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    Highlights—August 7, 2004
  • Committee for Just Treatment of IBM Canada Retirees (COMJUST): COMJUST Communication with IBM. Excerpt: Retirees and former IBM Canada executives have encouraged COMJUST to make a direct appeal to IBM for redress of retiree concerns. In response, on April 30, 2004, we sent a letter with attachment to IBM. We believe the letter credibly describes retiree concerns about benefits cutbacks and lack of ad hoc pension increases and explains why these concerns are almost universally held by retirees. Our objective was to present a case strong enough to encourage IBM to take voluntary corrective action. Then, on May 25, 2004, prompted by an article in the Globe & Mail and by the fact that we had not received a response to our original letter, we sent a follow-up letter to IBM. We felt that the Globe & Mail article was important enough to bring to Mr. Kilroy's attention. On June 11, 2004, IBM responded to COMJUST’s April 30 and May 25 letters to Ed Kilroy, IBM Canada General Manager. Here is a summary of the content followed by the response as received.

  • Vault's IBM Business Consulting Services message board is a popular hangout for IBM BCS employees, including many employees acquired from PwC. Some sample posts follow:
    • 'It's the internet - "Buyer Beware"' by "Dose of reality". Excerpt: If you think about our treatment of employees over the past five years, the cumulative effect has been to serve notice that the creation of staff good will toward the company is not even remotely part of our HR strategy. Once a company crosses over a certain line in staff mistreatment, and the pretense of fairness and reward is gone, the whole employee dynamic changes. Whether this was by initial design, or due to the pressures of having to close profit gaps, the effect is the same. Couple this with the pension plan games and our well-documented age discrimination, and the implied HR strategy is obvious. The only way we can continue to operate is with a strategy of 3 – 4 years recycling for the vast majority of core staff. Bring them in, brainwash them into sprinting on the treadmill for a few years with the real payoff ever out of reach, cull a select few for advancement, and let the rest move on or manipulate comp on a micro (person by person) level to push them out when they are no longer viable. The only way this strategy works is to maintain the illusion of long term opportunity long enough with new staff, and convince them that things are no better anywhere else, to get sufficient mileage out of them to get a return on investment out of their hiring.

    • In "Hard to give a categorical answer" "Dose of reality" answers a potential new hire's question about the likelihood of receiving raises after being hired. Full excerpt: There were many very good performers that have gotten no raises the past two years. If token raises are given in the future, assume a smaller relative token raise will be given if you are maxing out in your band. A more important question than the range, is what is the distribution. The range could be 0 - 10%, but if only 1 in a hundred get more than 4%, then the range is a meaningless statistic. Excluding any desperation bump ups that were given selectively to prevent a critical staff member from leaving, the real operating range was 0 - 3%, with the vast majority at 0. This includes below average through above expectations, and many that were graded initially as a 1 performer were curved down to the 0% category. There were pockets of differential treatment, depending on service line and sector, but again these are outliers, unpredictable and not well publicized – it is a political game.

      The best way to look at this, is to assume at best you will be flat or nominal 1 - 2% for the foreseeable future. Avoid letting your ego convincing yourself that you will be one of the rare exceptions that is rewarded, or playing out a fantasy that policies and comp will change after you walk in the door. The halls are paved with disillusioned staff who came in with those expectations. Bear in mind that promotions do not in and of themselves get you a raise. Sory to be so dire, but you asked, and you are better off knowing before you walk in the door, so you can manage expectations, and figure out how to exit quickly and leave better off than the day you came in. Use the time to develop externally marketable skills, not jumping through hoops and destroying your work life balance to please your managers – the latter approach will get you nowhere.

  • New York Times: In Blow to Bush, Only 32,000 Jobs Created in July. Excerpt: Employers added just 32,000 jobs in July, a small fraction of what forecasters had expected and far below the robust gains in employment earlier this year. The government also announced that job growth in May and June was less than initially estimated. "The economy is spinning its wheels again," said Richard Yamarone, chief economist at Argus Research in New York. "Corporate America is reluctant to hire anyone above the bare minimum.

  • New York Times: It's Not Just the Jobs Lost, but the Pay in the New Ones. Excerpts: But a growing number of analysts say the evidence increasingly suggests that the current recovery has indeed been tilted toward lower-paying jobs. Industries ranked in the bottom fifth for wages and salaries have added 477,000 jobs since January, while industries in the top fifth for wages had no increase at all, according to an analysis of Labor Department payroll data by Economy.com, an economic research firm. "Since employment peaked, we've lost many more higher-paying jobs than lower-paying jobs,'' said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Economy.com. "In recovery, we've created more lower-paying jobs than higher-paying jobs." ... "The market for college-grad jobs over the last four years has been expanding,'' Professor Levy said. "But the market for high school graduates has been deteriorating, with production and clerical jobs shrinking and being replaced by lower-paying service sector jobs.'' Other analysts say the long-term trend is more complicated, noting that real wages for middle-income workers have been losing ground to those in the top 10 percent of earners over most of the last 30 years. ... Adjusted for inflation, average hourly wages have fallen slightly in the last year. And for many who have lost their jobs as a result of plant closings and layoffs, the impact has been more acute: a recent survey of displaced workers by the Labor Department found that 57 percent of those who had found work were earning less than they did in their old jobs. As of December, when the survey was taken, 4 of 10 displaced factory workers had yet to start a new job.

  • Chicago Tribune, courtesy of the Akron Beacon-Journal: Not really a pension guaranty for some. 10% get less -- perhaps a lot less -- in pension if U.S. unit has to step in. (Free registration required). Excerpt: On the most grueling days, Duane Warning reminded himself that there would be a pension awaiting him -- and that he had earned it. He got his pension, for sure, but it was not what he expected. After 37 years as a Trans World Airlines pilot, commuting daily for the last 15 years on the job from his home in the far south suburbs of Chicago to a St. Louis hub, he wound up with about half of what the airline had promised him. "I was decimated. I was upset. But there was nothing I could do. I had to swallow it,'' said the 60-year-old former pilot, who receives a $1,600 monthly pension, not the $3,100 he had counted on. The difference in the numbers is the result of TWA's bankruptcy and the federal takeover of its pension plans in 2001. Warning and others with promises of comfortable pensions have faced rude awakenings when their firms abandoned their pensions and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. stepped in. They quickly learned that the agency has a cap on benefits and a formula that means they may not receive 100 percent of their old pensions. It also cuts back on pension hikes workers had received in the last five years, and it bears no responsibilities for extra bonuses linked to workers' pensions. One out of 10 workers whose pensions are taken over by the PBGC do not get 100 percent of the benefits once promised to them, PBGC officials in Washington say. Pension experts say the reason for this is that when the agency was created 30 years ago, it was meant to come to the rescue of blue-collar workers, not better-paid workers like Warning.

  • Denver Post: United retirees perplexed. Airline's pension moves have some looking at lifestyle changes. Excerpt: During much of Skip Hillegas' 31-year career, the United Airlines pilot held tightly to an idyllic mountain property near Salida. The three-hour commute to Denver almost convinced him to move, and in 1996, he sold nearly a third of the land after United employees accepted pay cuts in exchange for stock in the ailing company. He retired in 2000, but Hillegas and his wife, Cathy, may soon face an even bigger challenge to their lifestyle. United has stopped making payments into its massively underfunded pensions and is considering terminating them. If that happens, the couple's retirement income could be more than halved, forcing them to make difficult choices. "I'm not sure what we will do. We'll have to sell assets and pare down our living expenses," Hillegas said. "We thought we had finally escaped United's problems, and we could count on everything we've got. But all of those assumptions have gone down the tubes."

  • New York Times: Pension Tension. Excerpt: First it was the steel companies. Now it's the airlines. Is the auto industry next?bIn the past three years, bankrupt companies, mostly in unionized, old-economy industries, have dumped $11.2 billion in pension obligations on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the federal agency that insures the pensions of 44 million people. As a result, the agency has gone from having a $7.7 billion surplus in 2001 to an estimated deficit of about $9.7 billion. And the situation may soon become much worse. The agency now faces a possible $5 billion default by United Airlines and the prospect of more airline defaults. Plenty of other companies, like Goodyear, also have seriously underfunded pension plans.

  • New York Times: How Does It Feel in the Middle? Excerpts: The mixed picture here coincides with what many economists are observing. Almost three years after the last recession ended, hourly wages have declined in the past year after accounting for inflation. And even though the nation has added 1.5 million jobs since last August, it is still more than one million jobs below the total number of jobs in 2001. At the same time, the adult population has swelled by more than three million people. Meanwhile, corporate profits have soared both in absolute numbers and as a share of the total economy. Corporate profits rose by nearly one-third between the first quarter of 2003 and the first quarter of 2004. As a share of the gross domestic product, corporate profits shot up from less than 10 percent to more than 12 percent in the same period, according to estimates by the Commerce Department. ... The disparity is also widening between middle-income and high-income earners. Adjusted for inflation, wages for middle-income men - those in the 50th percentile of earnings - were virtually flat at about $15 an hour between 1980 and 2003, according to a paper that will be published in September by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research group in Washington. By contrast, wages for high-income men - those in the 95th percentile of earnings - climbed by one-third, to $44 an hour in 2003 from $32 an hour in 1980.

  • UC Berkeley: Study estimates Wal-Mart employment policies cost California taxpayers $86 million a year. Excerpt: The study indicates that Wal-Mart workers in California rely on the state for about $32 million annually in health-related services, and $54 million a year in other assistance such as subsidized school lunches, food stamps and subsidized housing. "When workers do not earn enough to support themselves and their families through their own jobs, they rely on public safety net programs to make ends meet," said the report by Arindrajit Dube of UC Berkeley's Institute for Industrial Relations, and Ken Jacobs of the campus's Center for Labor Research and Education. The researchers said they conservatively estimate that the approximately 44,000 workers at 143 Wal-Mart and its sister Sam's Club stores in California earn about 31 percent less than workers in large retail as a whole, and that 23 percent fewer Wal-Mart/Sam's Club workers generally are covered by employer-sponsored health insurance than workers in large retail. There is an array of reasons for the low rates of coverage, said the researchers. They include higher employee turnover, eligibility issues, employee costs for health plans and plan quality. In the end, Wal-Mart essentially "is shifting part of its labor costs onto the public," the report said.

  • "madinpok" comments on a Yahoo! message board. Full excerpt: Earlier this year, there was a small "resource action" in Poughkeepise. A few people affected were offered jobs in other groups in Poughkeepise or Fishkill. Others were offered jobs in places like Austin or Raleigh. The catch was that the pay in some cases was lower, and there was no moving and living. If the people wanted the job, they had to pay their own moving expenses. Also, there were no promises that the job in the new location would be stable for any amount of time - they could be hit with another layoff once they got there. If they turned down the job, they got NO SEVERENCE PAY AT ALL, since HR said that turning down the offer was considered a resignation, not a layoff. Also, by resigning from IBM, they would not be eligible for any unemployment compensation from the state (this also helps keep the rates on IBM's unemployment insurance down). Talk about a no-win situation for the employee. What do you do if you are offered a job across the country and your spouse also works for IBM and hasn't been hit by the resource action? There might not be a job for them at the new location. Similar problem if they work for an employer other than IBM. If this was a preview of IBM's new no-layoff policy, some people may be worse off than they would have been under the old policy. At least before they got severance pay.

  • Paul Krugman: Witness to the Great Unraveling of America.

  • Los Angeles Times: President Pushes Flextime. Excerpts: President Bush called on Congress on Thursday to pass legislation making it easier for employers to offer workers time off instead of overtime pay — an idea Republicans hope will appeal both to Bush's core business supporters and to swing voters juggling home and work responsibilities. ... "I think the government ought to allow employers to say to an employee, 'If you want some time off, and work different hours, you're allowed to do so,' " Bush told a crowd of supporters in Ohio, where polls show he is in a dead heat with Democratic nominee Sen. John F. Kerry. "Government ought to be helping families." Although Bush cast the proposal in terms designed to appeal to working parents, critics — including Kerry and labor unions — called it a backdoor effort to deny workers the overtime pay that many depend on to make ends meet.

  • Economic Policy Institute: Longer Hours, Less Pay. Labor Department’s new rules could strip overtime protection from millions of workers. Excerpts: Changes in the primary duty test and the redefinition of “executive” will allow employers to deny overtime pay to workers who do very little supervision and a great deal of manual or routine work, including employees in factories and industrial plants. Employees who can only recommend—but not carry out—the “change of status” of the two employees that they “supervise” will be exempted as “executives” even if they manage nothing more substantial than a team or grouping of employees. In all, 1.4 million low-level, salaried supervisors will lose their overtime rights, along with 548,000 hourly supervisors, who could be switched to being paid on a salary basis and thus denied overtime protection. More than 900,000 employees without a graduate degree or even a college degree will be designated “professional employees” and lose the right to overtime pay, even if their pay and status fall far below that of degreed employees. As many as 2.3 million team leaders with no supervisory authority will be exempted as “administrative employees” even if they are line or production employees.

    Approximately 130,000 chefs and sous chefs who are not executive chefs will be exempted as “learned professionals” and “creative professionals.” Pre-kindergarten and nursery school teachers, no matter how low their pay, will be exempt under the new rule, even if their work does not require the exercise of discretion and judgment. We estimate that 30,000 nursery school teachers will lose the right to overtime pay. Mortgage loan officers will be affected by the new financial services industry exemption and by the gutting of the protections for employees who are line workers, rather than policy or business operations staff. Ultimately, 160,000 mortgage loan officers will lose the right to overtime pay that they currently have today. In addition, nearly 90,000 computer employees, funeral directors, and licensed embalmers will become exempt professionals and lose their right to overtime pay.

  • Wall Street Journal: Fewer Workers Have Health Benefits. Excerpts: The number of Americans with job-related health benefits declined to 63% from 67% between 2001 and 2003, a new study estimates. The study, based on a national survey of 46,600 people under the age of 65, highlights the erosion in employer-sponsored health coverage caused by a sluggish economy and rapidly rising health-insurance premiums. During the economic boom of the late 1990s, the percentage of Americans with health benefits tied to their jobs rose modestly. The decline in coverage represents one of the largest shifts in employer health-care coverage in recent years, according to the Center for Studying Health System Change, a Washington-based independent policy research group that conducted the study. The center is funded principally by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. ... Sluggish job growth has made it difficult for managed-care companies to acquire new health-plan members and increase revenues. But recent signs of job growth don't necessarily spell more health-plan business, some executives say. "It's fair to say that some jobs that are being created may not be the jobs that come with benefits," said Ron Williams, president of Aetna Inc., at an investor conference earlier this summer. Much of the new job growth comes from smaller businesses or service-sector companies, many of which don't offer full health-care coverage, some analysts say. Other companies offer coverage only to employees, not their families.

  • Washington Post: Where Are the Business Patriots? CEOs Need to Be Statesmen Again. Excerpts: Of course we had not forgotten. I'm also aware that today's White House and both houses of Congress are led by my party. But that doesn't alter my belief that our long-term fiscal prospects look even more troubling now than they did in the 1980s. Let's look again at the deficit twins in government and trade. Most serious analysts forecast that we face about $5 trillion in federal budget deficits during the coming decade, just when the baby boom generation begins to hit retirement age. At a time like this, we should be saving rather than squandering our resources. The other "twin" refers to our unprecedented current account deficit, the broadest measure of the difference between how much we spend overseas and how much we earn from our exports. That deficit now stands at 5.4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) -- the highest in U.S. economic history. This deficit requires us Americans to borrow about $2 billion from foreigners every working day. No expert I know believes this is sustainable. And remember, other developed countries are aging faster than we are and their "baby boomer" bills are even larger than ours. Former treasury secretary Robert Rubin refers to these twin deficits as confronting a "day of serious reckoning." Former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker says there's a 75 percent chance of a crisis in the next five years.

    Within the rising generation of CEOs, we desperately need more like Jeff Immelt of GE, who quietly but courageously restructured his executive compensation to expense stock options and put major emphasis on long-term operating performance. To keep a true long-term alignment between shareowners and management, Immelt has decided not to sell any of his stock until he retires. That's leadership. We also need more Warren Buffetts -- more corporate John McCains -- who speak straight and sensibly about our collective future. When they talk, we listen. That's leadership, too. We business leaders must answer the questions that our critics are asking. We make crucial contributions to our economic system. But we also reap the greatest rewards. If we benefit so much from this democratic arrangement, don't we have to make it more accountable, more durable and more fair? True corporate leadership is a kind of business patriotism: It requires taking an honest stand on the great questions that face us. Patriotism is taking a chance -- and not just saying, "I got mine." Patriotism is putting ourselves on the line for those policies that we believe will help the long-term interests of our economy and our country. Right now, America is running on empty. If those of us in business don't speak up, we can only blame ourselves when our country's engine of prosperity simply runs out of gas.

  • Washington Post: Just a Little Maintenance. We Can Fix Social Security, If We Can Manage the Politics. Excerpts: On April 20, 1983, Republican and Democratic congressional leaders joined President Ronald Reagan at the White House to sign landmark legislation strengthening Social Security. They were addressing a genuine crisis. Beginning in the 1970s, a lethal combination of high inflation and high unemployment had sent benefit payments soaring as payroll tax revenues dwindled. "Just a few months ago," Reagan noted, "there was legitimate alarm that Social Security would soon run out of money. On both sides of the political aisle, there were dark suspicions that opponents from the other party were more interested in playing politics than in solving the problem." But then, he said, a bipartisan commission found a solution, political leaders of both parties "set aside their passions," and a compromise was reached.

    If only that were true today. Now, with the baby boom generation nearing retirement, Social Security needs another adjustment. The mechanics of fixing the program aren't complicated, but the politics of fixing it are. The problem isn't so much insolvency as it is ideology. I served on that 1983 commission, representing then-House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, the Democrat from Massachusetts, and I know that repairing Social Security is well within our grasp -- all we need is the political will. Much has been made recently of Reagan's innate optimism, but even the late president would be hard put to bring Democrats and Republicans together today in the "spirit of compassion and commitment" that he invoked 21 years ago. Back then, Reagan reaffirmed "for all time our nation's ironclad commitment to Social Security" and said the bill "struck the best possible balance between the taxes we pay and the benefits paid back." By contrast, the present occupant of the White House has committed himself, if reelected, to begin dismantling the Social Security system by introducing private savings accounts to be financed, in part, by siphoning off some of the payroll tax revenue now committed to Social Security.

  • Washington Post: Just As Scary As Terrorism. Anyone Seen Our Economic Policy? Excerpts: At the same time, the image the United States is presenting to global investors is increasingly tainted by our apparent disregard for both economic and diplomatic fundamentals. The message we have conveyed in recent years is that there is no economic problem we confront today -- from gigantic deficits to huge under-funded liabilities -- that we wouldn't prefer to have our children solve tomorrow. So, it should not be surprising that other important measures of investor interest have also taken a dramatic turn for the worse in recent months. ... Yet our economic leadership seems to be looking the other way. Two weeks after the OECD report came out, Treasury Secretary John Snow told a Cleveland audience, "There is no more serious threat to our economy than the threat of terrorist attacks on our soil."

    It is hard to assess the number of ways in which this statement is wrong, but let's try. Let's start with the biggest domestic economic problems. Almost any one of them is a greater threat to the economy than virtually any imaginable form of terrorism. There is the record-breaking budget deficit that is likely to amount to $5 trillion over the next decade. Then there's the burgeoning trade deficit. And the $72 trillion in unfunded future retirement and health care obligations to our own citizens. And a record low savings rate, which suggests that we will need even more help with retirement funding. And the hemorrhaging of manufacturing jobs and the cost of fixing our dysfunctional health care and energy systems. Every one of these is a gigantic problem on its own. Taken together, they represent a series of bombs placed at the foundations of our society, and they are capable of exploding in ways that would touch more Americans than anything even the most sophisticated terrorists could devise. ...

    Consider our broken health care system. Americans pay, on average, $4,000 more a year for the same or less adequate health care than citizens of other OECD countries; at General Motors the cost of employee health care now exceeds the costs of steel. That is the kind of labor cost that drives foreign investors (and domestic companies) overseas. So health care becomes a jobs issue; and the lost jobs are an economic security issue. This is a cold, hard reality. And every minute we ignore the problem or fail to view it in strategic terms we are losing ground. In this light, health care should become a top priority in a thoughtful National Economic Strategy, as should education and investment in infrastructure. Addressing these areas would mean creating jobs -- and that is a much more positive, proactive approach to protecting workers than reactive, punitive trade strategies that produce tensions with our trading partners.

Coverage on H1-B and L1 Visa and Off-Shoring Issues
  • CBS News: Out of India. Excerpt: To many American employers, India is Nirvana. It has a stable democracy, an enormous English-speaking population, and a solid education system that each year churns out more than a million college graduates -- all happy to work for a fraction of the salary of their American counterparts. And India epitomizes the new global economy -- a country that often looks on the edge of collapse, a background of grinding poverty, visually a mess. And yet, whether you know it or not, when you call Delta Airlines, American Express, Sprint, Citibank, IBM or Hewlett Packard's technical support number, chances are you'll be talking to an Indian. ... New Delhi is nearly 11 hours ahead of New York, so manning the phones is largely night work. By day, the agents - as they're called - are dutiful Indian sons and daughters. By night, they take on phone names such as Sean, Nancy, Ricardo and Celine so they can sound like the girl or boy next door. "The real name is Tashar. And name I use is Terrance," says one representative. "My real name is Sangita. And my pseudo name is Julia," says another representative. "Julia Roberts happened to be my favorite actress, so I just picked out Julia." American movies are part of an agent's training in how to sound all-American.

    Lavanya Prabhu is a call center trainer who guides young Indians through the labyrinth of American English. And she says she is able to pick up some of typical American accents while instructing her students. "Well, you have Brooklyn. 'You walk the walk and you talk the talk.' And you have the southerner's thing. 'Oh hello, there. What can I do for you today,'" says Prabhu, who spends most of her time trying to de-Indianize her countrymen. But it's difficult to get in. In fact, Prabhu says they accept approximately five applicants out of 100 applications. On any given day in New Delhi and Bombay and Bangalore, the call goes out for new call center recruits as more and more American companies come calling. The call center employees earn $3,000 to $5,000 a year, in a nation where the per capita income is less than $500. The perks include free private transport to and from work plus the sheer heaven of an air-conditioned workplace.

Now on the Alliance@IBM Site:
  • ThinkTwice for August/September 2004 [PDF]. Articles this month include:
    • Organizing IBM — Rev it up!
    • The Employee Free Choice Act
    • Take Action! Help us Strengthen Workers’ Right to Form Unions!
    • New IBM Program to Help Employees Whose Jobs are Offshored
    • The Value of a Union Contract
    • Offshore Contractors Target State Government Work

  • News Interactive (Australia): Union hits out over offshoring. Excerpt: A union has accused IBM of talking down the effect on staff numbers of its decision to shift Telstra work to India, saying the company was simply delaying layoffs by redeploying staff to jobs that eventually would be offshored. Community and Public Sector Union officials are "still concerned" about the redeployment process, claiming IBM is not providing staff with training and support needed to find alternative work. According to IBM, the layoffs may not be as severe as first thought. Initial estimates were that up to 450 positions would be affected. An IBM spokeswoman said the company wanted to save as many jobs as possible, and was redeploying staff to other Telstra projects and business with other clients. CPSU assistant secretary Larissa Andelman said 16 staff had been made redundant so far and within the next four weeks 55 staff would be affected when another parcel of work was moved offshore.

  • The Telegraph (India): Enter union, in call centres. Excerpts: Trade unionism is entering the infotech bastion, reaching out to the low-wage sweatshops that business process outsourcing (BPO) outfits have become. The global Union Network International has launched a new organisation that targets workers in Indian back-offices. The Centre for Business Process Outsourcing Professionals has been launched in Hyderabad and Bangalore and will be formally registered in August. ... The rise of a trade union in BPO space has spooked the industry, which has already been under fire in the US and Europe for spiriting away jobs to the sub-continent. Experts fear this could kill the BPO boom in the country, which even the powerful India-bashing lobby in the US has not managed. “This is bad news for the sector,” said Pavan Duggal, a senior cyber law expert and Supreme Court advocate. “Over the last few years, the BPO segment has emerged as a major foreign exchange earner. Growing trade unionism will kill this industry.”

  • Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin: IBM lays off about 40 workers in Endicott. Excerpts: On Tuesday, IBM managers informed affected employees of the layoffs. Martin said the workers performed a variety of functions but declined to comment on their specific lines of business. However, documents obtained by Alliance@IBM in Endicott indicate 19 of the 40 workers affected by the resource action were cut from the company's Bank Systems unit. Laid off workers in the department range in age from 42 to 55. A rise in electronic payments nationally caused 29 workers in IBM-Endicott's Payment Solutions department to lose their jobs last year. Many of those workers were reported to have had more than 20 years with the company. "People are being cut piecemeal within IBM-Endicott, and it's very difficult for them to find new jobs in an anemic job market," said Lee Conrad, organizer for Alliance@IBM, a group that works to unionize IBM workers. "People that we talk to say they have a hard time finding new employment, particularly at the levels of wages and benefits that they've been used to."
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