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Highlights—July 7, 2007

  • USA Today: High court rulings come down on side of business. By Joan Biskupic. Excerpts: As the Supreme Court nears the end of its annual term, a trend has emerged in favor of business interests and at a cost, in some cases, to employees and consumers.

    Under new Chief Justice John Roberts, the justices limited when employers can be sued for pay disparities based on a worker's sex or race, prevented states from regulating mortgage-lending subsidiaries of national banks and curtailed the avenues for class-action claims in the antitrust and securities areas. [...]

    "The Roberts Court has now shown a greater willingness to grant review in cases of importance to business and less willingness to read discrimination statutes broadly," says Washington attorney Maureen Mahoney, adding that Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement and replacement by Samuel Alito in 2006 has contributed to the trend.

  • New York Times: At I.B.M., a Smarter Way to Outsource. by Steve Lohr. Excerpts: Jobs in technology services may be particularly vulnerable because computer programming can be described in math-based rules that are then sent over the Internet to anywhere there are skilled workers. Already, a significant amount of basic computer programming work has gone offshore to fast-growing Indian outsourcing companies like Infosys, Wipro and Tata Consultancy Services.

    To compete, companies like I.B.M. have to move up the economic ladder to do more complicated work, as do entire Western economies and individual workers. “Once you start moving up the occupational chains, the work is not as rules-based,” said Frank Levy, a labor economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “People are doing more custom work that varies case by case.”

    In the field of technology services, Mr. Levy said, the essential skill is “often a lot more about business knowledge than it is about software technology — and it’s a lot harder to ship that kind of work overseas.” [...]

    So I.B.M. has moved aggressively to tap the global labor pool, and it is increasingly using software to automate as much traditional services work as possible. Today, I.B.M. employs 53,000 people in India, up from 3,000 in 2002; in India, the salaries for computer programmers are still about a third of those in the United States. Over the same span, the company’s work force in the United States declined slightly, to 127,000 at the end of last year.

    I.B.M. is also one of the world’s largest software companies. And its software development work, bolstered by dozens of acquisitions in the last few years, is more and more being done with an eye for use in its services business — to substitute software automation for labor. Smarter, more customized software can automatically handle some programming chores. I.B.M. employs 200,000 people worldwide in its services business, and if growth means constantly having to add more people, the business is in trouble.

  • Baseline: Opinion: Why CIOs Should Pay Attention to Hewlett-Packard. By Paul A. Strassmann. For nearly 60 years, IBM was considered the champion of the information-technology industry. No other company, including Microsoft, approached IBM's dominance as measured by revenue, personnel and assets. The designation of No. 1 I.T. vendor now belongs to Hewlett-Packard, which has seen its sales climb past IBM's (see chart below). HP is now extending its reach by promising to meet the demands for Web-based architectures and data warehouses.
  • eWeek: Activist Rails Against 'Myth' that U.S. IT Skills Are Inferior. By Deborah Perelman. Excerpt: "The myth that H-1B technology workers are smarter and more qualified than their domestic counterparts is given its most definitive exposure in a study unveiled today at the National Press Club," said Donna Conroy, director of brightfuturejobs.org, a white-collar lobbying organization, and a former tech pro. Conroy has been lobbying against expanding the H-1B visa hiring program for several years.

    The report, ''Low Salaries for Low Skills: Wages and Skill Levels for H-1B Computer Workers, 2005,'' was released by John Miano and the Center for Immigration Studies May 22 and set out to correct what the center saw as misconceptions about the U.S. high-tech visa program.

    The report showed that 87 percent of the job openings that were filled under this program were for entry-level positions that require only a "good understanding of the occupation." It also argued that applicants whom employers defined as possessing entry-level skills filled 56 percent of the 2005 H-1B job openings.

    "Technology firms are propagating the myth that citizens from abroad are 'the best and the brightest' in science and technology, encouraging Americans to conclude that the U.S. work force is incompetent and incapable," said Conroy. "This is self-loathing talk at its worst! It hides that fact that these same employers can legally bypass the U.S. work force for these job openings."

  • USA Today: Corporate guru sees trouble in globalization. By David J. Lynch. Excerpts: Whenever U.S. corporations establish factories overseas, they can count on taking flak from labor unions, lawmakers and left-of-center economists. Now the practice of borderless commerce is drawing fire from within Corporate America's own ranks. Ralph Gomory, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and a former top executive at IBM, is attacking what he calls a growing divergence between the interests of footloose U.S. corporations and the interests of the United States.

    "Companies are very focused on profitability. There used to be a pretty good tie between that and doing something for the country. … (Now) the things they're trying to do are not good for the country," he said in a recent interview. [...]

    Indeed, the trade liberalization policies that the U.S. has pursued for a generation encouraged corporations to seek the lowest-cost locations for their operations. As labor-intensive textile mills departed, trade fans argued that the U.S. would thrive with more advanced industries. Now, even more sophisticated operations often end up in other lands. Case in point: the 1,200-worker semiconductor plant Intel is erecting in Vietnam.

    Living standards here will inevitably decline unless something is done to encourage U.S. corporations to invest at home instead of abroad, he says. Gomory wants to use the corporate income tax to reward companies that invest in "high-value-added" jobs here and penalize those that move such facilities overseas. "Where companies go is affected by self-interest. We need to make it in the self-interest of companies to invest in America," he said.

  • IBM Press Release, courtesy of Yahoo! Finance: IBM Recognized as Overall Best U.S. Company in India by Indo-American Chamber of Commerce. Excerpts: IBM India has been recognized as the 'Overall Best' U.S. Company in India by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC), the only bilateral trade facilitating body.

    "Receiving this award is a moment of immense pride for IBM India and we thank the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce for the recognition," said Shanker Annaswamy, Managing Director, IBM India. "IBM has been regarded as an icon for corporate excellence and governance around the world and we are committed to bring in the same exemplary levels of corporate excellence to India. This award reiterates the maturity of IBM in India and our leadership in the dynamically growing market of India."

  • Christian Science Monitor: The vanishing American computer programmer. Move to increase number of foreign worker visas fails in Senate, but that has not stopped what critics call a push for cheaper labor. By David R. Francis. Excerpts: A popular video recently posted on the Internet's YouTube shows an immigration lawyer talking to a group of business people in May about the process of hiring foreigners for their companies.

    "Our goal is clearly not to find a qualified US worker," says the attorney in the video, an immigration lawyer at Cohen & Grigsby, a firm in Pittsburgh. "In a sense, that sounds funny, but it's what we're trying to do here."

    To Norm Matloff, a professor of computer science at the University of California at Davis, such efforts to use loopholes in immigration laws that were supposed to give Americans and legal residents first crack at high-tech and other jobs is "absolutely outrageous."

    The real goal is to hire "cheap labor," charges Dr. Matloff. High-tech executives had backed a provision in the comprehensive immigration bill that failed in the Senate last Thursday to boost the number of H-1B or other temporary visas for highly educated foreign workers. Now, the focus will shift to "stand-alone" bills already before Congress that would accomplish the same goal, notes a spokesman for the Software & Information Industry Association. [...]

    "There is nothing new in this video," he (Matloff) says. He recalls getting a document years ago in which a proponent of H-1B visas referred to the arsenal of tools companies can use to legally reject any American applicant for a job in favor of a foreign worker. But now that those tactics are on video, "everything changes," Matloff says. Viewers can see and hear with their own eyes and ears the words of this immigration lawyer and "his utter lack of scruples."

  • Daily Report: Wall Street battles Silicon Valley for top tech grads. Recruiters eager to sign up students with math, computer, language skills. By Lisa Kassenaar, Bloomberg News Columnist. Excerpts: Before earning her master’s degree in computer science at Georgia Institute of Technology in May, Zhang had two job offers from Goldman Sachs Group Inc., two from Microsoft Corp. and one from Google Inc. Then a headhunter phoned to pitch a job at Renaissance Technologies Corp., the $20 billion hedge fund firm led by math guru James Simons.

    ‘‘Goldman says I can make lots of money,’’ says Zhang, 24, a native of Harbin, China, who wears bright purple glasses and spent last summer writing video game software for Electronic Arts Inc.

  • San Francisco Examiner: Bay Area companies offer creative, popular perks. By Amy Dobson. Excerpts: The most alluring perk of all will most likely always be the least tangible of all: time. Companies are realizing that what employees want most of all is the opportunity to maintain a healthy balance between work and life. As a result many employers are increasing the amount of vacation time their employees can accrue. Some companies go even further than that. [...]

    The history of making workplaces more bearable started long ago, but only recently have companies started coming up with creative ways to entice employees to keep coming to work. From catered lunches in the company cafeteria to free massages if you bike to work, this trend is showing up in every type of industry. Only one thing is for sure that it a trend that isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
Minimize
  • New York Times Editorial: Is Your Doctor Tied to Drug Makers? Excerpts: It’s no surprise that the pharmaceutical industry is appalled at proposals to set up a national registry of its gifts and payments to doctors. Too much information might lead patients to suspect that their doctors are choosing costly medicines out of gratitude to the manufacturers rather than for the best medical or economic interests of their patients.

    The drug companies ply doctors with a wide range of gifts, everything from free lunches for busy doctors and their staffs while sales representatives extol the virtues of their latest drugs to subsidized trips to vacation spots for conferences billed as educational events. The companies also pay large sums to doctors for consulting or for conducting research. These payments, which can mount into the hundreds of thousands of dollars over a period of years, look suspiciously like inducements to promote or prescribe the companies’ drugs.

  • ZD-Net: U.S. healthcare industry: Google wants to protect you from Michael Moore’s Sicko. By Dan Farber, Larry Dignan, and David Berlind. Excerpts: Taking a break from reading the wall-to-wall iPhone coverage on TechMeme, I ran across a post from Lauren Turner, who works for Google as an account planner selling ads to the healthcare industry. In the post on what is called the Google Health Advertising blog, but only contains two posts, she assures potential advertisers that Google can help protect them from the negative impact of Michael Moore’s just released film “Sicko,” which does to the U.S healthcare system what Fahrenheit 9/11 did to the Bush administration.

    At first, I thought the post was a hoax, especially given the blog has only two posts and is not well put together. Why would Google want to take sides with the U.S. healthcare industry, which is ruled by a profit motive. Moore’s film zeros in what is evident to millions of Americans–the profit motive can tend to get in the way of what is in the best interest of patients.

    But, Lauren Turner turns up on LinkedIn as a 2004 Princeton University graduate who has worked at Google since January this year. In addition, the blog is linked to from a Google Health Advertising page. [...]

    Perhaps Ms. Turner’s blog post is the product of an overzealous, new ad salesperson who is telling the client what they want to hear–”Sicko” picks on the poor U.S. healthcare giants with sensationalist footage and doesn’t talk about all their good deeds.

  • Physicians for a National Health Program: Statement of Dr. Robert McMurtry of Ontario, Canada to Rep. John Conyers, Chair, Judiciary Committee, US House of Representatives, June 20, 2007. Excerpts: Thank you for the privilege of visiting your country and appearing before this committee. I am a grand-father of four, an orthopedic surgeon, former Dean of Medicine and former Assistant Deputy Minister of Health Canada. I believe that people in need of care, the ill and the injured should receive care based on need not ability to pay. I have lived long enough to recall what life was like before Medicare in Canada and what it meant to my family. [...]

    When Medicare came I was a new medical school graduate. I witnessed first hand the transformation of the public, crowded wards into decent spaces. I heard all the claims of impending disaster by established medical practitioners and witnessed very few of the problems that concerned them. Healthcare flourished and became the most popular social program in Canada’s history.

    Over the ensuing 40 years I have been privileged to serve in a number of roles in academic medicine, orthopedic practice and government. I continue to practice.

    There has never been an occasion in those decades that I or any of my colleagues have had to get permission to deliver care. Decisions to treat or not to treat have always been between us and our patients. My colleagues and I would have it no other way.

    Care is delivered based on need not ability to pay. [...]

    It is not surprising to me that studies demonstrate that healthcare and health outcomes in Canada compare favourably to those in the U.S.

    Like any complex human system, Canada’s Medicare is not without its problems. Wait times in our system have drawn a lot of attention and frankly some outlandish claims made in the media. Statistics Canada’s latest figures demonstrate that median wait times for Canadians to receive elective surgical care are just 3 weeks, and specialty care within 4 weeks.

    An even higher percentage of Canadians support Medicare. While such numbers are encouraging we can and are doing better every year.

    The publicly funded single payer system works. It is high quality, efficient and equitable.

  • Physicians for a National Health Program: Waiting Times for Care? Try Looking at the U.S. Nurses, Doctors Say It’s Time to Debunk the Myths Even Aetna Admits U.S. System ‘Is Not Timely’. Excerpts: Waiting times in U.S. hospitals and clinics are becoming so lengthy that even one of the nation’s biggest insurers, Aetna, has admitted to its investors that the U.S. healthcare system is “not timely” and patients diagnosed with cancer wait “over a month” for needed medical care, said two leading organizations of doctors and nurses today.

    Lost in the recent flurry of attacks on Canada and other nations with publicly funded healthcare systems, spurred by the popularity of Michael Moore’s “SiCKO,” is the reality of the huge hurdles faced by many American patients, said the Physicians for a National Health Program and the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee.

    “As the cost and service failures of the U.S. health system become unbearable, those who profit from the system - the private health insurance giants and big drug companies - are bringing out the propaganda attacks on the experience in the many countries which have chosen a public insurance plan. As always, half truths and lies are the scare tactics of these profiteers,” said Quentin Young, MD national coordinator of PNHP.

    “There’s been a lot of clamor lately about delays in care in some other countries. But if you want to see some really unsightly waiting times, look at U.S. medical facilities,” said Deborah Burger, RN, president of the 75,000-member CNA/NNOC.

    While the problem has been largely overlooked by the major media, it was quietly exposed by the chief medical officer of Aetna, Inc. late in Aetna’s Investor Conference 2007 in March.

    In his talk, Troy Brennan conceded that “the (U.S.) healthcare system is not timely.” He cited “recent statistics from the Institution of Healthcare Improvement… that people are waiting an average of about 70 days to try to see a provider. And in many circumstances people initially diagnosed with cancer are waiting over a month, which is intolerable,” Brennan said. [...]

    A Commonwealth Fund study of six highly industrialized countries, the U.S., and five nations with national health systems, Britain, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, found waiting times were worse in the U.S. than in all the other countries except Canada.

    And, most of the Canadian data so widely reported by the U.S. media is out of date, and misleading, according to PNHP and CNA/NNOC. In Canada, there are no waits for emergency surgeries, and the median time for non-emergency elective surgery has been dropping as a result of public pressure and increased funding so that it is now equal to or better than the U.S. in most areas, the organizations say. Statistics Canada’s latest figures show that median wait times for elective surgery in Canada is now three weeks.

    “There are significant differences between the U.S. and Canada, too,” said Burger. “In Canada, no one is denied care because of cost, because their treatment or test was not ‘pre-approved’ or because they have a pre-existing condition.”

  • New York Times, courtesy of Free Democracy Blogspot: A National Gut-Check: Who Lives Better? By Timothy Egan. Excerpts: With Independence Day just passed, a good nationalist shouldn’t be afraid to answer those questions. So, who lives better, us or them?

    In Italy, this was a regular parlor game when friends came to visit. Inevitably, after a few days of taking in our new world — a village public school for the kids, neighbors who opened the doors of their ancient homes to us, a lengthy siesta every afternoon — our houseguests would side with the Italians. I would counter for the U.S.A., to keep the argument alive.

    The Italians won on health, family and food. The United States was better on race and opportunity.

    With health care, the anecdotal often carried the argument. One day, a tenant farmer named Sergio, our neighbor, woke with a terrible eye infection. He was full of pain, unable to see. Sergio got world-class care in Florence. After three days of attentive fussing in the hospital, he came home entirely well and without a bill.

    Had he showed up at any American hospital — poor, no insurance — well, good luck. Especially in a place like Texas, where 30 percent of adults lack health insurance and what can pass for medical care is a get-in-line form of triage.

    But even with insurance, Americans are stuck with what may be the worst of all systems: one that lets a handful of corporations make life-and-death decisions, with incentive to dump and deny.

    Little wonder that the United States ranks 37th in effectiveness of health care. Italy ranks 2nd. This is a country that can’t form a government to last longer than the soccer season, and yet, they make our medical system look barbaric.

    If our system doesn’t kill you — see the infant mortality and life expectancy rates, bringing up the rear — it can put you in the poorhouse. Medical catastrophes are the leading cause of bankruptcy, and most of those are people who have some insurance, clinging to the frayed edge of the middle class.

    O.K., so what about leisure? Americans spend nearly a third of their disposable income on good times, baby. But we can’t relax. Sorry — no time. Lunch averages 31 minutes. And the U.S. ranks dead last among 21 of the world’s richest countries when it comes to guaranteed days off, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

    Most Americans don’t even use their allotted days of leisure. The Italians take 42 vacation days a year — No. 1 in the world. The average American takes 13.

    A quarter of Americans receive no vacation at all. And it’s not like we don’t need it: one in three are chronically overworked. We even work 100 hours a year more than the Japanese.

    President Bush has it figured out, with his month off at the ranch. But for a profile in clueless, Bush set the mark when he lauded as truly American some citizen who told him she had to work three jobs. Ain’t that something?

    Ah, but what about taxes? Europeans pay more than we do, to fund that free health care. Take that, Euro-trash, while lying on the beach. And yet, our tax system is approaching Gilded Age disparity. Listen to Warren Buffett, the third richest man in the world. Last year, he was taxed at 17 percent of his taxable income, he said last month. His receptionist paid nearly twice that, at 30 percent.

    Where America shines is with our multiracial society and the easy access to opportunity. It was jarring to listen to otherwise thoughtful Tuscans denigrate Ethiopian immigrants or even their Sicilian countrymen.

  • Michael Moore: Leaked Internal Memo; 'SiCKO' Has Capital BlueCross Exec Scrambling to Respond. Excerpts: I was able to see Sicko last night in Lancaster. There were about 30 other viewers in the theatre covering all age groups. I have attached the well-written memo from one of our partners, which describes cases used in the movie, to the end of my memo. Also attached are the latest talking points.

    You would have to be dead to be unaffected by Moore's movie, he is an effective storyteller. In Sicko Moore presents a collage of injustices by selecting stories, no matter how exceptional to the norm, that present the health insurance industry as a set of organizations and people dedicated to denying claims in the name of profit. Denial for treatments that are considered "experimental" is a common story, along with denial for previous conditions, and denial for application errors or omissions. Individual employees from Humana and other insurers are interviewed who claim to have actively pursued claim denial as an institutionalized goal in the name of profit.

  • New York Times: 2008 Candidates Vow to Overhaul U.S. Health Care. By Robin Toner. Excerpts: There is no better measure of the power of the health care issue than this: Sixteen months before Election Day, presidential candidates in both parties are promising to overhaul the system and cover more — if not all — of the 44.8 million people without insurance.

    Their approaches are very different, reflecting longstanding divisions between the parties on the role of government versus the private market in addressing the affordability and availability of health insurance. Republicans, by and large, promise to expand coverage by using a variety of tax incentives to empower consumers to buy it themselves, from private insurers. Conservatives warn, repeatedly, of Democrats edging toward the slippery slope of “government-controlled health insurance,” as former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York puts it, and promote the innovation and choice offered by private insurers.

    The major Democratic candidates propose strengthening the private-employer-based system, through which most working families get their coverage. But many Democrats also see a strong role for government, including, in some plans, new requirements that individuals obtain insurance and that employers provide it, along with substantial new government spending to subsidize coverage for people who cannot afford it.

  • Boing Blog: Sicko inspires grassroots action in Dallas cinema. Excerpts: Here's a first-hand account of a trip to see Michael Moore's Sicko in a suburban mall in Dallas, in which the audience of conservative cowboys were converted to health-care activists: When the credits rolled the audience filed out and into the bathrooms. At the urinals, my redneck friend couldn’t stop talking about the film, and I kept listening. He struck up a conversation with a random black man in his 40s standing next to him, and soon everyone was peeing and talking about just how fucked everything is.

    I kept my distance, as we all finished and exited at the same time. Outside the restroom doors… the theater was in chaos. The entire Sicko audience had somehow formed an impromptu town hall meeting in front of the ladies room. I’ve never seen anything like it. This is Texas goddammit, not France or some liberal college campus. But here these people were, complete strangers from every walk of life talking excitedly about the movie. It was as if they simply couldn’t go home without doing something drastic about what they’d just seen. My redneck compadre and his new friend found their wives at the center of the group, while I lingered in the background waiting for my spouse to emerge.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site:
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  • 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 07/01/07: LEAN is a tool pure and simple to set metric's that justify layoffs. I was shown this first hand by the manager who just informed me that after 14 years, I was RA'd. The only problem is that IBM is leaving business on the table while firing the ones who are doing the work. My experience was commonly the one or two tech's getting the *&^*& kicked out of them on a conference call with 20 managers. I am sad to have my job sent to Bangalore. I am however not sad about leaving IBM. Now I am finally out of IBM where I will not have all the minute elements of creativity sucked from my brain. My wife and kids are ecstatic that I can actually attend dinners or recitals. I was expecting to hear another 1500 go on June 29. I expect that they maybe taking a one or two month reprieve since the publicity has been so bad. -ra'd bear-
    • Comment 07/02/07: Word is there is going to be layoffs at the EF site at the end of July beginning of August. Bldg. 323 and especially support groups. Everyone flocked to the area to be 'safe' and now it seems that maybe there was some misinformation to get people to move there. -Mike-
    • Comment 07/02/07: To -We don't matter anymore - It's not only those employees who were under the old pension plan who got fired. In my team, they needed to get rid of 5 breathing bodies. What they did was RA 3 IBM'ers (one who actually was able to get another job in IBM) and transferred 2 contractors to a different group. I was under the cash balance plan and I expect I will have the option of leaving the monies in Fidelity or transferring them to an IRA. I will probably do the latter since I really want a clean break from I(ndia)BM. We can all get upset and swear. But when you get that emotional you definitely lose your audience. What I really feel for is the suckers who have to continue working at my old job. The pressure is jacked up so high on them since the people who were let go were the senior staff who really knew their stuff. What are left are the junior people and the Indians. The business will really suffer. If they call me for assistance, you better believe my billing rate with compensate me well. -ra'd bear-
    • Comment 07/02/07: It has been relatively quiet in our middleware group this month. We went thru a huge re-org, under the new LEAN process. Things aren't working out as well as they thought. They are changing things around again. Originally, they wanted us to support all the accounts. Then they realized that was a bit optimistic, so they organized us into 4 clusters. Then a few weeks later added another cluster. Now our cluster is being broken out into smaller mini-clusters. I've noticed in our daily cadence meetings that the usual talkers are very quiet. No one says much of anything anymore. We just listen and do what we're supposed to do. I think we're all exhausted from so much work. -the titanic-
    • Comment 07/03/07: I find it ironic that IBM is hosting job fairs in Denver and Boulder after they just laid off so many employees. You can't tell me they did not know they had the DoD Secret Security Clearance contract signed when they let everyone go. -Let Go in Denver-
    • Comment 07/03/07: To "Let Go In Denver" - I was RA'd on 5/30 and then I got an email regarding an IBM job fail here in Chicago on 6/12. A bunch of other RA'd IBMers went and they would not let them in the door! So much for having 30 days for finding another job within IBM. -Screwed Over-
    • Comment 07/03/07: Just found out that 22 people from our group of 135 people have left IBM for greener pastures. They left before they got RA-ed. The mass exodus has begun. -miss understanding-
    • Comment 07/03/07: It is clear that the LEAN drivers do not have a clue how to run a business, have no clue about IT services, have zero common sense, have no project skills, have no strategic plans, have no clue which measurements matter and are foundering at every step of the way. We ought to be happy they are such arrogant morons - think how much damage the LEANies could do if they were actually competent. -Johnny-
    • Comment 07/03/07: There will be significant cuts by September 1st. Which organizations and how deep are being worked on. This is of course, not news. The executives running the company are incapable of creating strategies that grow revenues. Year after year of failed strategies. Another year, another failed strategy. Now we have the latest failed strategy, the "makes you special red box", which is more aptly named the "dead box". Normal people would call this "long-term failure".

      The execs are experienced at buying their own stock back and they are well-practiced in financial engineering to make the results appear better than they are in reality. Normal people call that "securities fraud". They must of course, optimize and showcase the 3Q results; which means employee job and benefit cuts. The execs are very experienced in this matter. One observer notes that the 'THINK' motto has been replaced by 'CHEAT'. Quite simply. employees stand in the way of the executives' bonuses.

      As a stockholder, I need an explanation of why we are retaining executives that can't grow the business and our revenue. Why are these people getting bonuses, raises and stock when it is clear that they aren't doing their jobs. Why aren't the execs getting pink slips like my coworkers have? -Frank-

    • Comment 07/05/07: Please pardon my ignorance, but I don't know what "makes you special red box" is/means. First time I've seen the expression. What is it? -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/05/07: I left IBM in 1993, took package and many times after I had second thoughts on whether I should have. After reading many of the comments I am so very sorry for my current IBMERS. This company has lost it way and will be the subject of many a Case Study on"How To Ruin An Successful American Company" I saw on another web site that publishes the links to insider trading transactions at IBM that my former "Trading Area" Exec, is not only still with Big BLEW but he recently just dumped about 800K work of stock. -WarrenMA-
    • Comment 07/05/07: 3 more people turned in their resignations today. Brings the total up to 25. I guess IBM is getting what they want. They wanted to trim the ranks of employees--well they got it. I'm waiting for the customers to start leaving. That's the next step. -miss understanding-
    • Comment 07/05/07: The results are coming in for the LEAN initiative. One of our customers has put IBM on notice due to slipping SLAs and customer dissatisfaction. This specific customer is asking for 140k back per month due to shoddy and less than adequate maintenance and support of their account. An email from mgmt asked us to clean up our tickets in the queues to ensure we are minimizing the outage times. The note went on to say that IBM cannot afford to refund the customer back 140K per month. HUH? IBM can't afford this piddly sum? Things may be worse than they appear. Oh...Did I forget to mention all the folks (except 1) that handled this account were RA-ed in the first round back in May. The remaining person found another job outside of IBM. WAY TO GO IBM. Great management of the business. -the titanic-
    • Comment 07/05/07: Just had a conversation with my mgr. He said that so many folks have left IBM that the dept is now understaffed. They are looking to backfill 10 positions. -wakeupalready-
    • Comment 07/05/07: I've heard another rumor that the Southbury site is closing in a few years. All the work is going to be transferred to Poughkeepsie, and then off-shored. Folks in Southbury and Poughkeepsie - be careful and watchful over your job. Find something else while you still have the chance. -southbury dude-
    • Comment 07/05/07: "Red box" refers to the ad campaign where IBM is asking companies "what makes you special" while selling them cookie cutter services that aren't "special" at all. The "red box" as seen in the ads represents a new idea, a new product, or a new something. The implication is that IBM consultants can help that "red box" become the next big thing - a revolutionary success. Of course IBM is so poor at recognizing the "next big thing" and revolutionary products and services, that the ad has near zero credibility. It's so hypocritical, it's almost funny. For a example of the ads, watch Nightline sometime. Put this one on the pile of failures such as "magic pixie dust", "Aladins' lamp", the "magic (tragic) box" and the DeathStar drives. -Grumpy-
    • Comment 07/05/07: After over 30 years, I was selected in the May RA until they realized they'd gone too far and asked me to stay (twice!). They were in urgent need of someone, anyone....to apply pressure to the massive hemorrhage. Considering the folks that stayed behind, as best as I can determine, some mid-6-figure Exec put our Salary, Team, and Prison Numbers into a spreadsheet, and sorted it down. Those at the top on each team got the axe.

      The ultimate irony is for some fat cat Exec earning mid-6-figures to have the audacity to say WE earn too much! I've seen Exec's fly home every weekend, and back on job sites every Monday, for an entire year. Yet I couldn\'t even travel for business approved on-site training! And the current stock price? Inflated by buy backs so the Exec's can cash in their options.

      This is the beginning of the new IBM: India Be Mine! We should pass a law that any US based company that employs more than 60% of its workers outside the US should be required to have the top 100 officers live in the country with the majority of their overseas workers, or suffer prohibitive tax penalties. Then they'd realize what they've got over here, and how this is really their country too. The only problem with cashing out all the assets of IBM and pocketing it, is that you'll find yourself rich with no infrastructure. Time to re-watch Soylent Green fellas! -4s2Retire-

    • Comment 07/05/07: The job fair in Boulder/Denver was to staff a contract for Dept of Homeland Security. Mostly HD stuff. What I heard before leaving IBM was that the contract could not be staffed by Indian's. I doubt that will stop them from finding some loop way to get them to do the tech stuff. There are other outsource contracts where there are requirements that support be provided domestically and it's being provided by Indian's. They don't care, they will deny when actually caught. -ra'd bear-
    • Comment 07/06/07: To 'southbury dude' and 'waiting for the ax'. I have spoken with RESO and Grubb & Ellis. There will be population left at the IBM Southbury, CT location. It is just a question of how many. Also, due to the newly renovated power plant construction, chances are that more hardware will be moving in; The question remains of the A-building. What I have been told is that if IBM were smart they would be / should be aggressively marketing the A-building for another entity to come in.

      What is going on now is that there may be another office consolidation again, just like what happened a few months ago, only this time, on site personnel will either remain in the B-building or the C-building. If anyone would like to discuss this further please make initial contact to my front email at anc1ent@yahoo.com'. Put in the subject header 'the Big Blew'. I will answer all sincere inquiries. -Anonymous-

    • Comment 07/06/07: Anyone know what's going to happen to the Boca Raton site? The site is practically empty on any given day. -Anon-
  • From the General Visitor's Comment page:
    • Comment 07/01/07: Under the category of what are our old "friends" up to these days, Lou Gerstner now has his sights set on Sir Richard Branson. After leaving IBM, Gerstner became the Chairman of The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm. As reported in the British newspaper The Telegraph, Carlyle wants to try a takeover bid of Virgin Media. The story can be read at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2007/07/01/cnvirgin101.xml -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/02/07: Regarding an IBM chip plant to build chips for "advanced servers" in China. What about ITAR? We're not allowed to let Chinese citizens see our 'advanced' chip designs. ITAR covers a lot of chip design and processing. It\'s hard to imagine how we could build any leading edge FAB in China without running afoul of ITAR. -Prefer to be anonymous-
    • Comment 07/03/07: ITAR? The current administration has shown nothing but contempt for laws that don't suit it. They won't have a problem with it going through. In fact, they will probably supply the grease to make it happen faster. Then after it's in, the next administration would be seen as anti-business if they tried to pull it. Government is no better than business at making bad and shortsighted choices for purely financial reasons. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/03/07: I hope Branson slams that little midget napoleon Gerstner. Gerstner is mainly to blame with starting the downward death spiral of IBM that we see escalating with each passing day. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/03/07: Well IBM Management now you've done it. For years we paid no attention to Unions, we were satisfied that you would be fair. It was a win win relationship. But you've lost it with your greed. Now its a 'feather my nest' approach. Well now the very first international Union will begin to fight your excess. You have brought it on yourself. Its just the beginning but may have real ramifications on your business in the future. Oh by the way I bet we will be more open to it now because we finally believe what you've been saying with you actions. "IBM Workers International Solidarity (IWIS) is the answer to IBM’s strategy of becoming a “globally integrated enterprise”: The IBM Employees need a “globally unionized workforce”! -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/03/07: Yeah, we need to take a stand. IBM has pushed me as far as I can go at this point. It's affecting my health. And I'm pissed off! There is no future with IBM unless we all force the union in here. It's hopeless. Instead of you people bitching about your 100k salary, shut your mouth go outside stand there with a union picket sign or hand out flyers and make a difference! I'm ready to punch someone out. IBM cannot keep doing this to employees. It will just continue unless we throw em out. Now, let's set up a meeting at IBM east fishkill and over throw the bastards! -MBI-
    • Comment 07/04/07: I wasn't around when Gerstner took over; so being baby-blue I have an observation. In the last decade, I have NEVER seen IBM be defensive. Whenever they were threatened, they went on the offensive. IBM created markets out of thin air: eBiz, onDemand, Websphere, MQseries etc. When we told customers that they needed our new products, the customers lined up to buy them. And in the end, IBM made most of these products work.

      Now IBM is not making markets, they are not driving markets, they are reacting and responding to the Wipros and InfoSys' of the world. IBM is now on the defensive, and as an employee it scares me. I know we had to do something to beat the international outsourcers, but it sure looks like we are running scared, not leading anymore.

      It pains me to know that yesterday I had a career at a company that was a world leader, but today I just have a job at a big corporation. If the corporate leaders read this board (which it is illegal for them to do) I plead with them to turn this company around again and to create a market like IBM has done countless times before. -still_blue-

    • Comment 07/05/07: To Still_Blue: IBM did also have several flops with products, standards and protocols, and strategies that didn't fly along with those successes. They started seriously looking more at buying successful technologies instead of developing ones that might not pass muster. Lotus is an example. In short, they decided to take the easy way out. Let other companies spend the time and costs to develop ideas and then buy out the few that did well while the rest failed at someone else's expense. R&D is expensive. Buyouts are cost effective. And the bottom line is the executives and major stock holders don't care about innovation. They only care about share prices. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/05/07: RAd' Friday, Monday at a new job with a Huge IT Provider, supporting a large bio pharm in Cambridge MA..and guess what? THEY NEED HELP!!!!!!!!!!! Telling ya, RA the best thing happened to me in the last four years of my IBM Career!! -Paulie-
  • Pension Comments page
  • Raise and Salary Comments
    • Comment 07/02/07: Salary = $AU 115,895 ($US 98,406); Band Level = 8; Job Title = Senior IT Specialist; Years Service = >10; Hours/Week = 53; Div Name = ADM; Location = Sydney; Message = PBC 1, Utilization >100%. TCR a whopping 2.41%. Salary has gone backward this year after inflation! Thanks Sam. Please post a comment telling me how you spent my bonus this year. Hope it was put to good use. -ozdude-
    • Comment 07/02/07: Salary = 60k; Band Level = 4; Job Title = ITS; Years Service = 1; Hours/Week = 40; Div Name = MBPS; Location = California; Message = Band 4 making 60K. Just joined. I'm hearing a lot of negative things from my coworkers about raises in my dept for our team, but the team above us gets a large salary and multiple bonuses per year. I think this stuff is based on departments, rather than just the overall company's values. It annoys me a bit, but I guess I will just need to play politics and match wits with the nit wits above me and see how far I can take this. -Bobby-
    • Comment 07/05/07: Salary = US$30000; Band Level = 90; Job Title = IT Specialist;Trainee ; Years Service = 5 months; Hours/Week = 45; Div Name = GTS' Location = Hong Kong; Message = All Trainees in HK have no salary adjustment.......our salary is too low -Angus Kong-
  • PBC Comments
    • Comment 07/05/07: Besides PBCs, there's a second less than worthless process employees go through on an annual basis; the Individual Development Plan. The IDP is where you get to list the opportunities you are interested in, what your personal goals are and what activities will get you there. This is an exercise in futility because the company refuses to invest in the education listed in the IDP and refuses to expend any effort, money, time, etc.. and refuses to allow you to pursue other jobs in other areas so you can actually achieve the activities listed in the IDP. It's less than useless because the IDP process give the false appearance that there is a commitment by the corporation to the employee. This is another example of the company to look good without having to actually be good. Frauds. -billy-
    • Comment 07/05/07: The one skill you need is staying ahead of the current layoff, wherever it may be. You should only bother taking classes towards that end. Besides, my IDP never comes up during PBC review time. The only other classes worthy to take are how to manage your retirement funds, 'cause that's now your job too. -survivor-
Vault Message Board Posts:
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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:

  • "What's wrong with being ethical?" by " it_guy_oz". Full excerpt: I get a strange feeling of satisfaction by not stooping to the ethical level of our overlords. Don't underestimate the confidence and satisfaction you get living a life of integrity. Life is too short to waste it screwing people to shortcut your fortune (however small) at the expense of others. Live a good life and die happy.
  • "Strange feelings" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: Strange feelings come in all shapes and sizes. There's that strange feeling that you get after you drop the soap in the shower. Now you're probably the type that would pick up the soap for the guy next to you, because after all it is the ethical thing to do! "IBM and you - perfect for each other"

    Seriously Mr. Oz, after having countless hours of your life stolen by the company with ridiculous travel policies, impossible utilization targets, unrequited extra work, benefits reduced arbitrarily, and yes lost vacation time, are you really telling me that you feel guilty taking a measure back if given the chance?

    How about an eye for an eye - a little quid pro quo, or in this case it is a hair for an eye and pence pro quo.

  • "IBM voted best US employer in India" by "atrayapr". Full excerpt: Contrary to what people on this board say: http://tinyurl.com/39ne5k
  • "Worth Every Penny" by "GTS Grunt". Full excerpt: of the six BILLION US Dollars they've spent over there.

    So let's see. The Indo American Chambers of Commerce (IACC) is representative of all the employees in the country, right?

    Any country that got a 6 Billion US$ gift would be happy to have an assembly of its Chamber of Commerce and announce that the giver was wonderful.

    The real answer will be a net return of 60 Billion US$ in the next 3 years. If not, Sam's sunk his shareholder's hard earned money into a losing venture.

  • "Thanks" by "wuteva". Full excerpt: Thanks for the replies. I have a few questions that hopefully you all can help with.
    • What if I get staffed on a project next week and it's just like I thought (basically, it sucks). Would it be too soon to leave after a few weeks of doing it? I just get the feeling that management will give me a hard time because they will think I'm not giving it much of a chance, when actually any intuitive person knows whether or not something is good for them.
    • What's the best approach to take with my management when I tell them I am leaving? I want to be diplomatic so I don't burn bridges, but I have the feeling they will give me a hard time about it being so soon. Is it not unheard of for people to leave after a few months at IBM? I think the problem is, I'm already jaded and even if a decent task comes along, I feel like I see something bigger behind the scenes that is a problem. It's the culture; the way they do business. To be honest, I think I'm answering my own questions as I write this. :)
  • "No Problem" by "ancientblueconsultant". Full excerpt: 1) Tell the client privately that you are leaving shortly. If you don't meet the client, heh, there's no loss. 2) Tell them that you have a cultural fit problem with GBS, and it can't be fixed. They'll understand and look up to your decisiveness. They will make an effort to keep you and you should be firm in your decision. If you waffle, you look bad and they have reason to be mad at you. They'll certainly ask why, you can say what you've said here as well as other things. Be ready with this story and be decisive when you deliver it. Blame it on the recruiter, that's a perennial favorite.

    It's the weak and the afraid they prey and abuse.

    As for leaving IBM? I've had employees in my tenure day leave in as short as 48 hours. In 2004, I recall that about 7% of all departures were of employees with less than 60 days in the company, so it's not something that uncommon.

    As I said before, the quicker, the better it looks for you.

  • "Interesting thought process" by "civilliberty". Full excerpt: And one that I did and do identify with. If you know you are being stuffed around it's very difficult to find the motivation to do a good job - that was my dilemma. I was never short on talent, but certainly at times my motivation waned because I knew given the system most likely I would never be able to win effectively irregardless of the situation. I can honestly say that I had no real issues with individuals at IBM, it was the process and their willing subservience to it that made them treat individuals like cannon fodder.

    When your confidence in the company goes, you really need to look at making an exit sooner rather than later to mitigate any long term performance issues - in my opinion. I waited because I was very picky about my next job (now having worked for such a shocking employer I was determined to make a good choice this time) and I wanted it to be permanent. Faced with a similar situation next times around I'd pick up the first reasonable contract ASAP (instead of waiting another 18 months) and re-build my reputation ASAP. As it turned out, I got re-trenched (one of the happiest days of my entire employment actually - more than one person remarked on how happy I appeared).

Modern-Day Robber Baron Corner:
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Today's highly compensated executives face many difficulties, including figuring out how they can possibly spend all of the rich rewards they've earned on the backs of ordinary workers. Take a look at the insider trading of many of our IBM executives—spending the cash from all that stock "acquired at $0 per share" must be a real challenge! Or, imagine the difficulty IBM CEO Sam Palmisano will face spending his $10,000 to $20,000 a day pension when he retires!

As a way of helping out our beleaguered, modern-day robber barons this site will periodically feature "spending opportunities" that the "upper crust" of our society may want to take advantage of!

  • Wall Street Journal: House of the Week. Sedona (Chapel Included). By Ben Casselman. Excerpts: What: Three-bedroom, four-bathroom main house, about 4,500 square feet, on 6.75 acres. Where: Sedona, Ariz., about 115 miles north of Phoenix. Amenities: Three-bedroom guest house, guest apartment, detached house ("casita"), pool, two garages, workout room, wine cellar, putting green, picnic area with barbecue pit. Asking Price: $11.75 million.

     

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.