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Union Workers Protest IBM Throughout NY State

Hank Gross

Union workers held a rally outside the Dutchess County Office Building Wednesday afternoon, criticizing IBM for taking public tax incentives while they say Big Blue created no new jobs.

The event culminated with a mock “Hall of Shame” award presented to the corporation, formerly one of the largest local employers.

In continued downsizing, IBM recently laid off 25 custodial staff at its East Fishkill facility.

A fictional character, dressed up like the millionaire from the board game Monopoly, accepted the medal on behalf of IBM, while mocking taxpayers.

“IBM is a true shining example of a corporation that cashes in on tax breaks in the name of job creation,” said SEIU Local 200 Secretary-Treasurer Michael Lonigro. “They fail to create community benefits, or any jobs whatsoever.”

“The members we represent are residents of this community. They work hard every day to sustain their families, and pay their taxes,” agreed John O'Malley, president of the Hudson Catskill Labor Council.

Local resident Carolyn Phillips was laid off from IBM. “My job and many others were eliminated in 2007,” she said. IBM hired her back in 2010 as a temp, at half pay with no benefits. Ten months later, the position was outsourced to Argentina, she said.

“There are so many issues in Poughkeepsie – homelessness, unemployment,” said city resident Jean Hayes. “I'd rather see my tax dollars go to fix some of these problems, rather than for profit to rich CEOs,” she said.

“The state and federal government talk about cutting all these programs we need, because they say there's no money,” Hayes said. “How can they say that, while they're giving all of this money to corporations,” she asked.

Poughkeepsie's IBM rally was one of six organized throughout New York State by unions.