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HP Cuts Workforce By 5%, Looks To Probe GM Hires 304

Posted by samzenpus
from the picking-teams dept.
dcblogs writes "Hewlett-Packard's reduced its workforce last year by 17,800 employees, more than half-way to its restructuring goal. But some key IT workers left unexpectedly and have taken jobs with HP customer, General Motors. GM, which outsourced its IT for years to EDS, announced plans last year to in-source its IT. HP acquired EDS in 2008. On Nov. 30, 18 employees of HP's Global Information Technology Organization in Austin 'resigned en masse and without notice' and 'immediately began working for General Motors in Austin in GM's new IT Innovation Center,' according to court papers. HP is asking the court for approval to depose some of the exiting workers to determine whether employment contracts were violated. 'HP expects that additional resignations will follow as the departed employees will likely seek to build out their teams by filling in with subordinate employees from HP,' the company said."
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HP Cuts Workforce By 5%, Looks To Probe GM Hires

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  • So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Andy Prough (2730467) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @10:28PM (#42457173)
    ..."you can't leave unless WE fire you". Nice way to build loyalty!
    • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jhoegl (638955) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @10:40PM (#42457227)
      Sadly the probably signed an agreement to not do what they did, even though HP was public about their intentions.
      But Fuck HP for going after them.
      • Re:So.... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @01:00AM (#42458175)

        I'd like to respectfully disagree about insulting HP for this. When you're trimming a department, you sometimes have contractual obligations that require you to retain _some_ of the department or group, to support existing services. When they all leave en masse, it can put a very large hole in your infrastructure: when someone leaving poaches from their former group, it's usually a contract violation, written into the contract _precisely_ to protect assets a company has invested in and built up over time.

        I've been involved, numerous times, in cleaning up after that kind of loss of personnel. The loss of institutional knowledge can be devastating: there may be no one left who knows _why_ things were done certain ways, and it can really endanger ongoing services and other contracts to lose that much of a key department without some kind of plan. And while I can't speak for HP, there are few things as devastating to the surviving remnant, who may believe in what they do or may really need the job to feed their families and keep medical insurance, when the "elite few" depart and leave them holding the undocumented remnants of their work.

        And if I ever do a departure interview with one such departing member of a horde who says "there is no documentation, just read the code!" I'm going to warn the staff who organize bids for my company that our hourly rates need to double, and explain why.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          So why hire people in a 'Right to Work' State if they cannot leave 'at will'. HP certainly thinks that they can fire staff at will...
          • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @02:30AM (#42458953) Homepage Journal

            So why hire people in a 'Right to Work' State if they cannot leave 'at will'. HP certainly thinks that they can fire staff at will...

            Because only the will of the nobility counts. The peasants are not supposed to have any will of their own, and must be punished harshly whenever they show signs of developing such a trait.

            Honestly, I'm amazed that anyone is still even asking such a question.

            • So why hire people in a 'Right to Work' State if they cannot leave 'at will'. HP certainly thinks that they can fire staff at will...

              Because only the will of the nobility counts. The peasants are not supposed to have any will of their own, and must be punished harshly whenever they show signs of developing such a trait.

              Honestly, I'm amazed that anyone is still even asking such a question.

              ===
              Most contracts have some stipulations about who you can go and work for when you resign. You can leave to work for a customer, but you probably cannot work for a customer if you do not have permission or if that action harms HP because of confidential HP knowledge. The leapfroggers will have to compensate HP, or GM, on behalf of the LFgrs will need to do so.

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          Assuming there is a contract. Not everyone signs an agreement saying that they can not leave for a certain period of time. If they discover that they need to retain people (most of whom will not have that contract) then they will need to start offering incentives to key people to stay with the company for some period of time (ie, a bigger severance package as compensation for being last in line getting a new job later).

        • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by doug (926) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @02:12AM (#42458801)
          Bah. I have no sympathy for HP. I've never worked at HP, but I've been at plenty of places where most/all of the corporate history was lost. It is unpleasant, but you get over it. If this is an especially critical position, then HP should have used golden handcuffs to keep a few key people in place. If your employer treats you well, you usually stay put. If you are worried that you're going to get the axe, you jump ship. This is a basic truth, and if HP's management spent more time focused on its employees and less on the shareholders they would know this. Management should keep employees from having a conflict of interest. Yes, it might cost more in the short run, but it avoids situations like this. Too many people in management focus exclusively on the business side of things, and forget that people are involved. Unfortunately this is not unikque to HP.
        • Re:So.... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 03, 2013 @02:30AM (#42458955)

          I've been involved, numerous times, in cleaning up after that kind of loss of personnel. The loss of institutional knowledge can be devastating: there may be no one left who knows _why_ things were done certain ways, and it can really endanger ongoing services and other contracts to lose that much of a key department without some kind of plan.

          Yes, well isnt' that too bad for HP, or whoever. This is why you pay employees what they are worth to you if they decide to leave. And guess what, employees respond to uncertainty with their feet. The best employees can always find new jobs, and never will have to worry about going hungry. But the best employees also want to leave on their own terms. You cannot, as a company, expect to "trim" here and there, and not have a negative effect on your best staff.

          In your previous situation, the employer weighed the possibility of a "devastating" loss of knowledge against the costs of retaining their employees without whom they would devastated. They gambled, and lost. These larger companies think they are the masters of the universe, but it's not true. They live in a world where intellectual capital has inflows and outflows, just like actual capital.

        • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by CodeBuster (516420) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @03:55AM (#42459435)

          I'd like to respectfully disagree about insulting HP for this.

          The management at HP has failed both the stockholders and the workers. They aren't worthy of respect.

          When you're trimming a department, you sometimes have contractual obligations that require you to retain _some_ of the department or group, to support existing services.

          That's not my problem, you deal with it.

          When they all leave en masse, it can put a very large hole in your infrastructure

          Well cry me a river.

          when someone leaving poaches from their former group, it's usually a contract violation, written into the contract _precisely_ to protect assets a company has invested in and built up over time.

          That's a load of bull. What part of "employment at will" don't you understand? The laws in "at will" states are very clear on this point: either party can terminate the agreement at any time without reason or prior notice. The corporations themselves have long since dispensed with any nonsense illusions of "loyalty" and so we workers have learned to be ruthless too. It's their fault that there's no loyalty anymore, so I say turnabout's fair play, "contract" (which is unenforceable anyway) be damned.

          I've been involved, numerous times, in cleaning up after that kind of loss of personnel. The loss of institutional knowledge can be devastating

          Maybe the company should have considered that before they went to war with their employees.

          there may be no one left who knows _why_ things were done certain ways, and it can really endanger ongoing services and other contracts to lose that much of a key department without some kind of plan.

          You mean somebody moved your cheese [wikipedia.org]?

          there are few things as devastating to the surviving remnant, who may believe in what they do or may really need the job to feed their families and keep medical insurance

          These days it's every man for himself and his family. Make no apologies for that and have no illusions of "loyalty". The corporations look out for numero uno, so must we.

          when the "elite few" depart and leave them holding the undocumented remnants of their work.

          A perfect opportunity to rewrite everything the "right" way. If the company cannot afford to do that, then maybe it shouldn't continue operating (and likely won't anyway).

          And if I ever do a departure interview with one such departing member of a horde who says "there is no documentation, just read the code!" I'm going to warn the staff who organize bids for my company that our hourly rates need to double, and explain why.

          I never do exit interviews, nothing good ever comes of them.

          • by Talderas (1212466)

            That's a load of bull. What part of "employment at will" don't you understand? The laws in "at will" states are very clear on this point: either party can terminate the agreement at any time without reason or prior notice. The corporations themselves have long since dispensed with any nonsense illusions of "loyalty" and so we workers have learned to be ruthless too. It's their fault that there's no loyalty anymore, so I say turnabout's fair play, "contract" (which is unenforceable anyway) be damned.

            Either party can break employment at any time for any reason. That much is true. However if you agreed to a contract as part of the terms of your employment you are still liable for breaking the terms of the contract. Employment at will doesn't provide a magical "get out of the contract free" card.

        • I've been involved, numerous times, in cleaning up after that kind of loss of personnel. The loss of institutional knowledge can be devastating: there may be no one left who knows _why_ things were done certain ways...

          I know of companies that actively *discourage* preservation of historical and other information (and have worked at a couple of them myself). They make it clear that they don't care about how or why, just "we told X to do Y by date Z", but they want any discussions of how that decision was reached to go down the rabbit hole as soon as possible. One of them is a major, major player in the software dev space. (Tip: Look for firms where Legal runs pretty much everything.)

          So I think you should be asking yoursel

        • Re:So.... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by whoever57 (658626) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @06:04AM (#42459921) Journal

          The loss of institutional knowledge can be devastating: there may be no one left who knows _why_ things were done certain ways, and it can really endanger ongoing services and other contracts to lose that much of a key department without some kind of plan.

          Then perhaps the employer should not take the actions that lead to mass resignations. Perhaps they should, you know, keep the critical employees happy! Employees are not fungible.

        • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by daem0n1x (748565) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @08:11AM (#42460533)

          Looks like your company fails to follow two important business rules:

          1. Retain your talent (a.k.a. "don't treat people like shit");
          2. Document your procedures.

          To me looks a lot like poor management. But somehow, in your mind, it's the leaving employees' fault. Well, we don't want all those MBAs bothering about pesky things like... managing, do we?

        • Re:So.... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by AK Marc (707885) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @02:54PM (#42465085)

          I'd like to respectfully disagree about insulting HP for this. When you're trimming a department, you sometimes have contractual obligations that require you to retain _some_ of the department or group, to support existing services.

          Then you meet your obligations, or don't make them. HP was in the process of laying off thousands, and is whining that 18 quit before they could fire them, or others like them.

          I've been involved, numerous times, in cleaning up after that kind of loss of personnel. The loss of institutional knowledge can be devastating:

          HP has cleansed before, multiple times, so that lots of institutional knowledge has already been lost. To have it happen to them, rather than being planned by them (them being upper management) is justice, not a tragedy.

          And while I can't speak for HP, there are few things as devastating to the surviving remnant, who may believe in what they do or may really need the job to feed their families and keep medical insurance, when the "elite few" depart and leave them holding the undocumented remnants of their work.

          That may be the real reason so many left at the same time. "HP is doing more layoffs, and we work on the GM contract that was canceled and GM is hiring. Fuck this, I'm out of here. Hey, Steve, you applying to your old position at GM?" No actual recruiting, and no work by GM could have gotten the same result. So to assume a company with a history of laying off thousands is going into another round of layoffs, I'd imagine that overstaffed departments (like the GM support group when the GM contract is gone) would be looking to get out before they are shown the door by security.

    • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @10:50PM (#42457263) Homepage
      Nah, it's not about loyalty. HP saw that workers ended up with a positive outcome, and reflexively concluded that it must have been illegal. Refer to legal department, sue. Workers are never allowed a positive outcome, this is how you know you're doing business correctly. Business as taught in school, of course.
      • Re:So.... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by undeadbill (2490070) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @12:39AM (#42457949)

        HP should be so lucky that these people left instead of, say, unionizing. Of course, they could be compelled to return, in which case unionizing might be their only recourse. Texas is a pretty messed up state for worker rights, and you can literally sign away your right to work in that state as part of an employment agreement, and it would be legally enforced there.

        My own Texas employment experience, which was thankfully brief (under two weeks)- A 'very large travel company' from TX acquired a startup I worked for in CA, and tried to get me to sign agreements that literally sold away all previous, current, and future intellectual property rights to the new company in perpetuity. They also wanted me to give them the right to know everything about my past, my political affiliations past and present, and to have their approval to become politically involved in anything in the future. They also wanted me to agree not to work in my industry again if I left employment, even if they fired me. Apparently, this is all legal in TX, where courts have already decided that ANY agreement between employer and employee is legal and binding, and that there is no concept of duress or pressure to sign. None of that is legal in CA. I walked out because I refused to sign, they refused to negotiate, and then they made noises about suing me for having been employed without signing their agreement. Ultimately, they screwed up my ISO shares six ways from Sunday as a way of getting back at me.

        My experience was an eye opener to how many states operate, and it made me very thankful to be in a state where employees can't be forced to sign away their rights in exchange for employment.

        • This is all a bit surprising. Texas is a right to work state. (I'm a lifelong Texan, and never seen anything remotely resembling what you described)

          Large travel company: Only one I can think of is Travelocity/Sabre in Ft. Worth.

          • Re:So.... (Score:5, Informative)

            by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @02:24AM (#42458915)

            Texas is a right to work state.

            Right to work simply means that employers are forbidden from signing contracts with unions that say they will only hire members of the union. That's it. You might be thinking of "employment at will" which means employer can fire and the employee can quit without notice or cause unless the employment contract says otherwise - but all 50 states are like that, Texas is not special in that way.

            As for specifics of employment contracts - like non-competes and such, that varies from state to state and Texas is a lot less protective of employees than a state like California (which, for example, practically forbids non-competes except in extreme cases, like a golden parachute equal to the salary for the duration of the non-compete).

            • Re:So.... (Score:4, Interesting)

              by undeadbill (2490070) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @03:05AM (#42459151)

              That, and most people never really read their hiring agreements or workplace policies. Not every company is like HP or the one I used as an example, but as an employee, you can be over a barrel if you don't have other options lined up in a state that doesn't have a lot of protections. Mostly, what I wrote was for the benefit of people who either don't have to sign these kinds of agreements or those who would never be bound to them so they can understand just how screwed those HP employees may be right now. Not a lot of Californians really understand how employment agreements factor in choosing where to live. Texas, Arizona, Washington State, FL, NY all have much more limited employee protections than CA in regards to hiring contracts.

              As far as Texas goes, I have nothing against it. It's a friendly state, and I've liked visiting there. I have friends out there, they work for good companies that don't consider their staff chattel, and would consider Austin as a place to relocate if I were running my own business.

              • That, and most people never really read their hiring agreements or workplace policies.

                The part that's worked in my favor is that most HR people don't actually read the hiring agreements that have been signed and submitted; they typically merely check for a signature and file them away. I've had those documents (hiring agreement, non-compete, and non-disclosure) sent to me in Word format, and no one has ever seemed to notice when I've edited them before adding my signature, turning them into PDFs, and sending them back.

                I've done things like agree to a two-week non-compete, and have even rem

        • Re:So.... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 03, 2013 @02:44AM (#42459023)

          I think that you may be overstating your ability to sign away your employment rights in TX. In any state, all such contracts must be made in "consideration" for something - you must get something in return for anything you give up.

          Once you are hired, or retained, they will have a hard time enforcing any contract which did not come with a tangible benefit when it adds restrictions. If your boss rolls by a few weeks after you are hired with a stack of non-competes, chances are, they are worthless unless signing the documents gets you a cash bonus, a promotion, more salary, better vacation policy, or something tangible benefit. If it's just "sign these, it's routine", they are not valid contracts. In general, this is true across all contract law. There must be a bona fide "meeting of the minds", plus "consideration" for both parties.

          Secondly, in all cases, the employer must be protecting valid business secrets, and not just making a naked restraint of trade. Meaning, the employer must have a legitimate reason to prevent you, specifically, from competing with them. If the purpose is simply to clear out potential future competition, it is probably unenforceable.

          Finally, in all cases, the employer must attach the non-compete to another agreement which is enforceable, i.e., an employment contract. For "at will" employee, who is not under any contract, there is nothing to attach such agreement to, and as such, any "naked" instrument is probably illegal.

          The real truth is that most of these documents that employees are asked to sign as a matter of course are not enforceable. Some are, but in those cases, the employee has (1) an employment contract, (2) been given access to actual trade secrets, and (3) is integral to the operation of a business engaged in work related to an actual trade secret. Even in Texas.

          None of this is to say that the employer can't make your life very unpleasant. Especially if you out on your own to start a new competing business. My own two cents is that if you are moving between employers that compete directly, make known your concerns to your new employer, and get a written guarantee of (1) legal support up to a large dollar amount and (2) indemnification against judgement.

    • by LordLucless (582312) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @10:57PM (#42457301)

      No, it's "you can't leave without notice", and it generally works both ways (although I don't know what HPs contracts are like, specifically).

      It's the trade-off between "at will" and contract employment. "At Will" employees can leave without notice, but can also be fired the same way. In general, workers with a contract cannot be fired without notice (or wages in lieu of notice), but must also give notice before they leave.

      Wanting to be able to resign without notice, but also requiring your employer to give you notice before getting rid of you, is wanting to have your cake and eat it too.

      • Recruitment seems to be the issue here. FTFA: "In the case of the two IT managers, HP alleges that their hiring agreements included a clause that prevents them from soliciting HP employees."
        • Ahh, the summary was less clear. I've seen plenty of contracts like that, and am under one currently. Really, I consider that a fairly reasonable clause (assuming it has a sane time-limit). I don't know if it's been tested in court in the US, but my gut feel is that the employees are screwed. When you sign a contract, you really need to read it, and live with the consequences if you break it.

          That said, all the signs show that HP is pretty desperate, quite possibly as screwed as the employees it's suing, and

          • Of course, the 2 managers who had the "no recruit" clauses could simply say that they weren't involved in planning the move - that they were actually recruited by the other 16 HP employees who plotted the whole move on their own. And HP's lawyers would then look for evidence in the form of emails and testimony to suggest otherwise.
          • what was GM to do hire new to GM people and not the people who have been on site under the old outsource? People who know the site and how stuff works?

            this just part of why outsourcing sucks and some of the pit falls others are people being bounced site to site / client to client some times with out your control / input.

            Not having full control over who makes it on site.

            The paper work gap / time off gap that happens with when the same people stay on site but the outsource companie changes.

            • what was GM to do hire new to GM people and not the people who have been on site under the old outsource? People who know the site and how stuff works?

              Yep. That's part of the price to pay when it comes from doing a big transition like this, and something that the people managing the transition should have accounted for when it came to calculating time frames and costs.

              this just part of why outsourcing sucks and some of the pit falls others are people being bounced site to site / client to client some times with out your control / input.

              Not having full control over who makes it on site.

              Totally agree. But the fault for that lies with GM, who were the ones who chose to out-source then in-source, not with HP.

          • So much depends on the state and the wording of the contract.

            If it's California the employer is wasting his time.

            Texas is less likely to void such clauses, but even then it has fairly restrictive rules about what the employer can put in a contract.

            Georgia - you might get away with indentured servitude.

            • Indentured servitude? This isn't non-competes we're talking about - it's a limitation on the ability of an ex-employee to poach current employees. If the clause is as the GP described, there's no restriction on any employees regarding their work - they can go and leave, and work for whoever they want, and not get any penalty whatsoever. If the person who hired them was in violation of this clause, then the shit falls on them.

  • win-win, no? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot AT hackish DOT org> on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @10:31PM (#42457185)

    Employees don't want to work for HP anymore, and HP gets closer to its "restructuring targets" without even having to fire them!

  • Prime grazing area (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @10:31PM (#42457187)

    If I were a recruiter I'd look at HP as a wonderful place, bountiful and full of talent ready and in fact desperate to be harvested.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @10:34PM (#42457201)

    I know three of the people who left and I had heard of their terrible work environment for months once HP got hold of EDS. GM offered several a good deal to come over since they were all experienced with their systems, gave them significant pay raises, decent benefits and control of their own group. Who wouldn't leave?

  • HP is like IBM (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @10:40PM (#42457229)

    HP is like IBM, they have a reputation of being a company that decades ago you wanted to work for. However like IBM their present reputation is that of a company that you only work for because you /have/ to work for them. Nobody wants to work for HP anymore, and they bloody well know it.

    They are wholly dependent upon the bad economy for keeping employees and the moment the economy perks up they know damn well they are looking at a mass exodus of talent. This is a shot across the bow aimed at internal employees and doesn't have a damn thing to do with GM.

    HP will spend millions more in expenses for lawsuits to send the message across than it ever would have to spent to retain these same employee by treating them right to begin with and consider the money well spent. A telling sign on these things are really viewed is how the accounting is listed on taxes and investor statements for the government.

  • by rahvin112 (446269) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @10:59PM (#42457317)

    Fiona destroyed HP. She turned the company from an engineering and design heavyweight into a commodity hardware business.

    Short term profits resulted and after a year or two and the death of the real engineering progress was complete they began the long slow slide into irrelevance. The fact is we live in a complex world economy where you innovate or die. HP stopped innovating because it was "too expensive". Yes they wiped out all those expensive engineering salaries and boosted short term profit. And several years down the line when HP hasn't innovated anything you see a huge dramatic loss of profit.

    You don't want to be in the commodity business, there's no profit in it. You want to be in the innovative cutting edge area where you can charge premium profit margins (ask apple). Being in that space costs money and lots of engineering resources. HP surrendered that market under the leadership of Fiona. HP's board of directors has been a collection of has-been CEO's that are riding the company into oblivion since before Fiona was hired. The Hewlett and Packard families were railroaded a long time ago, the only ones left are trying to milk the cash out of HP before it deteriorates into nothingness.

    HP could have owned the smartphone market and dozens of other highly profitable sectors had they spent the money on engineering and development instead of deciding that they only wanted to do printers and computers.

    • the only ones left are trying to milk the cash out of HP before it deteriorates into nothingness.

      Isn't that the standard view of what corporations are for these days?

      Optimize for short-term profit at the expense of long-term profit, then bail out when the company takes a dive. Except this time it's the employees rather than the execs that are bailing...

      • against your own company, and laugh at the SEC and CFTC and the New York State Insurance Commission and any other regulatory body, because they are prohibited by law from doing anything even remotely related to Credit Default Swaps.

        then when your company tanks, cash in your CDS contracts and move to the caymans

  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @11:02PM (#42457347) Homepage
    The supreme court of Canada recently made a very radical decision I think regarding a bunch of guys who left a big bank here. Basically the court decision was that people can work wherever the hell they want for whomever will have them. The court seems to have completely tossed out the idea of an employee having any kind of non-compete as violating their right to work. But the decision went much further. It wasn't just about working for the competition or even stealing former employees but the court even said stealing old clients and their phone numbers was fine as long as it was reasonable that the employee could have remembered that data. So if an employee even wrote some names and numbers down it was fine as long as it was a reasonably memorable list. In the particular case the employees were dealing with a fairly small elite clientele so the bank really lost big time. Again the court said that you can't make an employee forget stuff.

    This of course is a Canadian supreme court case but I went to a lecture given by a supreme court justice who said that most supreme courts look to other supreme courts around the world that are based upon the English system of law as the same sort of cases tend to crop up in the various courts at similar times. So without a doubt the US courts will at least glance at this outstanding decision supporting workers rights.

    To me the answer is quite simple. What is HP doing for any employee the day they leave? Absolutely nothing. So what should an ex-HP employee do for HP after they leave? Absolutely nothing. As for any contract. You could sign a slavery contract but any court would toss it out in a second. The key to a contract is that there is an exchange. If I promise to give you a gift of $1,000,000 tomorrow for absolutely nothing on your part you can't actually sue me when I don't deliver. There has to be an exchange. When the employee stops paying the employee the contract has ended regardless of what extra bits HP might wish for. I suspect that this will be going to the supreme court in the US as people will think that it is "unfair" for the employees to be so disloyal and some lower courts might be so foolish as to fall for this argument. But the law is not about fairness. It is about rules; and contract law is fairly old and boring that way. So it will be interesting to see how this all turns out. Personally I was surprised to see our supreme court side so thoroughly with the little guy when the other side was one of the biggest banks in Canada.
    • So without a doubt the US courts will at least glance at this outstanding decision supporting workers rights.

      I live in the US and was born here.

      let me just say

      HAHAHAHAHA!

      you don't know the US very well, do you?

      workers rights? we STOMPED on unions' rights to go on strike in some messed up midwest state. and we were PROUD of how we stomped on our fellow american's rights.

      all that we fought for in the early part of the last century (unions and fairness in work) is circling the drain. erosion, year by year,

      • by Genda (560240)

        I used to be worried about "1984"... clearly that wasn't dystopian enough. "Big Brother" today, is a tetraploid circus geek wearing a dirty diaper and a choke collar in the greasy hands of a Corporate Carnival Barker. They don't change the diaper, they just keep shoving more of the Bill of Rights into it to prevent leakage. The stench is ungodly, but Rupert Murdoch had it bottled and sells it to Click-Heads during the FOX Infotainment commercial breaks... and they swear its Chanel No.5. I keep hearing "Karn

      • all that we fought for in the early part of the last century (unions and fairness in work) is circling the drain. erosion, year by year, of our rights is the direction we are headed in.

        What union are you a part of?

    • by sribe (304414) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @12:19AM (#42457775)

      The supreme court of Canada recently made a very radical decision I think regarding a bunch of guys who left a big bank here. Basically the court decision was that people can work wherever the hell they want for whomever will have them.

      FYI, here in the U.S., the state of California, home to the greatest concentration of tech companies, works pretty much this way. Other states still allow non-compete contracts to stand as they're written, but California severely restricts their enforcement.

      • And recruiters wonder why it is so hard to hire experienced staff from CA to work in other states.

        • by sribe (304414)

          And recruiters wonder why it is so hard to hire experienced staff from CA to work in other states.

          I think there's a whole lot more to it than that--it's the whole "social environment".

    • by Kjella (173770)

      To me the answer is quite simple. What is HP doing for any employee the day they leave? Absolutely nothing. So what should an ex-HP employee do for HP after they leave? Absolutely nothing. As for any contract. (...) There has to be an exchange. When the employee stops paying the employee the contract has ended regardless of what extra bits HP might wish for.

      Just because there isn't a taxi meter running it doesn't mean you don't have obligations. Consider say a fixed-bid delivery, would you accept that after

    • by truesaer (135079)

      Having looked into this issue once in Texas, I found it is generally the case that non-compete agreements are not enforceable for at-will employees. There may be special circumstances depending on what kind of trade secrets they might know and what exactly they're doing for GM.

      But honestly, I bet this is just a shot across GM's bow...pressuring them to avoid hiring away more of their employees to save the hassle of getting sued.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @11:17PM (#42457421) Journal

    When my company outsourced, our top IT people were rebadged as HP and remained onsite. They are still valuable employees who know the company intimately, and should we ever insource, they'd be the first employees we'd rehire. This isn't rocket science.

    • They would need to be old timers to have originally been GM employees. GM bought EDS and transferred all of their IT folks to EDS back in the 80s. It was an odd time. I worked with one guy that was within a couple of months of getting his GM pension (30 and out), and suddenly, poof, he was now an EDS employee, with no pension. He sued.
  • by mbone (558574) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @11:21PM (#42457449)

    You can bet serious money that GM had its lawyers look very carefully at the employee contracts, at least for the 18 leaders (or the most important of them). Not to say they might not lose in court, but I am sure that GM thinks the contracts allow for this.

    Note that GM is (was) a client of HP. This is an unusual thing to do a client; it basically guarantees that HP will never get GM's IT business again. I would not be at all surprised if GM has some major issues with EDS; they may even have a suit planned. (I.e., I bet that this particular bridge has already been burned, so HP has no reason not to get what they can out of the ruins of the relationship.)

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @11:22PM (#42457459)

    When there's no job security, employees will start looking for alternatives.

    • by mysidia (191772)

      When there's no job security, employees will start looking for alternatives.

      Sure... the increase in risk for their employees, means that the increase in risks involved in getting a new job are less of an increase in risk than before.

      If there's little increase in risk, why not go for the bigger reward, if one's available?

  • by drainbramage (588291) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @11:33PM (#42457509)

    Genetically Modified?
    Getting probed?
    I thought my hiring process was rough.

  • Good for them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dave562 (969951) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @11:34PM (#42457519) Journal

    As IT professionals, we are one of the few sectors this economy with any job portability. After years of dealing with the specter of outsourcing hanging over our heads, I say kudos to the ex-HP, current GM employees. If companies respect IT talent and want to keep it, the ought to start treating IT employees better.

    I think we have all, at one point or another during our careers, thought something along the lines of... "If I leave this place, they are going to be in trouble and have a real hard time replacing me." or "This place sucks, I am going to go somewhere else where I will get better (pay, benefits, respect, etc)"

  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @11:43PM (#42457553)

    Orignally, they started by making world-standard test equipment. Now, that would be Fluke. Later, they provided high-quality 'mini' computer-and-terminal systems to medium-size businesses. That business is long-gone. They used to make high-quality desktop computer systems. Now, they still 'sell' computers but they don't seem to have much to do with the hardware and software but just put the H-P badge on plastic junk. Asus is probably the rough equivalent, now, of what HP used to be in computers. In printers, HP invented 'inkjet' printers but have long-since lost their lead to Canon and Epson. They invented the first 'laserjet' relatively inexpensive desktop laser printer but have lost most of that business as well. So what exactly is HP's business these days? Calculators? I guess they still sell a couple models of those but their products were designed decades ago and are probably pretty much legacy business now. As a company, HP is the victim of years of horrible mismanagement at the top. Even if we assume that they have somehow, against all odds, managed to develop some actual management ability from within, can a company as broken as HP ever recover? The workers jumping to GM are just carving out a little piece of what's left of HP for themselves to preserve their jobs. Can anyone blame them?

    • even agilent has gone downhill.

      I collect older HP test gear (stuff that I can afford, used market) and the older fixable stuff is great. older fluke and tektronix is great.

      new of almost ANYONE kind of sucks.

      but HP sold off their test gear groups and so that's that. HP once had a great name for this (and other areas) but they sold it off!

    • HP can increase the cost of the already inflated prices of ink...Or make their cartridges even smaller, hold less ink and make us all have to buy new cartridges every other day...

      • Some of you probably know, but I was BLOWN away when I found out that HP region code their ink cartridges. When I move to the US from Europe, my printer would not accept the US equivalent and, luckily, my printer still had 1 week of warranty left so they had to swap my European printer with a new (refurbished) one...You set up your region when you first plug it in, the printer is identical.

    • by stox (131684) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @01:30AM (#42458479) Homepage

      Actually, the inkjet was invented by Teletype Corp in 1965. The Bozo's at AT&T, the parent company of Teletype, couldn't figure out what to do with it. in 1982, when the patents expired, HP figured out what to do with it!

  • Wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @12:16AM (#42457753)

    So HP lays off almost 20,000 people.
    They have several employees that have worked to do outsourced work for GM.
    GM announces they will no longer outsource the work that these employees were doing. They will do it in-house now.
    HP Employees conclude from this, that they will soon lose their jobs, as the contract will get cut.
    They smartly apply at the very place they've been doing work for... and easily get the jobs because they clearly know how to do them.
    Nothing in violation of their contracts had to happen here. Those employees jobs were in clear jeopardy. If HP doesn't want their employees looking for work, they need to make them feel secure. This was obviously not happening.

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @01:55AM (#42458679) Journal
    Again, this bozo MBA continues to destroy HP. Between the likes of fiorina, apotheker, hurd, and dunn, HP is quickly being destroyed.

    What kills me is that it took decades for Hewlett and Packard to build the company up, but all of the executives are hard at work to get their money out, and are taking less than 2 decades to destroy it.

Ernest asks Frank how long he has been working for the company. "Ever since they threatened to fire me."

Working...