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    Highlights for week ending October 12, 2002
  • Mainichi Daily News (Japan): IBM Japan cops 1.5 bil. yen penalty for cooking books. Excerpt: "Computer giant IBM Japan was forced to pay some 1.5 billion yen in penalties and additional taxes after cooking the books in an income-hiding scheme, sources said Thursday."

  • Dow Jones Business News: IBM Japan Fails To Declare Y3 Billion In Earnings. Excerpt: "The sources said the firm is believed to have tried to compress its profits by doing such things as padding personnel costs when customer firms placed orders with it for the development of several computer systems. The sources also said IBM Japan altered employee work records."

  • With the IBM Global Services acquisition of the PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting, PwC employees have been very busy on the Vault Message boards discussing their future with IBM, and comparing benefits. The conversations are very interesting, especially for current IBM Global Services employees. The busiest message board is the new IBM Business Consulting Services message board. (IBM Business Consulting Services is the new name for the merged PwC and IBM Business Integration Services organization). Other relevant Vault message boards include:
  • Midrange Server: As I See It: Evaluate This. Excerpt: "The most important annual event in the life of any employee is arguably the performance evaluation. Get a good one, and you may keep your job for another year, and perhaps even merit a raise. Get a bad one, and your life will be full of anxiety and stress. Why, then, is the evaluation process so often trite and shallow, void of substance or meaning? Even positive observations border on being vapid. 'Bob communicates well with others. 'Wow, that's deep..."

  • "carolina_puerto_rican" speculates on future layoffs at IBM. Excerpt: "Expect an average of about 15-20% of the entire population to be laid off every year. 2002 should be a stellar year, above the average. Next round in November. This should make it very hard except for a very few to make it past 5 years of service on the new plan. Most of the older plan people will be retired or shot canned by late 2004."

  • "hrcontractor2001" states "IBM's hired gun in layoff consulting has scheduled two training classes available to IBM HR people in Raleigh, NC over the next two months. 'PeopleClick' (formerly PRI International) is IBM's provider of HR consulting and software to help select employees for layoff. Consulting with IBM to avoid the appearance of discrimination in its termination selection process, they use sophisticated statistical tools and consulting. One of their tools IBM HR uses is..." Read more, including links to "white papers with legal arguments showing how discrimination charges might be obfuscated with statistics and circular arguments...arguing that discrimination has not really taken place."

  • Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech): Can you find a job for my friend? Programmer bets IT lobbying org that it can't find job for unemployed friend. Excerpt: "Berry graduated at the top of his class in 1990 from Sacramento State University. Now, with 12 years of programming experience, he believes that the skewed workforce studies promoted by the ITAA at the behest of big corporations give the false impression that there is a shortage of skilled IT workers. This gives the government reason to keep the (H-1B) visa program going, which can allow more than 150,000 foreign guest workers entry into U.S. high-tech jobs each year."

  • Tri-Valley Tribune (Northern California): Workers caught in cross-currents of huge high-tech industry shift. Excerpt: "While the dot-com collapse led to massive layoffs and ended the high-tech worker shortage that initially produced the influx of foreign workers, many companies continue to pursue foreign workers -- but with a different objective. Now, instead of going outside their own work forces to beef up productivity, local employers are doing so to cut costs. And there appears to be less reliance on importing workers and more a focus on outsourcing jobs through foreign intermediaries or by expanding a company's foreign operations. Arun worked for a company, one of many that have found cheaper, underemployed labor pools in India and other lesser developed countries."

  • First&Second ("India's biggest book stop") provides an interesting view of the H-1B visa program from an Indian perspective: The H-1B Visa Scam: The booming software manpower trade has spawned layers of middlemen, some of whom cheat gullible job seekers. An investigation into the workings of the body-shopping networks.

  • IBM retirees react to the increased cost of their 2003 medical package:
    • "gene_vaughter" comments (complete excerpt): "I received my 2003 benefits package. The price for maintaining my current level of coverage is almost equal to my starting salary in 1968. They should be ashamed of themselves. They should really be ashamed of themselves for sending along those silly-assed spin letters telling us how wonderful it is that they are screwing us."
    • "thomas365us" comments (complete excerpt): "My package came today and they are sticking it to us again this year. 50% increase in deductibles, 35% copay for drugs etc. As the only thing they pay for is drugs there is no way it can cost the $3500 which they claim they pay plus what they charge us. I wonder how much they are making on us. If they only skim a couple of hundred a year for each of 100,000 retirees that is still 20 million dollars for someone's pocket. I wish we knew how much they actually spent per retiree per year, but I guess we will never know."
    • "littlebobj" comments (excerpt): "I retired in late 2000. I just got my 2003 medical plan selection package. Talk about getting the shaft! Here is the data: From 2001 to 2002, my cost to retain the same coverage was up 235%. From 2002 to 2003, my cost for REDUCED coverage will be up 225% (that's 255% over the 2002 cost, over 500% of the 2001 cost). At this rate, in 2004 I will have to sign my pension check over to the IBM medical plan, plus send them a few more bucks."
    • "alliance_organizer" suggests a way retirees can do something about their medical plan cuts. Excerpt: "Or should the employees and retirees be the ones who are ashamed for just sitting there and taking whatever Sam, Lou, and Randy do to them? How much more will they tolerate without even trying to do something about it? Pension cuts, higher charges for less medical coverage, higher layoff rates for those over 40, retirement medical coverage that will leave future retirees high and dry after in as little as three years if they happen to survive to retirement, outrageous charges for medical coverage for present retirees..."

  • Wall Street Journal: Well-Hidden Perk Adds Up To Big Money for Executives. Deferred-Compensation Plans Give Tax Benefits, But Are Poorly Disclosed and Add to Liability. By Ellen E. Schultz and Theo Francis. Excerpt: "Super-sized salaries, sweetheart loans and generous stock options have come under fire as corruption scandals have prompted heavy scrutiny of executive compensation. But lurking behind those benefits is another goody swelling the pay packages of top executives. With hefty infusions of cash from their employers, senior officials at many large companies are accumulating big sums in their deferred-compensation accounts. It adds up to a massive, ever-ballooning and in most cases unknowable corporate liability. All this means that the lawmakers and corporate compensation watchdogs who have railed against what they consider to be bloated executive pay in recent months have largely overlooked one of the biggest sources of executive compensation, worth a total of tens of millions of dollars to top officers."

  • New York Times: Revenge of the Accountants. Excerpts: "After a summer in which it seemed as if Harvey Pitt might be getting religion on accounting reforms, he has now reverted to form. Mr. Pitt, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, is on the verge of botching one of its most pressing missions — the creation of a credible oversight board for the accounting profession."

  • New York Times: Fool Me Once. By Paul Krugman. Excerpt: "The Sarbanes-Oxley Act created the new board to replace the accounting industry's previous, spectacularly ineffectual self-regulation. Since the purpose of the board is to restore investor confidence, it's crucial that its head be someone forceful, with unquestioned integrity. The job was first offered to Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve. When Mr. Volcker turned it down, the focus shifted to John Biggs, head of the T.I.A.A.-CREF pension fund and a strong advocate of reform. Indeed, some news reports indicate that Mr. Biggs believed that he had been offered the job, and had already been making arrangements to retire early from T.I.A.A.- CREF. But apparently it is not to be. Let me just quote The Wall Street Journal on this: "The big accounting firms won't dare speak on the record...All signs suggest they're working instead through Republicans in Congress, specifically Ohio's Mike Oxley... They don't want pension fund chief John Biggs to lead the new accounting board because they fear he might actually force the industry to shape up. What The Journal doesn't point out is the obvious: The accounting industry may have a lot of clout, but this wouldn't matter if the White House made it clear that the S.E.C. must choose an independent board. There's only one possible conclusion: The administration doesn't really want corporate reform." If link is broken, view Adobe Acrobat version [PDF--16 KB].

  • New York Times: Moles at Work. By Paul Krugman. Excerpt: "The master stroke came last week. Even as evidence mounted that the wheels are coming off our so-called recovery, the conspirators carefully destroyed the credibility of July's corporate reforms. The Financial Times reports that it wasn't just Congressional Republicans and the accounting industry that blocked the appointment of John Biggs to head a crucial new accounting oversight board; the White House was 'concerned at labor union backing for Mr. Biggs.' Now that the best candidate has been humiliated and betrayed, nobody of stature will take the post. That means corporate reform is dead in the water. And if the conspirators hold the House and regain the Senate, they can proceed with their wrecking program — driving the budget even deeper into long-term deficit, scaring small investors and blocking any actions that might pull the economy out of its deepening funk." If link is broken, view Adobe Acrobat version [PDF--16 KB].

  • Molly Ivins: Screw you! You -- with the 401(k). Yeah, I'm talking to you. Excerpt: "We just lost the whole ballgame on corporate reform -- without the news even making it to the front page. The sick, sad tidings were tucked away discreetly on the business pages: 'SEC Chief Hedges on Accounting Regulator.' Now there's a sexy headline. All of you who were shafted by Enron, shucked by Worldcom, jived by Global Crossing, everyone whose 401(k) is now a 201(k) (I think that's Paul Begala's line), you just got screwed again. They're not going to fix it. They've already called off the reform effort; it's over. Corporate muscle showed up and shut it down. Forget expensing options, independent directors, going after offshore shams, derivatives regulation. For that matter, forget even basic reforms like separating the auditing and consulting functions of accounting firms and rotating accounting firms every few years. Bottom line: It's all going to happen again. We learned zip from the entire financial collapse. Our political system is too bought-off to respond intelligently."

  • United States General Accounting Office: Answers to Key Questions About Private Pension Plans [PDF--597 KB]. Excerpt: "This document responds to your request to provide information about the basic features of the private pension plan system and the federal framework that governs how private plans must operate. As you requested, this private pensions primer includes questions and answers about the types of plans that private employers may sponsor, the benefits these plans provide, and the basic requirements that govern how these plans are administered. The answers are intended to be clear, concise, and easy-to- understand. Although the primer summarizes and explains some of the fundamental aspects of private pensions, the material does not provide a complete technical interpretation regarding the many complexities of these plans or all of the rules and requirements that govern these plans."

TechsUnite.org Special Notice:

The hottest issues in information technology, job and training opportunities, the latest industry developments and resources for techs seeking a voice on the job all are part of a new online community for IT workers: www.techsunite.org. From job issues, like the H-1B visa program and dealing with layoffs, to information about training available through CWA's partnerships with some of the biggest IT corporations, www.technsunite.org will help IT workers find the answers and support they need.

CWA Executive Vice President Larry Cohen said the site will be very important for IT workers who have been hit hard by the free fall of the high tech industry. "In the recent IT collapse, the high tech industry has shown itself to be no different from the old mass-production industry model, with front-line IT workers seen as costs to be cut instead of the real resource and value they represent," Cohen said. He cited a recent report by the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers-CWA, funded by the Ford Foundation, which pointed out the great disparity in compensation between most IT employees and top high tech executives. "A shared voice and a real stake in the company for high tech workers is the key to the innovation and productivity that IT companies need to be competitive," he said, adding that the site "will support tech workers as they organize to get that voice."

This week on the Alliance@IBM Site:

 

"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.