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    Highlights for week ending July 14, 2001
  • Associated Press: Older Workers Claim Discrimination. Excerpt: "The key to their claim is the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990, or OWBPA, aimed at workers 40 and over. It requires companies to provide workers with age-specific data about who is targeted and who remains on the job after layoffs or early-retirement buyouts. The law kicks in when employers ask workers to sign agreements not to sue the company in exchange for a larger severance package. With age data in hand, and 45 days to think things over, workers are supposed to have the information they need to decide whether to sign the waiver or if they have grounds for a lawsuit."

  • From "mrs_adm": The Alliance web site has just been updated with the latest information coming in about the layoffs. Apparently they are world-wide. Sometimes the fired individuals are scattered around; sometimes whole departments are canned. (See http://www.allianceibm.org/firings.htm). Please ask your coworkers and friends to report situations at their site using this easly online form: http://www.allianceibm.org/layoffinfo.htm. We'd like to know the truth about this instead of the management spin about skills rebalancing and continuing to hire. My own personal opinion is that LVG wants to look the hero again with 2nd quarter earnings, while meanwhile it took a lot of layoffs to meet the numbers they'll announce on July 17.

  • Employee Stories—hear from those who've lost their jobs... Excerpt: "Age 45, 23 plus years with IBM ...Was a 1 performer the last 2 years and was asked to leave IBM because of my skills, but they left a new hire from 1 year ago on board that I trained."

  • Chicago Tribune: Age-bias complaints up sharply. Older workers' higher salaries are big targets for employers. Excerpt: "Daniel Klein, a Georgia lawyer who is suing Lucent, said his clients were victimized by a talent review process in which managers were charged with identifying the top 10 percent and bottom 10 percent of management employees. 'Lucent's own disclosures showed that only 2.5 percent of all management employees in their 20s, 30s and 40s' were ranked as inadequate, Klein said. For workers 49 or over, he says, the figure was 20 percent."

  • CNBC and the Wall Street Journal: 401(k) plans suffer as stocks swoon. NBC’s Lisa Myers reports on what it means for your retirement. Excerpts: "The average 401(k) retirement account lost money last year, the first time in the 20-year history of the widespread savings plans, despite thousands of dollars in new contributions by employees, according to a consulting firm report." ... "The report also raises questions about President Bush’s plan to allow Americans to direct how some of their Social Security contributions are invested, exposing even more of their retirement income to the vicissitudes of the stock market."

  • Associated Press: Ford Changes Worker Grading System. Ford Changes Controversial Employee Evaluation System That Is Target of at Least Six Lawsuits. Excerpts: "Current and former employees who are suing the automaker claim the system is used unfairly to weed out older white males in favor of women and minorities." ... "Employees were graded A, B, or C. Those receiving a C could lose bonuses and raises, and two consecutive C grades could mean dismissal. Initially, at least 10 percent of employees were to be graded C, but that was later lowered to 5 percent."

  • Wall Street Journal: IBM Lays Off About 1,000 Workers In Another Quiet Round of Cuts. Excerpts: "An IBM spokesman, John Bukovinsky, declined to say how many workers were affected by the latest cuts, but said the cuts 'aren't really any kind of a company-wide action' and added that they're not aimed at limiting expenses at the firm. '"They're not cost-cuts at all,' he said." "Lee Conrad, a former IBM employee and now a national organizer for the Alliance at IBM, a unit of the Communications Workers of America, estimates 'about 1,000' workers have been affected by the cuts in the past week and calls the company's 'secretive' cuts a 'shell game.' 'IBM needs to come out and say exactly what they're doing,' he said." "The latest cuts are in addition to layoffs affecting some 1,500 workers at IBM's Global Services division, one of its fastest-growing units, that officials confirmed last week." If link is broken, view Adobe Acrobat version [PDF--64 KB].

  • Calvin Arnason announces his departure from IBM Global Services, including the circumstances of his lay off, his attitude towards the whole thing, and his bright future. (Good luck Calvin!)

  • USA Today: More workers claim age bias in layoffs.

  • AARP: 'Long goodbye' to benefits? Excerpt: "Unlike Bob Rehm—who considers himself a 'healthy guy'—George Brandt of Bloomfield (sic), Colo., was in no shape to switch to a less expensive health care plan when his company announced a cost-sharing scheme. Changing doctors was out of the question for Brandt, who's had four tumors the size of golf balls removed from his brain, and for his wife, who had to learn to walk again after being paralyzed by a neurological disorder. When Brandt retired from IBM in 1989, he believed the promise of lifetime eligibility for health care benefits meant IBM would always pick up the tab. What he didn't know then was that, although pensions are protected by federal law, retiree health benefits can usually be modified or cut at the employer's discretion. When Brandt received notice last spring that he'd have to start paying $144 a month to maintain existing coverage for himself and his wife, he was flabbergasted. The out-of-pocket expense now consumes one-fifth of his pension and exceeds his monthly grocery bill."

  • Action by Burlington IBM Workers Stops Pay Cuts. Excerpt: "Sharon is new to organizing fellow workers. 'The only thing I ever organized before is a church choir,' she said. Sharon overcame fear and nervousness even among some union organizers and went ahead with her plan to set up the table in the break room and have the employee planning meetings right on site in the break room. 'I feel like we have Norma Rae right here in Burlington,' said Jimmy Leas. 'It was amazing, her determination. And we are all delighted with the fantastic results of her initiative.'"

  • The Bureau of National Affairs (BNA): Pension Benefit Accrual and Older Workers: Are Cash Balance Plans Age Discriminatory? Excerpts: "Although employers have used cash balance pension plans since the mid-1980s, the potential inequities of such plans for older employees became a widespread concern only recently, when the efforts of IBM and some other large employers to convert their traditional defined benefit plans sparked media, congressional, and administrative scrutiny." ... "Critics of cash balance conversions, however, claim they are thinly veiled attempts by employers to reduce their pension costs on the backs of older, long-term employees who sometimes stand to lose 30 percent to 50 percent of their expected pension benefits." ...

    "Professor Edward A. Zelinsky, who teaches at Yeshiva University's Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, suggested that in stretching for a desired policy result, the Onan court engaged in sloppy statutory construction. In a recent paper prepared for the Virginia Tax Review, Zelinsky criticized the court for jumping to the legislative history when the statute's plain language indicates the 1986 amendment is not restricted to employees 65 and older. Cash balance plans run afoul of the ADEA because pension benefit accrual inevitably declines with age under such plans, Zelinsky concluded. But he also said, as a policy matter, employers should be allowed to adopt cash balance plans. Congress should intervene and clarify that such plans are permissible, he said. 'My views make nobody happy,' Zelinsky said in a telephone interview. 'The plans are probably illegal under current law.'"

  • IBM_WARRIOR: "Hooray IBM shareholders!! IBM will have a excellent 2nd qtr.!!! Even with the current stock market mess. Read how it's done with advanced accounting, your grandfather never dreamed of...Yahoo - Summertime, and the Accountin's Easy







"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
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