Large healthcare firm based in Illinois set to replace 180 IT employees with workers from India.
Seeing the corporate logo with the slogan, “A Promise For Life” every morning as they arrive for work has to sting for many employees now.
Abbott Laboratories, an American health care company based in Illinois, has 73,000 employees and operates in over 150 countries. On February 22, planned layoffs were announced to 180 IT employees in Illinois. Abbott has signed a contract with Wipro, a major IT firm in India. The workers last day will be April 22nd – and they are expected to train their foreign replacements.
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Asked about the layoff plans, Abbott Labs spokesman Scott Stoffel said via email: “Abbott regularly evaluates its competitive position and makes changes that reflect the strategic needs of its business. We recently outsourced some IT capabilities. We’re retaining the vast majority of our U.S.-based IT jobs.”[/pullquote]
They were given 60 days’ notice, and a severance package that includes six weeks of pay, plus a week of pay for each completed year of service. The severance agreement includes a non-disparagement clause that may make it difficult for employees to talk publicly about what happened. It also requires employees not to sue, including any legal action under the Federal Age Discrimination Employment Act.
Employees are distraught, depressed, angry and worried about losing homes and paying medical expenses. “All the big companies are sending jobs to India — how are we going to find a job at another company?” said the IT worker. “It’s going on everywhere. Nobody is stopping it.”
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat in IL, has been a longtime advocate for H-1B reforms and a co-sponsor of legislation with another visa reformer, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). In a letter Monday to Abbott CEO Miles White, Durbin implored him “to reconsider this plan and retain these U.S. workers.”
Sara Blackwell, a Florida attorney who is representing some former Disney IT employees in a similar situation, has been in touch with the affected IT workers and Durbin’s office as well. Blackwell mentioned the layoff at a rally held by GOP presidential contender Donald Trump Sunday in Madison, Alabama. Blackwell, along with two laid-off Disney IT workers, spoke at the rally held by the billionaire businessman.
With enough attention, it’s possible “we can save 180 jobs and that’s my goal,” said Blackwell.
Meanwhile, job ads are being posted inside the company to fill IT jobs, and each ad points out that an H-1B worker may be hired for the position. “It looks like most of the jobs will go to India,” the anonymous IT employee said.
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