Dell Goes Carbon Neutral, Employment Negative

April 7, 2008

Computer giant (and frequent subsidy recipient) Dell apparently tried to use an environmental initiative last week to deflect attention away from an announcement about ongoing financial difficulties. The company

made a big deal

over a plan to become “carbon neutral” at its corporate headquarters in Texas. But while its offices were going green, the company


it would be taking “green” out of the pockets of 900 workers at a nearby desktop assembly plant, which the company said would be shut down as part of a previously announced effort to eliminate 8,800 jobs. Or, as the Orwellian headline of the company’s

press release

put it: “Dell Driving Actions to Enhance Competitiveness, Optimize Operations.”

When the identity of the plant slated for shutdown was announced, there was relief at some other company facilities—including the one in North Carolina being subsidized to the tune of some $270 million—that felt they had dodged a bullet. Yet a few days later, CEO Michael Dell

told investment analysts

that the job elimination target would be raised above the 8,800 figure. To make matters worse, he said Dell would outsource more of its assembly work.

Dell has a

track record

of persuading local officials—in places such as Tennessee and Alberta as well as North Carolina—that giving the company generous tax breaks would be a virtual guarantee of supposedly high-tech prosperity. Now these deals look as prudent as a PC without virus protection.