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  1. Reclusive billionaire Robert Miller built a business empire far from the public eye. Now, a bitter divorce has thrown his legacy into question. By Joe Castaldo From Canadian Business magazine, September 27, 2010 http://www.canadianbusiness.com/managing/strategy/article.jsp?content=20100927_10022_10022&page=1 To say Robert Miller is a reluctant interview is a grand understatement. He has avoided attention his entire career, and there are no doubt countless activities he would much rather be doing right now than standing in his opulent office with a reporter. He has previously given a single media interview since co-founding Future Electronics Inc., a multinational distributor of electronic components based in Pointe-Claire, Que., that generates nearly $4 billion in revenue each year. Miller is the sole owner. He has never authorized a picture of himself to be published, and his name is rarely, if ever, attached to his extensive charity work. Miller does not do public appearances. He will never be seen at a ribbon-cutting ceremony or posing with an oversized novelty cheque. His desire for privacy has been his most identifiable trait — aside from his wealth. This magazine estimated his net worth last year at $1.19 billion. Forbes magazine valued him at US$2.5 billion. In the absence of any visible public image, the one surrounding Miller is that of an eccentric billionaire recluse. But now he has welcomed a reporter into his office, extending a large hand and wearing a warm smile. He is a tall, lanky man with a slightly stooped posture, sporting a pair of chunky black orthopedic shoes and rimless glasses. At 65, his hair is tinged with grey. He says he would like to write a book about Future Electronics some day. "It's an amazing story," he says in a gravelly baritone. "It could fill 600, 700 pages." The meeting comes at a time when the comfortable, profitable obscurity in which both Miller and his company have operated is threatened. He is in the midst of a long-running and acrimonious divorce proceeding with his ex-wife, Margaret Antonier, which has thrown this most private of men and his business empire into an unflattering spotlight. The pair was married for nearly 38 years before Miller filed for divorce in 2005. Assets likely totalling hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions, are at stake, but the exact details of the proceedings are sealed in a Montreal court. The legal battles do not end there. In June, Miller filed lawsuits in Florida and Montreal against Antonier and the real estate development company they co-own, Miromar Development Inc. He is alleging Antonier and another executive are shutting him out of the company, and have even siphoned money from the firm. Antonier's lawyers, meanwhile, have accused Miller of "horrendous personal behaviour," the specifics of which are outlined in a filing Miller's lawyers have requested the court keep sealed. A Florida newspaper picked up on the case, followed by the Journal de Montreal, which splashed a picture of Miller across its front page, the first photo of him ever published. What it all means for the business empire he built remains to be seen. For Miller himself, it means reluctantly inching from the shadows to take hold of his public image. But that image is anything but simple. Current and former employees — even competitors — describe him as a genius and a visionary. Everything about him, from the way that he operates his company and interacts with employees to the many varied causes he supports (cryogenics research, for one) contribute to the image of a tycoon unlike any other. The more he reveals, the question "Who is Robert Miller?" becomes all the more difficult to answer. The basic biographic details are simple enough: Miller was born in 1945 and raised in Montreal, and later studied at what was then called the Rider Business College in New Jersey. He worked as a radio disc jockey in New Jersey in the 1960s, where his music program, The Bob Miller Show, aired three hours a day during the week and six hours on Sundays. He moved back to Montreal and joined a small wholesaler called Specialty Electronics. Owner Ben Manis, an acquaintance, hired him. Miller threw himself into the job and became close with Manis's son, Eli, who also worked at Specialty. But the younger Manis eventually had a disagreement with his father and left the company. Miller suggested he and Eli go into business for themselves. In 1968, they started Future Electronics out of a small rented office in Montreal. They essentially acted as middlemen, buying obscure electronic parts from component manufacturers and selling them to makers of finished products, ranging from consumer goods to industrial equipment. Manis says he came up with the name. "I just sort of said, let's forget the past. Look to the future," he says. The company grew steadily, and Miller proved to be a workaholic. To Manis, who didn't share his partner's devotion, it wasn't evident Miller had any outside interests. "Something came into his head, and he said, 'What do I need him for?'" Manis recalls. In 1976, Miller bought his partner's half of the company for $500,000. Future operated differently nearly from the start. Distributors in this industry are essentially stores for electronic components, but typically try to limit their inventory, reducing costs and risks. Component prices are volatile, and no one wants to sell product at a loss. Instead, Miller bought large quantities of components when they were cheap. He then charged a significant markup selling to equipment manufacturers when demand hit. Put crudely, Miller made his name as a speculator in electronic parts, and he's an exceptionally gifted one. One former vice-president who asked to remain anonymous recalls only one slip-up in his 15 years at the company, and there were consequences. "Some people were demoted," he says. Miller is often credited with having an intuitive sense of the market, but his moves are based on excellent intelligence. He got to know many of the executives at component makers in part to find out where manufacturing would be constrained. "Just through networking, he got a feel for what commodities would be hot," says the former VP. Holding inventory has another major advantage. "We became known for being the one place you could go to and always find product," says Gregg Smith, another former vice-president, adding that was how Future won new customers. The model works because Future is privately held. Building out the infrastructure to hold loads of inventory is expensive and tough to justify to shareholders. So too are speculative bets. But as the sole proprietor, Miller is accountable only to himself. Today, the product marketing department, mostly housed at headquarters, is the heart of the company. The department buys from suppliers and sets resale prices for Future branches across the world. Competitors assign product marketers to work with specific suppliers, but Miller turns the model on its head. His employees focus exclusively on a component group, becoming experts able to see trends in the market for specific parts. The job is demanding. "The phone is ringing non-stop," recalls a former employee. "It would be usual to have three or four lines on hold while taking another call and trying to close a deal." The pace takes its toll on some. One former employee recalls developing migraines, another, stomach pains. (Future has a medical clinic on-site). Lindsay Blackett worked at Future for six years in sales and marketing, and is now Alberta's culture minister. "Politics, people think it's hardball. But it's nothing compared to Future," he says. In the 1990s, when Blackett worked at Future, Miller would call up individual workers on the floor to inquire about particular deals. "That could be very intimidating, or very rewarding," he says. "He knew what everyone was doing in that building." Competition thrives at Future, which not everyone can handle. "Robert Miller sat on a cloud like Zeus and said, 'Go at it, boys,'" recalls the former VP. "He saw that through confrontation, people would excel." Those who do perform rise quickly through the ranks, and salespeople can make hefty commissions. More than 10 years ago, Future bought massive amounts of tantalum capacitors, used in mobile devices, before the wireless boom hit. When it did, supply was scarce — except at Future. The company sold millions of them a month with a markup as high as 2,000%. Gross profits were so large that for a couple of years, Miller held monthly meetings with sales staff in the auditorium. He handed out their commission cheques individually, from smallest to biggest, announcing the sum for all to hear. The largest topped six figures. Those at the bottom were driven, not only by the desire for bigger commissions but out of embarrassment, to make more and bigger sales. Employees who have little interaction with Miller tend to regard him with a mixture of apprehension and awe. Spotting their boss loping through the hallways is akin to a celebrity sighting. Usually the only opportunities for many to lay eyes on their leader are the addresses he gives roughly once a quarter. He'll often speak for well over an hour, sometimes two. "I always say the intellectual property for Future Electronics is Robert's brain," says Lindsley Ruth, a corporate vice-president. Even employees many years removed from the company still respectfully refer to him as Mr. Miller. Those who work more closely with Miller say he offers plenty of encouragement and room to be entrepreneurial. A few years ago, Jamie Singerman, currently a corporate vice-president at the company, was rolling out a new division called Future Lighting Solutions, which is focused on the LED market. Future didn't have expertise in that area, and building it up required lots of investment. "I went in with a presentation," Singerman recalls. Miller didn't look at it and instead asked if it was the right thing to do. "I said yes, and he said, 'Done.'" Miller is sometimes unpredictable, however. A few years ago, some of the product specialists in Montreal were told not to come in for a month to allow their managers to fill in and become more knowledgeable about the parts the company was dealing with. A former product specialist says many of his colleagues felt they would no longer be needed, and started looking for other jobs. The managers, meanwhile, were overworked and started polishing up their resumés, too. "If the exercise was a natural culling exercise," says the former employee, "it worked." The first time people outside the industry heard of Future Electronics or Robert Miller came on May 7, 1999, when some 30 RCMP officers, in the presence of an FBI agent, raided corporate headquarters. They toted away dozens of boxes of material for reasons officials would not disclose. The company's lawyers successfully fought in court to keep investigators from looking at the seized material, arguing the search was unjust. After six months of media lawyers wrangling in court, the search warrant detailing the reason for the raid was unsealed by the Supreme Court of Canada. The U.S. Department of Justice alleged Future was defrauding a handful of U.S.-based suppliers out of approximately US$100 million a year. The company was accused of maintaining two sets of accounting records — one real, one false — and only Miller and select executives, dubbed the A-Team, had access. The false records were allegedly used to take advantage of debits and rebate programs from suppliers so that Future could pad its margins. Miller never spoke to the press, but Future issued statements denying any wrongdoing and calling the allegations "absurd." There were also whispers the whole investigation was sparked by disgruntled ex-employees, and based on a misunderstanding of how the distribution business worked. More than a year later, Future's lawyers succeeded in quashing the search warrant that justified the raid, and the seized material was returned without having been examined. Nearly three years after the initial search, the U.S. Department of Justice dropped its investigation entirely. Neither that investigation nor anything else has kept Miller from expanding his company to become the fourth-largest electronics distributor in the world. Future Lighting Solutions is booming, scaling up from virtually nothing in 2004 to nearly $350 million in revenue today. The division, which doesn't simply distribute parts but works with customers to meet specific lighting needs, could some day rival the size of the components business. The company is also re-launching a division called Future Active Industrial that focuses on the countless smaller customers generally ignored by larger distributors. The beneficiaries of Future's success spill far beyond the company's headquarters. Miller committed years ago to giving away more than half his earnings to charity. Much of it goes to employees and their families. Miller receives many letters from employees seeking help, often for medical issues. Gina Galardo joined Future 17 years ago as an administrative assistant, but over the years, fielding these requests eventually took over her job. Lori-Ann MacDonald was brought on six years ago to assist. In an interview in a Future boardroom, they explain that when a letter comes in, they conduct research to find the best doctors or specialists, book appointments, provide moral support or anything else that needs doing. Miller has a deep interest in medical research with extensive connections in the community, and can usually immediately recommend a doctor or clinic. He has paid for expensive medical procedures for countless employees, and finds time for hospital visits and phone calls. "Should we get the binders?" MacDonald asks. She makes a phone call, and two other assistants enter, each with two five-inch-thick binders in their arms. The binders are brimming with letters and thank-you cards from employees, organized alphabetically by name. Galardo and MacDonald are soon lost recounting the stories on each page. There is even a section on Ben Manis, the man who hired Miller at Specialty Electronics back in 1967. Manis is in his mid-90s today. Miller employed him at Future for a time and set him up with an apartment across from headquarters. He now supports Manis's accommodations in a seniors' residence, and has allotted money for his funeral. The two have lunch plans for Manis's 100th birthday, however. "I think this sums up Mr. Miller," Galardo says, turning the page. The allegations being made in a Florida civil court against Miller by his ex-wife stand in stark contrast to the benevolent man who never says no to a worthy cause. Miller married Margaret Antonier in 1967. They had two sons, and Antonier remained an active businesswoman. She originally worked in radio advertising, and in 1988, Miromar Development Inc. was formed and received financing from Future Electronics. Miller and Antonier each own 50% of the real estate firm, and Antonier serves as chief executive officer. "I have learned the business from the ground up," Antonier wrote in response to e-mailed questions. "I am pretty hard on myself when it comes to succeeding." Miromar built Canada's first outlet mall, in Montreal, and in the mid-1990s, began developing properties in Lee County, Fla., including an 1,800-acre residential resort with a private beach and golf course. Employed at Miromar was Robert Roop, who had worked at Future for 20 years prior. He served as the company's chief financial officer at the time he resigned and moved to Florida to work at Miromar with Antonier. The lawsuit against the firm states Antonier and Roop became "romantically involved," but does not specify when. In 2005, for reasons that remain under seal in a Montreal court, Miller filed for divorce. Antonier's lawyers in Florida say she filed a demand in the divorce proceeding for Miller's stake in Miromar, a company "she created and operated for decades," be transferred to her and that loans owed to Future Electronics by Miromar be forgiven. Miller sought a valuation of Miromar's assets, and in 2008, he filed a lawsuit in Florida to get access to its corporate records that he was allegedly being denied. The case plodded on until February, when Miller voluntarily dismissed it. But in June, Miller filed new lawsuits in Florida and Montreal, including a declaration from Frank Holder, a senior manager at a forensic consulting firm hired to probe Miromar. Holder concluded Antonier and Roop are violating Miller's rights as a shareholder and director in Miromar by excluding him from the company, and refuse to provide full access to corporate documents. He also claims to have discovered Antonier and Roop engaging in "various acts of misconduct, including theft and diversion of corporate funds." Miller is seeking for a receiver to be put in place. Lawyers for Antonier in Florida refute all of the charges and dismiss Holder's account as baseless, arguing criteria for installing a receiver have not been met. They also contend the suit is designed to delay the divorce proceedings, alleging "wrongful acts" on Miller's part and arguing he has a "desperate desire to avoid the consequences of the Canadian divorce proceedings." That case is sealed, and it is unknown what either party is seeking in those proceedings. None of the allegations in the Miromar litigation have been proven in court, and neither side will comment on the cases. But the disputes and the resulting publicity cut very close to the bone for Miller. Not even during the three-year-long ordeal with U.S. authorities did he speak with reporters. But after researching Future Electronics for weeks, this magazine received a call from the company's general counsel with an almost unprecedented invitation: Miller was willing to sit down and talk. Miller is reticent to say too much about himself or the company. He wants to save the best material for the book. But he has agreed to an interview, provided it is not recorded. Similarly, he would not pose for a photograph. He certainly is not afraid of the camera, however. Hanging on the wall opposite his desk are two huge portraits, one of Miller solo in a suit, another of him shaking hands with Quebec Premier Jean Charest. His aversion to published photographs, he explains, stems from his desire for security for himself and his sons. Miller speaks slowly, but has an intense manner. He leans forward when talking, his bushy eyebrows shooting up when he wants to emphasize point, and rarely breaks eye contact. He has a habit of saying whatever pops into his head. While making a point tangentially related to health, he offers that "I have colonoscopies with startling regularity." He also has a knack for numbers. He can remember exactly when Eli Manis phoned him to say he had quit Specialty Electronics: Nov. 20, 1968, at 4:45 p.m. The phone number at Future Electronics' first office? 418-7701. The number of stairs leading up to that office? Thirty-two. He politely deflects most personal questions. He is more comfortable expounding on Future's unique operating model — based on inventory and market research, rather than pipelining product. "It's so basic that it amazes me that our competitors don't recognize the benefit of having inventory," he says. "Inventory drives sales." He attributes much of the company's success to its privately held status. As a sole proprietorship, it can move much more quickly than its competitors. The fact that Miller doesn't have to answer to shareholders or a board of directors also allows Future to offer the longest customer payment terms in the industry, up to 180 days. "Our competitors can't compete with us. They would be clobbered if they did that," he says. The possibility of taking Future public has never seriously crossed his mind. Miller says he had no business mentors. "It all came to me. It's a gift. I just knew what to do," he says. A strange, metaphysical thread runs through some of his other explanations for his success. Take his work ethic. There was a time he worked 765 days in a row, without a day off, and rarely left the office before 11 p.m. He accounts for this drive by telling a story of walking the streets of Montreal once as a teenager and seeing a red Thunderbird convertible. He knew he had to have one some day. "I recall talking to myself. I said, 'Boy, you're really special.' I think that was a real turning point." He pauses. "But I had just been swimming, and I later read swimming releases endorphins. It's a natural high." He reached another turning point in the early-1970s, when his motivation shifted from material wealth to something larger. When one of his acquaintances passed away, Miller was one of only three people to attend his funeral. "I didn't want that to be me," he says. Charity took on a greater importance from that moment. In fact, growing Future's profits in order to have more money to give away is his primary motivation. "I believe you give till it hurts," he says. Talking about specific causes would take hours, he adds, but he does tell a story of a former employee diagnosed with cancer. Miller sent her to a specialist and ultimately paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for her treatment. "Your encouragement ... for treatment gave me the last three years of my life," she wrote to Miller in a letter delivered after her death in 1995. Nearly all of his charity work has been done anonymously. "I'm not seeking attention," he says. The one area to which Miller's name has been attached is cryogenics research. The Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona has even described Future Electronics as its greatest benefactor. "These people are doing so much," he says. "They're pure, pure people." There have long been rumours Miller will have himself cryo-preserved when he dies. "I'll leave it to my sons to decide," he says. He is in good health today, though. In fact, he recommends the line of "life extension" vitamins marketed by the foundation. "They're the finest vitamins known to man," he boasts. "You should take them." After talking for a couple of hours, Miller signals an end to the interview. It's 10:30 p.m., and he's been awake since five in the morning. He walks to the door, again proffering his hand and a smile. There are still many unanswered questions: the backstory to all of the legal proceedings, what he has in store for Future, and whether his new-found openness will last. But he's closed the door. We'll have to wait for the book.
  2. http://montreal.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20100505/mtl_building_100505/20100505/?hub=MontrealHome Surprise surprise.
  3. La Presse threatens union with closure By Mike King, The Gazette September 4, 2009 La Presse newspaper employees talk during preparations for a meeting for employees at the Palais des congrès in June 2009. La Presse newspaper employees talk during preparations for a meeting for employees at the Palais des congrès in June 2009. Photograph by: Phil Carpenter, Gazette file photo MONTREAL – La Presse, North America’s largest French-language broadsheet, will stop publication Dec. 1 if its 700 employees don’t give up $13 million in concessions between now and that date. Caroline Jamet, the 125-year-old newspaper’s vice-president of communications, confirmed publisher Guy Crevier sent the staff an email yesterday informing the workers they have three months to reach an agreement to avoid suspension of both the paper and its website, cyberpresse.ca. In acknowledging La Presse’s current business model “has no chance of surviving,” Crevier noted how management has cut its share of the $26 million needed to be reduced this year to continue operations and that contract negotiations must be sped up to get the other half from the 600 unionized workers. “We have to reduce our cost structure and the only missing link is the contribution of the employees,” Jamet told The Gazette. She said the main issue is the 32-hour, four-day work week that the company wants changed to 35 hours over five days because of the expense of extra staff for that fifth day. That move would likely result in the loss of about 100 jobs, but Jamet added retirements and voluntary departures could reduce the number of layoffs. Crevier, also president of Gesca Ltée – the Power Corp. of Canada subsidiary that owns and publishes La Presse and other French-language papers in the province and Ontario – listed what was done to cut $13 million: • Ceased publication of its Sunday paper June 28 • Reduced the size of the paper to reduce paper costs • Put a voluntary departure program in place • Concluded agreements with financial institutions for new financing, including to cover the “seriously underfunded” pension plan. He first announced to employees in June that, facing an anticipated $215 million deficit by 2013, the paper was seeking to cut costs by $26 million annually over the next five years. It was at that meeting the decision on the Sunday paper was made known. Union leader Hélène De Guise said the longer work week is one of the items being negotiated as well as the possibility of trimming employees’ vacation time. But she added the bargaining team wants to further analyze Crevier’s pronouncement before making any further comments. The last collective agreement expired Dec. 31. Crevier ended his missive stating: “The future of La Presse, your future, is in your hands. It’s up to you to decide.” Jamet, also spokesperson for Gesca, said the measures being taken at La Presse presently have no effect on the chain’s other dailies: Le Soleil in Quebec City, La Tribune in Sherbrooke, Le Nouvelliste in Trois-Rivières, La Voix de l’Est in Granby, Le Quotidien in Saguenay and Le Droit in Ottawa. It is up to the publishers at each of those papers to identify how to cut their costs, she added. In July, the Boston Globe’s union approved a package of $10 million in wage and benefits cuts after owner The New York Times had threatened earliler this year to close New England’s biggest paper unless major concessions were made. The same thing happened at the San Francisco Chronicle in March in order to avoid being closed by the Hearst Corp. [email protected] © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  4. Toronto's two solitudes: Poor city beside rich city Nov 20, 2008 04:30 AM Comments on this story (3) David Hulchanski "We heard as well about parents whose struggle to hold down two or three jobs leaves them with no time or energy to parent, of youth being humiliated by the obviousness of their poverty, of the impact of precarious and substandard housing on their ability to study and learn and engage with friends, and about the numerous other daily stresses of living on the margins of a prosperous society." – Review of the Roots of Youth Violence, Vol. 1, p. 31. We learned last week that among the roots of youth violence is the lack of good jobs – jobs that support a family, jobs that support an average lifestyle, jobs that support good quality housing. Though we already knew this, as a society we need to stop moving in the opposite direction. It wasn't too long ago that our language did not include terms like "good jobs," "bad jobs" or "the working poor." How could you work and be poor? Many people today are working more than full-time and are poor. They have no choice but to live in the growing number of very poor neighbourhoods. Money buys choice. Many neighbourhoods are becoming poor in the sense that most of the residents are living in poverty, and poor in the sense that housing, public services and transit access are all inferior relative to the rest of the city. The growing polarization between rich and poor is happening in part because of the loss of average, middle-income jobs. There used to be far fewer concentrations of disadvantage in Toronto. In the early 1970s about two-thirds of the City of Toronto's neighbourhoods (66 per cent) were middle-income – within 20 per cent of the average individual in-come of the metropolitan area. By 2005, the middle income group of neighbourhoods had declined to less than one-third (29 per cent). The trend is the same in the communities around the city's boundaries – the 905 area. The number of middle-income neighbourhoods declined by 25 per cent, from 86 per cent to 61 per cent, during the same period. Now 20 per cent of the neighbourhoods in the 905 area have very low average individual incomes, compared to none in 1970. This income polarization – the decline of the middle group with growth in the two extreme poles – is not only a general trend among Toronto's population, but it also is the basis of where we live. The City of Toronto is now divided into increasingly distinct zones. One zone of tremendous wealth and prosperity, about 20 per cent of the city, is located mainly along the Yonge corridor and stretching east and west along Bloor and Danforth. Average household income was $170,000 in 2005, 82 per cent of the population is white, only 4 per cent are recent immigrants (arriving 2001 to 2006), and only 2 per cent are black. Some of these neighbourhoods are more white and had fewer foreign-born residents in 2005 than in 1995. In contrast, there is a huge zone of concentrated disadvantage. It is still located in part in the traditional inner-city neighbourhoods, but now is also in the inner suburbs, the car-oriented areas built during the 1960s and 1970s. This is 40 per cent of the city, about 1.1 million people. Close to one-third of residents live in poverty (are below the low-income cut-off measure used by the federal government). Only 34 per cent are white, 15 per cent are recent immigrants, and 12 per cent are black. Federal and provincial economic policies, while seemingly abstract and high-level, play themselves out on the ground in our neighbourhoods. Paying a growing segment of the population wages that do not support individuals, let along families, at a basic standard of living and a fundamental level of dignity is not sustainable. The now well-documented rise in income inequality, income polarization and ethnocultural and skin colour segregation are city-destroying trends. They are trends produced by commission and omission, by public and private sector decisions. We need to use our regulatory power for the common good to focus on improving the labour market through measures like a living wage and providing people with a voice in working conditions via a fairer path to unionization. One-sided policy-making is not only generating greater disadvantage, it is destroying the city as a great place to live and work. Nothing is trickling down. The city is increasingly segregating itself as the social distance between rich and poor increases. Immigrants are arriving in a very different economy than they did 30 and 40 years ago. A recent Statistics Canada study concludes, for example, "that the wage gap between newly hired employees and other employees has been widening over the past two decades," the "relative importance of temporary jobs has increased substantially among newly hired employees," and that compared with "the early 1980s, fewer male employees are now covered by a registered pension plan." In short, policies have allowed fewer jobs to pay a living wage with good benefits. This did not happen by accident. It is not only possible but essential that we have an economy with good jobs with at least a minimum living wage for all. We need public policies that support the goals of a just and inclusive society, and we have to ensure that the use of political power benefits the common good. These are key goals of the Good Jobs Coalition and form the agenda for Saturday's Good Jobs Summit. They are essential to reversing the city-destroying trends at work in Toronto today. David Hulchanski is a University of Toronto professor and author of the report The Three Cities within Toronto. This is one of a series of essays created for the Good Jobs Summit, which takes place Nov. 22 in Toronto.
  5. Many cities bum rush towards bankruptcy, raising taxes instead of cutting spending, but one city – Colorado Springs – has drawn the line. When sales tax revenues dropped, voters were asked to make up the shortfall by tripling their property taxes. Voters emphatically said no, despite the threat of reduced services. Those cuts have now arrived. More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. The police helicopters are for sale on the Internet. The city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops — dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled. The parks department removed trash cans last week, replacing them with signs urging users to pack out their own litter. Neighbors are encouraged to bring their own lawn mowers to local green spaces, because parks workers will mow them only once every two weeks… City recreation centers, indoor and outdoor pools, and a handful of museums will close for good March 31 unless they find private funding to stay open. I bet they do find private funding. That and community involvement is a better solution than throwing more money to government bureaucrats. A private enterprise task force is focusing on the real problem; the city’s soaring pension and health care costs for city employees. Broadmoor luxury resort chief executive Steve Bartolin wrote an open letter asking why the city spends $89,000 per employee, when his enterprise has a similar number of workers and spends only $24,000 on each. Good question, and also the subject of my Fox Business Network show tonight. Government employee unions are a big reason cities spend themselves into bankruptcy. Some union workers in Colorado Springs make it clear that they are not volunteering to help solve the budget problems. (A) small fraction of city employees have made perfectly clear they won’t stand for pay cuts, no matter what happens to the people who pay their wages. The attitude of a loud minority of employees, toward local taxpayers, sometimes sounds like “(expletive) them.” Maybe those workers should sense change in the air. Colorado Springs residents understand that if you can’t pay for it, you can’t have it. And if a rec center has to be closed, or the cops lose their helicopters, or government workers get a pay cut, so be it. Read more: http://stossel.blogs.foxbusiness.com/2010/02/11/colorado-springs-walks-the-walk/#ixzz0fH4d5Mpd
  6. http://9to5google.com/2011/09/22/google-becomes-a-virtual-mobile-network-operator-in-spain-rest-of-europe-coming-soon/ It be interesting to see them come here and become an MVNO with one of the carriers here and maybe even start up their own ISP.
  7. Am I the only one that would pay more for electronics to improve these poor people's working conditions? BTW, This is proof that it is NOT an apple issue. (Like some of you believe) http://kotaku.com/5874706/report-mass-suicide-threats-at-xbox-360-plant Report: Mass Suicide Threats at Xbox 360 Plant On Jan. 2, over 300 employees at a Foxconn plan in Wuhan, China threatened to throw themselves off a building in a mass suicide. Foxconn makes Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony products. These workers manufacture Xbox 360s. According to Chinese anti-government website China Jasmine Revolution (via Watch China Times), the workers were protesting denied compensation they were promised. On Jan. 2, the workers asked for a raise. Foxconn told them they could either keep their jobs with no pay increase or quit and get compensation. Most decided to quit with compensation. However, the agreement was supposedly terminated, and the workers never received their payments. Website Record China reported that the uproar the incident actually caused Xbox 360 production to be temporarily suspended. The mayor of Wuhan intervened to talk down the group down, and on Jan. 3 at 9pm, the group of 300 decided not to jump, ending what could have been a deadly game of chicken. Suicides at Foxconn made major news in 2010 when over a dozen employees committed suicide, leading to Foxconn installing suicide prevention nets at some of its facilities. In 2010, Kotaku asked Microsoft about Foxconn and the reported abuses. Microsoft's Phil Spencer said at the time, "Foxconn has been an important partner of ours and remains an important partner. I trust them as a responsible company to continue to evolve their process and work relationships. That is something we remain committed to—the safe and ethical treatment of people who build our products. That's a core value of our company." Kotaku is following up with Microsoft over this latest incident.
  8. Green Mobility: A Tale of Five Canadian Cities Un article très intéressant de SustainableCitiesCollective..... qui parle de Montréal, Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa et Calgary. Il y a plein de tableau qui montre le taux d'usager du transport-en-commun dans les villes, de densité, l'usage de l'automobile, type de logement, etc... À voir! Montreal is the largest city of the province of Quebec and the second largest city of Canada. It is located on the island of Montreal and is well known as one of the most European-like cities in North America and as a cycling city. It is also famous for its underground city and its excellent shopping, gourmet food, active nightlife and film and music festivals. Montreal's public transit consists of a metro and bus network, paratransit service for people with functional limitations, and the public taxi, which is a form of transport provided in low-density areas where it is not possible to establish regular bus services, according to the Sociéte de Transport de Montréal. Five commuter rail lines connect downtown Montreal with 83 municipalities in the Montreal metropolitan region, according to L'Agence métropolitaine de transport de la région de Montréal; and the 747 bus line links several downtown metro stations with Pierre Trudeau International Airport. A bus shuttle service links the same airport with the VIA Rail train station in Dorval, a suburb of Montreal. Public transportation is considered as Montreal's preferred transportation mode for the future. And in order to encourage the use of transit, the City's Master Plan aims to intensify real-estate development near metro and commuter train stations, as well as certain public transportation corridors, according to City of Montreal Master Plan. The modal share of transport on the Island of Montreal is expected to change from 2008 to 2020 as follows: car only from 48% to 41%, public transit from 32% to 37%, active transportation (walking and biking) from 15% to 18%, and other motorized modes of transport from 5% to 4%, according to the STM's Strategic Plan 2020. Montreal has nearly 600 kilometres of dedicated bikeways, according to Tourisme-Montreal. And Quebec Cycling, a non-profit organization, runs two programs designed to promote the use of active transportation in the city. The first, "Operation Bike-to-Work" supports employees who want to cycle to work and employers who want to encourage their employees to cycle to work. The second, "On-foot, by bike, active city" promotes active and safe travel in municipalities —especially near schools— to improve health, the environment and the well-being of citizens, according to Vélo Québec http://sustainablecitiescollective.com/luis-rodriguez/200096/green-mobility-tale-five-canadian-cities
  9. DRAXIS To Construct Second Facility In Montreal Area November 27, 2007: 10:14 AM EST DOW JONES NEWSWIRES DRAXIS Health Inc. (DRAX) has initiated construction of a 77,000-square-foot secondary packaging and warehousing facility in the Montreal area to help it meet its obligations under its contract to produce a broad portfolio of multiple non-sterile specialty semi-solid products for Johnson & Johnson (JNJ). DRAXIS said it expects the new facility to be completed by mid-2008. The new facility is being built by Montreal developer Broccolini Construction Inc. specifically to meet the needs of DRAXIS with respect to this major contract. It will be owned by Broccolini Group of Cos. and leased to DRAXIS under a seven-year agreement with options to renew. Initially, DRAXIS plans to have about 50 employees at this second Montreal- area facility, part of the 80 to 100 employees that it will hire for this contract. The contract to produce semi-solid specialty products calls for commercial production to start in 2009 and initially run for five years to the end of 2013. DRAXIS, Mississauga, Ont., is a pharmaceutical company. -Carolyn King; 416-306-2100; [email protected]
  10. Almost 80,000 jobs lost in February: StatsCan By The Canadian Press OTTAWA - Non-farm payrolls lost 79,600 jobs in February, with manufacturing taking the worst hit, Statistics Canada reported Wednesday. The agency said those losses continue a slump that began last October and which has cost 296,000 jobs. The agency's survey of non-farm, payroll employment found the biggest February drop was in manufacturing, where 19,300 jobs were lost. Since October, 99,700 manufacturing jobs have disappeared, a loss of 6.1 per cent. That figure is three times the rate of decline of total payroll employment. Nearly a quarter of the manufacturing job losses came in the auto industry. The survey said the number of employees working in motor vehicle parts manufacturing has fallen by 13,300 since October, while motor vehicle and motor vehicle body manufacturing has dropped by 10,200. As of February, there were 111,500 employees in motor vehicle assembly and parts, down 65,000 or 37 per cent from the peak recorded in 2001. The auto slump has echoes in related industries. Payrolls in auto repair shops are down by 5,000 since October. Auto dealers have cut 4,200 jobs in the period, while parts dealers have 2,300 fewer workers. The construction sector lost 11,100 jobs in February. There were more modest declines other sectors, including non-Internet publishing (4,800), credit intermediaries and related activities (4,300) and truck transportation (4,200). But there were some job gains in health and education, including elementary and secondary schools, and community colleges and CEGEPs in Quebec. The February losses came in all provinces, but Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia took the worst hits. Quebec lost 30,300 jobs in February, a 0.9 per cent drop. Ontario and Alberta each experienced a decline of 0.6 per cent, while British Columbia employment fell by 0.4 per cent. While Quebec experienced the largest monthly decline, both Ontario and British Columbia had the biggest drop between February 2008 and February 2009. Over the year, Ontario payrolls declined by 1.7 per cent or 97,800 jobs. The losses were mostly in manufacturing, with a 12.1 per cent drop of 94,000. In British Columbia, payroll employment was down 28,400 or 1.5 per cent in February compared with a year earlier. Much of this decline was linked to forestry and its related industries. Major communities in southwestern Ontario have all shown sharp losses and in March, Windsor had the highest unemployment rate of any large community in the country - 13.7 per cent. Average weekly earnings, including overtime, of payroll employees in February was $820.95, up 1.8 per from February 2008. This was slower than January's year-over-year increase of 2.4 per cent. From Yahoo news: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/0...ness/jobs_lost
  11. Montreal shopkeepers told to put brooms away Graeme Hamilton, National Post Published: Saturday, July 19, 2008 A labour arbitrator has ruled that sweeping sidewalks in Montreal is the exclusive domain of the city's blue-collar unionized employees. The arbitrator found a bylaw on keeping Montreal tidy violates the city's collective agreement.Dave Sidaway, Canwest News Service File PhotoA labour arbitrator has ruled that sweeping sidewalks in Montreal is the exclusive domain of the city's blue-collar unionized employees. The arbitrator found a bylaw on keeping Montreal tidy violates ... MONTREAL - A bylaw adopted last year obliging shopkeepers and apartment owners in downtown Montreal to sweep in front of their properties has spruced up the city. Fewer cigarette butts and fast-food wrappers litter the sidewalks, and garbage bags are no longer left out for days before the trucks pass. But acting on a complaint from the union representing Montreal's blue-collar employees, a labour arbitrator has ruled that the bylaw violates the city's collective agreement with its workers. Sidewalkcleaning is the exclusive domain of the blue-collars, arbitrator Andre Rousseau concluded, and the city has no business enlisting "volunteers" to do the work. The decision effectively means that city sidewalks and streets are a closed union shop, so anyone taking a broom in hand had better watch out. The blue-collars are notoriously jealous of their turf. In 2003, workers waged a campaign of intimidation against private contractors who had been hired by the city for such jobs as cutting grass and repairing sidewalks. Jean-Yves Hinse, Montreal's director of professional relations, said the city will appeal the ruling to Quebec Superior Court. "If it is interpreted broadly, not a minute goes by that we are not breaking the collective agreement," Mr. Hinse said. "Someone is picking up some paper, someone is sweeping his balcony." Mr. Hinse also worried that the ruling undermines efforts to foster a sense of civic responsibility in Montrealers. "We don't want Montreal to become a dump," he said. "Everyone has their responsibilities. We want citizens to have the responsibility of keeping their surroundings clean and safe. It's an appeal to their civic virtues." The cleanliness bylaw was introduced in 2007 after city officials despaired that Montreal was becoming overrun with garbage. Fines range from $125 to $2,000 for individuals, depending on the seriousness of the offence. Companies can be fined up to $4,000. Benoit Labonte, Mayor of the downtown borough of Ville-Marie, boasted last month that 2,700 tickets had been issued in the first year of the bylaw's application, with fines totalling more than $1-million. "I congratulate all citizens, because during the past year we have seen a clear improvement in the cleanliness of the borough," he said. But the bylaw had been in force less than a month when Michel Parent, president of the blue-collar union, filed a grievance complaining the city was assigning blue-collar work to "volunteers or non-profit groups," which is not permitted under the collective agreement. The city countered that it was simply imposing duties on property owners, who are not volunteers in the sense of the collective agreement. Mr. Rousseau concluded that sweeping the streets and sidewalks customarily falls under the blue-collars' jurisdiction. The bylaw, he said, "patently aims to give citizens responsibilities similar to those that are usually given to blue-collar employees." He ordered the city to ensure cleaning of sidewalks, roads and laneways was done by its employees. Mr. Parent said the city should hire more workers if it wants a tidy city. "If this is work that was done by blue-collar employees, it should continue to be done by blue-collar employees," he told Radio-Canada. "We are fighting to save those jobs." Peter Sergakis, an outspoken property owner who was initially critical of the bylaw, acknowledged that the city is now cleaner. "The blue-collar workers wouldn't bend to pick up a cigarette butt. They're spoiled," he said. "I don't have much faith that they're going to clean the sidewalk. I think we're going to go back to the dirt." The case is unlikely to help the union's image problem. Union members were suspected of vandalizing private contractors' equipment during a labour dispute and dumping pig manure in the apartment building of an elected city official. In the winter of 2006, as potholes cratered Montreal streets, an internal city investigation secretly followed three work crews. The 10 workers enjoyed marathon lunch breaks but only managed to fill nine potholes over three days. [email protected]
  12. Pourquoi je mets cette nouvelles sur le site, Six Flags est le propriétaire de La Ronde. Source: CNN.com In an effort to shed $1.8 billion in debt, popular theme-park chain Six Flags announced Saturday that it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The filing will not affect the operation of the company's 20 parks in the United States, Mexico and Canada, said spokeswoman Sandra Daniels. "This restructuring will have no impact on families who come out to our parks. They will not see an inch of difference," Daniels said. In an online letter to employees, President and CEO Mark Shapiro said Six Flags inherited a $2.4 billion debt load that "cannot be refinanced in these financial markets." "This process is strictly a financial restructuring of our debt and that's how you should view it and speak about it," Shapiro said in the message posted on the Six Flags Web site. He said Six Flags was seeking expedited approval from the for the District of Delaware of a pre-negotiated plan of reorganization under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. He said the company actually performed well in 2008, attracting 25 million visitors and making $275 million. But it could not keep up with its debt obligations. That's a balancing act you just can't risk year in and year out," he said. "Today, we are moving to rectify our balance sheet once and for all. Believe me when I say we will emerge from this process stronger and more competitive than ever." The restructuring would reduce the company's debt to $600 million. Shapiro told employees that the company was on "solid ground" and the bankruptcy decision was "difficult." He assured them their paychecks and jobs were safe.
  13. http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/115-new-jobs-created-in-greater-montreals-fintech-industry---iocs-opens-its-first-north-american-software-development-centre-in-montreal-577237671.html MONTRÉAL and LONDON, United Kingdom, April 27, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - IOCS - the world´s first developer of multi-tenant, end-to-end e-commerce platform for the processing of complex agreements - has chosen Montréal to establish its first software development centre in North America. With the support of Montréal International, IOCS, which is growing at an annual rate of 100%, will pursue its ambitious expansion strategy using Québec's metropolis as a springboard. The company plans to create a team of over 115 highly skilled employees in Montréal within the next three years.
  14. MONTREAL, June 22 /CNW Telbec/ - The head office of Astral Media Inc. (TSX: ACM.A/ACM.B) now boasts a new address at 1800 McGill College Avenue. Astral-one of Canada's largest media companies-also shares its name with this office building that has been part of Montréalers' lives since 1989 and now becomes Maison Astral. Over 400 of the 2,800 Astral employees will occupy many of the building's floors, including Corporate Department employees, as well as a large portion of its French-television team and Sales Department employees. "Our company was founded in Montréal nearly 50 years ago and we take great pride in helping to make our city one of the country's economic and cultural drivers. Today, we are delighted to occupy a choice location at the heart of Montréal's business and cultural district," declared Ian Greenberg, President and Chief Executive Officer of Astral. Maison Astral is a 30-storey office building with a breathtaking view of the Mount Royal that overlooks Montréal's most strategic hub at the corner of McGill College Avenue and de Maisonneuve Boulevard. ----------------------------------------------- They have already installed their hideous new logo
  15. Insurance giant wants to build Canadian operations with Standard's Quebec assets CBC News Posted: Sep 03, 2014 5:13 PM ET Last Updated: Sep 03, 2014 6:45 PM ET Manulife Financial Corp. says its life insurance division is buying the Canadian-based assets of Standard Life Plc for $4 billion in cash. The deal combines Manulife, one of the largest life insurance companies in the world with 84,000 employees, and Standard Life Canada, this country's fifth-largest insurer with 2,000 employees. "Several months ago, Standard Life decided to explore the sale of its Canadian operations through a competitive process," Manulife CEO Donald A. Guloien said. "We are delighted to be named the successful bidder." Standard Life provides long term savings, investment and insurance products to about 1.4 million Canadians, with $52 billion of assets under management. Manulife said it was particularly keen to acquire Standard Life’s Quebec assets. "One of the key reasons we were interested in this company is its people in Quebec. We want to increase our presence in the province and use the very talented employee base to grow and expand our business in Quebec, throughout Canada and indeed the world,” Guloien said in a statement announcing the deal late Wednesday. Caisse contributes to deal Manulife plans to pay for the deal with a combination of a public offering, a private placement, internal resources and possible future debt, it said. Later in the day, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, the Quebec provincial pension fund investment arm, announced a $500‑million equity investment in Manulife Financial to contribute to the financing of the acquisition. Manulife and Standard Life have previously collaborated in distributing investment products around the world, through a relationship between Standard Life Investments and John Hancock. Manulife said it would take 18 to 24 months to consolidate the new operations and it did not foresee any job losses in the near future. The company expects the deal to add three cents to its earnings per share every year over each of the next three years and to build earnings capacity beyond the 2016 core earnings target of $4 billion. The deal closes in the first quarter of next year, pending regulatory approval. http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/manulife-buys-standard-life-s-canadian-assets-for-4b-1.2754776
  16. Source: http://www.financialpost.com/working/story.html?id=272627 Montreal's aerospace sector skyrockets Hiring Overseas Christopher De Wolf, Canwest News Service* MONTREAL - There's no way around it: The Aerospace industry in Montreal is booming. So much, in fact, that a new report issued by the Conference Board of Canada credits it with being the main force behind Montreal's economy, which is expected to grow by 2.6% in 2008. Just last week, the federal government announced that Quebec aerospace companies will benefit from $660-million in contracts to build parts for new Canadian Forces airplanes. That should lead to even more job growth in the sector, which already counts 44,548 positions in Greater Montreal, an increase of more than 2,500 since 2006. For many companies, finding new employees is a challenge. That's the case for Alta Precision Inc., a 50-employee Anjou, Que.-based company that makes landing gear components. "Our biggest hardship in 2007 was finding the right labour," said Giovanni Bevilacqua, the company's director of business development. "We've actually been going to India and Romania to find new people. " Alta Precision needs to fill 15 positions, Mr. Bevilacqua said. He expects most of its new hires to come from overseas, where it is easier to find workers with several years of experience. But that doesn't mean it has given up on local talent: Last year, the company invested in advertising, headhunters and in-school recruitment to find new employees. Mr. Bevilacqua said that as a small company, Alta Precision has a hard time competing for workers with "big boys" including Pratt &Whitney. Jean-Daniel Hamelin, spokesman for Pratt & Whitney Canada, a Longueuil-based aircraft engine manufacturer, stressed that the diversity of aerospace employers in Montreal is what makes the industry so strong. "If you have an excellent pool of candidates and a large group of employees, they can seek the employer that best suits their need," he said. Last fall, Pratt & Whitney Canada hosted a job fair for the first time in years. "It was a real success," Mr. Hamelin said. "We had about 100 positions to fill and we ended up retaining 175 candidates." The company's workforce now numbers 5,700 in the Montreal area. One of Pratt & Whitney's greatest sources of new recruits are students from Montreal's post-secondary aerospace programs, including those offered by the Montreal Aerospace Trade School, the National Aerotechnical School and the engineering departments at McGill and Concordia universities. Serge Tremblay, president of the Center for Aerospace Manpower Activities in Quebec, a non-profit organization that works with major aerospace players to develop skilled labour in the industry, said innovation is key to Montreal's success. "[in Montreal,] we invest close to 10% of our sales in research and development. By investing millions of dollars a year, it's obvious that you're in it for innovation," he said. Bravo Chris, aka Kilgore Trout :-)
  17. New York évoque la faillite Devoir Le Édition du vendredi 10 avril 2009 Le maire de New York, Michael Bloomberg, a affirmé hier que la Ville allait devoir supprimer de nombreux emplois pour éviter la faillite. Le maire, engagé dans des négociations tendues avec les syndicats d'employés municipaux, a affirmé que 7000 emplois supplémentaires devraient être supprimés, à moins de réduire drastiquement les avantages des salariés. «Nous ne pouvons pas continuer. Le coût des retraites et de la couverture maladie pour nos employés va provoquer la faillite de cette ville», a-t-il déclaré sur la chaîne de télévision NY1. M. Bloomberg doit présenter le budget de la Ville, qui ne peut pas statutairement être déficitaire, d'ici la fin du mois. Les dirigeants des différents services municipaux ont jusqu'à lundi pour proposer des réductions de dépenses. La récession et la crise à Wall Street ont provoqué un trou béant dans les finances de la Ville, qui reposent lourdement sur les taxes imposées aux entreprises financières. _____________________________________________________________________________________ Job cuts needed to stop NY bankruptcy: mayor 22 hours ago NEW YORK (AFP) — Sweeping layoffs of government employees are needed to prevent New York going bankrupt, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday. Bloomberg, who is in tense negotiations with municipal workers' unions, said an extra 7,000 jobs would have to go unless major reductions are made in employee benefits. "We cannot continue. Our pension costs and health care costs for our employees are going to bankrupt this city," he said in comments broadcast on NY1 television. Bloomberg, running for a third mayoral term at the end of this year, said that proposals from unions so far were "nowhere near what is adequate." The possible job cuts, first announced Wednesday, would be on top of 1,300 already proposed and another 8,000 that could be axed through attrition. Department heads have until Monday to propose cuts and Bloomberg must present the city budget by the end of the month. The city is barred by law from running deficits. The recession and the Wall Street crisis have knocked a huge hole in city finances that traditionally relied heavily on taxes from financial companies. The budget office on Wednesday said that 7,000 extra job cuts would allow the city to cut a further 350 million dollars in expenditure.
  18. Charlotte in same predicament as Wall Street By IEVA M. AUGSTUMS, AP Business Writer Ieva M. Augstums, CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The financial collapse has hit the city known as Wall Street South. For years, Bank of America Corp. and Wachovia Corp. helped turn Charlotte into a financial powerhouse. Now, the big banks have thrust it into the same predicament as the real Wall Street — the city is losing thousands of jobs and an unquantifiable amount of prestige. Residents who invested heavily in the banks have seen their wealth dissipate and lifestyles change radically. "It's kind of sad, disheartening because the banks have been the backbone of Charlotte for so long," said Carl Clayton, a 55-year-old retired school teacher. The loss of so many bank jobs is causing upheaval in other industries. Consumers who have been laid off or fear being out of work are curtailing their spending, forcing restaurants and retailers to close — among them Morton's, a high-end steakhouse, and a 15-month-old Home Depot Design Center. Even some of the Charlotte's lively night clubs have shuttered their doors. "There's a bit of a state of disbelief," said Bob Morgan, president of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. "We are seeing things happen that no one else has contemplated before." Charlotte remains the nation's second-biggest bank town by assets — second to New York, and in front of San Francisco. But, Morgan said, "we don't know what the city is going to look like once we emerge." "We do know that tremendous wealth has already been lost." A big reason why is the amount of banking shares owned by people who have worked for Wachovia, now owned by Wells Fargo & Co., and Bank of America. Both have used their stock to compensate employees. Bank of America's shares have been among the hardest hit among financial companies. The company has lost more than 56 percent of its value since it closed on its acquisition of investment bank Merrill Lynch & Co. at the beginning of the year. The stock is down nearly 85 percent from a year ago. Last year, before Wachovia was acquired by Wells Fargo, its shares had slid 85 percent. Clayton estimates he has lost about $60,000 because of stock holdings in the two banks, along with other North Carolina banks, including BB&T Corp. "I had a lot of bank stock, but now it's gone," Clayton said. "What wealth I had, is gone." Residents and employees never expected such a downfall. Wachovia, once headquartered in Winston-Salem, N.C., joined the Top 5 ranks of national banks after it was acquired by Charlotte-based First Union Corp. in 2001. The combined company took Wachovia's name. Banker Hugh McColl Jr. led NationsBank Corp. through some 70 acquisitions starting in the early 1980s. His biggest coup was San Francisco-based BankAmerica Corp., a financial institution bigger than NationsBank. He adopted the name and also moved the headquarters to Charlotte. Some say Charlotte's troubles began in 2006, when Wachovia acquired mortgage lender Golden West Financial Corp. for roughly $25 billion at the height of the housing boom. With that purchase, Wachovia inherited a $122 billion portfolio of deteriorating mortgages, leaving the company with huge losses. Charlotte residents were unnerved as they watched Wachovia falter and then be taken over by Wells Fargo in what amounted to a fire sale late last year. Down the street, at Bank of America, things were looking just as bleak. A series of bad bets in the investment banking unit over the past year sank companywide profits, and as Bank of America completed its acquisition of struggling investment bank Merrill Lynch & Co., shareholders watched its stock price slide to historic lows. Both Wells Fargo and Bank of America have said they remain "committed" to Charlotte. Wells Fargo, based in San Francisco, has said Charlotte will be its eastern headquarters, though it remains unclear exactly what that means. The fear is that Wells Fargo, as it completes its integration of Wachovia, will keep shedding Charlotte positions. Wachovia has about 20,000 employees in the city. Bank of America, meanwhile, with about 15,000 employees in Charlotte, is eliminating some 35,000 jobs companywide. North Carolina already has nearly 400,000 unemployed workers. The jobless rate was 8.7 percent in December, the highest since 1983, according to the most recent available data. Charlotte, with a population of nearly 700,000, is the 20th-largest city in the country. About 45 percent of the residents of its home county, Mecklenburg, make more than $50,000 a year, according to data supplied by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. Outside the downtown offices buildings filled with bank employees, there's a sense of disbelief as people huddle together drinking coffee or smoking cigarettes and then shuffle off to their jobs. When a reporter approached employees for interviews, they declined to speak, or said they didn't want to give their names, worried about keeping their jobs. Charlotte relies on the banks for more than employment — its lifestyle, even its skyline has depended on Wachovia and Bank of America. Wachovia sponsors the city's annual PGA tournament, among the most popular on tour, while Bank of America's name is on the football stadium and the bank is a sponsor of one of NASCAR's top auto races. Both fill towering downtown office buildings — Wells Fargo, now by way of Wachovia, is building a 48-story headquarters and adjoining city arts campus. The bankers and traders who work for both helped create the demand — and now vacancies — for the high-rise condos near by. "I have received more calls over the past month from people wanting to list their homes, with a majority of them having financial problems," said Rich Ferretti, a broker at Jamison Reality in Matthews, a suburb of Charlotte. Stores in the city's affluent SouthPark area are less crowded on the weekends. And a recent happy hour at Capital Grille, located just across from Bank of America's headquarters, was sparsely attended. Charlotte also faces civic and philanthropic repercussions. Unlike Wachovia, Wells Fargo's executives have few North Carolina ties. Bank of America typically offers up the lead gift on projects. "We will honor our existing commitments and we are still in the process of determining any future commitments," Wells Fargo spokeswoman Mary Eshet said. Now, the city is waiting for major changes. "A lot of our friends work for the banks," said Leslie Hunter, a 38-year-old mother of two. "People are not stopping everything, but their awareness has increased." After being laid off from his bank consulting job 11 months ago, Jim Edwards' daily routine of networking, applying for jobs and going to the gym keeps his spirits up. "I've been out of work and living on my retirement income," said the 62-year-old, who added it's been a struggle finding employment because no one is hiring. While many unknowns remain, Mayor Pat McCrory is optimistic. "Charlotte does have very strong resilience and I anticipate that a lot of the talent that's moving out of the banks will stay," he said in an interview with The Associated Press. Some job relief may be moving in. GMAC Financial Services and Morgan Stanley are rumored to be looking to move at least parts of their companies to the Charlotte area. GMAC Financial Service's chief executive, Al G. de Molina, used to be Bank of America's chief financial officer. Morgan Stanley has already hired at least four former Wachovia executives to help the New York-based firm's retail banking expansion effort. McCrory wouldn't talk about the two firms, but said the large amount of talent in Charlotte will "attract others in the financial services industry to set up here." "We're going through a major adjustment, but when the economy rebounds, I think Charlotte will rebound the quickest," he said.
  19. Je vous conseille de lire l'histoire, très intéressante ! http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a3uKf5P1lFmg&refer=home Madoff Confessed $50 Billion Fraud Before FBI Arrest (Update1) By David Voreacos and David Glovin Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Bernard Madoff confessed to employees this week that his investment advisory business was “a giant Ponzi scheme” that cost clients $50 billion before two FBI agents showed up yesterday morning at his Manhattan apartment. “We’re here to find out if there’s an innocent explanation,” Agent Theodore Cacioppi told Madoff, who founded Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC and was the former head of the Securities Industry Association’s trading committee. “There is no innocent explanation,” Madoff, 70, told the agents, saying he traded and lost money for institutional clients. He said he “paid investors with money that wasn’t there” and expected to go to jail. With that, agents arrested Madoff, according to an FBI complaint. The 8:30 a.m. arrest capped the downfall of Madoff and businesses bearing his name that specialized in trading securities, making markets, and advising wealthy clients. Many questions remain unanswered, including whether Madoff’s clients actually lost $50 billion. The complaint and a civil lawsuit by regulators describe a man spinning out of control. Madoff appeared in federal court in Manhattan at 6 p.m., wearing a white-striped shirt and dark-colored pants. U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas Eaton described the securities-fraud charge against him and set a $10 million bond at a hearing where Madoff said nothing. Madoff later posted the bond, secured by his apartment and guaranteed by his wife. Hedge Funds, Banks Madoff’s firm had about $17.1 billion in assets under management as of Nov. 17, according to NASD records. At least half of its clients were hedge funds, and others included banks and wealthy individuals, according to the records. The firm was the 23rd-largest market maker on Nasdaq in October, handling an average of about 50 million shares a day, exchange data show. It took orders from online brokers for some of the largest U.S. companies, including General Electric Co. and Citigroup Inc. Prosecutors joined the Securities and Exchange Commission, which filed a civil lawsuit, in scrambling to unravel the collapse of Madoff’s Investment Securities business. The broker-dealer and investment adviser was housed in a lipstick-shaped building at 885 Third Ave. A rapid series of events in early December preceded the firm’s demise, according to the arrest complaint and SEC lawsuit. In the first week of December, Madoff told a worker identified as Senior Employee No. 2 that clients had requested $7 billion in redemptions, he was struggling to find liquidity, and he thought he could do so, according to the FBI and SEC. ‘Under Great Stress’ Senior employees “previously understood” that the investment advisory business managed between $8 billion and $15 billion in assets, according to the documents. On Dec. 9, Madoff told a colleague identified as Senior Employee No. 1 that he wanted to pay bonuses in December, or two months earlier than usual. The next day, Madoff got a visit at his offices from the employees. They said he appeared “under great stress” in prior weeks, according to the documents. Madoff told the visitors that “he had recently made profits through business operations, and that now was a good time to distribute it,” according to the FBI complaint. When the workers challenged that explanation, Madoff said he “wasn’t sure he would be able to hold it together” at the office and preferred to meet at his apartment, Senior Employee No. 2 told investigators. He ran his investment advisory business from a separate floor of his firm’s offices, keeping financial statements “under lock and key,” prosecutors said. ‘One Big Lie’ At his apartment, Madoff told the employees that his investment advisory business was a “fraud” and he was “finished,” according to the FBI complaint. He said he had “absolutely nothing,” that “it’s all just one big lie,” and that it was “basically, a giant Ponzi scheme,” Agent Cacioppi wrote in the complaint. The senior employees understood Madoff to be saying he had paid investors for years out of principal from other investors, the agent wrote. The business had been insolvent for years, said Madoff, who then estimated losses at more than $50 billion. Madoff said he had $200 million to $300 million left, and he planned to pay employees, family, and friends. Madoff, who had also confessed to a third senior employee, said he planned to surrender to authorities within a week, according to the complaint. Cacioppi and another agent beat Madoff to the punch. After saying he had no “innocent explanation,” Madoff confessed “it was all his fault,” Cacioppi wrote. ‘Broke,’ ‘Insolvent’ “Madoff also said that he was ‘broke’ and ‘insolvent’ and that he had decided that ‘it could not go on,’ and that he expected to go to jail,” the agent wrote. “Madoff also stated that he had recently admitted what he had done to Senior Employee Nos. 1, 2, and 3.” Madoff founded the firm in 1960 after leaving law school at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, according to the company’s Web site. His brother, Peter, joined the firm in 1970 after graduating from law school, it said. Madoff, who owned more than 75 percent of his firm, and his brother Peter, are the only two listed on regulatory records as “direct owners and executive officers.” Madoff was influential with the Nasdaq Stock Market, serving as chairman of the board of directors, according to the FBI complaint. He was chief of the Securities Industry Association’s trading committee in the 1990s and earlier this decade. He represented brokerages in talks with regulators about new stock-market rules as electronic-trading systems and networks grew. Madoff, who founded his firm in 1960, won an assignment to manage a $450,000 stock offering for A.L.S. Steel Corp. of Corona, New York, two years later, according to an SEC news digest. He was an early advocate for electronic trading, joining roundtable discussions with SEC regulators considering trading stocks in penny increments. His firm was among the first to make markets in New York Stock Exchange listed stocks outside of the Big Board, relying instead on Nasdaq. Madoff’s Web site advertises the “high ethical standards” of his firm. “In an era of faceless organizations owned by other equally faceless organizations, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC harks back to an earlier era in the financial world: The owner’s name is on the door. Clients know that Bernard Madoff has a personal interest in maintaining the unblemished record of value, fair-dealing, and high ethical standards that has always been the firm’s hallmark.” The case is U.S. v. Madoff, 08-MAG-02735, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
  20. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/02/05/schwartzs-sold-rene-angelil_n_1255654.html?ref=canada Not sure what to make of this. :biting:
  21. Les gens viennent au centre-ville pour s'y établir et y vivre. On voit donc de plus en plus de tours d'habitations. Mais une des raisons pour lesquelles on planifie moins de grandes tours à bureaux est illustré dans l'article ci-dessous. Dell Wants Half of Employees Working Remotely By 2020 Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer in February generated a lot of attention when the company announced that employees could no longer work from home and had to come into the office. Mayer and other Yahoo officials said it was the right move for the company, arguing that Yahoo needed to improve communication and collaboration among employees, and that it was difficult to do without having the employees under the same roof. The decision went against the trend toward telecommuting—particularly in the tech sector—and was furiously debated, with critics saying that telecommuting boosted worker productivity, made for more satisfied employees, was a good recruiting tool, saved companies money and helped the environment. It also reportedly has engendered some anger from Silicon Valley residents, who say Yahoo's decision and similar ones by other tech vendors like Hewlett-Packard are key contributors to a worsening traffic situation in the area, according to Business Insider. However, Dell is laying out a plan to get half of its workforce to work remotely at least part of the time by 2020, which officials said will reduce the vendor's expenses while helping out the environment. The effort around increased telecommuting is one of more than two dozen goals outlined in a recent report by the newly-private Dell—called the "2020 Legacy of Good" plan—that officials are aiming for over the next six-plus years to reduce the company's impact on the environment. Other goals range from ensuring that 100 percent of Dell packaging is made from reusable or compostable materials, phasing out "environmentally sensitive materials" (such as mercury and berylium) as viable alternatives hit the market, getting 75 percent of employees involved in community service, and diverting 90 percent of all waste generated by Dell buildings away from landfills. Dell already offers flexible work schedules through its Connected Workplace program, through which 20 percent of employees telecommute, work remotely or have variable work times. Trisa Thompson, vice president of corporate responsibility at Dell, told Houston television station KVUE that having 20 percent of the company's 14,000 employees at Round Rock, Texas, saved Dell $14 million in 2012 and reduced CO2 emissions by 6,735 metric tons. Increasing the number of telecommuters and remote workers to 50 percent could result in more than 7,000 cars being taken off area roads, Thompson said. "Technology now allows people to connect anytime, anywhere, to anyone in the world, from almost any device," the Dell report reads. "This is dramatically changing the way people work, facilitating 24x7 collaboration with colleagues who are dispersed across time zones, countries and continents. Dell is a global technology leader, so our team members should be able to take advantage of the flexible work opportunities that our own products and services create." The company also has begun offering consulting services to customers looking to create similar flexible work schedules using Dell technology and expertise. According to the market research firm Global Workplace Analytics, telecommuting and remote working is becoming increasingly popular, with 3.3 million people in the United States—not including the self-employed or unpaid volunteers—saying their home is their primary place of work. Regular telecommuting grew by 79.7 percent between 2005 and 2012, and should grow to 3.9 million workers by 2016, according to the firm. Sixty-four million U.S. employees—about half of all workers in the country—are in a job that is compatible to telecommuting and remote working at least part of the time, Global Workplace Analytics reported. According to a March report by Staples Advantage, the B2B unit of retail chain Staples, 93 percent of employees surveyed said telecommuting programs are benefitting both them and their companies, and 53 percent of business decision makers said telecommuting leads to more productive employees. In addition, 37 percent of employers reported a drop in absenteeism, while 48 percent of remote workers surveyed said they are less stressed. However, there also were concerns: 59 percent of telecommuters don't use their company’s data backup system, putting sensitive information at risk, and 33 percent of employees said dealing with IT issues is one of the most difficult aspects of working from home. http://www.eweek.com/mobile/dell-wants-half-of-employees-working-remotely-by-2020.html#!