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    Highlights—May 28, 2005
  • ABC News: Did Your Promised Pension Plan Get Taken Away? E-mail Us. We'd Like to Hear Your Story. Excerpt: Did your company promise you a defined benefit pension that you are now not going to receive? Millions of Americans are losing their defined benefit pension plans when their companies go bankrupt and then turn the pension over to the federal government. Bethlehem Steel and National Steel are two companies that turned over their pensions to the federal government. Has that happened to you? How has this changed your life, your family budget and retirement plans? As a part of a continuing series of stories about retirement, ABC News wants to hear your story. Please let us know if an ABC News producer can contact you to talk with you more about your story.
  • "My FHA - Misleading brochure not written for FHA retirees" by Kathi Cooper. Full excerpt: I am retiring July 30 and fall into the FHA group. I received the Medical Retiree Choices brochure and there are many things wrong with it. The most grievous error are replicated on pages 4, 7, and 11. It states, 'The IBM High Deductible PPO is available at no cost for retirees'. NOT TRUE!
    I called the ESC (Employee Service Center) and told them it was wrong. The service clerk assured me it was true and that I get free 'high-deductible' medical. NOT TRUE!
    After encouraging her to go to her manager and check again (I knew the right answer but the ESC needs to know better than I), she finally came back and told me my 'high-deductible' medical would be $4,925.64 a year, and that it wasn't free, as stated in the brochure (3 times no less). She explained that the brochure was written for the 'prior-plan' retirees, not the FHA retirees.
    I asked her why I received the brochure in the first place, and how many of these brochures had already been mailed to FHA retirees. I told her the brochure was wrong and that it led all FHA retirees to believe the 'high-deductible' medical was free and that FHA IBM'ers are making decisions based on wrong information that was mailed to them by Fidelity, assisting in the management of IBM's plans.
    I then told her to do what it takes to rewrite the brochure and to stop mailing them out to FHA retirees in the meantime. I don't want anyone making life decisions based on a summary plan document that doesn't apply to them! After all, the difference between 0 and $4,925.64 per annum is significant. Don't you agree IBM?
  • "My FHA - Cobra is better... much better... but its greenbacks too" by Kathi Cooper. Full excerpt: As my previous note states, I am retiring soon and have received my FHA brochure. The FHA fees are very high. Wanting to lower my medical rates, I asked about Cobra rates. As it turns out, the Cobra rate is a LOT less than the FHA rate. (and I thought Cobra rates were high... silly me!)
    The ESC stated that I can use Cobra for 18 months and then switch to the FHA after Cobra runs out. The 18 month cost for Cobra would be $5,731.92. The 18 month cost for FHA would be $10,013.58. The math looks good for Cobra, right? Well...The ESC also told me I can't use the FHA money to pay for Cobra, that I have to use real money for the Cobra rate. So now my choice is $5,731.91 of greenbacks or $10,013.58 of bluebacks. Stinks...huh? Hey, I'm only trying to get my FHA to last as long as I can! Any suggestions?
  • "sold_to_hitachi" replies. Full excerpt: Are you the "cooper" in Cooper vs. IBM? Congratulations on your win and your retirement. Assume the FHA group rate is not age-dependent and the FHA group rate is cheaper than the age-dependent individual rate after exhausting FHA account, I would try to stretch FHA eligibility as far as possible, or at least until the Medicare qualifying age of 65. Unless FHA account balance is high or age is close to 65, I would choose Cobra for 18 months, paying from own pocket.
  • "kyrosl" replies. Full excerpt: Are you sure you can get Cobra now and enroll in the IBM retiree health plan later? I thought Cobra is only for those terminated by IBM before retirement. As for the difference in costs, I suspect this is what is happening: Under COBRA, IBM is obligated to make available to those it terminates for a limited time (I think it's around 1.5 years) the same medical
    plans it has for its employees at the same average cost it pays for its employees plus a small service fee. However, when you retire, you go into the retiree pool, whose average age is much higher than the average employee age, and therefore, the average costs are also much higher too.
    There are IBM retirees in their seventies and eighties, and their costs are obviously many times the costs of the average IBM employee, whose age is decreasing over time. IBM for obvious reasons does not want to charge retirees different rates based on their age, so the young retirees are essentially subsidizing the old.
  • Kathi Cooper answers the question "Are you sure you can get Cobra now and enroll in the IBM retiree health plan later?" Full excerpt: The ESC said yes, I can. Cobra is not an insurance plan. It is an insurance rate for IBM's plan. There is no difference in coverage, only rates. The ESC also stated I can elect not to use the FHA in any given year(s) and sign up later down the road. They also stated I can pay for my medical with any combination of real money and FHA bluebacks. Seems they will take it any way they can get it. I'm thinking Cobra for the first 18 months is fine with me. It will cost me $5,731.92 in greenbacks but save me $10,013.58 in bluebacks.
  • Kathi Cooper answers these questions "Is there a minimum that must be used with the FHA? IOW, can the FHA be used to purchase a prescription plan only? Is there a time limit on the life of the FHA?" Full excerpt: Hey Iggy...Yep, not much there to help take us down our golden path...Note that the FHA fees I've been working with is 'Self only'. Add a spouse to that and you will exhaust your FHA rather pronto! To answer your questions:
    • According to the ESC, IBM does not have a prescription plan only.
    • There is no time limit for the FHA. I confirmed TWICE that I can go to work for another company, drop IBM's medical entirely, and utilize the other company's medical plan. When I leave that other company, I can pick up IBM's FHA medical coverage in a heartbeat.
    The part that scares me is on page 39 of the brochure, "Nothing contained in this enrollment guide shall be construed as creating an expressed or implied obligation on the part of the company to maintain such benefit plans, programs, practices or policies." Given that piece of dark literature, I'm now thinking I'll use the FHA up as fast as I can and save my real money for when the FHA runs out. Being burnt by IBM so many times, what if they jerk it away or reduce it actuarially before I use it all? It's a matter of trust and you know how that choo-choo train toots it whistle!
    • "madinpok" comments. Full excerpt: I would tend to agree - you never know when IBM will decide to change the rules again and do away with the FHA. But if you think that you will be paying for insurance out of your own pocket in 2 or 3 years when the FHA runs out, it might be worth the risk to go with COBRA for 18 months and take advantage of the lower cost. One more detail to be aware of regarding the FHA. If you ever end up being uninsured for any period of time, you will lose your ability to re-enter the FHA plan. So don't allow any coverage you have form other sources to lapse!
    • Kathi elaborates. Full excerpt: Yes Mad and Kyrosl, I was told by the ESC that on the same day that I leave my other job, I must contact IBM and start up coverage again. If I have even 24 hours of lapse time, I lose all coverage. None of this is in the brochure that IBM gave me. But then again, they don't have a brochure for FHA retirees. They are still sending out the Prior-Plan brochure to all FHA retirees and it states (3 times) that the High-Deductible PPO is free all retirees. Geez I hope all the FHA retirees (and gonna-bees) are paying attention!
  • Janet Krueger: Following is an important message from the Pension Rights Center in Washington... I've uploaded the two attachments they mention to the Files area of this board:
    We thought you would want to know that Congressman George Miller (D-CA), Ranking Democrat on the House Committee on education and the Workforce, introduced three bills this month relating to employee concerns about the security of their pensions in the aftermath of the termination of United Airline's pension plans. Helpful summaries of these bills prepared by Congressman Miller's office and a list of their co-sponsors are attached.
    • The first bill, the Pension Security Disclosure Act of 2005 (H.R. 2321), would make it easier for employees to learn how secure their pension plans are.
    • The second, the Pension Fairness and Full Disclosure Act of 2005 (H.R. 2233), would limit company officials' access to their special executives-only pensions when their companies go into bankruptcy or convert to cash balance plans.
    • The third bill (H.R. 2327), would put a temporary six-month halt to the termination of very large underfunded pension plans in order to give Congress a chance to pass legislation that would allow companies and unions the opportunity to work out arrangements that could avoid plan terminations, and also address the larger problems of underfunding of plans and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
    I've also attached a powerful front page Wall Street Journal article by Ellen Schultz published last Wednesday, "When Pensions Change Hands, Retirees Can Be Lost in Shuffle [PDF--85 KB] ". See attachment containing text of the three bills [Microsoft Word].
  • Still want anecdotes from laid off IBMers? I was laid off in 2002. By Rich Luskin. Excerpts: Still want anecdotes from laid off IBMers? I was laid off in 2002 at the age of 57, after 24 ½ years. I could write a book, but here are two ironic experiences:
    1. I was first laid off in Nov 1999. When I asked my manager why I was selected, he told me that because of my excellent skills and reputation, I would be the one most likely to get rehired. Fortunately, I did but got laid off again in June of 2002 because of lack of skills. This time, I could not find another job because of a "hiring freeze." So, once I get laid off because my skills are too low, another time because my skills are too high!
    2. I got my layoff notice again in May 2002 and had 30 days to find another job before being fired. I approached a manager I knew to inquire about an opening he had. He denied that the opening existed. Less than a month after I left IBM, I learned that the non-existent job was given to a young IBMer. I knew him well because I had been his official mentor when he joined
      IBM about 4 years earlier. The difference between his skills and mine (which earned "1" and "2" performance ratings) was that he had 4 years experience in the same job in which I had 20 years experience.
  • Annex Research: Institutions Dumped IBM Well Before April Crisis. Excerpt: IBM problems became widely discernible on April 14, the "Black Thursday," when the company made a surprise announcement of its first quarter results ("IBM: Slammed and Dunked," Apr 2005). But major institutional shareholder had been dumping Big Blue shares well before that. Our analysis of the Top 10 Big Blue holders as of March 31 shows that nine of them had reduced their IBM portfolios in the first quarter (see the charts).
  • The Herald (Scotland): IBM jobs ‘smokescreen’ claim. By Mark Smith. Excerpts: THE trade union representing workers at IBM in Scotland yesterday claimed that the 70 to 100 redundancies expected at the US technology giant's Inverclyde operation are a cover for far deeper cuts to come. The warning came from Amicus yesterday – on the same day that a global alliance of trade unions and workers' organisation agreed to join forces for a "day of action" against Big Blue's plans to slash between 10,000 and 13,000 jobs world-wide. [...]
    While the latest indications are that up to 100 jobs will be axed at the Greenock operation, the firm has offered no specifics.
    Nonetheless, Brian McDonald, a union negotiator with Amicus, said: "There is a huge morale problem at IBM in Greenock, because employees are just not being told what's going on. "We know for definite that at least 70 jobs are going, and a lot of the cuts are expected to be among the management. It's no secret there have been too many managers at IBM. It seems like almost everyone who works there is some kind of manager. "In saying that, we believe this is all just a smokescreen for far deeper cuts in the future.
    "Put it this way, IBM is not going to shed 13,000 managers. Obviously, there are a lot of lower-level jobs that are going to go, too – either as part of this restructuring or in cuts that will follow." Meanwhile, 25 IBM unions and work councils yesterday began their campaign against the cuts with "a day of action".
  • Poughkeepsie Journal: IBM urged to rethink its job-cut proposal. Unionists protest downsizing plan. By Craig Wolf. Excerpts: Unionists around the world took actions Monday to press IBM Corp. executives to rethink a major downsizing planned for this year. But there have been no signs Big Blue is about to blink. Just what might be accomplished by holding up signs, leafleting and phone calls to IBM's Armonk headquarters? It helps the unions in Europe significantly, said Lee Conrad, organizer of the Alliance@IBM, also known as Local 1701 of the Communications Workers of America. Unlike in America, there are many IBM workers in Europe represented by unions or through "works councils," which are bodies that companies must consult with prior to layoffs. "The works council in Belgium is sitting down with IBM," Conrad said. "IBM now realizes there's a lot of people sitting behind them (the workers)."
  • Washington Post: Pension Law Bars Disclosure to Those Who Need It Most. By Allan Sloan. Excerpt: If the company you work for has a pension plan that's underfunded, it's important for you to know how deep the hole will be if the federal government has to terminate the plan and take it over. If you're a shareholder or creditor, you want to know this, too, because it helps determine what (if anything) might be left for you should the company and the pension fund both fail. The good news is that companies with underfunded plans file this impossible-for-an-outsider-to-calculate information with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the federal agency that insures pensions. The bad news is that the PBGC isn't allowed to share this information with you. Why? Because the same 1994 law that requires companies to tell the PBGC what's going on forbids the PBGC from telling anyone else what's going on -- unless there's a court case or a request from Congress. It seems positively perverse to deny people that information, given that we're supposed to be taking responsibility for our own retirements. But hey, this is Washington. Logic doesn't necessarily apply.
  • New York Times: C.E.O.'s, M.I.A. By Thomas L. Friedman. Excerpts: After six weeks of being a foreign correspondent traveling around America, the biggest question I have come home with is not "What's the matter with Kansas?" but rather, "What's the matter with big business?" America faces a huge set of challenges if it is going to retain its competitive edge. As a nation, we have a mounting education deficit, energy deficit, budget deficit, health care deficit and ambition deficit. The administration is in denial on this, and Congress is off on Mars. And yet, when I look around for the group that has both the power and interest in seeing America remain globally focused and competitive - America's business leaders - they seem to be missing in action. I am not worried about the rise of the cultural conservatives. I am worried about the disappearance of an internationalist, pro-American business elite.[...]
    So with business with its head in the clouds, labor with its head in the sand, the administration focused on terrorism and Congress catering to people who think "intelligent design" is something done by God and not by Intel, it's not surprising that "we don't have a strategy for making America competitive in the 21st century - a century of three billion new capitalists," as Clyde Prestowitz put it. He is the author of a smart new book about the rise of China and India, called, appropriately, "Three Billion New Capitalists."
    If we don't get our act together, this will affect not just our economy, but also our power. America has just completed the most sweeping transformation of its national security establishment since 1947. "Unfortunately, the entire restructuring has been oriented toward combating one threat - terrorism," said David Rothkopf, a Carnegie Endowment scholar who has just published a timely and important new book, "Running the World," about the U.S. National Security Council. "This is dramatically different from what was done in the wake of World War II, when, in addition to creating the N.S.C., Department of Defense, Air Force and C.I.A., we also created the U.N., I.M.F., World Bank, conducted the Marshall Plan, rebuilt Japan and recognized that domestic growth was the most important wellspring of our national security."
  • New York Times: Listen to My Wife. By Matt Miller. Excerpts: In a world where most people are struggling, the search for "balance" in high-powered jobs has to be counted a luxury. Still, there is something telling (if not downright dysfunctional) when a society's most talented people feel they have to sacrifice the meaningful relationships every human craves as the price of exercising their talent. Nowhere is there a greater gulf between the frustration people feel over a dilemma central to their lives and their equally powerful sense that there's nothing to be done. As a result, talented people throw up their hands. Women are "opting out" after deciding that professional success isn't worth the price. Ambitious folks of both sexes "do what they have to," sure there is no other way. That's just life. [...]
    Today talented people live in fear of sounding anything less than 24/7. Tell your boss you have to deal with a drinking problem and you'll be fine; say you want more time with your family and you're on the endangered species list. As a result, my wife says, we're being led by a class of people who made choices (because there was no alternative) that are alien to what most of us want. Some call this "whining." Others like working 24/7. Still others assert that you can never change the nature of work near the top. But our corporate experience persuades us that change is inevitable. In a globalizing world, many senior jobs are already impossibly big. If they need to be restructured anyway (we're working on how), why not do so in ways that give folks the option to have a life? Skeptics should recall that everyone once "knew" that a weekend or a minimum wage would spell economic ruin, too.
  • Christian Science Monitor: Moving healthcare up on US agenda. A bipartisan group is calling on Congress to embrace a plan for universal coverage. Others say the political timing is off. By Alexandra Marks. Excerpts: Social Security or healthcare reform? A coalition of more than 150 major corporations, unions, healthcare organizations, religious groups, and pension providers representing more than 150 million Americans came together this week to tell Congress and the president that they're focusing on the wrong issue. "The healthcare system is in crisis today. Social Security is not," says Henry Simmons, president of the National Coalition on Health Care in Washington. "Healthcare is a far more serious, immediate, and destructive problem than Social Security."
    While few quibble with the forecast that in 40 years Social Security may be able to provide only about 80 percent of promised benefits, coalition members say the nation's healthcare problems are dragging down the nation's overall economy: They're increasing the cost of doing business as they undermine Americans' standard of living. In fact, 45 million Americans have no health insurance at all. And insurance premiums are rising so fast - by double digits annually - that corporations are requiring individuals to pay more, and many small businesses are forgoing coverage altogether. And as those costs go up, American businesses are becoming less competitive in a global marketplace, where most industrialized nations provide some kind of national healthcare.
  • Detroit Free Press: Would GM risk gutting retiree health benefits? Wall Street analyst says it could happen. By Jeffrey McCracken. Excerpts: f runaway medical bills are truly threatening the survival of General Motors Corp., as the automakers' executives have said, could GM simply eliminate UAW retiree health benefits? It's a viable option, according to one of the most provocative reports to come out of Wall Street in some time. The report, by Brian Johnson, who studies the auto industry for investors at the New York research firm Sanford Bernstein, provides a window into some of the current thinking of multibillion-dollar investors as they study the struggles at GM -- and wonder how to profit from them.
    Johnson's premise is that current GM management wouldn't resort to such a so-called nuclear option, but a corporate raider wouldn't hesitate, especially for the billions of dollars that could be made. Ironically, the report was issued in mid-April, just days before Las Vegas billionaire Kirk Kerkorian quietly began buying up chunks of GM stock on April 22. There has been wide-ranging speculation that Kerkorian would try to take on the UAW to knock down its benefit plan, one of the best in the country for employees. Auto analysts like Johnson write hundreds of reports a year, but his has generated considerable buzz because it is one of the first to put on paper the idea of GM gutting its UAW retiree health-care obligations, and it summarizes what many multibillion-dollar investment managers say when they discuss GM.
  • CNET News: More overtime tussles for tech companies? By Ed Frauenheim. Excerpts: A spate of lawsuits and new government rules has the tech industry scratching its head over overtime. The decision earlier this year by computer-game titan Electronic Arts to reclassify some of its employees as hourly workers eligible for overtime pay but not for bonuses or stock options has helped bring the issue to the fore. [...]
    One California-based image production artist at EA, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he routinely worked 70 hours a week throughout last summer and fall without any formal overtime compensation to finish a game. He earned a salary of about $49,000, with a bonus of roughly $2,000. Although his team was given two weeks off in December after the game shipped, he argues the time off was not a fair substitute for the overtime pay he claims he was owed. "It's pretty much like you're working double time," he said. "A couple weeks of comp time just doesn't add up."
Coverage on H1-B and L1 Visa and Off-Shoring Issues
  • Poughkeepsie Journal: Offshoring hits home. Worker tells story of IBM layoffs. By Craig Wolf. Excerpts: When Steven Bergeron lost his job at IBM in Poughkeepsie, he became part of a new statistic: The shifting of work to other countries. Overseas outsourcing, some call it, or just "offshoring." But behind those statistics are real people whose lives have been put into turmoil. "I had this sick feeling in my gut that the company I had trusted and believed in was turning its back on me," Bergeron said. Bergeron, now of Massachusetts, has worked 24 1/2 years for IBM Corp., one of them in Poughkeepsie, from August 2003 to August 2004. That year was a life-after-layoff experience. He had managed to get back on the IBM payroll after an earlier downsizing only to find that his new job would lead to another layoff. This time, his work was to be shipped off to India, and he even had to help train the Indian IBMers who would take the work back to Bangalore.
  • The Register (United Kingdom): IBM and Red Hat to teach Uni students how not to get offshored. By Ashlee Vance. Excerpt: Jobs of tomorrow. Jobs of tomorrow. Jobs of tomorrow. That's what IBM and Red Hat can promise the software students of today who are seeing their potential jobs offshored to India. IBM and Red Hat were emphatic about looking toward the future in a joint statement issued today to tout their promotion of Linux with university students. "To better prepare college students for the jobs of tomorrow, IBM and Red Hat are working together to collaborate with educators in teaching students the open source, standards-based skills necessary to compete for the information technology jobs of tomorrow." Point taken. [...] Hopefully, IBM and Red Hat will also hold some classes on how US developers will find jobs here after the two companies have sent the majority of their work to India, China and elsewhere. Funny though, nothing like that was mentioned beside jobs of tomorrow anywhere we looked.
  • ZD Net Australia: Linux lab lays off programmers. Excerpt: The Open Source Development Labs, the organization that employs Linux leader Linus Torvalds, has laid off nearly a sixth of its staff as part of a shift to new priorities. The group cut nine of its 57 staff and contractor positions, chief executive Stuart Cohen confirmed Monday in the US. The cuts affected several programmers who worked on the open-source operating system as well as staff in sales, marketing, business development and internal computer operations.
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education: Student Interest in Computer Science Plummets. By Andrea L. Foster. Excerpts: Students once saw computer-science classes as their ticket to wealth. Now, as more technology jobs are outsourced to other countries, such classes are seen as a path to unemployment. New data show students' interest in the discipline is in a free fall. The number of newly declared computer-science majors declined 32 percent from the fall of 2000 to the fall of 2004, according to a report released this month by the Computing Research Association, which represents computer scientists in industry and academe. Another survey, from the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles, shows that the number of incoming freshmen who expressed an interest in majoring in computer science has plummeted by 59 percent in the last four years. [...]
    Computer scientists and undergraduates blame the field's anemia mostly on news-media reports of technology jobs moving to developing countries, and on the bursting of the dot-com bubble. At the height of the Internet boom, in 2000, it was not uncommon to see computer-science classrooms filled to capacity. That fall the number of newly declared computer-science and computer-engineering majors reached a high of 23,416, compared with 15,950 in 2004, according to the Computing Research Association.
  • CNET News: The incredible shrinking IT staff? By Ed Frauenheim. Excerpt: Under pressure from ever-more capable outsourcers, information technology departments are poised for serious staff reductions over the next several years, according to a new report from research firm Gartner. By 2010, the number of IT staff in the profession will shrink by 15 percent, Gartner predicted Tuesday. Apart from the rise of outsourcers--who often provide their services from lower-cost countries like India--IT departments also face the diffusion of tech skills throughout an organization, Gartner said.

Vault Message Board Posts
Vault's IBM Business Consulting Services message board is a popular hangout for IBM BCS employees, including many employees acquired from PwC. Some of this week's posts follow.
  • "Can you handle the truth?" by "Dose of reality". Excerpts: While it may be a bitter pill to swallow, let me tell you what is going on at BCS. We are having a heck of a time trying to sell work into this market. Without going into the gory details that are all over this board, suffice it to say that most of the real sales and management talent has either departed due to being screwed the last few years, or is actively looking. We also have the wrong business strategy, a bunch of cost-cutting amateurs instead of growth oriented leaders, and BCS is the abused weak sister at IBM. We are expected to work miracles and we get no credit for what we do for the rest of IBM. Abuse flows downhill.
    Behind these front lines, you have bloated support functions like finance and HR, with very little accountability, way too much power, and all the customer service orientation of a 1980s vintage airline baggage handler. Their general MO is to put on a pretense that they are effective in their jobs, but service to you is just a very remote means to an end. Many of them are 9 to 5ers whose main talent is getting connected so that they can’t be touched. They are not evaluated based on their service to you, and it is rare to find one that will work to further your career on any level. They get the most credit for finding creative ways to cut costs and raise targets, regardless of the long term impact on the company. It is a poisoned culture, if ever there was one.
  • "Yes it was" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: Let's see, we have a mix problem, contract durations are dropping, we are losing deals, hardware is down, and we can't come up with a winning strategy for the anticipated mid-market growth engine. The solution is obviously to....drum roll please... Cut heads in Europe! Really now, you can't make this stuff up! Oh, and the old reliable EPS saver "pension plan grab" is under attack for anywhere from $300 million to 1.7 billion. But we just need to stay the course and let the same buffoons who got us here dig us out by doing more of what they have been doing all along. How can any company take us seriously as a management consulting organization?
  • "IBM Calling Former Piglets" by "NoBlue". Full excerpt: I just got a call from IBM. They say they are thinking of setting up an IBM Alumni type of thing. In addition, how would I feel about coming back. There is over $425 million in the pipeline. First, at least while I was with IBM, I noticed that while the pipeline was always full, it was a sewage line with just methane or worse coming from it. Has the pipeline changed to a different pipe? Second, do they think everyone who has left these past few years did it fully regretting their departure from the Big Blue? Third, have you ever heard of a company having an Alumni program? I thought that was reserved for colleges and universities. Fourth, don't they realize the only way the 'Alumni' will come back is by paying them huge amounts of money? Any thoughts or comments?
  • "Actually got one of these postcards..." by "deep_eye". Full excerpt: and I thought it was a practical joke that an ex PwCC buddy had dreamed up. When I realized they were serious, I was stunned. Yes indeedeee, I can't wait to go back to a lower salary, insane utilization rates, no bonus, no raises and service offerings that belong in the crapper - where do I sign up?

Coverage on Social Security Privatization
  • Los Angeles Times: How Bush Makes Sure They Agree. A memo illustrates the way the White House is selectively casting members of the under-30 set to promote its Social Security plan. By Warren Vieth. Excerpts: As President Bush resumes his cross-country campaign to promote his vision of Social Security restructuring, it's no secret that he is relying on outside organizations to help provide the supporting cast. Yet a memo circulated this week among members of one group, Women Impacting Public Policy, illustrates the lengths to which the White House has gone to make sure the right points are made at the president's public appearances. "President Bush will be in Rochester, N.Y., for an upcoming event and has called on WIPP for help," said the memo to New York-area members, from one of the group's leaders. "He would like to visit with local workers about their views on Social Security." The memo went on to solicit several types of people "who he would like to visit with" — including a young worker who "knows that [Social Security] could run out before they retire," a young couple with children who like "the idea of leaving something behind to the family" and a single parent who believes Bush's proposal for individual investment accounts "would provide more retirement options and security" than the current system. The people solicited appeared to represent various arguments that Bush has been making for why Social Security should be overhauled. The memo requested an immediate response, because "we will need to get names to the White House."
  • New York Times: America Wants Security, by Paul Krugman. Excerpts: There's a very good reason voters, when given a chance to make a clear choice, increasingly support a stronger, not a weaker, social safety net: they need that net more than ever. Over the past 25 years the lives of working Americans have become ever less secure. Jobs come without health insurance; 401(k)'s vanish; corporations default on their pension obligations; workers lose their jobs more often, and unemployment lasts much longer than it used to. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll showed what the pollsters called an "angry electorate." By huge margins, voters think that politicians are paying too little attention to their concerns, especially health care, jobs and gas prices. [...]
    At a gala dinner in his honor, Tom DeLay cited his party's recent achievements: "bankruptcy reform, class-action reform, energy, border security, repealing the death tax." All of these measures are either irrelevant to or actively hostile to the economic security of working Americans. Yet as Mr. DeLay boasted, many Democratic members of Congress also voted in support of these measures. In so doing, they undermined their party's ability to claim that it stands for something different. So where will change come from? Everyone loves historical analogies. Here's my thought: maybe 2004 was 1928. During the 1920's, the national government followed doctrinaire conservative policies, but reformist policies that presaged the New Deal were already bubbling up in the states, especially in New York. In 1928 Al Smith, the governor of New York, was defeated in an ugly presidential campaign in which Protestant preachers warned their flocks that a vote for the Catholic Smith was a vote for the devil. But four years later F.D.R. took office, and the New Deal began. Of course, the coming of the New Deal was hastened by a severe national depression. Strange to say, we may be working on that, too.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site:
  • Alliance@IBM: Attention IBM employees: IBM is blocking e-mail to and from the Alliance@IBM e-mail address endicottalliance@stny.rr.com from inside the company. Please send your job cut information and other correspondence from your home e-mail. You can also contact us the following ways: Phone 607 658 9285 or Fax 607 658 9283.
  • IBM Day of Action, summary of Actions Worldwide. Excerpt: In Montpellier, Nice, Bordeaux huge participation from 50 to 80% of the staff on strike, demonstrations downtown, press and TV coverage. Even the two Paris sites (generally more anonymous and less solidarious) participated in an impressive manner. The national evening news on TV covered the event largely. All the IBM sites in France participated with strikes going from some hours to the whole day. [...] Day of Action photos.
  • Job Cuts Status & Comments Page. Excerpts: Job cuts are coming. Information needed: What is Your location? How many job cuts at your location? What locations are cutting jobs? Name of Division and Business Unit? Some sample submissions follow:
    • IBM, at the direction of Lexmark, International (an IGS Outsourcing Account) will Offshore more jobs this year. No word on the exact number of IBM US employees that will be affected. Work is already underway for this job action.
    • Yesterday (5/26/05) brought more resource actions, as they call it now, to the RTP and Atlanta CSO organizations. The numbers are not known at this time, but it's a take from the USA and give to Brazil job action again. The vendors are gone; the contractors are gone, so now it becomes a true blue IBMer that will go. We continue in the SAM era of adjusting the bottom line by getting rid of those that really care, instead of properly fixing the bottom line by going out and getting new business. WOW
    • Heard 45 were cut in RTP today. The beginning of what will continue into next week after the holiday. Stay tuned.
    • The local newspaper is reporting that at least 45 Rochester ISC employees are affected so far, of which I am one. I've had great appraisals all along so this took me by surprise. I have until 6/27, then one week of compensation for every six months of service. The memo I received said the following US organizations within the ISC were affected: Business Growth Initiatives; Supply Chain Compliance, Security and Diversity; Business Operations - ISC SG Manufacturing; SVP, Integrated Supply Chain; and Communications.
    • IGS Americas Outsourcing and Delivery Resource Action (ASDR). 441 jobs cut. Effective May 5th 2005
    • It is starting! Rochester and San Jose just started laying off. 500 in the ISC group expected total, effective end date 6/27. Good luck everyone...
    • All IBM/RTP contractors have been furloughed next week (5/3 - 6/3) without pay. This is in conjunction with the planned layoff announcement on Tuesday 5/31.
    • This isn't a job cut comment directly, but an ominous sign, that is related to ongoing job cuts. Management in RTP is encouraging employees to attend a presentation in the 002 cafeteria by the Director of Global Sourcing Operations on "Working With People of AP Cultures Both in the US and Abroad and the Difference Between Them". For those not familiar with the acronym, AP stands for Asia-Pacific. It's very apparent that working closely with teams in India, China, and other areas will continue to accelerate and more projects will be moved to or originate at outsourced locations. The content of this session is valuable and understanding other cultures is a very good thing, but the timing of it and the indications of where the business is going are the concerns here. Read the tea leaves.
    • I am in RTP, Software Group. Common thinking is that cuts are European and Global Services. Heard the size of domestic and local cuts will be bigger than expected by most. Heard some departments are affected by as much as 12%. Typical 6 month severance. No medical, no bridge, screwed yes. Officially to be announced Tuesday 5/31.
    • Over 60 employees across the United States in the Real Estate organization under Vice-President Bill DeStasio will be laid off May 31. many will be outsourced and some will leave as part of staff reductions
    • Another tactic being used in Boulder is forced 2 weeks unpaid time off between now and the end of June. Looks like all contractors are affected. I know of 9 in my dept. Please post anonymously. Thanks.

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