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    Highlights—September 10, 2005

Union Community Fund: Help Working Families Devastated by Hurricane Katrina
Donations to the Union Community Fund are tax-deductible.
Working families in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama desperately need your help. Please contribute as generously as you possibly can to the special Hurricane Relief Fund of the AFL-CIO's Union Community Fund, labor's charity for working families and communities in distress. We are working with the labor federations in the affected states and with relief organizations to target help to our working brothers and sisters who need it most. UCF is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) public charity.
  • In a Yahoo! message board post, Kathi Cooper (of Cooper v. IBM) gives her initial, first-hand impression of "pension reform" Congressional hearings. Full excerpt: There were about 100 people in the audience. Harkin gave a fantastic speech about the IBM employees, there was applause. Harkin voted against the bill as written because there were no protections for early retirees. (that means you can kiss your early retirement subsidies good-by) Burr also voted against the bill, but I have not been able to find out why. Everyone else voted for it. Several amendments were offered but none accepted. If there is to be a fight with the amendments, it will be on the Senate floor.
    What does the bill contain? An odd carve-out for one. The carve-out states something like 'all cb plans currently in the judicial branch can stay there if filed prior to August 1, 2005 while after August 1, 2005, no one can file any more law suits'. There is an odd caveat that if IBM loses their suit (Cooper v. IBM), all the safeguards that are written in the bill will be removed and if IBM wins their suit, all the safeguards that are written in the bill will stand. Yes, there are safeguards in the bill that employers must follow if their CB plan is to be dubbed 'legal'.
    That's about all I understand right now and I'm sure after I examine it better, I'm probably half wrong with what I've already written. It is a hodgepodge of piss-poor legislation that is trying to satisfy everyone, in my opinion. It's trying to protect retroactivity, but only if IBM wins. It's trying to put safeguards in there for employees over 40. It's trying to give corporations the legal ability to reduce promised pensions, wear-away, grab subsidies, etc...
    That's about it in a nutshell. I have the right to change what I've said further down the road as I study the thing. Oh, one last thing, ERIC and ABC (nor our friends) doesn't like the bill as marked. They wanted it all. They didn't get all. But then again, I'm not sure how much we got, if anything. Later.
  • Yahoo! message board post by Kathi Cooper. Full excerpt: Here are the lies that are being fed to the Senate HELP committee from ERIC, ABC, and others (not our friends) and ABC (not our friend). http://www.eric.org/forms/uploadFiles/366600000013.filename.BaileyTestimony.pdf. It makes me ill that I live in a country where lies and money are more powerful than the people.
  • ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC): ERIC Submits Letter to Senators Urging Careful Consideration of Pending Pension Reform Legislation. Excerpts: “Any legislation that fails to reduce litigation or the threat of litigation against hybrid plans or fails to ameliorate the uncertainties regarding such plans jeopardizes their future existence and, accordingly, the retirement security of millions of American workers,” ERIC said in the letter. [...]
    ERIC is a non-profit association committed to and represents exclusively the advancement of the employee retirement, health, and compensation plans of America’s largest employers. ERIC’s members provide benchmark retirement, health care coverage, compensation and other economic security benefits directly to tens of millions of active and retired workers and their families. ERIC has a strong interest in proposals affecting its members’ ability to deliver those benefits, their cost and their effectiveness, as well as the role of those benefits in the American economy.
  • Yahoo! message board post by ibmaccountant. Full excerpt: I talked to a Republican party official here in NC and our opposition is beginning to worry them big time. It has already affected Dole's plans to consider the ticket in 2008. You will notice he voted against it, but never stands on the floor to voice his opposition to what is essentially the Republican party's agenda.
    They came to me for my usual annual 1-2K donation and I stunned them by telling them that because of HR2830 it was now going to the Democrats and I was going to be available to speak as a "poor, misled average hard working Joe screwed by the Republicans". The RNCC rep put me through straight to an old pal and I'm sure Rove or one of his aides was listening in on the call. When they started on the case of "we gotta save corporations" and the United case, and I just let them have it. At the end, I told them I'd stand with the dems this next election and tell people I'd wasted my 100K donations over the years because I'd been misled. (IBM = I've Been Misled). It was not a pretty call. Someone chimed in and said the reason ERIC and ABC were being listened was because only 8% of employees now have DB pensions. I responded by saying that meant that maybe up to 70% had already been robbed and a great pool of future democrats within the demographic that has the most votes!
    This is an old political trick. Those Senators and Congresspeople in Districts that are endangered because of this bill (read districts with large numbers of Boeing, IBM, retirees etc.) will vote against the bill to protect themselves but will numerically be insignificant. The result is the bill still passes and Burr can claim he voted for his constituency when election time comes.
    I hear from the same source Virginia Foxx (D-Banner Elk) is going to be stunned by the amount of negative publicity surrounding her vote and the money that's starting to pour in against her re-election. She will regret her vote on the committee as well. I already have 3 surprise appearances there scheduled, so you folks will learn my name shortly.
    This is dirty politics, folks, the only way to hurt them is to vote against them and give the Dems every dime you can spare. They are ideologically driven by MBAs in big business. That's why IBM, historically a democrat enclave (the Watsons were big Democrats) is now full of Republican pension money grabbers. They are trying to save a dinosaur, the big American multi-national corporation. What they don't realize is that this and some other issues is going to take down the party with it.
    Don't forget that if we can elect a democratic congress they can always go back and re-write the law back, given enough votes! Don't bother with the press. Gannett's been bought off, as well as Fox and Hearst. Another worry....the Supreme Court nominee Roberts is totally against DB plans and will definitely vote against us if he gets nominated to the Supreme Court.
  • Yahoo! message board post by Janet Krueger. Full excerpt: You need to understand what you are looking at; Medicare WOULD HAVE BEEN available to those under 65 in certain circumstances IF the Medicare Early Access Act that Congressman Pete Stark introduced several years ago had passed and become law... However, it did not pass.
    As long as you're drooling over proposed legislation, the version he introduced this year, at http://tinyurl.com/bm3xm looks even better, as it would provide coverage between the ages of 55 and 65. How about adding that to your wish list when you call Congress on Tuesday to tell them how steamed you will be if they retroactively legalize cash balance plans just to take IBM off the hook??? That way you'll be giving them something you WANT them to do, instead of just telling them NOT to do something...
  • Yahoo! message board post by Janet Krueger. Full excerpt: The basic problem is that people didn't start retiring with the FHA until this summer, so IBM decided not to get brochures finalized with figures for the FHA until this November (i.e. two months from now!) and probably hasn't informed most of their subcontractors working at Fidelity, either.
    So when people call Fidelity for information, they get WRONG numbers. IBM is fully informed about the problem, and has the referenced fix planned for November!
    A key question is whether, if you could convince Fidelity to give you the bad numbers in writing, and you subsequently relied on them to your detriment, could you hold IBM accountable to them in a court of law?
    The answer is probably yes, but it takes a minimum of $10,000 to file and win a lawsuit against IBM, you cannot get damages or legal fees for a violation of ERISA related rights, and since IBM has the legal right to change or eliminate the FHA program at any time, the longest you could probably force them to pay you under the wrong numbers is a year... Because the FHA is a health benefit, it IS covered under ERISA, even though the actual protection is zilch.
    Again, it is likely that IBM fully understands no one can hold them accountable without losing a ton of money, which is probably why they aren't moving to fix the problem any more quickly.
    Sad, huh?
    Another issue worth talking to your Congress Critters about -- as long as they are in their 'fixing' ERISA, why the heck aren't they putting meaningful protection on retiree health benefits, instead of retroactively legalizing cash balance scams???
  • From Dan Gillespie of WashTech/CWA Local 37083, AFL-CIO: I'm Dan Gillespie, out of state Organizer for TechsUnite. Some of you may know me from previous email contacts and/or GetActive alerts.
    I am contacting you today to continue the attempt at bringing our issues to the attention of the press and political parties as well as the general public in the upcoming mid-term elections of 2006 and the presidential campaigns of 2008.
    I have had requests from several sources to provide information for another side to the issues of unemployed and under employed IT white collar workers. They have asked for the human side. If you are long term unemployed, under employed (only able to find short term contracts), or have been unemployed any time in the past 4 years, please contact me with your story. Or if you know friends or colleagues who have suffered this, give them my name, phone and email address (below) and ask them to contact me.
    Anonymity is assured as I don't want to print someone's personal testimonial. The fact is that we are getting hammered in the press and I have to gather facts regarding this subject to present to reporters and get them interested.
    Consider some of these questions:
    • How long have you been unemployed or under employed?
    • How did you come to be unemployed (downsized, job moved offshore, etc...)?
    • How old are you?
    • What is your family status (married, children, etc..)?
    • What is it like to have been looking for work long enough for unemployment benefits to have run out?
    • How many times have friends and relatives put you through a barrage of questions regarding your job search efforts?
    • Have you begun to look for employment out of your field? If you have what was the potential employer's reaction to your resume and qualifications?
    • How do you feel? What has this situation done to your own self respect/esteem?
    • How has this affected others close to you (family, friends, etc...)?
    • What has happened to your financial situation?
    I'm sure there are other questions that you could add to this list. I know that this might be difficult for some of you to reveal, but this aspect of the failure of the global economy has to be shared, and if you want to share your story you can email me directly.
    Thank you. I remain in solidarity,
    Dan Gillespie
    TechsUnite Organizer
    WashTech/CWA Local 37083, AFL-CIO
  • New York Times: In Manhattan, Poor Make 2¢ for Each Dollar to the Rich. By Sam Roberts. Excerpts: Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue is only about 60 blocks from the Wagner Houses in East Harlem, but they might as well be light years apart. They epitomize the highest- and lowest-earning census tracts in Manhattan, where the disparity between rich and poor is now greater than in any other county in the country. That finding, in an analysis conducted for The New York Times, dovetails with other new regional economic research, which identifies the Bronx as the poorest urban county in the country and suggests that the middle class in New York State is being depleted. [...]
    The top fifth of earners in Manhattan now make 52 times what the lowest fifth make - $365,826 compared with $7,047 - which is roughly comparable to the income disparity in Namibia, according to the Times analysis of 2000 census data. Put another way, for every dollar made by households in the top fifth of Manhattan earners, households in the bottom fifth made about 2 cents. That represents a substantial widening of the income gap from previous years. In 1980, the top fifth of earners made 21 times what the bottom fifth made in Manhattan, which ranked 17th among the nation's counties in income disparity.
  • New York Times: Barbara Bush Calls Evacuees Better Off. Excerpts: As President Bush battled criticism over the response to Hurricane Katrina, his mother declared it a success for evacuees who "were underprivileged anyway," saying on Monday that many of the poor people she had seen while touring a Houston relocation site were faring better than before the storm hit. "What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas," Barbara Bush said in an interview on Monday with the radio program "Marketplace." "Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality." "And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway," she said, "so this is working very well for them."
  • New York Times: A Shameful Proclamation. Excerpts: On Thursday, President Bush issued a proclamation suspending the law that requires employers to pay the locally prevailing wage to construction workers on federally financed projects. The suspension applies to parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. By any standard of human decency, condemning many already poor and now bereft people to subpar wages - thus perpetuating their poverty - is unacceptable. It is also bad for the economy. Without the law, called the Davis-Bacon Act, contractors will be able to pay less, but they'll also get less, as lower wages invariably mean lower productivity.
    The ostensible rationale for suspending the law is to reduce taxpayers' costs. Does Mr. Bush really believe it is the will of the American people to deny the prevailing wage to construction workers in New Orleans, Biloxi and other hard-hit areas? Besides, the proclamation doesn't require contractors to pass on the savings they will get by cutting wages from current low levels. Around New Orleans, the prevailing hourly wage for a truck driver working on a levee is $9.04; for an electrician, it's $14.30.
  • Toronto Star: Louisiana, Iraq and Egypt expose inept Bush. By Harron Siddiqui. Excerpt: We know that Katrina exposed America's Third World underbelly, along with its deep divisions of race and class, and its proclivity to gut government services but not the funding to wage wars. It bared George W. Bush's palpable discomfort at being forced out of his make-believe world to confront ugly realities. It also served as a reminder of how some conservative governments in North America can be criminally incompetent.
  • Los Angeles Times: Image is capital in wake of storm. It's very hard to "convey a positive image" when the "general public" sees you stacking corpses like cordwood. Excerpt: On the front page of Thursday's Wall Street Journal, Christopher Cooper reported that, while New Orleans' poor, black majority has suffered through loss and dislocation, the city's old-line white elite has remained in their mansions in the fashionable Uptown area. No military rations for them. They're getting regular deliveries of gasoline for their private generators, ice for their cocktails and their favorite culinary delicacies. No looting here, as private security is in place. In the exclusive, gated community of Audubon Place, business executive James Reiss helicoptered in employees of an Israeli security company to guard his house and those of his neighbors. (You can bet these guys don't want to see a federal disaster relief bill derail abolition of the inheritance tax.)
  • New York Times Letters to the Editor: Our Moral Culture Was Breached, Too (5 Letters). Excerpt: To the Editor: David Brooks, in "The Bursting Point" (column, Sept. 4), shed further light on the most awe-inspiring blind spot of the American right. Looking for bright spots in a dark time, he writes that the "moral culture" is strong. Our current moral culture, as I understand the term, includes the elevation of wealth and commerce over all other considerations; the open neglect of the disadvantaged; the redefinition of American power away from moral authority and toward military might; the worship of American exceptionalism; and the threat of evangelical totalitarianism as social policy. Our moral culture has never been weaker, nor have our leaders ever had less right to claim the moral high ground. The levees have broken in more ways than one. Phil Wagar. Bellbrook, Ohio, Sept. 4, 2005.
  • Mother Jones: Public Opinion Watch: Workers Are Unhappy Campers. Excerpts: Hart Research recently conducted a nationwide poll of workers for the AFL-CIO which has just been released. The poll indicates that, despite upbeat talk coming out of the administration, American workers are quite unhappy with the economy and the general direction of the country. Here are the key findings from the poll:
    • In four different areas, workers think the country is off on the wrong track: health care (68 percent wrong track/24 percent right direction); retirement security (65/24); the war in Iraq (56/34); and the quality and availability of jobs (49/42). [...]
    • More than half of workers (53 percent) say their income is falling behind the cost of living, compared to 35 percent who say it’s staying even and 11 percent who believe their income is rising faster than the cost of living. That 53 percent figure is highest Hart Research has found on this question, going back to 1996.
    • Just 40 percent say they are very or somewhat confident they will be able to retire with financial security, compared to 59 percent who are just somewhat or not that confident.
    • Workers overwhelmingly believe (69 percent) that the jobs being created today in the U.S. economy are “mainly lower-paying jobs without benefits” rather than “mainly good-paying full-time jobs that provide benefits” (17 percent). Moreover, by 63/31, they believe that even with a college degree it’s difficult to find good jobs and financial security in today’s economy, rather than that given a college degree and hard work, a good job and financial security will follow. [...]On the health care system, 68 percent of workers say they are dissatisfied with the system, compared to just 30 percent who are satisfied. That’s even less satisfied than workers were back in early 1994, before the defeat of the Clinton health plan. And 72 percent now say they favor a government guarantee of health insurance for every American. That’s even more favorable than workers were back in 1999, the last time Hart Research asked this question. Finally, by 63/27, workers believe it’s wrong for large companies not to provide health care coverage for their employees because that drives up everyone else’s costs, rather than “companies cannot afford to provide health care coverage to employees, because they have to keep costs down to remain competitive in a global economy.”
  • WashTech News: Technology Worker Survey shows increasing pessimism about economy. Excerpts: recently completed national technology worker survey shows increasing worker pessimism about the future of the technology work force and technology economy in the United States. Between 2003 and 2005, tech workers in every case see less future demand in the future for the industry. In some cases the drop off in optimism is quite significant. For example, in 2003, 65% of the respondents said demand will increase for tech workers with significant experience, but in 2005, only 54% responded that way. For project/contract experience, there was a 16% point drop in the past two years, from 57% to 41%. What makes these results even more surprising is the nation’s economy has been in a “recovery” since November of 2001 but that recovery has failed to change conditions for America’s tech workers.
    Further, high-tech employers and executives such as Bill Gates like to claim that a surplus of jobs and endless opportunity exists for skilled technology workers. Gates has given several speeches on this topic in the past several months, most recently at the National Conference of State Legislators in Seattle last month. As the survey demonstrates, employees of these companies do not share the same view as the executives about the labor market.
  • eWeek: Unions Step Up Organizing of IT Workers, Outsourcing Fight. By Gene J. Koprowski. Excerpts: "Clearly, the pixie dust for tech workers has worn off," said Marcus Courtney, president of WashTech/CWA, the Seattle-based alliance of technology workers that organized the national survey. "The industry's relentless downsizing, health care cost shifting, job exporting and visa importing strategies are causing tech workers to be less optimistic about their futures in one of America's most important industries." [...]
    In addition, the survey notes that while the economy has been in a recovery since November 2001, the upward movement has not really changed conditions for American workers. Labor leaders are taking note. James Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, took the dais in late June at a union convention, and railed against the globalization of the economy by U.S. companies."The 40-hour work week is under attack. The right to organize is under attack. We are fighting for retirement security. Fifty million Americans are without health care. And real wages are falling," Hoffa said. [...]
    There are already organizing efforts underway at one of America's most prominent computer industry companies—IBM. According to a statement on the Web site of TechsUnite.org, there is an organizing committee called Alliance@IBM, an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America union, that has already had an impact on the company's policies. "We've accomplished a lot," Garrett Lanzy, an IBM advisory software engineer based at Endicott, N.Y., said in a statement. "We have pressured IBM into withdrawing some of its pension changes, generated Congressional hearings and held seminars educating employees on their rights." [...]
    George Black, president and CEO of RSA Corp., a Houston-based IT management firm, said that the "commoditization" of IT labor is a reality that college-educated workers must acknowledge. "The commoditization of IT labor by Fortune 500 companies will foster the growth of union activity," Black told Ziff Davis Internet. "Price controls and margin controls are forcing providers of contract IT personnel to establish non-benefited classes of employees. IBM Global Services has created such a class it calls 'supplemental.' Supplemental employees get no benefits, no participation in 401-K programs, no profit sharing. They are not protected in any way." What's more, Black said, these contract workers must leave IBM's employ after only one year in order to avoid co-employment issues. "This growing class is going to be fertile ground for union organization," Black said.
  • Yahoo! message board post by "Mike". Excerpts: A assume you are a newbie at IBM. Correct me if I am wrong. For me, I have had many managers in the past that I would walk through fire for. We celebrated births, promotions, talked about family and grieved at funerals together. Departments were family. These managers did not demand respect, they earned it. There is an old second line that retired years ago. If he calls me in the middle of the night for a favor I will be dressed and out the door without a thought. The 1993 layoffs broke him. He could no longer look us in the eye because he knew we could no longer believe him. I am sure this was a big part of his leaving. When you lose the trust of your people you have very little left.
    My present manager and I still talk of our college age kids, traffic on the parkways, and sports. All IBM talk is guarded on both sides like a chess match. There is little openness allowed. He has a script from upper management and it simple gets repeated down the line.
    PBC quota does a great job of destroying risk taking. There has be so many three's. Take a chance and make a mistake and you are meat for the grinder. In the past taking some chances helped build this company. Are you willing to tell an exec. manager that you have NO three performers in your area?
  • Yahoo! message board post by ibmgrunt: Morale - an all time low. Full excerpt: Recently our division was sent a survey. A lot of it questioned our job, how our manager performs, and do we understand things like how our compensation works, and how work/life balance works. And most of all do we benefit from IBM's so called work/life balance. Lets just say our manager, who walked around thinking he was a great guy, got slammed. These surveys are getting a lot of attention from upper management. Needless to say it took the smile right off his face.
    Our contractors have been furlowed, get no paid vacation, and some recently got as much as a 20% pay cut when forced to join another contract company. As for us IBMr's we continue to have no compensation for all the OT and on call and it was all reflected in these surveys. On top of that they are always looking for ways to move our jobs to India. While there are meetings setup to discuss this in groups, I still think nothing will ever change. Anybody's two cents???
  • Yahoo! message board post by "whydo1lovemycats". Full excerpt: What I found amusing was the required Financial Honesty training being a required exercise for employees in my area. Mark Loughridge kept sending our reminders to take another piece of my life to learn what was honest and not honest. That is a joke and smacks of some private hand-slapping from the US Government over some dishonesty or other for which the IBM perpetrators have already drawn out their bonuses. We peons don't have nearly the size pen with which to steal that the big boys use every day.
    Regarding the Opinion Survey: Gerstner killed off the old one just as soon as he got the reins from Akers. Fascinating that the new incarnation only allows us to rate our 1st Line Managers. They're just as powerless as we are. My manager hasn't stolen my pension nor denied me annual salary increases because the 1st Quarters the past two years were "disappointing" like John Joyce has.
    Morale is low: during the recent 14,500 employee purge, SO management took the opportunity to fire hundreds of trained US-based SO workers, including help desk agents and system operators, and replace them with US contractors and foreign contractors. Now IBM employees are on relief and the Customers are mad as hell.
    In addition former Customer employees (i.e., American Express) have been dumped in a body out in Phoenix. They were not supposed to be fired like that. Former Disney employees now with us, take heed.
    The new Opinion survey will not point out the perpetrators, so the Masque of the Red Death can continue. The stockholders should be up in arms. The Management is killing the IBM Company faster than the Stockholders can get their money out of the stock.
  • Yahoo! message board post by "i_be_mad_as_heck". Excerpt: There are several self admitted former managers that are now retired. I had talked to some that feel just sick about what IBM has become. They worked for a company that once did care about employees and had "respect for the individual". They passed information along to their employees about "promised" future benefits and "total compensation". Many of them have a conscience, and feel badly that they were led to lie to their employees. They are feeling the same financial pinch now as many retirees since they are in to same boat with no pension COLAs and ever-increasing retirement medical coverage premiums.
  • CNN: Treating workers justly pays off. By Mark Shields. Excerpts: Abraham Lincoln, the first and greatest Republican president, and the man who held this nation together during its bloodiest and darkest hours, would not be tough enough to survive in 2005 on Wall Street. It was Lincoln who said: "Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is the fruit of labor and could not exist if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital and deserves much the higher consideration."
    Lincoln's values are 24-karat heresy to the contemporary "Street." Take the case of Costco, the membership wholesale company, that in retailing is a tiny David to the Goliath of Wal-Mart.
    Costco pays its full-time workers an average of more than $16 an hour, while also picking up 92 percent of the cost of employees' health-insurance premiums. Wal-Mart pays its employees $9.69 an hour and 34 percent of workers' health-care costs. Fewer than half of Wal-Mart's employees qualify for the company health-care plan, but 82 percent of Costco workers are covered.
    But as Stanley Holmes and Wendy Zellner of that notoriously socialistic publication, "Business Week," discovered, Costco's employee turnover is one-half that of Wal-Mart and employees at Costco outsell their Wal-Mart counterparts by $279 per square foot. Good hearted and tough minded are not mutually exclusive in labor-management relations. That's the judgment of Costco CEO Jim Senegal, who has stated: "We pay much better than Wal-Mart. That's not altruism. That's good business." [...]
    The race to the bottom in wages and employee benefits may not be any smarter than it is humane. Respected University of Pennsylvania labor-management professor Peter Cappelli made that point in analyzing U.S. airlines on PBS's "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer": "Southwest Airlines, which is seen as the low-cost carrier, now has the highest-paid pilots in the industry. Delta, which is the carrier probably in the most trouble, is largely non-union. US Airways, which is a carrier that's almost completely unionized now, has the lowest cost structure in the industry. Try to make sense of this."
    Here's one possible explanation: Flying Southwest is a positive, pleasant experience -- made so by airline employees who are competent, upbeat and helpful. Might it be the way they are treated by management? Contradicting the dog-eat-dog Darwinism favored by the economic buccaneers, treating employees justly and humanely turns out to be good business indeed.
  • Workforce Management: Young Employees Eschew Health Care, 401(k)s. Employers need to think about the long run. Excerpts: As this year’s wave of college graduates joins the workforce, employers have to make a more concerted effort to teach them the importance of participating in their companies’ 401(k) and health care plans, according to a survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. The survey shows that only 45 percent of employees ages 21 to 24 are covered by their employer’s health insurance plan, with 19 percent of those being carried as dependents. Sixty-one percent of workers ages 25 to 34 are covered by health insurance, and 70 percent of workers ages 35 to 44 are covered, the study shows. [...]
    The research shows that young employees’ participation in their companies’ 401(k) programs is even worse. Only 9 percent of workers ages 21 to 24 participate in their 401(k) plans, versus 29 percent of workers 25 to 34 and 34 percent of workers 35 to 44. “Employers need to think about the long run,” Fronstin says. “If 30 to 40 years from now we end up with a lot of people retiring poor, the implications for employers could mean new mandates and higher taxes.”
  • Aspen Publishers' Spencer Benefits Reports: Only 13% Of Those Age 50 And Older Made Catch-Up Contributions In 2004, According To Vanguard. Excerpts: According to a survey recently conducted by the Vanguard Center for Retirement Research, only 13% of those eligible to make catch-up contributions to qualified retirement plans and individual retirement accounts made those contributions in 2004. The survey covered more than 2.6 million participants in nearly 2,000 defined contribution plans administered by the investment firm. [...] Participants who made catch-up contributions had an average 401(k) plan account balance of $253,244. Those who did not make the contributions had an average account balance of $89,060.
  • In a Yahoo! message board post, "rondo_74172", a person that was outsourced to IBM in July, 2004, provides advice to a person who was recently also outsourced to IBM. Excerpts: You being a software/support I am wondering what you've been told about your job duties, in other words, will your position stay within the USA or will it be going to India, Venezuela, or Poland? It was our (WMB) experience that IBM offshored everything it could within the first 18 months and then let everyone it took in the outsourcing deal go (fired them). That is as blunt and as close to the bone as it gets with the new IBM. They are not interested in building a loyal employee base.
    It surprised us all at WMB that the welcoming committee from IBM bragged that 98% of it's employees had less than 5 years tenure with the company. We asked ourselves (as we sat in the big auditorium listening to all this) why would they brag about a statistic like that? I still don't understand why they even said it - unless it was a test to see if anyone would ask why. Brace yourself kid, you are going to learn to love the taste of nails. You've heard the saying "I'm so mad I could eat nails"?
    My situation is well documented on the re-think board as I too was a newbie once and, like you, came to ask questions. What I got was not from a recent outsourced person such as myself, but was from retirees that said it would a horrible experience. I did not believe them at first because I thought "what could they know of the current state of affairs at IBM"? - - They know plenty Bro., they know plenty.
    The average salary of my former co-workers is about $22/hr and what IBM has recently done is to hire a third party to come in and learn what we do. The new people are paid $8/hr tops and will eventually take the jobs that are still being filled by old WMB employees.
    WMB management is so pissed at IBM that the word is they will not renew the contract and it has just begun the 2nd year. There is talk that upper management wants to cut IBM loose right now, but so many people have been lost that they cannot rebuild the IT department in a timely manner and keep the business going.
  • Vancouver Sun: Futurists once promised an age of leisure but it looks like we'll be working into old age. Technology would give us endless free time, but mandatory retirement is rapidly being phased out. By Miro Cernetig. Excerpts: Let's face it, when it comes to predicting how we earn our daily bread, futurologists have been mightily disappointing, often ridiculous. Not only is there no sign of the paperless office (judging by the pulp and paper industry's soaring sales our fetish continues unabated) but we're also still waiting for that even headier promise -- near endless leisure time. Baby boomers and GenXers have long heard that fantasy technological liberation, best captured by that 21st-century cartoon family, The Jetsons. (Theme song: "They're the Jetsons! . . . Machines do the working, machines do run, if they need anything they push a button and it's done." ) Well, we're not quite there yet.
    "How could the futurologists be so wrong?" wondered Charles McGrath in a recent issue of the The New York Times Magazine. "George Jetson, we should recall -- the person many of us cartoon-watchers assumed we would someday become -- worked a three-hour day, standard in the interplanetary era. Back in 1970, Alvin Toffler predicted that by 2000 we would have so much free time that we wouldn't know how to spend it."
    Here's a dose of our real-time reality.
    Most of us are so chained to work we don't even dare take the time off we've earned. Canadian workers, on average allowed 21 days off vacation a year, leave about three days apiece "on the table," finds the latest "international vacation survey" from Expedia, the Internet travel service. That works out to about 43 million unused vacation days, worth about $6.1 billion to employers. This, incidentally, puts Canadians in a dead heat per capita with our Calvinistic neighbours, the Americans, who leave behind the same three vacation days per work each year, though they only get an average of 12 days vacation.
    There is undeniably something North American about this propensity for vacation-wasting. Europeans don't let time slip away so easily. The average French worker, the world's vacation champ with 39 days off annually, leaves only one day unused. Germans also make sure they leave behind only a single day on the vacation calendar. While British workers, who get 23 days off, leave behind the least of anyone -- only four hours of vacation time goes unused by the average Brit. [...]
    "Many employees say it is pressure or fear that keeps them from using all their vacation, or their workload," concluded John Rossheim, reporting on the findings of another poll commissioned by the job-finding agency Monster.com. "Some 11 per cent of respondents to the Monster polls said pressure from the boss prevented them from using their full vacations; nine per cent said they feared being laid off."

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. The following are a few sample posts:
  • "How soon can u leave" by "Thunder-Bird". Full excerpt: This has been my first job after grad school and it sucks. I joined IBM BCS thinking 'management consulting' - feels like a body shop ! 7 months into it now... would other companies view my early departure as a negative thing? I don't plan on shifting to another DC/BP/CG/ACN would like to try for one of the boutiques or pure management consultancies. Some of you may say hang in there.. you have hardly experienced anything yet... I'm pretty damn sure that this is not what i want to do? Advice please!!
  • In "Like buying water in the Sahara", "Dose of reality" gives advice to a person considering a position as an IBM recruiter. Full excerpt: I assume you have spent some time surfing this forum and understand the recent history and employee sentiment. Here is how I would sum up the implication for someone that was tasked with recruiting:
    1. IBM has never had a reputation for management consulting, and the purchase of PwC was handled so badly that most of the acquired talent has left. Most educated candidates know this and will generally only come here as a last resort. IBM is seen as an offshore-oriented technology shop, not a management consulting firm.
    2. Your internal stakeholders have little respect for the HR staff. Most of the latter are converted line staff who couldn't succeed in consulting, or chose to take the cushy HR path to avoid the travel and stress of the front lines. Getting interviewers lined up and collecting feedback for bulk hiring is like pulling teeth.
    3. Turnover is very high, since compensation is flat and good performers are not rewarded. There is tremendous pressure to find talented candidates with the right skills to fill vacated project positions. You will be pulled in many different directions and have to watch your step politically.
    4. You will have to lie to prospective candidates about the kind of work we do and the expectations on incentive compensation to support the party line. Giving candidates the impression that mid-teen bonus percentages are likely is all part of the recruiting strategy, despite the fact that they are never paid out. We expect to get 2 - 3 years at most out of staff before they realize they are being screwed, with raises and bonuses practically nonexistent. We rely on getting fresh meat in the door that are willing to work their @$$e$ off to get ahead. After a few pay cycles, they move on, and we save on retirement benefits.
    We can't improve the recruiting process unless we improve the business model and other aspects of HR. That won't happen until the business-ignorant, technology-oriented, hyper-political clowns that are running this division have been replaced.
  • "In addition..." by "MythAndMeaning". Full excerpt: In addition to Dose's remarks, I would add mention of two things that will likely cause you great frustration as an IBM recruiter, assuming you are a person of quality. The first is that our salaries are generally not competitive. You will probably be asked to recruit consulting staff from competitors, where they are already paid more than you will be allowed to offer.
    The second concern is the IBM HR organization you would have to work with, which lives in a fantasy world of its own as best anyone can tell. As you can tell by other posts to this forum, HR moves so glacially that any candidate with alternatives is long gone by the time HR gets off the dime. You should ask about how you will be measured. If fill rate is a metric, be afraid!

New on the Alliance@IBM Site:
  • Hewlett Packard Employees Day Of Action. September 8th 2005. HP France Union Flyer. HP US Union Flyer. HP Italy Union Flyer. HP Workers Silicon Valley Thumbs up for CWA. In Silicon Valley today we had a lively demonstration at the main entrance to the HP Cupertino main location. The group from CWA Local 9423 was received by many HP workers with thumbs up hand signs when they read our signs which read "No to job cuts! No to Pension Cuts! Yes to Black Box Raise!" HP Security forces also were closely monitoring our activities and we held our ground for 90 minutes as we leafleted the main entrance.
  • News from HP France Union: We want to communicate our last counting which shows that about 1850 have stopped work in HP France today at 11:00 am. The action is relayed to the media. Contacts with political leaders have been taken as well. The employees of HP Italy, our colleagues from the CWA union, and the employees of IBM Germany, who stand in solidarity with HP workers in Europe and around the world in our protest and fight against the restructuring plan of the HP Corporation, have been strongly applauded.
  • 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 Pension Lawsuit FAQ about Cooper v IBM, Updated 6-21-05. Excerpt: Below is a list of frequently asked questions about the class action lawsuit against IBM's 1995 and 1999 pension plans. The answers are my personal opinions, have not been verified with either IBM or plaintiffs’ counsel, and should not be construed as legal advice. On July 31, 2003, a federal district court judge ruled in favor of the employees in this case. IBM will appeal portions of the ruling. On September 28, 2004, IBM and the legal team on Cooper v IBM announced that an agreement had been negotiated that settles some of the claims and set the amount of damages that IBM will pay to the class if IBM's appeal of the district court's age discrimination rulings is unsuccessful. Click on any question to jump to the answer. Or scroll down and read them all.
  • 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 posts follow:
    • Comment 09/08/05: IBM Global Services, Strategic Outsourcing. Our project (aprox. 100 employees) is getting outsourced to Argentina and Bangalore, India by November. The US locations are Southbury CT, Boulder CO, Westminister CO, Lincroft NJ, and Baskin Ridge NJ. Majority of the project is leaving for Argentina (IBM) and other divisions to India. Most of the employees were only given 1-2 months notice. I just wanted to leak this information to you guys after seeing your flyer in the cafe. Good job! -Anonymous-
    • Comment 09/06/05: I wish they would sell IGS to a real consulting firm, one where were we would not be over utilized in "good times" and would be viewed as more than ballast to throw over the side when they can't make financial targets. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 09/07/05: Two things are very unfortunate for most IBM employees. First, for quite a few years IBM has only provided enough money for about half of their employees to get raises. Second, managers now decide with almost no check and balance who gets these raises. This results in many hard working employees with the highest performance and contribution not getting a raise due to managers making decisions based on favoritism and other subjective criteria. This causes lower moral. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 09/07/05: IBM is a heartless company. Compare the verbiage on the IBM web page in regards to the Katrina disaster to the Dell web page on the same. Which company would you rather work for? I'm not suggesting you quit IBM and go to Dell, but I am pointing out the depth to IBM's mercenary stance and heartless company viewpoint is way beyond whatever any of us imagine. Read IBM's page at: http://www.ibm.com/news/us/en/2005/09/2005_09_01.html (which first words are about clients, not humanity). Read Dell's web page, which talks about friends, families, customers, and communities: http://www1.us.dell.com/content/topics/segtopic.aspx/brand/katrina_relief?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=gen -Anonymous-
    • Comment 09/10/05: Who in their right minds wants to take on the role of manager? On top of the usual employee “challenges” and the moron above you managing up by making promises you can’t possibly keep with your staff (s)he keeps cutting, then you have to pick 10-30% of your people to layoff every year on top of those you have to get rid of because they don’t cut it. So is it any real surprise that these layoffs foster an environment where only those who are desperate enter management, not because they are competent to manage in a technology company, but as a path to job security? It certainly explains our lack of technology leadership and the continued need for layoffs to make ends meet. -Anonymous-

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