(click on the title above for some information about Accenture)
The Texas State Employee's Union General Assembly started this Friday by surprising Accenture with 150 or so protesters wearing our new red General Assembly shirts. Most of us didn't know where we were going until a few moments before the buses were to be boarded, right at rush hour on Friday afternoon. We were told our destination along with directions to "get out of the bus and on to the sidewalk as fast as you can, because the buses are on private property."
I was one of the marshals which means, instead of getting a badge and a gun, I got a an armband, a bull horn, and a list of chants as well as a big poster to carry.
I'm sure I looked pretty funny trying to negotiate the march line with all of that -- the bullhorn they gave me required the use of two hands and it didn't work, I stupidly took my shoulder bag, the armband kept falling down my arm, I couldn't read the print on the list of chants, so I had to fumble with my reading glasses -- and the chain that keeps the glasses around my neck kept getting tangled up with my delegate lanyard and badge as well as the poster hanging around my neck -- all that while yelling "They say privatize -- WE SAY ORGANIZE! Finally, one of the other marshals said that he would try to fix the bullhorn (sadly he couldn't), but at least I had one less thing to deal with. (I just read this to SRI, and he said, "Obviously, you needed to get organized, Susan!")
One of our instructions before we left was that if anyone were to approach us to ask who was in charge, we were to say -- at this time I piped up, "The guy in the red shirt!" (we were all wearing red shirts) -- but the correct answer was, "I don't know."
We weren't bothered by any of the Accenture building security, although up to 30 employees from the building came out and watched us. Accenture is at one of the busiest corners in Austin -- IH 35 and Ben White. We marched back in front of the building for half an hour or so and then walked back to the buses. We had to walk past WalMart to get there, and they actually had their security there watching us.
And what is Accenture, and why would we want to protest?
Here is some information about from TSEU:
"Privatization is a boondoggle that has already wasted millions of Texas taxpayers' dollars. Bermuda-based Accenture LLP has already pocketed nearly $100 million on a $1 billion contract, and what Texas gets is the call center disaster. DeLoitte charged us millions for the TIERS system that still does not work. Convergys has collected millions of dollars to run a high-tech, on-line Human Resources system that has produced chaos in five state agencies.
Based on this history of success, privateers have targeted Child Protective Services, the Texas Workforce Commission, state universities, and many other state services."
Accenture is also the company responsible for the voter purge in Florida before the 2000 presidential elections (in which felons were to be purged from the voter rolls, but many who weren't felons were also cut from the rolls.) Accenture also put the wrong number for applicants for Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, food stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to fax completed forms and documentation -- instead of going to the Accenture offices in Austin, the faxes were ending up in a warehouse in Seattle, totally confounding the workers there. More info here:
One of the women on the bus to the rally said that she had tried to call (the outsourced) payroll services for her unit. (I'm not quite sure if this is Accenture or Convergys -- another outsource provider.) Someone answered the phone from another office. "Is this payroll?" "No, this is Human Resources" (or some other non-payroll unit.) "But I asked to be connected to payroll." "Yes, but there is a 30 - 40 minute wait to get through to payroll, so they are routing the calls to other offices." "Can you help me with a payroll issue?" "No." "May I please speak to your supervisor?" Interestingly, I just read an article that said that the abandonment rate for this agency had gone down -- well, yeah, duh, if you route the calls to the wrong place so that it doesn't look like people are hanging up . . .