30 June 2005

On the phone to Honeywell

Last week, I wrote of Honeywell's plan for Census Adjustment by globalization here in this humble little space on the vast world wide internets. I emailed Jon Talton, business columnist for the Arizona Republilc, a copy of my article, of which the contents were primarily composed of the leaked information on future Honeywell labor plans. Well, today, Mr. Talton has published a column extolling Honeywell as a model of prescient business acumen. The headline is titled State Needs Foresight that Honeywell Has.

I read the article and reread it another three times, because it left me baffled and confused. At first glance, I really wasn't sure what the point of it was, as Talton seemed to dash around some salient truths, and appeared to be an attempt to dissemble in a less than noble PR manner. Well, then I figured, maybe this is just like one of those official wishy washy Arizona Republic editorials, where a great deal of verbiage is spewed out, but no stand is taken, or position announced in clear light. But, as a high tech professional, it was hard not to take offense at even the initial paragraph in Mr. Talton's piece.

An article in the Wall Street Journal this week deepened the paranoia among Honeywell employees in Greater Phoenix. In an interview with new aerospace CEO Robert Gillette, the Journal reported that the company plans to shift thousands of jobs, perhaps 5,000, to low-wage countries in Central Europe and Asia in the next few years.

Paranoia? Extreme, irrational distrust? Really? I worked as a programmer at Honeywell for a year and remember well my first day on the job where I heard the CIO proclaim on how his wish was to replace all the American programmers at Honeywell with cheaper offshore workers. The group that I worked saw its job function outsourced first to Mexico, and now India. It was broadcast overtly, that the desire was to move most all technical work to offshore locales. Thus, Talton's choice of the word paranoia is most interesting, or should I say becoming, as it's clear where his perspective lies.

More puzzling verbiage continued.

The rough ride that America faces from globalization has been rattling Arizona semiconductor and information-technology jobs for several years. The displacement usually came slowly in small job cuts and moves offshore. Now Honeywell is facing up to the implications of globalization, and Arizona will not be immune.

Honeywell has already announced that 225 to 235 jobs will be cut from its Deer Valley plant. So even if Arizona operations remain a vital part of the company, a lean-and-mean restructuring logically would mean fewer executive and middle-manager jobs here. That would continue a quiet trend of the state losing these high-paid corporate jobs, with their decision-making power, and failing to replace them.

Um, fewer executive and middle-manager jobs? How about a lot fewer engineering and programming jobs? An economy is not built upon the small numbers of executive jobs, or even the middle management jobs which inevitably get axed after so called globalization campaigns eliminate hundreds, if not thousands, of decent paying jobs that in turn fuel an economy.

Talton peppers his commentary with vague blurbs on keeping jobs, but then shockingly concludes his column with the nascent admonition on how other Arizona businesses, government and universities should be copying pages out of Honeywell's census adjustment playbook.

Keeping the jobs should be a priority, especially considering that Arizona is not attracting new Intels, Motorolas or Honeywells. We've also been failing to seed enough tech upstarts, much less grow them into the corporate leaders of the future.

I hope business, university and political leaders are already on the phone to Honeywell.

Ho, where, pray tell, do all these displaced professionals seek work then? Or are they simply added to the lower rungs of the labor pool, to compete for jobs at Wal-Mart and McDonalds, only to suffer the same fate of tragic displacement again, when advances in automation and robotics render those jobs obsolete?

Talton at times has written some lucid columns on the various states of economic affairs, but I find articles like this one to be incredulous. Especially when next week, I'll read a missive on education and how our youth are not pursuing careers in engineering and science. Duh, how can any informed writer not connect the dots between destructive hits to the job pool and motivation to study for a career in said fields of knowledge?


Jon Talton is a very good writer and his economic analysis are usually quite good. Unfortunately he refuses to come to terms with the damage that H-1B/L-1 visas and outsourcing have done to the valley economy. I have communicated with Jon Talton and my impression is that he is very closed minded on this. Like most writers at the AZR, he cannot admit that immigration and job security are related.

Honeywell is very anti-American and therefore doesn't deserve praise. They are corporate villains, not neighbors.

Go to the Job Destruction Newsletter archive on my site to read how they are replacing their American workers with East Europeans and Indians in order to cut labor costs.