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    Highlights—November 25, 2006

  • Associated Press, courtesy of Forbes: IBM Settles Overtime Lawsuit. By Rachel Konrad. Excerpt: International Business Machines Corp. settled a federal class-action lawsuit Wednesday, agreeing to pay a total of $65 million to 32,000 technology workers who claimed the company illegally withheld overtime pay.
    The suit was filed in January in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on behalf of three employees who said they were forced to work more than 40 hours per week and on weekends without additional compensation.
    The case involved workers classified as "Technical Services Professional and Information Technology Specialists." IBM considered them highly skilled professionals exempt from overtime laws detailed in the Fair Labor Standards Act and California labor laws.
    Generally, executives, managers and high-level computer operators are exempt from being paid overtime premiums, which is compensated at 90 minutes pay for each additional hour of work.
    But the IBM workers were by no means the decision makers or creative types typically ineligible for overtime, said James M. Finberg, who represented the class for Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP. "These people were just following manuals to trouble shoot computer problems," Finberg said.
  • PEJ News: Economic Empire building: The Centrality of Corruption. By James Petras. Excerpts: Economic Empire building (EEB) is the driving force of the US economy and became more central over the past five years. More than ever before in US economic history, the principal US banks, oil companies, manufacturers, investment houses, pension and mutual funds all depend on exploiting overseas nations and peoples to secure high rates of profit. Increasingly the majority of banking and corporate profits accrue from overseas plunder. [...]
    The drive for overseas profits is not a momentary preference but a secular shift. It will continue over the long term because of the higher rates of return overseas and the belief that the dollar will weaken because of high US fiscal and trade deficits. Oil and energy companies report record high profits. Exxon Mobil recorded a 26% increase in 2006 over the previous year, most resulting from exploiting overseas sites. IBM has shifted a substantial part of its research and design centers from New York to China, while retaining financial control and strategic decision-making in the US. Over 60% of China’s exports are produced or subcontracted by US manufacturers. Ford and GM overseas profits, especially in Latin America and Asia compensate in small part for their multi-billion dollar losses in the US.
  • Washington Post: Organized Labor Pushes Pro-Worker Agenda. By Will Lester. Excerpt: Organized labor will press for an increase in the minimum wage _ the most likely item on labor's wish list to be passed because President Bush may go along with it if certain benefits are included for small businesses.
    Labor also wants:
    • Changes in the Medicare prescription drug program to introduce price negotiations with pharmaceutical companies.
    • Changes in bankruptcy laws that allow companies to abandon pension and health care commitments to workers.
    • Trade agreements that protect workers' rights.
    • Improved mining safety laws.
    • Increased retirement protections.
    • Expanded health care.
    "One of the best ways we can address stagnating wages and lost pensions and health care is to restore the bargaining power of workers," Samuel said.
  • Washington Post: Democrats to Push Pocketbook Issues. Minimum Wage, College Costs Top Agenda; Party Less Unified on Tax Reform, Energy. By Amy Goldstein and Lyndsey Layton. Excerpt: After retrieving control of Congress for the first time in a dozen years, Democrats will set out to redefine the domestic agenda through policies they say would address the economic needs of middle- and working-class Americans.
    Striving for a few quick legislative victories in January and longer-term goals whose details -- and viability -- are not yet certain, Democratic lawmakers want to shift the dialogue on Capitol Hill to workers' pay, college tuition, health-care costs, retirees' income and other issues that touch ordinary families. [...]
    During the last several years of Republican reign in Congress and the White House, "all we've had...has been trying to scare the bejesus out of people with the word 'terrorism' and using that as an excuse to ignore everything else," said Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.), who is in line to lead the House Ways and Means health subcommittee.
    "What we saw in the course of this campaign was, people wanted to know who's on their side," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who will chair the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. "Whether it's health care or wages or retirement issues, they want to have someone on their side."
  • eWeek: U.S. Technology Czar Says More IT Workers Needed. By Stan Gibson. Excerpt: Following a time of mass avoidance in the aftermath of the dot-com bust, the U.S. IT work force is facing a shortage of people, according to the Commerce Department's technology czar. "The IT work force is not skilled enough and almost never can be skilled enough," said Robert Cresanti, undersecretary of commerce for technology, in an exclusive interview with eWEEK editors. "There are not enough engineers with the appropriate skill sets."
    Cresanti said U.S. colleges and universities are not enrolling enough engineering students, resulting in a dearth of information technology professionals. In addition to boosting engineering enrollment, he urged opening the gates to more foreign workers, including H-1B holders. "Without H-1B visas, we would have economic dislocation," Cresanti said.
  • New York Times: A Bad Choice for Social Security. Excerpt: A day after the midterm elections, President Bush announced that he had deputized Henry Paulson Jr., the secretary of the Treasury, to work with the new Congress on reforming Social Security. Mr. Paulson would bring formidable deal-making skills to the task, honed over years as a top investment banker. In an interview with The Times after the announcement, he stressed the importance of bipartisanship. “We were going to have to build a consensus, no matter who won the election,” he said.
    But then Mr. Bush nominated Andrew Biggs, a zealous advocate of privatizing Social Security, to a six-year term as the next deputy commissioner of Social Security. The nomination puts Mr. Paulson in a tough spot, raising questions about whether Mr. Bush really wants to build a consensus for Social Security reform.
  • Dallas Morning News: Knowing retirement, health plans can help avert disaster. By Pamela Yip. Excerpt: At a time when workers must take increasing responsibility for their own health insurance and retirement savings, any glitch in those areas can seriously harm their personal finances.
  • Yahoo! message board post: employee motivation? By "sby_willie". Full excerpt: Anyone wish to comment about the fact that IBM has made it clear that money (salary, monetary awards, stock equity) is not to be actively used as a motivational factor for IBM employees? If you don't believe this then check out w3.ibm.com.
    One would figure that $$$ might be the ONLY positive motivation factor these days in IBM.
    Other than trying to "motivate" employees with IBM Thanks! awards, PBC appraisals, internal memos from managers and peers recognizing a good job, etc. what are the real motivators?
    Also, does lousy or non-existent raises, low below market pay, rising health benefit monthly deductions, continual loss of retirement benefits, de-banding (some folks have went from band 7 to band 3 in just a wink of the eye it seems), job "re-deployment", resource actions, training your replacement, etc. have anything motivational about them?
    With only FEAR as a motivator (for losing your IBM job) the only motivation IBM employees have is the sentiment to leave IBM it surely seems now.
    Except for the folks who have joined the Alliance@IBM seem to have any positive motivation to make IBM a better place to work at.
  • Yahoo! IBM Retiree message board post by "wantedtoretire". Full excerpt: I was just catching up on my reading and noticed this discussion. For everybody's information, Hertz is probably *not* the company you want to use anymore. Even though I've used it for decades and really enjoy the free #1 Gold perk.
    First, there is a hefty drop off charge ever since the mid-1990's in the Gerstner era. And mileage charges have always varied across the US. The unlimited mileage is something Hertz put a maximum on in the last few years. Their computers just automatically gave you the cheapest rate which was sometimes the "unlimited mileage" deal instead of the IBM rate.
    Second, check out the current offerings via the IBM Retiree Discount (current url: http://www-1.ibm.com/afteribm/us/prgmdiscounts.shtml).
    As of today it shows Avis and Enterprise.
    FYI I used Enterprise last month in Las Vegas. It was less than 1/2 the IBM Hertz rate! The check-in guy said the rate was below what he could get. And don't forget about the web guys like Orbitz. Just remember Gerstner's motto: If you want loyalty get a dog.
New on the Alliance@IBM Site:
  • From the Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comments 11/19/06: 11/16/2006 - Twelve employees of the Payment Solutions Department Given their resource action package. End date to be 12/31/2006 -Anonymous-
    • Comments 11/22/06: Gave a two week notice to my manager today. I am with EUS Deskside and was part of a band adjustment two weeks ago. I just landed a job with a bank doing the same thing and will get 15k more a year! BYE BYE IBM! -x IBMr-
    • Comments 11/24/06: Rumors are circulating that the next group to go to Qualex service is Point of Sale people, I was told that this group was supposed to go in October but IBM MGMT thought better of it because of the XMAS season and has put off the move to after the holiday season. I also hear that the next group to follow POS is the High Volume Group and then finally the High Availability people will follow shortly after. This will move all of IBM service people to Qualex within the next year. I do have a question to any of the IBM service people that have already been moved to Qualex- What happened to your IBM pension? Who now owns the pension- Qualex or IBM? The answer to this will help me plan for my retirement. -Anonymous-
  • From the General Visitor's Comment page:
    • Comment 11/20/06: What has happened to the once great IBM? Retirees paying more than $1,000.00 per month for medical plans. Significant take aways from the retirement plan. IBM establishes a new global development center in China resulting in the layoff of 400 engineers in the US. IBM establishes a new global procurement center in China. How many layoffs in the US? Significant movement of US jobs to India, Brazil, etc. Now for the real winner - "Insourcing". IBM has brought thousands of foreign nationals into the US to work on US customer contracts and thousands more soon to arrive. Currently they are here primarily from India, with more to come from other 'cheap labor' countries such as China. how many US jobs will this cost? -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/21/06: "What has happened to the once great IBM?" Sammy Palmisano destroyed the IBM company to his financial benefit. Sammy gets his millions per year in salary, stock options and bonuses and you lose your job. Let me ask the IBM employees a simple question. Is that fair that Sammy reaps the rewards and the employees lose? Join the Alliance and together we can rebuild IBM into the great company it once was. Join our campaign and let's oust this moron Sammy Palmisano in 2007. He is a no good for nothing leech. -Get Rid of Sammy-
    • Comment 11/21/06: So now they are dropping our Band level. Nice. If we had a union contract the bastards wouldn't be getting away with this. Yet my co-workers walk around with their heads up their butts. Come on! Grow a spine! When are we going to shut this place down for a day? -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/22/06: Join the Union. But in the meantime, I agree. Let's shut this place (IBM US/Canada/UK) down for a day or so. December 14th and 15th. No Work, No Emails, No Phone Calls. Reason for these days. IBM is pushing for a strong 4th qtr; let's show them "where" the real power is. Let's all get the spine to do this. -Back the Union-
    • Comment 11/23/06: Great idea for shutting down IBM for a day. I'm all for it - just tell me the day. I'm sick and tired of getting treated like crap by the incompetent managers at IBM. Sam Palmisano is the worst of the bunch and has failed miserably as a leader. He doesn't understand who earns his multi-million dollar salary each year - that's us! Let's show him - Let's roll! I am in total support of the Alliance. Great job on this website! We finally have a voice to be heard in this abusive IBM company. We can change the IBM culture back to what it once was if we organize and work together as a group. -Alliance Supporter-
    • Comment 11/23/06: Regarding the call to shut down IBM. Good luck. I want IBM to succeed. If IBM succeeds, I succeed, since I collect a paycheck. If IBM fails, I fail in that, I then get to collect unemployment. I'll be working every weekday in December except for site holidays. -workerbee-
  • From the Pension Comments page:
    • Comment 11/17/06: The HSA is a joke. You have to stay with IBM until your 55 to collect any of it. IBM has an incentive to let you go before 55 and they keep the HSA money. It's all stacked in favor of the house like Las Vegas. To the poster on 11/3. I wouldn't worry about how you can only spend it on a medical plan and it will only last 3.3 years on your 40K. You will be lucky to ever see it. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/20/06: I wonder if anyone knows this or has considered this. At the end of 2007 the other shoe will drop and there will be some yet to be articulated changes in the pension system. Is it possible that IBM will discontinue the pension programme altogether? I think if they did this it would be unthinkable but I think it is legal right? So they could just take all the money, little that it may be, away from those people now in the cash balance plan? So if a person is vested now they own that money but it could be completely gone if they stay past that date? -Anonymous-
      Janet Krueger replies: If IBM were to terminate the plan, instead of just freezing it, a set of federal plan termination regulations would kick in. All employees would be immediately vested in their accrued amounts. IBM would have to pay those vested amounts out to the employees, in a form that can be transferred to the their 401K or other retirement amounts or, in the case of vested annuities, purchase annuities to cover those commitments. Employees get much more oversight and protection during a plan termination than they do during a plan freeze, and also have more options. The biggest downside to a termination is that IBM would be allowed to pocket the money that wasn't needed to fund all existing obligations -- retirees would then have to give up all hope of ever seeing a COLA from that excess. Of course the chances that they will ever get a COLA from the current IBM executive team are almost nil anyway...
  • IBM employees on employee raises
    • Comment 11/18/06: Salary = 103,000.00; Band Level = 8' Job Title = Advisory Software Engineer; Years Service = 12' Hours/Week = 60+' Div Name = STG' Location = Somewhere in South Arizona; Message = After 5 managers in 2 years (only 1 local), going from a 'decentralized' to an 'extreme centralized' operational model, having co-workers on a product set go from 5 to 2 (only having 1 person on a product set for 6 weeks due to the other person going on medical leave--no action by management to help spread the work around), going 56 hours at a stretch w/o sleep (no action by management to help with this situation), having others told by my co-worker that I can't 'multi-task' due to my 'Y chromosome' (more like because I was bug-eyed tired), and dealing with off-shore contract programmers who don't know the capabilities of their coding language, I realized that NO amount of money can compensate for the mental and physical toil of a job like this. Forgive me for believing that the vacation that I gave up and overtime I put in over the years to cover a 'hot' product would be appreciated in the long run. Now gone but the blood pressure is back to normal. -Anti-Kieliszewski-
    • Comment 11/18/06: Salary = $81,544; Band Level = 8; Job Title = Quality Assurer' Years Service = 7; Hours/Week = 40; Div Name = Global Services; Location = Europe; Message = This information is from 2004. OBS: There is great difference between the highest salaries and the lowest salaries in the various bands. HOW ABOUT ADDING A FIELD, 'GENDER', SO WE CAN SEE IF THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MALE AND FEMALE COMPENSATION GENERALLY?????!!!! -Anonymous- Alliance Reply: That's a good suggestion! We have added a "Your Gender" field to the form. We hope that this will help us all to understand this data better.
    • Comment 11/21/06: Salary = 109K; Band Level = 9; Job Title = Senior Project Mgr; Years Service = 18; Hours/Week = 40; Your Gender = M; Div Name = AIM; Location = East Coast; Message = Here is the mean salary and standard deviation (SD) of the posts up to this one: Band 7: 74K, SD: 15K Band 8: 96K, SD: 16K Band 9: 114K, SD: 20K -John Q. Public-
    • Comment 11/22/06: Salary = 135K; Band Level = 9; Job Title = Sr. Engineer; Years Service = 22+; Hours/Week = 48; Your Gender = M; Div Name = STG; Location = Mid-Hudson Valley; Message = Overall stress level is high. The current salary level has reached plateau per market pay rate. -Still working here-
    • Comment 11/22/06: Salary = 75,000 (on leaving); Band Level = 7; Job Title = Consultant; Years Service = 5.5; Hours/Week = 70+; Your Gender = M; Div Name = SWG; Location = UK.
    • Comment 11/23/06: Salary = 65000; Band Level = 6; Job Title = SE; Years Service = 3; Message = -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:
  • "borderline incompetent project teams" by "sty0rgo". Full excerpt: I am seeing a lot of posts here for people applying as SAP consultants with minimal to no SAP implementation experience with offers around 60K. Is this the norm and would these folks make up the bulk of the SAP team?...I'd be losing a lot of sleep if I were to manage these teams.
  • "Yes - You are beginning to get it" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: Off-shore coder that has no concept of what SAP really is supposed to do, and poor communication skills/customer relationship mindset - $25,000 dollars.
    Inexperienced SAP configuration consultant with an average brain and basic knowledge of the difference between a debit and a credit - 60,000 dollars at IBM.
    Market value for an experienced SAP design resource that can lead an implementation team - $100,000+ dollars.
    IBM's failure to recognize that they need to compensate and reward the latter in order to have a chance at retaining resources and providing adequate delivery capability - PRICELESS
  • "Question for DoR..." by "hammer54321". Full excerpt: DoR - Due to circumstance I have regrettably gone against your recommendation and accepted an offer from IBM in SCM consulting. And as you predicted, an attempt to negotiate the base salary was countered with an "OK, that's great; now here's a lake for you to jump in."
    At any rate, I have accepted and am now waiting for next steps. However, I did have a question about starting dates. I asked the recruiter when I would begin and the response was maybe in February or maybe in April. Maybe?
    I would like to begin as early as possible and April is far off. How can I get a commitment on a start date and avoid being rostered and strung along like an idiot? Should I ask them to put something in writing or...? What can I expect in the next month or so?
    Please advise...
  • "Circumstances?" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: I assume that when you say "due to circumstances, you mean that you don't have any other options and don't see yourself in a position to take a hard stance.
    The only way that you can influence the start date would be if you tell IBM that you will take another specific firm offer if they won't commit to a specific date. Even then, the chances are low that you will get any movement.
    As I have said in numerous other posts, you are nothing more than acceptable candidate #12345. If we don't plan on hiring anyone until February, we can easily get acceptable candidate 12346 in before we need to, in the event that you walk away. It doesn't matter how good you are - the folks making the hiring and offer decisions simply need to fill a quota. We would sooner lose you than bring you in before we need you, or give you more money than we need to in order to get the next barely acceptable candidate in.
    If we somehow sell a large project that you could contribute to, and we don't have an excess of candidates queued up in front of you, you might get a firm start date. If not, you could be strung along indefinitely.
    Your only prudent course of action is to heat up your job search, and find something else.

 



"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
This site is designed to allow IBM Employees to communicate and share methods of protecting their rights through the establishment of an IBM Employees Labor Union. Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act states it is a violation for Employers to spy on union gatherings, or pretend to spy. For the purpose of the National Labor Relations Act, notice is given that this site and all of its content, messages, communications, or other content is considered to be a union gathering.