Want to Keep Your Job and Get a PhD in the Trump Era? Unionize!!!!!!

Posted in BioBusiness, BioEducation, BioJobBuzz, Career Advice

It should come as no surprise that Donald Trump is anti-union and his recent cabinet pick for Secretary of Labor is clearly not a friend of working people.  Put simply, Trump is on the side of big business and employers. And if he and his billionaire friends can squeeze more work out of employees for lesser pay, then he and his administration gladly propose legislation to accomplish those goals. Also, don’t be shocked when Trump cuts the budgets of federal agencies that offer research grants, fellowships and teaching assistantships to American colleges and Universities.

It’s no secret that graduate students and postdocs are overworked and underpaid and long term career prospects continue to dwindle.  Further, during the course of my career advising graduate students and postdocs about job opportunities, I have heard too many horror stories about PIs who refuse to let their students or postdoc do anything outside of their laboratories to enhance careers or job opportunities.

While the public and private union movement is dying in the US, unions still offer exploited workers to negotiate their fates, working conditions, pay and benefits with employers.  Sadly, we in the academic community have been taught to be anti-union because of the high costs associated with union labor. Ironically, that is the point….why  should graduate students and postdocs not be fairly compensated for the long hours that they work?  Sure, you can say that graduate students will get a degree and postdocs need the experience to get a job but, while a degree and a postdoc in the past meant a good paying job in the end, no such guarantees exist today.  Basically, you are on your own!

Last week, graduate students at Columbia University overwhelmingly voted to unionize. According to a newspaper article in the NY Times:

The union will be the first to represent graduate students since the National Labor Relations Board ruled in August that students who work as teaching and research assistants have a federal right to unionize.

 

The vote to unionize was 1,602 to 623, according to the United Automobile Workers, which will now represent some 3,500 Columbia graduate students.

While the vote to unionize will undoubtedly upsets PIs, Deans and University Presidents, it is in the best career interests and lifestyles of graduate students and research assistants. For example, unions typically negotiate the salaries for 40 hour work weeks. We all know that postdocs and graduate students work more than 40 hours weekly. Therefore, any time over 40 hours ought to be overtime pay, or to avoid overtime hourly pay, base salaries have to be set a certain levels (according to Federal salary guidelines ) which are substantially more than what graduate students and postdocs are currently paid. Also, unions negotiate with employers about vacation times, benefits (health and life insurance,401K plans etc) and establish guidelines that protect employees from being abused by employers and create rules that guide whether or not an employee can be fired “for cause” (not simply because your employer does not like you).

As I previously mentioned, research budgets and public unions will likely be under constant attack during the Trump regime.  Because of this, it is time that everyone begins to think about ways in which they can protect their jobs and keep their career aspirations alive. I know it won’t be easy but as someone once said “desperate times require desperate measures” (or something like that).

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Unionizing!!!!!!

Tis the Season: Astra Zeneca is the Latest Pharmaceutical Company to Announce Job Cuts

Posted in BioBusiness, BioJobBuzz

AstraZeneca announced today that it would be eliminate another 700 US job as part of its $1.1 billion cost saving plan that was implemented earlier this year. According to a Fierce Pharma report, the company will eliminate jobs throughout its US commercial operations and at its US headquarters in Wilmington, DE.

The latest job cuts come just days after London-based AstraZeneca mentioned that it would move some UK finance jobs to Malaysia, Costa Rica, Poland and other lower cost markets to consolidate back office work. Generic versions of the company’s top selling cholesterol lowering drug Crestor is what is driving financial concerns at the company. While there are other promising drugs in AZ”s pipeline and slated to appear on the market, their combined revenue will not be enough to fill the gap lost by Crestor and Nexium (which went generic last year).

Earlier this week Mylan, Endo and Perrigo announced job cuts. Isn’t it great to work in pharma around the holidays?

Until next time,

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!

Another Day: More Pharmaceutical Layoffs

Posted in BioJobBuzz, Uncategorized

Endo International PLC, a Dublin, Ireland-based global speciality pharmaceutical company that sells generic and branded prescription drugs, today announced that it plans to layoff 375 US sales employees most of whom work in its branded pain sales force. The company manufactures several branded opioid pain medicines including OPANA ER® and Percocet® Ostensibly, the job cuts will yield  will free up $90 to $100 million that the company will used to restructure and refocus its business units.

The ongoing very public national discussion about opioid abuse has caused Endo to re-evaluate its new product development strategy ( the company stock has been hemorrhaging over the past year or so). To that end, the company announced a new focus on the drug Xiaflex, a penis curvature drug that the company acquired in its $2.6 billion buyout of Auxilium.  By focusing on new markets, the company hopes to reduce its financial dependency on its legacy opioid business that has been waning as new legislation restricting patient access to opioids continues to be passed in States that have been devastating by the growing opioid epidemic sweeping the US.

Until next time…

Good luck and Good Job Hunting

 

It’s the Holiday Season: Time for More Job Cuts in Pharma

Posted in BioBusiness, BioJobBuzz

While the holiday season (beginning on Thanksgiving) is supposed to be joyous, it is usually the time of year that many life sciences and other large corporations announce job cuts. As expected, two companies, Mylan and Lilly announced today that they will be cutting the size of their work forces and laying off employee.

Mylan, whose CEO was forced to appear before Congressional committees because of the company’s egregiously high price it was charging for EpiPens, announced that it may lay off of as many as 3,500 workers. The reason for the layoffs was to “reduce redundancy” that resulted from Mylan’s $5.3 billion acquisition of Abbott Laboratories generic drug business, the $7 billion it paid to purchase the Swedish drugmaker Meda and the $1.0 billion for several topical skin medications from Renaissance Holdings. The layoffs will purportedly impact less than 10% of Mylan’s global workforce and help to cut costs and refocus operations at the generic drug manufacturer.

Likewise, troubled pharmaceutical manufacturer Lilly, whose CEO abruptly retired earlier this year announced that it was trimming its US pharmaceutical sales force. The announced cuts were related to the recent Phase 3 failure of the company’s Alzheimer’s project solanezumab. A company spokesperson did not disclose the number of sales representative who would lose their jobs.

Finally, this past September, the Danish company  Novo Nordisk, a world leader in the diabetes market, announced it would layoff 1,000 employees worldwide to cut costs and focus it efforts on developing “truly innovative” diabetes products.  Meanwhile, behind the scenes, speculation suggests that the layoffs are in response to payer pressures that are being brought to bear in the US, the company’s largest market.  Many of the cuts are expected in R&D where innovation has been lacking according to company executives.

Although these jobs cuts are taking place, the good news is that these workforce reductions are smaller than those announced in holiday seasons past!

Until next time

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting

 

Life Scientists:Looking for a Job? Consider the Cannabis Industry

Posted in BioBusiness, Career Advice

According to a recent article, the 2013 to 2014 US market for legal Cannabis (medical and recreational) grew 74% from $1.3 billion to $2.7 billion. Industry analysts predict that the legal marijuana industry is (and will continue to be) the fastest-growing industry in the US over the next 5 years with annual revenues topping $11 billion by 2020.  And, as the industry grows so will employment opportunities. At present, salaries associated with various job functions in the Cannabis industry range from $50,000 to $90,000. As many businesses that support the Cannabis industry continue to grow, the competition for qualified employed will intensify and salaries will concomitantly rise. Currently,, there aren’t enough trained job candidates to fill the many job openings at Cannabis companies. I am sure that many of you who hold graduate degrees in the life sciences are wondering why I am pitching jobs in the Cannabis industry.

First, traditional jobs for PhD-trained life scientist are getting scarcer and the election of Donald Trump suggests that this trend will not be reversed anytime soon.

Second, consider that growing and cultivating marijuana and extracting cannabinoids (the pharmaceutically active molecules in Cannabis buds) require a background in laboratory methods, chemistry, biology and in some cases plant science. For those of you who may not know, the medical Cannabis market is focusing almost exclusively on cannabis extracts and vaporization of these extracts (rather than smoking) is the preferred delivery methods. This suggests that those of you with backgrounds in biomedical engineering and medical devices  can leverage your expertise and skills to obtain jobs in the delivery side of the cannabis industry.  

Third, the expansive growth and sheer economic size of the Cannabis industry suggests that other jobs that require a life science background are likely to emerge. These include quality control/assurance jobs for strain identification, diagnostic jobs to determine THC levels/intoxication, molecular biology and bioinformatic jobs to continue to explore and unlike therapeutically relevant molecules from the Cannabis genome and synthetic biology jobs to increase cannabinoid yields and reduce production costs. Finally, there is currently a dearth of qualified job candidates with scientific backgrounds to fill entry level grow and extraction jobs in the Cannabis industry.

At present, the industry is mainly dominated by long time Cannabis growers, people who use marijuana on a regular basis and some moxy business people/investors who see an an enormous upside for the Cannabis industry. Put simply, now is the time to get in on the ground floor of an industry that is exploding and will ultimately become a legal multibillion dollar a year industry. While I’m sure that neither you nor your parents/family envisioned a career in Cannabis, the jobs are there and ripe for the picking (pun intended).

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!!

Alternative Energy and Innovative Technologies: How Trump Might Be Able to Create New Jobs

Posted in BioBusiness, Career Advice, Uncategorized

Trumps ideas around job creation center around saving jobs before they leave or possibly bringing back old manufacturing/ mining jobs to the US. We just witnessed how effective Trump was convincing the Carrier Corporation to not outsource jobs to Mexico or close factories in Indiana and move them south of the border. Further, many of the jobs that Trump talked about during his scorch-the-earth campaign (both figuratively and possibly literally), are obsolete because much of what humans did in these jobs is now automated and their participation is no longer required.  Put simply, Trump needs to think outside of his box (which will be extremely difficult but necessary) for him to fulfill one of his major campaign promises of creating new jobs for workers in the financially-devastated American heartland.

To that point, Ross Sorkin suggested a possible strategy in an editorial in today’s NY Times business section. In the opinion piece, Sorkin suggests that Trump model his job creation strategy divined by Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, the electric car company; SolarCity, the solar power provider; and SpaceX, the rocket company..  According to Sorkin, Musk has nearly 35,000 new jobs (most of which are manufacturing jobs) in the past decade. This is an outstanding accomplishment for a single individual entrepreneur. However, instead of naming Musk to advise him on job creation, Trump decided that he was going to rely on the advice of people like Jamie Dimon, of JP Morgan Chase, Robert Iger of Disney and Mary Barra of General Motors all of whom benefitted from President Obama’s government bailout and are not exactly paragons of innovation. LIke Trump, these business leaders represent the old guard that want things to remain the same to help them maintain their power bases, corporate stock prices and large oversized CEO compensation packages (Musk takes $1 dollar a year in salary and has paid as much as $600 million in taxes annually).

Not surprisingly, Musk is a Democrat and despite creating tens of thousand of new American jobs, he is under assault and being vilified by conservative groups. This is because Musk believes in climate change. According to Sorkin:

…Conservative groups and individuals have taken to the internet with a litany of real and fake stories attacking Mr. Musk for the government subsidies Tesla receives, and for his vocal warnings on climate change.

Even worse, Sorkin reported:

Robert E. Murray, chief executive of Murray Energy Corporation, the largest privately owned coal company, called Mr. Musk “a fraud” for accepting $2 billion in government subsidies for Tesla.

Yet despite this hateful and untrue assault by Trump supporters, Musk suggested to Sorkin that even though he did not support Trump, that he would be “happy to talk with him” about job creation and climate change.

If I were Mr. Musk, I would not hold my breath.

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting

 

Career Advice: Why Social Media Can Make A Difference!

Posted in Articles, Career Advice, Social Media

Back in the old days, I scolded job candidates for having an active social media presence especially those persons who posted party pics or politically-charged comments on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc feeds.  However, the advent of fine-tuned privacy settings,Snapchat (where things go away without leaving much of a digital trace) and a broader understanding of the importance of social media for those entering job market or looking to transition to the next opportunity has changed the role that social media can affect a career.

While I can drone on about it here on my blog, I highly recommend an article that appeared this Sunday’s NY Times business section. The points that the author maker are valid and I recommend that new job candidates and experienced job seekers take a look at it.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!

The Truth About Trump and Manufacturing Jobs: Part 2

Posted in BioBusiness, Uncategorized

While Trump has been on a so-called victory tour to convince his supporters that he fulfilled (sort of) one campaign promise to keep jobs in America (middle America really), he set a couple of dangerous precedents.

First, every US CEO worth his/her salt will be calling Trump to negotiate or renegotiate deals for tax breaks, incentives and guarantees of government contracts to keep manufacturing jobs in America.  And ,while Trump/Pence saved some jobs for Carrier employees (around 1000) another 1100 are still moving to Mexico. Surprisingly, to keep less than 50% of Carrier’s low tech manufacturing jobs in Indiana, Pence, Indiana’s governor, had to guarantee Carrier an additional $7.0 million in tax breaks and incentives. Great deal for Carrier and those employees, but not such a great deal for other Indiana citizens who may have to pay more to pay for the tax shortfall.

Second, Trump has other things besides jobs to focus on; like foreign affairs, national security, legislation and other Presidential things that he so desperately wanted to do after becoming President.  Because of this, Trump does not have the time to intervene and negotiate with every US company that threatens to move jobs (manufacturing or otherwise) to lower cost labor markets. His intervention in the Carrier situation set a bad precedent and pretty much invited other companies to see what kind of deal that they can get to keep jobs in the US (kind of sounds like corporate blackmail to me).

Put simply, Trump engineered this deal and set out on his victory tour to placate his supporters in the heartland and also to draw attention away from his cabinet picks and campaign promises that he made and will never fulfill.

Trump needs to start thinking more presidentially and finally  understand that governments cannot be run like businesses.  There is more to running a government than making money.

Until next time,

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting

Trump and Manufacturing Jobs

Posted in Articles, BioBusiness, BioJobBuzz, Career Advice

The big news today is that Donald Trump and Mike Pence negotiated a deal with United  Technologies (owner of the big air-conditioner company Carrier) to keep 1000 of the 2,000 Indiana-based jobs that were slated to be moved to Mexico.  Of course, the terms of the deal were not announced (and possibly will never be). That said, it is likely Trump promised Carrier management tax breaks and incentives and other perks to keep 50% of the announced jobs in the US (why not all of them?).

While Trump supporters may see this as fulfillment of a campaign promise made by the Donald, it is nothing more than a PR stunt to suggest that Trump is able to keep jobs in the US and not move jobs to lower cost manufacturing markets like Mexico, Vietnam, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and others. Notice that I did not mention China in the list of lower cost manufacturing destinations. That’s because, over the past 10 years, labor and manufacturing costs have skyrocketed in China and manufacturing there no longer makes fiscal or economic sense. Anyway, the Carrier story will be used to show that Trump unlike President Obama is able to stem or reverse the loss of US manufacturing jobs to foreign countries.

The reason for the post is twofold.  First,  most of the manufacturing jobs in the US have already been lost and they will not be coming back home anytime soon.This is because moving these jobs to lower cost markets has increased corporate profits and elevate public company stock prices. Nevertheless, it is important to note that over 200,000 US pharmaceutical manufacturing, marketing and sales jobs have been lost since 2001 because of outsourcing to lower cost foreign markets. Despite bleeding job losses, neither the Bush nor Obama administrations directly intervened to keep these jobs in the US. Both Bush and Obama likely believed that the US government ought not meddle with or tell private companies how to run their businesses.

Second, despite all of the hoopla, Trump/Pence were only able to save 50% of the 2000 jobs slated to be moved to Mexico. And, putting things in perspective saving 1,0000 “blue collar” jobs is peanuts as compared with the lost of over 200,000 pharmaceutical and life sciences jobs.  While saving 1,000 Indiana jobs may seem like a “win” for Trump supporters, I think the whole deal was really designed to distract said supports from other campaign promises that Trump has failed to live up to. For example, his decision to not investigate and possibly jail Hillary Clinton, his appointment of Washington lobbyists and Wall Street insiders to cabinet posts and advisory positions (whatever happened to “cleaning out the swamp?) and considering Mitt Romney for Secretary of State.

Finally, in my opinion, Trump’s personal involvement in negotiations with private companies sets a dangerous precedent because the Executive branch ought not be able to directly manipulate or negotiate private business transactions. To that point, I believe that oversight of US corporate transactions and business deals are best left to regulatory agencies like the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department rather than President of the US.  That said, President-elect Trump ought to be focused on running the US government; not negotiating business deals with private US corporations.

Until next time,

Good luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!

 

The State of the Job Market for Recent College Grads

Posted in Career Advice

The U.S economy has been steadily improving for college graduates since the Great Recession. Salaries appear to be rising and the demand for college-level skills is becoming increasingly competitive. These signs are good one for person who have graduated from college or who will be graduating this spring.

Donna Norton just recently published a blog post entitled “The Job Market for Recent Grads: 50+ Promising College Employment Statistics.   It is definitely worth a read for college graduates who are contemplating their next career choice or options.

Until next time….Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!!