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Update: Shrinking Giants & Gentleman Farmers
September 7, 2005: The small town of Endicott in Broome County, New York was the birth place of IBM. By 1980 Big Blue employed 14,000 people in the area. Now they employ roughly 1,600. In 2002, two thousand former IBM employees were absorbed by Endicott Interconnect Technologies (EIT or EI) the successor to IBM's interconnect production business. EIT became IBM's mini-me thanks largely to massive assistance from the state and federal government. Including grants, tax breaks, advantageous loans and real estate deals. Governor George Pataki, Binghamton State Senator Thomas Libous and Charles Gargano, czar of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) aggressively pursued the deal between EIT and IBM. EIT's owners are primarily members of two prominent business families based in Broome County plus an attorney from the area's most cloutful law firm. All have a long and mutually supportive history with Senator Libous and/or Governor Pataki. EIT co-owner and Chairman of the Board William Maines often hosts the Senator Tom Libous annual steak roast, a fund raising event now in its 17th year, held under the aegis of the Friends of Senator Libous Committee. Which last year was chaired by an attorney from the same firm as EIT principal and legal counsel James Orband.

In order to receive state and federal development assistance EIT was required to maintain an agreed upon number of jobs. Including those of the IBM employees EIT absorbed. But group firings started almost immediately. Employee Rick White was an IBM holdover and a union organizer representing Alliance@IBM/Communications Workers of America. EIT, like IBM, isn't unionized. White was upset by the firings and believed EIT was welshing on its promises. Some of the fired employees were with IBM for decades and were highly skilled. Rick White made negative comments re the firings and their potential impact on EIT's performance to local newsmedia outlets. EIT Chairman William Maines threw a fit-- and fired Rick White for bad mouthing the company in public. A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) judge overturned the firing, essentially calling Maines thin-skinned and ruling that White's comments were within his rights as a union organizer. EIT appealed. Last week, right before Labor Day, the NLRB rejected EIT's appeal in a 2 to 1 decision. Almost 3 years after being fired, Rick White can return to his old job and collect his full back pay.

Then there's the profit sharing thing. Back in 2002, EIT supposedly promised employees profit sharing in lieu of a pension plan. Will Rick White be entitled to partake of those profits? Heck-- one EIT employee claims to have collected almost 50 dollars. After the stress of the legal proceedings White might want to unwind before returning to work at Maggie's Farm oops EIT. With that kind of mazoola in hand, he could take a BC bus cruise to Binghamton!

Of course all this would be temporarily moot should petulance drive EIT to file another appeal.

Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff

"Well, he hands you a nickel/He hands you a dime/He asks you with a grin/If you're having a good time"

Maggie's Farm, Bob Dylan, 1965

A more in-depth account of the events described above, except for the most recent NLRB decision, can be found at:

On The QT Special Features: Shrinking Giants & Gentleman Farmers

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Copyright (c) 2005 by Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff. This material may be freely distributed subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the Open Publication License. This license relieves the author of any liability or implication of warranty, grants others permission to use the Content in whole or in part, and insures that the original author will be properly credited when Content is used. It also grants others permission to modify and redistribute the Content if they clearly mark what changes have been made, when they were made, and who made them. Finally, the license insures that if someone else bases a work on this Content, that the resultant work will be made available under the Open Publication License as well.


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