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    Highlights for week ending October 28, 2000
  • Plan Sponsor: Reading Between the Lines at IBM. Retirees fear health benefits cutbacks at Big Blue next year. IBM's already rocky relationship with its retirees may be headed for more trouble.

  • Plan Sponsor: IBM Retirees Fear Health Benefit Cutbacks. In the midst of a national debate over healthcare concerns, a letter suggesting IBM might decrease retiree health care coverage has stirred up emotions among the already combative Big Blue retirees.

  • Washington Post: Capricious Stock Market Isn't the Place For Social Security, Retirement Funds

  • Wall Street Journal: Retiree-Medical Plans Are Transformed Into Source of Profits by Sears, Others. "Sears Roebuck & Co. has figured out how to turn its medical-benefits program for retirees into a source of corporate income." "The seeds of the retiree-health windfall for many companies were planted in the late 1980s, when the Financial Accounting Standards Board, the accounting industry's rule-making body, began to develop standards for reporting retiree-health obligations. Major companies, such as General Electric Co. and International Business Machines Corp., played an active role in the process, suggesting ideas to the accounting board. Companies showed the board computer simulations of how various proposals would affect corporate bottom lines."

  • IBM must pay former exec in termination suit. IBM will have to pay damages to the former president of its Asian division after a federal judge found the company violated his employment contract.

    har_philby comments on this article. Extract: "The publicity of these dubious tactics trying to force stupid contracts on executives as well as screwing departing low level personnel is certainly having a negative impact in hiring new outside people. ... If 'baby face' Palmisano had any guts he'd tell Lou to curb the gestapo HR tactics. Fewer and fewer people want to work at IBM and those left in there that have any skill or future are all planning their exits. I think investors should ask Palmisano: 'If you say your people are your most valuable assets, why not take care of them like a good asset?'

  • Plan Sponsor: Employer Puts Pension Surplus To "Good Use". Ethyl Corporation will terminate - and then "restart" - its defined benefit plan for salaried employees on January 1, retrieving a $200 million surplus. The carefully designed move should capture the attention of other over-funded plans, some of whose surpluses range into the billions. Habel believes Ethyl won't be the only pension plan to restructure itself in this way. "It's not an easy process, but I predict that once we are out of the gate with this, other companies are going to be looking at it. Our surplus is peanuts compared to what's out there - billions, at some plans."

  • PBS Frontline: Interview with Robert Reich, U.S. Secretary of Labor. Topics covered include CEO compensation and corporate trust.

  • A thoughtful posting on Yahoo!'s IBM investment board addressing several issues: the tax problem in England with Inland Revenue; employee morale and retention; loss of profitability in IGS; slower software sales in SWG; substrate packaging problems; and slim profitability of the PC group. Extract: "Gerstner and Palmisano should seriously consider stopping the pension changes and offer a "giveback" to those experienced employees still there. Options and young turks aren't going to save the company. It's the combination experience from the old folks, mentoring of the young and good teamwork that's going to save the company."

  • IBM mocked in political cartoon in Binghamton (NY) Press

  • President Clinton writes to the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader regarding the HR 1102 issues. Excerpt: "Third, the offer includes pension legislation adopted by the House and Senate, costing about $50-60 billion over 10 years, provided that certain modifications that the Treasury Department has discussed with the tax-writing committees are made to ensure that employer-provided pensions for workers are not harmed, to provide meaningful protections for workers affected by cash balance conversions, and to provide progressive savings incentives for low- and moderate-income workers." (Italics are my emphasis).

  • Washington Post editorial:Yes, Veto the Tax Bill. "The President says on inspection that he'll veto the end-of-session Republican tax cut bill if it comes to him in its current form. That's what he ought to do. The limited amount of good the bill would do is not remotely worth the cost. The tax cuts alone--the bill has other parts, some of which are also objectionable--would cost more than a quarter-trillion dollars over 10 years. The highest-income 5 percent of taxpayers would get a larger share than the lowest-income 80 percent."

  • Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: Leadership's Tax Plan Reinforces Inequities in Health and Pension Coverage. Tax Cuts Primarily Benefit High-Income Households and Could Reduce Health and Pension Coverage for Low- and Moderate-Income Workers.

  • Of Leafs(leaves) and Ledger Stew: "While the leaves of the season fall gracefully around Castle Armonk, another rite of the season is about to begin. The harvest this year has been scant and the Lords of Dow are leary. The Beast in a Business Suit is unhappy. What will the he do now? The serfs have been subjected to longer hours and the "Ledger Stew" is still spoiling..."

  • CPR provides categories of reasons that people have decided to stay at IBM. Interesting reading. Excerpt: "First, HR tells managers like us that retention is the biggest management problem today at IBM. We'd say productivity and hiring are worse, but as line managers we only see part of the 'overall' picture. It reminds us of a TV police series in the 60's about NY at night, the city of a "thousand stories". IBM is just like that, a thousand reasons why people stay and leave. Every time I talk to another employee, I find another reason. They can be grouped in a crude fashion thus..."

  • Washington Post: Actuaries Fault Bush Plan. The American Academy of Actuaries, a respected nonpartisan organization of financial and statistical experts, will report today that Texas Gov. George W. Bush's plan to cut taxes and divert Social Security payroll taxes to establish individual accounts would make it all but impossible to eliminate the publicly held national debt.

  • New York Times: A Retirement Fable

  • har_philby writes on Yahoo!'s IBM stock investment message board about IBM using exceptions to FAS 106 and FASB 87 to funnel earned income from its employee pension accounts to the bottom line; IBM under investigation by the UK Inland Revenue department for tax and pension anomalies; and allegations that IBM has heavily funded lobbyists and consultants to try to pass a law initially known as HR1102 through the Senate and House. The law would have immediately allowed IBM to forfeit all pension monies from active employees and retirees without legal recourse from the employees and retirees, but President Clinton has threatened to veto it.

  • IBM "warns" CEs and SSRs that a union represenative might come to their house...
"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have too much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." — Franklin D. Roosevelt
This site is designed to allow IBM Employees to communicate and share methods of protecting their rights through the establishment of an IBM Employees Labor Union. Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act states it is a violation for Employers to spy on union gatherings, or pretend to spy. For the purpose of the National Labor Relations Act, notice is given that this site and all of its content, messages, communications, or other content is considered to be a union gathering.