Burn, Baby! Burn!

During the unrest in Baltimore, an unreported element was the revenge and score settling. The news people painted a picture of aggrieved brown people going into the streets to make their case the only way they knew how, but that was just the TV show part. Most of it was good old fashioned looting, stealing and pointless mayhem. But, a small portion was gang bangers taking the opportunity to settle scores, rearrange the map and make some points.

In every community on earth, there are people who have revenge on their minds and when the opportunity comes along to get some payback, they take it. It’s just a part of human nature. Fear of going to prison or fear of being found out keeps most of it under control, but in a place like Baltimore or Detroit, it does not take much to set off a round of score settling.

Revolutions, when they come, unlock all of those doors at once and you get a lot of bloodletting that has nothing to do with the revolution. Sure, the revolutionaries hold public trials, humiliate their former masters and hang enough of them to satisfy their lust for revenge. That’s just part of the deal, but the common people settle their scores too. The revolutionaries eventually have to reign it in which is when the revolutionaries start looking a lot like the guys they overthrew.

Anyway, I was thinking about that when reading this story.

SunTrust Banks in Atlanta is laying off about 100 IT employees as it moves work offshore. But this layoff is unusual for what the employer is asking of its soon-to-be displaced workers: SunTrust’s severance agreement requires terminated employees to remain available for two years to provide help if needed, including in-person assistance, and to do so without compensation.

Many of the affected IT employees, who are now training their replacements, have years of experience and provide the highest levels of technical support. The proof of their ability may be in the severance requirement, which gives the bank a way to tap their expertise long after their departure.

The bank’s severance deal includes a “continuing cooperation” clause for a period of two years, where the employee agrees to “make myself reasonably available” to SunTrust “regarding matters in which I have been involved in the course of my employment with SunTrust and/or about which I have knowledge as a result of my employment at SunTrust.”

The employees were informed of their layoff at the end of September, and the last day of work for some is Nov. 1. This is according to several of the affected employees, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation.

The severance is seen by affected employees as a requirement to provide ongoing technical assistance as needed. The severance agreement itself says that this assistance from former employees “will be requested at such times and in such a manner so as to not unreasonably interfere with my subsequent employment.” An employee shared the severance clause with Computerworld.

This assistance can be by telephone or in-person meetings, and it may be provided without “additional consideration or compensation of any kind,” the clause says.

“How do they think this is acceptable?” said one affected IT worker about the clause. He said he couldn’t fathom how the bank can cut its IT staff and yet insist that former workers be available to fix problems.

You come into work and learn you will be laid off. That sucks, but it happens. Then they tell you that you have to train your replacement. That more than sucks. That’s humiliating. Then you learn that your replacement is a turd eater from the other side of the world. Now you’re pissed. Then some smug asshole from HR says you will have to agree to help the guy for two years on your dime.

Here’s a wild guess on my part, but if things get out of control in America, a whole lot of bank managers are going to turn up with their throats cut. Of course, this sort of spiteful treatment of Americans by people who no longer think they are Americans is common these days. The Cloud People who imagine themselves cut loose from the bounds of citizenship seem to take pleasure in humiliating the Ground People.

Thinking about it, I wonder if revolutions are not just the accumulation of slights and humiliations to a point where the damn breaks and they wash away the old order, leaving a vacuum for someone to fill. Those avant garde revolutionaries that end up in charge are not the vanguard. They are just the people smart enough to ride the tidal wave of resentments.

I don’t know enough about revolution to know and I don’t think much about it. I have my revenge fantasies like any other normal man, but those are for my own entertainment. It just seems to me that our betters are in a hurry to heap as many slights and humiliations upon as they can. It’s as if they think they are at war with us. At some point, the other side of that war is going to wake up and decide to join the fight. I would not want to be a SunTrust Bank manager when that happens.

13 thoughts on “Burn, Baby! Burn!

  1. Over the years I’ve done a lot of IT consulting for banks as well as writing software for them, and even, at their request, served on the operations committee of one. I always had the impression (which is subjective) that the bankers didn’t really like the IT people and sometimes operated to make their programmers much less efficient (1 example: One bank would only provide 1 terminal per 3-5 programmers in small cubicles not allowing enough room for the books & papers & printouts they needed. Even when I pointed out the inefficiency, the bank made no changes). I don’t know if the banker’s attitude towards IT guys was disrespect, fear, lack of understanding & not wanting to understand or something else, but programmers frequently did not have the same access & cordiality as even minimum wage newbies hired as bankers. For whatever reason, I did seem to have their respect, but, based upon observations I never desired to be a bank IT employee.

    It seems very strange to me as well because if you look at modern banking, banks are actually huge computer service companies that do a little banking on the side.

    On the topic at hand, were it me, I’d quit and say FU, but then most of my life I’ve been self-employed because of my desires for independence so I’m not as afraid as most, I guess, to assume I can take care of myself, and it may be harder and scarier for others.

    • yeah, quite right. Bankers liked to treat IT and tech staff like indentured servants. Kept tying up access to systems and access, tighter every year. Gee, just like they didn’t trust anyone. What did the man say, “The most distrustful of other men are usually so because they are cognizant of the dishonesty in themselves”.

      What’s ironic is that (at least at the Bank of America) they migrated all the upper level access to India. Good luck with that.

  2. I wrote this before I saw LJ’s comment and agree with it.

    Maybe I’m missing something here, but what’s to stop the employee from resigning and seeking another job elsewhere? There must be something else in that severance package that we don’t know about for this scenario to make sense.

  3. It’s this kind of crap that gets unionization started. A union thug would be smart enough to get termination conditions written in long before termination becomes a fact.

  4. If I have any pride in my own abilities AND if I am in financial position to risk it. I tell them to stuff the severance package, file for unemployment, and begin an aggressive search for a new job in the same field.
    That course of action is one where your savings can service your debt for 6 months or so

  5. Sign the agreement, cash the checks. As long as you are still getting checks, answer the phone. After the checks stop coming; a. don’t answer the phone or (better) get a new number. b. “Yes, cut the Red wire now…hello, did you hear that?”.

    Bake the cake but spit in the batter.

  6. Desire for revenge is front and center with revolutionaries.

    Your smarter revolutionaries know this, and channel the vengeful impulses of their followers into street-level movements like the Brownshirts. The very best revolutionaries find guys like Felix Dzerzhinsky — the Cheka’s famous chief torturer really thought he was doing all this for the common good, and that the glow he got from revenge was really the satisfaction of a job well done. Dzerzhinsky really thought that, once the Revolution was over and he could put away the thumbscrews and cattle prods, he’d be an elementary school teacher. He really, really did.

  7. What’s worse is that if they don’t agree to the two years of uncompensated consulting, they won’t get the however many weeks or months of pay out they would get if they sign the termination agreement.

    • It certainly seems one sided. Still, I take the money, and assuming it’s paid out one time or over several months, come find me. What are they going to do, sue me?

      I suspect this has more to do with very senior staff with highly specialized and probably proprietary knowledge. And who would most likely be paid for their time, because you would want accurate help.

  8. Interesting thoughts as always, Z, but I have to disagree that our ‘betters’ think they are at war with us. I think the opposite: that like the Bank bosses, these people at the top think they can impose whatever they want on us and we won’t mind. They already don’t think we are at war with islam, despite all the evidence, and so they won’t think they are at war with us.

    We are, as many say, just the sheeple who will — like the SunTrust IT workers and experts (who can do the job the bosses can’t) — be on call free of charge when needed.

    As a Brit I don’t think much of revolutions: that is the sort of thing that the French do along with eating snails, or that the Russians tried once but having realised that a nastier type of person got to be in charge they daren’t do that again in case it gets even worse. I always go with the saying that if you run with the riot over the price of bread some of the people running with you want to burn the bakery down.

    But as the political landscape is farmed by the elite to ensure that the people aren’t represented, revolution is going to appeal to more and more of the farmed and mown-down people. It may not end well but it will be an ending of a sort.

  9. Do you think Americans still can make a Revolution and attack their enemies without the USG-Media guidance?

  10. My solution would be to give the same quality of advice to my replacement that I generally expect to receive on the helpline from India. That ought to cut short this experiment right away.

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