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Highlights—April 2, 2005
- Kaiser Network: WSJ
Examines UnitedHealthCare's Physician Performance Evaluation Program. Excerpts: The Wall
Street Journal on Tuesday examined a multistate UnitedHealthcare program that allows employers
to provide financial incentives to employees who visit physicians from a list selected by the
company based on their ability to provide efficient and cost-effective care. [...] Some physician
groups, such as the American Medical Association and the Medical Group Management Association,
have said that the criteria used by UnitedHealthcare to select physicians for the program --
which ranks them based on analysis of insurance claims from 2002 and 2003 -- is imprecise and
exclusionary. Physician groups also maintain that UnitedHealthcare excludes certain specialists
from the program because no evidence-based criteria to evaluate their performance exist and that
the program leads to "administrative confusion within practices," the Journal reports.
Broken" by "west_coast_retired_guy". Excerpt: The first time we were
told that retirees would have to
eventually "share" to the increasing costs of medical insurance was
in the middle of 1991 when the 1991 separation package was
announced. Little did we know that "sharing costs" would mean
retirees would eventually assume all cost increases. IBM's method of
gradual release of bad news to retirees certainly was effective in
keeping the issue out of the courts long enough that most of us would
be dead even if the issue could be settled in our favor.
of living increase" by "ibmmike2006". Excerpts: If
you haven't noticed, COLA's went away with the $18 Billion surplus
the IBM Pension trust had in 1998. That same year, Gerstner gave
himself 10,000,000 of IBM stock that doubled to
20,000,000 in 1999 with the stock split. He also gave millions
of shares to former IBM executives like Katzenbach, Akers, Opel and
other IBM VP's in 1998. [...]
At the IBM Stockholders meeting in Providence, RI, a "tent meeting"
was held for retirees to attend in two rooms in back of the main floor
where the shareholder meeting was held after the regular session
ended. Donofrio and McDonald hosted the meeting and you had to be
confirmed as a retiree in order to attend the behind closed door
session. There were two rooms partitioned off, one with the "live
Donofrio and live McDonald" and the other room was the overflow room
with TV's showing what was going on in the adjacent room. Both rooms
were the same size, with about 13 rows of seats. A partition
separated the two rooms but you could hear voices from the other room,
in the overflow room. When we checked in, the usher checked our names
and escorted us to the "overflow" room. It became apparent, depending
on what your name was, which room you were allowed to be in. There
were about 10 people including the IBMers who controlled the
microphones in the overflow room. The main room, as the camera panned
around, was NOT filled. Not sure of the "List" criteria but the rooms
could have been opened up and combined without difficulty. It was
quite obvious that the reason for the two rooms was crowd control in
case there was a "riot", the crowd of retirees, because it was split
in two entities, could be controlled more readily. Everything had been
well thought out in advance. It seemed casual and friendly but
I think you get the picture. Nick Donofrio (Technology VP) and Randy
McDonald (Human Resources VP) answered questions from retirees
explaining that health care costs and benefits were being impacted by
the 44 million Americans who do not have health care and IBM and other
businesses who have health care plans for employees and retirees were
subsidizing those who do not have care and that was the main reason of
why health care costs are so high. IBM focus was going to be on trying
to find ways to reduce overhead, by getting those 44 million off the
gravy train. Hence, the reason why IBM employees are having to pay
more for their medical costs. Sounds reasonable, but look at the other
numbers, the executive compensation, the buybacks and tell me if you
really can believe that train of reasoning.
At the Shareholder meeting, Sam, the IBM CEO announced that the
directors decided on buying back "$4 Billion" that is FOUR
BILLION DOLLARS of IBM Stock and stockholders should be pleased with
that. The CEO, Sam, said that stock options would continue to be "UN-Expensed" until
the SEC makes it mandatory to expense Options for
everyone. Last year, IBM disclosed to the press that if they had
expensed Stock Options, profits would have been 16% sixteen percent
less. If you calculate using the profits reported last year of $8
Billion and reduce it by 16%, it is more than a billion
dollars of stock options that is going out the back door of IBM to the
3,000 executives and others. [...]
Gerstner, who received 20 million stock option shares in 1999
will not be listed in CBS Market Watch dot com because he is no longer
on the board of directors at IBM and not required to report. But rest
assured, Gerstner will be cashing in those options sometime between
now and June 30, 2008. In case you have not noticed, Gerstner became
one of the 400 richest americans according to Forbes in 2001 with over
$600 million in net worth. He had not cashed in the 20,000,000 shares
either. Not bad for a 13 year Mckinsey employee, RJR Reynolds and
American Express Executive, and touted as a self made man. [...]
You really need to come to Charleston, SC April 26th to witness what
IBM has evolved into. You will see metal detectors, bomb sniffing
dogs, and a closed session without press. In essence, a "dog and pony
show" for the 200 or so, who attend along with the other 200 or so IBM
employees who are assigned to watch the other 200. [...]
Take the time, grab a plane ticket and come to the IBM Shareholders
meeting in Charleston April 26th and ask why IBM does not give COLA's
any more. I think, if enough retirees ask the same question, maybe,
just maybe, those multi- millionaire VP's and board of directors
might grant one. Imagine, taking just $1 billion and
putting in the pension fund for a COLA would do instead of buying back
$4,000,000,000 IBM shares annually, why not just $3
billion? I am sure the stock market could absorb that, don't you?
of living increase" by "albanyblue2000". Excerpts: IBMMike, I retired
in 1990, and I'm 75. I'm only going to address the
statement of McDonald/Donofrio, dealing with the 44 million "freeloading" uninsured.
Their technique is well known. It's called 'divide and conquer'.
The 44 million uninsured represent about 15% of the US population,
and they've been with us for at least the past 25 years. Yet, our
medical expenses have grown by 10% to 12% EACH YEAR. AND, a
significant percentage of that group is covered by medicaid, - which
we all pay into, through state income taxes and local real property taxes.
You all should realize that Donofrio is the designated IBM
executive scheissmeister (If you don't know Yiddish or German, look to
another board for the translation) of IBM. He gets that nickname from
me, as I heard him speak and spin. He accumulated much of his wealth,
because he is measured on number of patents awarded, - but not their
value to IBM. As a result, IBM has paid for thousands of economically
And, you can expect pretty much the same in this year's
stockholders' meeting. If you want to attend and protest, then I'd
suggest that the group first contact the print, TV and business media,
and arrange for a more public forum. Boycott any closed session
prepared by IBM. And, gesticulate during the meeting so that the IBM
cameras don't show a pleased acceptance of the report of IBM executives.
- New York Times: Supreme
Court Removes Hurdle to Age Bias Suits.
By Linda Greenhouse. Excerpt: Workers who sue their employers for age discrimination need not
prove that the discrimination was intentional, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.
Adopting a pro-worker interpretation of the federal law that prohibits age discrimination
in employment, the 5-to-3 decision held that employees can prevail by showing that a policy
has a discriminatory impact on older workers, regardless of the employer's motivation. The
decision removed the requirement, imposed by a number of lower federal courts, that employees produce
the equivalent of a smoking gun in order to win an age discrimination suit. Since discrimination on the
job is often subtle, and proof of motivation often elusive, the need to demonstrate intentional discrimination
has led to the dismissal of many lawsuits before trial. [...] In another case involving age discrimination
in the workplace, a federal district judge on Wednesday blocked a Bush administration rule that would
have allowed employers to reduce or eliminate health benefits for retirees when they reach age 65.
- New York times: Judge
Blocks Rule Allowing Companies to Cut Benefits When Retirees Reach Medicare Age.
By Robert Pear. Excerpt: A federal district judge on Wednesday blocked a Bush administration
rule that would have allowed employers to reduce or eliminate health benefits for retirees when
they reach age 65 and become eligible for Medicare.
Ten million retirees could have had benefits cut under the rule, which was adopted last April
by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The judge, Anita B. Brody of the Federal District Court in Philadelphia, struck down the rule
and issued a permanent injunction that prohibits federal officials from enforcing it.
The rule "is contrary to Congressional intent and the plain language of the Age Discrimination
in Employment Act," the 1967 law that bans most forms of age discrimination in the workplace,
Judge Brody wrote. [...] Christopher G. Mackaronis, a Washington lawyer for AARP, said Wednesday: "The
rule was an example of executive arrogance. Federal agencies have no authority to rewrite laws
passed by Congress. The rule was adopted in April 2004, but officials tucked it in their back
pocket while they courted older voters last year. After the election, they moved forward with
- PlanSponsor.com: Federal
Judge Tosses EEOC Retiree Health Benefit Exemption.
Excerpts: A federal judge has blocked a federal agency from implementing a controversial rule
allowing employers to cut back or eliminate retiree health benefits for workers reaching age
65 and becoming Medicare eligible.
US District Judge Anita Brody of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
struck down the April 2004 rule by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as unconstitutional
and barred the anti-workplace discrimination agency from enforcing it. According to one estimate
quoted by news reports, 10 million retirees could have had benefits cut under the rule.
Brody's ruling late Wednesday came in a lawsuit filed by the AARP (See AARP Sues Over EEOC
Retiree Health Coverage Policy) in which the retiree lobbying group claimed that the rule allowing
the retiree benefits reduction or cutoff violated the federal Age Discrimination in Employment
Act (ADEA). [...] Also Wednesday, the American Benefits Council (ABC), an industry trade group,
blasted Brody's ruling. “Should today’s decision stand, it would hurt all retirees who participate
in these plans and further erode employers’ ability to offer these benefits,” said ABC Health
Care Legal Counsel Susan Relland, in a statement. “The EEOC rule is a sensible one that validates
a long-standing practice supported by unions and employers alike.” (Editor's note regarding ABC
- BuzzFlash: Lifetime
Health Benefits Promise? Read the Fine Print.
By Rick Byrne, NOW on PBS. Excerpts: If you're retired and your former company is paying all or part
of your health benefits-coverage you think you'll have for life-then you might want to dig out your
old paperwork, put on your glasses (while you can still afford them) and read the fine print. Why?
It may depend on what your definition of lifetime is. More and more retirees are finding themselves
in court to save the health benefits they thought they were promised. And, judging by the decisions
returned in a spate of cases, fine print trumps all.
It's a story that began in the 1989 when health costs soared and corporations moved quickly to protect
their bottom lines by slashing benefits and shifting costs to retirees. Most companies can cut retiree
benefits at will. For others, fine print in contracts makes it a little trickier, and this is where
the latest plot twist is playing out in courts around the nation.
- PBS NOW: Ageing
in America. Retiree Health Benefits. Excerpts: For many of
America's retirees, paying the soaring costs of healthcare is possible only with the help of
their company's retirement package—benefits they counted on for life. Today, many companies
are moving to cut benefits and shift costs to retirees, forcing some to drop out of coverage
and others into court to save benefits they thought were guaranteed. Corporate lawyers are filing
preemptive lawsuits against former employees and relying on interpretations of fine print to
make their case in court with greater and greater success. In "The Broken Promise," NOW
joins THE WALL STREET JOURNAL's award-winning reporter Ellen Schultz to go inside the legal wrangling
underway to tell the stories of workers and executives who say these companies are reneging on
a promise and putting profits before people.
- Bloomberg: Quit
Planning Your Retirement -- It Won't Happen. By Matthew Lynn.
Excerpts: In the U.K., once-generous retirement packages are being rolled back -- and that,
in turn, may spread to the rest of Europe. People are starting to adjust to the idea that as
they live longer, they will have to work longer.
Yet there is a flaw to that -- and it is one that has been barely discussed.
While working lives are being stretched out, careers are being shortened. Business is telling
people to work through their 60s, yet age discrimination is widespread once people get into
their 40s. [...]
"The changes reflect the move made by many U.K. companies in regards
to their pension schemes and is due to the dramatic changes the country has experienced over
the last 20 years with a rapidly ageing population with people living longer and a low birth
rate," said Vicky Luttig, a Bradford & Bingley spokeswoman, in an e-mailed response to
It is hard to fault the reasoning. You can't pay pensions you can't afford. And health has improved
dramatically. Most 60-year- olds are in pretty good shape. Why shouldn't they be working?
Still, what are they going to do? Business doesn't like old people.
In the financial markets, you are meant to make the big money in your 30s and be safely sitting
on your yacht in Monaco by your 40s. In the corporate world, you are meant to get on the
board by the time you hit 40. In your 50s, you should be farmed out to a series of non-executive jobs.
- Financial Times: Why
IT workers are lying about their age.
By Kim Thomas. Excerpt: Tony Wells has 30 years' experience of working in information technology,
in jobs ranging from programming to senior management. Two years ago the 49-year-old decided
to look for a new job and began sending his CV to recruitment agencies. In the year that followed,
not a single agency called him back. As an experiment, he changed his age on his CV to 30 and
had five phone calls within three days.
His experience is not unique. Two months ago Mr Wells set up an internet support group for
older IT professionals who are finding it hard to get work. It now has 60 members, many of
whom feel frustrated and angry at the discrimination towards the over-40s they feel is rife
in the IT sector.
- USA Today: Special
report: CEO pay 'business as usual'.
By Gary Strauss and Barbara Hansen. Excerpts: CEOs pulled in median compensation of about $14
million in 2004, up 25% from 2003, according to a USA TODAY analysis of the largest public companies
filing annual proxies through March 25. Compensation includes salary, bonus, incentives, stock
awards, stock-option gains and potential returns from fresh option grants. Data were provided
by executive-pay-tracker eComp Data Services.
|Vault Message Board Posts
algebra" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: Let's make a hypothetical baseline:
Utilization 75%; 2 rating; Bonus .5%. For your additional 400 hours of charged work,
and all the blood, sweat & tears
that goes along with that you got 3% more gross. Let's say your base is $125k. Incremental
gross bonus is around $3,750, or net around $2,500.
It works out to about $6 per hour.
Get a part time job cutting lawns or babysitting and you can make three times that.
Of course, the ultimate carrot is promotion up the ranks, but what is your assigned
probability and expected value of that. Is there any meaningful financial reward associated
Like I said in a previous post – it is a rigged game of musical chairs where
even the winners are losers.
Now IBM got an additional $100k of revenue and profit for your incremental utilization.
This is where the fundamental flaw is in our resource/comp economics. The EVC (economic
value to the customer – you) is totally out of whack with the economic value
to IBM. You are carrying the weight of BCS on your back for the more astute loafers
out there and getting nothing for it!
- "brilliant!" by "blizzie". Full excerpt: Dose - your baseline metrics are
Before I left the blue pig, I realized the fundamentals of this system early on. I would
witness my colleagues whoring utilization to the tune of 120% - burning the late night
oil - usually just putting in "face time" (chatting over IM, reading industry mags,
and many times even less productive activities).
After being bitten once by the utilization pig, I quickly adopted the practice of making
my utilization to the nearest tenth of a percentage as possible. I knew that I was
never going to be appropriately compensated for my additional hours, so I chose to make good use
of them on my own. When year end came about, I'd then listen to all the "over-achievers" lament
about their lack of increase or bonus and quietly walk away with my (likely) equally
poor increase and bonus (in addition to all the free time I enjoyed throughout the
course of the year).
Naturally, there is only so much anyone will tolerate and I left for greener (and more lucrative)
For those of you still playing the utilization v. compensation hide-and-seek game...unless
you're locked in by circumstance, there are far better opportunities out there for
you to make your way.
math" by "wh1ppersnapper". Full excerpt: 40 hour week x 52 weeks
= 2080 hours an employee is "available" on the job to IBM. 95% of this as
utilization means 1976 hours of productive billable time. 2080-1976=104 hours for "non-productive" time
such as vacation, education, sick time, pee breaks, etc. Assume an employee with less
than 10 years tenure has 3 weeks vacation (subtract 120 hours) and you are already behind
16 hours on your target. If you have 4 weeks vacation, you are even further behind target!
Now assume that same employee takes 2 3-day classroom courses per year towards their
Individual Development Plan (since critical skills is one of the four factor analysis
applied to the merit cycle)...that's another 48 hours behind target.
To meet your 95% utilization target, you now need to work overtime. So, a 95% utilization
target is a mandate for unpaid overtime.
Let's hope you don't get sick or have to take a pee!
- "95%" by "KatieNYC". Full excerpt: I was fortunate enough to have a
PM that built in 45 hours for us per week, so that helped us meet our targets. I also
volunteered for some additional project and proposals that allowed me to double up on
hours. Anything over 90% is a crazy target. God forbid you are on the bench for a few
weeks – if you are, you can almost never make up the time. I think utilization
is important, but certainly not the only metric. It is just easy to measure. I know plenty
of deadwood that are fully utilized on long-term projects. Anyway, give the bonus pool,
it really isn’t that big of deal if you hit your target or not.
So when do we hear about our annual increases?
little background goes a long way..." by "losingfaithquickly". Excerpts:
The integration of us former PwCC'ers into IBM has been, in a word, tragic. First we were
lied to about guaranteed salaries for 2 years. Second we were lied to about the banding
review process. Third many were lied to about the bountiful opportunities within IBM to
be told moving out of BCS as impossible. Many of us are still trying to cope with the loss
of opportunity since BCS is ripe with experienced staff tied down by options, the loss
of prestige, and the growth of wages outside of IBM. [...]
I have moved to S&D and I often work with BCS, ITS, AMS, STG, SWG
and Research. All I can say is how does IBM stay afloat with such a dearth of talent.
SWG creates great products but it's anti-BCS nature is just insane. The research techies
are either geniuses or dolts but neither can talk to a customer without a calamity. You have
to love a company which gets 3000 patents of which less than 10% are of any value. Some of the
patents are truly inane; only granted because nobody else cared to file a patent. The
people in ITS are not consultants and prove that each time they arrive at a clients site. The
former BIS consultants by and large are 9 to 5'ers who beat a path to the exits at 4:50pm following
the ITS'ers who left at 3pm. The performance bar is so low I find myself only competing
with former PwCC'ers. I expect to work 60hrs a week, IBM'ers 30 and only achieve 15 hours of
actual work. I expect to travel 100%, IBM'ers less than 30%. I expect to be able to drive discussions
with clients while my IBM counterparts sit silent in the back of the room. I get my deliverables
done in 1/2 the time and pack the room when I speak at public events. This is a playground
of opportunity - who would want to leave!
In S&D I have seen my total cash compensation increase 30% from
my BCS beginnings while the effort required to succeed at my job was cut in half (although
I still push myself just to get that farther ahead). I think the problem with BCS is
just that, BCS. IBM is ripe for pillaging by the talented ex PwCC'ers stuck in BCS.
Go west BCS'ers! Legacy IBM'ers should be quaking in their boots because once the ex PwCC'ers
figure out how to get around the no transfer rule, and it's possible, their will be
a true rout.
Read Reports before I Left" by "ancientblueconsultant". Excerpts:
The percentages are really the tip of the iceberg. The real problem is the skills of
the people who have left. The Mckinsey people had counseled the pig that because of
the economy they could treat people like dirt and get away with it. They didn't count
on the economy turning around and the guts of many key people to leave anyway. The
skill problem is very acute in BCS, and worse in ITS and somewhat less in SO.
That's why the new HR systems now have "availability date" requirements.
It's another barrier to try to hold people from going out of IGS into S&D and other
better places in the pig.
The merger has been a failure. On demand has been a failure. You can only do some
much with accounting voodoo magic, so I suspect Sam will be in hot water by year's
I predict IGS will be sold off in about 3-4 years.
interesting" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: So the Mckinsey
study was done pro forma, and was the source of the "screw em they got no other
place to go" strategy, before the fact?
I guess they never considered the fact that the effect of being screwed is additive
and cumulative?! Employees have long memories, and there is a thin line between being
a dedicated employee and an active job seeker. One you cross over, you rarely come
back. Do you think any IBM HR professionals were involved in the assessment committee?
Sorry – that’s a trick question with only one answer (there are no IBM
HR professionals). Or maybe the Mckinsey consultants skipped class the day they discussed
the business cycle?!
Perhaps the strategy study and recommendations were commissioned with a time frame
of one year?! Now I know that technology has shortened and compressed various cycles,
but isn't a one year strategy a little ridiculous – a downright oxymoron?!
Maybe the person that commissioned the study only planned on being here for a year
The only strategy that would have worked is tearing down the administrative, organizational,
and cultural walls among the various groups in IBM. This is a job that no one in the
organization had the appetite or skills to complete, requiring a dismantling of the
self-serving shadow organization that has been spreading like a cancer the past few
One step backward to take three steps forward?? Not with SP at the head.
|Coverage on Social Security Privatization
- Christian Science Monitor: How
Social Security could narrow rich-poor gap.
By David R. Francis. Excerpts: When Congress created the Social Security system in 1935,
8 of 11 people reaching retirement age were not just poor - they were indigent. They
had almost no income. Some lived on the street, many with their children. They relied
heavily on charity to survive.
Those drafting the Social Security bill wanted to redistribute income to these destitute
retirees. They succeeded. Today's seniors are relatively flush. [...] Between 1979
and 2002, the top 1 percent of the population enjoyed a 111 percent increase in their real income, the
Congressional Budget Office reported recently. The top fifth enjoyed a 48 percent gain during the same
period while the bottom fifth got only a 5 percent income hike. Following Dr. Shiller's theme, income-tax
rates could be raised on high incomes. A special tax-based benefit for the working poor could be enlarged
and their Social Security pensions boosted to reflect a higher share of their income while working. [...]
Indirectly, today's Social Security has led to a widening of the rich-poor
gap by helping finance Mr. Bush's tax cuts. That's not the system's fault. It's the result
of the White House and Congress misusing the system's current surplus. That money is
supposed to be socked away for future retirees. Instead, Washington has used it for current
spending, including tax cuts that have mostly benefited the well-to-do. [...] Apparently
not many in Washington believe in income redistribution today. Eleven days ago, the Senate voted
55 to 45 to adjust taxes on Social Security benefits in a way that would give those making more
than $200,000 a year a 14 percent hike in their after-tax benefits, according to Citizens for
Tax Justice. Those making less than $30,000 would get zero.
- New York Times: With
Bush Re-elected, Rove Turns to Policy.
By Richard W. Stevenson. Excerpts: Under one of his hats, Mr. Rove is running a sophisticated
campaign on behalf of the president's Social Security proposals, employing all the components
of the national political machine built to re-elect Mr. Bush. Under the other, he is overseeing
policy meetings where the administration's senior officials analyze the competing Social
Security proposals, bone up on arcane economic concepts and plot how to hit back at the
substantive arguments made by people on the other side of the issue.
- New York Times: Bush
Social Security Analogy Questioned. Excerpts: Out
on the hustings, President Bush likes to make a case for allowing younger workers to invest
some of their Social Security taxes by citing the example of the Thrift Savings Plan, private
investment accounts available to members of Congress and other federal employees.
"Doesn't it make sense for members of Congress to give younger workers the opportunity
to do the same thing with their money that they get to do in their retirement system?"
the president asked this week in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, baiting his congressional opponents.
"Frankly, if it's good enough for federal workers and elected officials -- putting aside
some of your own money in a personal savings account -- it ought to be good enough for
all workers in America." What Bush fails to mention is that his accounts differ from
Thrift Savings Plan accounts in a key way: They would be carved out of the Social Security taxes nongovernment
workers pay. By contrast, federal employees get their accounts in addition to a traditional Social
Security benefit check.
- New York Times: Social
Security, Growth and Stock Returns.
By Edmund L. Andrews. Excerpts: In barnstorming the country over Social Security, administration
officials predict that American economic growth will slow to an anemic rate of 1.9 percent
as baby boomers reach retirement.
Yet as they extol the rewards of letting people invest some of their payroll taxes in
personal retirement accounts, President Bush and his allies assume that stock returns
will be almost as high as ever, about 6.5 percent a year after inflation."For the
life of me, I can't imagine why anybody would argue against young workers having the
ability to invest and build a better retirement for their future," Treasury
Secretary John W. Snow said Wednesday in a speech in Bozeman, Mont.
A growing number of economists, however, including many who favor personal accounts,
say Mr. Bush's assumptions are optimistic. [...] To make the numbers work, the economists
contended in their paper, domestic profits would have to grow far more rapidly than they have in the
past, or American companies would have to become huge exporters of capital to faster-growing countries.
At the moment, the United States is a huge net importer of foreign capital.
on the Alliance@IBM Site:
- Job cut alert!
Alliance@IBM is receiving information that a resource action is about to happen in IGS.
Please send any information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
the Think Twice show [Video, approximately
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to IBM employees.