IT Reshoring News

March 28, 2016

Abbott Labs of Illinois Begins Showing U.S. IT Workers the Door

Abbott Labs, a manufacturer of medical devices, pharmaceuticals and health foods, has begun offshoring IT jobs. They've caught some political flack for it...but are still proceeding.

Add Abbott Labs to the list of corporations dumping American workers in favor of H-1B foreign workers.

Sen. Durbin calls Abbott Labs' IT layoffs 'harsh and insensitive' – ComputerWorld, Feb 29 2016

We all know the narrative by now:  Company announces huge layoffs of American workers.  Replacements are coming from an offshore firm (in this case Wipro, an India-based IT services company).

The Illinois-based healthcare company announced its IT layoffs on February 22.  180 Abbott Labs IT workers will have to train their foreign replacements before leaving April 22.

In addition, Abbott Labs has gone so far as to include a "non-disparagement clause" in their severance package, to prevent these IT workers from talking publicly.  It even demands they sign over their right to sue Abbott following termination!

Such a restriction is certainly egregious enough on its own to merit scrutiny.  But, as this occurs in an election year, the incident garnered more political and media attention than usual.

Two incidents in particular:

  1. Senator Dick Durbin sent Abbott Labs CEO Miles White a letter, asking him to "reconsider this plan and retain these U.S. workers."
  2. This is the same "Gang of Eight" Senator Durbin trying to increase the number of H-1B visas available.  Rather dubious of him to try shaming Abbott Labs, even if we agree (in principle) with the position.

    Initially, the laid-off workers were required to train their replacements, or they wouldn’t get a severance package.  However, it appears Senator Durbin’s letter prompted Abbott Labs to forego that requirement:

    Laid-off Abbott IT workers won’t have to train their replacements – ComputerWorld, Mar 18 2016
    (They're still laid off, though.)

  3. An attorney has brought Abbott Labs’ actions, as well as the Disney IT layoffs, to the attention of Donald Trump.

Sara Blackwell, an attorney representing the former Disney IT workers we mentioned back in June 2015, spoke out at a Trump rally recently.  She hoped the attention would help save the Abbott Labs employees’ jobs, and draw the nation’s eye toward H-1B abuses.

We hope her efforts succeed, in all respects.

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