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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—June 23, 2007

  • Associated Press, courtesy of Forbes: IBM in Bind on $5M Debt Owed by Schools. By Brian Bergstein. Excerpts: A school district in the San Francisco Bay area has put IBM Corp. in a tough spot by asking the company to forgive a $5 million debt that began when educators bought computers from Big Blue way back in 1989. Because the Richmond Unified School District was a financial disaster at the time, it paid only a fraction of what it owed IBM. The district got by with the help of $28.5 million in loans from the state. [...]

    The district, which has a $293 million budget but faces lower revenues because of declining enrollment, says its annual obligation to IBM could cover the salaries of 20 teachers or its entire library program.

    In pleading to IBM, the California lawmakers contended the computers that Richmond bought were obsolete even at the time. It's unclear whether that complaint was ever aired back then; a 1991 article in Computer Reseller News said the district had gotten Model 30 PCs, which were released in the late 1980s.

  • Associated Press, courtesy of Yahoo!: IBM Corp. Hunts for Ways to Trim the Fat. By Brian Bergstein. A Peek Into the World of Outsourcing. Excerpts: John DeFazio won't miss the 2 a.m. conference calls. Along with colleagues in IBM Corp.'s huge technology services division, DeFazio used to be summoned to the phone whenever a client's computing center hiccupped in the middle of the night. [...]

    IBM's effort to cut its services costs accelerated last fall when the company launched a business-refinement practice known as Lean. Pioneered at Toyota Motor Corp., Lean is all about eliminating waste by analyzing whether every step adds value to the end product. Toyota has even determined an optimum method for how bolts are tightened.

    Only recently has this manufacturing regimen begun to be applied to services. IBM started slowly, testing it on 22 customers' accounts initially and recently expanding it to 600. Several managers in the first wave found their underlings skeptical.

    "When we told the teams, `We're going to do what we've always done with half the people, and you're going to like it,' they shook their heads," said Eric Wolfe, a technical manager in Arizona. Ultimately, however, "it's actually gone really, really well," he said. [...]

    Another shift is that IBM is sticking more closely to the letter of its customer-service contracts as it prioritizes work. For example, DeFazio noted that when technicians were pledged to particular machines, they might solve some problem in 30 minutes even though the customer's contract gave IBM 24 hours to fix it. Now the tech can attend to something else first that is of higher importance to his team as a whole.

  • Channel 8 TV News Austin: Artists salvage material from old IBM building. Excerpts: This time, the artists are using salvaged material from the old IBM Fab 60 building in North Austin. They've spent the past few days scouring the three-story, 11-acre building for wiring, pipes, machines and old school electronics.

    In the 80s, IBM's Fab 60 was the largest chip manufacturing plant in the world. It had a huge impact on the local economy and paved the way for Austin's high-tech industry. [...]

    Demolition of the IBM Fab 60 building is scheduled for this year. A new residential rental property in the Domain will take its place. And it will all be constructed according to the U.S. Green Building Council's LEEDS certification program.

  • National Trust: San Jose's IBM Building, Home of the Hard Drive, To Be Erased. By Krista Walton. Excerpts: In California's oldest city, a piece of computer history will be deleted. IBM Building 25, once a center for innovation with an innovative modern design to match, will be demolished to make way for a Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse.

    Building 25, on a former IBM research campus in San Jose, Calif., is the location of the work behind the revolutionary "flying head disc drive," a precursor to the modern hard drive. The modern building, notable for its contemporary look when it was constructed in 1957, was designed by architect John Bolles.

  • Computerworld: 100 Best Places to Work in IT - Overall Rankings 2007. Now in its 14th year, Computerworld's annual survey identifies top places to work for IT professionals.
  • Computerworld: What Makes a Great Workplace? If You Worked Here, You'd Be Happy Now. Some of us work at great companies, and some of us can only drool. If you fall into the latter category, it’s always good to know how the other half lives, especially when the hiring market is so hot that it’s tempting to start a job search.

  • Computerworld: H-1B video shocker: 'Our goal is clearly not to find a qualified... U.S. worker' Programmer group posts video of law firm's hiring advice on YouTube. By Patrick Thibodeau. Excerpts: The high-tech industry can tap big names, such as Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates, to argue that the U.S. needs more foreign workers with IT skills. But opponents of the H-1B visa program have a weapon that may prove just as effective: YouTube.

    The Programmers Guild, a professional organization in Summit, N.J., has posted a video (see below) on YouTube LLC's Web site featuring excerpts from a series of videos that had been posted previously by Pittsburgh-based law firm Cohen & Grigsby PC. The law firm's videos were recorded May 15 during a seminar and apparently were intended to provide free legal tips to hiring managers and other viewers.

    But the video put together by the Programmers Guild is providing explosive material for H1-B critics.

    In the video, a person identified as Lawrence Lebowitz, an attorney at Cohen & Grigsby, explains a method that can be used for hiring foreign workers under the U.S. government's Program Electronic Review Management process. PERM stipulates requirements for placing help wanted ads to fill job vacancies, with the intent of either hiring U.S. workers or showing that no qualified Americans are available.

    However, Lebowitz focuses only on the latter in the video. "Our goal is clearly not to find a qualified and interested U.S. worker," he said. "And that, in a sense, sounds funny, but it's what we are trying to do here."

    He added that while "complying with the law fully," the objective is to get a prospective foreign worker a green card "and to get through the labor certification process." He and other panelists go on to explain the ways in which employers can legally reject applicants to meet that goal.

  • Computerworld: Senators say offshore firms are H-1B visas' biggest users. Infosys is the leader, getting nearly 5,000 of the visas in 2006. Excerpts: Nine foreign-based companies that specialize in offshoring U.S. technology jobs received about 20,000 H-1B visas last year, according to data released yesterday by U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). The top user of H-1B visas is India-based Infosys Technologies Ltd., which received 4,908 visas in the 2006 fiscal year. It was followed by Wipro Ltd., which received 4,002 visas, and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., with 3,046.

    "Supporters claim the goal of the H-1B program is to help the American economy by allowing companies to hire needed foreign workers," Durbin said in a statement. "The reality is that too many H-1B visas are being used to facilitate the outsourcing of American jobs to other countries."

  • Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech): WashTech President, Member Testify on TAA in DC. Excerpts: WashTech President Marcus Courtney, and New Jersey member James Fusco, testified before the House Ways and Means committee on June 14 to extend and expand the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Act to include tech workers. TAA benefits are to help train workers who have seen their jobs leave due to foreign competition.

    Over a year ago, WashTech reported that legislation was proposed to expand TAA to allow service workers like computer programmers, testers, technical writers, system administrators, call center workers, and other workers in the service sector to have access to TAA benefits. Unfortunately, this hasn't occurred yet - and Congress is debating whether or not to even continue the TAA program at all.

    James Fusco worked for thirteen years as a mainframe applications developer with AT&T. In 1999, his job was outsourced to Canada. As a member of WashTech, Fusco was introduced to Michael Smith, a lawyer working pro bono on TAA cases.

  • YouTube: James Fusco testifies to the Ways and Means Committee
  • Yahoo! message board post "Re: Former IBMer testifies to Congress on TAA" by "dave49_98". Excerpt: Jim was on the AT&T account when AT&T outsourced us to IBM so our jobs could be sent to India. They had to train their replacements. (Editor's note: The New Jersey Star-Ledger reported on the AT&T/IBM outsourcing agreement in 2002 in an article titled Shipped out. The story of how AT&T moved 3,500 workers to a new 'career' at IBM -- knowing it wouldn't last. Excerpts from the Star-Ledger article: In his short, unhappy career at IBM Corp., James Fusco never imagined anything could be worse than the day this spring when he learned he was being laid off. Then his boss asked him to work weekends during his final month on the payroll. "That was the last straw," the 48-year-old East Brunswick man said. "It told me a lot about the state of things there."
  • Washington Post: A 'Broken People' in Booming India. Low-Caste Dalits Still Face Prejudice, Grinding Poverty. By Emily Wax. Excerpts: The hip young Indians working inside this country's multinational call centers have one thing in common: Almost all hail from India's upper and middle castes, elites in this highly stratified society.

    India may be booming, but not for those who occupy the lowest rung of society here. The Dalits, once known as untouchables, continue to live in grinding poverty and suffer discrimination in education, jobs and health care. For them, status and often occupation are still predetermined in the womb.

    While some Indians had been hopeful that urbanization and growth would crumble ideas about caste, observers say tradition and prejudice have ultimately prevailed

    "There's talk of a modern India. But the truth is India can't truly move ahead with caste in place," said Chandra Bhan Prasad, a Dalit writer and expert on India's caste system. "In all ways, it's worse than the Jim Crow laws were in the American South because it's completely sanctioned by religion. Despite so many reforms, the idea of untouchability is still very much a part of Indian life."

  • New York Times: The Best Judges Business Can Buy. Excerpts: Thirty-nine states elect at least some of their judges. The report — released by the Justice at Stake Campaign, the Brennan Center for Justice and the National Institute on Money in State Politics — found that by 2004, the amount raised by candidates for states’ highest courts had reached nearly $47 million nationwide, up from $29 million in 2002. In 2006, total fund-raising decreased to $34.4 million, largely owing to a decrease in the number of contested races. But the median amount raised by individual candidates in 2006 soared to nearly $244,000 — from the 2004 median of about $202,000. [...]

    By far the biggest spenders in the 2006 judicial elections were business interests. They contributed $15 million to the 88 state supreme court candidates who raised funds in the latest election cycle, about 44 percent of all contributions, and far more than the roughly $7 million that lawyers gave.

  • Business Insurance: Canadian employers reconsidering retiree benefits. By Gloria Gonzalez. Excerpts: More than half of Canadian employers are considering eliminating retiree health benefits, while 22% are considering reducing their contributions to retiree health benefits, according to a recent study.

    The average cost of providing group benefits to retirees is $1,543 Canadian ($1,454) per year, and employers are looking for ways to curtail these costs in light of changes to accounting rules that have increased the liabilities created by postretirement benefits, according to the study released by Toronto-based Aon Consulting Canada.

  • Computerworld: Execs list hurdles to offshore development. Developer skills, limiting risk vital to outsourced projects. Excerpts: Companies face significant challenges when outsourcing development work offshore. For example, they must ensure that the offshore workers possess adequate technical skills, that outsourcing firms retain qualified workers and that projects sent overseas present minimal risk to the organization, according to a panel of experts yesterday at the IBM Rational Software Development Conference 2007 here.

    Cisco Systems Inc. has struggled with the attrition of workers at outsourcing firms in India, Israel and China that develop software for the firm, said Jan Roberts, Cisco's senior director of its central engineering tools & services group.

    Cisco first used outsourcing firms to supplement teams in the U.S., she said, but found that the attrition rate was "terrible." After that, she said, Cisco sent core projects overseas, so that developers at outsourcing firms "don't feel like we are giving them work we don't want to do." Since then, she said the attrition rate has been cut significantly.

    The company now is struggling to ensure that its intellectual property is protected in projects sent to outsourcing firms in China, Roberts added. Cisco is working to create an automated process of separating key pieces to ensure it is not sent overseas, she said.

  • Yahoo! message board post "IBM vs Amex healthcare cost" by "saw2021tr". Full excerpt: Hi all, I have never done this before but I would really like some help. Does anyone know 1) Why such a difference in cost? 2) Is there anyway IBM could get us better rates?

    Here's the story I have a friend who retired from American Express and we both have United Healthcare PPO 80/20 (figures have been rounded).

    Deductible (Single)
    Yearly Out of Pocket
  • Yahoo! message board post "Re: IBM vs Amex healthcare cost" by "mr_quarkwrench". Full excerpt: Simple, IBM is self insured. They pay no premiums to UHC and they collect money from you. When you do collect something, it comes from IBM's operating funds. UHC only does administration for IBM.

    IBM is pretty good at hiding exactly what they pay vs what they collect from employees and retirees so they could even be making a profit on our medical care. Why would they want to give better rates?

  • Motley Fool: Are More "Corrections" Coming? By Tim Hanson. Excerpts: India's economic growth will not be without hiccups. Putting valuations aside, there are some real challenges that the country must face.

    First, India is sorely lacking when it comes to infrastructure, particularly energy. The Economic Times estimates that it will take a $200 billion investment to meet the country's energy needs over just the next five years. Next, several professional investors have said that real estate prices need to go undergo a painful correction. They've gotten at least 30% ahead of themselves.

    Third, I've been told that India's celebrated business process outsourcing (BPO) industry won't be the long-term solution for economic growth. The country's top graduates don't find the jobs rewarding, turnover is high, and if the rupee continues to appreciate against the dollar, the outsourcing industry in India will lose its global advantage.

  • The Kenbak-1 computer. Excerpt: The Kenbak-1 computer was judged in 1987 by the Boston Computer Museum to be the first commercially available personal computer. Initial sales commenced in September of 1971. Most units sold for $750.00 for a completely assembled and functioning computer. The computer was a stored program, automatically sequenced unit.

    Designed before microprocessors were available, the logic consisted of small and medium scale integrated circuits mounted on one printed circuit board. MOS shift registers implemented the serial memory. Switches keyed the input and lights displayed the output. The memory contained 256 bytes and the computer executed several hundred instructions per second.

  • Wikipedia: Datapoint 2200. Excerpt: The Datapoint 2200 was a mass-produced programmable terminal released by Computer Terminal Corporation (CTC) in June, 1970 (although some accounts say it was released sometime in 1971). It was intended by its designers simply to be a versatile, cost-efficient terminal for connecting to a wide variety of mainframes by loading various terminal emulations from tape rather than being hardwired as most terminals were. However, enterprising users in the business sector (including Pillsbury Foods) realized that this so-called "programmable terminal" was equipped to perform any task a simple computer could, and exploited this fact by using their 2200s as standalone computer systems. CTC thus inadvertently invented the earliest known device that bears any significant resemblance to the modern personal computer. Equally significant is the fact that the terminal's CPU (processor) was the embryo of the x86 instruction set architecture, which powered the original IBM PC and has powered all of its descendents since.
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • Wall Street Journal: Health Savings Plans Start to Falter. Despite Employer Enthusiasm for Consumer-Directed Approach, Patients Express Dissatisfaction With How the Accounts Work By Vanessa Fuhrmans. Excerpts: Where employees do have a choice, only 19% choose the newfangled plans, the Kaiser study estimates. In the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which has offered the plans for several years, only about 50,000 of its eight million members were enrolled in them in 2006, according to industry estimates. At lightbulb-maker Osram Sylvania, just 5% of employees enrolled in the plans in 2006, their first year.

    In addition, those who are in consumer-directed health plans often report lower satisfaction and confusion about how the plans are supposed to work. The general idea is for patients to conserve money in their savings accounts, which are meant to pay for care until they reach their high insurance deductible. In theory, patients who shop carefully could have money left over, which they can keep and let build into savings for bigger health-care costs down the line. [...]

    A growing number of industry experts believe that for consumer-directed plans to succeed, they have to offer coverage that is at least as rich as traditional plans. That means providing upfront coverage of most preventive services and treatments and a generous contribution to employees' accounts. "If you're just trying to cost shift, and you only get 10% of your employees in, they are the youngest and healthiest, and you haven't accomplished anything in terms of health-care costs," says Bill Sharon, a senior vice president at Aon Consulting, the human-resources consulting arm of insurance broker Aon Corp.

  • New York Times: Open Wide and Say ‘Shame’. By A.O. Scott. Excerpts: Mr. Moore has hardly been shy about sharing his political beliefs, but he has never before made a film that stated his bedrock ideological principles so clearly and accessibly. His earlier films have been morality tales, populated by victims and villains, with himself as the dogged go-between, nodding in sympathy with the downtrodden and then marching off to beard the bad guys in their dens of power and privilege. This method can pay off in prankish comedy or emotional intensity — like any showman, Mr. Moore wants you to laugh and cry — but it can also feel manipulative and simplistic.

    In “Sicko,” however, he refrains from hunting down the C.E.O.’s of insurance companies, or from hinting at dark conspiracies against the sick. Concentrating on Americans who have insurance (after a witty, troubling acknowledgment of the millions who don’t), Mr. Moore talks to people who have been ensnared, sometimes fatally, in a for-profit bureaucracy and also to people who have made their livings within the system. The testimony is poignant and also infuriating, and none of it is likely to be surprising to anyone, Republican or Democrat, who has tried to see an out-of-plan specialist or dispute a payment.

    If you listen to what the leaders of both political parties are saying, it seems unlikely that the diagnosis offered by “Sicko” will be contested. I haven’t heard many speeches lately boasting about how well our health care system works. In this sense “Sicko” is the least controversial and most broadly appealing of Mr. Moore’s movies. (It is also, perhaps improbably, the funniest and the most tightly edited.) The argument it inspires will mainly be about the nature of the cure, and it is here that Mr. Moore’s contribution will be most provocative and also, therefore, most useful. [...]

    With evident glee (and a bit of theatrical faux-naïveté) Mr. Moore sets out to challenge some widely held American notions about socialized medicine. He finds that British doctors are happy and well paid, that Canadians don’t have to wait very long in emergency rooms, and that the French are not taxed into penury. “What’s your biggest expense after the house and the car?” he asks an upper-middle-class French couple. “Ze feesh,” replies the wife. “Also vegetables.”

  • New York Times: When Dollars Trump Compassion. By Bob Herbert. Excerpts: You won’t see these stories on television, but Marian Wright Edelman and Dr. Irwin Redlener could talk to you all day and all night about children whose lives have been lost or ruined because they didn’t have health insurance.

    This is not a situation one associates with a so-called advanced country. That you can have sick children wasting away in the United States, the wealthiest nation on the planet, because medical treatment that could relieve their suffering is withheld by men and women with dollar signs instead of compassion in their eyes is beyond unconscionable.

    Ms. Edelman is the president of the Children’s Defense Fund, and Dr. Redlener is president of the Children’s Health Fund.

    Both are appalled at the embarrassing fact that nine million American children have no health coverage at all. Among them are children with diabetes, chronic asthma, heart conditions, life-threatening allergies and so on. In many instances they are left untreated until it is too late.

  • Christian Science Monitor, courtesy of Physicians for a National Health Program: Michael Moore refocuses healthcare debate. By David R. Francis. His latest film, ‘Sicko,’ may boost efforts for a national healthcare system, an idea that still faces stiff resistance in Washington. Excerpts: Advocates of a single-payer national healthcare system welcome Moore’s movie. With millions of viewers likely to see the film, it’s “unquestionably” helpful, says a spokesman for Physicians for a National Health Program. PNHP, with a membership of 14,000 physicians, has been campaigning for a national system for 20 years. But the prospects of success for PNHP are not great yet, figures Henry Aaron, an economist at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

    One reason is the power of various medical industry lobbies. Americans spend as much on healthcare today as the entire gross domestic product of France and Spain combined, notes one economist. If health-related costs continue to rise rapidly, spending could soon equal the entire GDP (that is, the output of goods and services) of Germany.

    The $2.1 trillion the US spends per year on healthcare creates “strong interest groups,” notes Mr. Aaron. These include a host of politically powerful private health insurance companies and for-profit hospitals. [...]

    Faced with globalization and severe competition from abroad, American companies are moving to reduce their health insurance costs. They are raising deductibles, requiring bigger copayments, and trimming the medical services covered. As these trends hit the middle class, the political result will be a “big storm,” Dr. Woolhandler predicts.

    As it is, the US devotes about twice as much to healthcare as a proportion of GDP than do other rich nations with nationalized health systems.

    Economists at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said last February that, if current trends continue, $1 of every $5 spent in 2016 will go toward healthcare. Today, healthcare takes close to $1 of every $6, or about 16 percent of GDP. “We must do something large and serious and soon,” says Alain Enthoven, a healthcare expert at Stanford University in California. [...]

    So far, such Democratic presidential candidates as John Edwards and Barack Obama are advocating plans that keep the private health insurance industry intact. “Different flavors of the same plan,” complains a PNHP spokesman. Insurance companies would still strive to insure the healthy and exclude the sick, he says, noting this process adds to administrative and other overhead costs.

    A study by Woolhandler and others published in 2003 calculated that, in 1999, health administration costs in the US amounted to at least $294 billion. That’s $1,059 per capita, compared with $307 per capita in Canada. By now, administrative costs are probably about $350 billion, a sum big enough to provide insurance coverage for uninsured Americans, reckons a PNHP spokesman.

  • Washington Post: Baby Boomers Appear to Be Less Healthy Than Parents. By Rob Stein. Excerpts: As the first wave of baby boomers edges toward retirement, a growing body of evidence suggests that they may be the first generation to enter their golden years in worse health than their parents. While not definitive, the data sketch a startlingly different picture than the popular image of health-obsessed workout fanatics who know their antioxidants from their trans fats and look 10 years younger than their age. [...]

    "People are working two jobs. They are not sleeping as much. They're experiencing more job insecurity. They have less time to take care of themselves. They are more socially isolated," said Lisa Berkman of the Harvard School of Public Health. "This all could add up to a huge crisis and really calls for us to examine the things that perhaps we're not doing so well." [...]

    The findings are consistent with a number of studies, including one last year that found American adults have poorer health than their British counterparts, and a preliminary analysis of data collected between 1972 and 2003 for the National Health Interview Survey, a nationally representative survey of more than 100,000 Americans.

  • National Public Radio (NPR): Unpaid Sick Leave Diminishing for Poor. Excerpt: Morning Edition, June 20, 2007 · Half of working Americans don't receive a sick day. For low-wage workers, one out of every four workers doesn't get a sick day. Beth Shulman, labor consultant and author of The Betrayal of Work: How Low-Wage Jobs Fail 30 Million Americans, talks with Steve Inskeep about the issue.
New on the Alliance@IBM Site:
  • From the Job Cuts Status & Comments page (Note: There were a massive number of posts to this page during the last week. The following is a sampling of the large list of posts received by the Alliance@IBM.)
    • Comment 06/18/07: I posted a while ago that I had decided to leave IBM of my own choice. I wanted to let you know that there are great opportunities out there. The job market in the US is much stronger than you may think, and many companies are doing extremely well and looking for experienced hires. The company I joined has a long list of open vacancies that it is trying to fill. I hope that alliance will let me post this, as I'd like to try help a few of my former colleagues. If you are part of an RA, or just looking for a change, here's an offer. If you have experience in Project Management, Supply Chain, Fulfillment, Warehouse, Consulting Client Facing roles, and are willing to consider some element of travel, them please send me a note at thereislifeafteribm@gmail.com and I'll respond with more details. My only promise, is that I'll get your resume in front of the hiring manager. I can honestly say, leaving was the best thing I did. There are companies that treat employees decently, with respect, and share successes. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 06/19/07: Wow... this video confirms my suspicions about why IBM posts job listings on the bulletin boards within the site. If they were really looking to fill the positions, I was wondering why they'd advertise where hardly anyone would see the ad. Now I see it's intended to not be seen by any qualified applicants. Wow, I'm dumbfounded that there is actually a consulting firm out there videotaping this sort of advice. Good way to get your car keyed, I would think. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCbFEgFajGU -H1B Visa Critic-
    • Comment 06/19/07: Many GBS employees received a memo today advising them that their jobs now require any amount of travel that management deems necessary A ploy to scare more employees into submission and further into slavery. Single fathers and mothers must now face the possibility of refusing a direct order from management and risk being fired or caring for their children. What a family oriented values company! -Threatened GBS Employee-
    • Comment 06/21/07: I talked to a former IBM SSR that was resourced to QUALXSERV a year ago. This person told me that MOST of the IBM SSR's that went to QUALXSERV have been let go by QUALXSERV. Can anyone verify that this has happened to the former IBM SSR's? -I knew it was going to happen-
    • Comment 06/22/07: I was one of the IBM SSR's moved to Qualxserv a year ago and am still here and busy as ever, covering IBM, Dell and Apple products. As far as I know the other ex IBMers in our group in the SE states are also still here. The first few months were very stressful until we hired additional people and everyone cross-trained but nowadays my workday is reasonably smooth. IBM is the biggest pain to deal with compared to the other companies, they will not change their inefficient processes for any reason. Glad to be out of the toxic environment at IBM . Ex Big Blue and loving it! -Anonymous-
    • Comment 06/25/07: Time to use LEAN to its fullest extent. It just kind of dawned on me what an opportunity we IBM'ers have in front of us. A real program that allows us to do as little as possible and get away with it. All you need do is use the "Welcome to Lean" mantra anytime you are asked to do anything. Simply say you are too busy. Would love to help you out - management won't let me - "Welcome to Lean". I have used it several times and it works let me tell you. Nobody doubts it. IBM wants LEAN - they're getting it from me I'll tell you that. Shoot- is that the time? Coffee break. back in 20. -Chauncy-
  • From the General Visitor's Comment page:
    • Comment 06/15/07: In response to "Formeribmer" on 06/14/2007 -- I can attest to the fact that there are fewer IBMers with disabilities around today than in the past, as well as older workers.

      The first action (or inaction) that I observed was at NHD in RTP back in the late 90's where a blind writer (who was, by all co workers accounts was doing quite well at his job), was let go due to performance issues. During the discussion of things with his 2nd line manager, Don Davis, it was revealed that the new incoming systems (Lotus Notes and Framemaker) were not yet endowed with the ability for screen readers (as were the legacy mainframe systems). This writer was essentially let go due to the software's inability to interface with 'on hand' screen readers. Don Davis's management chain (our third line and the writer's first line) up held this decision.

      I ASSUME that there was some type of package which allowed the writer to leave without too much hardship on his part, as he did not pursue the issue. Several of us (regular employees) looked into 'open dooring' this issue, but were told by our managers to let it drop unless we wanted to be next in line for layoffs. That was the first example of discrimination against handicapped workers that I observed.

      Of course, I've also observed 4th line managers at 'all hands' meetings stating that they seek to change the mix of employees from 60% 'seasoned' and 40% 'fresh' to a mix of 40% 'seasoned' and 60% 'fresh'. This was at a meeting held by Helene Armitage at Austin AIX development. She never recanted her statement. The first instance was reported to local newspapers and the last one reported to 'The Alliance', but not enough outrage ensued to force management's hand to do the 'right' thing. I would like to see others post instances such as these so that we can 'air' some dirty laundry and let other see what has been really going on. -TexasBound, but not by IBM-

    • Comment 06/18/07: FormerIbmer! I am physically disabled and they had NO problem dumping me...and I was a productive employee...No matter...I am gone in less then 2 weeks.. -RemoteBoy-
    • Comment 06/21/07: Maybe we're too late. I just had a thought (and yes...it did hurt). A union vote requires cooperation but IBM has turned the employment environment into a zero-sum game. You want to be retained? Take it away from somebody else. Same for raises, promotions, et al. In a zero-sum game, you have to lose for me to win. This is not the environment that a union can make a toehold in. There is no cooperation possible between the competitors. Or maybe I'm just depressed from reading the Yahoo message boards. -Anonymous-
  • Pension Comments page
  • Raise and Salary Comments
    • Comment 06/18/07: Salary = 40k; Band Level = 2; Job Title = Prod Specialist; Years Service = 10; Hours/Week = 40; Location = East Fishkill, NY; Message = Very disgusted here with this so- called 2% or whatever increase. It's a slap in the face! My manager never even took the time to call me in the office and discuss it. Some people were told and others had no clue. Done very unprofessionally. IBM a big company and they treat the employees like trash! They can keep their 2% and stick it where the sun don't shine. It's just disgusting that a huge company behaves like this with their employees. What is wrong with you big blue? Siview ain't gonna be 100% either so we lose our jobs. I'll make sure that don't happen! Pissed off employee -Toby-
    • Comment 06/19/07: Here's the monthly salary survey update:
      • Band 4: 10 respondents, avg: $44K, standard deviation: $10K, range: (min/max reported): $32K to $60K
      • Band 6: 25 respondents, avg: $62K, std dev: $8K, range: (min/max reported) $48K to $79K
      • Band 7: 56 respondents, avg: $72K, std dev: $14K, range: (min/max reported) $49K to $110K
      • Band 8: 55 respondents, avg: $99K, std dev: $15K, range: (min/max reported) $60K to $130K
      • Band 9: 28 respondents, avg: $118K, std dev: $17K, range: (min/max reported) $89K to $152K
      • Band 10: 11 respondents, avg: $148K, std dev: $25K, range: (min/max reported) $107K to $190K

      Only US data points are included in the above; due to exchange rate fluctuations, I decided not to take into account non-US respondents. The spread (reported min & max) within a band is surprising, at least to me. If you're paid way below the average for your band, and if you can find a better salary elsewhere, look seriously into jumping ship. Raises at IBM have been, and probably will be, anemic. -Anonymous-

    • Comment 06/20/07: Salary = 104,000; Band Level = 8; Job Title = Certified I/T Spec; Years Service = 19; Hours/Week = 45-50; Div Name = 16; Location = Washington DC; Message = No raise again this year, pbc 2 again. -Been Bamboozled-
    • Comment 06/20/07: Suggest adding a field for the Market Reference Point. Readers would know the average salary for the Job Title with this information and Salary. This would be valuable information with one of the raise and bonus components being a Market Based Adjustment. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 06/20/07: Salary = 68K; Band Level = 6; Job Title = SE; Hours/Week = more than 50 HRS; Div Name = 08; Location = BOSTON; Message = I work fro IBM more than 2 years but still in the MRP. Feel very disappointed. Can anybody remember the salary range of Band 6 last year? And the Band 7's this year in SWG? -beginner-
    • Comment 06/20/07: Salary = $49,000; Band Level = 6; Job Title = TECHNICAL SERVICES PROF; Years Service = 5.5; Hours/Week = 45; Div Name = 07; Location = LEX; Message = Same old message--not enough money to go around--4 managers in the past year. Changed my band rate so I am towards the upper now with no chance of a raise unless I go to the next band. Thanks for caring IBM--burn in hell Sam! -IBM slave-
    • Comment 06/21/07: Location = East Fishkill; Message = IBM is so horrid about these so called increases. I got 28 cents more an hour! Is that insane! 28 cents! How embarrassing! What the hell is 28 cents! IBM needs a learning lesson here and make it a painful lesson. It's called screwing your employees. We need to over turn this and get the union in here. No question about it. We need some protection now! IBM is turning into the antichrist here. Time to make them put a bullet in their own head! -Revolution among the employees-
    • Comment 06/21/07: Salary = 23,663; Band Level = 2; Job Title = Production Operator; Years Service = 6.5; Hours/Week = 40; Div Name = 29; Location = Burlington; Message = I have been working a night shift AWS schedule during my time at IBM Burlington. So after premiums and whatever I make around 36K a year. I can not really complain like many because I have always received a raise and it is usually higher compared to my peers. But there are peers that have at least the same experience as me, but are still band 1's. -Amanda Hugginkiss-
    • Comment 06/22/07: Amanda - hate to be the one to tell you this, but if you are bringing in 36K for working nights on AWS you are getting massively screwed. I did midrange ops in Roch NY for years, AWS on nights. By the end I was grossing about 61K and I'll never see that much from IBM again, now that I work a straight day shift, no AWS. I lost big money switching depts but it was worth it to me, just to get out of Ops and have a life. The only people getting less respect for their amazingly hard work than Ops is probably Tape Ops, followed by your local cleaning crew. You seriously need to look at your options. -NoMoreAWS-
    • Comment 06/22/07: Salary = $120,000; Band Level = 8; Job Title = Senior Consultant; Years Service = 10; Hours/Week = 40 or less; Div Name = 16; Location = PA; Message = I was acquired by IBM in 2002 and took a 4% pay cut on the way in the door (ouch!). Since then (it is now 2007), I have seen a grand total of 2% in increases over that entire duration with consistent PBC ratings of 2 and 2+. I was just told that my increase in July of this year will be ZERO PERCENT once again.

      Inflation in US is now running about 2.5%, so it is only a 2.5% pay cut this year. Inflation has been closer to 3.5% for past two years, so my net pay cut is slightly less this year. Factoring inflation since I was acquired, I would need a 16% increase today just to break even -- that will never happen.

      It is almost as if IBM WANTS ME TO LEAVE -- they try to treat us so bad that we will just leave. Some genius recently figured out that Payroll is their number one expense, so they need to cut payroll and cut heads. Meanwhile, the executives continue to get richer and richer.

      If I wasn't on such a great local assignment and so well taken care of by the people I work for (no thanks to my IBM organization), I would have been gone long ago (like right after the acquisition with the rest of firm). It's pretty hard not to be angry and harbor resentments -- I do not drink the Blue IBM cool aid they are constantly forcing upon me -- I see IBM for the bastards that they are. I have no relationship with them -- I am a services whore and they are my pimp for now. -Used N Abused-

    • Comment 06/23/07: Salary = WAS $95,700.00; Band Level = 8; Job Title = Advisory Software Engineer; Years Service = 12; Hours/Week = 60+; Div Name = STG; Location = RTP/Austin/Tucson (in that order); Message = To 'Outsider' on 6/12/07 -- I can appreciate your misunderstanding of some of our postings with regards to our salaries. I once managed a restaurant (pre IBM) for less than 25K a year with 6 day work weeks and 14 hour days. ---However, I went back to school, undergrad, masters and PhD and spent quite a few bucks on that education. I thought I could now start working on a rewarding life.

      Started with IBM and worked like a dog to get ahead. However, IBM's catch is that with each promotion you're expected to do more and give up even more of your personal life. By the time I left the company, I had been asking for a demotion, decrease in salary, just so I would not spend weekends mandated working from home, would not be told to give up vacation for the 'all important hot project', not have to start my day with 4:30 am conf calls overseas and be allowed (without being bullied) to take a day off for a family member's birthday.

      Whereas I can see that I was NEEDED, I was NOT APPRECIATED and given the consideration of a normal human being. I believe that those of us who were/are making larger salaries should be given the consideration that should be afforded to any worker. Simply stating that those of us who maker bigger salaries (and yes, I worked to put myself through undergrad, grad and phd programs) deserve the higher salary, but also consideration as a human being. Don't be focused / jealous of money matters, I was happy to leave and find a job that decreased my salary by 15% just to have weekends off and real vacation time. -Anonymous-

  • PBC Comments
    • Comment 06/13/07: If you get a new job or assignment in IBM, or a new manager in IBM you are bottom of the barrel. Consider yourself lucky or just plain great if you can swing a PBC "2+" first time around. You'll probably get a "2" and could even risk a "3". If you were a PBC "2+" or a "1" you think your previous manager would let you go easily? So you wonder why folks are happy being stultified where they are and doing the jobs they have been doing for years? IBM you suck!!!!!!!!! -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:

  • "Resign or Travel?" by "IBMMom". Full excerpt: I have been told that if I don't travel, I will have to resign. Has anyone else received this request?
  • "Wrong" by "Dose of Reality". Full excerpt: If you don't travel, they will have to lay you off. They can't force you to resign. It is an important distinction for both parties. Even if they did lay you off, you could have a case against them, since there is nothing contractually explicit that says travel is a condition of employment. They will likely ask you to sign something waiving your right of recourse as a condition of severance.

    In the meantime either tell them you can't travel, or push back on each opportunity on the grounds of career fit, or some other reason.

    If on the other hand you really want to continue to work here at all costs, you might as well surrender on the travel issue. They do have ways to chip away at your situation if you take a hard line. It WILL become unpleasant - screwing over recalcitrant employees (or any employees for that matter)is a core competency of IBM HR

    Bottom line is you can stay on their terms, or leave on your terms (with separation payments). The last thing you should think about doing is resigning, unless you find another job that you want to take and can't wait for this to play out. Good luck!

  • "Good Point, Dose" by "Frank_Reality". Full excerpt: Make them pay severance and unemployment to get rid of you. Being fired/layed off by IBM no longer carries the negative baggage it used to. Everyone in the business knows what a piss poor employer IBM has become.
  • "Interesting timing" by "colokee". Full excerpt: Many GBS employees received an executive memo today which outlined travel requirements. The memo stated that if you do not want to travel you are resigning from your job. Is this legal? The memo's wording is... interesting. If you are forced to resign, do you get severance?
  • "Thanks to ABC" by "Tweetie_Bird". Full excerpt: I'm not an expert, but I remember ABC telling posters here that when they applied for a job internally in IBM they should keep the original job posting, in case they changed the job to try to fire you. ABC had stated that if the position requirements change, and you can't make them, then it's not a performance related firing but a layoff situation. They can't blame the change on you.

    I made a copy of the original posting on JOBS for my position, on a PDF. I also stated the no travel requirement on my first PBC, which the then practice leader approved.

    I sent the PDF to my manager today after getting the travel notice and he was in shock. I talked to a relative who is an attorney and she says I have a good case for a full severance rather than the smaller performance related severance and she also believes I can't be fired for insubordination with no severance. She added that this is a blatant attempt to fire employees without severance to reduce layoff expense.

  • "Paper tiger" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: You can't be forced to resign, they have to fire you/RIF you/lay you off. Unless there was prior written or otherwise documentable precedence for mandatory travel being a condition of employment, putting out a memo is nothing more than a scare tactic.

    They can't create policy that changes the terms of your employment and fire you with cause if you don't comply. That makes you subject to the stated severance policy. While that policy can be changed at will, it cannot be applied arbitrarily. Hold your ground, again unless you are committed to continuing employment here. If so, then God help you.

  • "IBM's strategy - is this a joke?" by "dirtpoorstupid". Full excerpt: A Japanese company (Toyota) and an American company ( Ford Motors) decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River.

    On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile. The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat.

    A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action. Their conclusion was the Japanese had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the American team had 8 people steering and 1 person rowing.

    Not sure of how to utilize that information, but wanting to prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team's management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 3 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager.

    They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 1 person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the Rowing Team Quality First Program, with meetings, dinners and free pens and a certificate of completion for the rower.

    The next year the Japanese won by two miles.

    Humiliated, the American management laid off the rower (a reduction in force) for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and canceled all capital investments for new equipment.

    The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses and the next year's racing team was "outsourced" to India...

    Here's something else to think about:

    Ford has spent the last thirty years moving factories out of the US, claiming they can't make money paying American wages.

    Toyota has spent the last thirty years building more than a dozen plants inside the US

    The last quarter's results: Toyota makes 4 billion in profits while Ford racked up 9 billion in losses. Ford folks are still scratching their heads.

  • "A lot of truth to that" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: There is a lot of IBM in your analogy. If you permit me to carry on the next chapter…

    The following year, the offshore team put 30 rowers in the boat with one onshore supervisor. Their paddles got hopelessly tangled, they spent the entire race blaming each other as well as the manufacturer of the canoe, the size of the paddles, and the onshore supervisor, who didn’t understand a word they were saying. They stopped rowing in the middle of the race in order to wait for better instructions, and a signed confirmation of what they needed to do. After they received them, they claimed that it would be impossible to complete the race as instructed and demanded an additional 40% in payment, because they needed to upgrade the skills of the team and add more resources.

    At the end of the day, they lost by over 3 miles and the boat sank, but it only cost the company a third of what it cost last year to lose by 2 miles. Management was ecstatic, and were again able to arrange for huge bonuses for themselves.

    As far as the Ford allusion goes, in addition to their obvious design and cost structure issues, they have some series PR issues that they are dealing with due to a suicidal refusal to address the cultural concerns of their core customer group. At the risk of riling up the censors, that’s all I’ll say about that, but if you want to know more just do a search on Ford boycott.

If you hire good people and treat them well, they will try to do a good job. They will stimulate one another by their vigor and example. They will set a fast pace for themselves. Then if they are well led and occasionally inspired, if they understand what the company is trying to do and know they will share in its sucess, they will contribute in a major way. The customer will get the superior service he is looking for. The result is profit to customers, employees, and to stcckholders. —Thomas J. Watson, Jr., from A Business and Its Beliefs: The Ideas That Helped Build IBM.

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