Article 43


Thursday, June 16, 2005

Article - Midcareer Crises

Information Week

The world for older IT pros is in flux: Jobs have never felt so precarious, and retirement looks very different. The easy answers - such as retraining - aren’t so easy.

Three years ago, Rich Straka packed his bags and moved 700 miles away from his family to study computer security at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. Sounds like just another story about a kid off to college. Except instead of leaving behind Mom and Dad for four years of frat parties, Straka left his own home, a wife, and two sons. Pushing 50 and with only a part-time job, Straka had to start rethinking his career.

After putting in 20-plus years at AT&T Bell Labs and then Lucent Technologies in demanding positions such as being the architect of a computing environment used by 6,000 software developers, who could blame Straka if he had looked forward to mixing work with a little more pleasure time as he entered the zenith of his career? Instead, he felt compelled to accept an early retirement package in July 2001, when Lucent, like other telecom-equipment suppliers, retrenched in the wake of the Internet and telecom-industry bust. He didn’t want to leave but worried that his pension benefits would be a lot less lucrative if he stuck it out and then later became a victim of layoffs. The post-9/11 job market in Chicago wasn’t rife with other opportunities, though, and Straka knew he had to make a major move. “It was an opportunity I needed to go after,” he says.

Across the country, thousands of seasoned IT pros have faced similar career upheavals, or could in the near future. It’s happening to their younger counterparts, too, as offshore outsourcing, corporate downsizing, and fast-changing technologies shatter the myth of job stability. Just this month, the Walt Disney Co. disclosed plans to cut about 1,000 IT jobs and outsource the work to other companies. For those IT pros in the second half of their careers--and the latest data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates there are about 301,000 who are 55 and older--the possibility of having to change gears amid these conditions presents unique challenges.


Posted by Elvis on 06/16/05 •
Section General Reading
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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

HR 2830 - Pension Protection Act of 2005

Congressman Boehner’s bill, The Pension Protection Act of 2005 (H.R. 2830), has a great title, but ignores older workers who have already been deprived of benefits when their employers froze traditional pension plan accruals when converting to cash balance pension plans.  This bill can be corrected with new language that:

Prohibits companies from establishing employee cash balance accounts that will result in lower benefits than employees have accrued under traditional defined benefit plans.

Protects the right of older workers to continue accruing benefits after conversion to cash balance plans (Eliminate the “wear-away” period).

The bill’s current language has been described as a “Get out of jail free” card for companies who have already discriminated against older employees by converting to cash balance pension plans.

Boehner also announced plans to introduce a bill to LEGALIZE CASH BALANCE PLANS (That’s right.  They still aren’t legal)!  Tell your congresman that any such bill MUST PROTECT OLDER WORKERS.  Nothing less will be acceptable.  This is especially urgent if your rep is on the Education & Workforce Committee. Click HERE for the list of members.

I recently met an AT&T employee who was just laid off.  He told me he was shocked when he got his pension paperwork.  He suddenly understood what I’ve been ranting about for years.  He expectd a much larger pension.

Contact your Congressional Rep.
Explain that HR 2830 is unnacceptable as written, and that Cash balance plans should NOT be legalized without better protection for older workers.

Ask your rep to support HR1322 The Emergency Retiree Health Care Benefits Act.  For details and an easy method to get this done, go to and enter your zip code in the “Writeto congress” box.

What else you can do:

Forward this message to other interested parties
Check and bookmark this site:
If you’re leaving AT&T, send me your personal e-mail address.
Vote your proxy.

Credit: pension_watchdog

Posted by Elvis on 06/15/05 •
Section Pension Ripoff
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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

News From ACER

ACER is the same ACECORP that has advocated employee-retiree retirement interests since 1998.  An “R” was added to emphasize that we now represent AT&T Employees and Retirees.

VISIT our new website: or

JOIN or Renew your membership

Read the letter sent to Judge Linares regarding the recent Supreme Court ruling on Age Discrimination and how it affects our case.


VOTE Your Shareholder Proxy!  It is Important!  Although Shareholder votes are non-binding, it supports the view and focus of the shareholder.  We need 5% votes to appear on the proxy the next year. Never give up your voice!  We don’t expect to win, but we can get their attention!

Vote FOR Proxy No. 8, Executive Pensions requiring the Board to seek shareholder approval of any extraordinary supplemental pension benefits for senior executives.  This is cosponsored by Domini Social Investment,LLC.  and AT&T Concerned Employees and Retirees (ACER).

Vote FOR Proxy No. 9, Severance Agreements requiring approval of a “Golden Parachute” in excess of 2.99 of salary and bonus.  ACER and CALPERS (Ca. Public Employees Retirement System) proposed the same proxy.  CALPERS is the named sponsor because of an earlier postmark.  CALPERS is one of the largest institutional voters.

The Shareholder meeting is June 30, 2005 in Denver Colorado.  Email the website if you can attend.

SEEKING Non-management employees that were promoted to Management after the Cash Balance conversion.  You are not part of the current lawsuit.  ACER wants to identify you.  Please writeinto the website.

Credit: pension_watchdog

Posted by Elvis on 06/14/05 •
Section Pension Ripoff
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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Employee Vs Independent Contractor

Being An Employee Versus Being An Independent Contractor

Maybe you’ve never thought about the difference between being an employee and being an independent contractor (also called a “consultant”wink. In many respects, there seems to be no difference at all. Often, independent contractors and employees work side-by-side at the same company, even doing the same or similar work. But there are very important legal differences between the two. These differences go beyond job title. In fact, sometimes the job title doesn’t match the legal classification—and sometimes job titles are changed to get around legal obligations. Your employment status affects many issues such as employment benefits, tax implications, and liability. If you are accepting a job offer to be an independent contractor, you should know some of the key differences.

Usually works for only one employer.
Generally provides consulting services to more than one company.

Works the hours set by the employer.
Sets his or her own hours.

Usually works at the employer’s place of business.
Works out of his or her own office or home.

Often receives employment benefits, such as health and disability insurance.
Does not receive employment benefits from the employer.

Works under the control and direction of the employer.
Works relatively independently.

Accomplishes tasks in the manner the employer has requested.
Has the authority to decide how to go about accomplishing tasks, and does so without the employer’s input.

Tends not to incur costs or make investments in the work.
Incurs the costs associated with performing the job.

Has a general education and experience background, and receives special training from the employer in order to do the job better.
Has acquired very specialized skills and comes to the work relationship with a particularized education and experience background.

Receives net salary after employer has withheld income tax, Social Security and Medicare tax under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA).
Is not subject to tax or FICA withholding, but pays his or her own self­-employment tax.

Will likely be eligible to receive unemployment compensation after lay off or termination.
Is not eligible for unemployment compensation benefits.

Will receive worker’s compensation benefits for any workplace injury.
Is not eligible for worker’s compensation benefits.

Generally (unless employment is “at will”wink can be terminated by the employer only for good cause and with notice.
Generally (unless the consulting contract is for a specified term) can be let go by the employer for any reason, at any time.

Is covered by federal and state wage and hour laws such as minimum wage and overtime rules.
Is paid according to the terms of the contract, and does not receive additional compensation for overtime hours worked.

Has the protection of workplace safety and employment anti-discrimination laws.
Usually is not protected by employment anti-discrimination and workplace safety laws.

May be entitled to join or form a union.
Is not entitled to join or form a union.

This publication and the information included in it are not intended to serve as a substitute for consultation with an attorney. Specific legal issues, concerns and conditions always require the advice of appropriate legal professionals.


Posted by Elvis on 06/09/05 •
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Wal-Mart and Staffing Agencies

The Wal-Mart Era…

I started my third temp job this week, almost a year after getting layed off from AT&T. I still lack a job with opportunity for growth, decent pay, and employer paid benefits. While my nest egg dissolves meeting bills the temp paycheck doesn’t, hopes of a happy future or happy retirement weaken each day.

AT&T is still laying off, and still REPLACING those layed off with low paid AMERICAN TEMPS, outsourced work to Communist China, poverty ridden India, and other suppliers of cheap labor.

I think Wal-Mart and companies like AT&T that PARTNER WITH STAFFING COMPANIES, are two solid indicators of America’s corporate, economic and political attitudes. 

They illustrate real world examples of the effects of today’s politics, unchecked corporatism, and corporate greed - striving for the lowest common denominator in search of increased profits with government support, who, in my opinion, are giving liittle reflection to the damge being inflicted on our society.

A blogger said Wal-Mart - the biggest employer in America today - tells it’s employees to get food stamps and public assistance, since they don’t get paid enough from their employer. Workers there lack adequate health benefits and make less than $10/hr.

Like American and multinational corporations, staffing agencies may be getting bigger, stronger, greedier, and less concerned on being good corporate citizens, following Wal-Mart’s model of employment and (lack of) benefits - while layed off middle class professional workers increase in numbers and desperation - resulting in widespread exploitation of the skilled labor pool for substandard wages, who may soon be cashing in food stamps too.

Other opportunities and the American Dream are DISAPPEARING.

Posted by Elvis on 06/09/05 •
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