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Heinz Chief Joins John Kerry's "Benedict Arnold CEOs" List

During the 2004 presidential campaign, Democratic candidate John Kerry vilified corporate heads who presided over the outsourcing of jobs overseas.

Paul McDougall

April 15, 2005

1 Min Read

During the 2004 presidential campaign, Democratic candidate John Kerry vilified corporate heads who presided over the outsourcing of jobs overseas as "Benedict Arnold CEOs." Kerry can now add another name to the list of industry chieftains he views as national traitors: William R. Johnson, president, CEO and chairman of H.J. Heinz Company—the multi-billion dollar food empire founded by Teresa Heinz Kerry's late, former father-in-law.

An IT worker at Heinz headquarters in Pittsburgh says he recently lost his job due to a department restructuring under which the company is outsourcing a number of application development positions to India through a services agreement with IBM. The agreement was struck in February 2004.

Earlier this month, according to an internal memo obtained by InformationWeek, IBM identified six former Heinz IT workers—since transferred to IBM--as having been "selected to participate in IBM's current resource reduction action" at Heinz. The memo identifies three advisory IT specialists, one IT specialist, one senior IT specialist and one technical services specialist. "IBM tried to do it in July 2004 but Heinz protested, especially when the political atmosphere with Teresa Heinz was in the news," the worker—who isn't identified—writes in an e-mail to an IBM employee association. InformationWeek has obtained a copy of the e-mail. "We knew eventually our jobs would be offshored to India," the employee writes.

Teresa Heinz Kerry, John Kerry's wife, does not hold any executive or board positions with H.J. Heinz. She is currently chairman of the Howard Heinz endowment and the Heinz Family Philanthropies. Calls to H.J. Heinz were not returned. An IBM spokesman said he was not immediately familiar with the company's outsourcing deal with Heinz.

About the Author(s)

Paul McDougall

Editor At Large, InformationWeek

Paul McDougall is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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