Trump ignores own warning about tech swamp snakes; now IBM has more jobs in India than U.S.

IBM’s chief executive, Ginni Rometty was anxious to meet with the newly-elected Donald Trump in December, last year, and she pledged that her tech firm would create 25,000 new American jobs. She also promised that IBM will be investing in the United States by bringing $1 billion to create training programs and opening new offices.

Promises are cheap. But Mr. Trump was quick to praise Rometty, and even included her in the June 19 Tech Summit, pushed by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. A tech council was supposed to be formed at that time, but nothing happened since then.

What did happen is that these companies, virtually all of them, continued to send jobs overseas and/or hire foreign workers on Visa programs to replace American workers.

No better example is IBM. Rometty’s promise to hire 25,000 workers was “clarified” to mean 25,000 workers over the next four years, and the reaction from employees was harsh:

IBM workers immediately vented on message boards and Facebook groups that Rometty had neglected to mention whether and how many people would be fired in the meantime.

“Ginni Rometty is terminating thousands of IT workers and touting herself as some hero who’s out to hire 25,000 workers,” explained Sara Blackwell, a Florida-based lawyer, spokeswoman for  Protect U.S. Workers, which represents IBM ex-employees, who have filed discrimination and other complaints. “To me, that’s hypocritical.”

IBM today boasts 130,000 employees in India, double the total in 2007,  and more than than in any other country, while its work force in the United States has shrunk through years of layoffs and buyouts. Experts estimate that it employs well under 100,000 people at American offices, a 30,000 decrease since 2007.

In 1951 IBM opened its first Indian offices in Mumbai and Delhi. It left in 1978 after a federal dispute about the foreign ownership rule and made a comeback through a joint venture with Tata in 1993. tThe company is curently spread all across the country, including Bangalore, Pune, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Chennai.

The research firm Glassdoor, reports it is much cheaper to employ Indian workers since – depending on the job – wages are one-half to one-fifth those paid to Americans.

Ronil Hira, an associate professor of public policy at Howard University who studies globalization and immigration, said that the range of work done by IBM in India shows that off shoring jeopardizes even the best-paying tech jobs in America.

IBM’S work in India includes everything from managing the computing of global giants like AT&T and Shell to cutting-edge research in fields like visual search, artificial intelligence and computer vision for self-driving cars. One India team is working with the producers of Sesame Street to teach vocabulary to kindergartners in Atlanta, GA.

The company also boasts a Bangalore group of application designers, who build corporate iPhone and iPad apps to simplify tasks like helping airline agents book passengers, bankers make loans and doctors update patient files.

Don’t hold your breathe if you hope to get one of IBM’s hypothetical new jobs.

IBM spokesman Doug Shelton said that the company generates more than two-thirds of its services revenue overseas, but repeated reiterated plans to hire 25,000 people in the U.S. and said IBM will end up adding a net number of jobs over the next four years.

“If we are able to fill these positions,” he said, “we expect IBM U.S. employment to be up over that period.”

Of course, if they can’t fill the jobs with folks who want to work at low wages, there will be no “net” new jobs, and the work will continue to go to India.

While IBM was promising growth here to Trump, the company completed at least its third round of firings in 2016, according to former and current employees, who said they don’t know how people lost their jobs, but say it’s in the thousands, with many of the positions shipped to Asia and Eastern Europe.

The firings—known internally as “resource actions”— continued into 2017, as IBM started notifying more U.S. workers that they would be let go, according to a current employee.

Mr. Trump has not commented recently about off-shoring American jobs, so it is appropriate to remind him of a poem he so loved on the campaign trail, but seems to have mostly forgotten:

On her way to work one morning
Down the path along side the lake
A tender-hearted woman saw a poor half frozen snake
His pretty colored skin had been all frosted with the dew
“Poor thing,” she cried, “I’ll take you in and I’ll take care of you”
“Take me in tender woman
Take me in, for heaven’s sake
Take me in, tender woman,” sighed the snake

She wrapped him all cozy in a comforter of silk
And laid him by her fireside with some honey and some milk
She hurried home from work that night and soon as she arrived
She found that pretty snake she’d taken to had bee revived
“Take me in, tender woman
Take me in, for heaven’s sake
Take me in, tender woman,” sighed the snake

She clutched him to her bosom, “You’re so beautiful,” she cried
“But if I hadn’t brought you in by now you might have died”
She stroked his pretty skin again and kissed and held him tight
Instead of saying thanks, the snake gave her a vicious bite
“Take me in, tender woman
Take me in, for heaven’s sake
Take me in, tender woman,” sighed the snake

“I saved you,” cried the woman
“And you’ve bitten me, but why?
You know your bite is poisonous and now I’m going to die”
“Oh shut up, silly woman,” said the reptile with a grin
“You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in
“Take me in, tender woman
Take me in, for heaven’s sake
Take me in, tender woman,” sighed the snake

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