Company blames Massachusetts voters for its decision to eliminate health-insurance coverage

UPDATE: My original headline said he was blaming Obama's victory. In fact, he was blaming the defeat of Question 1, which would have repealed the Massachusetts income tax, as Jeff Cutler explains in the comments.

Minutes after the networks declared Obama the next president, the CEO of Aspiant, a Cambridge IT consulting firm, sent out a memo to employees announcing the immediate end of company contributions to their health-care plans. Jeff Cutler posts the memo - which includes this statement:

I can only hope that future elections will provide a more positive environment for business or further measures will have to be taken.

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So there!

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I know you employees voted for that one, so I'm going to take away your health care. So there! And your T passes. And, and...

That's hilarious. Looks like Murko is having a hard day. And it's all Obama's fault!!! Somebody call him a waaahmbulance!

Hey, good luck with recruiting, ass pee ant.

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Aspiant

By on

hahahahaa

you said "Aspiant"

muahahahahahahaaaa

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What so does this CEO want

What so does this CEO want me to believe that if McCain won he would not have cut the contributions? This guy is a moron, seriously, he is cutting the contributions because profits have went down during the Bush years, and now because the republicans didnt win again he is "hunkering down", if anything Democrats have a much better record at growing the economy.

Its even more amazing because he is based in Cambridge, I wonder what his rent is every month. Maybe if he didnt have to base his company in such a high profile area he could have had more cash on hand.

To send this out immediatly after an election and taking the oppurtunity to take a swipe at Massachusetts (so why dont you just leave jerk, he wont leave because the only places he can do what he does is in places like Massachusetts, California ect) is unpatriotic and unbecoming of a corporate CEO of any company large or small. Poor guy he probaly had to keep his 2008 Beemer for another year instead of getting a new one, and Im sure that 5,000 foot addition to his house will have to wait an extra 6 months (Im not sure if this is his lifestyle but he sure does seem like the worst type of complainer in the world, the wealthy complainer who thinks life sucks.)

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Rotsa Ruck!

By on

I hope Mirko is prepared for the brain drain that his company will inevitably suffer as a result of his action.
Work in the IT consulting field is certainly scarcer than it was a few years ago, but it can't be that hard to find.

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A Scenario

An AssPeeAnt employee we will call "A" decides to head to Government Center of a Sunday morning to catch the Obama bus to New Hampshire.

While on the bus, he meets and chats with another person, Person B, who is in a similar line of work. In the course of the conversation and the day's canvassing, Person A finds out that Person B works a couple of blocks away and Person B's company is hiring. At the end of the day, Person B smells a possible fat recruiting bonus and hands Person A a business card and extends an invitation.

Now Person A has been handed this gigantic pay cut. How long until he looks up Person B and asks for a tour?

How many interactions like this took place in the course of this huge grassroots mobilization of such a wide swath of the country? How much job networking took place? How much social networking? How many wedding bells and birth announcements will follow?

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The way they voted

I've been informed that the decision to remove healthcare contributions hinged on how Question 1 turned out. Employees were asked to vote Yes on Question One.

Don't know how that made him decide the morning after the election to change his internal policies.

At least it seems he wasn't basing his healthcare policy on the welfare of dogs in the state or on whether he could carry marijuana around.

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re: The way

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Clearly, since things didn't change, he must be making so much less revenue than he was prior to the vote.

I always hinge my short term corporate policies on elections. o.O

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In some areas its illegal to

In some areas its illegal to GIVE someone something for voting a certain way, its a sort of bribery... Wasnt he essentially promising to GIVE them something if they voted the way he wanted and TAKE something away if they voted the other way... Any lawyers in the house that can clarify if this could be considered an illegal manner of campaigning?

Vote Yes on 1 or Im gonna hurt you

Yikes

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his actions were illegal

By on

I've been informed that the decision to remove healthcare contributions hinged on how Question 1 turned out. Employees were asked to vote Yes on Question One.

I'd be extremely surprised if all three parts of that aren't *highly* illegal.

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Heyyy wait a minute

By on

he can't just turn off a benefit like that.

let the lawsuits begin!

this is going to be fun to watch. Don't worry. There are always new companies in Cambridge to hire the people from failing companies. For my part, sounds like he knew the company would be tanking anyway, and was just looking for an excuse - any excuse - to displace blame away from himself.

hilarious, from the name of the company to the "best wishes" sign-off of the kiss-off note. what a maroon.

i hope it's real!

all signs point to failure:

We specialize in successful project completion through focused project management, requirements-centric architecture, and rapid project implementation.

it's missing only the words "paradigm" and "enterprise" for full buzzword compliance.

ADD:
HEY WAIT A MINUTE.
Those three help wanted ads are dated 2006 and 2007. Even if converted to metric those dates are still in the distant past.

is it all a troll? Is it a 1-man shop?

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re: troll

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is it all a troll? Is it a 1-man shop?

haha, maybe it's just a pissed off libertarian in his momma's basement with delusions of grandeur?

Oh.. we're so mean.

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not any more

In the past I have sent a couple of customers their way. Not any more.

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I hope

By on

this guy is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve.

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Not Worthy

That would imply that he could be redeemed.

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So who is this fellow, Geffken?

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OK so he has a nice house in Billerica, but is probably paying for it with his full-time job as an "architect" at Biogen Idec, but gets the PR jolt he craves while moonlighting as the CEO of a "1 to 10" person company. I call "troll" and/or "the company is about to fall over anyway". What CEO announces a major policy change to a staff of "1 to 10" (I'm guessing it's at the low end of that range) via email?

Mirko Geffken
President and CEO, Aspiant, Inc.
Current
* President and CEO at Aspiant, Inc.
* Architect at Biogen Idec, Inc.
Education
* Bryant University
Public Profile
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/0/387/966

Experience
President and CEO
Aspiant, Inc.
Privately Held; 1-10 employees; Management Consulting industry
December 2004 – Present (4 years)

Architect
Biogen Idec, Inc.
Public Company; 1001-5000 employees; BIIB; Biotechnology industry
March 2002 – Present (6 years 9 months)

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7 employees

There are seven employees, eight if you count the president. They all work at Biogen Idec as IT consultants.

So it seems that he just started a company and found some talent and then sold the services to Biogen. Sources say they've been working at the Biogen Idec account for two years or so.

Why wouldn't the employees suffer the non-compete and just go FT freelance at the client? Now there's no benefit package to differentiate them from regular contract employees anyhow.

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Non-compete is probably a non-starter

By on

I'm not a lawyer but I've paid plenty of them to advise me about this stuff.

Non-competes are really hard to enforce, unless the subject of the non-compete has been really, really, REALLY well-compensated in exchange. For example, someone sells a company and agrees not to open a similar business within ___ miles for 1 or 2 years... that's probably going to stick.

A regular employee making an ordinary income for whatever work he does is probably going to beat a non-compete if challenged... or as one of my guys put it memorably: "Slavery was outlawed a while ago."

The whole thing is just weird and funny to watch. My snarky-yet-insightful observation in this matter is that there are so damn many "big companies" out there with "big personalities" leading them (I suspect many Universal Hub followers also read Mass High Tech) but there's a lot of smoke and mirrors, and those mirrors are the funhouse kind that make things look a lot bigger than they really are. In Cambridge in particular, they also seem to act as ego magnifiers.

Edit: the uncompensated, unilateral change of employment terms may well void any contract between the employer and the 7 worker bees anyway. They might do well to just incorporate their own thing and just open a new contract with whatever clients they have been working with.

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Agreement with their clients?

By on

The employees may be able to ignore it, but more of an issue would be the contracts signed by the company with the clients. IT may include a clause forbidding the company for hiring its employees for a certain period of time and that might be more enforceable. So, the clients might be able to hire the employees directly BUT would expose themselves to legal risk in doing so. Not something most companies are in the habit of doing.

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Good catch, and agreed...

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Good catch, and agreed... and that may well stick, right up to that moment that he's unable to service the contracts because he has no workers, since they all quit.

I think they've got the yoyo in a pretty good negotiating position now that he's possibly not only broken employment laws, but perhaps voided any contracts he'd made with them as well...

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Strike?

It wouldn't take much for the 7 to get together and immediately go on strike, or at least use that as leverage to get the health insurance back.

But, what did the CEO do that you think is illegal? He removed a benefit, so what? Is there a time requirement the CEO has to fulfill?

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I haven't pulled out the

By on

I haven't pulled out the stacks of guiding docs I'd have to consult to pinpoint chapter and verse, but generally speaking, employment agreements consist of any contract that might have been written plus all the other other agreements / rules the company has regarding its employees, binding either on the company (we will give you...) or the employees (thou shalt/thou shalt not...). Even if there's nothing in writing that says that the company will pay for half their health insurance costs, if the company has been doing so for a while, then there's a pretty strong chance that's going to be considered an obligation that cannot be taken away at a whim.

Employment, like housing, is a special case because of its importance to people. Both areas have a number of "extra" protections against unilateral changes, beyond that found in ordinary contracts... and all kinds of penalties when the stronger party (in employment, the employer) strays.

They are too small for most of the advance-notice laws that cover large employers, but that doesn't mean the terms can be changed on a whim without a decent measure of risk. As an employer I'd never, ever attempt something like this.

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Employee at will

I figured the employer wasn't doing anything illegal because the employee is an employee at will. I doubt they have employment contracts. You can essentially be terminated for no reason. If you can be terminated, you can surely have some benefits reduced or removed. It's not very nice, but illegal? Got me.

Health insurance contributions have been a part of a lot of contract battles lately with public employees. As insurance has soared, towns have tried to negotiate to have employees contribute a larger percentage. I figured this is the same thing.

And no, I'm not a lawyer and I know nothing about HR. This is all conjecture on my part and could easily be a load of crap. My point is that, just because you don't like it or it seems immoral/unfair/etc. doesn't mean it's illegal.

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at-will does not equal "any reason"

By on

I figured the employer wasn't doing anything illegal because the employee is an employee at will. I doubt they have employment contracts. You can essentially be terminated for no reason

And no, I'm not a lawyer and I know nothing about HR

I'll say. "At will employment" does NOT mean "you can be terminated for any reason." It means you can be terminated for NO reason.

My point is that, just because you don't like it or it seems immoral/unfair/etc. doesn't mean it's illegal.

Laws regarding voter harassment are very strict. There was quite a bit of noise over the freebies on election-day, but most AG's said they wouldn't do anything because none of the offers seemed to be partisan or discouraging (obviously) people from voting. Most of the companies backed down regardless and made them "if you ask, ye receive." This asshole, however, made it very clear how he wanted people to vote.

It's clear voter intimidation/retribution, and it needs to be reported. 617-727-4765 / [email protected]. I hope someone from the company forwards all the emails from him to that address (not from their work account of course...)

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please no personal information

@ zbert:

I don't think there is any reason you should be publishing this guy's home address, even if it is theoretically public information.

He said/did something related to his business, so information about his business is definitely fair game. But let's not go to the extent of airing his personal life as a result of his business decisions.

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Just wondered if he was even

By on

Just wondered if he was even a real person.

it's in the whois database, which is public and available to everyone with Internet access.
so, apologies. but i can't edit the post to remove the address now. anyway, it's right there in the whois database, and the historical whois records kept by some info providers as well.

i agree that it did not contribute much to the discussion, so i apologise for straying.

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Took out his street address

By on

Even though, like you said, it's publicly available (something I tried to do something about for my own address when I started getting junk mail from ISPs and Web hosts).

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Nothing against Billerica or anything, but...

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If he was making a lot of money, I think he would be living in a much nicer town than Billerica. It's really not a bad place (and its reputation has steadily improved in the last 10-12 years, since Ma Newman's closed and it transitioned from a somewhat seedy suburb of Lowell to a more middle-class exurb of Boston), but it's no Carlisle, or Lexington or Lincoln. Springs Road is an OK street, but it is quite evident when it crosses the town line from Bedford into Billerica.

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Weird... Yet Ironic, Too

It is hard to understand the direct connection between Question 1 -- which had to do with personal income tax rates in Massachusetts -- and employer contributions to employee health care plans. Just plain bizarre.

The broader irony is that Obama made a point in his health care proposals for a new "Small Business Health Tax Credit" that would benefit small business owners like this one. While large employers could make the debatable argument that their health care costs might increase under an Obama presidency, a pretty strong argument was made that small business owners would benefit more under Obama.

The parallel with Sam Joe the licensed author/entertainer/plumber is uncanny, as several independent tax experts pointed out that he would likely benefit more under Obama's proposals than McCain's... OK, OK, OK, no more beating a dead elephant horse. I'll shut my mouth.

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Possible Reason

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Only thing I can think of is this.

Guy decides he wants more money. Maybe he has a kitchen to remodel or something. Decides he can get this money one of two ways...

1. Stop paying income tax when Question 1 passes.

2. Stop paying for employee health care, thus allowing him more profits.

Of course, its hard not to think that someone so crass as to blame his cuts on a democratic election and not the more direct cause of his own desire for more money wouldn't, I don't know, decide to do both and get even more money.

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Another Possible Reason

He was low on cash, had run out of Perrier and needed to fill his vinegar tank.

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$2,500.00

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That's how much he donated to the committe for small government. Maybe he wants his money back, and wants to take it out his minions' pockets.

He's gotta be loving it that when you google his name, the second result is "Douche of the Week."

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Hey the first one is his

Hey the first one is his linked in account! Im a step away from him, so hes my second degree linked in buddy/connection! I wonder how my friend knows him lol. Either way I have like three times as many connections as him, Id think a consultant would have loads more.

Its weird that his company isnt the number one spot. When you google me the first thing that pops up about me (I have a common name so it takes a page or so) is my companies page where Im listed, and Im just some random employee. The second link is a newspaper article about my company, then Linkedin ect.

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Unfair Comments

I think my actions have been unfairly portrayed. People fail to understand that Barack Hussein Osama is a communist, a muslim, and someone bent on destroying this great Christian country. I had no choice but to cut benifits due to the socialist tax increases that will be imposed on my small business due to redistribution of my wealth. People that voted for Barack Hussein Osama brought this on themselves... not me.

Sincerely,

Mirko Geffken
President & CEO
Aspiant, Inc.

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Hokay

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Let's see some proof that you really are Geffken ...

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I got a variation on the same

Here's what the maybe Mirko posted on Pax. Very similar:

"People are quick to judge. I was forced to take steps to protect my company from a socialist, muslim administration. Barack Hussein Osama is a terrorist. His only goal is to change this country into a communist/islamo-fascist state. People that voted for him need to take responsibility for their choices."

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If it's really him

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I'm still not convinced that somebody in Massachusetts could be that truly clueless and post something like that, as opposed to somebody who makes up an account under his name.

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Unless someone like Adam

Unless someone like Adam gets an email from the CEO using the same email the CEO posts on the website I wont accept this as the real guy.

No business person, regardless of how thoughtless their actions towards their employees health benefits, would post something like this. Especially if they are based out of Cambridge, they would never get work again.

So I dont believe its him.

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not dispositive

No one with that name, and no one who identified their employer as Aspiant, donated money to either party or either campaign.

You'd think, that if he was really that freaked out, he would have given $2300 to McCain and/or $2300 to RSCC.

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Not the Pres, Q1

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It wasn't the presidential election that had him so worked up, it was Question 1. He donated $2500 to that lost cause.

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