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Saturday, August 22, 2020

Intel Corp. Executives
Shady or even Criminal Behavior

We have covered the massive age discrimination practices that resulted in forced retirements and massive layoffs of older Intel Corp. employees in 2015, 2016 and beyond. When I talk face-to-face with members of PDX-TIE.ORG or other ex-Intel employees (less frequently, due to COVID-19) I am surprised about their ignorance regarding the fact that the company is faced with so many very significant lawsuits due to various shady and perhaps criminal behavior of its senior executives and the board of directors.

From my own perspective, the 2015/2016 layoffs were the event that "broke the camel's back" and proliferated the seeds of corruption and mistrust between Intel Corp. Executive management and the remainder of employees workforce.

While the "Executive Class" at Intel Corporation looked at their bonuses and the stock market evaluation of the company as their main goal, they lost their "moral compass" to unproductive finger-pointing, coverup and greed. Make no mistake, technological challenges always abound in the engineering world. This is why people who pursue engineering as a career, typically belong to "problem Solver" personality class. The main challenge for true engineers (not "engineers" in title or even by university degree) is to get their managers to overcome their "risk aversion" and "cover your ass" attitude. Technology may be challenged by rules of physics; however, management and particularly Executive Management is challenged by human behavioral factors that are essentially all "man-made".

The old "Intel Culture" defined the path for coexistence between both "risk taking" (as in venturing to achieve extremely high goals) and "risk management" (challenging the validity of ideas based on data or provable facts through the "constructive confrontation", rules of debate). These principles were the core values of the company and enabled its workforce to great achievements, through "thick and thin", while facing both technological challenges as well as tough competition in the Semiconductor market segment.

The great principles of "Intel Culture" were eroded, slowly but surely, over a long period of time,after Andrew Grove was replaced as CEO of the company by a series of successors.

The worst Intel Corp. CEO without a doubt was Brian Krzanich (BK), who did not only violate the basic principles of "Intel Culture", but actually made a great effort to overrule and wipe it out in his zeal to receive his Executive Bonuses. It is ironic that BK was forced to resign his post as CEO, due to blatant violation of the the Employee Handbook--the same operational handbook that spelled the rules of "Intel Culture".(see: https://www.pdx-tie.org/2018/06/mf-intel-ceo-resignation-raises-more.html)

The major side effect of getting rid of experienced (and older) employees, who grew up on principles known as "Intel Culture" (attributed to ex-CEO Andrew Grove), was the erosion of the company founders values. "Intel Culture" promoted transparency and discipline from employees at all levels, including the Executives level of offices up to the CEO level.

The sudden disappearance (due to forced "early retirement" and massive layoffs) of older employees (who themselves grew up on "Intel Culture"), left  the younger generations of Intel Corp. employees, who replaced the "old timers", having to learn their way around the various company operations, on their own.

The Intel Corp. Executive Class was so detached from reality that they believed in younger replacement employees' ability to ramp-up on-their own, without the benefit of experienced employees, being around to consult and guide the newcomers (in Intel speak the "NEOs"). Apparently, these executives believed that product design engineers and Fab workers can perform their job by watching YouTube videos and sharing messages through Twitter or Facebook.

 

Over the last five years, we have seen plenty of evidence to the aftermath that was left following the 2015/2016 layoffs, as the "transparency" "Open Door" "problem ownership" and "constructive confrontation" elements of Grove's "Intel Culture" were replaced by coverup and severe suppression of facts, in addition to the fabrication of "fake news, public relations campaigns" designed to keep both company employees and stock holders, at bay.

Unfortunately, there are too many similarities of Executive Class behaviors in corporate America that are created by people whose self-interest and greed, end up working against the company's long-term interests as well as the company employees best interests.

The Boeing B737MAX program fiasco, has so many parallels to the Intel story, in terms of Corporate Executives forcing their way on their underlings by decree and without listening to employees feedback. Between the Boeing case and the Intel Corp. case there is only one exception: thus far (as far as we know) Intel Corp. actions did not result in the loss of human lives.

Currently, there are  a number of legal processes undergoing against Intel Corp., which allegedly, involve anything, from mismanagement of the old employee pension fund (that was in effect until 2009), to long-term coverup of functional "bugs" that are "featured" into the Intel chips "Architecture", to making false statement to stock holders and potential stock holders of INTC equities.

The most significant decision of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to allow the law suite against Intel Corp. "old pension fund", originally filed in 2015 by former Intel engineer Christopher Sulyma, to proceed without delays. This should be the talk of the day. For some reason, this law suit is not getting much attention in the press.
 
Since the Sulyma Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) legal case reached the SCOTUS level of jurisdiction, it is easy to understand that Intel Corp. legal defense strategy is and has always been, based on eroding the resolve of individual plaintiffs, by resorting to legal maneuvering, stalling, and outright lying.

I believe that every current or ex-employee of Intel Corporation, as well as current or past investors of INTC shares, should follow-up on these articles:

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

For The Last Five Years
They Continue to Wish We Were Dead

Today, July 15th, 2020 marks the fifth anniversary date for the first Intel Corp. massive layoff of the 21st century. 2015 also represents the year in which Intel Corp. lost its leadership position within the semiconductor industry, due to a continuous wave of operational flops and process-engineering disasters, most of them due to bad management decisions and a rising wave of mistrust between management and employees.

Intel Corp. 2015 Layoff Action
 Age Composition of Affected Employees

Intel Corp. management, under the leadership of CEO Brian Krzanich (BK) focused on lowering the cost of labor by laying off thousands of veteran employees, instead of fixing organizational and technological issues that plagued the company for many years. The company was unable to fix its high volume production problems for chips manufactured in 14nm for more than five years. The follow-up 10nm production line never matured into commercial viability. This type of phenomenon never happened at Intel Corp. anytime in the past. Having the benefit of hindsight today, this colossal failure can clearly be attributed to the scarcity of technical and organizational leadership among the remainder of the company engineering workforce, following the 2015 and 2016 massive layoffs. Laying off more than 16,000 employees, many of them senior and very experienced, Intel Corp. replaced these employees with a cheaper and inexperienced workforce, resulting in bad employee morale, lack of trust, operational chaos and enormous lack of productivity--a great deal of which still persists inside the company to this day. In spite of external criticism of his actions, CEO Brian Krzanich continued to prove his leadership incompetence for a very costly, few more years. However, fighting reality with paid PR found its limits. Consequently, due to lack of meaningful operational results, Intel Corp. Board took action and fired BK in June 2018. To protect INTC stock value, the Board explained the firing of BK with a "Roger Stone style story" utilizing a sexy connotation that was meant to distract public attention from the incompetence of Intel Corp. C-Suite as well as the incompetence of the company Board of Directors itself. Apparently egomania and greed can never be satisfied. Even after leaving his CEO position with the company, Krazanich himself is under SEC investigation for insider trading of Intel stock. However, as we have witnessed over the last decades, U.S. Government agencies operate more like "paper tigers" than "Rambo". Rich executives can continue to live the high life as long as they pay their high hourly rate lawyers.

Ex-Intel CEO Lists Lavish Silicon Valley Compound

Intel Corp. worst legacy is still lying ahead. In its hasty effort to restructure its workforce the company laid off thousands of older workers, as well as forced many more thousands of senior employees to retire under duress. By doing so, Intel Corp. management violated the civil rights of older workers ("older workers" defined as employees who are 40 year old or older). Such workers are classified by Federal regulations as a "protected class", which requires employers to take specific actions before laying them off. The rules and regulations that protect such employees from discriminatory practices are defined in the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, otherwise known as the ADEA. Although employers are allowed to lay off older employees, the ADEA specifically requires employers to exercise special procedures to guarantee that older employees are not be discriminated against other workers while working for an employer or during the hiring and/or firing process.

dhillon_scaled
Janet Dhillon - EEOC Chair

We actually have brought forward substantial evidence that Intel Corp. knowingly violated the ADEA in many ways. Charges filed by members of our organization (PDX-TIE.ORG), with the Federal government Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2016 are in full progress. We recently received yet another confirmation that the investigation is still in "active" state. It is already more than 4-1/2 years since our charges have been filed and the clock keeps ticking on the Federal investigation. Amazingly, Janet Dhillon, the Chair of the EEOC, appointed by President Donald Trump in May 2019, testified under oath in a hearing in front of congress:

It is the sad reality that too often, justice delayed is justice denied. Evidence can be  misplaced, and memories fade with the passage of time. The opportunity to quickly stop and remedy a discriminatory practice can also be lost – potentially to the detriment of other impacted employees. To ensure quality service, it is critical that private sector charges and federal complaints are handled promptly and fairly – and so we must work to reduce backlogs across all program offices.

Shall we take her for her word?

One of the advertised policies of the EEOC over the last few years was "working with employers", namely convince employers to police themselves, regarding discrimination in the workplace. In the words of EEOC Chair "Litigation Last". namely, avoiding law enforcement at all costs. This type of policy has been exercised extensively, by another Federal agency, the FAA. The results of such actions (or lack thereof) turned out to disastrously manifest their outcome in the Boeing 737MAX fiasco. The result of forfeiting external supervision and "letting the dogs guard the hen house" cost the lives of hundreds of innocent people and at the same time pushed the Boeing company to the brink of bankruptcy. There are very serious lessons to be learned from this story. Lack of external supervision and dereliction of duty unavoidably leads to a situation where everyone loses.

With the above being said and judging from the "snail's pace" at which justice for older employees affected by the Intel Corp. layoffs is being pursued, many of us may be dead already, before Intel Corp. is brought to justice by the Federal Government. Many of us are older and form the most vulnerable segment of the U.S. population at risk for COVID-19 severe infections and ultimately death. Clearly, the political and the corporate echelons would rather wait and see the "problem" go away, as more of our members meet their demise. With no proactive actions on the part of the U.S. Congress, and with the EEOC forfeiting their law enforcement actions, dereliction of duty continues to rule the day.

Latest unemployment Trend Charts
(click on image to enlarge)


The latest unemployment data report clearly demonstrates that the U.S. is in the middle of a major economic trough, following the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the circumstances, it is very likely that many workers will never return to their original jobs. This situation presents employers with the perfect opportunity to "weed out" their most expensive employees, which in most cases are the most senior and experienced, namely "older", replacing them with younger and certainly "cheaper" workers.

It is important to note that in most companies, older employees serve as de-facto mentors to younger and less experienced employees. The value of mentoring has been proven to be a major contributing factor to the success of business. Clearly, with proper management policies, a good balance of employee diversity is not only required by employment laws--it actually contributes to cohesion of the workforce and increased productivity.

Unfortunately and to detriment of many companies, for the average C-Suite executive, having less experienced workers does not seem be an issue of great concern. By the time that the business begins experiencing serial operational failures after getting rid of its experienced workers, the executives have already harvested their mega bonuses and pulled their "golden parachute" cords to pursue "new opportunities"...

Intel Corp. serves as a perfect example of a company that "lost its soul" due to getting rid of its "experienced" workforce, while rewarding its egocentric executives with fat monetary rewards. It may have taken five years to note the destructive effect of the 2015/2016 massive layoffs; however, it is now widely recognized that the "Intel Empire" is collapsing from the inside, due to so called "cultural" problems. (see: Intel’s Culture Needed Fixing. Its C.E.O. Is Shaking Things Up. Robert Swan, who leads the world’s biggest chip maker, is pushing his 110,000 employees to confront internal problems more openly).

During these days when the world is facing a major pandemic, it may be convenient to ignore problems that could have made headlines in the past. However, it is futile to deny the demographic trends in the U.S., which clearly show the working population is getting significantly older.

Workforce-age Group Composition
(click on image to enlarge)

Remember what we said earlier in this article about the ADEA defining older workers as those who are 40+ years of age? Well, if this fact eludes you for one reason or the other, Millennials, namely people who were born between 1980 and 2000 are in the process of entering this class of "older" workers. People who were born in 1980 are already 40 years old! Having the largest representation in the current workforce, Millennials have every reason to be concerned about age discrimination in the work place. Seeing your chances of keeping a well-paying job diminish as you cross the "magic 40" line, could be a nightmare come to life unless corporate greed, with its insatiable appetite for cheapening the cost of labor is met with effective enforcement of laws that have been written to serve the public, as opposed to serving the corporate world.


It is unnerving to think that the U.S. economy can continue to function by the rules of the corporate world with automation and major layoffs producing whopper bonuses to enrich the few individuals sitting in corporate C-Suite roles while denying the actual workers from the ability to maintain sustainable living wages. What are we going to do with people in the 40s, 50s, and 60s who can no longer find a decent-paying job? It is time to recognize that "older" is a relative term and that term applies to every single person throughout their lives. There is no cure for aging unless jumping from a tall bridge is your favorite hobby. One day the other guy is "old" and on the next day you are "the other guy".

Achieving equal rights for women is getting a new life in the political arena, particularly when it involves equal pay for equal labor.  However, very few proponents of women's rights acknowledge the fact that "older" women bear much harsher treatment from employers due to age discrimination than men of similar age. The MeToo movement made remarkable progress to expose and (hopefully) curtail sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Maybe it is time to up the ante, use the momentum and declare the birth of the "Me-Three" (Me-3.00) movement to fight rampant age discrimination for women.

It is an "open secret" that Corporate America is in charge of the country, at least for the last 40 years. We have the "best politicians that money can buy", regardless of their political party affiliation. The current political system is totally fueled by money, which it seems to guzzle at an alarmingly high rate. Although we have a President who seems to continuously make the wrong choices and then cover up in order to save face, both houses of the U.S. Congress are stuffed with people of similar ego maniacal core. Congress and the U.S Senate are stuffed to the gills with recycled politicians who obey the wills of their donors, as opposed to the wishes of their constituents. This situation is hard to explain, since most voters do not identify with either the RNC or the DNC propaganda. Gallup polls conducted frequently over the last few years consistently indicate that there are many more "independent" voters than voters that identify themselves with either "R" or "D". The latest poll conducted during the first week of June indicates that independent voters amount to 40% of the voting population as opposed to 25% Republicans and 31% Democrats. To the best of my visibility, most people are more motivated to vote "against" a particular political candidate than "for" an alternative candidate. With this type of voters' psychosis, it is no wonder that the whole country is falling apart at the seams and what unifies us as voters are our differences...



While disaffection with both of the major parties has been rampant, attempts at creating a significant third party that could act as a tie-breaker in both houses of Congress have not been successful thus far. The political system is essentially rigged by the current players to prevent newcomers from taking political power from the entrenched establishment. As much as I would like to see a large "Independent Party" taking place in U.S. politics, it is difficult to imagine that such a phenomenon would come to life, absent a major long-term crisis. While the COVID-19 pandemic could potentially extend into a full blown existential crisis, most of the American public still believes that full recovery is a matter of a year or two. Throughout history this type of apathetic shortsightedness has always been the "Achilles Heel" of the plebiscite.

In reality, elected politicians must be "supervised" on a continuous basis. The power of money, concentrated in Washington D.C. lobbying firms, can be defeated by voting constituents continuously checking their representatives' actions by looking at their records and responding by sending feedback messages to these Reps.

Calling politicians' bluffs does not need to wait for the next elections cycle. The Internet provides access to most Congressional records and it is too bad that most people do not care to read these records to enlighten themselves. We all carry responsibility to manage our Reps, since otherwise, the money'ed interests in D.C. remain the only entities that interact with them. While big demonstrations in the streets have a significant "splash factor", such events tend to fizzle quite quickly. Generally, politicians have short attention span. In the absence of continuous follow-up on the cause, our politicians will not change their behavior, since most of them depend on money to retain their seat and the money supply is still concentrated in the hands of the "one-percenters" and the big corporate interests.

Take charge and call on your elected representative today! Tell them what you really care about.

Stay healthy and all the best!

--Dr.Flywheel

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