the country showed a surprising amount of emotion toward a company that has been broken up, rebuilt and reinvented several times.

If you don’t develop the new skills, you won’t be fired — at least AT&T won’t say as much — but you won’t have much of a future. The company isn’t too worried about people leaving, since executives estimate that eventually AT&T could get by with one-third fewer workers. Mr. Stephenson declined to project how many workers he might have by 2020, when the cloud-based system is supposed to be fully in place. One thing about cutting people in an aging work force, he noted, is that “demography is on our side.” Other senior executives say shrinking the work force by 30 percent is not out of the question. Maybe so, but count Kevin among the skeptics of how fast AT&T’s transformation will happen. “I’m proud of my brother,” he said, “but he’s not going to get rid of this stuff as fast as he thinks.”

What do you think? Comments?