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Open Letter to U.S. House Leader John Boehner: The Biggest Pension Heist in History
The following ad ran Tuesday, March 28 in the Hamilton, Ohio Journal-News. A major thrust
of the text was to show that cash balance is theft. The writer drew on facts that were posted and confirmed on
Yahoo!'s ibmpension message board
To: The Honorable John Boehner, House Majority Leader
From: 40 Ordinary People Whose Pensions Will Be Cut in Half
Congratulations on your ascent to Majority Leader, and the best of luck to you. Please allow
us the honor of a friendly debate about pension reform. We are an informal group of ordinary people who chipped in
to buy this ad. We are terrified of losing 50% of our pensions, due to your amendment to the Pension Protection Act.
Mr. Boehner, you've stated that pension reform is a top priority. We are very afraid of what's
being sold as reform. You talk about tightening rules to ensure companies save enough money to honor their financial
obligations to employees. Yet, your amendment makes it unnecessary for companies to honor their financial obligations
People can lose pensions when the company goes bankrupt. But now, for the first time in history,
we can lose retirement benefits already earned, even when our company is racking up huge profits. Earned pension monies
protected by law will no longer be protected if the Boehner amendment to HR2830 is allowed to stand.
Mr. Boehner, how many of your constituents' families will be made poorer because of your terrible
law? We don't believe a pension freeze is theft. But when Congress passes a law letting corporations default on the
debt they've already incurred to us – that's just robbery with a fountain pen. If we pay you enough in campaign
contributions, could you pass a law letting us pay only 50% of our mortgage to the bank? Speaking of campaign cash,
Bloomberg reported March 20 that "UPS Uses Political Clout to Press for Cuts in Pension Benefits". The Center
for Responsive Politics reports that you took $76,700 from UPS – you are the fifth-largest recipient of UPS
campaign donations, out of 535 U.S. lawmakers.
To us, this looks like you're selling us out: On lines 18 to 23 of page 179 of your amendment,
the language cashes out our pension at 50 cents on the dollar. The remaining 50% goes right to the corporate bottom
line, fattening the bonuses of corporate managers – who just gave you $76,700. Please understand this has the
appearance of more than coincidence.
Mr. Boehner, the lobbyists' interests are well-represented, with all that money. Please take
the time to listen to some ordinary people. Don't give us that tired old argument – "We either have to
cut some earned pensions in half, or we can't pay anybody." That logic is the classic fallacy of the false dilemma – claiming
there are only two options, when in fact there is a third option: Profitable companies can pay what they owe to their
Mr. Boehner, we're frightened that your amendment will ruin us, especially when coupled with
the provision allowing diversion of pension funds to other purposes – this opens a clear path for companies
to steal our pension. We don't have $76,000 to give you. We are unable to give you a good deal on a place to live,
like the Washington apartment you rent from lobbyists. Yet we implore you - please listen to us, and withdraw your
Do not legalize pension cash-outs at 50 cents on the dollar. Do not retroactively legalize
illegal cash balance conversions.
Until we can change your mind, we must be wary of what's sold as reform – This Trojan
horse could hide the biggest pension heist in history.
Respectfully, 40 Ordinary People Whose Pensions Will Be Cut in Half
Conference Committee Update from the Pension Rights Center
Negotiations on the pension bills have stalled and sources tell us that the process of reconciling
the two bills (S. 1783 and H.R. 2830) may not be completed until late May. Yesterday's Wall Street Journal article,
Talks Stall, Raising Concern Over Firms' Cost
, describes the situation. Staff on the Hill tell us that while the
final bill is likely to be delayed, there is always the off-chance that the Conference Committee can reach agreement
sooner. This means we need to stay vigilant and continue contacting members of the Conference Committee!
We need to keep up the pressure on the conferees - both Republicans and Democrats. Some offices
have told us they haven't heard from many employees at all on cash balance issues and they wonder why! So keep up
your phone calls, e-mails, faxes and letters to make sure lawmakers don't forget your concerns. Keep in mind that
business lobbyists will use this delay to continue lobbying Congress.
We need to keep up the pressure on the conferees - both Republicans and Democrats. Some offices
have told us they haven't heard from many employees at all on cash balance issues and they wonder why! So keep up
your phone calls, e-mails, faxes and letters to make sure lawmakers don't forget your concerns. Keep in mind that
business lobbyists will use this delay to continue lobbying Congress.
Activism Across the Globe on Pensions:
You are part of a large international movement of grassroots
activism on pension issues! This past week, we've seen activism across the world as thousands of workers in the
U.K. and Greece went on strike in efforts to preserve their pensions. In France younger workers are protesting
a law that would undermine their rights and in Israel the newly formed Pensioners Party won more seats than anyone
expected. Even in Connecticut thousands of teachers are rallying for their pensions. And maybe most interesting
is that flight attendants protested cutbacks that were made to the
United Airlines pension plan by stripping down to pose for a calendar
We should follow these examples to keep the pressure on legislators here also! We need to
make sure to let Members of Congress know it's NOT OK to cut pensions!
Send a Letter to the Editor on Cash Balance Plans: One way to make your voice heard is by
sending a letter to your local paper. Letters to the editor have the best chance of being accepted when they
are written by those who live in the newspaper's coverage area. This is particularly important if you live in
an area represented by one of the conferees.
Below is a sample letter on cash balance plans you can customize. To make it easy, we've uploaded
Sample_Letter_to_the_Editor.doc to the FILES area for you to use as a start. The letter addresses the cash balance
issue. If you have other issues you'd like to include, feel free to add them in, but be mindful that newspapers usually
have strict guidelines regarding the length of submissions. Below the letter is a list of things to consider when
you write your letter.
To the Editor:
Here in [state], tens of thousands of employees have lost significant pension benefits when
their companies switched from a traditional pension plan to an inferior cash balance plan. Congress now has a chance
to either protect older employees or abandon them to a future of retirement insecurity. Workers need to know what
is at stake.
Back in the 1990s, companies like AT&T and Duke Energy converted to cash balance plans,
which reduced older employees' expected benefits by as much as 50 percent [I lost X dollars when my employer converted].
This practice has been very controversial and declared age discriminatory by at least one federal court.
As it considers pension reform legislation, Congress has an opportunity to make sure that
companies keep their promises to workers. The Senate bill, the Pension Security and Transparency Act of 2005 (S.1783),
has provisions that protect older employees. The House bill, deceptively named the Pension Protection Act of 2005
(H.R. 2830), does nothing of the kind. It will simply legalize age-discriminatory cash balance plans without protecting
middle-aged workers who gave their lives to these companies. Even worse, there is a push to legalize these plans
retroactively - which could undermine the rights of employees who have lawsuits against their companies.
As Congress works on the pension bills over the next two weeks, I hope they will protect
older employees by choosing the Senate provisions on cash balance plans.
Sincerely, [Your name]
Tips to Consider when Writing a Letter to the Editor:
- The letter we provide is just a sample. We have left a few places where you can localize and personalize the
letter to describe your own situation. Feel free to adapt the letter to your particular writing style.
fastest and easiest way to get a letter to the editor is to e-mail it.
- Contact information where letters
to the editor should be sent is usually listed on the "Letters to the Editor" page of the newspaper and
on the newspaper's web site.
- Once on the paper's site, look for a link that says "Contact us," "Send
a letter to the editor" or something like that. You can also go to the "Letters to the Editor" section
(which may also be called "Opinion," "Commentary" or "Feedback") of the web site to
see if contact information is listed there.
- Most papers have an e-mail address where letters to the editor
can be sent, but sometimes a newspaper's web site will have an on-line form to fill out instead.
- Be sure
to follow any guidelines listed for letters to the editor. This most often includes length and contact information
that must be provided in order to get a letter to the editor published.
Write to us to let us know of any successes you've had. Keep up your hard work and we'll continue
to keep you informed!
Joellen Leavelle, Communications Coordinator and Logistics Manager
Pension Rights Center
1350 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 206
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 296-3776
- Poughkeepsie Journal: Many
consider options with frozen pensions. Some retire early to take buyout. By Brian Tumulty.
Excerpts: Unlike pension plan terminations of the past, when companies such as Bethlehem Steel and United Airlines
were in bankruptcy and struggling for survival, many of the recent freezes are occurring at profitable companies
looking to save money and be more competitive. "Every corporate office in America has it on the table," said
Lynn Dudley, vice president for retirement policy at the American Benefits Council. "They have to. One reason
is globalization. Europe has gone to this." Dudley, whose trade group represents large employers with pension
plans, thinks Congress could slow the trend with legislation giving employers incentives to keep their plans. But
the major pension legislation likely to emerge from Congress this spring doesn't include those incentives. Instead,
the major goal of the legislation that could be signed into law by Memorial Day is to shore up the finances of
the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. that insures private pension plans.
- New York Times: Pension Reform Politics.
Excerpts: The pension reform bill now being worked on by a House-Senate conference is teetering on the verge of
being worse than worthless. The nation cannot afford to miss this opportunity to protect workers who count on company
retirement plans to see them through their old age. There is still time to rescue this critical legislation — if
key lawmakers give up political horse-trading and put public good above corporate interests.
This is not just a matter of better or worse ways to improve the shaky status quo. As
Mary Williams Walsh recently reported in The Times, a study from the federal pension insurance agency shows that
the current House and Senate bills would actually weaken the pension system by sharply reducing corporate pension
contributions over the next few years. Corporations — and lawmakers in their thrall — routinely dismiss
the agency's calculations as flawed. But an analysis of the bills released by Congress's own Joint Committee
on Taxation also shows lower contributions through 2010. [...]
In the year that it has taken to get this far on reform, more pension plans have defaulted
or have become in danger of default. Healthy companies are increasingly freezing pensions for current employees
and closing them to new hires. The point of reform should be to avoid accelerating the decline by ensuring that companies
with pension obligations keep their promises, in that way protecting employees and taxpayers. Real pension reform
would deliver 100 percent pension funding and the use of uniform market-sensitive calculations. Instead of focusing
on those goals, the House and Senate have been stuffing the legislation with opportunistic attempts to please
corporate campaign contributors. But in this case, less is definitely more.
- "fhawontcutit" comments. Full excerpt: How "interesting" that there is
no mention of cash balance legalization. Both the House and Senate bills legalize cash balance prospectively,
although the Senate bill contains some protections for older workers. See how this works? We have to shore
up the PBGC by allowing cash balance conversions, stripping out early retirement subsidies, improving the funding
status for plans. I really think that is the "plan".
- Yahoo! message board
post by "ibmmike2006". Excerpts: I know a few who worked for Sperry then
Unisys. They were a good company. It is amazing how our "Corporate Congress" can allow pension freezes
to be legal. The Corporations were "incentivized" to establish pensions as far back as the 40's and now
that "babyboomers" are getting ready to collect, suddenly all those tax breaks are not significant.
I think the leadership should pass a bill that says, yes, Mr CEO, you and your board can "freeze" and
renege on your long term defined benefit pension commitment to your older employees. The IRS will be contacting your
Corporate Treasurer to set up a "pay back schedule" of the tax breaks you have received for the last 6 decades
from the defined benefit pensions of your older employees. The "tax deferred tax breaks" will be deposited
in a fund to help those older workers who have lost their ability to make up the time to save for retirement with
the conventional defined contribution plans.
Hey, I can dream can't I? But maybe, just maybe, there is someone in
Congress that are not "Corporate Congressmen" who might be willing
to recover all those deferred Corporate tax breaks.
- Yahoo! message
board post by "bits_bytes_and_bugs". Excerpts: It used to be that if you performed
at a band level, you would get promoted to that level based on merit. If you did the job at that level, you got
the promotion. It is not that way now and hasn't been for a long time. There are now tight, restrictive quotas
meaning that even if you perform at a higher band level, even for years, you may not get promoted. When managers
can only promote 8% or so of their employees, deserving people are denied promotions and the rewards that accompany
We used to have variable pay objectives that in a good year, we could meet and even achieve.
That's been gone for the better part of a decade, having been replaced by objectives that aren't even remotely achievable.
For a while there were stock options given to selected regular employees. Of course those
had strike prices in the 120-130s, so they were and still are worthless except for the execs who got special options
the rest didn't get.
Money for raises has also been severely restricted, some organizations more than others. The
majority of people in my organization do not get raises every year - some good performers have not had raises for
several consecutive years.
These examples were intended to motivate without actually having to pay something out to you.
The picture that comes to my mind is the Our Gang movies with the donkey cart where the donkey can't ever quite reach
the carrot dangling in front. This is the IBM way - manipulate the employee through propaganda, but provide as little
tangible payout as they can get away with.
finance board post by "idoubtitagain". Full excerpt: Looks like someone at least, is getting
some sort of return on IBM stock. Stock options are a form of how to get rich on other people's money, without
trying. Hell, I wish that other people would give me their money and would reward me in the multimillion dollar
range for missing a internal divisional target. Maybe on one side of their mouth they indicated that they set the
bar higher and "we" missed the target, sorry variable pay ratios are lower, and on the other side they
indicated they actually met the target and "I" deserve a godzillion shareholder dollars worth of stock
options grants. Interesting paradox isn't it?
- Los Angeles Times: Corporate
Cuts Hurt Only the Employees. Full excerpt: Reports about IBM, Northwest
Airlines and Delta Air Lines and the American auto industry declaring the sky is falling while demanding concessions
in salary, healthcare benefits and pensions from their employees are a powerful indication by any measure of a
dangerous paradigm shift for America's economic engine and the state of the middle class.
The Dow Jones industrial average just reached a 4 1/2 -year high because, according to government
analysts, the business community was able to keep a lid on wages, which translates into lower inflation figures, which
is apparently good news for a giddy Wall Street. Not so for beleaguered Main Street, that barometer for working Americans.
The corporate spin tells us that those concessions will keep everyone's boat afloat. It certainly
works for those executive negotiators who pocket piles of bonus bucks on the deal. But the employees will likely forgo
any retirement plans and learn to adjust to the rising costs of housing, food and healthcare on far less income.
Wall Street has transmogrified from the retirement nest-egg vehicle of the middle class to
the driver of extreme wealth for a craven group of investors and executives with golden parachutes at the expense
of everyone below.
- Columbus, SC Ledger-Enquirer: Pension
security fading in S.C. Number of state’s residents
covered by plans dwindling. By Noelle Phillips. Excerpts: More than 30 S.C.-based companies have frozen their pensions.
At least 16 pension plans have failed in the state. The national spotlight has been on General Motors, Verizon,
IBM and airlines that are phasing out or turning their pensions over to the federal government. But those giant
companies only are going down a path many S.C. companies took years ago. In South Carolina, 471,000 workers are
covered by private pensions. But that number is dwindling, largely because of the textile industry’s financial
woes. Last week, for instance, hundreds of former West Point Stevens workers gathered at Clemson University to
learn how the federal government was taking over their failed pension.
- Wall Street Journal: Lucent
Retirees Seek to Protect Pensions in Alcatel Merger Talks. By Sara Silver.
Excerpts: Retirees of Lucent Technologies Inc. are threatening to ask the U.S. government to block its potential
merger with Alcatel SA of France unless the combined entity agrees to protect their pensions and benefits. The
Lucent Retiree Organization is demanding that any merged entity guarantee that their pensions and benefits "will
be carried forward and their pension plans will always be fully funded." It is also threatening to ask government
regulators not to approve any merger unless the pension plan has fiduciaries independent of both companies.
At the heart of the dispute is the company's $34 billion pension plan, which covers 20,000
U.S. employees and 120,000 U.S. retirees. With $2.7 billion more in assets than liabilities, the pension plan is an
important resource to Lucent because the assets contribute accounting income that boosts quarterly profits, and because
part of its assets legally can be used to pay for retiree medical benefits.
"No one should want a foreign company to own a $34 billion pension fund -- worth more
than twice Lucent's market value -- unless safeguards are in place to protect the pension and benefits of 235,000
retirees and their dependents," said Ken Raschke, president of the retiree group. The current value of Lucent's
stock is $13.8 billion.
- Benefits Canada: Over
1 million workers strike in Britain over pensions. By Chandra Price. Excerpts:
More than one million public service workers have gone on strike today across Britain in an effort to protect their
pensions. It is said to be the biggest strike in over 80 years, bringing transit to a halt and forcing hundreds of
schools and public buildings to close. Unions are protesting government plans to get rid of a rule allowing council
employees to retire at age 60 with full pension rights if their age and years of service adds up to 85 years. Now
they are told they cannot take their full pensions until age 65, or they'd have to take a worse pension. The largest
union involved, Unison, said in a published report that the government stance on the pensions of council workers
- New York Times: Retraining
Laid-Off Workers, but for What? By Louis Uchitelle. Excerpts: Layoffs have disrupted
the lives of millions of Americans over the last 25 years. The cure that these displaced workers are offered — retraining
and more education — is heralded as a sure path to new and better-paying careers. But often that policy prescription
does not work, as this book excerpt explains. It is adapted from "The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their
Consequences" by Louis Uchitelle, an economics writer for The New York Times. Knopf will publish the book on
The presumption — promoted by economists, educators, business executives and nearly
all of the nation's political leaders, Democrats and Republicans alike — holds that in America's vibrant and
flexible economy there is work, at good pay, for the educated and skilled. The unemployed need only to get themselves
educated and skilled and the work will materialize. Education and training create the jobs, according to this way
of thinking. Or, put another way, an appropriate job at decent pay materializes for every trained or educated worker.
- Washington Post: Most
See Visa Program as Severely Flawed. By S. Mitra Kalita. Excerpts: Somewhere
in the debate over immigration and the future of illegal workers, another, less-publicized fight is being waged
over those who toil in air-conditioned offices, earn up to six-figure salaries and spend their days programming
and punching code. They are foreign workers who arrive on H-1B visas, mostly young men from India and China tapped
for skilled jobs such as software engineers and systems analysts. Unlike seasonal guest workers who stay for about
10 months, H-1B workers stay as long as six years. By then, they must obtain a green card or go back home.
Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony for and against expanding the H-1B
program. This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation that would increase the H-1B cap to 115,000
from 65,000 and allow some foreign students to bypass the program altogether and immediately get sponsored for
green cards, which allow immigrants to be permanent residents, free to live and work in the United States. [...]
At the House committee hearing yesterday, Stuart Anderson, executive director of the National
Foundation for American Policy, a nonprofit research group, spoke in favor of raising the cap. Still, he said
in an interview, the H-1B visa is far from ideal. "What you want to have is a system where people can get hired
directly on green cards in 30 to 60 days," he said. [...]
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers-USA says H-1B salaries are lower. "Those
who are here on H-1B visas are being worked as indentured servants. They are being paid $13,000 less in the engineering
and science worlds," said Ralph W. Wyndrum Jr., president of the advocacy group for technical professionals,
which favors green-card-based immigration, but only for exceptional candidates.
Wyndrum said the current system allows foreign skilled workers to "take jobs away from
equally good American engineers and scientists." He based his statements about salary disparities on a December
report by John Miano, a software engineer, who favors tighter immigration controls. Miano spoke at the House hearing
and cited figures from the Occupational Employment Statistics program that show U.S. computer programmers earn an
average $65,000 a year, compared with $52,000 for H-1B programmers.
- WashTech: Q & A
with Marcus Courtney on H1-B visas. By Jeff Nachtigal. Excerpts: WashTech
News: What was it like to be talking about the H1-B visa issue at the same time as Bill Gates?
Courtney: I think that Bill Gates spends a lot more time working this issue and others than people
realize. What was interesting was how visible he was lobbying on this issue: the full-court press with interviews,
meetings, talking with David Broder of the Washington Post, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s staff (D-CA). Everyone
was talking about Bill Gates’ visit,
and he had a single-minded focus on this issue. The timing for us was incredible, to be there to give a counterweight
to what Gates is saying. We were there saying, ‘This is our position on the issue, and he’s off the
mark, the shortage is not backed up by what’s really happening in the labor market.’ And people really
Courtney: This was the first time in a number of years that representatives and staff were
engaged with us and followed up on our concerns. I see this as a real opportunity in the election year, as politicians
know that Bill Gates is only one vote. If their constituents email and communicate with Congress right now, we can
defeat corporate attempts to have unlimited access to workers everywhere. The actual balance of power right now is
with the workers and not the employers because it’s an election year. This is why the industry is trying to
do a full-court press now. They read polls, they know American workers are concerned about job security, and people
fundamentally know H1-B undermines workers. Not only U.S. workers, but also guest workers, because there are only
so many high-tech jobs that are being created.
- Los Angeles Times: Chief's
Pay Rises as Gap Struggles. Paul Pressler is awarded stock options valued
at $15.2 million despite missing key targets. By Leslie Earnest. Excerpt: Gap Inc. Chief Executive Paul Pressler
last year failed key performance measures set by the apparel chain's board. So how did directors respond? By awarding
him stock options worth $15.2 million — nearly triple the amount he got the year before — and maintaining
his $1.5-million annual salary.
- Los Angeles Times: Masters
of discrimination. Excerpts: The Georgia dogwoods are dripping with dew.
The azaleas are exploding with color. The staff is trimming impeccable greens and fairways and making pimento cheese
sandwiches. The Masters is coming. All of which begs the question: Does IBM Corp. really consider it OK to discriminate
against women but not against blacks? We called the company, which advertises its ability to help customers answer
any inquiry, but a spokesman politely declined to answer.
The question arises from the company's sponsorship of the 70th Masters golf tournament at
the Augusta National Golf Club, which starts April 6. In 1990, IBM — lauded as a diversity leader for more than
50 years — famously pulled its advertising from the PGA Championship at Shoal Creek, a private club in Alabama
that did not admit blacks, on the grounds that "supporting even indirectly activities which are exclusionary
is against IBM's practices and policies." [...]
A private club can admit or exclude whomever it wants. But what IBM, AT&T and Exxon Mobil
(not to mention CBS, which has broadcast the Masters for more than 50 years) are doing — essentially forcing
their employees and shareholders to support discrimination — is another matter. All three claim to have robust
policies encouraging full participation of women and minorities in business activities. They should all amend these
policies if they continue sponsoring the Masters. And IBM's management needs to explain to its employees and shareholders
why the company doesn't consider gender discrimination as big a deal as racial discrimination.
|News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health
- Washington Times: Health-care reform:
Be patient. By Alex Gerber. Excerpts: Our health-care system is in deep
trouble and, according to some pundits, threatened with a "meltdown." Soaring costs now account for
16 percent of the U.S. annual gross domestic product (GDP) and are slated to climb to 20 percent by 2015.
This is deemed "unsustainable" without severely effecting our national economy. Equally serious are the
millions of Americans with limited access to our health-care system due to lack of medical insurance.
Unique among Western industrialized societies, we do not provide coverage for all our citizens
through either private or public insurance. This national disgrace has aroused relatively little concern
from an administration that has seen the world's only "superpower" increase its medically uninsured from
41 million to 46 million (rising 100,000 monthly) since Mr. Bush took office. [...]
Nor has any health-care proposal been advanced by the administration that calls for ending
our anachronistic employer-based, multipayer private health insurance system, a holdover from World War II. At
that time, employers picked up the entire health insurance tab to lure workers whose wages were frozen by the War
Labor Board. Thus, some 25 percent of current total health care costs are eaten up by the insurance industry's
overhead expenses -- marketing, advertising, competition, stockholder dividends and huge executive salaries --
none of which cure a single patient.
The answer to our health care dilemmas is single-payer, government-sponsored universal
health insurance (UHI) -- Medicare, with an overhead of less than 5 percent, for all age groups. Evolved and improved
over the last 25 years, Canada has such a UHI system that provides one standard of care for rich and poor alike,
with no additional costs (copayments or deductibles) so economic considerations are not paramount at the time of
accident or disease.
A recent ABC News poll indicated that, 2-1, Americans would prefer government-sponsored
UHI over our current employer-based health insurance. Moreover, in a Harris Interactive poll among Western democracies
of patient satisfaction with their health-care systems, Canada ranked first and the U.S. last.
Because of its advanced technology, Canada spends one-tenth as much as U.S. insurance providers
spend for overhead. Indeed, more people are needed to administer Blue Cross Blue Shield in Massachusetts than to
administer the entire health-care system of Canada.
Of further significance, Canada's health-care system functions at almost one-half the cost
of ours yet boasts lower infant and maternal mortality and longer life expectancy than the U.S.
There is not the slightest chance the Bush administration will consider changing to the
Canadian health-care system. Our president is more oriented toward the corporate than the public good. This was
well shown when he rammed a prescription drug benefit bill through Congress that disallowed any drug-price negotiation
(Canada has negotiated these prices for 16 years).
|Vault Message Board Posts
- "Travel Arrangements" by "eteeple". Full excerpt: When traveling with IBM, are you put in Business class? Do
you stay at nice hotels? Do you get your own room or share, I´m guessing IBM makes all the arrangements. Is
there a certain level or band where consultants fly on a private jet. Thanks!
allow me" by "pork". Full excerpt: Although Dose and Ey_ore would be much more sarcastic
and provide insightful analogies I will give it to you straight.
- There is no corporate jet.
- No one flies business
class unless you use your own miles or (have) status to upgrade.
- You will never fly the most convenient route,
you will always fly the cheapest, regardless of the number of stop-overs.
- You are forced to use the
IBM travel system so it is almost impossible to circumvent the "rules"
- Even if you find a cheaper flight than
the travel system you will be forced to use a preferred carrier regardless of price. In summary traveling
for IBM is a nightmare on the best day.
on guys.....geezzzz....tell him the truth." by "deep_eye". Full excerpt:
- You actually travel first class but only if your utilization levels are above 98.5% for the 12 months immediately
preceding your flight or the project start date
- If you would rather not travel at all, just alert your
pm or the partner on the project, they will be extremely helpful in rescheduling the project launch to
better suit your personal requirements.
- The day of the flight, you will be gently awakened by a Sir
John Gilgud look alike, who will serve you kippered snacks, blueberry marmalade, muffins, tea and fresh
squeezed orange juice in your own bed. He will also personally drive you to the flight, argue with the
boarding staff, load your luggage in the overhead bin and pour you a single malt scotch.
- You will only
be permitted to stay at Michelin four star rated hotels and per IBM policy, can only have access to the
presidential suites and above. You will, however, be limited to a $750/day meal and alcohol allowance.
As you can imagine, in such higher end hotels, it is quite easy to exceed this limit - exercise caution!!
- You will not have access to the fleet of IBM personal jets until you have sold your first 10M project
- this should probably happen in your 2nd or 3rd month of employment.
is relative..." by "ey_ore". Excerpts: Dear Samsanjheeb: You can expect to travel
and stay First Class, relatively speaking. For instance, no more open air bus sitting next to the guy with a box
full of live chickens. Instead you will get your very own center aisle seat where you will be nestled snuggly between
a very overweight faucet salesman from Peoria and tattooed teenager with a pierced nose and an iPod stuck in his
ears. Here's the really cool thing, you will get to change planes! Fresh new seats and companions at least two times
even if you're only flying from NY to Detroit. In this way, you get to see more of America.
As for hotel accommodations--strictly 5 star all the way, relatively speaking. No more
dirt floors and dung stoves. You will get a lovely room with green shag carpet and green/orange matching
bed spreads on the TWO, not one, twin beds. And the freshly vacuumed smell of Carpet Fresh. And get this, there
will be only four of you per room. Forget this nonsense about having eight to a room like home. Amazing, don't
The only disappointing thing may be regarding the private jet. This is reserved for the
elite who sell outsourcing so they can conveniently travel back to your homeland. Being from there, you'll
probably have to take the tramp steamer. Sorry, we're working on a better alternative. But then, you're not interested
in going back there any time soon.
Hope this helps. Good luck and may your curry always smell like your brother. Welcome to
the big time, Punjab.
for the consultant" by "reality_works". Full excerpt: IBM's travel policy is consistent
with industry standards. That being said, it's bad... really bad... Like all company travel policies, the
point is to learn the system and then work the system. Stop overs v. using preferred carrier... I've heard people
whine about it, but never encountered it myself. Even in my old company we had the same policy and never encountered
the problem of having to take connecting flights to save a buck.
Hotels... IBM wants you to stay in their preferred hotels. In addition, they have this "negotiated" rate
for most cities which is really low and limits you to one hotel option for that city. However, if you are working
on a client engagement and for some reason the project doesn't want you staying at the IBM preferred hotel, you
can stay elsewhere. You just have to explain when filling out expenses.
The key thing is that as a consultant all of your expenses are billed to the client, so
as long as the client doesn't have a problem, IBM shouldn't have a problem. Some project managers are hawks about
expenses, but I've never had a problem.
to fahntassy eyeland" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: Tattoo: Da Plane! Da Plane!
I can hear the belly laughs all over Armonk as surfers read the predecessor post from really_weak.
The system here is set up for one reason and one reason only. That is to steer staff to
carriers and other vendors that we have negotiated kickbacks from. It doesn't matter how much the fare costs, or
how inconvenient the itinerary. In fact, the options that come up in the system are inevitably the combinations
that the airlines have the most trouble filling and consequently dump on us to fill seats and rooms. Yet they still
charge us the “negotiated” rate regardless of the underlying supply and demand.
IBM doesn’t care if we pay another 20 or 30%, since it is passed on to the client.
There is no lost productivity to the company, since you travel on your own time and are expected to make up the
lost time due to stopovers and indirect flights. All we care about is collecting and pocketing the “rebates” from
the carriers who not only get inflated prices, but are filling seats and rooms that they would have trouble filling
otherwise. The rebates are in effect a profit center for IBM that clients and staff ultimately pay for with no benefit
Go to Expedia or Orbitz, and I guarantee that 90% of the time you could find options that
are significantly cheaper, more convenient, and with higher quality lodging than you get from the travel center.
What does that tell you about the reasons behind our business practices?!
Getting around the system is about as easy as running a decathlon, and takes about the same
amount of time. Sometimes if clients have a mandated vendor, it can be done. However, that is not what drives the
need in most cases – it is cost and convenience, and those are NOT grounds for out of policy choices! PM’s
are not the problem – travel administration is.
on, as always" by "IGS_Consultant". Full excerpt: Dose, You're right on as usual. I live
close to Denver, which is dominated by United Airlines. IBM does not like United...in fact, I don't know
if it's still there but at one time there were words on the W3 travel site that employees should avoid using United
airlines...the only airline that was selected for this unique distinction.
A few years ago I was traveling regularly to Kansas City, which is less than 500 miles
away and just over an hour's flight. United had several flights a day to MCI, and they were very cheap (around
So, what did OTR offer? How about American Airlines through Dallas? Or, an America West
flight through Las Vegas? That one was actually a red-eye...six hours total time instead of just over an hour.
The United flights didn't appear in OTR, even as an exception. And, the United flights
(visible on united.com, Travelocity, and Orbitz) were half the price of the connecting flights. I'm not making
this up. I've encountered similar situations in traveling to other cities, and have talked to colleagues that have
experienced it with other airlines on other routes.
- "OTR" by "huffty". Full excerpt: I live in a city well served by American Airlines. OTR now attempts
to put me on the discount airlines, or United. AA does not even show up anymore! I can't believe IBM's travel
policy is as screwed up as it is.
the hard way" by "David Banner". Full excerpt: Amen, same experience here...it's been
a few years since I last travelled for business, and I discovered that the online tool has changed - not
for the better. I found that when booking online, what should be a 2.5 hour direct flight was instead transformed
into 6+ hour with a connecting flight that was a complete detour, nowhere along the flight path, from a 3rd
rate carrier. After an hour of fruitless attempts to modify the date/time in order to get a direct flight,
I researched flights on the major carrier sites, and found all sorts of flight times at reasonable rates,
that were not even listed in the tool. Next time, I plan to research flight possibilities on the Internet
first, then call into the AmEx travel line to reserve. Screw the online tool - my time is worth something
true" by "wonderaboutibm". Full excerpt: I do hope the message is getting out on the BCS
utilization nonsense. Once the utilization cant was embittering, then it was amusing, now it is numbing.
I once was annoyed by the monthly and quarterly begging from the management to pump up utilization numbers
-- you know, all those Lotus notes flying about. Now I don't even bother to consider the message, except
to examine the latest literary style or feel perhaps a little pity for the poor suckers who have to beg. But with
our pool of saps, maybe all this begging still has some effect. There were some rumors earlier in the year
that utilization targets would be changed, but guess what? Nothing has changed, nothing will change as our dumbing
classic story pt 2" by "Dose of reality". Let’s bring this back to
your question. There is a very good reason for the mass departures. BCS represents itself as a top tier management
consulting organization with interesting work, a generous salary and bonus trajectory, and an employee-friendly
culture. Once inside, you will discover that we are a commodity IT service body shop, with stagnant salary, “sorry
we didn’t meet our targets so here are a few crumbs in lieu of a bonus”, a culture of ridiculously
high utilization, a mentality of “take this project or else”, and an administrative nightmare, all
backed up by cost-cutting and business-ignorant HR and finance functions.
That’s why we have so much churn. It is always higher this time of year, since we
just completed another pay cycle and most of the staff are upset about the results. I hope that helps give you some
perspective. Look at IBM as a place to come if you have no other options and are in desperate need of a paycheck.
on the Alliance@IBM Site:
- Alliance@IBM: Attention IBM employees:
IBM is blocking e-mail to and from the Alliance@IBM e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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Cuts Status & Comments page
- From the General
Visitor's Comment page:
- Comment 3/30/06: I'd like to share my experience as a recently terminated IBM professional. A 2+ performer
throughout my time there, having trained my India replacements and going through the charade of trying
to find another position in that company, it was clear to me in the end that I was dealing with an
evil so profound and calculating I am convinced that their demise is inevitable. Their shortsightedness
has been well documented. Their desperation in trying to save this dying dog of a company is vintage "keystone
BTO and BCS are the final attempts at resuscitation and all indications are that the dog is not responding.
Why? Because they can't get enough experienced, qualified IBM professionals to sign up for these jobs,
that are not only temporary in nature, but will destroy your family in the process. (Goodbye work/life
balance). Apparently, more and more people (myself included) are saying "Why prolong the agony. Why would
I put myself and my family through that hell just to end up in the same position I am now? Unemployed" BTO
positions, as stated to me, are 6 month to 2 year "assignments" after which you are either placed in
another BTO job (could be anywhere in the U.S.) or you would have 30 days to find another job. (Already have
been there. Good luck in making that happen.)
As for IBM's stated "values"; This transparent attempt at getting IBMers and
customers to believe that this company has any connection to the once great IBM company is not only laughable,
it is pathetic. The signs are everywhere that point to the end for this dog. From an evil, immoral and incredibly
greedy leadership team to a, rightfully so, unmotivated, disloyal and fed up workforce. God has been good to
me and my family. Getting me out of that hell hole is just the latest example of that. Best of luck to all of
you that are still there. -Anonymous-