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    Highlights—April 28, 2007

  • United Business Media PR Newswire: Alliance@IBM Members/Shareholders to Challenge IBM at Annual Meeting. Full excerpt: KNOXVILLE, Tenn., April 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Members of Alliance@IBM CWA Local 1701 will urge shareholders at the company's annual meeting Tuesday, April 24, to support three critical proposals that will improve corporate governance and end unfair practices at IBM Corp.

    The proposals call for the exclusion of pension income in the calculation of executive compensation; the creation of an independent committee to explore the potential harm to IBM's brand due to increasing offshoring, and an end to discrimination in policies regarding employees' pension and retirement medical benefits.

    Mike Saville, an IBM retiree, shareholder since 1968 and sponsor of Proposal No. 10 on offshoring, said, "Offshoring of IBM jobs continues to be a serious issue. Employees face not only job loss but the indignity of training their off shore replacements. IBM faces negative press on offshoring that damages the brand name and company reputation, and the knowledge base of the United States shrinks." He will cite those concerns as important reasons for the board of directors to establish an independent IBM committee to study the effects of IBM's offshoring on the company's brand and reputation. Protester at IBM Shareholders' Meeting in Knoxville

    IBM employee Bill McGreevy, a sponsor of Proposal No. 9, will stress that pay for performance should be the main criteria for executive pay, and that income generated from pension funds must be excluded. "Executive greed and bloated compensation need to be challenged and executives must be accountable for their performance," he said. "Executives should not be allowed to use other criteria -- including pension income -- to compensate themselves, particularly when IBM employees are facing a decline in their standard of living and retirees are experiencing increases in medical retirement costs while their pensions evaporate."

    James Leas, sponsor of Proposal No. 8 on pension and retirement medical benefits, will point out that, "IBM instituted age discrimination in 1999 by seeking to divide employees into three groups based on age, with the intent of slashing pensions and revoking medical retirement promises. Then IBM expanded this pattern of age discrimination by terminating older employees at a much higher rate than younger employees."

    Leas noted that, "IBM employees resisted in 1999 with mass meetings that forced the company to partially back down" and said that employees would continue to raise this issue through stockholder resolutions, lawsuits and union organizing. "By instituting and expanding age discrimination, IBM executives have put their own personal interests ahead of our company's interest and have demolished employee morale," Leas said.

    Alliance@IBM CWA Local 1701, Employee Advocate since 1999. http://www.allianceibm.org

  • Knoxville News-Sentinel: IBM's road show stops in Knoxville. By Andrew Eder. Excerpts: Big Blue journeyed to Knoxville on Tuesday, bringing some stock price-boosting news, a few disgruntled employees and retirees, and a firsthand look at the computing giant's public face. International Business Machines Corp. - better known as IBM - chose the Knoxville Convention Center as the site of its annual stockholders meeting. About 150 spectators were on hand Tuesday, not counting the dozens of IBM employees in town for the event. [...]

    With more than 355,000 employees, $91.4 billion in revenue last year and a nearly 100-year history, IBM is one of the archetypes of corporate America. According to IBM, the company employs 622 Tennesseans, including 80 combined in Knoxville, Kingsport and Chattanooga.

    Knoxville follows previous locations like Tulsa, Okla., Charleston, S.C. and Kansas City as sites of the shareholders meeting. IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y., says it moves the meeting around each year to make it accessible to new groups of shareholders.

    Lee Conrad, a national coordinator for the IBM employees' organization Alliance@IBM, suggested another motive for the regional meetings. "They tend to go to areas without a large amount of employees or retirees," Conrad said. "There's a reason for that. They want to keep the uproar to a minimum."

    Conrad was one of more than a dozen protesters who demonstrated before the meeting against pension cutbacks, bloated executive pay and the offshoring of IBM workers. "IBM's shifting jobs to India left and right," Conrad said. "It's a big issue for a lot of IBMers."

  • Knoxville News-Sentinel, Letter to the editor, by Bill Johns: Why shareholders really are meeting in Knoxville. Full excerpt: I am glad to see that the Knoxville Convention Center is getting some business, and hopefully, it will be able to leverage the IBM brand in its business development efforts. But, to be successful in these efforts, our community needs to truly understand the real motive or, as it is called in business, the "value proposition," of IBM coming to Knoxville to hold its 2007 shareholders meeting.

    Simply, Knoxville is not a major city and, most importantly, is out of the way from Wall Street and the vast majority of its shareholders.

    It is very difficult for the average shareholder or IBM employee to attend this meeting and keeps the company and its executives from facing investor scrutiny from large numbers of shareholders. IBM VP of HR, Randy McDonald, visits with Alliance@IBM protesters prior to the meeting

    Most major business journals and publications have reported over the years on this disturbing trend of major corporations having their shareholder meetings in much smaller cities and even rural towns.

    With today's business issues of over-compensated executives, sending American jobs to Communist China or other places such as India and Eastern Europe, lackluster performance or even questionable business practices, it is quite understandable from the public relations and investor relations perspectives of these organizations to minimize all risks at the mandatory and annual shareholders meeting.

    It is my hope that some of the "IBMers" will take notice of some of the economic development opportunities that are available in our region while they are here.

    Our community desperately needs diversification from its public-sector economic base, and bringing in Fortune 500 companies is welcomed.

    But our community needs to understand that the reasons we are very attractive for a Fortune 500 company's shareholders meeting are, ironically, the same attributes of why our community is not attractive to major investments by these same technology-based organizations.

    Until our community leaders truly understand the root causes of this issue and, most importantly, positively addresses them, our community will always be known by Wall Street as a great place to visit.

  • The Journal News (Westchester, Rockland and Putnam Counties in New York): IBM authorizes buy back of $15 billion in shares. By Julie Moran Alterio. Excerpts: If you had $15 billion, how would you spend it? This wasn't just an idle question for IBM Corp., whose board of directors yesterday gave the OK for the biggest stock buyback in the company's history. [...]

    Since 1995, Armonk-based IBM has spent nearly $80 billion to buy back stock. "You can buy a lot of companies for that kind of money," noted Bob Djurdjevic, a longtime IBM watcher and computer industry analyst who runs Annex Research in Phoenix.

    A longtime critic of IBM's policy of swelling earnings per share by reducing the number of shares outstanding, Djurdjevic believes Big Blue would get a bigger bang for its buck on Wall Street by focusing on revenue growth, which he anticipates will be a sluggish 4 percent in coming years.

    He thinks IBM can accomplish that best by acquiring high-growth businesses or pouring more dollars into research and development.

    "I'm not sure this can be a sustained way of getting the stock up to $125, which is what I think it's worth. I think they need to invest in their own business. They have to buy companies and round out their portfolio," Djurdjevic said. [...]

    In his address to about 150 shareholders in Knoxville, Tenn., Samuel J. Palmisano, chairman, president and chief executive officer, perhaps anticipating criticisms such as Djurdjevic's, noted that IBM purchased 56 companies during his tenure. [...]

    Other companies, including Hewlett-Packard, which last month said it planned to spend $8 billion to buy back shares, are all doing it in a mistaken effort to please Wall Street at the expense of their own businesses, Djurdjevic said. "Companies that invest in Wall Street instead of their own businesses lack the imagination and creativity to do so. Creative companies spend money on their own business," he said.

  • Chicago Tribune: IBM moves to take back shares, pay dividends. By Bill Barnhart. Excerpts: The plan disclosed Tuesday by International Business Machines to repurchase $15 billion of its shares and boost its dividend by 33 percent reflects financial maneuvers few companies can pull off, even on a proportionately smaller scale.

    To accomplish these shareholder-friendly goals, IBM plans to lever its cash hoard -- currently $11 billion -- with new debt.

    "Today's announcement is a unique event, where IBM is expected to issue debt to finance a more-than-doubling of stock buy-back activity compared to the last few years," said Nick Nilarp, a credit analyst at rating agency Fitch Ratings. "Historically, they have utilized internal, free cash flow to fund dividends and stock buybacks."

    Why do companies borrow money to buy back shares? In the case of companies such as IBM, it's partly because they can.

    Fitch Ratings said the move could hurt IBM's credit rating, depending on the amount of borrowing. But the two other major rating agencies, Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service, said they expect no debt rating impact.[...]

    Share buybacks are controversial, especially as an alternative to cash dividends. In most cases, CEOs are rewarded for boosting earnings per share, not for increasing dividends. Even as earnings decline, earnings per share can top Wall Street forecasts if the surprise is the reduction of shares.

    IBM estimated that its repurchase program for this year could boost its earnings per share growth by up to 3 percentage points.

  • IBM: 2007 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, IBM report on the company (webcast). Presented by: Sam Palmisano, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, IBM. (Editor's note: This webcast is only of Mr. Palmisano's prepared 12 minute speech to the stockholders. It does not contain other elements of the shareholders' meeting, including the question and answer period. You had to be at the meeting to hear the questions and Mr. Palmisano's responses to them...and, less than 150 people were there.)
  • The Register (United Kingdom): IBM prepared to break knuckles of low-income students. No intention of forgiving Faustian pact. By Dan Goodin. Excerpts: IBM takes no prisoners when collecting a debt, even when it's relatively small and the debtor is a low-income school district that is atoning for sins committed two decades earlier.

    That much can be divined from a Contra Costa Times story reporting that earlier this month Mark Loughridge, IBM's chief financial officer, refused to forgive a $5m obligation stemming from a 1989 purchase of an unknown number of PCs by a school district that went belly up one year later. The superintendent of the West Contra Costa Unified School District, which incurred the debt and serves some of Northern California's poorest students, asked that the debt be expunged as as a good-will gesture.

    According to a 1993 agreement that was supposed to settle a nasty spat between the parties, the first of four $1.25m installments comes due in 2008, with the remaining three payments due over the following three years. The $5m price tag is the equivalent of the salaries for 20 teachers at the district, which is home to about 31,000 students. If the obligation is forced to be paid on schedule, the district's debt payments will balloon from $2.5m now to about $3.75m. [...]

    Following heated shouting matches between the parties, IBM ultimately agreed to settle for $5.15m, rather than the $6.2m it said it was owed. An initial payment of $150,000 came due in 1993 and the remainder was to be paid starting 15 years later.

    With West Contra Costa Unified, in Northern California, still finding its financial footing, superintendent Bruce Harter last month wrote a letter asking Loughridge to wipe the debt from IBM's books, noting the "obligation to IBM represents the equivalent of the salaries of 20 teachers which would further hamper our ability to provide high quality educational services."

    IBM didn't get where it is by being swayed by such appeals, as someone in Loughridge's position would be the first to admit. He responded with a two-paragraph response urging the superintendent to "adhere to the agreed to generous payment schedule and include this obligation in your budget process". An IBM spokesman had not responded to a request for comment by the time this story was published.

  • Poughkeepsie Journal: Lost IBM tapes contained ID information. By Craig Wolfe. Excerpts: IBM Corp. has lost some computer tapes that contain personal data for an undisclosed number of former employees. There’s no sign the tapes have been accessed by anyone improperly, IBM spokesman Fred McNeese said.

    All those affected were notified recently in letters from Barbara A. Brickmeier, Armonk-based vice president for human resources. A recipient shared a copy of the letter with the Poughkeepsie Journal. “Those tapes contained primarily archival IBM employment-related information, including Social Security numbers,” Brickmeier wrote. [...]

    The loss occurred Feb. 23 south of IBM’s headquarters in Armonk near the intersection of Interstates 684 and 287, McNeese said. A vendor, who isn’t being named, lost the tapes while transporting them. “We’ve concluded that the tape loss was inadvertent. We’ve got no indication that the data on the tapes has been accessed or used improperly.” The search continues, he said. All those notified have been given an opportunity to use an identity theft protection service from Kroll Inc., a national security firm, at no cost for a year, the letter said. Levi Horton, a Fishkill man who retired from IBM in 1991, said he had not received a letter, but has heard “a lot of talk about identity theft” and has grown cautious. “I do not give up my Social Security” number, he said.

  • Yahoo! message board post: "LEAN" by "sandy12533". Full excerpt: I am headed off to LEAN training in Boulder tomorrow. We were told the next week would be grueling, with long hours and lots of information to absorb. They have cut short the training from 5 weeks to 3 weeks. Apparently, they are trying to save money, as the bill has grown quite large. We are all scared to death about loosing our jobs. Our first line mgr already told us he has been layed off (unless of course he can find himself another job within the next 30 days). Poor guy has over 20 years service with ibm. I guess it's not just us peons that are being affected by LEAN. Its mgrs too.
  • Yahoo! message board post: "Re: LEAN" by "bits_bytes_and_bugs". Full excerpt: I've been working on LEAN for quite a while now. I have never seen a more screwed up, disorganized bunch of morons and nitwits. I think the leadership of LEAN should be fired for sheer incompetence and arrogance. The LEAN leadership team would make an excellent case-study of how not to organize and lead a major project.

    LEAN as a group of principles intended to improve competitiveness via increasing customer value and reducing unnecessary cost, is actually a good thing. For more information refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lean_manufacturing.

    While LEAN itself is a good thing, by ignoring some of the principles and by misusing others, IBM is doing a very poor job implementing it.

    I believe IBM is using LEAN as a crowbar to reduce costs by the brute force cutting of the workforce, rather than implementing the principles of LEAN to improve efficiency, effectiveness, customer focus and quality which should bring in more business to which existing resource can be applied. The difference is very much like putting the proverbial cart before the horse.

    One of the principles, load leveling and production flow, done well can stabilize the workforce rather than subject it to cycles of mass hirings and mass firings to adjust to the amount of work available. This is one things IBM will totally ignore because part of their strategy is to dump as many high paid older employees as possible.

    Another of the principles is to empower the workforce to cooperatively solve issues. That's not gonna happen in IBM - no one wants to give away their power and there are way too many groups that tell you it's their way or the highway.

    Another principle is to eliminate the waste of adversarial relationships - between management and employee, company and suppliers, company and partners, company and customer. Layoffs of course, violate this principle, as does chronically reducing benefits, setting unreachable PBC objectives, etc.

    IBM is doing it wrong - McKinsey is making tons of money telling IBM how to do it wrong. McK just promises those 40% cost savings within 6 months and tells the IBM brass what they want to hear - "cut, cut, cut", even though it will decimate the workforce, hurt customers, demoralize the survivors and break the business.

    Meanwhile, the execs suffer no cuts themselves and treat themselves with large bonuses because they were able to cut costs.

    We are run by a bunch of immoral, unethical, selfish, dictators who are above the rules the rest of us must live by. LEAN as they're using it, is just one of their many tools.

  • Vault message board post: "The AS Crowd is LEAN Target" by "GTS Grunt". Full excerpt: Take cover guys, the bean counters are coming for you.
  • Forbes: IBM Buys Serbian Services Business. Excerpt: IBM said Thursday it agreed to buy the IBM hardware maintenance services business of Serbian Business Systems, a privately held IT hardware, software and services company headquartered in Belgrade, Serbia.
  • Wall Street Journal: A Pension to Retire For: $158.5 Million Plus. AT&T CEO Whitacre Gets Big Reward for Performance; Well-Earned or 'Egregious'? By Dionne Searcey. Excerpts: In addition to his $158.5 million pension package, Mr. Whitacre in retirement will have $24,000 in annual automobile benefits, $6,500 in "home security" each year and access to AT&T's corporate jet for 10 hours a month, according to AT&T's proxy filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    The Texan and his family will also receive free health insurance for life. The company will pick up the tab for taxes on most of these benefits. And he will be paid just over $1 million a year for three years for work as a consultant to the company during his retirement. For that period of time he will also receive $25,000 to cover his country-club fees. [...]

    Mr. Whitacre's pension plan includes $73.8 million in nonqualified deferred compensation, $61 million from supplemental retirement income plans, $22.3 million from a supplemental executive-retirement plan, and $1.4 million from AT&T's defined benefit pension plan, according to AT&T's proxy filing. [...]

    Mr. Whitacre's pension package has been topped by others historically. The total retirement package of Lee Raymond, former chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp. came to about $351 million, according to the Corporate Library. An Exxon spokesman ticked off a list of Mr. Raymond's accomplishments as chief executive, including more than quadrupling the company's market capitalization.

  • Washington Post: The Upside of Being Out. How Taxes, Takeovers Figure Into Golden Parachute's Cushion. By David S. Hilzenrath. Excerpt: For many top executives, losing their jobs could be lucrative. For Sprint Nextel chief executive Gary D. Forsee, it could trigger as much as $73.8 million in pay and benefits, depending on the circumstances. An excise tax would take a bite out of that sum, but it would not be Forsee's problem. Sprint would cover the bill at a cost of $16.1 million.
  • Investment News: House passes executive comp bill. By Sara Hansard. Excerpts: Legislation giving shareholders of public companies an advisory vote on executive compensation plans was approved by the House of Representatives today by a vote of 269-134. The legislation, introduced by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), also would give shareholders an advisory vote if a company gives executives new “golden parachute” benefits during negotiations to buy or sell a company.
  • InformationWeek: Bill To Increase H-1B Visa Makes A Comeback In Congress. The bill looks to create a new visa category -- the F-1 -- for foreign students looking to pursue a bachelor's or advanced degree. By Marianne Kolbasuk McGee. Excerpts: It's back. The SKIL bill -- which was introduced into the U.S. Senate last year and focused on raising the H-1B visa cap and reforming green card limits -- has been reintroduced into the Senate and House of Representatives. On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., introduced in the House the "Securing Knowledge Innovation and Leadership," or SKIL bill. The legislation is identical to a bill that was reintroduced last week into the Senate by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who also introduced that bill last year during the last congressional session. [...]

    Among the SKIL bill's proposals are raising the annual H-1B cap from 65,000 today to 115,000, with the ability to automatically increase the cap in subsequent years by 20%, or up to 180,000. The bill also proposes applying the current 20,000 cap exemption to those with a master's degree or higher from an institution of higher education in a foreign country, not just for those foreigners who have advanced degrees from U.S. schools. [...]

    "I do not underestimate Congress' willingness to flood the U.S. market with labor, regardless of available Americans who need the jobs, [and] to drive down wages," said Kim Berry, president of IT professional advocacy group the Programmers Guild, in an e-mail interview with InformationWeek. Berry said he's opposed to any legislation that proposes raising the visa cap rather than reforming current rules regarding H-1B hiring. [...]

    Earlier this month, the U.S. government, after only two days, stopped accepting H-1B visa petitions for fiscal 2008. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said it received a total of 123,480 petitions for the 65,000 visas that will be issued by the State Department for fiscal 2008, starting on Oct. 1. That's the fastest the H-1B visa application period has ever closed.

  • Washington Post: What They're Taking From Your 401(k). Obscure Retirement Plan Fees Add Up Shockingly. By Kathleen Day. Excerpts: Like 47 million other U.S. workers, software engineer Don Sengpiehl is counting on retirement money invested in a company-sponsored 401(k) savings plan.

    But ask Sengpiehl how much that plan costs, and the 54-year-old Loudoun County resident -- who studied math at Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- won't be able to do much more than guess. Disclosures about 401(k) fees bewilder him, and he says he doesn't have the time or know-how to figure out what he's being charged, much less to monitor whether his employer is pushing for the lowest possible fees.

    "I basically set it up, put it in motion and hope for the best," he said.

    Many workers share Sengpiehl's ignorance about retirement plan fees, even as 401(k)s have become the dominant retirement savings vehicle offered by corporate America. Financial industry executives, consumer groups and federal regulators say that confusing and often fragmentary disclosures by employers and 401(k) managers make it hard for most workers to understand what they're being charged.

    In recent months, class-action lawsuits have been filed against about a dozen big companies -- including Boeing, International Paper and Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin -- claiming that these employers have allowed financial managers of their 401(k) plans to charge excessive fees. In many cases, the lawsuits say, the companies simply have not fully understood which fees were being charged. Federal law requires employers that sponsor 401(k) plans to protect employees' interests, and the lawsuits claim that the companies have failed to seek the best price possible given the services provided. [...]

    The consultants said many 401(k) plans are charging from 1 to several percentage points too much. While that may not seem like a lot, even a slightly higher fee can deeply erode savings over time. The Department of Labor, which regulates 401(k) plans, posts this example on its Web site: If you have $25,000 in savings earning an average of 7 percent annually, with a 0.5 percent fee, your investment will grow to $227,000 over 35 years. Raising that fee by 1 percentage point, to 1.5 percent, will reduce the investment's final value to $163,000.

  • USA Today: Delta expects to soar after exiting Chapter 11. By Marilyn Adams. Excerpt: Throughout the process, Bastian says, Delta's managers, who had vowed to get through Chapter 11 in 18 months, worked feverishly to keep things moving. Their advocate in court was New York bankruptcy lawyer Marshall Huebner, whom American Lawyer magazine just named one of its 2006 "dealmakers of the year."

    Huebner, a partner at law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, avoided much of the costly, time-consuming litigation that United lawyers faced by negotiating more out-of-court agreements with angry creditors that filed claims against the company. Although bankruptcy cases are usually marked by monthly court hearings on disputes to be argued before the judge, Huebner canceled 60% of them because the issues had been resolved. "Fundamentally, we're here to cut deals," Huebner says. "We took a proactive approach to listening to what people wanted."

    Those deals didn't necessarily come cheap. Delta's settlement with retired pilots, who lost benefits when the company terminated its underfunded pilots pension plan, grants them about $550 million in new Delta stock when the airline exits bankruptcy.

    The retirees' lawyer, Dean Booth of Atlanta, was so grateful, he sent Huebner's wife two dozen roses for putting up with her husband's long hours of negotiations. [...]

    Today, union chief Capt. Lee Moak says pilots "are excited about working for a profitable airline. I see employees recharged."

    Delta's other, non-union employees also have reason for optimism. Although they took significant cuts in pay and benefits, Delta management made sure that employees at all levels would receive a financial stake in the new company. Rank-and-file Delta employees will get a 3.5% share of the stock in the reorganized airline.

    A 2.6% equity stake will go to 1,200 Delta top managers. That's a fraction of the 8% stake that top officers of United received after that airline exited bankruptcy in 2006 — a payout that still rankles United's unions.

    Surprise gift. As a parting gift, Delta CEO Grinstein, who is leaving this summer, declined any stock, stock options or cash bonuses, post-bankruptcy. Instead, he asked Delta to spend what he would've gotten in bonuses on scholarships and emergency hardship assistance for employees.

    His surprising gesture, almost unheard-of in the world of spiraling executive pay, was a hit with workers and creditors.

    "It was great that he did that," Moak says.

  • New York Times: Gilded Once More. By Paul Krugman. Full excerpt: One of the distinctive features of the modern American right has been nostalgia for the late 19th century, with its minimal taxation, absence of regulation and reliance on faith-based charity rather than government social programs. Conservatives from Milton Friedman to Grover Norquist have portrayed the Gilded Age as a golden age, dismissing talk of the era’s injustice and cruelty as a left-wing myth.

    Well, in at least one respect, everything old is new again. Income inequality — which began rising at the same time that modern conservatism began gaining political power — is now fully back to Gilded Age levels.

    Consider a head-to-head comparison. We know what John D. Rockefeller, the richest man in Gilded Age America, made in 1894, because in 1895 he had to pay income taxes. (The next year, the Supreme Court declared the income tax unconstitutional.) His return declared an income of $1.25 million, almost 7,000 times the average per capita income in the United States at the time.

    But that makes him a mere piker by modern standards. Last year, according to Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine, James Simons, a hedge fund manager, took home $1.7 billion, more than 38,000 times the average income. Two other hedge fund managers also made more than $1 billion, and the top 25 combined made $14 billion.

    How much is $14 billion? It’s more than it would cost to provide health care for a year to eight million children — the number of children in America who, unlike children in any other advanced country, don’t have health insurance.

    The hedge fund billionaires are simply extreme examples of a much bigger phenomenon: every available measure of income concentration shows that we’ve gone back to levels of inequality not seen since the 1920s.

    The New Gilded Age doesn’t feel quite as harsh and unjust as the old Gilded Age — not yet, anyway. But that’s because the effects of inequality are still moderated by progressive income taxes, which fall more heavily on the rich than on the middle class; by estate taxation, which limits the inheritance of great wealth; and by social insurance programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which provide a safety net for the less fortunate.

    You might have thought that in the face of growing inequality, there would have been a move to reinforce these moderating institutions — to raise taxes on the rich and use the money to strengthen the safety net. That’s why comparing the incomes of hedge fund managers with the cost of children’s health care isn’t an idle exercise: there’s a real trade-off involved. But for the past three decades, such trade-offs have been consistently settled in favor of the haves and have-mores.

    Taxation has become much less progressive: according to estimates by the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, average tax rates on the richest 0.01 percent of Americans have been cut in half since 1970, while taxes on the middle class have risen. In particular, the unearned income of the wealthy — dividends and capital gains — is now taxed at a lower rate than the earned income of most middle-class families.

    Those hedge fund titans, by the way, have an especially sweet deal: loopholes in the law let them use their own businesses as, in effect, unlimited 401(k)s, sheltering their earnings and accumulating tax-free capital gains.

    Meanwhile, the tax-cut bill Congress passed in 2001 set in motion a complete phaseout of the estate tax. If the Bush administration hadn’t been too clever by half, hiding the true cost of its tax cuts by making the whole package expire at the end of 2010, we’d be well on our way toward becoming a dynastic society.

    And as for the social insurance programs —— well, in 2005 the Bush administration tried to privatize Social Security. If it had succeeded, Medicare would have been next.

    Of course, the administration’s attempt to undo Social Security was a notable failure. The public, it seems, isn’t eager to return to the days before the New Deal. And the G.O.P.’s defeat in the midterm election has put on hold other plans to restore the good old days.

    But it’s much too soon to declare the march toward a New Gilded Age over. If history is any guide, one of these days we’ll see the emergence of a New Progressive Era, maybe even a New New Deal. But it may be a long wait

News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • Newsday, courtesy of Physicians for a National Health Program: Health care: The best won't be the easiest. By Saul Friedman. Excerpts: As we’ve discussed, “Medicare for All” may seem the simplest and most logical path to universal health care. But the nation’s conservative traditions and the entrenched multizillion-dollar for-profit health care establishment will be formidable obstacles on that path.

    It took 20 years of political struggle to get Medicare, and it passed only because an overwhelmingly elected Democratic president, Lyndon Johnson, had veto-proof majorities in both houses of Congress. Such one-party control is not the case now, nor will it be after 2008, unless there is a political earthquake.

    Thus, any proposal for universal health care will have to reckon with the combined power of the nation’s richest and most powerful lobbies - the insurance industry and drug manufacturers, as well as medical professionals who make out well in the current system. People are easily fooled by misleading ads. Remember the insurance lobby’s “Harry and Louise”?

    My mail shows that while most Americans say they favor publicly supported universal health care and social insurance, including Medicare and Social Security, a vocal minority strongly believes that would lead to socialism or worse. The minority will be aided by a network of right-wing think tanks that never supported Medicare but helped kill the Clinton plan in 1994. [...]

    President George W. Bush, who opposes government involvement in health care, says universal coverage should be provided only by private insurers. Under his recent proposal, government would grant people more tax incentives - greater deductions - to buy health insurance, perhaps through their employers.

    But many of the 45 million workers who are uninsured don’t pay enough taxes to benefit from any deductions. Many cannot afford insurance for themselves and their families, and others can’t qualify because of adverse medical histories.

    While the president opposes government health insurance for others, he and his immediate family, including his mother and father, have benefited most of their lives from government-supplied, taxpayer supported health insurance. And they’ll never be without that coverage. They (as well as Vice President Dick Cheney and members of Congress) earned it with government service. If government coverage is good enough for them, what about the rest of us?

  • AlterNet, courtesy of Physicians for a National Health Program: Controversial Michael Moore Flick "Sicko" Will Compare U.S. Health Care with Cuba's. To state that controversy and Michael Moore go hand and hand is to utter the obvious, and Moore’s latest film Sicko will clearly be no exception.

    Sicko, which will be premiering at the Cannes Film Festival in May, is a comic broadside against the state of American health care, including the mental health system. The film targets drug companies and the HMOS in the richest country in the world — where the most money is spent on health care, but where the U.S. ranks 21st in life expectancy among the 30 most developed nations, obviously in part due to the fact that 47 million people are without health insurance.

    The timing of Moore’s film is propitious. Twenty-two percent of Americans say that health care is the most pressing issue in America. Health care will clearly be a major issue in the upcoming presidential campaign, as the problems with America’s health care system have mushroomed during the Bush administration. For example, between 2001 and 2005 the number of people without health insurance rose 16.6 percent. The average health insurance premiums for a family of four are $10,880, which exceeds the annual gross income of $10,712 for a full-time, minimum-wage worker. In addition, the lack of insurance causes 18,000 excess deaths a year while people without health insurance have 25 percent higher mortality rates. Fifty-nine percent of uninsured people with chronic conditions such as asthma or diabetes skip medicine or go without care. [...]

    America’s second-class health care system. Clearly one of the themes of Moore’s films, highlighted by the trip to Cuba, is to challenge the myth that the U.S. has superior health care when compared with other countries. In a recent AlterNet article, attorney Guy Saperstein explained.

    “The World Health Organization ranks health care systems based on objective measures of medical outcomes: The United States’ health care system currently ranks 37th in the world, behind Colombia and Portugal; the United States ranks 44th in the world in infant mortality, behind many impoverished Latin American countries. While infant mortality in the United States is skewed toward poor people, who have rates double the wealthy, the top quintile of the U.S. population has infant mortality rates higher than Canadians in the lowest quintile of wealth.

    “The United States has fewer physicians, nurses and hospital beds than most developed nations. In the United States, 28 percent say it is “difficult to get care”; in most European countries, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, 15 percent say that. In terms of continuity of care (i.e., five-plus years with the same doctor), the United States is the worst of all developed nations. By every objective measure, the United States has a second-rate health care system.”

  • Reuters: Posing as pals, drug reps sway doctors' choices. By Julie Steenhuysen. Excerpts: Their study, which appears in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine, details the elaborate methods used by drug company sales representatives to make friends and influence drug sales.

    Reps scour a doctor's office for objects -- a tennis racquet, Russian novels, '70s rock music, fashion magazines, travel mementos or cultural or religious symbols -- that can be used to establish a personal connection with the doctor," Fugh-Berman and Ahari wrote.

    "A friendly physician makes the rep's job easy because the rep can use the 'friendship' to request favors, in the form of prescriptions.

    "The remarkable thing is how effective a very brief visit by a drug representative -- most often less than five minutes -- can be in influencing physicians' choices to use a drug for an unapproved indication," Dr. Michael Steinman of the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center said in a statement. Besides free drug samples, salespeople often bring gifts, lunch for the doctor or office staff, new pens and coffee mugs. "The doctor feels subtly, even subconsciously, indebted to the representative," Steinman said.

  • American Prospect, courtesy of California Nurses Association: The Health of Nations - Here's how Canada, France, Britain, Germany, and our own Veterans Health Administration manage to cover everybody at less cost and with better care than we do. By Ezra Klein. Excerpts: Medicine may be hard, but health insurance is simple. The rest of the world's industrialized nations have already figured it out, and done so without leaving 45 million of their countrymen uninsured and 16 million or so underinsured, and without letting costs spiral into the stratosphere and severely threaten their national economies.

    Even better, these successes are not secret, and the mechanisms not unknown. Ask health researchers what should be done, and they will sigh and suggest something akin to what France or Germany does. Ask them what they think can be done, and their desperation to evade the opposition of the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry and conservatives and manufacturers and all the rest will leave them stammering out buzzwords and workarounds, regional purchasing alliances and health savings accounts. The subject's famed complexity is a function of the forces protecting the status quo, not the issue itself.

    So let us, in these pages, shut out the political world for a moment, cease worrying about what Aetna, Pfizer, and Grover Norquist will say or do, and ask, simply: What should be done? To help answer that question, we will examine the best health- care systems in the world: those of Canada, France, Great Britain, Germany, and the U.S. Veterans Health Administration (VHA), whose inclusion I'll justify shortly. {...]

    Oh, Canada! As described by the American press, Canada's health-care system takes the form of one long queue. The line begins on the westernmost edge of Vancouver, stretches all the way to Ottawa, and the overflow are encouraged to wait in Port Huron, Michigan, while sneering at the boorish habits of Americans. Nobody gets to sit.

    Sadly for those invested in this odd knock against the Canadian system, the wait times are largely hype. A 2003 study found that the median wait time for elective surgeries in Canada was a little more than four weeks, while diagnostic tests took about three (with no wait times to speak of for emergency surgeries). By contrast, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development data from 2001 found that 32 percent of American patients waited more than a month for elective surgery, and 5 percent waited more than four months. That, of course, doesn't count the millions of Americans who never seek surgery, or even the basic care necessary for a diagnosis, because they lack health coverage. If you can't see a doctor in the first place, you never have to wait for treatment.

    Canada's is a single-payer, rather than a socialized, system. That means the government is the primary purchaser of services, but the providers themselves are private. (In a socialized system, the physicians, nurses, and so forth are employed by the government.) The virtue of both the single-payer and the socialized systems, as compared with a largely private system, is that the government can wield its market share to bargain down prices -- which, in all of our model systems, including the VHA, it does.

    A particularly high-profile example of how this works is Canadian drug reimportation. The drugs being bought in Canada and smuggled over the border by hordes of lawbreaking American seniors are the very same pharmaceuticals, made in the very same factories, that we buy domestically. The Canadian provinces, however, bargain down the prices (Medicare is barred from doing the same) until we pay 60 percent more than they do.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site:

  • From the Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comment 04/20/07: Well here is what I have experienced so far. I work for IGS in a tech support role. Recently all managers met in Boulder on the LEAN initiative. Several announcements were made upon their return. Folks will travel to Boulder, Raleigh etc (Competency Centers or CC), for training. We will not be dedicated to any one account and that we will be pooled.

      Expenses for travel for LEAN will not be an issue. While my manager was in Boulder, he asked me if I was interested in a local position in my area (on site with a customer). I said I would be. Then a few days later he said he was told to hold off until Phase 4 of LEAN. I also found a job online for a Duty Manager.

      When I spoke to the hiring manager, he asked me if I was near a CC. I said I was 15 miles from an IBM location. According to him, the nearest CC is in Atlanta and that I would have to relocate. Yesterday in a team meeting our manager emphasized the importance in acquiring other skills. "You don't have a choice, If you don't cross train it will impact your position."

    • Comment 04/20/07: I was talking to my first line manager. He informed me that there will be cuts up to 40% in SSO. I am thinking IBM is crazy for doing this. I have been working on the VMware Governance board and hope this will enable me to keep my job with IBM. Good luck everyone and keep your head up. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/20/07: If you work in service delivery in Raleigh, Poughkeepsie/Southbury, or Boulder, you're in scope for LEAN. 30% of you will be losing your jobs. 30% minimum; many groups are being cut much more. Anonymous 4/19 is right: if there are subks doing the same job as you, that is NO protection.

      First lines have been told the rules are no more, and regulars can and should be cut right alongside subks. If you're in account management in these areas, you get to explain this stuff to your customers. In particular, LEAN means that if the customer is paying for 97.5% server availability, 97.5% is what they get, not the 99.9%+ they have been getting. If they want 99.9%, they have to give us more money. Funny as hell.

      Someone asked Diane Digglemann "Aren't customer reference-ability and what we have to do for LEAN *polar opposites?*" She didn't deny it, and said (if you can believe it) "it's a balance." Yeah, it's a balance between walking to the right and walking to the left. Thanks for the advice, eh? -TickedoffFirstline-

    • Comment 04/20/07: About 320 LEAN Employees were hired last month at IBM East Fishkill NY. People from all diverse backgrounds getting minimal compensation and no real benefit package. Their HR mission to be cross trained and to take your job. What a way to say:"You did good but you could of done better" This could be the makings for an annual IBM country western song .. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/21/07: Just heard that a couple of people on my account are being sent to Colorado as part of this wave, but no other details yet. Our customer is supposed to find out about LEAN next week, so I expect there will be more people affected. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/21/07: With regards to what will be happening starting in May, has anyone been part of a VISION 2008 presentation. It was given by IBM in INDIA to a select few. Target is 120,000 IBM INDIA employees by mid-2008. At that point with US redundancies, IBM INDIA will be the largest block with CHINA second. *** For all of you GTS/GBS folks that feel secure, can you spell acquire SATYAM. *** -no_ky-
    • Comment 04/22/07: I was cruising the bookstore today and found 2 new books on LEAN. I looked at the explanation of LEAN in Chapter 1 of "LEAN for Dummies" and found the 6th point to be : Respect for employees. Looks like we may have blown it already.... -any mouse-
    • Comment 04/23/07: If you work in IGS in United States it sounds like LEAN is headed your way. News we have here is that "Wave 3" has been expanded from about 100 accounts to 600 accounts. Does anybody know how many SO accounts IBM has in the US? -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/23/07: I cut my own job; I'm outta there. IBM is just a dot in the rearview mirror and the pedal is to the floor! -Communist-
    • Comment 04/24/07: Rumors of big cuts in Roch, May 3rd. ( In the lab and mfg. ) ...iSeries sales in the ditch, 1Q. Anyone hearing the same cut rumors?? -Sick Of It-
    • Comment 04/24/07: As I was just walking down the corridor I overheard our plant exec saying "They are still weighing up numbers for the layoffs in Roch" I wonder when Its going to happen over our side? -IrelandIBMer-
    • Comment 04/24/07: I have been working on the LEAN project for a year now and laying off a lot of people. This is not good for anyone working at IBM. NG MAN -NG MAN-
    • Comment 04/24/07: I hope IBM lays off a lot of employees. The scope of the company is too big for success. One Life to Live -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/24/07: You know when a company is in big trouble when the IBM CO is urging its share holders to vote on a proxy to vote for a decision to sell its own company. Sort of cutting off your arm that feeds our own face -Save our ship-
    • Comment 04/24/07: Msg from TickedoffFirstline- seems pretty accurate. Dug up some documentation in dbs I administer and looks like big cuts in Strategic Outsourcing/ITD organization and others over the next 3-4 weeks with a off payroll date around 6/1/07. One 200 page presentation says up to 12,000 ppl in next 10-18 months (not sure what divisions are affected). Been 'pre-notified' to find something quickly, if possible. Not really interested. This company sux. -NCDBGUY -lean_victim-
    • Comment 04/24/07: Some answers: Rochester Mfg has few "employees" other than people and project management - the people working the line are minimal skill supplementals, regulars were already taken out in a prior layoff. Roch also makes pSeries, but that won't stop 'em from hacking.

      Development Lab has already made cuts, mainly of vendors, but there are a lot of people looking for jobs that don't exist and there will be more.

      SO accounts in the US are slightly more than 600 - there are only a few exceptions to LEAN and they are approved at the Moffat level.

      The 120K in India is insane - India is already running out of skilled people, the rest are largely unskilled and inexperienced with a university degree that isn't worth the paper it's printed on. To get the skilled ones, IBM will have to pay dearly, thus losing much of the reason for going there.

      As for the 04/24/07 Anonymous post, the real problem with the company is not size - it's structure of 10 layers of interlocking matrix management. Flatten the organization, dump the matrix and empower the employees and you'll see an amazing turnaround. -Anonymous-

    • Comment 04/25/07: We were just told that LEAN was going to affect some people in POK in the server tower and they would be "leaned" over to a building at the Fishkill site. IBM is not even telling the customer about this. Our management told us that things would break and we had to let it break....good way to run a business. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/25/07: Folks, laid off sometime ago, have a job with a smaller company. I make more money then I ever made at IBM, and am appreciated for everything I do...you need to get out, IBM no longer cares about you, the american people that made this american company what it is today - they turned their back on you, do the same...the grass is much greener out there. -Ex-ibmer-
    • Comment 04/26/07: I just spoke with my first line manager from Southbury and he informed me that 30 percent cuts are coming on May 4th. They are calling it BLACK FRIDAY. Good luck everyone. -LABBIE_Lady-
    • Comment 04/26/07: Comment 04/25/07: I am reading astonishing things here about massive numbers of hires in India and probably similar layoffs in US. Meanwhile today IBM stock reached a new 52 week high. Is there any correlation? Or cause and effect? -Chaingang-

      To take the pressure off themselves, the Board of Directors vote to increase the dividend. This makes everything look wonderful to Wall Street, hence the increase in stock price. They also use money that should be going to the employees in raises to buy back stock. This inflates the earnings to share ratio, which also pleases Wall Street. Unfortunately, this is all financial engineering and someday soon the house of cards will tumble and fall. That's the real shame of it all. -Anonymous-

    • Comment 04/27/07: been hearing rumors of a black friday in ROCH, too. May4th,,,, the lab rats, mfg floor folks and ME support targeted << -what happened to us-
    • Comment 04/27/07: Well, I know 1,000 contractors will be released on May 1st. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/27/07: The LEAN program really works; but it's a shame that IBM is going to lay off 50 percent of SSO this year. I hate being a first line manager right now. -NG_MAN-
    • Comment 04/27/07: Our entire team in Rochester has been called into a meeting with our manager, on very short notice (Fri 4/27). It must be a resource action. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/27/07: I am headed off to training tomorrow for lean. They want to 'empty our brains' into a database so they can lay us off and give the info to our curry eating friends across the sea. -offfortraining-
    • Comment 04/27/07: Our manager has told us that he is also being layed off due to lean. He has over 20 years service with IBM. He is trying to stay upbeat about everything, but it is tough. He has said 'unofficially' that folks better start polishing their resumes. *hint*hint* -losingajobsoon-
    • Comment 04/27/07: This whole lean thing is a joke. Most everyone in the dept is headed out to Boulder for training. We have been told that the days will be long and hard. They are also shortening the training down from 5 weeks to 3 weeks to save money. -23yearswithibm-
    • Comment 04/27/07: 2nd line said that 40% of SWG in RTP will be let go on 5/4/07 as a part of LEAN. Same 2nd line said that there will be rolling layoffs through the year and that only 10% of RTP SWG would be left by end of 2007 due to LEAN. -RTP Guy-
    • Comment 04/27/07: Those asking what the Alliance can do about job cuts must first understand that the Alliance is fighting to get collective bargaining rights with IBM. What does this mean in regards to job cuts? Take a look at what a union contract says at this resource page: http://www.allianceibm.org/professworkerunions.htm -unionyes-
  • From the General Visitor's Comment page:
    • Comment 04/23/07: RE: Comment 04/16/07: "Anybody know what IBM does these days for employees making 25 years? -Anonymous- " A quarter Century T-shirt with a target on the back. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/23/07: > So, our results were good. But we should have done better.< Dear Sam, I'm glad you use the word "we". This is a team effort to get IBM back on the right track. Let's make a joint effort and turn in our bonuses given this year to help the company. I'll return my $547 variable bonus and would like to see you do the same with your $5,800,000 bonus. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/26/07: Let's be honest here. We are losing our jobs and unless somebody comes up with a solution, IBM, at least the IGS division, will no longer exist. I see a lot of finger pointing and belly-aching but what I don't see are any solutions to the problem.

      LEAN is just a tool and a tool that is being exploited by IBM management. It's ironic don't you think? LEAN should be used to cut management to the bone, and not as an excuse to cut already over-worked and under paid support people. I have worked my way up from the bottom (support) and I am always amazed at how little is understood about day-to-day support by IBM/IGS management. That's the real crime here.

      How can you sell a customer account, for example, something like 11 FTE, then only put 2 support people on the account, with no backup and expect flawless support? At the same time those 2 support people are probably working on 2 or 3 other accounts. Where the heck is the money going? Most support people are working their collective a__es off and are exhausted.

      Support is NOT the problem. Support is NOT overpaid and lazy. They lack proper training, not proper skills. Don't you think that charging a customer for FTE that they are NOT getting is illegal? IF I knew how employees could buy IGS and have it managed by technical/support types, who understood the product, which is support labor, I would jump on that ship in a heartbeat. BTW, what is the Alliance solution to this? -What's_The_Solution-

  • Pension Comments page
  • Raise and Salary Comments
    • Comment 04/16/07: Here's an update, with Band 4 added:
      • Band 4: 9 respondents, avg: $44K, standard deviation: $11K, range (min/max): $32K to $60K
      • Band 6: 19 respondents, avg: $64K, std dev: $7K, range: $53K to $78.5K
      • Band 7: 33 respondents, avg: $73K, std dev: $13K, range: $57K to $110K
      • Band 8: 35 respondents, avg: $98K, std dev: $16K, range: $60K to $130K
      • Band 9: 19 respondents, avg: $119K, std dev: $17K, range: $90K to $152K
      • Band 10: 11 respondents, avg: $146K, std dev: $26K, range: $107K to $190K -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/16/07: Salary = 89k; Band Level = 7; Job Title = IT Specialist; Years Service = 6; Message = Can we get some salary postings from IBM competitors such as HP, Dell, or Cisco? If I had hard numbers on how much I am underpaid (if I am at all), I might be motivated to start looking for work elsewhere. Please include years of service, bonus, information, current job role, location, etc. if possible. Thanks! -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/19/07: Salary =$105,000; Band Level = 9S; Job Title = Project Manager; Years Service = 10; Hours/Week = 45 Div Name = 07 Message = None -OnChoppingBlock-
    • Comment 04/20/07: There are two kinds of raises this year: market adjustments (if you're below the market reference %) and top performer bonuses. If you are in job family 24 or job family 09... in other words, if you're pretty much anywhere in IT delivery... there will be *NO* market adjustments for you. You can be at 50% below the market reference percentage; it won't matter. No market adjustment raise for you. Top performer bonuses will be limited to people who got a PBC 1 and a few people who got 2+. -TickedoffFirstline-
    • Comment 04/21/07: Salary = $87,000 + ever decreasing bonus; Band Level = 7; Job Title = IT Specialist; Years Service = 5, 13 years experience before joining; Hours/Week = Varies from 40 - 80; Div Name = 07; Location = Texas; Message = No raises for 3 years, although I've been a 1 or 2+ the entire time. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/21/07: Salary = 60k/year; Band Level = 7; Job Title = SDM/DPE/PM; Years Service = 8; Hours/Week = 45; Location = NYC; Message = 1998 salary of $36k as band 4 current salary of $59k as band 7. Only making $13/month over minimum market range for my job. I've been getting promotions in regards to band but my pay has not kept up at all. -8 year IBM Vet-
    • Comment 04/21/07: Salary = 45,000; Band Level = 4; Job Title = State Delivery Coordinator; Years Service = .25; Hours/Week = 40; Div Name = After Sales / Logistics; Location = Queensland, Australia Message = no message -Ian-
    • Comment 04/21/07: Salary = 110K; Band Level = 8; Job Title = Adv S/W Eng; Years Service = 6; Message =
      • 2001 Salary 60K (new college hire), 2001 Bonus 0K
      • 2002 Salary 60K, 2002 Bonus 4500
      • 2003 Salary 70K, 2003 Bonus 8500
      • 2004 Salary 85K, 2004 Bonus 2000
      • 2005 Salary 90K, 2005 Bonus 5000
      • 2006 Salary 100K, 2006 Bonus 10000
      • 2007 Salary 110K, 2007 Bonus 5000

      It is unbelievable how IBM treats the hardworking veteran employees. When you get older, there is no raise, have to put in more hours, and have horrible benefits (if any). I am going to look for a way out because there is no future at IBM. -Bit Flipper-

    • Comment 04/24/07: "Message = 1998 salary of $36k as band 4 current salary of $59k as band 7. Only making $13/month over minimum market range for my job. I've been getting promotions in regards to band but my pay has not kept up at all. -8 year IBM Vet- " The reason they move you up in band and basically freeze your salary is that the higher you are in band and the less you get paid, the more profit your management makes off you. You are probably way under paid vis a vis the market but are billing at full value to the market. In other words, you're being played out and once you are used up they'll drop you like a broken wrench or laptop. -IGS Old Hand-
    • Comment 04/25/07: Is BitFlipper legit? College hire, nearly doubles income in six years and makes $110k a year??? and then complains! -bitsandbytes-
    • Comment 04/25/07: >> It is unbelievable how IBM treats the hardworking veteran employees. When you get older, there is no raise, have to put in more hours, and have horrible benefits (if any). I am going to look for a way out because there is no future at IBM. <<

      Dear -Bit Flipper-: Your pay is a perfect example. You were hired 24 years after I was. Yet after only 2 years you were exceeding my salary. Oh yeah - I also had a MS in Computer Engineering. I was dumped in 2005 after having basically no raise in those two intervening years. Last year you got a 10% bonus (guess what most people got). Now look at what you're making - six figures - and you're complaining on how IBM might treat you in the future? Looks like you're living the good life now. If only everyone were as lucky as you. Count your blessings. -Downsized&Bitter-

    • Comment 04/25/07: I think bitflipper is exaggerating. Does his salary history ring true to anybody else? -flipped-
    • Comment 04/26/07: A number of very talented and key people I work with are leaving IGS for positions at other companies. They are raking in salary increases of up to 30 - 60% in base salary and more if you include bonus and stock options ... which are their NEW companies are actually worth serious bucks if things go well. IBM's strategy of holding back on increases and bonus $$$ may be coming to an end. I predict more suffering for the account brass as turnover increases and those left behind realize that IBM's compensation is not anywhere close to market value for the effort and long hours IBM expects. Dust off those resumes folks the times they are a changing --- companies are hiring techies, and paying well! -Anonymous-
  • PBC Comments
    • Comment 04/19/07: Prior Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr Bonus = 2050; Prior Yr Bonus = 3408; Message = IBM's higher earnings were trumpeted to validate the business model. Maybe for my PBCs this year I'll commit to emigrate to the 3rd world -Joe Hill-
    • Comment 04/24/07: Prior Yr PBC = 2; This Yr PBC = 3; This Yr Bonus = 0; Prior Yr Bonus = 2.5K; Message = Has anyone who receive a 3 been able to change jobs. I was new in this job and received a 3. I find jobs and interview, but am blocked from getting the job. I know the mgr wants to hire me. I have skills they need, need but not in my current job. 28 year employee and never receive "non performing rating" -skiprock-
    • Comment 04/24/07: Prior Yr PBC = 2 ; This Yr PBC = 3; This Yr Bonus = 0; Prior Yr Bonus = 0; Message = In my case, it doesn't matter what my PBC rating is. My bonus will always be $0. My manager told me that. By the way, my department doesn't give a "1" rating either. They tell all the employees that. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/25/07: Prior Yr PBC = 2; This Yr PBC = 3; This Yr Bonus = 0; Prior Yr Bonus = 2%; Message = "Has anyone who receive a 3 been able to change jobs. I was new in this job and received a 3. I find jobs and interview, but am blocked from getting the job. I know the mgr wants to hire me. I have skills they need, need but not in my current job. 28year employee and never receive "non performing rating" Skiprock, with a "3" you are screwed. See you on the unemployment line. All the best. -I'm a 3 too-
    • Comment 04/25/07: Prior Yr PBC = 2; This Yr PBC = 2 ; This Yr Bonus = 2.2%; Prior Yr Bonus = 3%; Message = PBC has become an exercise in 'cut n paste'. Corporate, business unit, and on down the food chain dictate our PBC's then we cut and paste them into the PBC tool. Performance bonus system is a joke, IBM made a "bazillion" dollars last year but because we didn't make our target, a "bazillion" and one dollars, IBM pleads poverty. I used to be proud to be called an IBMer. Now I'm called a "practitioner"! Sucks. -lonestarmatt-
    • Comment 04/26/07: I think once you have that 3 there is no way your going to be able to move since new manager wont be able to bring you on board with an outstanding 3. If you think its unjust you can appeal but good luck I met or exceeded all objectives and was given a 3 and the explanation on PBC provided no justification or reason just good luck in new job. Appeal process is a scam. I was lucky to move before the 3 got pasted on me but what's more amazing is that after 25 years of top performance appraisals and promotions all of a sudden I am also now 3. So need to get that 3 off our backs so ya can change jobs next year, assuming there are jobs to change too -to skiprock-
    • Comment 04/27/07: The PBC review / appeal process is a complete fraud. HR tells you it is fair and unbiased, but it is really nothing more than a cold war style secret tribunal. There is no record of the issues. You will not be told anything. No feedback whatsoever.. What makes this system corrupt is there are no records kept, you cannot refute conflicting testimony, and even if your position is supported, HR can lie and say you lost. The process is not open.. The process is not fair.. The goal of the whole process is appearances. IBM wants to *appear* to be helping their employees and avoid expensive lawsuits.. period.. -PBC review is a fraud-
    • Comment 04/27/07: Prior Yr PBC = 1; This Yr PBC = 1; This Yr Bonus = $5000; Prior Yr Bonus = $4000; Message = I'm tired of hearing all of the poor performers wine about getting the 2 and 3 that they deserve for poor performance. If you spent more time doing your job instead of wining about how bad you perceive it to be, you would be getting 1's as well. You're paid to a do a job and IBM expects you to do that job. The days of allowing poor performers to hide in the shadows are gone. Perform your job or get out before you get managed out due to poor performance. -RTP Guy-
    • Comment 04/28/07: -RTP Guy- You are a joke. I know you.You are the guy who spends all his time talking to management about yourself and your "accomplishments". One good thing about LEAN is that now you suckasses are going to have to do some real work. -YouAreAJoke-

Vault Message Board Posts

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