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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—September 15, 2007

  • CNN/Money: IBM India's Global Delivery Center (GDC) Appraised at Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) Level 5, Version 1.2 Software Engineering Institute (SEI) Appraisal Reinforces IBM's Global Focus on Quality Management and Excellence in Client Delivery. Excerpts: IBM India today announced that its Global Delivery Center (GDC) has been appraised at the highest rating -- Level 5 -- for the version 1.2 of Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) framework by the Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute (SEI). IBM India GDC is one of the first few organizations in the world of its size and operational complexity to have achieved this impeccable credential. The appraisal process included evaluation of IBM's projects in Application Services from all six global delivery centers in India (Bangalore, Chennai, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Pune), showcasing IBM's continued leadership and success in delivering superior services to its clients globally.

    Receiving this accreditation, Rajesh Nambiar, vice president and general manager, Global Delivery, IBM India, said, "This prestigious accreditation is a testament to IBM's globally benchmarked delivery capabilities and its leadership in the global delivery services arena. With focus on innovation, IBM teams strive for the best results in improving clients' IT and business processes. At IBM process improvement and optimization is a never ending journey and our clients are assured of seamless delivery excellence, irrespective of their geographic location."

  • WashTech: Gregoire, Schwarzenegger lead call for increased H-1Bs. Are you sick and tired of hearing elected officials calling for more increases in the H-1B visas? Now we have state governors getting in on the act. Excerpts: The Governors of Washington and California have spearheaded a call to Congress to increase the number of H-1B visas allowed per year. Along with Gregoire and Schwarzenegger, eleven other governors signed the letter presented to the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate on September 11.

    The letter, which states, "businesses should be able to find the world's best educated workers," ignores the fact that thousands of the "best educated workers" who already live in the U.S. have difficulty finding work. The letter also repeats the myth that there is a "critical shortage of highly skilled professionals in math and science." This myth has long ago been debunked by a Duke University study published five months ago.

    Citing the rapid speed by which yearly H-1B quotas are met, the pro-visa group organization, Compete America helped craft the letter. What the letter ignores is that the quota is largely filled by companies like Wipro, Infosys and Tata which specialize in staffing companies with Indian workers.

  • Plan Sponsor: Boeing Workers Strike Out Again in Cash Balance Battle. Excerpt: For the second time, a federal judge in Illinois has turned aside arguments that the Boeing Company’s cash balance plan is improperly backloaded. In the most recent holding, U.S. District Judge David R. Herndon of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois rejected plaintiff employees' new theory that the plan violated ERISA's backloading regulations once their accrued benefits were aggregated using the plan's cash balance formula and traditional defined benefit plan formula.
  • New York Times, courtesy of TruthOut: Where's My Trickle? By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: Four years ago the Bush administration, exploiting the political bounce it got from the illusion of success in Iraq, pushed a cut in capital-gains and dividend taxes through Congress. It was an extremely elitist tax cut even by Bush-era standards: the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center says that more than half of the tax breaks went to Americans with incomes of more than $1 million a year.

    Needless to say, administration economists produced various misleading statistics designed to convey the opposite impression, that the tax cut mainly went to ordinary, middle-class Americans. But they also insisted that the benefits of the tax cut would trickle down - that lower tax rates on the rich would do great things for the economy, helping everyone.

    Well, Friday's dismal jobs report showed that the Bush boom, such as it was, has run its course. And working Americans have a right to ask, "Where's my trickle?"

    It's true, as the Bushies never tire of reminding us, that the U.S. economy has added eight million jobs since that 2003 tax cut. That sounds impressive, unless you happen to know that a good part of that gain was simply a recovery from large job losses earlier in the administration's tenure - and that the United States added no fewer than 21 million jobs after Bill Clinton raised taxes on the rich, a move that had conservative pundits predicting economic disaster.

    What's really remarkable, however, is that four years of economic growth have produced essentially no gains for ordinary American workers.

    Wages, adjusted for inflation, have stagnated: the real hourly earnings of nonsupervisory workers, the most widely used measure of how typical workers are faring, were no higher in July 2007 than they were in July 2003.

    Meanwhile, benefits have deteriorated: the percentage of Americans receiving health insurance through employers, which plunged along with employment during the early years of the Bush administration, continued to decline even as the economy finally began creating some jobs. [...]

    Yet the overall economy has grown at a reasonable pace over the past four years. Where did the economic growth go? The answer is that it went to the same economic elite that received the lion's share of those tax cuts. Corporate profits rose 72 percent from the second quarter of 2003 to the second quarter of 2007. The real income of the richest 0.1 percent of Americans surged by 51 percent between 2003 and 2005, and although we don't yet have the data for 2006, everything we know suggests that the income of the rich took another upward leap.

    The absence of any gains for workers in the years since the 2003 tax cut is a pretty convincing refutation of trickle-down theory. So is the fact that the economy had a much more convincing boom after Bill Clinton raised taxes on top brackets. It turns out that when you cut taxes on the rich, the rich pay less taxes; when you raise taxes on the rich, they pay more taxes - end of story. [...]

    America was a highly unequal society during the Gilded Age, but workers' living standards nonetheless improved as the economy grew. Inequality rose rapidly during the Reagan years, but "Morning in America" was nonetheless bright enough to make most people cheerful, at least temporarily. Inequality continued to increase during the Clinton years, but wages rose, as did the availability of health insurance - and the great majority of Americans felt prosperous.

  • Forbes: Luxurious Long-Term Lodging. By Lauren Streib. Excerpts: No one enjoys dragging a suitcase around the airport. But, as business travelers know, it's living out of luggage for months on end that can be real torture. Unless, that is, they are doing so in a luxury corporate apartment. [...]

    Luxury extended-stay apartments also provide two things most hotels cannot--space and privacy. On average, corporate apartments have three times the space of a hotel suite at a third to 50% less cost, according to Brown. They are widely used by professionals in the entertainment and fashion industries who want to keep a low profile, as well as government employees, those who need access to local hospitals and people in the process of moving from one city to another. [...]

    Whether you're moving for a new job or spending a few months in a foreign city trying to move sales figures, a luxury corporate apartment can go a long way toward making you feel comfortable and helping you focus on what's important--your work. These apartments, Thomas says, "are meant to become a second home." (Editor's note: IBM also offers an "luxurious long-term lodging" for its employees. Details are available here...)

  • Los Angeles Times: Study finds left-wing brain, right-wing brain. Even in humdrum nonpolitical decisions, liberals and conservatives literally think differently, researchers show. By Denise Gellene.
  • eWeek: IT Workers Battle to Keep Skills Current. By Deborah Perelman. Excerpt: That workers often feel stressed and harried while on the job is nothing new. Mounting workloads, hurried paces and at times colliding demands on employees' times are typical expectations of the workplace today. However, IT workers claim they have it worse, reporting that they are in a constant state of "running races to keep up" and in a "constant battle to learn new IT skills," according to a Canadian graduate business school study released on Aug. 29. Furthermore, the study concludes that the reality for IT pros is even more intense because their skills are continually depleted while non-IT workers see their skills accumulate over time.
  • eWeek: Outsourcing Back to the U.S.. Excerpt: Indian software firm Wipro has laid plans to open a big software development center in Atlanta, it announced Sept. 6. The Bangalore, India-based firm expects to hire more than 500 computer programmers over the next three years and set up a training center to provide technical and soft-skills training to its employees in Georgia.
  • Forbes: Software Salaries Up Smartly in India. By Ruth David. Excerpts: As competition for talent intensifies, India’s software professionals are raking in the bucks. Employees in the sector saw their salaries raised at an average of 18.7% last year, with R&D companies Cadence, Sun Microsystems and Honeywell topping the list as the most generous paymasters, says a new study.

    That number is a slight increase from last year’s average of 18.3%, found the survey carried out by market research firm IDC India for the tech publication Dataquest. Seven of the companies in the top ten in salary rankings were multinationals, including IBM, Capgemini and CSC. [...]

    But, in what comes as good news for employers that may pay less, there’s a disconnect between salary levels and employees’ satisfaction with them. For instance, HCL Infosystems topped the rankings when it came to employee satisfaction with salaries, but it was at 23 on the actual salary ranking.

    “Companies [that] have their act together on employee satisfaction can manage a lower wage bill--and still have satisfied employees,” said Dataquest Chief Editor Prasanto Kumar Roy. [...]

    In an industry where attrition rates are very high because there are so many options for software professionals, Infosys loosens the purse strings more for senior employees. It is one of the leading paymasters for professionals with between 10 and 15 or more years of experience. [...]

    Professionals with less than five years’ work experience account for 70% of the 1.6 million-strong software workforce, the study says. Only one out of five professionals has between five and 10 years of experience and less than one in 10 professionals has more than 10 years of experience. The average age of tech employees is 28.1 years, and lack of experience is a key challenge at middle management levels.

  • Reuters: EDS offers retirement to 12,000 U.S. workers. Excerpts: Electronic Data Systems Corp (EDS.N: Quote, Profile , Research), the second-largest U.S. technology services provider, said on Wednesday it offered early retirement packages to about 12,000 U.S. employees, and expected a charge of $70 million to $130 million in the fourth quarter. [...]

    EDS plans to offer eligible employees an "enhanced" benefit equal to five times the allotted annual funds made to their company retirement plan, excluding interest credits. If applicable, EDS will also offer a benefit to the employees' Benefit Restoration Plan on their behalf, plus $10,000 from the EDS Retirement Plan.

    EDS, which ranks second by revenue after International Business Machines Corp among U.S.-based technology-services companies, has been boosting profit by cutting costs, including 5,000 jobs last year, and generating revenue from contracts including a $3.9 billion deal from the U.S. Navy last year.

  • The Detroit News: EDS offers early retirement to 12,000. Excerpts: Electronic Data shares have dropped 15 percent since Aug. 1, when the computer services provider said bookings fell 20 percent last quarter. Chief Executive Officer Ronald Rittenmeyer, who took over Sept. 1 from Michael Jordan, is hiring workers in India to replace more-expensive U.S. employees and revive profit. The company has 20,000 employees in India.

    "Employees that were at the forefront of IT service provision 20 years ago don't have the same skill sets they need today," said Joseph Vafi, an analyst at Jefferies & Co. in San Francisco. "Increasingly, you can find those around the world." [...]

    Electronic Data will pay the costs from its pension plan, which Brand said is over-funded.

  • CNN/Money: Corporate Pensions Working Again After Dire Straits In '02. Excerpts: Say this much for financial crises: They never stop coming, and they never last forever. For proof, check out the U.S. pension system. A few years ago it seemed headed for a crisis. Plans sponsored by S&P 500 firms were woefully underfunded. Many plans were either frozen or in default. Things got so bad that some experts said the pension system was in worse shape than Social Security. There was talk that only a massive bailout would fix the problem. You don't hear that kind of talk anymore -- mainly because the crisis turned out to be not much of a crisis after all.

    A report released last month by Goldman Sachs shows that defined benefit pension plans of S&P 500 companies were, in aggregate, fully funded at the end of last year. It was the first time in several years that S&P 500 firms had enough money in the plans to cover their obligations. [...]

    Even companies considered poster children for shaky pension plans have bounced back. General Motors was 119% funded at the end of last year, according to Goldman Sachs. Boeing was 101% funded. [...]

    Union contracts prevent some companies from freezing their plans. But companies that can are doing so with greater frequency. A diverse group has announced freezes this year, including Hewlett-Packard, Lincoln Financial Group, Goodyear Tire & Rubber and Nasdaq.

News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
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  • New York Times: Audit Cites Overpaid Medicare Insurers. By Robert Pear. Excerpts: Private insurance companies participating in Medicare have been allowed to keep tens of millions of dollars that should have gone to consumers, and the Bush administration did not properly audit the companies or try to recover money paid in error, Congressional investigators say in a new report.

    The investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, said the money could have been used to reduce premiums or provide additional benefits to older Americans.

    Under federal law, Medicare officials are supposed to audit the financial records of at least one-third of the insurance companies each year. But the investigators said the Bush administration had fallen far short of that goal and had never met the “statutory requirement.”

    Indeed, they said, the proportion of companies audited by Medicare declined steadily — to 14 percent in 2006 from 24 percent in 2001 — despite a steady growth in Medicare payments to the plans. Those payments now total $75 billion a year, about one-fifth of all Medicare spending.

    The Bush administration did not take issue with the findings. [...]

    In separate action, the Bush administration is vigorously pursuing money that it says is owed to insurance companies by Medicare beneficiaries. The Medicare agency has sent letters to more than 135,000 people saying they still owe premiums for prescription drug coverage provided in 2006. In most cases, the premiums were supposed to have been withheld from monthly Social Security checks, but the government withheld the wrong amounts or nothing at all.

  • New York Times: Cancer’s High Toll on the Uninsured. Excerpts: The American Cancer Society’s new advertising campaign urging access to quality health care for all Americans will bring home in gripping terms what happens to people without health insurance. When it comes to dealing with cancer, any delay in detection or treatment, as is common among the uninsured or poorly insured, can be fatal.

    The society decided to devote its entire advertising budget this year to the problem of inadequate health coverage after reaching a stark and sobering conclusion. It has no hope of meeting its goal of reducing cancer death rates by 50 percent, and incidence rates by 25 percent, from 1990 to 2015 unless cancer patients gain quicker access to screening and treatment. As Kevin Sack recently reported in The Times, the society’s chief executive, John Seffrin, believes that, unless the health care system is fixed, “lack of access will be a bigger cancer killer than tobacco

    The society’s campaign is rooted in solid research showing that uninsured patients suffering from cancers of the breast, larynx and mouth were much more likely to have these cancers diagnosed at an advanced stage, when they are less curable, than were patients with private insurance. As a consequence, they faced more difficult and more expensive treatments, a diminished quality of life and a greater risk of death.

  • Washington Post: Without Planning, Health-Care Costs Can Wreck Retirement. By Martha Hamilton. Excerpts: My mother spends hardly anything on health care. I'd love to say it's because she's in perfect health, but she isn't. At 93, she's survived three strokes and does pretty well, but she has doctors for her heart, lungs, brain, ears, eyes, knees and feet. And, of course, she has a dentist.

    Still, she's not only a survivor in the broader sense. She's also the survivor of a time when health-care benefits for retirees were more generous than they are now and will be in the future.

    She has health-care coverage from my late father's job as a machinist at the Exxon refinery. And she has health-care coverage through the Texas teacher's system. Her expenses? Mostly the premiums she pays for Medicare.

    For those of us approaching retirement, the picture is depressingly different. Most of us will be covered by Medicare and not much else. And while that coverage is valuable, by itself it isn't going to protect us from the ice-cold reality of rising health-care costs. The Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates that Medicare covers only 51 percent of expenses associated with health-care services for most people, and it doesn't kick in until age 65. [...]

    Fidelity Investments, which has been tracking retiree health-care costs since 2002, calculated in a report this year that a 65-year-old couple retiring this year will need about $215,000 to cover medical costs in retirement, up 7.5 percent from the previous year. And some estimates are higher.

  • Washington Post: Operation Vacation. Big Savings Have More Overseas Travelers Mixing Surgery With Sightseeing. By Cindy Loose. Excerpts: On learning he needed heart surgery last spring, Larry Shaw's first question was: How much? The surgeon's fee, between $1,500 and $2,000, was within Shaw's means as a self-insured businessman. But the angioplasty, including placement of a thin tube in a clogged artery, would require a one-night hospital stay. He called the closest major medical center to his Dallas home. Estimated charge: $47,000, not including anesthesia.

    Shaw's next calls were to Thailand and India.

    The price at Bangkok's private Bumrungrad International Hospital: $6,400, including a two-night stay, surgeon's fees, anesthesiologist and drugs. The Apollo hospital in New Delhi: $4,600. [...]

    The reputation of outstanding U.S. hospitals has long drawn wealthy patients from around the world. But today, traffic also heads in the opposite direction. It's a trend that quietly has been expanding well beyond facelifts, tummy tucks and dental crowns to embrace all sorts of non-emergency treatments.

  • CCH: Policy Brief Sees Few Advantages To HSAs In Colorado. Excerpts: An August 2007 policy brief prepared by the Bell Policy Center in Colorado reviews the existing data on health savings accounts (HSAs) and high-deductible health plans and concludes that these consumer-driven health plans are unlikely to lower the number of uninsured residents in Colorado. [...]

    The RAND Health Insurance Experiment found that when people paid a greater portion of their health care bills, they used less health care. Recent surveys, however, have found that HSA-eligible enrollees use about as much health care as people with other types of health insurance. Specific price and quality information is not available to people with HSA-eligible health plans, making it difficult for them to find the best deals on health care.

    HSAs subsidize high-income families that save for future health costs more than low-income families that save. The HSA tax advantage increases with income. Nationally, the average income for taxpayers claiming an HSA deduction was $133,000 in 2004. The average income for all tax filers in the same year was $51,000. [...]

    While several experts have proposed ways to alter HSAs that would make their tax advantages less regressive and encourage savings by low-income enrollees, in their current form these plans have done little to help low-income families save, and they are unlikely to lower the number of uninsured residents in the state.

  • Wall Street Journal: Health Savings Accounts Aren’t Catching On. Posted by Jacob Goldstein. Excerpts: High-deductible insurance plans tied to special savings accounts continue to lag behind expectations, despite being praised high and low as a tool to slow the rise in health-care costs. Only 5% of all covered workers are enrolled in them this year — a change that’s not statistically different from the 4% who were covered last year, according to the survey. The plans come in a few flavors but are widely known for their association with tax-advantaged health savings accounts, or HSAs. They’re sometimes known as “consumer-driven” plans because employees pay directly for more of their care.

    Supporters say the plans can use market forces to cure the health care system, transforming passive patients into active consumers who seek out the best care at the best price. But, as we noted earlier this year, the plans have proved unpopular with the public.

    One possible reason is that roughly half of the workers enrolled in the plans don’t receive any company contributions to the savings plans, leaving the employees to pay higher out-of-pocket costs themselves, according to the survey.

  • Wall Street Journal: Legal Loophole Ensnares Breast-Cancer Patients. Shirley Loewe Chooses The Wrong Clinic And Starts Long Ordeal By John Carreyrou. Excerpts: In June 2003, Shirley Loewe went to Good Shepherd Medical Center here with a softball-size lump in her breast and was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer. She didn't know it, but she had just made a big mistake.

    Ms. Loewe was uninsured. Under federal law, she could have gotten Medicaid coverage -- and saved herself a lot of hardship -- if she'd gone to a different clinic less than a half-mile away. But by walking through Good Shepherd's doors, Ms. Loewe unwittingly let that opportunity slip and embarked on a four-year journey through the Byzantine U.S. health-care system.

    It was an odyssey that would take her to five hospitals, two clinics, two charitable organizations and two nursing homes in two states. She was denied assistance or care at least six times along the way, for reasons that ranged from not being poor enough to not being sick enough. [...]

    Ms. Loewe is one of thousands of women who get caught in a loophole in the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act each year. Under the little-known law passed by Congress in 2000, uninsured women under age 65 who are diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer can have their treatment covered by Medicaid, the government-funded health program for the poor, even if they don't meet all of its eligibility criteria.

    But the law gives states an escape hatch. Rather than provide coverage to all comers, states can choose to cover only those diagnosed at clinics that get funding from a federal cancer-detection program. Texas chose the more restrictive option.

  • New York Times: UnitedHealth Aims to Bar Inquiry. Excerpt: The UnitedHealth Group, trying to fend off another investigation into the company’s backdating of stock options, asked the Minnesota Appeals Court on Thursday to block an inquiry by the state’s attorney general. The scandal has already prompted shareholder lawsuits and a federal investigation and forced the ouster of William W. McGuire, from the posts of chairman and chief executive.
New on the Alliance@IBM Site:
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  • From the Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comment 09/08/07: Global Administration is an internal support function. It's the 'secretarial' function. Last year it was consolidated into one big Global Team. We have had headcount reduction almost every quarter since. Not sure why they haven't outsourced the whole function to INdia or where ever by now. It sure looks like that's where it's headed. Our so-called leaders should just put the whole org out of its misery. GA reports in HR (God Help us) and the director of GA has a HUGE rep as a monster and everyone is afraid of her. The whole org is going down in flames. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 09/08/07: Rumors of cuts in the lab in Rochester this past Thurs. Can anyone confirm ?? -homerJ-
    • Comment 09/09/07: I am disgusted. I've lost all of my prize accounts and star employees. I am down to managing a few stragglers not even at my site. This has turned into a sad company and continues to be the bloodiest year ever. Cuts will continue through the end of the year. It's NG man, NG. -NG_MAN-
    • Comment 09/09/07: To Neutral: New "Skill Assessment" tool? Are you talking about PDTools? If so, this is the crappiest tool ever. Most GTS managers have stated that it is useless, as a matter of fact, my manager is using an excel spreadsheet to keep track of the skills of Practitioners!! If you you looked at my PDTools assessment, it is showing that I have about 1000 different skills. I am waiting for the day the CEO, CFO, COO, VP, etc... skills come my way to assess and I will ad those skills to my assessment!! THE MOST RIDICULOUS EVER built... I would not be surprised if it was built off-shore!! By the way, PDTools is about to be rolled out in ISSW (SWG)... Good luck guys!!! -Anonymous-
    • Comment 09/09/07: I have heard that a massive layoff is about to hit GTS at the end of September. Has anyone heard anymore information? -Anonymous-
    • Comment 09/10/07: Doesn't anyone out there have the backbone to tell us what's really coming? We have jobs, children, families, even parents to take care of. Old timers will be all right with all their savings, stocks, retirement funds. But some of us younger folks, have nothing. We never got the big raises, Christ we certainly never even got paid enough to buy stocks or put anything away. We'll starve, our small children will starve. Even if you are only talking about taking away our AWS pay differential, you're talking a car payment that won't be made. Have some guts, tell us the real deal before it's too late. -wastedeffort-
    • Comment 09/11/07: French Ibm , N'est plus cette belle compagnie..C'est fini..A bromont, les gens sont fatigués, il n'y a plus rien de drole.. Nous, ils engagent des temporaires, ca coute moins cher..Pis les permanents...on a plus rien ,a part le stress. -Anonyme- English Ibm, this nice company is not any more.. It is finished.. In bromont, people are made tired, there is nothing more of drole.. We, they hire temporary, ca coute cheaper.. Worse the permanent they have nothing more, have part stress. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 09/11/07: We're done. For 2008 we are being told to cut US resource to only 10% on any GS IGA Maint Projects. From PM down must go to GR countries. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 09/11/07: I am mad as hell and I refuse to take it anymore! My husband was a loyal and dedicated employee of IBM for 27 years until he was laid off...on his 50th birthday! If this doesn't scream discrimination, I don't know what does. He was so blind sided by his job loss, he didn't know what to do with himself. Four years later and one failed small business attempt, he is still unemployed. We have no health insurance for our children, we lost our home and had to file for bankruptcy. Big blue was all my husband had ever know, and quite frankly they screwed him, and in turn, my whole family. I'm pissed and fighting mad and want restitution! My husband may have lost his will to fight, but I have not. Please contact me if you know of any way that I can pursue this legally. Thanks. -Labate-
    • Comment 09/11/07: I had to do the PDTools skill assessment by 7/31/2007. Now I get another message to do it again before October is out. Obviously IBM is: 1) skills anemic and deficient: they have lost too many skilled people and can't service their customers at all now. 2) The are getting ready for year end rounds of more LEAN. How much more obvious is it? -PoopyDooSkills-
    • Comment 09/11/07: To wasted effort. Have you joined the union as a dues paying member? That my friend is all you can do if you want to be in the know. When we UNIONIZE IBM we will know exactly what our contract calls for because we will have ratified it. We will know what our raises are because we will have them in writing in a contract. We will know the length of the contract. We will know the order in which layoffs will occur and that they will have to hire back before they can hire anyone else if we defined it in the contract. Gerstner has a contract. Sam has one also.

      I am one of the old guys. Guess what, we do not have it as good as you think. We should have unionized 15 years ago with the first layoffs and stopped it cold. But we were good little IBM'ers and didn't like unions. We thought they were bad for business. WRONG. I will venture a guess that people spend half their time discussing layoffs, worrying about layoffs or just plain being afraid. It has crippled the very freethinking and vibrancy that we were afraid we would lose.

      I sign my notes Exodus 2007 because I and many like me will be leaving this year. With IBM clipping the pension there is no longer a reason to toil here. It has become a thankless place to work with meager raises, eroding benefits and staggering workloads. I feel sorry for those I will leave behind but if they won't learn from our mistakes then there is nothing I can do for them. Live Better Work Union. -Exodus2007-

    • Comment 09/12/07: To wastedeffort: I'm willing to bet that you already know what is to come, and it is that knowledge that brought you to this site. I know this because, a year ago this month, I realized the crap my manager was feeding me was just that and began preparing for what they had obviously already planned for me... once my time came, I was ready and WILLING to be let go. Because, honestly? Even when I was unemployed and worried about finding a new job, I STILL was better off than I was at IBM.

      If I were still at my old job, I have no doubt that, by now, I would have been hospitalized for either a physical or mental ailment... and in all likelihood, it would have been the latter. I can't understand why I put myself though that torture... all I can say now is it will NOT happen to me again. I never got the big raises, the stock options, the perks that some are lucky enough to have enjoyed. So be it... I'm too young to have experienced all of this, but that's no reason to be bitter. Things like this change, and usually not for the better. Personally, I took what I got and did the best I could... and, honestly? I'm doing okay. Sure, I was laid off... but my child did NOT starve, I didn't miss a mortgage payment, and, ultimately, I came out ahead.

      I just started a new job paying me 20% more than I was making at IBM, and I still have enough left over from my severance and unemployment to pay off a few debts that have been hanging over my head the entire seven years I spent at IBM. Truthfully? The "old timers" are the ones who TRULY have gotten the shaft in all this. Yes, they have things we don't have, but so what? I'm in my mid-thirties and landed a new job in two months... my father was laid off at 60 (not from IBM, but a similar corporation) and could never even get his foot in the door at a new company. He was lucky enough to bridge to retirement... not everyone in his situation is so lucky.

      My advice? Accept what is to come and make the best of it. Decide that being laid off is a good thing (because, really... do you want to be one of the poor souls left behind on the sinking ship?). Take time to discover what YOU really want... because IBM could give a flying f***. Let the focus be on YOU for a change... and once you\'ve got that focus on the right place, don\'t let it waver ever again! -Onward and upward-

    • Comment 09/12/07: I have been following this website for a few years now. I have made comments in the past but I feel that they have fallen on deaf ears. I left IBM this past May, 2 weeks after my QCC Dinner. I had enough, saw the writing on the wall and made a plan. In December of 2006 I started my plan of just looking for a career change. Jan 2nd I sent an email to a person expressing interest in their company and that I would like to talk. 3 days later I received a call back and we spoke for 2 hours. A month later I had dinner with this person and the first thing out of their mouth was ‘When can you start?”.

      If it happened to me it can happen to you. Just invest some time in yourself and it will pay off. All I ever see on this board is pissin and moanin..Look people, no one is holding a gun to your head making you stay. Take control of your lives. Don’t let others make the decisions for you. Well I can hear it now…I have a mortgage or I have kids in college I can’t afford to leave. I have a mortgage and I have 2 kids getting ready to enter college. Take control of your life. If you don’t then you will be rewarded the same way sheep are…slaughtered! -NoMoreSheepdip-

    • Comment 09/12/07: Labate, depending on which form your husband signed upon his layoff, it may still be possible to pursue action. Some of the forms made signers believe they could not sue. You need to talk with a labor attorney. Start here (initial consult is free): http://www.me-law.com/ -Lost Out-
    • Comment 09/13/07: To -Labate- (09/11/07): You lost your home and everything else. Where are you and your family living now? What other hurdles did you overcome to have the basics (food, clothing, shelter). Please email me to 'anc1ent@yahoo.com'. If you decide to email please put in the subject 'The Big Blew'. I'm curious and preparing myself for a bad situation such as yours. I will respond to you in short order. Thanks. -whatisthebestway-
    • Comment 09/13/07: I was RA'd in the first rounds in May.. Lots of talk about the skills tools. I will tell you one thing that I did from the start many years back.. POPULATE AS MANY SKILLS AS YOU CAN - within reason.. you must be able to at least spell them ;-) I loaded up all of the skills that I could honestly state I could speak to or pull out of my a$$ if I needed to.. depending on you manager, mine really didn't review.. they just approved.

      Look at the Hot skills they are looking for as well. Although, bottom line, I was a 1 2+ performer my whole career at IBM, with awards and options and still got screwed. I had the key skills that are rare and in demand and still after answering the call for help from management to help another team, I got cut. I transferred over to a team that was desperate for resources and management pleaded for folks to join the team.. 5 months later.. a sore sphincter IBM is DEAD.. its over its riding on what's left of its "imagine" in the market place. All of the top folks that IBM have screwed have taken roosts in companies that IBM is catering to for work.. IBM has shit in its nest for several years now.

      This company has gone from a role of customer sat is key .. to if the lawyers get involved we will do something. You cannot be telling me that we are not making money either.. Get prepared and ASSUME you next to go.. From one former IBMer to my fellow IBMers, get a resume ready.. prepare your finances as best as you can.. start looking.. this way when you do get hit.. you will get paid to go to another company like I did. I GOT PAID TO GO TO A BETTER JOB.. It didn't feel that way when I got RA'd because I never thought I would get hit.. learn from me.. NO ONE is safe anymore.. there are no more proverbial rocks to hide under There are jobs out there for us.. our reputation is still good as far as interviewing, but that is changing.

      I hear retorts from folks who don't know me when I tell them I worked at IBM.. they come back and tell me they heard is a bad place now.. compare that to the pride you felt when you told people where you worked 5 years ago.. You though if you worked hard and got good ratings-- produced.. you would have a job for life.. Reading these stories brings tears to my heart.. I went thru all of the same emotions you have..learn from all of use former / f*cked over employees.. BE PREPARED Don't bust your ass and give 80 hours cause you are already working 60.. lean your efforts in return.

      The threads on vacations are a joke.. my 8+ years at this cluster, I never used all of my vacation.. and if I did take vacation, I had a cell phone and a laptop with me.. Take care.. best wishes to those left.. IBM will continue to decimate the US force thru 2010, with major layoffs coming thru in the waves we are seeing.. There is a special place in hell for sp and team.. and I hope is very painful BTW.. folks due neede to send out union apps.. if you are getting hit and are leaving, I would think one of my last emails would contain links and apps for a union Screw IBM -soresphincter-

    • Comment 09/13/07: More layoffs coming to IGS end of September. Get your house in order. LEAN is working, but mgmt wants to do better. As Jackie says "Pound the square peg into the round hole until it breaks enough to fit" That's IBM's theory on LEAN. -miss understanding-
    • Comment 09/14/07: Are they still giving out QCC Dinners? At IGS GTS, they've given up on those. They want you to quit after working your heart out to save them money of firing you. Don't get mad, get even. Many of my friends have agreed with SheepDip, but they've done something much better. SheepDip was handicapped by some obsolete sense of professionalism, I guess. My colleagues took control of their lives but stuck it to management at the same time. Why not?

      Join the union, and then stick it to management! What better way to go out in a blaze of glory! My friends sit on their asses, build a new business while giving the appearance of working THEN leave with a severance check. The sales managers are frustrated because they can't seem to get a charge out of anyone anymore. You can't motivate a destroyed soul or one that has decided to stick it to management. Why work when you know they are going to find ways to not pay you for your efforts with fine print? All you have to see if how the green ST lights turn off or go yellow, etc. at around 4:30PM. People are quitting and not working overtime anymore.

      The "sense of urgency" is gone because they know the outcome is the same regardless of what they do. One guy in GTS sales had started a whole new business and made fake sales reports. When he was RA'ed, they found out all the entries he had placed in the sales logs were made up! The inside sales folks in Brazil went nuts! Ha! I knew he was running a second business when he made the mistake to answer the phone with his other business name! One lady runs a catering business and leaves her laptop at the sales counter with ST on just to answer the queries from management as she runs her own business. Bravo! Innovation at its best! -At the Edge of the Crumbling Empire-

  • General Visitor's Comment page:
    • Comment 09/10/07: If IBM has a quarter where they miss expectations you can be assured all the execs will still get their 7 or 8 figure bonuses while they lay off 25-30% of the US work force. -Number crunching-
    • Comment 09/13/07: Recently the US Federal 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to uphold the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission's regulation that would allow employers to alter or terminate retiree health benefits when the retiree reaches the age of 65 amd becomes eligible for Medicare benefits. So you think you'll have an FHA? Without collective action to negotiate with IBM and get a contract to ensure we get retiree health benefits this just gives IBM more ammo to abandon retiree health benefits altogether. http://www.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/054594p.pdf -FHA=FutureHellAccount-
    • Comment 09/13/07: I do not know who is ripping employees or retirees off when it comes to generic prescription drugs - IBM or Medco. When checking the price of my generic drugs on Costco.com web-site, I noticed that my 20% cost is greater than paying 100% of the full drug price at Costco. Check it out using your generic drug prescriptions. Note: By Federal Law, Costco must fill your prescriptions even if you are not a member. You just go to the door and tell them you are filling a prescription. -DrugUser-
  • Pension Comments page
    • Comment 09/11/07: IBM has no ethics and would rob a baby for more profit. So, how hard is it to think that IBM wants to find a way to rob all IBM US retirees of their pension money? After all, the bottom line will be improved and that's good for us all, I'm sure IBM will tell you... Keep a close eye on iBM what laws the company is pushing for. Your life's work and pension compensation may count on it! -TrustIBMNot-
    • Comment 09/13/07: -TrustIBMNot- : You got it right! Let's see how many employees will leave on 1/1/2008 when the pensions are frozen. Most I reckon will take their piddly cash balance plan lump sum and run with it. Who can blame them, right? -lump_sum_for_2008-
  • Raise and Salary Comments
    • Comment 09/03/07: Spanish 6 años consecutivos de buen performance 2 o 2+ pbc, y pobres avances en la estructura organizacional. Salario y compensaciones, muy por debajo del mercado. Pensando en cambiar de compañía. Si en países desarrollados hay problemas internos con IBM, imagínense en México ! La necesidad de una Union es urgente ! -Anónimo- English 6 consecutive years of good performance 2 or 2 pbc, and poor advances in the structure organizacional. Salary and compensations, much for under the market. Thinking of changing company. If in countries developed there are internal problems with IBM, imagine in Mexico! The need of an Union is urgent! -Anonymous-
    • Comment 09/08/07: Well a couple months back one of my best friends, a contractor at the account I also work on, left for another employer. He was a very very hard worker and in his 5 or so years with IBM he was "rewarded" with pay cuts totaling 25%+ and elimination/reductions in his health & vacation benefits. His starting salary with his new employer was DOUBLE his salary at IBM and after just 3 months on the job he has received an additional 40% raise... and is now well into 6-figures. .... oh yeah... one other thing: the bonus structure in his new company had payouts of up to 60% of base salary last year.... I don't think he is going to miss the blew-pig very much..... -Anonymous-
  • PBC Comments
    • Comment 09/09/07: Prior Yr PBC = 2; This Yr PBC = 2; This Yr Bonus = pnuts; Prior Yr Bonus = pnuts; Message = I was a solid 2 for 8 straight years. No matter what I did I could never get better than that. Resourced out this spring. It just came down to the manager kept his favorites. PBC rating was never a factor. -BIG_BLOW-
  • International Comments
    • Comment 09/10/07: Country = Ireland Union Affiliate = dave Job Title = production planner IBM Division = server Message = Hi Guys, we had a meeting today. IBM expects to move 95% of low end into high end z series positions before q4. Our manager has stated no layoffs, but can we believe him? Can anyone shed any light on what's going on! please. Nice one! -Concerned-
    • Comment 09/11/07: Country = Wales Union Affiliate = na Job Title = na IBM Division = na Message = VIRGIN MEDIA CENTRE JOBS THREAT Up to 64 jobs at a Swansea call centre are claimed to have been axed. The workers at Virgin Media's Matrix Court offices on Swansea Enterprise Park are said to have been given 30 days' notice to be laid off with more to follow.

      Virgin Media has said the jobs are related to an area of work carried out for it by IBM. IBM has confirmed some jobs are now surplus to requirements, but refused to confirm numbers. One upset employee spoke of the perceived "awful way staff have been treated here at Virgin Media". The employee added: "Today, most of the management have also been given notice . . . no valid reason has been given for the staff cutbacks but we have been told not to repeat this to anyone outside of the company which seems quite strange to all of us."

      A spokeswoman for Virgin Media said: "It is a decision IBM has made. They are a separate company." A spokesman for IBM said: "In relation to the IBM action, we are constantly rebalancing our workforce in support of the ongoing needs of our business and those of our clients. "This is quite a normal process of balancing resources. "There are a number of individuals who have been issued with statements saying that the roles that they currently undertake are no longer required and now we are going to be entering into a period of consultation with those employees."

      He declined to confirm the number of redundancies at 64, but said:"The number I have got is much less than that. We don't want to talk in specifics."

      Last October the call centre in Swansea Enterprise Park was seeking an additional 200 employees. It came as ntl, Telewest and Virgin Mobile introduced what was hailed as a "ground-breaking new package" which promised to cut household bills by up to £400 a year. -Anon-

    • Comment 09/11/07: Ibm , N'est plus cette belle compagnie..C'est fini..A bromont, les gens sont fatigués, il n'y a plus rien de drole.. Nous, ils engagent des temporaires, ca coute moins cher..Pis les permanents...on a plus rien ,a part le stress.. -Anonyme-
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.

  • "Thanks for the posts..." by "chuckles55". Full excerpt: Thx for the feedback. I have read/researched and it seems like NOBODY is happy at IBM. Is there anyone out there that can share some positive experiences? BE has not been a picnic either, but once I announced my plans to leave, they have gone way above & beyond anything I've ever heard of to get me to stay. Anyone else care to weigh-in....the clock is ticking! Thx
  • "I can't speak for BE..." by "civilliberty". Full excerpt: But I did work for IBM. IBM doesn't do consulting, regardless of what they tell you/how they lie to you. Unfortunately, that means you won't learn how to consult, and you won't learn how to manage a project. It is one place that you can become a manager without ever really having managed (this appeals to some)- so you can guess what shape a project is likely to be in/get into if you do end up there.

    You would be best going into to industry for say a larger employer that has good SDLC processes in place, or perhaps a small to medium tier consultancy where your contribution is more visible and appreciated and where they emphasize realistic processes aimed at delivering real client results. IBM thinks processes in and of themselves will guarantee success, and that therefore you can train a monkey to do a job (no guessing how many monkeys exist at IBM, but I've worked for a few ). Processes aid consistency and they do ensure thoroughness, but it's well trained, well performing, skilled consultants that ensure a project's success.

    IBM is not likely to train you either. There primary concession to training are computer based courses done in your own time, if you have time. I haven't met a good consultant yet that was good because they did computer based courses. You need RELEVANT class room based training where you can draw upon the experiences of the trainer.

  • "Listen to the others..." by "wuteva". Full excerpt: I read the posts on this board but tried to stay positive and joined IBM earlier this year. I figured most on this board were disgruntled and this was their way of sounding off against the company. I was right in that they are sounding off, but I was wrong by not taking their posts serious enough.

    IBM's consulting is not top notch. Not even close. I am amazed at how little I've learned from this company while on board. As mentioned in another post, the training they push on you is web-based and sucks. They force you to put a lot of time into assessing yourself but when your review comes around, if you haven't been billable enough as a consultant, then you are shafted.

    I've learned that it's mostly a big game of favorites. No disrespect to senior staff that read this, but a lot of the partners are just not that impressive. They do not know how to properly staff a project. i.e. they staff based on who is not on a project, not who is actually qualified. If someone isn't qualified, they should get rid of them. I have worked with some fantastic people, but they realize they are in a sucking black hole and plan to jump when the time is right for them. One thing this company seems to forget is that employees SHOULD be asking "what can you do for me". If you are ambitious and want to work quality assignments, develop a solid network, enhance your current skills as well as continue to develop, then IBM is not for you.

    I've interviewed at other places already and received offers, and one thing each employer had in common was their disdain for IBM. If you are absolutely miserable in your current position and have to get out ASAP, then the most I would use IBM for is a stepping stone for a few months.

  • "Only Once" by "pork". Excerpts: So I was working in Atlanta for a huge telecom. The project was in flux so I did not book my travel more than 2 weeks in advance. When I attempted to book my next hotel stay I was blocked out of all hotels in Atlanta due to the Comdex conference. I end up getting a Motel about 30 miles north of the city. When I checked in and got to my room my first site was a used condom in front of my door. Yumm. Then I entered my room and was foolish enough to look under the bed. There was a plate of food covered in ants that had never been cleaned up. I was so pissed I slept in my rental car, showered in the room the next morning and went to work.
  • "Day in the Life" by "ickyshuffle". Full excerpt: This is for all the people that want to be a consultant. This is your average life for a band 6-8,
    • Wake up at 3am on Monday. You are happy you didn’t have to fly out on Sunday
    • Arrive at client site at 9am
    • At noon, discover that the solution will not work for client
    • Lie (and type some document)
    • Find out document is wrong or not required Lie (and type something else) repeat and continue until:
    • Leave at 6pm on Thursday
    • Get home at 1am on Friday
    • Wake up for 8am conference call client set up
    • Look at Porn during call and for next 9 hours until your PM signs off of instant messaging.
    • Weekend

    Am I wrong?

  • "a few more points" by "consultantdude11". Excerpts: 1 - Deck revision - The deck has to go through multiple iterations with project team members and the project manager and you still cannot figure out what discernable difference all the time and pointless effort is accomplishing (seems that they're just critiquing it to keep themselves busy).

    2 - Time change - Need to load up on sleeping pills to get to bed when flying back east; still doesn't work as hotel is noisy (room near elevator) and bed is uncomfortable; load up on venti coffee in the morning, which helps to some small extent

    3 - Flight delays/cancellations - Arrive at airport on Thursday only to find that flight has been delayed 3 hours, which causes you to miss connection and need to spend the night at O'Hare or persuade the airline to comp you a hotel room (if you're lucky, you can get 3-4 hours of sleep, as you have to catch the 7am flight on Friday)

Modern-Day Robber Baron Corner:
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noneToday'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!

  • Register Hardware (UK): Lenovo unwraps Reserve Edition ThinkPad. By James Sherwood. Excerpts: It's been 15 years since IBM first unveiled the ThinkPad laptop and about two years since Lenovo acquired it as part of a $1.25bn spending spree. So, in an attempt to capitalise on its purchase, Lenovo has unveiled a leather-bound, 5000-unit limited edition ThinkPad.

    Dubbed the ThinkPad Reserve Edition, the machine is clad in hand-stitched, ahem, saddle-grade premium French leather, no less. Each machine is individually numbered and comes with all-hours executive-class service and support.

    This, Lenovo claimed, means users receive access to specially trained, dedicated support staff. So if you spill your Martini on it, they might just tell you how to best clean the leather without spoiling it. However, Lenovo didn't mention how documents will be retrieved if you accidentally wipe your hard drive or how to restore the display if you accidentally drop gold bullion on it.

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.

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