|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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