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    Highlights—November 11, 2006

  • PBS Frontline: Can you afford to retire? Baby boomers are heading for a shock as they hit retirement: vanishing pensions and inadequate 401(k) savings. What can be done.
  • Yahoo! IBM retiree message board post: IBM Medical. By Kathi Cooper. Full excerpt: It's amazing how many explanations and justifications are being posted on this board as to why IBM's premiums are so high. Get over it! the sooner you accept the fact that IBM is milking you for your money, the sooner you will take appropriate action.
    IBM can charge whatever they want to any person. IBM can terminate anything they have promised you, even the plan itself, at anytime.
    IBM's rates are high because they want them that high. They are self insured and they set the rates. There is no justification for what they do except to make the company execs richer.
    Write your local paper and tell them what IBM is doing to you. Make a copy of what you sent them and mail it to your local politicians. In fact, tomorrow is midterm elections. Vote everyone out that does not protect your pension or medical.
  • In a Yahoo! IBM retiree message board post, Kathi Cooper replies to this comment from an IBM retiree: I was assuming that when my wife was my survivor the premiums would drop since only one person would be covered. Full Excerpt: Nope. About 2 years ago, IBM announced it was going to treat dependants as normal people. They no longer get the same break as employees. They are priced outside of the employee price now. That's one of the pitfalls of retiring. You don't get all the announcements and buzz from around the office, because you are gone.
  • Times Herald-Record (New York"s Hudson Valley and the Catskills): Shredding of the social compact is reason to vote your feelings. Excerpts: People are angry that the social compact is being shredded. The standards that have governed public and private life and work for decades are disappearing. Ordinary workers commute ever-longer distances, over roads that deteriorate by the week, to jobs that have less and less security. Their raises — if they get one — are smaller and their hours are longer.
    Yet in public life, the lawmakers and the bureaucrats can't even uphold the law. New York's comptroller, a Democrat, could well lose because he used a state employee to chauffeur his wife around. And in private life, the executives make a pretty good living, but the pension plans for the working stiffs are frozen or disappearing.
    Witness the parent company of Provident Bank, for instance, which froze its pension plan as of Sept. 30. The move will save $800,000 in benefit costs
    And Provident is hardly alone. I corresponded a while back with an IBM employee. You know what they call it at Big Blue when the bathrooms have toilet paper? Benefits!
  • Associated Press, courtesy of the Houston Chronicle: IBM Develops Program for Call Centers. Rajesh Mahapatra. Excerpts: NEW DELHI — Even as Indian call centers have thrived in the past decade, helping U.S. companies cut costs and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs here, they have faced a seemingly insurmountable problem: Most Indian employees speak heavily accented English.
    Now IBM Corp.'s India Research Lab says it has a way to help operators fix the harsh consonants, local idioms and occasionally different grammar of Indian English, often a source of frustration of those who call in search of tech support and other information.
    IBM, which operates large call center facilities here, has developed a Web-based training technology that can help improve language skills of operators. [...]
    Scores of Western firms routinely transfer back-office work to India, where wages are low and skilled workers are plentiful. When the outsourcing boom got underway in the late 1990s, companies tried to ease Western fears of jobs moving offshore by training workers to use American and British accents. Many of them often used fake western names. However, with resentment in the West waning, most companies are now discouraging their employees from faking accents or names. Instead, they are being asked to speak clearly and avoid accents.
  • Computerworld: HP in Flap Over Offshore Support. OpenVMS users unhappy about quality of overseas help. By Patrick Thibodeau. Excerpts: Hewlett-Packard Co. began shifting some of its OpenVMS technical support offshore two months ago, a move that’s drawing complaints from users and consultants who say the overseas workers don’t know enough about the 29-year-old operating system.
    The complaints began bubbling up on Internet newsgroups at about the same time that HP started using the offshore help. Based on comments from about a dozen OpenVMS users and consultants reached by Computerworld last week, the concerns are mostly focused on Level 1 support — employees’ initial contact with customers to determine what their problems are and try to resolve them on a triage basis.
    David Dachtera, a VMS systems administrator at a U.S. company that he asked not be identified, said that previously, he would be connected to workers at HP call centers in Colorado Springs or Atlanta when he called for support. But that hasn’t been the case on any of the four or five support calls Dachtera has made since the summer.
    “Now you get someone who has trouble with the language, has trouble with the culture and doesn’t really know the product lines,” he said.
  • Associated Press, courtesy of Yahoo! News: World welcomes shift in U.S. politics. By Paul Haven. Excerpts: There was also some concern that Democrats, who have a reputation for being more protective of U.S. jobs going overseas, will make it harder to achieve a global free trade accord. And in China, some feared the resurgence of the Democrats would increase tension over human rights and trade and labor issues. China's surging economy has a massive trade surplus with the United States.
    "The Democratic Party ... will protect the interests of small and medium American enterprises and labor and that could produce an impact on China-U.S. trade relations," Zhang Guoqing of the state-run Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said in a report on Sina.com, one of China's most popular Internet portals.
  • New York Times: Once Safe, Public Pensions Are Now Facing Cuts. By Mary Williams Walsh. Excerpts: Years of supporting court interpretations have enshrined the view that once a public employee has earned a pension, no one can take it away. Even during New York City’s fiscal crisis 30 years ago, no existing pension promises were reduced.
    But now a number of state and local governments are quietly challenging those guarantees. Financially troubled San Diego is the highest-profile example, but a handful of states, cities and smaller government bodies have also found ways to scale back existing promises and even shrink some current payments.
  • AARP: Hot Jobs 2006. Excerpt: It's the sixth year AARP has set out to honor great employers that welcome workers over 50, and we've made some happy discoveries: eight of our Top 10 companies are comeback kids from 2005, and six shot up the chart from their positions last year. Just look at Volkswagen, which jumped impressively from 39 to 6. How did these companies do it? By listening to their older workers and then adding even more benefits with real appeal, raising the bar for innovation. Ladies and gentlemen, our Top 10, followed by 40 more honorees.
  • Employee Benefit News: AARP honor roll: Diverse group of employers use flexible work options to retain 50-plus workers. By Lydell C. Bridgeford. Excerpt: To capture and retain older workers, employers will have to offer flexible work options and benefits. As AARP's CEO Bill Novelli points out about the companies on the list, "These dynamic employers recognize the importance of creating a mutually beneficial work environment. Flexible arrangements can be a big part of that positive environment, enabling workers to balance both work and family obligations." Now in its sixth year, AARP's Best Employers for Workers over 50 includes 50 organizations from a cross-section of industries, but hospitals and health care facilities make up nearly half of the winners. [...]
    Recently, AARP teamed up with HR consulting firm Towers Perrin to look into building a business case for employers as to why they should consider 50-plus workers. Russell points out employers continue to perceive the cost of older workers as not affordable. "We look at the areas of health care, benefits and paid time off, focusing on labor costs and the older worker. Clearly with health care, older workers are slightly more expensive," Russell notes. "However, if you look at the cost holistically, turnover and engagement, there are some off-setting costs there.
  • Lewis and Clark Law Review, courtesy of the Social Science Research Network: Is it Time to Admit the Failure of an Employer-Based Pension System. By Susan J. Stabile. Abstract: In her contribution to the Twelfth Annual Lewis and Clark Business Law Forum (The Aging of the Baby Boomers and America's Changing Retirement System), Susan Stabile paints a pessimistic picture of the state of retirement security in the United States. She examines two aspects of the failure of an employer-based pension system, focusing first on the problems associated with defined contribution plans such as 401(k) plans, which have become the dominant means by which employers offer their employees pension coverage, and second, on the reality that millions of employees lack any pension coverage at all.
    She argues that the failures of the employer-based system can not be rectified by incremental changes and that serious consideration must be given to alternative models of providing Americans with retirement security. Although recognizing that neither of the models she discusses, i.e., the provision of a government pension for everyone and movement to a mandatory employment-based system with more stringent regulation than currently exists, would be politically easy to enact, she argues that some major overhaul is needed if we remain convinced that adequate retirement security is an important social goal.
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • Associated Press, courtesy of the New York Times: Businesses May Move Health Care Overseas. Excerpts: Businesses and insurance companies are starting to eye the potential savings of outsourcing health care from the world's richest country to the developing world. "It's just one of the many ways in which our world is flattening," said Arnold Milstein, chief physician at New York-based Mercer Health & Benefits, who's researching the feasibility of outsourcing medical care for three Fortune 500 corporations. "Many companies see it as a natural extension of the competition they've faced in other aspects of their business."
  • Los Angeles Times: Healthcare Code Blue. Not only do Americans spend more than anyone else on health care, much of what we buy isn't the best stuff. By John Abramson. Excerpts: If American medicine were a patient, he would weigh 350 pounds and be gaining fast. Despite being repeatedly counseled about the dangers of morbid obesity, he would be making at best half-hearted attempts to mend his gluttonous ways. Meanwhile, his doctors, insurance company, politicians and regulators would remain in a deep state of denial, clutching the illusion that their patient, other than being a bit overweight, was in tip-top health.
    Truth be told, the U.S. medical system is headed for multiple organ failure.
    The spiraling cost of healthcare is well known: $7,100 per person this year, projected to increase to $12,000 in 2015 and compounding at more than double the rate of inflation. Already, medical care gobbles up one-sixth of the GDP. Even so, we ask ourselves, how better to spend our money than on the best healthcare in the world?
    Not so fast. The facts show that these enormous expenditures may be buying us the best amenities in medical care — but not the best health.
    For example, Canada spends only 60% as much per person on healthcare as the United States. Yet, since 1980, the longevity of all Canadians has improved more rapidly than that of only white Americans. (In other words, these statistics aren't skewed by the unconscionable racial and socioeconomic disparities in U.S. health and healthcare.) Yes, the "queues" in Canada can involve delays in nonemergency care. But these could be shortened with relatively small increases in funding. An article in the U.S. journal Health Affairs investigating the number of Canadians who come here to avoid these waits found the number so small that it asked, "A tip with no iceberg?"
    Britain spends only 40% as much as we do on healthcare. But according to the Journal of the American Medical Assn., middle-class insured Americans "are much less healthy than their English counterparts" (who are insured because all Brits are insured).
    In fact, although Americans spend twice as much per person on healthcare as the other 21 wealthiest countries, data from the World Health Organization show that we live the shortest amount of time in good health — 2 1/2 years less than the average in the other countries (69.3 versus 71.8 years).
  • In a Yahoo! message board post, Janet Krueger comments on the health insurance rates quoted on Ehealthinsurance.com. Full excerpt: Please be aware of the fact that quotes you obtain from this site (and most other sites quoting health insurance rates) are based on you and your family being in good health with no risk factors. After you fill out the application and pay a fee to purchase insurance, they reserve the right to increase the quoted rates based on the risk factors they identify in your application or reject your application entirely.
    Risk factors include, but are not restricted to your health history, your family history, when you last smoked, your weight, etc. If you decide to drop your IBM insurance and purchase your insurance elsewhere, make sure you lock in your eligibility before you drop your IBM coverage, or you could find yourself among the growing ranks of uninsured Americans.
    Personally, I think it is time to take this out of the hands of the greedy corporations and health insurance companies. Check out the various proposals for Universal Health care at www.uhcan.org.
  • Christian Science Monitor, courtesy of BlueCross BlueShield Association: Healthcare crisis countdown. By David R. Francis. Excerpts: The healthcare system in the United States is eroding. Costs are rising too fast. More and more people lack health insurance. Companies are dumping or shrinking employee health plans. Deductibles and copayments on medical services are rising. That's the widely agreed-upon scene.
    Yet chances are slim that Americans will go for a far less expensive "single payer" health system, as in Canada, Britain, or Australia, anytime soon.
    "The issue is not likely to be given a fair examination," says Robert Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston. "There is a cultural resistance to even considering this very serious option." [...]
    Moreover, self-interested groups have political clout. Health insurance companies, pharmaceutical firms, private hospitals, and Wall Street investors in the healthcare industry "aren't going to go quietly into the night," says Blendon. The drug industry usually ranks as the most profitable. In 2002, it made a 14 percent return on assets; the Fortune 500 made a median of 2.3 percent. [...]
    Polls find at least 60 percent of Americans want public financing of the $2 trillion healthcare system, something that would work the way Medicare does for older citizens. Government would foot much of the bill from private hospitals and physicians.
    But in opposition are many of the 1,500 private insurance firms. They seek to make more money for shareholders by cherry-picking healthy customers and avoiding those with costly chronic illness, Dr. Geyman charges. He cites a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Arnold Relman, who warned in 1980 of the "medical-industrial complex" and its hold on Washington, echoing President Eisenhower's reference to a "military-industrial complex." [...]
    The US spends 15 percent of its gross national product on healthcare, of which 31 percent goes for administrative costs. Canada spends about 10 percent of GDP on a universal healthcare system, 1.3 percent of it for overhead.
  • San Francisco Chronicle: Union leader declares health care is priority. Stern says business, labor need to find common ground to reform broken system. By George Raine. Andy Stern, the provocative president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), doesn't mince words about the state of health care in the United States. "The employer-based system of health coverage is over,'' he declared in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece in July. This from a man who has spent much of his career trying to wring as much company-paid coverage as possible for workers. [...]
    Stern's mission is to persuade business leaders to join him in sacking employer-paid health coverage, a system that was born in post-World War II America. He calls it outdated, noting "we're living through the most profound transformative economic revolution in the history of the world.''
    In his book, Stern argues the United States needs a universal system that provides affordable coverage, choice of doctors and insurance plans, core benefits and shared financing among employers, employees and government.
    If Stern had his druthers, he would have all Americans switch to something like the Federal Employee Benefit Health Plan, which the president, 535 members of Congress and 9 million federal employees rely on. It offers a basic benefit, a choice of plans and a variety of options including fee-for-service plans and health maintenance organizations. It allocates an amount of money, based on a formula, to each federal worker.
  • New York Times: As Drug Prices Climb, Democrats Find Fault With Medicare Plan. By Alex Berenson. Excerpts: For big drug companies, the new Medicare prescription benefit is proving to be a financial windfall larger than even the most optimistic Wall Street analysts had predicted. [...]
    Medicare now pays for drugs indirectly, through the private insurers that administer the prescription program — and those insurers typically pay higher prices than government agencies, like the Veterans Administration, that buy medicines directly from drug makers.
    The government is expected to spend at least $31 billion this year on the drug benefit, which provides partial drug coverage for people over age 65, according to the federal agency that runs Medicare. Next year, the program is expected to cost almost $50 billion — almost 20 percent of overall American drug spending.
    Democrats say that directly negotiating with drug makers could save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars annually, though some independent analysts say those projections are probably exaggerated. [...]
    Companies have raised prices on many top-selling medicines by 6 percent or more this year, double the overall inflation rate. In some cases, drug makers have received price increases of as much as 20 percent for medicines that the government was already buying for people covered under the Medicaid program for the indigent. Medicare also pays more than the Veterans Administration, which runs its own benefit program. [...]
    Drug makers have tried to play down their gains from the program because they do not want to be seen as profiteering in an election year, Mr. Funtleyder said. “You don’t want to draw too much attention to how good it’s been.”
  • Wall Street Journal: Don't Let Coverage Lapse. By M.P. McQueen. Excerpts: When Robert and Annette Ensley, both 56 years old, sold their trade-show-display business in Iowa earlier this year and moved to Virginia to be closer to their children and grandkids, they had no idea how tough it could be to find medical insurance.
    Aside from Mrs. Ensley's maintenance use of an antidepressant and allergy medications, and Mr. Ensley's slightly elevated cholesterol, they had clean bills of health. "We are relatively healthy compared to a lot of people we know our age," Mrs. Ensley notes.
    Still they found that coverage would cost a minimum of about $900 a month -- in some cases with a deductible as high as $3,000, and sometimes with their existing conditions not covered for two years or even permanently.
    One of the most vexing questions facing anyone undergoing a voluntary or involuntary separation from a job is how to replace employer-paid medical coverage -- a benefit worth about $11,000 a year to the average family, according to researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation. It's an especially big problem for employees in their 50s who may want to retire early, but are still years away from Medicare coverage at age 65.
  • Slate, courtesy of Physicians for a National Health Policy: How Democrats can make themselves useful. By Timothy Noah. Excerpts: Judging from Kinsley’s source document, an issues pamphlet put out by presumptive Speaker Nancy Pelosi, health care figures into the Democratic agenda only insofar as it affects stem-cell research, broadband access, the elderly, small business, and (most especially) the military. The question of how to repair America’s health care is addressed with strikingly little audacity (and even less specificity) in The Audacity of Hope, the new tome by Democratic heartthrob Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. [...]
    Market-based solutions to the crisis are, it should be obvious by now, a distraction. Paul Krugman and Robin Wells summarized the problem in a March 2006 New York Review essay:
    [I]magine an insurer who offered policies to anyone, with the annual premium set to cover the average person’s health care expenses, plus the administrative costs of running the insurance company. Who would sign up? The answer, unfortunately, is that the insurer’s customers wouldn’t be a representative sample of the population. Healthy people, with little reason to expect high medical bills, would probably shun policies priced to reflect the average person’s health costs. On the other hand, unhealthy people would find the policies very attractive.
    You can see where this is going. The insurance company would quickly find that because its clientele was tilted toward those with high medical costs, its actual costs per customer were much higher than those of the average member of the population. So it would have to raise premiums to cover those higher costs. However, this would disproportionately drive off its healthier customers, leaving it with an even less healthy customer base, requiring a further rise in premiums, and so on.
    Insurance companies deal with these problems, to some extent, by carefully screening applicants to identify those with a high risk of needing expensive treatment, and either rejecting such applicants or charging them higher premiums. But such screening is itself expensive. Furthermore, it tends to screen out exactly those who most need insurance.
New on the Alliance@IBM Site:
  • From the Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comments 11/03/06: What a creepy company IBM has become! In public, IBM acts like it is making super profits but behind the curtains, IBM management acts as if the company is sinking and needs to issue band level downgrades and pay cuts! As an investor, you wonder, is IBM faking it's financial reports? Then in an effort to hide the reality, IBM is faking it, has managers go nuts with pay cut scams... Something smells, IBM is running out of kitty litter to cover it's mess.. The IBM kitty litter box has been filled up with oddball schemes to lower US workers pay! IBM employees need contracts at the least have their resume ready. -iBmSTINK-
    • Comments 11/05/06: I've been reading these messages and wondering what is happening to our American industries. We are becomming a nation of the "Haves" and "Have Nots". Sammy and his cronies are the "Haves" and the hard working people of this great nation are the "Have Nots". Here is what I have seen happening in the last 30 years:
      1. The 70's and 80's were a time when our American Universities took foreign students into their graduate programs to sustain and provide income to their programs. Most PhD's is this country are now earned by foreigners.
      2. The 90's were a time when CEO's were making multi-million dollar salaries, stock options, and bonuses. Many of these CEO's are corrupt, steal from the employees, and look out for themselves. Look what happened at Enron.
      3. The new millennium is a time to give away American jobs to cheap labor overseas. IBM is leading the pack in this arena. Sam Palmisano couldn't care less about your family and your job. He wants to please stockholders and maintain his multi-million dollar income.
      If you look at the overall trend of business in this country it is not bright. Right now it is the greedy fat bastard CEO's calling the shots and giving our jobs away to countries like India and China. Sammy Palmisano is a worthless slime ball coward who won't even discuss these issues with his employees. -I. C. Trouble-
    • Comments 11/06/06: Contracting firms in the RTP area just got a req for a large number of SWG positions starting on 1/1/07. Appears that IBM plans to give a lot of RTP SWG employees a separation package for Christmas along with the phone number for the preferred contracting firms in the RTP area. -Anonymous-
    • Comments 11/08/06: At the start of 2006, IBM announced changes to the pension plan, and that all would be on the 401k program by 2008. We still have no paper document describing this plan, which might be by design (can't complain about what's not on paper, right?). So, 2007 will probably be the year they force mass offshoring plus rebalancing so as to start 2008 with only those employees they still want. -Anonymous-
    • Comments 11/08/06: Your feeling is correct. IBM's plan, it is in their models, is to offshore everything from the US unless you are in a External Customer facing position. 8 out of every 10 people in the US will lose their job. -Anonymous-
    • Comments 11/09/06: Latest in the rumor mill has it that there was a conf call/in person meeting today (11-09) with 4 or 5 high level execs and/or mgrs in RTP. Evidently the 'gist' of the conversation was something to the effect of 'massive downsizing' of Deskside Support-along the lines of a 50% reduction! Proof,you say? Apparently there was a Deskside Rep IN the office working on a problem one of the execs/mgrs was having while the meeting was taking place! He/she was supposedly ridiculed & condescended on how much IGS bills their customers. I didn't know deskside charged whatever they want (yes,sarcasm intended) We all know most of the 'bill' goes to pay a bloated management infrastructure and useless measurement lackeys...... -Disgruntled grunt-
  • From the General Visitor's Comment page:
    • Comment 11/07/06: Nov 1, 2006: Sam exercised options on 96,000 shares at $36.06 per share and turned around and sold 93,228 shares at $91.82 per share for a cool $5+ million profit. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/08/06: Gerstner was hired to change management culture. Let’s be blunt, he came from the largest tobacco company in the world, a company whose products killed and maimed more than the gas chambers of WWII; and that company lied before congress about the danger and addictive nature of the products. They laid plans to hook teens and pre-teens on cigarettes knowing what would happen. And they did it for money. Our Board of Directors hired Gerstner knowing what kind of person he was, and rewarded his 10 years of reshaping IBM with half a billion dollars.
      Sam has done his best to follow Gerstner’s example of trading lives and futures for personal profit. Those who hope that management or the Board might come to its senses and improve the situation for employees have refused to learn from our recent history. Without the union each employee has the same relationship with the company that a cow has with a beef rancher. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/09/06: "An IBM Director is now making $125K" --- and that's for what? 4 meetings a year? Maybe once a month at the most? And if I'm not mistaken, they are not required to attend all of the meetings to collect that cash. Next look at how many Directors sit on other companies' boards, and then how many boards each person is on. Multiply that by $100K+. Nice "work" if you can get it. Those than can - do. Those that can't - consult. Those that can't consult - sit on boards. -Anonymous-
  • Pension Comments page
  • IBM employees on employee raises
    • Comment 11/04/06: Salary = 73+k; Band Level = 6; Job Title = Software Engineer; Years Service = 5; Div Name = SWG; Location = RTP; Message = none -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/04/06: Salary = 71K; Band Level = 6; Job Title = Software Engineer; Years Service = 6; Div Name = SWG; Location = Tucson; Message = I was supposed to be promoted several years ago, and received a raise toward the next band. That manager left unexpectedly and the new manager has been resentful about my "high pay" and other things ever since. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/04/06: I'm surprised (ok, not really) at the 50K difference in salaries among similarly situated employees. I personally have seen 'teammates' promoted above me, and with the management statements clearly based on my projects. I certainly wish those (Lotus and Candle) teammates ALL THE BEST IN THEIR CAREERS! -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/06/06: Salary = 90K; Band Level = 8; Job Title = Project Manager; Years Service = 27; Hours/Week = 60; Div Name = IGS; Location = RTP; Message = Amazing !!! -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/06/06: Salary = $80,000/year; Band Level = 8; Job Title = Project Manager; Years Service = 9; Hours/Week = 50-60; Div Name = 6C; Location = Home; Message = Posting for comparison purposes. Also my 2005 rating was a 1, and I received a 7% raise. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/06/06: Salary = $130K; Band Level = 9; Job Title = Sr. Software Engineer; Years Service = 27; Hours/Week = ave. 80; Div Name = SWG; Location = Austin; Message = As noted, the range can be excessive for the same Band. (Note that Austin is in the lowest regional pay sector.) My salary is the result of having had a manager who liked me and understood what I was doing...but that was a few years ago, and it's been awhile since I've had a raise. Nevertheless, all things considered, lest you envy me, there's this: I'm burned out and I'm planning to leave. I will never get the supporting resources I need to do my job, so there is no end in sight with the hours. It's permanent crunch time. It's a lot of money, but it's not worth it. I have no intention of dropping dead in the lab some night, while working on the latest "hot" problem. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/06/06: Salary = 75K; Band Level = 7; Job Title = Staff Engineer; Years Service = 3; Hours/Week = 40; Div Name = STG; Location = Austin; Message = None -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/06/06: Salary = $37,000; Band Level = 4; Job Title = Assistant; Years Service = 7; Hours/Week = 40; Div Name = Global Administration; Location =; Message = none -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/06/06: Salary = 78K; Band Level = 7; Job Title = Staff Software Engineer; Years Service = 4; Hours/Week = As little as I can get away with (usually about 10) because IBM has treated me like dirt.; Div Name = STG; Location =; Message = Quit working extra hours for this company folks. Your time is better spent with your family or looking for work/opportunities somewhere else. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/06/06: Salary = $105,500; Band Level = 8; Job Title = Senior I/T Specialist; Years Service = 33; Hours/Week = 40; Div Name = Strategic Outsourcing (or whatever it is now); Location = NJ; Message = Love to see salary info brought out in the open. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/06/06: Salary = 125k; Band Level = 8; Job Title = Software Engineer; Years Service = 25; Hours/Week = 50+; Div Name = SWG; Location = RTP; Message = I can't complain about the salary, but a 1.4% raise after a 1 appraisal, and now I have reached the ceiling for my band and location. That stinks. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/07/06: Salary = 59,559; Band Level = 8; Job Title = Advisory Financial Analyst; Years Service = 6+; Hours/Week = 50+; Div Name = AIM; Location = RTP; Message = Nice to know I was the lowest paid 8 here. That is the reason I left IBM in July. After 6 years of positive reviews (1's, 2's, and 2+'s)and contributions to IBM I finally gave up on being treated fairly. I left for another locally HQ company and instantly receive a 25% raise. Person that took the job after me had no experience and was at 80K with same tenure. After bringing this issue up to mgmt numerous times nothing was ever done. Not sure why it was such a shock when I gave notice. Something is really wrong with this company's compensation program. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/07/06: Salary = $107,000; Band Level = 10; Job Title = Business Development Exec; Years Service = 24; Hours/Week = 60-70; Div Name = S&D; Location = Austin; Message = receive sales bonuses and commissions on top of salary. actual pay average for last 3 years is about $155,000. bonuses are based on dept performance, and total amount available to be paid depends on organization performance. The work is very political and stressful because it's impossible to know who's hot and who's not in the executive suite on any given week. in addition, we are selling pure vaporware (oh, right, we call it a "solution" instead of a product.) -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/07/06: Salary = 100K Base plus commissions; Band Level = Band 9; Job Title = senior sales; Years Service = 5; Hours/Week = too many; Div Name = software; Location = california; Message = Not bad a 100K Base 2 years ago. I now work for another company as I left in 2004. I make less now.. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/07/06: Salary = 110k; Band Level = 8; Job Title = Advisory Software Engineer; Years Service = 20+; Hours/Week = 40+; Div Name = STG; Message = Surprised I haven't been "rebalanced" yet. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/07/06: Salary = 78000; Band Level = 7; Job Title = software engineer; Years Service = 16; Hours/Week = 40; Div Name = STG; Location = Rochester; Message = Got '2' rating normally, had 3% raise 6 months ago, then got laid off (in process now, the recent STG layoffs) -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/07/06: Salary = 130,000; Band Level = 10; Job Title = Client Executive; Years Service = 22; Hours/Week = Unbelievable; Div Name = S&D; Location = Atlanta; Message = Average comp. over last three years has been around $160K. Job is purely political now and little to no recognition no matter how you perform. No room for advancement in the last several years due to condensed industry groups. All who you know/blow. Good money for me though and I'll be here until they downsize me. Understand that I've been at least 110% of my sales quota for last 16 years. Nobody gives a damn, just what have they done for me lately. Spend most of my time explaining to my customer executives why we are so darned good at marketing and sales, but so very, very bad at actual delivery of goods/services. How sad. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/08/06: Salary = 57000; Band Level = 6; Job Title = software developer; Years Service = 2.5; Hours/Week = 50; Div Name = SWG; Location = RTP; Message = observing increasing numbers of H1-Bs -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/08/06: Salary = 126000; Band Level = 9; Job Title = Senior software engineer; Years Service = 13; Hours/Week = 50; Div Name = STG; Location = AUS; Message = I used to work more hours! -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/08/06: Salary = 106K; Band Level = 9; Job Title = Senior DevEngr/ as Proj Mgr, PMP; Years Service = 19; Hours/Week = 50-60; Div Name = STG; Location = RTP; Message = This is based on 2002 info. Very close to making 4X my starting salary as an EE in 19 years of employee. No major raises except in the 95-97 time frame, most IBM technical professional got 8% raise and another 7% or 8% in seven or eight month. IBM salary was way below at that time but high on BS. However, these raises were just to cover for the years of no raise from 90-94 so people won't flock. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/08/06: Salary = 56k; Band Level = 4; Job Title = ssr; Years Service = 29; Hours/Week = 40-60; Message = And for this paltry sum I and my family get to be hounded by phone 24x7 even if I am ill or on vacation. Sometimes even when I am out of town in school. Costs too much to actually staff for 24x7 service . -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/08/06: Salary = $65K; Band Level = 7; Job Title = 1st Line Mgr.; Years Service = 23; Hours/Week = 40; Div Name = GA; Message = I've been in management over 5 years and have been a 2+ performer consistently. Last base pay cycle, I was given a 2% raise and was told to be happy I got that. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/08/06: Salary = 90k; Band Level = 9; Job Title = Software Engineer; Years Service = 11; Hours/Week = 75; Div Name = SWG; Location = East ; Message = I'm convinced that it is just a matter of time before my number is up. Managers are paranoid, stressed, impatient. Not a fun place to work anymore. On stress medications and sleep disturbed. Have heard that you can try to find a job within IBM if you want but will not if you get resourced. Have heard that if you want to move too bad, not until they are ready to pull the plug on you. Save your sanity and money if you can. Trust is gone and quality is gone in the products because it went away with devaluation of quality employees. Burnout is the norm now for all. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/09/06: Salary = $100K; Band Level = 8; Job Title = Advisory Software Engineer; Years Service = 10; Hours/Week = 40; Div Name = STG; Location = Mid-Hudson Valley, NY, USA; Message = Salaries in our areas seem to be lower than elsewhere. I think my pay was about average for our 3rd-level organization. Raises and bonuses have been virtually non-existent since 2000. -Just RA'ed-
    • Comment 11/09/06: Salary = 70K; Band Level = 6; Job Title = Software Engineer; Years Service = < 1 year; Hours/Week = 40-50; Location = Rochester; Message = I'm a new hire, started this summer. I'm pretty happy with what I make, but I know it is less than what I can get at that place in Redmond. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/09/06: Salary = 60000; Band Level = 6; Job Title = IT admin; Years Service = 25; Hours/Week = 50; Div Name = igs; Location = fishkill ny; Message = got the lousy sub inflation rate raise 2% last year after no raise since the 3% everyone got way back in 2003 or whenever that was... it seems every week I see another 20-28 year guy getting pushed out and another questionably legal immigrant arrives to replace them. I have my doubts if anything other than a major recession will wake up the middle class, and there's little doubt one is on the way!!!!! -Anonymous-

Vault Message Board Posts
Vault's IBM Business Consulting Services message board is a popular hangout for IBM BCS employees, including many employees acquired from PwC. Some sample posts follow:
  • "Another de facto salary cut" by "IGS_Consultant". Full excerpt: In IBM's never ending drive to get employees to pay more of the company's costs of doing business, GBS has revised its reimbursement policy for 2007. Under the new policy, the company will no longer pay for broadband Internet service at home, a second phone line at home to use for business calls, or for cell phone based broadband service (such as through Sprint/PCS) for use on the road.
    This change could cost employees from $500 to over $1000 a year in out-of-pocket cost.
    It's especially galling since traveling employees have *no* IBM office expenses.
  • "It's worse than a pay cut" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: You have to remember that you pay for that with after tax dollars, so if it cost you $1,000 a year, and you lose the reimbursement, it is the equivalent of getting a $1,400 pay cut.
    That makes the move even more stupid and short-sighted. Since IBM can deduct the expense, it only cost them $700 net to compensate you the after tax equivalent of $1,000. This asymmetry in tax treatment is what leads most companies to favor these soft benefits - they get tax leverage from their payments that you can't get, i.e. a good bang for the buck.
    If I were you, I would get a cheap dial-up account and then bombard HR with notes about missed deadlines and lost deliverables due to connection problems. Oh, but before you do that, get your resume together and find a real company to work for!
  • "Nail in the coffin" by "holkub". Full excerpt: I cannot believe the gall with which management is nickel and diming us. As much as I was willing to put up with their hi jinks, this is the final nail in the coffin. Pretty soon there will be no costs left to cut. I am out of here.
  • "IBM Executive bands" by "Swamyboo". Full excerpt: Folks, I am a business development senior executive with 15 years plus experience. Currently talking to IBM for senior openings in Global Business Services. Looking forward to IBM band details of D, C, B & A. Regards.
  • "The real scoop" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: Here you go:
    D - Dirtbag. This position simply requires someone that is arrogant and enough of a sociopath to usurp all the credit for the work of his underlying project teams to make it appear as though he is solely responsible for the success of the projects. This is the hardest level to crack. You also have to project the fact that you are willing to continue and enhance your skills in this area, and have absolutely no regard for those in those poor underclass number bands. An ability to lie to clients and crowd out other IBM groups from your client leads is also important.
    C – C&n+ This is a level specifically designed for female executives, though the guys have to pass through here as well on their way to B and A. If you are of the female persuasion, you just have to hang around long enough for us to have a need to fill the gender quota, but it helps if you are skilled with peroxide hair coloration, and are under 130 lbs. If you can ingratiate your self with the peroxide queen, you can get on a fast track. Hint: work on your expert yoga positions! If you are a guy, you just have to wait for something to open up at a time when we do not have a gender quota to fill, and come up with a few ideas to save costs, sell some work that we can’t deliver, or just plain ki$$ @$$.
    B – Ba$+@rd Here’s where we separate the men from the boys and the girls. You have to prove to the powers that be that your entire life is devoted to IBM. Also critical is an extremely short term time horizon, and an ability to rationalize that the only business implications of any given actions are the direct ones that you realize today. This is a core competency of the IBM executive team. Having a cadre of Dirtbags that can continue to squeeze costs out of the organization with no regard to resource implications will definitely put you on a fast track to become a Ba$+@rd
    A - @$$h0le This is the pinnacle of the IBM executive ranks. In order to reach this level, you absolutely have to be a lying, manipulative weasel, able to screw anyone either within or outside the organization in order to give others the impression that you are actually providing value. It also really helps if you were able to traverse the Dirtbag, C&n+, and – Ba$+@rd levels without any understanding whatsoever of business or organizational dynamics. If you have any reservations at all about reducing staff quality, increasing turnover, or destroying IBM’s reputation, don’t even think about becoming an @$$h0le. You have to be the ultimate taker, with only one goal in mind – to increase your next quarter’s bonus. You should also know how to exercise 0 strike price options and flip them the same day, all the while making statements about how well the company is doing.
    I’ll let you guess which level I am currently in. I’ll give you a hint – I did not get promoted into it, simply because I am grossly under-qualified, but none-the-less produce at a much higher level than most of them.
  • "I stand" by "mogrits". Full excerpt: in awe of your ability to go directly to the root of this issue and explain it in such basic terms. I retired as a Band 10 and was plainly told a few years before leaving that I was just "too honest", to make the D cut. I accepted it then, and now, as a compliment. Others will read your post and think it exaggerated, but sadly, this is not the case.
  • "Oh Dose" by "wonderaboutibm". Full excerpt: You are so catty! No wonder so many try to dismiss us posters as being too negative.
    Let's give our obtuse friend the real answer. Mr. Swamy, go for it! You, too, might get a Sam-style raise of 29% per year. What's not to like about that rarefied executive air? Bonuses, options, restricted stock, guaranteed pensions rain down from above. Why ask salary levels when there are so many other "compensation vehicles?"
    You too might develop the executive facility for flipping options and restricted stock as fast as you can, especially if your time to retirement is on the order of 5 years. It's a no-brainer. Pay the price as Dose describes it, and you'll be sitting pretty.
  • Washington Post: HEALTH CARE: Will an Attempt Be Made to Contain Costs? Excerpts: Democrats said they intend to use their new power to fight soaring health-care costs by taking on drug companies and health insurers. Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), the presumptive chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said Democrats would try to close a gap in which Medicare beneficiaries must cover their drug expenses and push the government to negotiate with drugmakers for lower prices. He also vowed to remedy what he called the "large overpayment of insurance companies."
    Dingell also said he would look into whether generic drugs were being kept off the market by deals among manufacturers and how drug companies were "creating new uses of questionable value" for old drugs nearing the end of patent protection.
Modern-Day Robber Baron Corner
Today's highly compensated executives face many difficulties, including figuring out how they can possibly spend all of the rich rewards they've earned on the backs of ordinary workers. Take a look at the insider trading of many of our IBM executives—spending the cash from all that stock "acquired at $0 per share" must be a real challenge! Or, imagine the difficulty IBM CEO Sam Palmisano will face spending his $10,000 a day pension when he retires!
As a way of helping out our beleaguered, modern-day robber barons we will periodically feature "spending opportunities" that the "upper crust" of our society may want to take advantage of!
  • New York Times: BOÎTE; Parachutes Optional. By Helena Andrews. Excerpts: Fly Lounge, which opened in May, is arguably Washington's most exclusive club this side of the Capitol. With a capacity of only 150 and nearly half the space reserved for those buying bottles at up to $2,700, becoming a frequent flier is tough. [...]
    Drinks are served by ''fly attendants,'' busty young women in taut black shirtdresses and knee-high boots who draw guests like Gilberto Cardenas. ''I was here last night,'' said Mr. Cardenas, 36, a native of Colombia and one of Fly's growing crowd of regulars. ''I am single, never married, no kids,'' he publicized within earshot of the bar. [...]
    For those ill-equipped to plunk down $1,800 for the coveted corner V.I.P. section, where big spenders control their own speaker volume and get the secret code to a private bathroom, there is Jay Bynum. He is Fly's answer to air traffic control: he runs the private limo service that provides a free ride to anyone who buys at least a $1,000 table (the coach equivalent of the corner section).


"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have too much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." — Franklin D. Roosevelt
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