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    Highlights—December 2, 2006

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension forum: Cooper Cert Petition filed with the Supreme Court. By Janet Krueger. Full excerpt: The Cooper legal team filed their petition for certiorari from the US Supreme Court today. I uploaded a copy of the petition to the files area of this board as CoopervIBMcertpetn.pdf.
    There is no deadline for how soon the Supreme Court needs to decide whether or not to hear the case. If they agree to hear it, there is no deadline for how soon they have to schedule oral arguments or make their ruling.
    The settlement ($320 million plus interest if the Supreme Court denies cert or finds in favor of IBM -- $1.7 billion plus interest if the Supreme Court finds in favor the Cooper class) will be distributed to class members approximately 6 months after the Supreme Court decision.
  • Yahoo! Finance: IBM Insider Trading. Editor's note: This page shows how IBM senior executives have profited through the sale of IBM stock acquired at prices ranging from zero into the $30 range (and above). View how Robert Moffat, Paul Horn, Linda Sanford, Timothy Shaughnessy, Sam Palmisano, Mark Loughridge, Randy MacDonald, Nick Nonofrio, Steve Mills, Ginny Rometty, Doug Elix and others have profited from zero risk stock grants and stock options.
  • In a Yahoo! message board post, Mike Germano comments on IBM insider trading. Full excerpt: The Palmisano November deal was really sweet. Float a one day loan for $3 million (probably backed by the stock itself as collateral) and sell most of the shares the same day for about $8 million and net the difference. He probably couldn't sell 100% to comply with SEC regulations or to not send up flags. So he nets around $5 million and just has to pay the capital gains tax. Even then his accountants can probably balance it off with capital losses to reduce his tax liability considerably.
    It makes my blood boil when right wingers talk about wanting to eliminate the capital gains tax to fuel investment in the economy. The bulk of these really large capital gains are executive stock options being exercised. It's bad enough that they're being taxed well below the levels of income, but to make it tax free only helps the very wealthy at the expense of everyone else.
  • In a Yahoo! message board post, "Dr. James Beaker" comments on IBM insider trading. Full excerpt: Looks like about US $5,100,000 net profit for Sam, or did I misread? A nice little bundle however it turned out. And Mr. Donofrio did even better last summer.
  • In a Yahoo! message board post, "chz_whiz" comments on IBM insider trading. Full excerpt: Nice that J. Randall MacDonald can exercise all those options to pick up stock at $0 per share. Is this why they had the stock buybacks.....to provide for $0 options? Thanks, Randy.
  • USA Today: Cancer fears persist among IBM workers. By Stephanie Armour. Excerpts: In the 1970s, Dorlene Walker began working at an IBM (IBM) manufacturing plant handling machinery and various chemicals. Today, the 55-year-old spends most of her days sitting in a kitchen chair. She suspects she developed bladder cancer, emphysema and an extreme sensitivity to chemicals in the environment because of toxins she was exposed to on the job.
    "We ate with the chemicals on our hands. Our coffee cups were out where the chemicals were," says Walker, of Johnson City, N.Y., who left IBM in 1993 and is now on disability. "I'm miserable. My social life is sitting in this kitchen chair. I don't feel IBM had the right to gamble anyone's life away." [...]
    Years after concerns first surfaced among some former IBM employees that toxins on the job may have caused cancer, fears still persist. A controversial study published last month that found higher cancer-related deaths among former employees has caused Alliance@IBM, an advocacy and union organizing group for current and former workers, to call for more medical testing and coverage of health care costs for sick workers.
  • Information Week: IBM Set For Further Expansion In China. IBM is opening the facility in cooperation with the Chengdu High-Tech Zone, a local authority charged with promoting foreign investment in the region. By Paul McDougall. Excerpt: "The presence of a vast talent pool, technical capabilities, and business-friendly economic policies make China one of our key locations to deliver world-class services to clients around the world," said Frank Kern, general manager for IBM's Asia Pacific operations, in a statement. The Chengdu center will coexist alongside an IBM branch office that the company established in the city in 1996. It will be staffed by local talent as well as specialists brought in from other parts of China and from IBM operations around the world, IBM said.
    IBM, intent on boosting its long-stagnant top line and cutting costs, is increasing its overall focus on China -- one of the world's fastest growing technology markets. In October, the company said it would launch a $180 million fund in partnership with Lehman Brothers to invest in midsize and mature Chinese companies.
  • New York Times: Peer Pressure: Inflating Executive Pay. By Gretchen Morgenson. Excerpts: LIKE Lake Wobegon, Garrison Keillor’s fictitious Minnesota town where all the children are above average, executive compensation practices often assume that corporate managers are equally superlative. When shareholders question lush pay, they are invariably met with a laundry list of reasons that businesses use to justify such packages. Among that data, no item is more crucial than the “peer group,” a collection of companies that corporations measure themselves against when calculating compensation.
    But according to a handful of pay experts who are privy to the design of pay practices at the nation’s largest corporations, many of these peer groups are populated with companies that are anything but comparable. They also say corporate managers themselves — who have an interest in higher pay — are selecting which companies make it into a peer group. And because these companies are often inappropriate for comparison purposes, their use has helped inflate executive pay in recent years.
  • New York Times: In Class Warfare, Guess Which Class Is Winning. By Ben Stein. Excerpts: Not long ago, I had the pleasure of a lengthy meeting with one of the smartest men on the planet, Warren E. Buffett, the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, in his unpretentious offices in Omaha. We talked of many things that, I hope, will inspire me for years to come. But one of the main subjects was taxes. Mr. Buffett, who probably does not feel sick when he sees his MasterCard bill in his mailbox the way I do, is at least as exercised about the tax system as I am.
    Put simply, the rich pay a lot of taxes as a total percentage of taxes collected, but they don’t pay a lot of taxes as a percentage of what they can afford to pay, or as a percentage of what the government needs to close the deficit gap.
    Mr. Buffett compiled a data sheet of the men and women who work in his office. He had each of them make a fraction; the numerator was how much they paid in federal income tax and in payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, and the denominator was their taxable income. The people in his office were mostly secretaries and clerks, though not all.
    It turned out that Mr. Buffett, with immense income from dividends and capital gains, paid far, far less as a fraction of his income than the secretaries or the clerks or anyone else in his office. Further, in conversation it came up that Mr. Buffett doesn’t use any tax planning at all. He just pays as the Internal Revenue Code requires. “How can this be fair?” he asked of how little he pays relative to his employees. “How can this be right?”
    Even though I agreed with him, I warned that whenever someone tried to raise the issue, he or she was accused of fomenting class warfare.
    “There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” [...]
    People ask how I can be a conservative and still want higher taxes. It makes my head spin, and I guess it shows how old I am. But I thought that conservatives were supposed to like balanced budgets. I thought it was the conservative position to not leave heavy indebtedness to our grandchildren. I thought it was the conservative view that there should be some balance between income and outflow. When did this change? [...]
    This brings me back to Mr. Buffett. If, in fact, it’s all just a giveaway to the rich masquerading as a new way of stimulating the economy and balancing the budget, please, Mr. Bush, let’s rethink it. I don’t like paying $7 billion a week in interest on the debt. I don’t like the idea that Mr. Buffett pays a lot less in tax as a percentage of his income than my housekeeper does or than I do.
  • Bloomberg News, courtesy of the Worcester Telegram: Middlemen take bite of 401(k)s. Overcharges often top 100 percent or more. By John F. Wasik. Excerpts: Steve Lansing has found that the service providers of many 401(k)-like plans overcharge participants and employers, some by 100 percent or more. As president and founder of Orlando, Fla.-based Sentinel Fiduciary Services Inc., Lansing works for employers and their investment committees to trim mutual-fund and administration expenses from large 401(k) and 403(b) plans.
    “It’s pretty easy to find plans that have been charging excessive fees,” says Lansing. He says he has seen numerous examples of third parties claiming their services are “free” or “negligible” when they are simply passing along their fees to participants in the form of higher annual expenses on funds within the 401(k)s.
    When a new wave of lawsuits recently alleged that large employers were paying too much for plan expenses, Lansing wasn’t surprised, saying the lack of transparency has given middlemen cover for the fees. As a result, the suits are now forcing employers to take a hard look at how much their 401(k)s are being charged. [...]
    The litigation, which is still unresolved, alleges the employers entered into largely undisclosed revenue-sharing agreements between fund managers and third parties who administered the plans. The companies, which defended their 401(k)s, were all contacted and have either said the suits have no merit or have refused to comment further. Bechtel Group Inc., which was also sued, stated: “We intend to aggressively defend this matter.” Calling the fees “the big secret of the retirement industry,” the suits claim that employees had no knowledge of the “excessive and unreasonable fees” or how much these costs were diminishing their retirement funds.
  • Associated Press, courtesy of Forbes: Texas Signs $863 Million Deal With IBM. Excerpts: Texas has signed a seven-year contract with IBM Corp. that aims to save the state money and enhance data security by consolidating the information technology infrastructure at 27 state agencies. Under the $863 million deal announced Tuesday, IBM will consolidate 31 data centers from the state agencies into two facilities in San Angelo and Austin, and take responsibility for operating them. [...]
    All affected state employees will be offered jobs from IBM or a subcontractor with at least a 5 percent pay raise. They will not be required to move to another city.
  • Associated Press, courtesy of Forbes: U.S. Business Delegation Visits India. Excerpts: A delegation of 250 American business executives arrived in Mumbai Tuesday to explore new opportunities to invest in India and develop partnerships with local companies. Led by Frank Lavin, the U.S. undersecretary of commerce for international trade, the delegation - one of the largest ever from the U.S. to visit India - represents more than 180 companies in sectors including health care, information technology, energy and telecommunication.
    A list of companies released by the U.S. Embassy included names such as Dow Chemical Co., Exxon Mobil Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. and International Business Machines Corp.
  • Washington Post: Five Years After Enron, Firms Seek Weaker Rules. By Carrie Johnson. Excerpts: Business interests, seizing on concerns that a law passed in the wake of the Enron scandal has overreached, are advancing a broad agenda to limit government oversight of private industry, including making it tougher for investors to sue companies and auditors for fraud. A group that has drawn support from Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. plans to issue a report tomorrow that argues that the United States may be losing its preeminent position in global capital markets to foreign stock exchanges because of costly regulations and nettlesome private lawsuits. [...]
    The renewed push to soften government oversight of business comes as the outcry begins to diminish over a series of financial scandals that erupted five years ago after Enron collapsed, costing thousands of employees their jobs and wiping out billions of investor dollars. The phony accounting at Enron and the bankruptcy of WorldCom months later prompted Congress to pass the Sarbanes-Oxley law.
  • WashTech: Don't Let Democrats Off the Hook. Excerpts: Now is the time to hit the new Democrat leaders hard on key issues: start collecting and analyzing hard data on the number of American jobs shipped overseas in order to understand the devastating effect this practice has on the economy; link corporate tax subsidies to the number of jobs an American corporation keeps in America; and reform the H-1B and L-1 visa programs that are the main tools which encourage and enable American jobs to be shipped to cheap labor markets like India and China.
    The new Democrat committee and subcommittee chairs need to hear your voice on these extremely important bills:
    1. Demand that they support the Defend the American Dream Act (H.R. 4378) which will reduce the number of foreign workers corporations are allowed to use under the H-1B program and will create strong enforcement policies. This bill is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D) of New Jersey.
    2. Demand that they support reforming the Trade Adjustment Act (H.R. 4156 and S. 1309) to extend benefits to service sector workers who lose their jobs due to foreign trade. This bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D) of Washington and U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D) of Washington.
    3. Demand that they support the following three bills sponsored by U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D) of Connecticut:
      • The Nonimmigrant Reform Act (H.R. 3381), which will reduce the number of foreign workers corporations are allowed to use under the L-1 program and will create strong enforcement policies.
      • The United States Worker Protection Act (H.R. 3406), which prohibits the federal government from outsourcing government work to foreign companies, and prohibits giving federal funds to state governments that ship government jobs offshore.
      • The Understanding Off-shoring and Outsourcing Act (H.R. 6279), which will require the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis to increase the amounts and types of economic data they collect about public and private sector business operations, services, and international trade.
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • New York Times: As Drug Benefit Tottered, a Veteran Buckled Down. By Robert Pear. Excerpts: Early this year, while top Bush administration officials were boasting about the success of the new Medicare drug benefit, a middle-level manager named Abby L. Block held a telephone conference call with insurance companies.
    “We have a real crisis situation looming here,” Ms. Block told the insurers, noting that many Medicare beneficiaries had been unable to fill prescriptions at their pharmacies. “We truly cannot let this situation go on much longer. I cannot stress enough how urgent this is.”
  • Wall Street Journal Letter to the Editor: Should Corporate Chiefs Get Lifetime Health Care? By Uwe E. Reinhardt, Professor of Political Economy, Princeton University. Full excerpt: In your Nov. 20 editorial "AHIP Hop" on the health-insurance proposal recently unveiled by America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), you lament the fact that "individuals generally aren't sensitive to the price of their treatment decisions." For that reason, you have long supported high-deductible health insurance that puts patients' "skin in the game," to use the colorful metaphor for "high deductibles."
    Economists, who generally believe that fiscal incentives drive human behavior, can resonate with this prescription, but as one such I would ask: What does it tell us about the health-insurance coverage of highly paid corporate executives? Does it not imply that these executives should never have the corporation buy health insurance of any sort for them, lest these executives become too insensitive to the cost of their health care?
    Instead, we find that corporate executives routinely insist that their companies purchase for them and their spouses generous health insurance for life, and many of them even insist that the company cover all out-of-pocket expenses built into such policies.
    Is that at all defensible on the "skin in the game" theory you espouse?
  • Physicians for a National Health Program: Rep. Dennis Kucinich speaks with Truthdig contributor Joshua Scheer* about the state of health care in America, his bill with Rep. John Conyers to provide universal coverage and why progress is inevitable. When you look at the fact that there are 46 million Americans without health insurance - another 50 million under-insured - when you see that businesses are cutting back sharply on health care benefits - at the bargaining table labor is faced with giving up their hard-fought health care benefits, when you see that trade, meaning in this case jobs that move out of our country - there is an acceleration of jobs going out of the country because workers not paid benefits in a number of countries where the jobs move to. Chief among those benefits is health care. Health care is central - it’s a central question - and it defines who we are as a nation and what we can become as a nation. We are already paying for a universal system of care, we’re just not getting it…Close to two trillion dollars a year is spent for health care in America, but one out of every four dollars goes for the activities of the for-profit system: corporate profits, executive salaries, advertising, marketing, the cost of paperwork - anywhere from 15-30 percent as compared to Medicare’s 3 percent. And so a for-profit health care system is crushing everyone, except the insurance companies. It’s crushing workers, who may actually be working 40 hours a week and not have health care coverage. It’s crushing businesses, particularly small businesses, who are finding that they cannot afford health care for their employees. It’s causing major manufacturers to renege on commitments they made to their workers years ago and to retirees years ago for health care.
  • Bloomberg News: Pelosi, Dorgan Help Grandma Cheat the Grandkids. By Amity Shlaes. Excerpts: The new Democratic congressional majority hasn't refined its health agenda yet, but getting more senior citizens access to cheaper drugs sold in Canada is sure to be right up there. And, why shouldn't it? Prescription drugs cost less in Canada, even American-made ones. Many of the big fans of importing drugs from Canada represent states that border on Canada -- Senators Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Olympia Snowe of Maine. Others, such as House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, have merely heard about the deal the Canadians offer. Their constituents see that Canada's state-dominated system gets its citizens better prices. [...]
    Prescription drugs produced by U.S. companies are indeed cheaper in Canada, but not because drug companies want them that way. They are cheaper because Canada imposes price controls on drugs. Americans pay the full amount; Canadians, and the rest of the world for that matter, don't. In the case of Canada, drug companies decided long ago that forgoing top prices was a trade-off worth making in order to be present in a significant North American market.
  • Washington Post: Shifting Risk, Responsibility New Health Plans Move More Than Costs to Employees. By Amy Joyce. Excerpts: For many workers trying to decide which health plan to choose, this year's open enrollment season comes down to two options: higher costs or higher risk. Rising costs are old news, but the higher risk is new, compliments of a growing trend to push more employees into "consumer-driven plans," in which employees assume more responsibility for their health-care budget.
    Either way, you pay -- whether taking on higher risk or taking more dollars out of each paycheck. And with health costs rising ever higher and more employers saying they can't take on the entire burden, the squeeze is on each of us.
  • New York Times: Study: U.S. Workers Prefer PPOs, HMOs. Excerpt: People with employer-sponsored health coverage choose to enroll in traditional plans over consumer directed products, which have been touted as a way to lower health care costs, according to a survey released Friday. The study also found that of 39 percent of the 2.7 million people enrolled in employer-sponsored consumer directed health plans this year weren't offered other options, according to the Center for Studying Health System Change, a research organization in Washington.
  • Washington Post: Half in New Health Plans Want to Switch, Poll Shows. By Christopher Lee. Excerpts: People in a new kind of health plan that makes consumers pay for a bigger share of their care appear to be more cost-conscious than those in traditional plans, but half say they would switch if they had the chance, according to a survey released yesterday. [...]
    Some consumers complain that the new plans are confusing, and the Kaiser survey found that the plans are not without problems. More than 60 percent of people in the plans said it is hard to find good information about the cost of doctors' services and hospital care; and about 50 percent said information on quality of care is hard to come by. Half of those enrolled in the plans said they would switch out if given the choice, compared with a third of those in traditional plans. And they were twice as likely as those in traditional plans to say that they went without care because of cost.
New on the Alliance@IBM Site:
  • From the Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comments 11/26/06: My Job as a Business Analyst is in the process of going offshore to Brazil. We are going to start training replacements on November 27th. My Business Unit is IBM Sales & Distribution Finance. Management has not told us anything but all signs point to our jobs getting redeployed to Brazil based on covert actions of Management. We worked hours of overtime to implement the new FMS application in 2005. We worked 60 hours a week and weekends to get the new system deployed in 2005. We did not get paid overtime because we are exempt employees. The thanks we get is that our jobs maybe get offshored to Brazil. Management has put a freeze on people posting to other positions. -Anonymous-
    • Comments 11/29/06: The writing is on the wall for EUS Deskside Reps. IBM want to move us out! Look at the last year - My Help, CTS Remote support, ISMA, BAND level change...etc... Open your eyes - join the Alliance! -EUS Tech-
    • Comments 11/30/06: To All U.S. Console Ops Employees: Ask your manager when you can expect the consolidation to Boulder to be complete (2007 or 2008). Might be best to ask your 2nd Line, the first line probably doesn't know. The console ops/ops analyst positions that remain in the U.S. (maybe 20%) WILL BE CONSOLIDATED to Boulder. It's just a matter of getting standardized infrastructure in place. My advice: Save your money or move to Boulder. Subk and LTS employees (Operators and Analyst), start looking outside IBM now (before the rush). The company will not convert you. They will string you along until their task is complete. Remember what Palmisano said in India: Right Skills, Right Place, RIGHT TIME. Good Luck, -Anonymous in RTP-
  • From the General Visitor's Comment page:
    • Comment 11/29/06: I just heard a news story on the radio, that some research group has determined, that today's American worker needs to work at the least 70 hours per week to get ahead... 40 hour weeks no longer cut it because of the global economy! Yet, the survey tells that professionals on average working 70 or more hours per week, like their jobs. Even with the stress, health, family and marriage problems, abnormal work week create! BS or not, you should be happy to work 70 hours for 40 hours pay..your competitive! Happy Happy Joy joy!! What BS! -AmericanPleb-
    • Comment 11/30/06: To Workerbee: Drones cannot lead or follow. The just do what they are told. Thus since you can't lead or follow, just get out of the way! Let others do what you can't or are unwilling to do for a better working environment. BTW, look at the latest HR Global Pulse Surveys in w3. You are increasingly in the minority when you say you have a pretty decent paycheck. Trust, but verify, check the market constantly to figure out your true value in the market. HR does it to, so why don't you? Open your eyes! You've suffering from extreme brand blindness. You work for IBM, The Immoral Brand and Management company... -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/30/06: American Pleb, I found your comment on 70 hour workweeks interesting, as I had a job interview (not IBM) a couple of days ago, and they asked me if I was interested in the position. After the HR person told me 70 hours was "normal" for them, I told them no amount of money would make me want to work that many hours. -Work-Life Balance?-
    • Comment 12/01/06: I was one of the 400 CE's going to Qualxserv in April. At first things were chaotic with long hours and a very wide territory as I was the only trained person in my area on many machine types. Now that training and personnel additions have caught up, things have stabilized and are not that bad here. I now service Dell and Apple products in addition to IBM. In comparing companies, IBM is the biggest pain to deal with with far too many levels getting involved in the service arena. Many times the end user is reasonable in their expectations but IBM starts screaming because their 4 hr window can't be met, even if parts are not available or other circumstances are in play.
      Contracts are sold without any regard to how and when service will be rendered and people at IBM are paid to stay on the phones daily contacting CE's and managers over the most minute trivia concerning a service call. Just let people do their jobs!
      I'm glad to be away from this and Qualxserv is shielding us from so much of this asinine crap. I keep up contact with my former coworkers and they tell me that things are going from bad to worse. Call levels are ridiculous, managers canceling days off and vacation and requiring comp time if overtime is incurred (highly illegal) and requiring approval for overtime in advance ( hard to do with 24x7 service agreements.)
      IBM is like a house of cards ready to fall. Standby pay was eliminated and management is irate that nobody answers their phone after 5PM (again according to wage and hour laws hourly workers can't be forced to be on standby if not compensated.) Hopefully someone will file another class action lawsuit and tap into IBM's bounty before Palmisano and his cronies clean out the till. -Anonymous-
  • Pension Comments page
  • IBM employees on employee raises
    • Comment 11/26/06: Salary = 69000; Band Level = 6; Job Title = software engineer; Hours/Week = 40; Your Gender = M; Div Name = STG; Location = Austin; Message = -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/26/06: Salary = 38K before I was forced out; Band Level = started a 2 left a 2 AT 107%; Job Title = SSR /DSR; Years Service = 5.5; Hours/Week = 40+; Your Gender = M; Div Name = ITS /IGS; Location = ROCHESTER NY; Message = STARTED AS A BAND 2 FROM BEING OUTSOURCED FINISHED A BAND 2 WHEN RESOURCED OUT AFTER 5.5 YEARS PAY RAISES IN 5.5 YEARS =0. WAS A 2/ 2+ PERFORMER EVERY YEAR AND WORKED ON TWO CUSTOMER CONTRACTS WITH A LOT OF TRAVEL. WORKED ONCALL AND CALLOUT 24/7 DOING BAND 3 AND 4 WORK STILL COULD NOT GET A BAND RAISE. 7 MONTHS OUT OF WORK BEFORE I FOUND SOMETHING ELSE. THANKS FOR NOTHING IBM -BIG D-
    • Comment 11/27/06: Salary = 151,000; Band Level = 10; Job Title = IT Specialist / Senior Consultant / Exec. Consultant / Partner; Years Service = 4; Hours/Week = 40 plus; Your Gender = M; Div Name = AMS among others; Location = Waltham - work from home & fly; Message = Started at 133K band 9. 2s & then 3s rated. 37k bonus first year, then 21k, then 7k, then 0. Band went up to 10 year two. Salary went up 6% after 6 months in year one, Then to 151K 2nd year (all 10s were adjusted that year for some reason as well as a raise). Was made a stripe 2 3rd year, but given no position. Wound up working client accounts and commuting M-F 1500 miles. Most screwed up co. I ever worked for. Many did not work hard, some did, more did not work smart. Seemed like working for the government. Had a different job every year, and from Sept on each year you wondered what you'd be doing in Jan. Come Jan, you still wouldn't know until March. weird. Very stressful place to work is an understatement. Took over a year to bleed red. Life is better out of blue. -
    • Comment 11/28/06: Salary = $80k; Band Level = 7; Job Title = Staff Software Engineer; Years Service = 6; Hours/Week = 40; Your Gender = M; Location = Austin; Message = None -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/28/06: Salary = 45K canadianne; Band Level = 4; Job Title = technician; Years Service = 26; Hours/Week = 8 day; Location = Bromont; Message = no raise since long time... -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/28/06: Salary = 169K; Band Level = 10; Job Title = Senior Principal; Years Service = 32; Hours/Week = 65; Your Gender = Male; Div Name = 23; Location = RTP; Message = GTS sales plan being manipulated to reduce earnings by going to 82% of base for most sales types from 100% base. Plan is so complicated few will make their base salary anymore. Can't outsource sales yet, but they can squeeze the turnip for sure....leaving for a competitor ASAP -Leaving GTS-
    • Comment 11/28/06: Salary = 69500; Band Level = 8; Job Title = First Line Manager; Years Service = 7; Hours/Week = 60 (often in three hour increments--absolutely no down time); Your Gender = M; Div Name = Systems Operations; Location = Lexington; Message = 1 year supplemental. 6 years regular. 2% raises and 3% bonuses last three years. Absolutely no regard for those in the ditches holding the business together. Recognition goes to the diverse population flying at 50,000 feet, taking notes. I left 1.5 months ago. 10K raise. No stress, no crazy hours. The operations group in Lexington would be dead in the water without their "temporary" workforce (LTS and Subk). Those folks do ALL the heavy lifting. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/30/06: Salary = 62.000; Band Level = 7; Job Title = Middleware Support Lead; Years Service = 7; Hours/Week = 50-60; Your Gender = F; Div Name = 07; Location = Boulder, CO; Message =I support the IBM Account - they treat us just as well as everyone else :) -Anonymous-
    • Comment 12/01/06: Salary = 135K; Band Level = 10; Job Title = IT Arch - Tech sales ; Years Service = 10+; Hours/Week = 50; Your Gender = M; Location = East Coast; Message = To be honest, I'm enjoying my time with IBM. They've treated me fairly and well, and like anything else there are ups and downs. The key is to get credit for what you deserve instead of just sitting back complaining about things all the time. -Kinda Happy-
    • Comment 12/01/06: Salary = 55000; Band Level = 6; Job Title = Consultant; Years Service = 0; Hours/Week = 40; Your Gender = M; Div Name = 6; Message = Recent College Hire -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:
  • "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.
  • "And the saga continues..." by "hammer54321". Full excerpt: IBM has now stated that their original start date (/training session) in February of 2007 has already been filled and the next one is "probably in April." But that they were still finalizing the details. Is this just a complete load of sh*t? Does anyone know the true process for how training sessions are scheduled and filled? This is ridiculous.
  • "Signs" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: You are nothing to IBM but a warm body. You could be a superstar, and you are still nothing to IBM but a warm body.
    Why would you want to work for a company that would treat you like this during the recruiting process? What does this tell you about the way you will be treated after you come on board?
    As I have said many times before, our recruiting strategy is to just cast a wide net and maintain an off-book roster of people that we can just bring on whenever we want. We will lie to you and mislead you to keep you in the fold.
    Your position in the queue can change at any time without notice, and we make no effort to balance the hiring pipeline. It is on an as needed basis only, and if you are not in the cheapest list with the skills and geography du jour, you will be deferred as long as we can get away with it.
    The market can't be so bad that you have no other opportunities - stop wasting energy and anxiety on this and move on!
  • "Hammer, Hammer, Hammer" by "wonderaboutibm". Full excerpt: Take a deep breath... Now... just forget all this b.s. and move on. How dare IBM treat anyone this way? But as Dose notes, they do and they are to some extent getting away with it.
    Don't waste much of your mental energy trying to analyze this worthless situation. I know it is difficult to put it aside, but you have to continue your job search and find a more responsive employer. And, Hammer, when you do find something better -- and you will -- drop us a line. We always like to hear success stories.
  • "What are the perks at IBM?" by "consultant64". Full excerpt: Does anyone know what IBM does to retain employees i.e. more days off, flexibility initiatives, bonus schemes, etc ? This would help in my decision on going with them... Thanks a bunch.
  • "More interesting question..." by "jb40967". Full excerpt: ...is what perks did IBM take away over the past several years since acquiring PwC. Where do I begin?
    1. Vacation - reduced from 22 days to 15 for most
    2. IBM Retirement plan - not offered anymore
    3. Benefit premiums - increased dramatically for anyone who covers their families
    4. Bonuses - zero
    5. Raises - zero or negative
    6. Amex points - can't accumulate any on your corporate card
    7. Cell phones - good luck on charging them to the company
    8. Home broadband access - pay for it on your own now
    9. Training - only CBTs allowed or if your project will pay for it
    10. Conferences/trips - only if you're part of the chosen few
    11. Hotels - get the cheapest available
    12. Cars - share it with your teammates
    13. Monthly Per diems - no way, only charge actuals
  • "A few more" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt:
    • @$$hole ratio increased from 15% to 75%
    • Number of clueless offshore tech-heads assigned to project teams increased from 15% to 60%
    Ok - technically these aren't perks, but they are a big part of the experience here.
  • "Sorry for the delay" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: I really had to sit and stew on that one before I could respond. I also wanted to see if you could deduce anything on your own first. Now here is the litany of IBM HR policies that define your experience here:
    • Across the board salary cuts two years running
    • Raises in the 0 – 3% range with most closer to 0
    • Bonuses TARGETS at 10 – 15%, but never paid out since they are contingent on practices meeting their overall profit targets which are always inflated well beyond what is realistically achievable. But somehow, the front office always gets their bonuses, since they always sandbag their targets
    • Promotions are rare, and the thresholds are set artificially high so as to keep staff running on a treadmill in futile hopes of getting one. Then again, there is no material bump in salary with a change in title
    • Utilization targets (the % of your working capacity that you are expected to be chargeable to a client) are set so high so as to leave no time for you to be trained, take vacation, do practice development, administrative tasks etc.
    • A philosophy of putting you on any project where we may need you, regardless of career fit or geographic location
    • Restrictive travel policies that mean you may have long layovers, multiple connections and cheap hotels.
    • A bureaucracy that would put the government to shame.
    • Oversold projects that put undue stress on staff. Many project managers that can do nothing more than blame staff for failure.
    Now, does that sound like a company that would have a philosophy of giving out perks?!
    Perks are normally given to foster goodwill and strengthen employee commitment. Do you really think that we would do all of the above and then give out some other benefits to compensate? Our philosophy is exploitation, pure and simple, and we long ago crossed a line that shows that we have no interest in fostering goodwill.
  • "IBM practices the same the world over" by "civilliberty". Full excerpt: I was an SAP resource at IBM in Australia with about 7-8 years combo of technical and to a lesser extent functional experience. They've retrenched a number of us experienced ERP consultants and moved a lot of techo stuff off-shore with abysmal results and expect less experienced techo's to manage some of that effort. In addition they have people who are business people running as technical team leads on projects (those that are more political than competent). I'd be afraid of the result of this too if I was in your position.
  • "JB - what to expect?" by "colokee". Full excerpt: You raise some interesting points about the leadership. Does anyone have any insight on what to expect from JB as he takes the reins (not just in HCM but in all of GBS)? The future of HCM notwithstanding, he sounds like a competent manager --- and I hope he is one.
  • "My take" by "MythAndMeaning". Full excerpt: I believe he has been very focused on delivery excellence over the past few years during which he has managed the Distribution sector. This has been good for us in that we have fewer bleeders: projects that get sold with bad financials.
    The announcements of his new role have made much of his background in consulting. They omit the fact that it has been a long long time since he has done consulting. His move a few years ago into the Distribution sector lead was after a lengthy cocooning in PwCC and IBM HQ staffing.
  • "A less pejorative response" by "MythAndMeaning". Full excerpt: Dose, I think you are being unfair to the HCM practice. Remember that IBM's HR juggernaut existed for many many years before our HCM practice, which was nonexistent prior to the PwCC acquisition 10/02. For that matter, since all of our internal processes are screwed up, you could just as well slam all of C&SI if you believe that intelligent life in C&SI should drive competence in the "internal client."
    Our HCM practice is struggling. There are a lot of excellent people in the practice. However, the practice is not popular with GBS leadership, to say the least. GR, MC, and JB don't see big contracts and a lot of growth, and they have no interest in the smaller but very profitable kinds of strategic consulting services offered by Towers Perrin, Mercer, etc. This has led to serious attrition of most (but not all) original thinkers from the HCM practice.
    The heat is in the HR BTO practice with its huge contract amounts, multi-year programs, and consistent flow of money-losing contracts. Yup, HR BTO loses money on every deal, but we make it up in volume.
    There is a pretty good chance that the HCM practice will get dumped into the HR BTO trough at some time soon, particularly as JB takes over from MC. Depending on your particular area of skill and interest, you may want to look outside IBM.
  • "Well, you got ONE thing right..." by "wonderaboutibm". Full excerpt: True, Dose can defend himself quite well... it just struck me, after reading your post, how laughable it is for you to insinuate that his IBM experience is limited or isolated to one unit. Read his posts.
    I work in GBS -- yes, currently, and please don't insinuate otherwise. I have worked on projects in various GBS sectors and functional practices, on SO accounts, bid teams, etc. etc.
    If you don't think the IBM Global Delivery Model is homogenization, then I don't know what is.
    As for salary, well there is always some outliers, perhaps even outlier groups. Let's deal in facts:
    1. Ex-PwCCers had net salary reductions of at least 11% around the time of merger with IBM.
    2. Once upon a time there was Variable Pay of roughly 10%, and departmental bonus pools keyed by band (band 9 was targeted at around 15% of salary for meeting goals -- and these goals were published -- as I dimly remember.) Both of these are now gone, replaced by a bonus pool that only very rarely goes near 9% (by formula) and of course, critical components of the formula (like the goals to be attained) are never published. So net bonuses of most IBM employees are much reduced from the level of a few years ago. I daresay you too would have done much better earlier.
    But enough of history, let's hear from our own Randy MacDonald, senior VP of HR, for salary projections. In a recent memo concerning pension projection tools, he gave his baseline figure for future raises as 2.5% per year. I forget his exact bonus projection, but it was somewhere in the 3 to 5 % range. This is our average projection from our own senior management.
    So you see, consultantxxxxxxxx, if the average raise is 2.5%, and you for whatever reason deserve 12.5%, a lot of folks will get 0 to 3 to keep that average down. Of course I make no judgment about what anybody is worth around here -- that would not be fair of me, and our management has made the whole process just too damn subjective anyway.

 

  • New York Times: Early Astronomical ‘Computer’ Found to Be Technically Complex. By John Noble Wilford. Excerpts: A computer in antiquity would seem to be an anachronism, like Athena ordering takeout on her cell phone. But a century ago, pieces of a strange mechanism with bronze gears and dials were recovered from an ancient shipwreck off the coast of Greece. Historians of science concluded that this was an instrument that calculated and illustrated astronomical information, particularly phases of the Moon and planetary motions, in the second century B.C. [...]
    Technology historians say the instrument is technically more complex than any known for at least a millennium afterward. Earlier examinations of the instrument, mainly in the 1970s by Derek J. de Solla Price, a Yale historian who died in 1983, led to similar findings, but they were generally disputed or ignored. [...]
    The hand-operated mechanism, presumably used in preparing calendars for planting and harvesting and fixing religious festivals, had at least 30, possibly 37, hand-cut bronze gear-wheels, the researchers said. A pin-and-slot device connecting two gear-wheels induced variations in the representation of lunar motions according to the Hipparchos model of the Moon’s elliptical orbit around Earth. [...]
    Dr. Charette noted that more than 1,000 years elapsed before instruments of such complexity are known to have re-emerged. A few artifacts and some Arabic texts suggest that simpler geared calendrical devices had existed, particularly in Baghdad around A.D. 900. It seems clear, he said, that “much of the mind-boggling technological sophistication available in some parts of the Hellenistic and Greco-Roman world was simply not transmitted further.” “The gear-wheel, in this case,” he added, “had to be reinvented.”


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