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    Highlights—January 28, 2006

  • Wall Street Journal: IBM Is Target of Class Action Suit. Excerpts: International Business Machines Corp. was sued in federal court for allegedly not paying overtime to tens of thousands of rank-and-file employees. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on behalf of three current and former workers, seeks class-action status to represent computer installers and maintenance workers for IBM throughout the U.S. [...]
    Lawyers said they are seeking millions of dollars in back pay for employees of the Armonk, N.Y., technology giant. They are also considering punitive damages. Employees allege they were forced to work more than 40 hours a week, and were called in on weekends without getting overtime pay.
  • Law.com: Suit Against IBM Shows That Tech Industry Is in Wage Lawyers' Sights. By Marie-Anne Hogarth, The Recorder. Excerpts: Wage-and-hour lawyers seem to be turning up the heat on the computer industry. A lawsuit filed Tuesday against computer giant IBM Corp. for allegedly not paying overtime to tens of thousands of rank-and-file employees arrives on the heels of a series of suits making similar claims.
    Filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the suit has three current and former workers as named plaintiffs and seeks class action status on behalf of IBM computer installers and maintenance workers across the country.
  • Personnel Today (United Kingdom): IBM in meeting over UK final salary pension scheme. Excerpts: BM is rumoured to be planning to close its final salary pension scheme to thousands of its UK workers. The IT giant has called a managers' meeting at a London hotel tomorrow, at which it is due to discuss changes to its pension arrangements. It declined to say what these changes would be ahead of the meeting, but the group is expected to announce plans to close its final salary scheme to existing members, according to the Evening Standard newspaper.
  • BBC News: IBM holds off on pension decision. Computer giant IBM is continuing to hold talks with employees about changes to its UK pension scheme. Excerpt: The announcement comes amid speculation it is set to close its final salary pension scheme to existing members. IBM said it has not yet made a final decision and is still discussing any changes with staff. However, the group did say that the proposals it had outlined to staff so far did not include the "cessation of defined benefit plans".
  • The Register (United Kingdom): IBM UK pensions in doubt. Excerpt: IBM managers are in meetings across the country to hear about changes to the company pension. Observers are speculating that the firm will announce the end of the UK's final salary pension, as it has already done in the US. A flock of major UK - and US - companies have pulled the plug on their traditional final salary schemes in recent years, blaming growing deficits on reduced stock market returns, a harsher regulatory and fiscal attitude from the government, and retired workers' refusal to die early. Strangely, none of them blames the extended "contributions holidays" many of them took during the long stock market bull run in the 90s.
  • The Guardian (United Kingdom): Fears grow over closure of IBM final salary pensions. By Rupert Jones. Excerpts: Fears were growing last night that computer group IBM will today announce it is closing its final salary pension scheme to existing British workers. The US company, which employs about 20,000 people in Britain, has summoned all its managers to meetings today at which it will announce changes to its pension schemes. BM declined to say what these changes would be ahead of the meetings, but they come less than three weeks after the company said it would be shutting down its US scheme and was considering the future of its British scheme. Unions and workers fear it will announce a similar shutdown in Britain. Trade union Amicus said it had been "inundated" with calls from worried employees.
  • National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN): IBM Retirees Gain Bernie Sanders Co-Sponsorship of HR1322. Excerpts: Congressman Bernie Sanders has introduced 1 bill (HR 1677) to protect workers pensions and cosponsored another (HR1322) that would require companies like IBM to honor the commitments made to employees regarding health and retirement benefits. We encourage you to send this to all the IBMers you know and ask them to contact their Congressional representatives (in NC Dole and Burr) and ask them to support those bills. This is the only way IBM can be forced to do what they promised.
    I was proud to meet with over 200 IBM retirees and employees who expressed their concerns about letters they received from IBM informing them of cutbacks IBM was making to their health benefits. Specifically, one IBM retiree told me that on their monthly health care premiums were going to skyrocket from $116 per month to $410 per month. Others told me that they were facing significant increases in their health care premiums as well. Under current law, companies that offer health benefits to employees and retirees can cutback or even eliminate these benefits for whatever reason at anytime - a policy which I think is unacceptable. That is why I am a proud co-sponsor of H.R. 1322 to prohibit companies from reneging on the promises they made regarding earned health care benefits. Specifically, this bill, in most instances would prohibit companies from cutting back or eliminating retiree health benefits and to require companies to restore any health benefits they took away from retirees. This legislation currently has 95 co-sponsors.
  • Philadelphia Inquirer: Firms seek protection in cash-balance plans. Legal uncertainty and suits over the hybrid pensions have spurred heavy lobbying. The AARP cites age bias. By By Jay Newton-Small, Bloomberg News. Excerpts: International Business Machines Corp., Bank of America Corp. and AT&T Inc. are among companies pressing Congress for protection from lawsuits over cash-balance retirement plans that are worth more than $450 billion. Fighting the companies is AARP, the nation's largest senior citizens' group, which says the type of pension plan offered by the companies penalizes older workers. Both sides are trying to influence congressional negotiators working on the final version of a measure overhauling the U.S. pension system.
    With the outcome of the battle uncertain, the pressure on lawmakers is "high on the scale," says Rep. Tom Price (R., Ga.), of the Education and Workforce Committee, which has jurisdiction over pensions. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says it has met with the staff of more than 100 members of Congress and plans a second round of meetings in February. [...]
    AARP officials respond that some companies with cash-balance plans are seeking legal cover for an illegal system. The companies "are just looking to rubber-stamp any of the practices that they've undertaken, even though some of them might violate the law and are age-discriminatory," said David Certner, the Washington-based group's director of federal affairs. [...]
    IBM has been in the forefront of the lobbying effort, and its stake in the fight is considerable. The company this month froze its plan and switched to 401(k)s. Randy MacDonald, IBM's senior vice president for human resources, cited "uncertainty and conflicting legislative and regulatory directions" for the move, which will save IBM as much as $3 billion over the next four years.
    A federal court ruled in 2003 that IBM's plan discriminated against older workers, siding with Kelli Cooper, a 26-year IBM employee, and 130,000 of her coworkers. Cooper argued that IBM's switch from a traditional pension to a hybrid plan took place as she would have been accruing her most lucrative years under the old plan, costing her $400,000 in retirement savings. The case is currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. After that ruling, the U.S. Treasury Department suspended licensing of hybrid plans. More than 300 lawsuits have been filed against companies offering cash-balance plans, including one against AT&T by 30,000 employees.
    • Janet Krueger comments. Full excerpt: Now, what we need every member of this board to do is make a copy of the article he posted and send it to your representative and senators in Washington with a short note saying you sure hope he/she is NOT in the pocket of corporate lobbyists and won't participate in retroactively legalizing IBM's cash balance conversion, particularly since IBM has decided to freeze their plan anyway...
      If you want to add more to your note, the following points should also be made: 1) We want early retirement subsidies FULLY protected; 2) Companies whose pension funds are underfunded should not be required to make up the short fall by cutting promised benefits. Thanks in advance!
  • InformationWeek: Sprint Scraps Major IT Outsourcing Deal With IBM. Sprint is bringing back work and employees it gave to IBM under a $400 million outsourcing pact and redoing its multibillion-dollar call-center deal with the IT services firm. By Paul McDougall. Excerpts: Wireless and long distance service provider Sprint Nextel Corp. is quietly pulling back much of the IT work it outsourced to IBM two years ago under a $400 million deal and is also reviewing a multi-billion dollar customer service support contract it holds with the computer services giant, InformationWeek has learned. [...]
    Sprint also is rehiring a number of tech workers that were "rebadged" to IBM under a technology outsourcing deal signed in 2004, according to an IBM insider. "The Sprint workers who were sold to IBM two years ago and went through job cuts and offshoring are now going back to Sprint," says the source, who has knowledge of the discussions between Sprint and IBM. IT executives at Sprint Nextel may be looking to keep more of the company's technology work under its own roof and closer to home. IBM is moving more and more of the work it performs on behalf of outsourcing customers to low-cost countries like India and China. [...]
    As for the call-center contract, which is significantly larger than the IT services deal, the spokesman, also in an E-mail, said, "Sprint Nextel is in the final stages of amending existing agreements with IBM for support of Sprint Nextel's customer care services. Until the agreements are finalized, we have no additional details to share." An IBM spokesman would say only that IBM "looks forward to a continuing and growing relationship with Sprint Nextel."
  • The Onion: More Companies Phasing Out Retirement Option (satire). Excerpts: With pension funds dwindling as retirees enjoy longer, more capable lives, many businesses have opted to freeze their workers' employment status and keep them on the job through their sunset years. "Under the new approach, our employees gain the advantage of lifelong job security," Hewlett-Packard CEO and president Mark Hurd said. "Even though our workers will no longer be able to collect a pension, they will receive checks as long as they are able to be wheeled into work and punch the clock."
    Hewlett-Packard, Verizon, and IBM are just a few of the Fortune 500 companies that are phasing out the retirement option in favor of "indefinite-employment" plans, under which thousands of qualified workers will continue to earn yearly stipends in exchange for work. "To the list of outmoded and costly business practices such as health insurance, overtime pay, and lunch breaks, add age-based quitting," corporate management consultant Robert Hopgood said. "Post-retirement-age labor is great for companies, and it's a great way for seniors to stay active."
  • Wall Street Journal: IMB Sells Hudson Valley Plant. Excerpt: Preferred Real Estate Investments Inc. is buying the International Business Machines Corp. plant that Big Blue is vacating in East Fishkill, N.Y., in the Hudson Valley. In 2003, IBM opened a 300-mm chip plant across the street from its previous location. That left its former corporate campus -- more than one million square feet of space in three office buildings and a plant -- available for purchase. Preferred, which has an option to build an additional 600,000 square feet, will pay $20 million for the campus and plans to invest $300 million to $400 million in the project.
  • Poughkeepsie Journal: $20 million price tag makes sale one of biggest in area. By Irwin M. Goldberg. Excerpts: The sale of IBM's West Campus in East Fishkill is one of the largest commercial real estate transactions in the area, at $20 million for 160 acres. It is one of many sales of IBM property to occur since Big Blue downsized in the 1990s. The sale to Preferred Real Estate Investments means almost all the former IBM sites in Dutchess County are in the hands of private investors, said Tom Collins, a broker with Commercial Associates in Kingston, who has handled the sale of several IBM sites.
  • Christian Science Monitor: Tension over pensions: Can they be saved? By David R. Francis. Excerpts: But are today's 401(k) plans adequate to provide a decent supplemental retirement income for their beneficiaries? The question is important. Already nearly 65 percent of employers with retirement plans have a 401(k) system as their primary vehicle. But almost no plans are generous enough.
    "Most people are going to arrive at retirement and not have adequate money," says Alicia Munnell, director, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. "This is serious. None of us are good at doing our own retirement savings." [...]
    In addition to Social Security, workers should contribute 12 percent of their pay over their entire career to build an adequate 401(k) pension - one that replaces 75 percent of preretirement income, says Edward Wolff, an economist at New York University. Even the generous IBM plan falls well short of that percentage contribution.
  • Wall Street Journal: Congress Seeks to Rein In Special Executive Pensions. Proposal Would Push Firms To Ensure Workers' Plans Get Adequate Funding First. By Michael Schroeder. Excerpts: Rankled by the rich retirement payouts many troubled companies make to executives, Congress is moving to block such companies from funding the lavish packages. [...]
    "We've heard too many stories of top executives of bankrupt companies sticking workers with unfunded pensions while running off with millions of dollars of so-called nonqualified pension benefits," says Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican. [...]
    For decades, executives relied on the same pension plan as other company employees, so they had an incentive to make it generous. The shift toward a dual system started in 1994, when Congress passed a law intended to limit the cost to taxpayers of runaway executive pay. The law barred companies from taking a tax deduction on compensation in excess of $1 million a year for any current employee. The result: Companies began setting up supplemental pension plans that encouraged senior managers to defer compensation.
    Over time, the plans added generous benefits and covered a greater number of salaried employees. Now, more than 90% of the largest companies offer nonqualified deferred executive compensation plans, according to a new survey of the 1,000 largest companies by Clark Consulting, a Chicago benefits consulting firm. Most companies have expanded the programs to include all managers with annual salary and bonus exceeding $150,000, benefits experts say.
    Many members of Congress think the proliferation of supplemental executive retirement plans has contributed to the trend of companies freezing or terminating defined-benefit pension plans. They reason that if executives have their own rules for setting aside money, they have less incentive to maintain nest eggs for their employees.
  • Yahoo! message board post by Linda Guyer. Full excerpt: If a car mechanic ripped someone off for $500 they'd be screaming bloody murder. If your company rips you off - reneging on a promised benefit - to the tune of over $100 thousand - everyone puts up with it. So your question is, why?
    Reading the comments at the Alliance web site, people are indeed very angry at this change. There is no lack of anger. The problem is (1) fear of losing your job and (2) not trusting the politicians to do the right thing anyway. Let's face it why write to a jerk like Libous? He's in bed with the rich business owners and could not care less what happens to people. Same way in Washington DC. Write to Tom DeLay? Hah!
    This pension change affects the age group that would find it most difficult to leave right now and get another job. We've also seen our colleagues lose their jobs to other countries. We've also seen the "3" performers laid off and then the next round of "3's" have to be given to someone. We've seen the stories about how it can take 18 months or more to find another job, meanwhile your savings is depleted or a medical emergency can push you into bankruptcy.
    The biggest difference I would say between this pension change and the last is the economic environment. In 1999 we were at the peak of the dot com boom, any programmer with a smattering of html knowledge could get $100K by walking across the street. I remember this well as it was part of the reason I came out to publicly support the Alliance - I knew I could easily get another job. The affected age group for this change is acutely aware of their job prospects. They are cringing in fear and hoping to make it though this, albeit expecting to work at Target when kicked out by IBM, in order to make ends meet. If anyone dares say this is a great country, I'll have a few choice words for you.
  • Yahoo! message board post by Linda Guyer. Full excerpt: One more point that I forgot to add. We used to expect the best of IBM executives. Now we expect the worst. So current behavior is right in line.
  • Yahoo! message board post by "madinpok". Full excerpt: For the pre-FHA (future health account) retirees, there are two subsidy groups. The older group got $7,500/$3,500. That means $7,500 a year for pre-medicare years and $3500 per year once they are on medicare. The second group gets $7,000/$3,000.
    So, let's look at someone from this second group who retires at age 55. After 10 years, they would have received $70,000 x 10 or $70,000 in subsidies. Let's assume they live to age 85. That's 20 more years at $3,000 per year, or a total of $60,000 in additional subsidies for medical insurance during the medicare years. That's a grand total of $130,000 over their retirement lifetime.
    Contrast this to the roughly $35,000 that a FHA retiree will have in their account by age 55. If they choose to put just $7,000 a year towards medical insurance and pay the rest out of their own pocket, the money will last less than 6 years (including the interest earned during the post-55 years). By the time the money runs out, IBM would have put a total of about $48,000 into the FHA account (the $2,500 per year contributions for 10 years, plus interest for 21 years).
    Compare the $130,000 cost to IBM under the pre-FHA plan to the $48,000 cost for the FHA. In no way are they even close to being equal. Now you know why IBM changed to the FHA plan - it saves them about $82,000 per retiree.
  • In a Yahoo! message board post, "madinpok" responds to this question from another poster: I am currently employed at IBM and am 44. My question related to this topic is, How much more expensive are the retiree medical premiums as compared to the employee premiums under the IBM Medical Plan? A rough number for apples to apples plans would be very instructive. Is it 2X, 3X,??? Knowing the current state of affairs would help me in rough planning for the future. Thanks.
    "madinpok's" full answer: For 2006, retirees under the FHA plan pay about $14,000 per year for the IBM Low Deductible PPO and dental plans for coverage of the employee and spouse. This plan is similar to the IBM PPO plan for active employees, which costs about $1350 per year (including dental) for the employee's contribution. IBM says it pays about 85% of the cost of employee medical coverage, which suggests the total cost for an employee is around $9000. But as a retiree, you are in a different insurance group that reflects the higher medical expenses of the older population.
  • Yahoo! message board post by Kathi Cooper. Full excerpt: I am 55 and retired in 2005. My medical and dental is $625 a month, just for me only. I was paying $22 a month prior to retirement so that is about 28 times more than active employees. You and I are on the same medical plan, FHA, assuming you didn't just join IBM recently. If you stay with IBM for another 11 years, you too can look forward to being ripped of just like the rest of us. (sarcasm off)
  • Yahoo! message board post by Janet Krueger. Excerpts: You're close, but you're not there yet. The retiree contribution is a CEILING not a commitment. Numbers from IBM's annual report show that there goal is not to spend average of $3000 or more on each retiree, but to make a profit off each retiree. The instant they can no longer do that, they will stop providing any retirement medical at all.
    The FHA, on the surface, looks like real money, but there is no trust to support it and it can, and will, disappear at any time. Neither group will end up with anything, so they will be in the same bucket as all the people IBM laid off in the last ten years who weren't eligible. [...]
    P.S. You might be wondering how the older style of retiree medical became a profit center, even when many retirees still use more medical care than they pay for. It is because of the rebates IBM now gets from the federal government as a result of the Medicare prescription drug bill; IBM gets a refund of their program costs, even though those same costs are being charge out to the retirees!
  • Yahoo! message board post by Kathi Cooper. Full excerpt: I work at Wal-Mart for the medical insurance. It costs me $43 a month for essentially the same coverage that IBM charges me $650 a month in script from the Future Hell Account. I joined Wal-Mart with the intention of not spending down my FHA till my later years. I have since changed my strategy and will spend down my FHA first. I have no faith in IBM. As far as Wal-Mart, their second largest store plan is opening up in my neck of the woods and I'm going into their accounting department. I'll see how that seat fits for a while before I decide what I want to do next. I know first hand who works at Wal-Mart. I'd say about 90% are desperate for life basics. There are VERY few of us that have the luxury of walking away.
  • Yahoo! finance board post by "riptoff". Excerpts: A huge chunk of IBM's earnings are based on pension fund 'imaginary growth' based on a leveling process from prior boom years. They have also spent nearly $70 billion buying back company stock, without which it might well be in the $20-40 range. Lou sold everything that wasn't nailed down along with his $0.5 to $1 billion in options, (and got a very small bonus for letting his soul go with it as it wasn't really worth much when he got there).
    Sam is in position now to ride the golden cow with millions in options and $4 million per year minimum in retirement. Of course he can also start selling the tech division along with the PC slice (chips, mainframes, mid, unix) and then they can just become a giant temp agency for I.T. Kind of a Manpower for I.T. only with a giant management staff to support.
    There is, of course, the $48 Billion in the pension fund they plan on taking a major slice of somewhere down the road, probably about the time the majority of former workers are in bankruptcy and on welfare and the US has entered the second great depression. (Let them eat cake might well be Sam's future motto; hope it doesn't turn put the same for him) When IBM did the great pension robbery in July of 1999 the stock hit an all time intra-day high of around $139 shortly after. From that point on it was a long mostly stair step decline all the way down to the mid 50's. Anyone know what it was when little louie arrived? The overall equity in the company changed little during "short rib's" tenure though he was a master of stock manipulation.
    Let's see if sammie's pension thievery will have a similar effect. From an executive viewpoint it seems there's no better way to give your employees incentive than robbing them! I guess that training under the midget thief finally rubbed off on the new thief.
  • Reuters: Pension worry piles pressure on American consumers. By Alister Bull. Excerpts: Pension concerns may be the last straw for free-spending U.S. households that have been a mainstay of the economy since the 2001 recession, particularly with wages refusing to budge, costly health care and a cooling housing market. "There is no question that these are trends that are going to add to people's anxiety and the process has already started," said David Rosenberg, chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch in New York. [...]
    "Things are not looking good for retirees with the collapse of the defined benefit plans. It was the piece of the puzzle that was keeping retirees afloat," he said. "In 20 years, the only people with these plans will be government employees."
  • San Jose Mercury News, courtesy of the Austin American-Statesman: Clearing the air on CEO pay. Excerpts: Unlike with most rank-and-file employees and even many senior executives, the pay packages given to top executives are pretty complicated affairs. In addition to salary, bonuses and equity, there are complex pension plans and post-retirement packages, severance agreements and special deals for completing mergers or meeting certain targets. There are perks such as use of corporate jets for personal travel or home-security services, and plans that allow execs to defer part of their pay, only to receive a bigger — and sometimes a much, much bigger — payday later. Sorting out some of the formulas behind deferred compensation plans can require a lawyer, an accountant and an actuary.
    Some execs also get health plans, consulting contracts and offices they can enjoy long after the employment ends. After retirement, GE's Jack Welch got a New York apartment, country club memberships and a bodyguard, but shareholders didn't find out about them in financial filings. Rather, the perks came to light in Welch's messy divorce dispute. [...]
    The new SEC rules will shed more light into what makes up an executive's total pay package. Some shareholder groups believe that better disclosure will pressure boards to curb ever-rising pay packages. Here are some figures about recent surges in executive pay: In 1990 the average large U.S. company paid its CEO about 100 times what its average worker earned. In 2004, that multiple had risen to more than 400, according to United for a Fair Economy and the Institute for Policy Studies. From 2001 to 2003, top executive compensation amounted to 9.8 percent of the companies' profits — almost double the 5 percent of 1993-1995, according to a Harvard-Cornell study.
  • CFO.com: Executive Pensions: Special No Longer? ''The question of a double standard is very important and resonates with people in the middle class,'' says a member of the Senate Finance Committee. By Stephen Taub. Excerpt: "The question of a double standard is very important and resonates with people in the middle class," said Senate Finance Committee member Ron Wyden (D-Oreg.), according to the paper. Wyden criticized Glenn Tilton, chief executive officer of United Airlines parent UAL Corp., for arranging $4 million in benefits for himself while the airline's employees were taking pay cuts, the paper noted.
  • New York Times: When Your Pension Is Frozen... By Mary Williams Walsh. Excerpts: Assessing the impact on workers means making many assumptions about human, corporate and financial behavior. Still, some general patterns exist, as demonstrated by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a nonpartisan group in Washington, which ran some numbers for The New York Times. The institute plugged various assumptions into a computer that provided a model for the way benefits grow over time.
    Outcomes varied widely. But over all, the institute found that nearly anytime a traditional pension plan was frozen and replaced with a typical 401(k) plan, some group of workers would lose part of the benefits they were expecting -- and sometimes a big part. They tended to be workers in late middle age who have been with the company for a long time. Women fared somewhat worse than men, because pension plans subsidize their longer lifespans and 401(k) plans generally don't. [...]
    At a company with a relatively generous pension plan, people as young as 30 could lose benefits from a freeze, according to Jack VanDerhei, a fellow of the research institute who did the modeling. But at a company with a more modest pension plan, people as old as 42 could actually benefit if their pension is replaced by a 401(k) -- and if they use the new plan skillfully.
  • Yahoo! message board post by Kathi Cooper. Full excerpt: Some (relatively) good news... The UAW (Ford's union) has a contract with Ford and Ford will pay all union members one year of salary AFTER the plants shut down. The UAW did this to discourage Ford from outsourcing. Apparently Ford is now willing to pay the price to go overseas. At least 25% of Ford's employees are going to walk with a year of salary because the Union fought for it. IBM needs a recognized union. A lot of the suffering would be alleviated if everyone would join The Alliance.
  • American Chronicle: AFL-CIO's Sweeney: National Press Club Remarks on Slaughter of the Good American Job. Excerpts: But we’re facing a question of even greater magnitude that is being ignored by leaders of one party and avoided by leaders of the other. And that question is: “What are we going to do about the destruction of good jobs in our country -- the jobs that for the past half century helped us create the largest middle class, the most dynamic economy and the strongest democracy in the history of the world?” [...]
    A cover headline from The Economist warned: “Danger Time for America.” A headline from the Associated Press: “Tough Times Ahead for Middle Class Worker; Manufacturing Jobs Vanishing From Our Shores.” From the New York Times: “IBM Freezes Its Pension Plans.” From the Wall Street Journal: “Growth in Medical Cost Slows As Firms Shift Tab to Workers.” [...]
    The senseless slaughter of the good American job has been going on for the past 25 years. It’s at the core of a corporate-driven strategy to compete in the global marketplace by degrading work and workers, rather than competing through ingenuity -- competing through privatization, deregulation and de-unionization rather than by innovation. Since 1985, the global labor force has effectively doubled, with the entrance of 1.4 billion new workers from China, India and the former Soviet Union. And in the absence of new rules to prevent it, corporations have pitted the new workers against American workers in a merciless race to the bottom.
  • Benefits Blog: More Lessons On "What A Retirement Plan Is Not". Excerpt: A surprisingly high percentage of Americans think that the most practical way for them to accumulate several hundred thousand dollars is to win the lottery. When asked about the most practical way for them personally to accumulate several hundred thousand dollars, over half (55%) said "save something each month for many years." Yet, more than one-fifth (21%) said "win the lottery," and among the least affluent and those over 55 years of age, these percentages were much higher -- 38% and 31% respectively. When asked about very important wealth-building strategies for all Americans, 16% said "win the lottery." Those without high school degrees were much more likely to select this option than were those with college degrees -- 30% vs. 8%.
  • The Arizona Republic: Collapse is 7-12 years away; health care talks can't wait. By Bradford Kirkman-Liff. Excerpts: The employer-sponsored health insurance system in the United States is unraveling. It was created during World War II as a temporary measure to provide needed coverage to workers and their families in defense factories. The defeat of the Truman administration's proposals for national health insurance in the postwar period resulted in the rapid expansion of employer-sponsored benefits.
    The significant gaps in coverage for the elderly and the poor were partly addressed by Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, but even in the 1970s, the flaws in the employer-sponsored system were recognized. Neither the reform proposal by the Nixon administration in the early 1970s and that of the Clinton administration in the early 1990s progressed very far. [...]
    I would suggest that we should not start with arguing about national health insurance vs. free markets, managed care vs. consumer-directed health plans, non-profit care vs. corporate care. Rather, the discussion should start with values. What values can we agree upon that should direct and shape our American health system for the next 70 years?
  • New York Times: Prognosis Is Mixed for Health Savings. By Milt Freudenhein. Excerpts: President Bush has made "consumer-directed" health savings plans a cornerstone of his policy for addressing runaway medical costs, and he plans to push them again in the State of the Union address next week. But so far there is little evidence that the approach is helping many consumers come to grips with the high price of health care. [...]
    As the plans were conceived, people using their own money could be expected to spend less on health care, switching to lower-cost drugs, for example, and adopting healthier lifestyles. Employers were promised savings as they shifted responsibility to workers for thousands of dollars in costs. Uninsured employees of small companies and self-employed people would be able to set aside pretax dollars for low-cost, limited coverage. But for those who criticized the idea of health savings plans from the start, the early results simply confirm their gloomier forecasts. The critics say this approach is increasing many people's out-of-pocket expenses and warn that it will make them less likely to seek routine preventive care that might stave off bigger problems down the road.
    Pat Schoeni, executive director of the National Coalition on Health Care, a group seeking better, more affordable medical care, said, "The savings accounts are not designed to help people pay for health care; they are designed to help employers unload their health care costs."
  • New York Times: Health Savings Accounts Attract Wall St. By Eric Dash. Excerpts: When it comes to medical benefits, millions of Americans already have a health insurer. Soon, many will also have a debit card and a bank tied to their medical plan. Banks, credit unions and money management firms are now quietly positioning themselves to become central players in the business of health care, offering 401(k)-type accounts to cover future medical expenses. [...]
    Banks and others are drawn by the promise of lucrative fees they can generate by offering consumers mutual funds and other investment vehicles as their account balances grow. Most also charge $50 to $75 to set up a health savings account, and they collect perhaps $40 or more each year in maintenance charges and service fees. Not since the creation of the individual retirement account in the mid-1970's has such a potentially huge mountain of money landed in the lap of the financial services industry.
    "Billions of dollars that used to be written in the form of checks with insurance companies' names on them would instead go to credit unions, banks, and long-term investment houses," said Dan Perrin, the publisher of H.S.A. Insider and executive director of the H.S.A. Coalition, a lobbying group backed by 70 small-business and medical industry groups as well as the American Bankers Association. "You know America: you see a financial opportunity and it sets off a gold rush." [...]
    Banking lobbyists have met with White House officials at least three times over the last year to discuss the rules governing health savings vehicles. But until recently, most have been shy about their interest in such plans. Now, they have established a lobbying group, the H.S.A. Council, and are spending millions of dollars to roll the plans out.
    • "fhawontcutit" comments. Excerpt: Well, well, well. Health savings accounts attract Wall Street. Well, gee, imagine that. Another reason to go read "The Great 401(k) Hoax" as they try to shift toward defined contribution medical.
      HSA -- aka Health Segregation Accounts. They will segregate the rich from the poor, the young from the old. The younger, healthier ones will migrate towards HSA's and the people who really need insurance will be left in a pool of less healthy people. It's diabolical and inhumane.
  • New York Times: Health Care Confidential. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: American health care is desperately in need of reform. But what form should change take? Are there any useful examples we can turn to for guidance? Well, I know about a health care system that has been highly successful in containing costs, yet provides excellent care. And the story of this system's success provides a helpful corrective to anti-government ideology. For the government doesn't just pay the bills in this system — it runs the hospitals and clinics.
    No, I'm not talking about some faraway country. The system in question is our very own Veterans Health Administration, whose success story is one of the best-kept secrets in the American policy debate. [...]
    Last year customer satisfaction with the veterans' health system, as measured by an annual survey conducted by the National Quality Research Center, exceeded that for private health care for the sixth year in a row. This high level of quality (which is also verified by objective measures of performance) was achieved without big budget increases. In fact, the veterans' system has managed to avoid much of the huge cost surge that has plagued the rest of U.S. medicine.
    How does the V.H.A. do it? The secret of its success is the fact that it's a universal, integrated system. Because it covers all veterans, the system doesn't need to employ legions of administrative staff to check patients' coverage and demand payment from their insurance companies. Because it's integrated, providing all forms of medical care, it has been able to take the lead in electronic record-keeping and other innovations that reduce costs, ensure effective treatment and help prevent medical errors. [...]
    ...pundits and policy makers don't talk about the veterans' system because they can't handle the cognitive dissonance. (One prominent commentator started yelling at me when I tried to describe the system's successes in a private conversation.) For the lesson of the V.H.A.'s success story — that a government agency can deliver better care at lower cost than the private sector — runs completely counter to the pro-privatization, anti-government conventional wisdom that dominates today's Washington.
    The dissonance between the dominant ideology and the realities of health care is one reason the Medicare drug legislation looks as if someone went down a checklist of things the veterans' system does right, and in each case did the opposite. For example, the V.H.A. avoids dealing with insurance companies; the drug bill shoehorns insurance companies into the program, even though they serve no real function. The V.H.A. bargains effectively on drug prices; the drug bill forbids Medicare from doing the same.
  • The Standard (China): IBM deal hurts Lenovo profits. Excerpt: Lenovo Group, Asia's largest personal computer manufacturer, has blamed a lack of competitive products in the business it acquired from IBM last year for worse-than-expected results in the three months to December, when profit margins and market share outside the mainland fell sharply.
  • New York Times: When You Fly in First Class, It's Easy to Forget the Dots. By Ben Stein. Excerpts: This step meant that UAL could drastically cut workers' pay — and it did. Pensions were simply jettisoned and made the burden of the federal government's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, which meant cuts of close to two-thirds in some pilots' pension payments. And, of course, the bankruptcy simply eliminated all of that equity in UAL that the employees had bought with their hard-earned savings. Thus, in a series of evil events, management of UAL basically ruined the lives of the employee-owners, if that is not putting too fine a point on it, by taking away their savings, incomes and pensions. (I am indebted to my pal, Phil DeMuth, for much of this research.)
    All right, you might say. What else could management have done amid high fuel costs and a deregulated, supercompetitive market? That's "creative destruction," and it's good for the economy, some of my fellow Republicans and admirers of the free market might say. But what about the rules of law and common decency? Because, you see, there is a bit more to the story.
    Now UAL has been reorganized. It is preparing to emerge from bankruptcy. It will soon have a stock offering. This offering is expected to raise very roughly $6 billion. It is presumably worth that because UAL now has such low labor costs that it may actually make a profit of some size. (I'll believe it when I see it.)
    Here comes the good part: management has asked the bankruptcy court to let it have — free — roughly 15 percent of the stock in the new company, or about $900 million. Mr. Tilton, the chief executive, who plays the Orson Welles character in this drama, would get about $90 million personally for his hard work shepherding UAL through bankruptcy (for which he was already paid multiple millions of dollars).
  • Yahoo! message board post by "ibm_r_crooks". Excerpts: DogBreath, your example seems fairly typical. Raises have been zero. Bonus plans have been cut. Performance expectations have been raised. Medical insurance has gone up. Now more of your retirement is being stolen. It looks to be the same all over IBM.
    But if you really want to get depressed go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and see what inflation has done to your purchasing power over the same time period. You didn't say where you live, but in the Northeast you'd have needed to increase your income 16% over the same period to maintain your standard of living. You can find tables for any region of the country at that web site.
    I make a great contribution. I know that, and even my appraisals show that. Like you though the pay envelope has not reflected that in a very long time.
    • I LOVE the work I do at IBM.
    • I HATE going to work for IBM.
    I hate the thought that my labor and innovation is going to line the pockets of a bunch of crooks. I hate the thought that I am working for a heartless corporation with no soul headed by a bunch of immoral thieves. It is amazing how well I'm able to perform given my attitude about IBM. It makes me wonder what I would accomplish working with an organization that I trusted and respected and reciprocated. Is there such a thing left in the USA? If you don't work for yourself, I think not.
  • Yahoo! finance board post by "hobiecoop". Full excerpt: Productivity at Zero? They beat us to death around here. My entire team worked 80 hours this week and then we still worked ALL weekend. WHY? Cause our management team over sells/over promises to their customers and then turns around and gets the bull-whip out to use on us to try and make their promises come true. If someone around here would start talking about the REAL cost of doing business, then things would be done with better quality and possibly get done on time. As it is, the quality of our work output stinks and we are months behind the project plan deliverable dates. Go figure.
  • Chicago Tribune: Will your nest egg be enough? As pension plans fall, workers worry, Congress promises help. By William Neikirk. Excerpts: Margo Bryerton, a 56-year-old grandmother from Fayetteville, N.Y., had planned a trip to Ireland this summer to trace her family roots. That was before her employer, Verizon Communications Inc., froze her pension. That unexpected decision caused Bryerton, a 17-year Verizon employee, to reassess whether she and her retired husband would have enough money to live the comfortable life she had hoped to enjoy in retirement. Though she earns $80,000 a year, she concluded her pension would be roughly half of what she had been expecting. The trip has been canceled, she said, and other spending may have to be trimmed.
  • Washington Post: Make 'em Provide Pensions. By Albert B. Crenshaw. Excerpts: The joining of the parade by a growing number of companies that appear solid and profitable and that do not argue that the future of the firm is at stake suggests that a tipping point has been reached. This comes as Congress winds up two more years of dithering about how to "save" the private system. Perhaps it is time to change the terms of the debate -- something that will happen only if the nation's workers insist on it and do so at the ballot box.
    Until now, much of the debate over what to do about pensions has taken as a first principle that the system is voluntary. If you accept that, then it follows that doing too much tightening will simply cause companies to drop their plans. That principle needs reexamining.
  • IBM Yahoo! message board post by "Mike". Full excerpt: In the last five years IBM stock has lost around 40%. Why are the major long term stock holders not asking tough questions to our board? With our execs getting their shares at 20-30 some dollars a clip and selling at market they have no real reason to worry about anything other than tanking the company. Messing with the benefits to add a few billion here and there to the bottom line has not impressed the wall street blokes. Outsourcing has not exactly driven the market up either. Perhaps, the BOD needs to think about growing the company to make money instead of cutting the bottom off. Feel free to enlighten me on the street. I do chemistry for a living. Still working on making gold from coal. It it about as stable an idea as my retirement plan.
  • IBM Yahoo! message board post by Janet Krueger. Full excerpt: COBRA, Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, is a federal law that forces employers to offer their ex-employees health insurance for up to 18 months at no more than 2% above cost.
    It is important because if you have even a 1 day lapse in health insurance coverage, all health insurance companies forever after are allowed to deny benefits for any long term illness or health problem that might have started before the lapse in coverage. This can be extremely expensive if you end up with cancer, diabetes, a heart condition, or any other long term problem. If you had a spouse and dependents on your IBM policy, the lapse creates a similar exposure for them.
    More information is available at: http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/health-plans/cobra.htm.
    Of course, for a self-insured company like IBM, it is a bit difficult to identify what their actual cost is, so the price you get charged may feel a bit like a rip-off. But the long term cost of a coverage lapse could be MUCH higher...
    If you already have another job lined up that offers health insurance benefits, you may be able to get covered under their policy right away -- just pay attention to the dates and make sure there isn't a gap between the day their coverage starts and the day IBM's coverage ends.
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.
  • "A Historical Point" by "ancientblueconsultant". Full excerpt: Aaaah...this is much better than therapy! Over 20 years ago, an astute low-level French IBM engineer I worked with and knew (who later became a Siemens VP)well told me several "secrets" about IBM, which have become very apparent to me over the years:
    • This is a NY company. To get ahead, you must be in NY.
    • Finance is the most important department and the highest paid. Legal is second and then everyone else is overhead.
    • IBM is like a chess player, it plays all the options, many times to its detriment. As a monopoly, it can afford to do this.
    The BCS problem you mentioned is yet another manifestation of the chess player syndrome. They still keep thinking like a monopoly. Rather than listening and being humble to clients, they invest in every possible business, in hope that at least one will win. The problem is this fosters the eternal internal competition. Unfortunately, IBM has lost its monopoly forever. This chess player attitude will help bring it down.
  • "So is the problem finance?" by "wonderaboutibm". Full excerpt: Reading the posts in this thread carefully, I get the distinct impression that IBM Finance runs the corporation, so to speak. If true, no one has to go into detailed discussions to convince me of the dangers. I've seen too many corporate situations where a too-powerful finance unit runs amok with little understanding of operational problems.
  • "Personal time vs Billable time" by "mondoriffic". Full excerpt: Hi Vault board, I'm am wondering how to counter the constant demands on my personal time. It seems to be reaching the point that it is eroding my overall income, in addition to affecting the quality of my personal life. I would appreciate any suggestions on how to deal with the pressures to work excessive hours. I try to keep my time spent on corporate 'noise' to a minimum, but I'm finding that I'm starting to deeply resent the demands on my personal time. My billing has been non-stop for 5 years, and I have yet to receive any training. (You may assume poor compensation).
  • "It's all about attitude" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: You have to ask yourself, "What is the downside if I don't comply with all the requests vs the upside if I do". Once you have honestly answered that question, the rest is easy. This is not a company that deserves your being a good corporate citizen, just for the sake of being a good corporate citizen, or due to any internal value system. There is no quid pro quo, so just say no, and spend all the freed up time and energy on an exit strategy.
  • "Role models" by "igsfinance". Excerpt: Finance runs IBM. If you think otherwise, you are either delusional or in denial. Is employee morale suffering as a result? I don't know and I really don't care. IBM Finance is not measured on employee morale. IBM Finance is measured on bottom-line profitability. Our employment turnover rates are lower than for our competitors. I encourage any employees that have low morale and think they can do better elsewhere to help us improve our turnover rates. If you want to leave, please do. For every employee that leaves, we have a pipeline of at least 10 that are ready to take their place.
  • "Turnover is good" by "igsfinance". Full excerpt: Our turnover rates are lower than our competitors. Other companies manage turnover OK, and so can we. Turnover does not necessarily cause quality to sink. IBM has many operational managers who have demonstrated they can maintain quality during periods of high turnover. This is not rocket science.
  • "You are caricaturizing yourself as a finance type" by "wonderaboutibm". Excerpts: Wow. You might get some strong responses to your statements. But I do see where you are coming from, and of course it is one perspective in the running of a modern corporation. Unfortunately for you and for IBM, there are other perspectives that need to be considered. The point many of us are making is that in degrading operational and strategic perspectives, IBM is guaranteeing itself grievous problems down the road.
    I will not argue you point by point, but I can't resist commenting on your last comment about people: "People that are delusional enough to think that IBM will continue to pay more than is required for their services are in for a rude awakening."
    Well... you really need to be disabused of the implication that people expect to be overpaid. But more to the point, you need to admit that you and the rest of finance really do believe that IBMers are overpaid. Otherwise, how would you have cut back salaries for PwC entrants, cut way back on the bonuses (and rigged the formulas to boot), and given myriad employees raises well below inflation rates for the past several years? Are IBMers still overpaid -- is this the excuse that will be used when most get 0% raises this year? And if we are overpaid, who but IBM overpaid in the first place?
    Never mind all that ... how can you in your right mind not realize there are morale/performance issues in all these financial shenanigans? What is SP thinking when he exhorts the IBM masses to 'take market share' and 'get aggressive' -- the latest cant on w3, if you are reading it? Why should IBMers rise to that bait? Just do your job, collect your paycheck, clarion calls from SP will give you no payback in the end and everyone knows it. But for the next couple of years, I am sure financial doings can conceal the storm that is gathering. Go to it.
  • "Our duty" by "igsfinance". Excerpt: Our duty is to be the fiduciary keepers for the shareholders of this company, and we take that duty very seriously. There will be no long term to worry about if we don't keep our eye on short-term profitability. Are only finance people capable of understanding this?
  • "Our collective duty" by "wonderaboutibm". Full excerpt: Well, if you as IBM Finance are the fiduciary keepers for the shareholders, maybe you should be burned at the stake. After all, IBM stock is still 1/3 below its peak of 2000. The stock price lost nearly 16% last year. Rough comparisons with the stock performance of other large tech stocks indicates substandard IBM stock performance.
    Let's remember why there was a break in the stock price in April of 2005 -- rocky execution, right? Lowered bookings, right? SP himself has been complaining about the financial drags of poor execution, and believe me, we have plenty of poor execution, at least in BCS. Hence the recent hue and cry about delivery excellence." All IBM Finance focus on short-term financials really didn't help at all there.
    Our collective duty as IBM employess is to deliver maximum value to all our stakeholders, primarily our stockholders but also our customers and employees. You really don't believe that we can have a healthy long-term future without worrying about customers and employees, do you? Are only non-finance people capable of understanding this?
    And on the particular point of high turnover: recent posts are claiming up to 35% annual turnover in certain IBM units. I don't know if the rate is really that high, but there is definitely an attrition problem. Maybe not in Finance's eyes, but other IBM execs have made it clear (for example, in the w3 webcasts) that employee retention is a problem. NOW: from the IBM Finance perspective, has anybody examined the costs and setbacks to short term profitability that result from this high churn? If the churn were lower, so would all the direct hiring/firing costs, excess costs to projects, etc. Or are only non-finance people capable of understanding this?
  • "Turnover is good ... Really?" by "jb40967". Full excerpt: I just resigned from IBM where I've recently been leading a $4M project. With a project team of less than 20 IBM staff, I'm the 5th one to resign in the past six months. You do the math and figure out what the turnover is. Turnover is good. You obviously have not managed a client project recently.
  • "Good luck" by "igsfinance". Full excerpt: We can handle resignations. We can handle multiple resignations on the same project. We can handle a whole project team walking out. Good luck in your new endeavors.
  • "Agreed, but the pied piper is coming" by "ancientblueconsultant". Full excerpt: Turnover was good for finance as long as the cost of turnovers was obscured by savings in pension reductions for the poor unfortunate souls that were cut out. Good financial think, a very darwinian but effective temporary business model. The remaining were worked harder to make up for the loss of skill. HR created an industry and go to move up next to Sam, sometimes even challenging legal and finance.
    However, all good things come to an end. Now that the market is turning and the supply of old pension fat targets has been depleted, the Blue Pig is now beginning to suffer the same effects of turnover as everyone else. In other words, financially speaking the use of subs and the elimination of pension cows covered up for the costs of high turnover for a tie. The game is up now. The exhaustion of skill and the lack of pension savings can no longer cover IGS.
    The skill loss begins to show up in revenue (which it has) and next will show in the lack of talent interested in jobs like principals, etc. (look at the number of jobs ballooning beyond growth). Peoplesoft covered it, but it can be swept under the rug anymore. The time to pay the pied piper is coming.
  • "My Two Cents" by "Frank_Reality". Full excerpt: Finance has never brought a product to the marketplace. Finance has never satisfied an external customer. Finance has never grown the business. Finance will NEVER do any of the above truly important fundamentals of running a business listed above. What Finance does is prevent the rest of us from growing the business and satisfying our paying customers. IBM Finance sucks.

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.
  • From the Job Cuts Status & Comments page:
    • Comment 1/27/06: I'd like to notify you of 62 IBMers who have been given notice of Resource Action (another euphemism to lessen the sting of being told your going to be laid off) in Global General Procurement in the US. As it stands now with the Off Shoring of jobs including the move to tell the General Procurement Sourcing Councils that they need to move some of their personnel to BTO positions, there are less and less to take care of more and more requirements (read here negotiations and contracts).
      What Senior management is doing is looking at there bottom line without a thought of what the Impact in the near future would be about the loss of experienced Procurement Professionals. Currently the US moved the fulfillment portion of procurement to India. This has raised issues that the people there have no prior procurement experience and the US buyers that are left are covering for the Indians by fixing their mistakes. These people are called buyers but really are more of Purchase order placers than true Buyers. In the Old Days (five years ago) All of Procurement had to understand (fulfillment and strategic procurement) How to Negotiate, how to write a contract, how to solution payment issues and a myriad of other issues. This is now compartmentalized and both Internal Clients and External Customers need to speak with several different people to solution problems now.
      When will Senior Management realize that the savings they make by off shoring work will be harmed by the experienced professionals they will lose as people are laid off or leave IBM because they have no idea what goes on where the rubber meets the Road?
      Now the most recent rumors traveling thru the procurement grapevine is that once again Senior Management is looking at moving the strategic sourcing councils overseas which will eliminate most if not all of the few hundred people that are left to handle all the contract and negotiation issues for the twelve General Procurement Sourcing councils in the US. My Question is …… WHERE WILL THIS MADNESS END??? -Anonymous-
  • From the General Visitor's Comment page:
    • Comment 1/22/06: I see IBM has become no better than many other companies in the USA and maybe worse than most. IBM has become what I call REPUBLICANIZED where the rats (TOP BRASS)are only taking care of themselves. In many respects they are acting just like our government officials.They only think of the people padding their bank accounts. IBM needs to look back at the years when the Watson's were in charge and look at the morale and stock prices during those years. I am glad and thank the good LORD for working at IBM during those times when IBM's top brass were real people and cared about their employees and the company. Now IBM is just another bunch of greedy people shafting all who make them what they are,or have become. Look at King Loui, he took IBM to the tune of .5 BILLION dollars and was labeled as a great leader. He was nothing more than a crook and now he is replaced by another greedy, selfish individual in the great corporate USA. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 1/22/06: Was forced out in 1990, with 25 yrs. Food has tripled in cost, med expenses are out of sight. Have had ONE increase in 15 yrs. Saw one retirement figure was more than I was earning. I also trusted for better treatment. At least maintain equal standard of living. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 1/23/06: The financial murder of the middle class is just part of the overall strategy to make us all 'hungry'. Force us to work for next to nothing and take away our security; and oila! You have a super productive; creative work force that out performs the workers offshore.... or instead, maybe you spark a revolt that follows their great grandfathers into standing up for their rights. If you can't retire and you have no medical, then you would have to keep working until you die....Hmmm.. sounds like a recipe for revolution... -Anonymous-
    • Comment 1/24/06: IGS Poughkeepsie: At our department meeting we were told by management the number number of hours we were expected to work in 2006. After the meeting I ran the numbers and it turns out the only way to get it is to work 23% OT. We were also told that Sick time and personal time is counted against us...23% OT .... with no pay beyond 40 hours. Oh, and by the way you also have to make up time lost from being on vacation. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 1/24/06: IBM's website displays 2005 business unit results. Seventeen business units are displayed. Interesting that 11 of them "missed unit target", and only 6 were "on track" or "exceeded unit target". Most interestingly, corporate staff was one of the six exceeding unit target and just happened to have highest score. What a surprise!!! And performance bonuses are measured against these results!!! I wonder who conjured up these self fulfilling numbers? Maybe congress should vote themselves another raise. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 1/25/06: What is wrong at IBM? The pension freeze and now California is suing IBM for not paying OT? Does a healthy company need to cheat American employees like this? Is this occurring at IBM worldwide or just in the USA? I can't think all these IBM schemes are creating a good corporate image for IBM. If Palmisano is ok with these sort of ripoffs he needs to be replaced or clean out the IBM management sewer. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 1/26/06: I'm a mainframe person who went to school, at night, for three years, for all of this web development, and made straight A's, as well as I have a couple years of web development. I was rebadged, from Sprint to IBM, a year ago, and I was laid off by IBM two and a half months ago while working on their Sprint account. Now, all of those systems that were, including the ones I worked on, and, yet, to be offshored, by Sprint, through IBM, are to go back to Sprint - people and all! At any rate, after two and a half months of layoff, I have another job that, really, pertains more to my background, as a software developer, and raises me back up to the salary I had prior to my other layoff back in 2002 by a different company - although I will have to move, but, surprisingly, I got moving expenses! Maybe, there's "light at the end of the tunnel after all!" -Anonymous-
    • Comment 1/26/06: Isn't it interesting that IBM did not make the top 100 companies to work for as published by Fortune magazine Jan 23, 2006. Especially after a few years back and beyond, they always made the top 100. The executives continue to nickel & dime the employees to death, do multiple take aways, why should it be a surprise? Yet we are told in order to remain competitive we have to take this away!! Now Mr. Executive go try and hire good talented people on your reputation, you have put IBM's reputation in the mud! Big companies like Cisco, Microsoft continue to make the list! Dear old Mr. Watson must be turning in his grave. This surely was not where he would have wanted IBM company to be! -Anonymous-
    • Comment 1/26/06: Well here it is PBC time again and guess what? There handing out low 3's to the vast majority in IBMGS busting their asses at customer sites. When is this crap going to stop. Instead of focusing on a positive work attitude they rather would take money I use to feed my family and trump up false statements to justify the low rating. I wish Congress would form a independent panel just to look at IBM's practices. That would scare the piss out of management. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 1/26/06: Why our the executives at IBM getting raises and bonuses? For those of you in the IBM savings plan, your January statement included an Investment results table. IBM's stock and therefore management performance was either the worst or second to worst performer in each of 1, 3 and 5 years. In the last 1 year it was the lowest performer of the 23 investments listed. In 3 years, only the money market performed at a lower rate of return (and its considered a reasonably safe investment). In 5 years, IBM returned .01%, the second to worst performer. I would say that rates management performance at a PBC 4. And we all know what that means to a typical employee. -Anonymous-
    • Comments 01/28/06: I sit in a number of calls which were formerly staffed in the US or by people who spoke and could understand fluent English. Now a lot of those calls are staffed from Brazil or Argentina (MQ Series, Change Coordinators, TSM). No one knows what the heck the other person is saying half the time. If it wasn't so sad, and proof IBM does not care about quality, it would be funnier than Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First". This drain on efficiency and misunderstandings lead to poor execution. And Sam gets a bonus for leading us down the garden path? I'm selling all my stock at the next bump up, because its future, like its employees, is heading south. -Anonymous-
    • Comments 01/30/06: I just got my 2nd 3 rating and they offered the severance package. I have 25 years and short of 55 age for the 25k Health package. My performance was fine. IBM is cutting people with 20+ years and short of 55 yrs. to save/cut those costs. The retirement savings go to the bottom line. So, IBM can't make money, they can only show profits by raiding the pension fund and cutting the health care costs. Wall Street knows what's going on. That's why the stock is stuck at $ 80. Greed loses in the end. -Anonymous-
  • From the Pension Comments page:
    • Comments 01/23/06: I think that there are those that forgot that IBM told it's employees in the USA that the "pension and retirement health benefits, was part of the "total compensation package" offered. So, even if IBM wages were lacking some, we were told, the wonderful IBM pension and retirement, more than made for lower wages and long work weeks. Frankly, half the reason I joined IBM 24 years ago, was for the pension and retirement! So, in my mind IBM owes us what was promised. Why, it's the decent thing to do! You have all been cheated as if your life's work was no big deal, as far as IBM is concerned. I'm sick of hearing from IBM that these immoral ripoffs are OK, if it boosts IBM profits or that other companies do it! How will IBM cheat you next? Will doing nothing and being passive make you feel better, when you retire and you barely can make ends meet.. You can't blame IBM, you should not have trusted IBM and invested your 2% bi-yearly raises better! Maybe you need to fight back now or the worst is yet to come. Sam has a contract with IBM, why does he? Why don't you? -Anonymous-
    • Comments 01/23/06: After he retires, Gerstner will become a consultant to IBM for a period of 10 years. He will receive a consulting fee based on his daily salary rate at the time of his retirement, plus expense reimbursement. Using his $2 million salary as a base, Gerstner will earn roughly $7,692 for each day of consulting. Gerstner will also continue to enjoy such perks as access to company aircraft, cars, office and apartment. He will receive financial planning, home security services and will be reimbursed for club expenses for company business. Gerstner also stands to earn up to $382.1 million from 5.8 million shares of stock options that he held Dec. 31. -Lest we forget-
    • Comments 01/24/06: I can understand if this company needs to make some long term changes so that it can continue to be profitable. After all, this company has many employees and retirees that need to be taken care of. What is NOT fair, is changing the rules on those employees closest to age 65 that do not have a decent runway to recover. I'm sure that many of us took planning for retirement very seriously and used the financial planning services that IBM has provided (including planners and the financial engines tool). The first question always asked is, "about how much will your pension be?". This answer was the cornerstone to any retirement plan. What's the point of doing financial planning if the rules change without enough time to recover? It seems that IBM could have at least come up with a pension plan change that had a graduated impact with the least impact on those that are closest to the retirement age of 65. -Anonymous-
    • Comments 01/24/06: Palmisano will receive an annual pension of $4 million when he retires at age 65. That works out to $75,000 a week -- or more than $10,000 a day, including weekends. And for what?? What has he accomplished, other than screwing over IBM's employees and setting this poor example for other companies so that they can do the same for their employees? It certainly can't be compensation for great leadership. Take a hard look at these numbers, People. Something is wrong with this picture. It isn't just Palmisano. It's all of these top brass executives. There is NO WAY that ANY individual is worth that kind of annual salary, let alone retirement salary!! Nobody is. -Anonymous-
    • Comments 01/26/06: Unfortunately, just like it did in the job cuts and general comments sections, the number of entries in this section appear to be dying off as time wears on. As a former employee any current employees out there reading this site needs to wake up start passing the word on to others about this site and the need to unionize. I didn't and I got the door after 26 yrs of good ratings. Don't think it can't and won't happen to you! -Anonymous-
    • Comments 01/26/06: What most employees getting the screw job don't realize is that the execs aren't on the same retirement plan as we are. We get Max 38% if ya work all the way to 65, like any of us won't be forced out before that time. We also have to pay for medical and many retirees are no longer on IBM medical. Its too expensive for their spouses. Execs when they retire get full medical. Add to that the lovely option prices they get and now ya understand why the employees who make the money only make the money for the execs. Look at insider trading, IBM Exec just exercised at 31$/share and sold them for 83$ for a cool 1.3M. Oh and they only have another 40K shares...Man, I feel sorry for them having to live off a measly 1.3M -Anonymous-
    • Comments 01/27/06: Am I looking at this correctly? There are 30,000 active employees on the old plan. Let's say on average, each one stands to lose $1000 per month ($12,000 per year). For the 30,000 old plan active employees, that comes to a total of $360,000 per year. Sam's pension will cost IBM $4,000,000 a year. Seems like if Sam gave a little back, none of the rank and file employees would have to suffer. A true leader who honestly felt that the company needed to eliminate the pension plan in order to stay competitive would lead by example. -Anonymous-
    • Comments 01/30/06: For those IBMers that think that IBM will keep the $1 for $1 match for long after 1/1/2008 you are absolutely fooling yourself. IBM might even slash the match before they institute the 401k+ plan. Has IBM kept any PROMISE made to employees and retirees since the Gerstner regime? TIME TO THINK AND THINK TWICE!!! -Anonymous-

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