dcblogs writes: Last October, the U.S. government began hiring 6,500 new cybersecurity IT professionals. It has hired 3,000 so far, and plans to hire another 3,500 by January 2017, the White House said Tuesday. This hiring is intended to improve the nation's response to "increasingly sophisticated and persistent cyber threats that pose strategic, economic, and security challenges to our nation," said White House officials in a memo. The problem the U.S. faces is pay: For instance, a job ad for an "IT specialist INFOSEC" sets a salary floor of $55,670. The wages can rise to just over $100,000, and a master's degree is needed.
dcblogs writes: Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, on Monday criticized the replacement of U.S. IT workers with foreign labor but stopped short of offering a plan to fix it. In a videotaped interview with Vox, Clinton appears empathetic and sympathetic to IT workers who have trained their foreign replacements as a condition of severance. She mentioned IT layoffs at Disney, specifically. "The many stories of people training their replacements from some foreign country are heartbreaking, and it is obviously a cost-cutting measure to be able to pay people less than what you would pay an American worker," said Clinton in the interview. Keith Barrett, a former IT worker Disney who was among those replaced by contractors, was not happy with Clinton's comments."She starts off as if she understands the problem, but then dismisses it as collateral damage not of significant volume to address, and blends in the problem of illegal immigrant labor, which is mostly working in unskilled labor," said Barrett.
dcblogs writes: In 2003, Tata Consultancy Services, a large India-based outsourcing firm, opened an office Buffalo office, which it described as then Sen. Hillary Clinton's "brainchild." At the announcement Clinton said, "TCS could have located anywhere in the country. I am proud but not surprised that they chose Buffalo." It became a talking point for Clinton in her defense of offshore outsourcing. "Well, of course I know that they outsource jobs, that they've actually brought jobs to Buffalo," said Clinton to Lou Dobbs, then at CNN, in a 2004 interview. "They've created 10 jobs in Buffalo and have told me and the Buffalo community that they intend to be a source of new jobs in the area, because, you know, outsourcing does work both ways." But Tata has since closed that office, and with it, Clinton's example that outsourcing works both ways.
dcblogs writes: Just over a year ago, two people who had been turned down after applying for jobs at Google filed a lawsuit against the company. They claimed they were rejected because of their age. Both were over 40. A federal court in San Jose is now being asked to decide whether many others who sought jobs at Google and were also rejected can join this case. On Wednesday, a motion for conditional certification of collective action status was filed. This motion, similar to a class action, seeks to include "all individuals who interviewed in-person for any software engineer, site reliability engineer, or systems engineer position with Google in the United States during the time period from August 13, 2010 through the present; were age 40 or older at the time of the interview; and were refused employment by Google." A separate effort seeks to expand this to include people who were rejected after telephone interviews. A large number of people may be eligible. Google reportedly gets more than 2 million job applications a year. To build support for their cases, the plaintiffs are submitting additional statements. One woman seeking a job at Google said an "interviewer expressed concern about a cultural fit, noting that she might not be up for the 'lifestyle.'" According to the court document, this unidentified woman assured the interviewer "that she was willing to work long hours," but "the interviewer replied that he was still worried that she was not Googley enough."
dcblogs writes: As president, Hillary Clinton will support automatic green cards, or permanent residency, for foreign students who earn advanced STEM degrees. Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, wants the U.S. to “staple” green cards on the diplomas of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) masters and PhD graduates “from accredited institutions.” Clinton outlined her plan in a broader tech policy agenda released today. Clinton's “staple” idea isn’t a new. It’s what Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential candidate in 2012, supported. It has had bipartisan support in Congress. But the staple idea is controversial. Critics will say this provision will be hard to control, will foster age discrimination, and put pressure on IT wages.
dcblogs writes: China on Monday revealed its latest supercomputer, a monolithic system with 10.65 million compute cores built entirely with Chinese microprocessors. This follows a U.S. government decision last year to deny China access to Intel's fastest microprocessors. There is no U.S.-made system that comes close to the performance of China's new system, the Sunway TaihuLight. Its theoretical peak performance is 124.5 petaflops (Linpack is 93 petaflops), according to the latest biannual release today of the world's Top500 supercomputers. It has been long known that China was developing a 100-plus petaflop system, and it was believed that China would turn to U.S. chip technology to reach this performance level. But just over a year ago, in a surprising move, the U.S. banned Intel from supplying Xeon chips to four of China's top supercomputing research centers. The U.S. initiated this ban because China, it claimed, was using its Tianhe-2 system for nuclear explosive testing activities. The U.S. stopped live nuclear testing in 1992 and now relies on computer simulations. Critics in China suspected the U.S. was acting to slow that nation's supercomputing development efforts. There has been nothing secretive about China's intentions. Researchers and analysts have been warning all along that U.S. exascale (an exascale is 1,000 petaflops) development, supercomputing's next big milestone, was lagging.
dcblogs writes: Non-compete agreements are controversial for many reasons, but what may be worst of all: Even if you are laid off from your job, a non-compete agreement may still apply. California has made non-compete agreements unenforceable, but Massachusetts has not. Some opponents say that's partly the result of lobbying by EMC, which has considerable clout as a major state employer, headquartered in the Boston suburb of Hopkinton. But the pending $67 billion merger of EMC with Dell, and the prospect of merger-related layoffs, is spurring a new attack on non-compete agreements. State lawmakers are considering limiting non-compete agreements to one year, banning them for low-wage workers and for people terminated without cause. The leading legislative proposal will also require an employer to pay at least 50% of the former employer's salary during the period of time the non-compete is in effect. This salary guarantee is called "garden leave" and is in Massachusetts House bill H.4323. In May, the White House released a report about non-compete agreements. It found that 18% of the workforce is now covered by a non-compete agreement, but over the course of a career, some 37% of all workers will be subject to them.
dcblogs writes: The IT layoffs at MassMutual Financial Group will happen over a period of many months, and it's going to be painful for employees. Employees say they are training overseas workers via Web conferencing sessions. There are contractors in the office as well, some of whom may be working on temporary H-1B visas. Employees say they notice more foreign workers in the hallways. Approximately 100 employees are affected. The employees are angry but can't show it. A loss of composure, anything other than quiet acquiescence, means risking two weeks of severance pay for each year on the job. But maintaining composure is hard to do. "I know a few people that are probably close to a breakdown," said one IT employee.
dcblogs writes: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's decision to use a private email server ran afoul of the government's IT security and record retention requirements, according to a report by the department's inspector general released today. This use of a private email server did not go unnoticed within the Department of State's IT department. Two IT staff members who raised concerns about Clinton's use of a private server were told not speak of it. Clinton was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013 and during that period she used a private email server in her New York home.
This report by the Department of State's Inspector General about Clinton's use of a private server makes clear that rules and regulations were not followed. It says that Clinton would not have received approval for this server had she sought it. According to the current CIO, the report said, "Secretary Clinton had an obligation to discuss using her personal email account to conduct official business with their offices, who in turn would have attempted to provide her with approved and secured means that met her business needs." However, the report notes, according to these officials, The Bureau of Diplomatic Security and IRM (Bureau of Information Resource Management) "did not — and would not --approve her exclusive reliance on a personal email account to conduct Department business, because of the restrictions in the FAM [Foreign Affairs Manual] and the security risks in doing so."
dcblogs writes: In recent years, major high-tech firms have started releasing workforce diversity data, along with a promise to improve. And there is much room for improvement, according to federal officials. Among the top 75 Silicon Valley tech firms, whites make up 47% of the workforce, Asian Americans 41%, Hispanics, 6% and African Americans 3%, according to an analysis by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Women account for 30% of the workforce at these 75 firms. The high-tech firms included in this list of 75 were based on a San Jose Mercury News ranking of top technology firms in Silicon Valley
dcblogs writes: Tribune Publishing Co., a major newspaper chain, is laying off as many as 200 IT employees as it shifts work overseas. The firm, which owns the Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, Hartford Courant and many other media properties, told IT employees in early April that it's moving work to India-based Tata Consultancy Services. The LA Times has been critical of the use of H-1B visas in offshore outsourcing, in particular the decision by Southern California Edison. The utility hired India-based vendors, including Tata and then cut some 500 IT jobs. "Information technology workers at Southern California Edison have found themselves in the unhappy position of training their own replacements, thanks to a plan by the utility to outsource their jobs to two India-based staffing companies," the Times wrote in an editorial last year; the editorial focused on the use of H-1B visa workers in offshore outsourcing. IT workers at the Tribune are now training their replacements
dcblogs writes: The McClatchy Company, which operates a major chain of newspapers in the U.S., is moving IT work overseas. The number of affected jobs, based on employee estimates, range from 120 to 150. The chain owns about 30 newspapers, including The Sacramento Bee, where McClatchy is based; The Fresno Bee, The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., The State in Columbia, S.C. and the Miami Herald. In a letter sent to the chain’s IT employees in late March, McClatchy CEO Patrick Talamantes detailed all the improvements a contract with the outsourcing firm, India-based Wipro, will bring, but buries, well down in the letter what should have been in its lead paragraph: There will be cutbacks of U.S. staff. The letter received by McClatchy’s IT employees from Talamantes begins by telling them it is “pleased to unveil our new IT Transformational Program, a program designed to provide improved service to all technology users, accelerated development and delivery of technology solutions and products, variable demand-based technology resources and access to modern and cutting-edge skills and platforms.” Seven paragraphs down in the letter, he lowers the boom: "As we embark on the implementation phase, there will be a realignment of resources requiring a reduction in McClatchy technology staff." IT employees thought they were part of the solution to McClatchy's tech direction, not the problem. Said one IT employee: "This has taken us all by surprise. I'm not saying that we felt untouchable as they have been doing layoffs for the past 10 years, but being part of IT we felt that we had a big part in what happens" in the company. Employees are now training their replacements.
dcblogs writes: Phillip Tsen, a former outsourcing project manage at IBM, was responsible for managing offshoring contracts. He worked in the field, but quit because the personal toll was too much. "You see people suffering. You see people trying to resist and fight [the outsourcing of their jobs]. I see all the things that are going on behind the scenes. You deteriorate inside your heart." Tsen, who holds a master's degree in computer science, is now opposed to the wholesale outsourcing of IT departments. He says IT workers have become scapegoats for failed management, and a major driver of outsourcing decisions are executive bonuses tied to cost savings. "I do not encourage that (majoring in computer science) because of the trend we are going down. Being a developer, tester or engineer of software — those are jobs that will be offshored." Tsen described his experiences in a book, a work of fiction inspired by true events, The PM Executioner: A Project Manager's Journey in Offshoring Jobs.
dcblogs writes: In 2013, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) emerged as one of the Senate's top H-1B visa supporters, and argued for a 500% visa cap increase. But during his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Cruz had a conversion. Cruz's presidential platform proposed a $110,000 minimum wage for visa workers, among other restrictions, as a way ending their use as low-cost labor. The move marked a complete turnabout on the H-1B issue. Cruz's decision Wednesday to add former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (and one-time GOP presidential candidate herself) as his running mate if he wins the nomination, may make his newly found H-1B beliefs a hard sell. At HP, Fiorina was a prominent supporter of the offshore outsourcing model, said Ron Hira, an associate professor of public policy at Howard University. To pump up profits, she was an early adopter of the practice, which given HP's status as a leading Silicon Valley firm, pushed other firms to adopt offshoring," said Hira.As offshoring gained, Fiorina played a leading role in defending globalization. To make her point, in 2004, Fiorina said: "There is no job that is America's God-given right anymore."