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    Highlights—April 7, 2007

  • Associated Press, courtesy of ABC News: IBM Gives Feds $45M in Translation Tech. To Honor an Employee's Wounded Son, IBM Offers Military $45 Million in Translation Technology. By Bryan Bergstein. Excerpts: To honor an employee's son who was badly wounded in Iraq, IBM Corp. plans to give the U.S. military $45 million worth of Arabic-English translation technology that the Pentagon had been testing for possible purchase. The offer made from the highest reaches of the company directly to President Bush is so unusual that Defense Department and IBM lawyers have been scouring federal laws to make sure the government can accept the donation. [...]
    IBM would not make Palmisano available for comment. But according to other IBM executives, Palmisano had heard from several IBM employees who have returned from active duty in Iraq that a shortage of Arabic translators has severely hampered U.S. forces' efforts to communicate.
    With that and Ecker's experience in mind, Palmisano called and wrote Bush, offering to make IBM's Multilingual Automatic Speech Translator software, known as MASTOR, "immediately available for use by our forces in Iraq." Palmisano offered 10,000 copies of the MASTOR software and 1,000 devices equipped with it, plus training and technical support.
  • Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin: Endicott stands at crossroads on pollution. Village faces major decision on TCE study. By Tom Wilber. It started four years ago with a small group of residents and workers pushing for answers regarding illnesses and pollution in and around the former IBM plant in Endicott. It has progressed into a proposal for the largest federal study ever looking at cancer rates among workers in the circuit board assembly industry.[...]
    Last week, a delegation of 10 scientists and officials from a collection of federal and state agencies met with about 30 residents gathered around folding chairs and tables in the basement of The First United Methodist Church in Endicott. The citizens group, called the Western Broome Environmental Stakeholders Coalition, has been meeting there monthly for years, pondering why so many community members -- including many former IBM workers -- are developing chronic illnesses, and pushing federal and state scientists for answers.
  • Poughkeepsie Journal: Cancer rate study at IBM proposed. Feds want to look at personnel, hygiene records. Excerpts: Federal health officials are proposing a $3.1 million study delving into IBM personnel records to determine the cancer rate among 28,000 employees who might have been exposed to chemicals at the Endicott plant since the 1960s. Lynne Pinkterton, an official with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, said the agency could combine information from personnel and industrial hygiene records kept for decades at the plant to determine cancer rates of people working in manufacturing and in various departments.
    The information would address a long-standing question about whether IBM workers who faced exposure to chemicals, including trichloro-ethylene, or TCE, were more likely than other people to become ill. A similar study should be done on other IBM plants, including the major chip complex at East Fishkill, said Rick White, a former IBMer who worked 28 years in IBM's Endicott plants and is now with the Alliance@IBM, a union group.
  • Reuters: Fidelity ends traditional pensions for employees. Excerpts: Mutual fund firm Fidelity Investments, which has long sold 401(k) retirement plans where workers and not employers are responsible for funding the payouts, said on Thursday it will eliminate the traditional pensions it offers to about 32,000 employees. [...]
    Privately held Fidelity is one of a number of large U.S. employers now scrapping or curbing traditional pension plans that make predetermined payouts to workers. Hewlett-Packard Co. and International Business Machines Corp. are some of the other firms that have curtailed their traditional pensions.
  • New York Times: Income Gap Is Widening, Data Shows. By David Cay Johnston. Excerpts: Income inequality grew significantly in 2005, with the top 1 percent of Americans -- those with incomes that year of more than $348,000 -- receiving their largest share of national income since 1928, analysis of newly released tax data shows. [...]
    While total reported income in the United States increased almost 9 percent in 2005, the most recent year for which such data is available, average incomes for those in the bottom 90 percent dipped slightly compared with the year before, dropping $172, or 0.6 percent.
    The gains went largely to the top 1 percent, whose incomes rose to an average of more than $1.1 million each, an increase of more than $139,000, or about 14 percent.
    The new data also shows that the top 300,000 Americans collectively enjoyed almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans. Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980. [...]
    ''The nation faces some very tough choices in coming years,'' he said. ''That such a large share of the income gains are going to the very top, at a minimum, raises serious questions about continuing to provide tax cuts averaging over $150,000 a year to people making more than a million dollars a year, while saying we do not have enough money'' to provide health insurance to 47 million Americans and cutting education benefits. [...]
    Mr. Greenstein's organization will release a report today showing that for Americans in the middle, the share of income taken by federal taxes has been essentially unchanged across four decades. By comparison, it has fallen by half for those at the very top of the income ladder.
  • Motley Fool: The Motley Fool Pushes CEO Bill of Rights Legislation. (Published on April 1st). Excerpts: We're proud to announce that we've been working tirelessly with key members of the U.S. Congress to draft H.R. 401, The CEO Bill of Rights Act of 2007. This is important and necessary legislation because America's CEOs are under attack. Our corporate leaders -- all in, making a precious few hundred times the average worker today -- are being labeled greedy, self-dealing scoundrels. And who stands up on their behalf?
    No one gives a darn about our leaders It seems you cannot go anywhere these days without some activist ninny ranting hysterically in the business media about overpaid executives. You know what we're talking about. Comments and questions like:
    • "He's the chairman and CEO and pays himself $14 million. That's wrong!"
    • "Can you believe that CEO has his own Lear jet?"
    • "Since the company is performing so poorly, shouldn't that CEO be fired?"
  • New York Times: One Safety Net Is Disappearing. What Will Follow? By David Leonhardt. Excerpts: Over the years, American companies have built a pretty extensive social safety net for their workers. The clearest examples of it are pensions and health insurance, which became popular during the wage freeze of World War II, when employers were looking for creative ways to give raises. Today, the United States is the only major country in the world where the private sector plays such a big role in caring for the old and the sick. [...]
    But it would also be foolish to pretend nothing is changing. The corporate safety net of the 20th century is going away, and a fundamentally different private sector will require a fundamentally different public sector.
    If companies aren’t going to provide health insurance, the government will need to. It can do so directly, through a single-payer system similar to those in other countries, or indirectly, by pooling together the uninsured and helping them buy coverage, as Massachusetts is now planning. If companies aren’t going to provide pensions, the government will have to provide better incentives to save, helping people overcome their natural instinct to choose a flat-panel TV today over an adequate retirement tomorrow. And if companies aren’t automatically going to give workers raises over the course of their lives, the country will probably need a new strategy for giving older workers new skills, something considerably more ambitious than the current, meager retraining programs.
  • BusinessWeek, The Debate Room: Outsourcing: Where’s Uncle Sam? The U.S. government should safeguard the interests of its citizens and do more to stop companies from sending jobs abroad. Corporations have framed the debate for too long. Excerpts: No one likes the idea of American jobs moving overseas. But in recent years, the U.S. has accepted the outsourcing of tens of thousands of jobs, in everything from technology support to Wall Street research. Many prominent corporate executives, politicians, and academics have argued that we have no choice, that with globalization it’s critical to tap the lower costs and unique skills of labor abroad to remain competitive. Samuel Palmisano, the chief executive of IBM, made this point last year when he hosted IBM’s investor conference in Bangalore, India, the first ever held outside the U.S. He pointed out that IBM now has 43,000 people working in India who are part of "a new kind of organization," one that’s designed not around a single country, "but on a truly planet-wide model."
    Yet a critical point has been lost in the debate: The interests of U.S. corporations are often not the same as those of the country and its citizens. Hiring staff in India may help companies like IBM, Dell, Microsoft, Accenture, and others lower their costs and boost their profits, but it hurts the workers who lose jobs and those who lose the prospect of jobs.
  • eWeek: Study: There Is No Shortage of U.S. Engineers. By Deborah Perelman. Excerpts: A commonly heard defense in the arguments that surround U.S. companies that offshore high-tech and engineering jobs is that the U.S. math and science education system is not producing a sufficient number of engineers to fill a corporation's needs.
    However, a new study from Duke University calls this argument bunk, stating that there is no shortage of engineers in the United States, and that offshoring is all about cost savings.
    In the report, concerns are raised that China is racing ahead of both the United States and India in its ability to perform basic research. It also asserts that the United States is risking losing its global edge by outsourcing critical R&D and India is falling behind by playing politics with education. Meanwhile, it considers China well-positioned for the future
    Duke's 2005 study corrected a long-heard myth about India and China graduating 12 times as many engineers as the United States, finding instead that the United States graduates a comparable number. [...]
    However, Duke's 2005 study reported serious problems with the quality of Indian and Chinese bachelor-level engineering graduates, and predicted both shortages in India and unemployment in China. The current report finds these predictions to be accurate, with China's National Reform Commission reporting that the majority of its 2006 graduates will not find work. There are also oft-heard whisperings of a engineering shortage in India, though private colleges and "finishing schools" are going far to make up for the Indian deficiencies, the report said. [...]
    "Respondents said the advantages of hiring U.S. engineers were strong communication skills, an understanding of U.S. industry, superior business acumen, strong education or training, strong technical skills, proximity to work centers, lack of cultural issues, and a sense of creativity and desire to challenge the status quo," wrote Wadhwa in the 2007 report.
    "The key advantage of hiring Chinese entry-level engineers was cost savings, whereas a few respondents cited strong education or training and a willingness to work long hours. Similarly, cost savings were cited as a major advantage of hiring Indian entry-level engineers, whereas other advantages were technical knowledge, English language skills, strong education or training, ability to learn quickly, and a strong work ethic."
  • Washington Post: U.S. Companies Race to Fill Quota of Coveted Technology Worker Visas. By Krissah Williams. Excerpts: The race opened yesterday for U.S. companies scrambling to get visas for foreign professionals, many from India and China, to fill engineering, computer programming and other technology jobs. Immigration lawyers predicted that the quota of 65,000 professional visas, known as H-1B, would be claimed in just one day, reflecting increased demand. That would be the fastest the visas have ever been depleted. Last year, the supply lasted two months. The requests are filled on a first-come, first-served basis until the quota is nearly reached. The final applications are then chosen randomly. [...]
    The program is not without criticism. Advocates for U.S. computer programmers worry that H-1B holders bring down wages and displace American workers. "What may be good for our country as a whole may not be good for individuals," said Joseph E. Stiglitz, a economist and author. "We haven't thought well about how we compensate the losers."
  • New York Times: It Didn’t End Well Last Time. Excerpts: Not since the Roaring Twenties have the rich been so much richer than everyone else. In 2005, the latest year for which figures are available, the top 1 percent of Americans — whose average income was $1.1 million a year — received 21.8 percent of the nation’s income, their largest share since 1929. [...]
    Those findings are no fluke. They follow a disturbing rise in income concentration in 2003, and a sharp increase in 2004. And the trend almost certainly continues, spurred now as then by the largess of top-tier compensation, and investment gains that also flow mainly to the top. For the bottom 90 percent of Americans who are left with half the pie, average income actually dipped in 2005. The group’s wages picked up in 2006, but not enough to make up for the lean years of this decade. [...]
    Let’s get a few things straight: First, the economic gains of the last few years have been exceptionally skewed. From the 1970s to the mid-1990s, the gap between rich and poor widened considerably, but produced nothing like today’s intense concentration of income at the very top. And from 1995 to 2000, the long trend toward inequality was interrupted by general prosperity. The richest Americans did best, propelled by stock market gains. But the lower rungs also advanced.
  • Wall Street Journal: How an IBM Lifer Built Software Unit Into a Rising Star. By William Bulkeley. Excerpt: Increasingly, the public face of International Business Machines Corp. is that of Steve Mills. Mr. Mills heads IBM's rich and acquisition-hungry software unit, which has buoyed results in recent quarters. He frequently represents the company at investor conferences and software-customer gatherings, and his rising profile reflects a new reality at the technology giant.
  • Yahoo! IBM retiree bulletin board: "Point me in the right direction" by "madinpok". Full excerpt: The NetBenefits web site does not have an updated pension estimator that takes the changes after 12/31/07 into account. Instead, you have to use the "IBM Retirement Comparison Modeler" which is available only via the w3.ibm.com web page. So you must be an active employee with intranet access in order to run it.
    From the w3 home page, click on the "Career and Life" tab in the upper left corner of the page. Then, in the gray box on the left side under "Get Personal" click on the link for the Retirement Comp Modeler. At this point you will have to log in with your IBM intranet id and password.
    Next, you will see a letter from Randy MacDonald. Scroll to the bottom of the letter and click "Continue." You've finally reached the modeler and can get estimates of your pension under the new retirement plan. It will also show you how your pension will vary had they not changed the plan vs what you will really get, along with estimates of how the improved 401(k) contributions may make up for some of the difference.
  • New York Times: The Rich Are More Oblivious Than You and Me. By Richard Conniff. Excerpts: THE other day at a Los Angeles race track, a comedian named Eddie Griffin took a meeting with a concrete barrier and left a borrowed bright-red $1.5 million Ferrari Enzo looking like bad origami. Just to be clear, this was a different bright-red $1.5 million Ferrari Enzo from the one a Swedish businessman crumpled up and threw away last year on the Pacific Coast Highway. I mention this only because it’s easy to get confused by the vast and highly repetitious category “Rich and Famous People Acting Like Total Idiots.” Mr. Griffin walked away uninjured, and everybody offered wise counsel about how this wasn’t really such a bad day after all.
    So what exactly constitutes a bad day in this rarefied little world? Did the casino owner Steve Wynn cross the mark when he put his elbow through a Picasso he was about to sell for $139 million? Did Mel (“I Own Malibu”) Gibson sense bad-day emanations when he started on a bigoted tirade while seated drunk in the back of a sheriff’s car? And if dumb stuff like this comes so easy to these people, how is it that they’re the ones with all the money? [...]
    The researchers went on to theorize that getting power causes people to focus so keenly on the potential rewards, like money, sex, public acclaim or an extra chocolate-chip cookie — not necessarily in that order, or frankly, any order at all, but preferably all at once — that they become oblivious to the people around them.
    Indeed, the people around them may abet this process, since they are often subordinates intent on keeping the boss happy. So for the boss, it starts to look like a world in which the traffic lights are always green (and damn the pedestrians). Professor Keltner and his fellow researchers describe it as an instance of “approach/inhibition theory” in action: As power increases, it fires up the behavioral approach system and shuts down behavioral inhibition.
  • New York Times: India’s Edge Goes Beyond Outsourcing. By Anand Giridharadas. Excerpts: Outsourcing is breaking out of the back office.For years, most service industry jobs that were moved to countries like India were considered relatively low-skill tasks like answering customer inquiries. But that has been changing in recent years, and increasingly the jobs of Western white-collar elites in fields as diverse as investment banking, aircraft engineering and pharmaceutical research have begun flowing to India and a few other developing countries.
    In the view of most specialists on the phenomenon, the kinds of jobs that cannot be outsourced are slowly evaporating. Boeing and Airbus now employ hundreds of Indians in challenging tasks like writing software for next-generation cockpits and building systems to prevent airborne collisions. Investment banks like Morgan Stanley are hiring Indians to analyze American stocks, jobs that commonly pay six-figure salaries on Wall Street. [...]
    Accenture, the global consulting giant, has its worldwide head of business-process outsourcing in Bangalore; by December it expects to have more employees in India than in the United States.
  • ComputerWorld: IBM may rival India's top offshore IT firms in head count. Company adds autonomic computing center in Bangalore as part of $6B investment plan. By Patrick Thibodeau. Excerpts: The India Software Laboratory has a total of 3,200 employees in five cities. Overall, IBM eventually may surpass India's homegrown IT services firms in head count and become the largest IT employer in the country, said Atul Vashistha, CEO of NeoIT Inc., an outsourcing consultancy in San Ramon, Calif. He said he thinks IBM will increase its workforce in India at a rate of 20% to 25% annually for the next four to five years.
    Samuel Palmisano, IBM's chairman and CEO, traveled to India last June to announce a planned investment of $6 billion over the next three years in the country. At the time, IBM had 43,000 employees on its India payroll, a number that has since been increased by more than 23%.
  • ComputerWorld: Round 6: H-1B Battle - American engineering's "April Fools". By Dino Perrotti. Excerpts: The H-1B program has been making fools of American engineers since its inception by restraining their trade in a variety of ways. The H-1B program has made fools of guest workers who are treated as indentured servants. The H-1B program is also turning American college students into fools because it discourages them from studying math and science. The H-1B program is now making fools of politicians. They can't vote to increase the cap for fear of losing their next election, but they must vote to increase it to get campaign contributions from large tech companies. The H-1B program has also been making fools of American technology companies who are now finding that the visas are being used up by Indian outsourcing companies before they get a chance to utilize them.
    Those same technology companies have foolishly shot themselves in the foot by reducing the size of their American engineering workforce while insourcing and outsourcing as much as possible over the past decade. Motivated mostly to increase quarterly profits, this short-sighted behavior has left American companies with a reduced engineering knowledge base and over-dependent on the continuance of guest worker programs and outsourcing practices.
    Politicians have proven themselves to be out of touch with their mostly middle-class constituents and disproportionately beholden to their big business campaign contributors. Politicians have proven themselves to be disconnected from realities in the engineering field by repeating foolish phrases such as "desperate shortage of engineers and IT professionals", "America cannot compete without H-1B guest workers" and "Jobs Americans can't or won't do".
    Bill Gates has made a fool of himself by shamelessly misrepresenting an important engineering issue when testifying to Congress in Washington D.C., while his own workers are contradicting his statements at his Redmond headquarters (near Seattle) in Washington state. President Bush has shown himself to be out of touch with American citizens, foolishly parroting the talking points of big business without considering consultation with engineering or labor organizations. [...]
    Currently, there is a massive lobbying campaign in the Capital by big business to dramatically expand guest worker and legal immigration programs beyond just engineering and IT professions. In fact, every high and low skilled job in America is on the way to the auction block, sold to the lowest bidder. While most engineers and other US citizens sit on their hands, Senate and House lawmakers, who are heavily influenced and lobbied by large corporations, take advantage of the apathy and continue to attack middle-class Americans.
  • IBM Research: History of IBM’s Technical Contributions to High Level Programming Languages [PDF]. By Jean E. Sammet. Abstract: This paper discusses IBMs technical contributions to high level programming languages from the viewpoint of specific languages and their contributions to the technology. The philosophy used in this paper is that it is the appropriate collection of features in a language which generally makes the contribution to the technology, rather than an individual feature. Those IBM languages deemed to have made major contributions are (in alphabetical order) APL, FORTRAN, GPSS, and PLII. Smaller contributions (because of lesser general usage) have been made by Commercial Translator, CPS, FORMAC, QUIKTRAN, and SCRATCHPAD. Major contributions were made in the area of formal definition of languages, through the introduction of BNF (Backus-Naur Form) for defining language syntax and VDL (Vienna Definition Language) for semantics.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee message board post: "Seems there was a meeting in Boulder yesterday, bad signal for emplo" by "bugbert_99". Full excerpt: The rumor mill grew leaps and bounds yesterday as a high level exec was in Boulder and said what has gone on in the past is nothing compared to what will happen in the next 90 days. It did not sound like good news. If anyone was actually in the meeting please give us your take on this little confab. This with the rumors of a 'Lean' program of some sort should be causing worry and ulcers with the remaining ibmer's. Anybody's manager go on a trip in the last 2 or 3 weeks to Chicago for this 'Lean' program?
  • Yahoo! message board post: "S.1035 Durbin-Grassley Bill" by "wantedtoretire". Full excerpt: Finally someone has had the common sense to introduce a bill that actually requires companies to document their search for American workers prior to hiring H1B workers for noticeably less than the prevailing wage. I suggest readers review the bill and, if they agree, contact their senators requesting the bill be passed.
    Here's a review done on Lou Dobbs this week:
    "What the bill would do is tighten the rules and oversight of the program. Every employer seeking to hire an H1B worker would have to pledge that they looked for a qualified American first. Just to be sure, the employer would be required to post the opening on the Department of Labor web site for 30 days for everyone looking for work to see.
    On top of that, every company who has hired an H1B worker would be listed on the DOL's web site, along with the positions hired.
    And the definition of prevailing wage would change: from whatever the employer wants to pay to a median of all the workers in that occupation. Employers laying off workers would have to wait 180 days before they could apply to hire an H1B visa worker."
  • CNN/Money: Ford CEO: $28M for 4 months work. Former Boeing exec got $18.5 million bonus, almost $9 million in stock and options and base salary at annual $2 million rate, according to proxy. Excerpt: Struggling Ford Motor Co., which posted a record $12.7 billion net loss in 2006, gave its new CEO Alan Mulally $28 million for four months on the job, according to the company's proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday. The Ford pay package for Mulally comes on top of the $7.4 million that aerospace company Boeing had previously reported paying him for his eight months running that company's commercial aircraft unit before he made the move to Ford at the beginning of September.
  • Dilbert Newsletter, Issue 65.
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • Washington Post: Health-Care Trends You Dare Not Forget. By Martha M. Hamilton. Excerpts: How do you envision retirement? Rock-climbing on weekdays, minus the weekend crowds? Sitting on the back porch knocking off the great books one by one? Or struggling to pay medical bills? That last one may not rank high among retirement fantasies, but it's becoming a reality for more people as health-care costs rise and private-sector employers reduce spending on retiree health care.
    If you retire before Medicare eligibility at age 65, with limited or no retiree health-care coverage, your options aren't great: You can buy a higher-priced individual policy or take your chances paying those doctors' bills. Even when Medicare kicks in, it doesn't mean your medical costs will be fully covered. The Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates that Medicare covers only 51 percent of expenses associated with health-care services for most individuals.
    An unexpected health crisis can take an even bigger bite out of retirement savings. Take the case of Pamela Votava. In her 50s, she developed post-polio syndrome, a progressive weakening of the muscles. On the advice of her doctor, she decided to retire in July 2004 at age 61 to help slow the disease's progress. Her husband was covered by Medicare, and Votava figured she could find private insurance to cover her costs. But the insurance companies she initially applied to turned her down. [...]
    She was able to extend her employer health insurance temporarily for $675 a month, but her employer was too small to be covered by COBRA, a federal law that extends insurance coverage for many retiring workers. She was approved for Social Security Disability Insurance in January 2005, which also made her eligible for Medicare to cover her health costs. But there was a two-year waiting period between SSDI coverage and the beginning of Medicare payments. During that period she needed insurance to help pay for frequent doctors' appointments and for leg braces, which cost about $1,000.
    Votava eventually was able to obtain coverage, but at a high price. Her premiums for the first year were $1,533 a month, rising the next year to more than $2,300. Although her family helped, most of the money came out of the couple's retirement savings -- money they had hoped to spend on travel or a bigger house. "It certainly had an impact on our retirement," she said.
  • Los Angeles Times: Brand-name Medicare drug needs are going unmet. The private sector was supposed to help bridge a $3,000 coverage gap. But beneficiaries' options are few -- and dwindling. By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar. Excerpts: From the day the new Medicare drug plan was introduced, critics warned that it had a big loophole — the "doughnut hole" — a coverage gap that leaves some recipients with $3,000 in costs to pick up themselves. The private sector was supposed to help. And last year, Sierra Health Services, an insurer based in Las Vegas, announced it would do so. In exchange for higher monthly premiums, Sierra offered comprehensive coverage of brand-name medications for patients who had to fill the cost gap.
    But the Sierra Rx Plus plan lost $3 million in January, its first month of operation. Faced with that red ink, the company announced in late February that next year it would no longer offer a plan that covers brand-name drugs in the gap.
  • Congressman John F. Tierney: Tierney Fights to Protect Retiree Health Benefits. Files Legislation Preventing Post-Retirement Corporate Cutbacks. Excerpts: In the face of mounting evidence of a crisis in retiree health care, Congressman John Tierney (D-Salem) has reintroduced the Emergency Retiree Health Benefits Protection Act (H.R.1322). This legislation would prohibit employers from making post-retirement cancellations or reductions of health benefits that retirees were entitled to when they retired. In addition, unless the employer can demonstrate substantial business hardship, the bill would obligate employers to restore benefits taken away after retirement.
    "Corporate cutbacks on retiree health care have reached intolerable proportions," Tierney said. "Many retirees have had to absorb a steep decline in their standard of living to pay the out-of-pocket costs of obtaining individual health insurance coverage. Even worse, retirees with pre-existing medical conditions may not be able to obtain, or afford, any new coverage at all." [...]
    "Retirees who have devoted years of hard work to their employer shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not they will receive their promised health benefits upon retirement, and no company should be reaping profits at the expense of loyal workers. This bill will protect and strengthen our middle class by helping employers make good on their promises to workers, and ensuring that retirees and their families receive their hard-earned health benefits," Congressman Miller continued.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site:

  • Society for Human Resource Management, courtesy of the Alliance@IBM: IBM's HR Takes a Risk With a $100 million restructuring effort, HR at IBM has a lot to prove—and it relishes the challenge. By Robert J. Grossman. Editor's note: This article is a must read for IBM employees if you wish to understand what's truly behind all the vague e-mails you receive from corporate concerning skills, PDF, and assessments. Don't miss it!
  • From the Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comment 03/31/07: The price of bad leadership and unsteady management is loss of loyalty and confidence. Get accustomed to these types of posts. When you display no loyalty and respect from above, you'll get none from below. Our SO clients should be made aware of this exposure. Outsourcing to an organization with employees whose loyalty and trust has been shattered by poor management and immoral leadership is very risky business indeed. Once you are thrown out of IBM the BCG is meaningless and much harder to enforce, even assuming that the employee even signed anything that could be used against them in court. -Stupid to be still at IBM-
    • Comment 04/2/07: The word in Boulder is SSO will be cutting 40% of all jobs across 70% of all accounts - either in one wave or two (I'd bet on two, as is IBM practice of letting larger actions dribble out, rather than give fodder for press stories). -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/2/07: My boss makes sure to let me know every month, like clockwork, that I am only 30 days notice away from losing my job. Great place to work (not). -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/3/07: To IBMSUKS: Dragging your feet on installing those tools isn't going to help. I was on a team of 30 admins. Once it was leaked out that our jobs were going to India, most of the admins left or found other jobs. Within a month, it was down to me and 2 contractors. We installed the software on a handful of servers, but that didn't keep them from firing the 2 contractors before the India team was ever even put in place. I am now the head button-pusher and supposedly all SA work is now done in India. The India team is poorly trained and cannot seem to fix even the simplest of problems. To say the least, our customers are extremely upset at the quality of work, we will likely fail any future audits, and we have been turning down all new work for the past 6 months, with no plans on accepting any new work in the near future. So the outsourcing will continue, even if it breaks everything. And you probably don't want to stick around long enough to become the departmental button-pusher like me. -SeniorButtonPusher-
    • Comment 04/3/07: To SeniorButtonPusher - that's exactly what we're running into except our disaster is coming in the next few weeks. Yes, our customers are pissed. Yes, the cuts of US resources will continue regardless of impact to the business or the customer. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/5/07: We just had our LEAN Wave-3 meeting today where we were told that selected members would be going to Poughkeepsie for five weeks for the test. During that time, we would be expected to keep our accounts running as well as participating in the training/test. They hinted strongly that when this is over all Mainframe Storage Management personnel would be required to relocate to NY and work in an operations center. The clients don't know yet how IBM is getting ready to screw the hell out of them. I'm sure they know that many people will NOT be moving to NY to work, I know I won't. I think this is a way to get rid of employees, particularly the older ones, and consolidate prior to moving the accounts overseas (some for the second time). This exercise will be a mass of confusion and will result in fewer employees, working under sweatshop conditions, for longer hours. Welcome to the third world. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/5/07: LEAN has a target of increasing revenues 30% by May31st. This can happen from streamlining practices, Reduction in Forces or creating additional revenue. Part is LEAN is relocating people to a "Center of Competency". These people will be required to be at the "Center" Monday to Friday and can go home on the weekends.The Center of Competency stuff is geared towards cutting staff in a way that it forces them to quit. This way IBM does not have to tell anyone about the Resource Action and they don't have to pay any compensation. One thing for sure is all accounts in the pilot will be required to show additional 30% profit by May 31st. There will also be 5 different teams of people, and no person will be dedicated to a specific account anymore. -Anonymous-
  • From the General Visitor's Comment page:
    • Comment 03/31/07: I've just left IBM.. I was a Band 9, in the WebSphere SWG, and paid 20% below market value. After 5 years of poor product, zero leadership, and low pay, it was time to go. For those of you that are disheartened, find something else. There are companies out there that respect their employees. You will NOT be disappointed. -exIBMer-
    • Comment 04/1/07: "I've just left IBM.. I was a Band 9, in the WebSphere SWG, and paid 20% below market value. After 5 years of poor product, zero leadership, and low pay, it was time to go. For those of you that are disheartened, find something else. There are companies out there that respect their employees. You will NOT be disappointed. "Congratulations. This is what IBM management needs to see more of to fix the problems in the company. There are lots of good jobs out there and IBM needs to learn the hard way that they are not the best employer anymore. From my experience and research IBM management is on the bottom of this list. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/1/07: I'm tired of the 70-80 hr work week and have given my "manager" notice that I'm leaving in 30 days. I've been asked to reconsider but have not been given any incentive to stay. Does anyone have any recommendations for dealing for the rotten company that IBM has become? -RTP Engineer-
    • Comment 04/2/07: To RTP Engineer I have just one message: Carry away as much money as you can (honestly, of course!). Never mind about all the other high-falutin' stuff. -Alley Oop-
    • Comment 04/4/07: Today at IBM East Fishkill I thought I'd call our internal operator regarding the phone number for our shipping department. Well to may surprise a operator would you believe answered my call from India and asked if he could help me and wanted to know where IBM E. Fishkill NY was ?? It that point I'd told him he was wasting my time and hung the phone up !! What are these people thinking! Outsourcing an operator what a joke ! The man didn't even know where our building was located in the United States ! A real communication breakdown! God forbid if we had a real emergency!! Help us CWA! .... -Anonymous-
  • Pension Comments page
  • Raise and Salary Comments
    • Comment 04/1/07: Salary = 172K; Band Level = 10; Job Title = Exec IT Architect' Years Service = 34; Hours/Week = 60; Div Name = GTS; Location = RTP; Message = Very happy to be leaving the blue pig for HP. They have offered me a 15K signing bonus and a base of 221K. IBM's gone downhill even for top performers. -Happy GTS Grunt-
    • Comment 04/2/07: Salary = 31,968; Band Level = 4; Job Title = BCS; Years Service = 9; Hours/Week = 40+; Message = I am so disappointed at all these people band 6+ complaining about their 40+ thousand dollar jobs. When people like me who been with the company can barely scrape 32 thousand out of the pot. I am sick of IBM their management, and the unfair pay they give for over 9 years of service. -YUM84-
    • Comment 04/3/07: Salary = 75,000 (without bonus); Band Level = 7; Job Title = IT Specialist; Years Service = 12; Hours/Week = 50-60 (plus 24x7x365 hotpager); Div Name = 07; Location = Colorado; Message = I have always been a 1 or 2+ performer, except for one year that I received a 2. I don't expect to ever receive another pay raise (unless we can get a union contract!) -SeniorButtonPusher-
    • Comment 04/4/07: Salary = 70000; Band Level = 7; Job Title = Engineer; Years Service = 2; Hours/Week = 60; Div Name = STG; Location = Hopewell Junction; Message = I know I'm only repeating what many others have said on this board..... but it's true. You can do a LOT better with opportunities outside of IBM. I joined the semiconductor division (fishkill fab) straight out of school, fresh, excited and naive. Didn't know much about IBM at the time, but the company seemed to have a good name (or at least I didn't know any better). Within 2-3 months at this place, I began wondering whether this workplace was really this bad or was it the same at all companies or if I was just whining unnecessarily.
      After I got to know my coworkers well, I found out none of them really liked being here or felt valued. Most of them were just hanging on in quiet desperation, either because they had been here for too many years and would find it difficult to move, or were stuck to mortgages, or to a high-spending wife or children's college to pay for or something like that.
      After I got 4-5 months into my job, I decided I would quit, but after 1-2 years, so it wouldn't look funny on my employment history. Enduring the time here was exhausting, causing many stress-related health problems. The management is so ruthless and cold blooded it makes you lose faith in the human species. Its only once you work here that you realise how disposable and commoditized you are. Seriously, I have never felt so worthless despite working so hard and doing fairly decent work.
      There are several layers of management that do nothing but cook up meaningless work for the underclass to do. I have rarely heard genuine appreciation either for myself or my coworkers from management. The paperwork you need to do and hoops you need to jump through to get simple HR-related things done is astounding.
      If you're not a member of the managerial clique, then you are to IBM what a chicken is to a meat company. Anyway I endured 22 months there and quit to join another semiconductor fab in europe. It is a completely different atmosphere here, I now feel valued and finally have work-life balance that I didn't even dream of. I am much more productive and actually happy to come to work. Gone is the IBM work culture of backstabbing and undermining others and unhealthy competition with your team members. Here there is camaraderie and the synergy or true teamwork.
      I wish someone had warned me in college not to join that place. If you want to do some good deed in your life, spread the word about IBM to as many as you can. Eventually, the truth will get around. Too many people join IBM just for the big-name reputation, not knowing what it really is. -doobya-
    • Comment 04/6/07: Salary = 80,000; Band Level = 8; Job Title = Staff Software Developer; Years Service = 6; Hours/Week = 40; Div Name = ADTC; Location = Toronto; Message = Left IBM to consult and make way more than I ever could staying. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/6/07: Salary = 151000; Band Level = 10; Job Title = Exec IT Architect; Years Service = 33; Hours/Week = 60+; Div Name = 23; Location = RTP; Message = doobya, The most important thing you can do for your alma mater and fellow colleagues is to report your IBM experience back to your college. Many college placement offices and professors have no idea of the extent of IBM's change for the worse. If every graduate that had recently joined IBM would send a letter back to their college describing their experiences at IBM, most management would have been fired, the company unionized and this terrible environment gone forever. I encourage you to write to your professors, open their eyes as well as your college placement about the truth of why IBM really stands for "Immoral Brand and Management". -Old IBMer-
  • PBC Comments
    • Comment 03/29/07: If you are a USA employee and close to your midpoint for pay in band and got a PBC "2" your raise will probably be 0% on June 1st. -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. A few sample posts follow:

  • "How to get an Interview with IBM Business Consulting" by "mike0913". Full excerpt: I have submitted my resume on their career website so many times already and have not heard back. My background is 1 year and 3 months with Accenture, and 6 months with a major investment firm. I have a BS in I.T. and graduated cum laude. I applied to their entry level positions and have not heard back. Can any one give me an idea as to how can I get an interview with IBM? Thanks all!
  • "You are overqualified" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: We only take applicants that have no place else to go. Just doctor your resume - change the Accenture paragraph to Ace Hardware, change the investment bank to a retail bank position as a teller (using 1980s vintage IBM banking machines), and change your name to Ravi Gupta III. Don't forget to mention that you speak fluent Hindi. You will get a callback in a day!
  • "Ignore the negativity" by "ibmsupporter". Excerpts: am amazed at the amount of negativity on this message board. IBM BCS is not half as bad as it is made out to be by DOR and others. I suspect they are disgruntled employees who did not get the raise or promotion they were seeking and want to blame everyone and everything for their failure and frustration, except themselves and their woeful job performance. Shame on you!
    IBM BCS is a good place to work. I am not saying there is no room for improvement, but I would consider it one of the premier consulting firms in the world.
    So for everyone out there interested in applying, I say send in your resume, go for the interviews and, once you get the job, I assure you that you will enjoy a successful and challenging career at one of the world's truly great firms
  • "Ignore the negativity - at your peril" by "civilliberty". Full excerpt: Just when I thought it was getting boring we now have someone to play our experience off. Well sir, I'm no longer with IBM. I spent 2 1/2 years on the back of 1 1/2 years at PWC. IBM was all down hill from my experience:
    • Took away PWC perks
    • Made promotion almost unattainable
    • Skimped on education (I wonder if they have anyone qualified now to clean the toilets)
    • Rigged appraisal system
    Contrast that with a contracting career outside of big blue where I have had more chance to develop and do more interesting work. Yep - things sure a better on the outside.


   
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