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Highlights—October 20, 2007

  • WashTech News: 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. Excerpt: 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.

  • BusinessWeek: The Great Tech Worker Divide. Is there really a labor shortage, or are tech companies lobbying Congress for more visas and green cards simply to avoid paying Americans better wages? By Moira Herbst. Excerpts: With a B.S. in computer science, an M.A. in information systems management, and 20 years of experience, Rennie Sawade would appear to be a strong candidate for a job as a software development engineer. But all the 44-year-old can find these days are short-term, temporary jobs—like the 15-month contract he's currently on at a Seattle-based medical device company. At Microsoft, the most prominent employer in town, he's had contract jobs and even interviews for permanent positions. But after several failed attempts, he's given up on trying to land a staff position at the software giant. "I feel like my time is being wasted," he says.

    Just across town at Microsoft headquarters, in suburban Redmond, Wash., Kevin Schofield is grappling with what he calls a severe shortage of qualified workers. Schofield's job is to help develop recruiting strategies to stay ahead of rivals like Google, IBM, Yahoo!, and SAP. The 40-year-old says Microsoft is desperate to fill 3,000 core technology jobs in the U.S., and there are so few Americans with the specialized skills required that the company needs to bring in more workers from overseas on temporary visas and permanent green cards. "There just aren't enough people," says Schofield.

    Sawade and Schofield's contradictory viewpoints highlight a deepening fault line in the technology industry. While American tech companies say they can't find enough qualified people, many tech workers say there aren't enough good jobs. Employers point out that the unemployment rate in the sector is extremely low, a mere 1.8% in the second quarter of this year. Workers counter that salaries in the sector are still below their level in 2000, adjusted for inflation, a sign that companies haven't had to bid up wages to get staff.

  • CNN-Money: IBM spent nearly $3.9 million lobbying. Excerpt: International Business Machines Corp. spent nearly $3.9 million in the first six months of 2007 to lobby the federal government, according to a disclosure form. The company lobbied on a range of issues, including patent reform, data security, electronic health records, regulatory treatment of Internet providers and international trade matters, according to the form posted online Monday by the Senate's public records office. The Armonk, N.Y.-based company lobbied Congress, the White House, Federal Communications Commission, Federal Trade Commission, the Commerce Department and numerous other agencies.
  • Washington Post: On and Off The Hook. Financial Powerhouses Are Angling to Buy Retirement Plans as Employers Look for an Exit. By Tomoeh Murakami Tse. Excerpts: Some financial services firms are trying to clear a regulatory path that would let them buy out pension plans, freeing employers from pension obligations while potentially giving profit-driven financiers direct control over the retirement savings of millions of Americans.

    The interested players range from venerable Wall Street banks such as J.P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup to start-ups, including one co-founded five months ago by Bradley D. Belt, the former executive director of the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. These groups say the buyouts would not only benefit companies that want to get off the hook of pension responsibilities, but also help workers by putting their retirement assets in the hands of shrewd money managers. And if those assets are profitably invested, the groups say, it would reduce pressure on the PBGC, which insures the pensions of nearly 44 million Americans but has a deficit of $18 billion.

    Critics counter that buyouts are a dangerous idea that would further diminish pension benefits at a time when baby boomers are beginning to retire and longer life expectancies mean more years of pension checks. Opposition groups mistrust the motives of the financial firms seeking a piece of the $2.3 trillion in assets in corporate pension plans around the country.

    "My initial take on all of this is: This has a lot more to do with taking care of CEOs than taking care of workers," said Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. "CEOs could look at this as a very useful way to get the uncertainties of pension funding and liability off their books." ...

    "This is like the latest wonderful product from the people who brought you the subprime disaster," said Damon A. Silvers, associate general counsel of the AFL-CIO. "When you have a situation in which a risk is being laid off, and none of the participants in the transaction have that much of an interest in seeing that the benefits are being paid . . . the likelihood that there are going to be inadequate assets is pretty high."

  • Wall Street Journal: Why Employers Should Care About Their Workplace. By Sue Shellenbarger. Excerpts: When I first started writing a column on workplace issues for this newspaper 16 years ago, the company executives who spent much time thinking about workplace quality could have met in a phone booth.

    Who cares? That was the private response of many managers -- at companies big and small -- to the idea of engaging workers' hearts and minds. Most saw little relationship between employee attitudes and the bottom line.

    Now, that viewpoint is almost as out-of-date as the phone booth. Executives vie for positions on best-workplace lists -- as was apparent in the number of nominations this paper received for its Top Small Workplace awards. They lure new recruits by pledging their devotion to work-family balance. And they boast to Wall Street investors and analysts about their "employee engagement" -- the buzz phrase for a level of worker commitment so strong that employees voluntarily invest extra effort on the job.

    What's more, a growing body of research is finally proving what advocates of workplace quality have known for decades: that the human beings who execute the goals of business are more than just cogs in a wheel. Truly engaging them can have an almost magical effect on the bottom line. ...

    This isn't just touchy-feely, feel-good fluff. Over the years, I've seen it happen repeatedly: Real change in the workplace leads to real satisfaction among employees leads to real money for the company. ...

    Employees who feel respected tend to enrich the lives of all those around them. Acuity, an 850-employee property-casualty insurer in Sheboygan, Wis., set about overhauling its rigid, factory-like workplace policies in 1999. In a conscious effort to "build an environment that was just a wonderful place to work," a new CEO, Ben Salzmann, added flextime and a fitness facility and improved training, benefits and merit raises. Executives stepped up face time with the rank-and-file, meeting workers at the door quarterly to hand out free breakfast and holding town hall meetings and small-group lunches. Acuity also began publicly rewarding performance standouts and e-mailing periodic audio files by Mr. Salzmann, sharing industry gossip and insights.

  • Wall Street Journal: New CEOs May Spur Resistance If They Try to Alter Firm's Culture. By Carol Hymowitz. Excerpts: Employees who find themselves reporting to a new chief executive, especially an outsider who has bought their company or been recruited to turn it around, often face a roller coaster of changes. New leaders typically reshape their senior executive team and the company's growth strategies. The most wrenching adjustment occurs when a CEO changes the corporate culture -- the core values and ways of doing things that bind people to their jobs.
  • MSNBC: Job perks galore for twentysomethings. Employers scramble to hire Gen Y talent as baby boomers head out door. By Eve Tahmincioglu. Excerpts: Warning: If you are a baby boomer or part of Generation X, you might not want to read this column. I’m telling you, folks, it’s going to make you mad.

    Today’s workplace is all about Generation Y when it comes to recruiting. At least that’s how employers see it, and they’re beginning to shower this group with perks unheard of by older workers who battled to get their collective feet in the career door. ...

    Gen Yers — born roughly between 1980 and 2000 — have hit the jackpot. We’re talking flat-screen televisions and iPods, free food for college kids, paid tuition, travel-abroad programs and a host of opportunities to save the planet. ...

    Would a Gen Yer ever think Deloitte & Touche, one of the Big Four accounting firms, is cool? Yes, says Eric Caudill, a 22-year-old who was recently an intern in Deloitte’s Richmond, Va., office.

    Deloitte held its first ever online film festival as a way to recruit Gen Y talent, and employees and interns were asked to participate. The theme of the festival was "What’s Your Deloitte?" and about 370 short candid videos were submitted, with the winning entries posted on YouTube.

    These companies might promise you the world, but the old-fashioned things, like a good salary and making sure there is room for advancement, should still apply. "Look for companies that invest in their people, training and development," advises Karlin Sloan, CEO of Karlin Sloan & Company, a consulting and executive coaching firm.

  • New York Times: ‘The American’ in France. By Roger Cohen. Excerpts: Not only is Christine Lagarde France’s finance minister, ready to forsake her native tongue, she is, she says, “happier doing this in English.” With that, right off the bat, she declares in ringing Anglo-Saxon: “We are trying to change the psyche of the French people in relation to work.”

    A hopeless task, some might say. Deep in the Gallic soul resides the notion that work is exploitation, a ruse concocted by American robber barons, best regulated and minimized and offset by hours of idleness. The demise of the Soviet Union left France leading the counter-capitalist school. ...

    In an interview, Lagarde says that more than two decades at a U.S. corporation taught her: “The more hours you worked, the more hours you billed, the more profit you could generate for yourself and your firm. That was the mantra.”

    The equivalent mantra in the French bureaucracy might be: the fewer hours you work, the more vacation you take, the more time you have to grumble about the state of the universe and the smarter you feel, especially compared to workaholic dingbats across the Atlantic with no time for boules.

  • New York Times: Death of the Machine. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: “There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money, and I can’t remember what the second one is.” So declared Mark Hanna, the great Gilded Age political boss.

    Karl Rove has often described Hanna as his role model. And predictions that Mr. Rove and his disciples would succeed in creating a permanent Republican majority — I have a whole bookshelf of volumes with titles like “One Party Nation” and “Building Red America” — depended crucially on the assumption that the G.O.P. would have vastly more money than its opponents. It might even, some thought, match the 10-to-1 advantage Hanna gave William McKinley when he ran against William Jennings Bryan.

    Oops. According to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics, in the current election cycle every one of the top 10 industries making political donations is giving more money to Democrats. Even industries that have in the past been overwhelmingly Republican, like insurance and pharmaceuticals, are now splitting their donations more or less evenly. Oil and gas is the only major industry that the G.O.P. can still call its own. ...

    There’s also disgust, even in the corporate world, with the corruption and incompetence of the Bush years. People on the left often describe the Bush administration as an agent of corporate America; that’s giving it too much credit.

    The truth is that while the administration has lavished favors on some powerful, established corporations, the biggest scandals have involved companies that were small or didn’t exist at all until they started getting huge contracts thanks to their political connections. Thus, Blackwater USA was a tiny business until it somehow became the leading supplier of mercenaries for the War on Terror™.

    And the lethal amateurishness of these loyal Bushies on the make horrifies the corporate elite almost as much as it horrifies ordinary Americans. Last but not least, even corporations are relieved to see the end of what amounted to a protection racket. ...

    Right now all the leading contenders for the Democratic nomination are running on strongly progressive platforms — especially on health care. But there remain real concerns about what they would actually do in office.

    Here’s an example of the sort of thing that makes you wonder: yesterday ABC News reported on its Web site that the Clinton campaign is holding a “Rural Americans for Hillary” lunch and campaign briefing — at the offices of the Troutman Sanders Public Affairs Group, which lobbies for the agribusiness and biotech giant Monsanto. You don’t have to be a Naderite to feel uncomfortable about the implied closeness.

    I’d put it this way: many progressives, myself included, hope that the next president will be another F.D.R. But we worry that he or she will turn out to be another Grover Cleveland instead — better-intentioned and much more competent than the current occupant of the White House, but too dependent on lobbyists’ money to seriously confront the excesses of our new Gilded Age.

  • Yahoo!'s IBM Retiree message board post: "HEALTHNET PREMIUM INCREASE" by "Sue and Bill". Full excerpt: IBM Retirees who have Healthnet just received a letter yesterday informing them of a 59% INCREASE in the single person coverage. HOW about the apples!!
  • Yahoo!'s IBM retiree message board post: "Re: Healthnet UP 59% !!!" by Kathi Cooper. Full excerpt: Here is most of IBM's letter to me:

    IBM continues to work to combat rising health care costs, consistently looking for ways to expand choices for retirees in a dynamic health care marketplace and, where possible, identify lower- cost options.

    IBM has also kept pace with changes in the health care environment. With the passage of Medicare reform, for example, we created several new medical options to help our Medicare-eligible retiree participants take advantage of emerging retiree plans offered outside IBM.

    I am pleased to announce that for 2008, through our association with Retiree Health Access, a national initiative/program sponsored by the Human Resources Policy Association and led by IBM, we will offer three new retiree medical options in addition to current plans.

    These new options are available from outside groups. They differ from IBM's self-insured medical options in several important ways, so consider your options carefully. You may find some of these options less expensive, while network providers, benefit provisions, prescription drug and other programs will all be different than the current IBM plans.

    I am also pleased to announce, effective immediately, expanded flu shot coverage under most IBM medical options. Retirees in non-HMO plans will be able to receive flu shots obtained in non-traditional settings such as clinics, local drug stores or local health departments and be reimbursed at in-network levels. This expansion reflects the important of flu prevention as we age.

    At the same time, many features of IBM's retiree medical options will look familiar to participants. Here's a look at what you'll see when IBM's retiree benefits enrollment begins in a few weeks.

    Your 2008 Retiree Medical Options: IBM pays the majority of health care claims costs for retired and active employees and eligible family members: about $1.4 billion each year. As you remember from last year, the U.S. Government is now making a limited reimbursement available to companies to help offset retiree medical costs, as part of Medicare reform.

    Although many companies keep the full reimbursement amount, IBM once again will apply a portion of the reimbursement to your costs so that the premiums will be lower than they would be otherwise. IBM expects to share this federal subsidy with eligible participants as long as it continues to be available.

    Nevertheless, retirees will see increases in monthly contributions for some medical options. Your other out-of-pocket limits- deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance-will remain at 2007 levels.

    Information and Support: IBM's benefits enrollment for retirees will take place October 31- November 20, 2007 for coverage in 2008. I encourage you to take time during the upcoming enrollment to carefully evaluate your health care choices.

    Sincerely,
    Randy MacDonald
    King

    P.S. If you have not received your package by November 6, contact the IBM Employee Services Center at 1-800-796-9876.

  • Yahoo!'s IBM retiree message board post: "2008 healthcare" by "grgsura". Full excerpt: I have received a letter from Mr. Randy MacDonald preparing me for another increase in our cost of the Healthcare insurance. Ever since I retired in 1991 the premiums increased regularly every year. The last two years the increases were really high and it affected my buying power, since the social security and our pension income didn't increase sufficiently to offset the cost of medical care.

    Matter of fact we had only one small increase in our retirement pay in the last 16 years. I am not complaining but was wondering if IBM is trying to tell us, the older people, that we are not only redundant but a really big drain on IBM profits and may be we shouldn't have any healthcare at all and then we wouldn't go see doctors and that way we could end our existence and at the same time help the IBM's bottom line. Something to think about.

  • Yahoo!'s IBM retiree message board post: "Re: [IBM Retiree] 2008 healthcare" by "mr_quarkwrench". Full excerpt: I think we should be grateful for these little annual communications from Randy. They come just about the time we should be getting our flu shots so a note from one pain in the ass helps me remember to get the other. -- Don
  • Yahoo!'s IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board post: Carlyle (Gerstner) sells 7,5% of itself to Dubai by "ibmmike2006". Full excerpt: Private equity giant Carlyle Group agreed to sell 7.5 percent of itself to Mubadala Development, an investment firm run by Abu Dhabi's government, for $1.35 billion. The deal values Carlyle at $20 billion. (The Washington Post) The Carlyle deal topped off $25 billion worth of overseas acquisitions from oil-flush Persian Gulf states in recent days, and $68 billion worth this year. (Bloomberg) After state-owned Borse Dubai bought a 20 percent stake in Nasdaq and a 28 percent chunk of the London Stock Exchange yesterday, Qatar purchased 20 percent of the LSE and 10 percent of Nordic exchange OMX. (The Wall Street Journal)

    http://finance.yahoo.com/expert/article/business/46008

    Gulf governments have also been active in the U.S., buying Manhattan real estate and other assets. Yesterday, an investment arm of the Abu Dhabi government known as Mubadala Development Co. announced it reached an agreement to pay $1.35 billion for a 7.5% stake in Carlyle Group.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119033413713434614.html?mod=hpp_us_whats_news

    Nice to know that the $90 a barrel oil (no shortages), $3 a gallon plus gas revenue and the gusher of US dollars in the hands of the Oil Cartel with the dollar falling in value is being transferred via Dubai to Gerstner's Carlyle Group to make him super rich.

    Why does this deal make me feel uneasy and that the deal is not in the best interest of the American People?

News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
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  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board post "Re: UAW contract news" by "mr_quarkwrench". Full excerpt: --- In ibmemployeeissues@yahoogroups.com, "abouthadit" <abouthadit@...> wrote: Well I support IBEMAD's view. The U.S. health care system provides the best health care. Ever see a waiting line at the operating room?

    As someone who is being treated in the US health care system, I disagree. Frankly, it sucks. For my particular brand of cancer, Canada and several other nations are way, way ahead. The US health care system is interested mostly in profit and not so much in patient care. I've been required to have (at considerable expense) procedures that are not necessary in order to get treatment that I need.

    Even after being "preapproved" my insurance denies coverage after the fact. I'm currently facing over $20K in denied claims for tests that had been "preapproved".

    Just how sick are you and IBEMAD and what tests and treatments are you getting? -- Don

  • New York Times: Hands to Hold When Health Care Becomes a Maze. By Alina Tugend. Excerpts: I have not dreaded thin envelopes so much since applying to college.

    They are showing up with alarming regularity lately: forms from our health insurance company inexplicably denying payment — or only partly paying — for something we believed was covered.

    We read the codes and try to figure out why we are paid $30 for a $300 visit; they may as well have been written in Latin. And when we try calling, all too often we end up in a voice mail maze.

  • Wall Street Journal: A Health Care Bargain. By Paul O’Neill. (Secretary of the Treasury from 2001 to 2002.) Excerpts: I make so much of this episode because it has become the general case — a tacit bipartisan agreement to obscure rather than illuminate the issues surrounding health care, to pander to voters rather than educate them on the conjoined issues of rights and responsibilities. On many issues, we now have government as an institution apart from the people: of itself, by itself, for itself.

    Here, the politicians seem to have agreed to ignore the central question: Should American citizenship bring with it the right to have financial access to medical care? Over time we have evolved an answer that is part yes and part no, creating a patchwork — employer-financed insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, tax-advantaged health saving accounts and the like — that results in vastly different levels of care for our citizens.

    Few are satisfied with it, and for good reason. We are sufficiently wealthy and advanced as a society that we should consider financial access to needed medical care a birthright. But this is important: I mean this as a “right” in a context that joins rights with responsibilities, to separate it from the popular notion of an entitlement, which is often little more than a handout.

  • Physicians for a National Health Program: The Frosts Demonstrate Why We Need Single Payer Health Care. By Hale “Bonddad” Stewart. Excerpts: From Time: It turns out, however, that not everything about the Frosts’ life pops up on a Google search. While Graeme does attend a private school, he does so on scholarship. Halsey Frost is a self-employed woodworker; he and his wife say they earn between $45,000 and $50,000 a year to provide for their family of six. Their 1936 rowhouse was purchased in 1990 for $55,000. It was vacant and in a run-down neighborhood that has improved since then, in part because of people like themselves who took a chance. It is now assessed at $263,140, though under state law the value of that asset is not taken into account in determining their eligibility for SCHIP. And while they are still uninsured, they claim it is most certainly not by choice. Bonnie Frost says the last time she priced health coverage, she learned it would cost them $1,200 a month.

    The above snippet from Time perfectly illustrate why single-payer health care is really the answer to the health care problem in the US.

    1.) Notice the Frost’s already priced insurance. At $1200/month, the Frosts would be looking at $14,000/year in payments. That’s 32% of their income. That assumes those are all the medical costs the Frosts would pay which simply isn’t true. My guess is the $1200/month policy would have some type of deductible, co-pay structure etc.… Considering the Frosts overall situation of two children needing expensive medical care, medical costs could easily become 40%-50% of their annual expenses.

    2.) Malkin has argued that assets should be included in the eligibility computation for SCHIP. This is a really stupid idea. According to the article, the Frost’s home is $263,000. According to Malkini’s argument, the Frosts should either take out a home loan (home equity loan) or sell their home. If the Frost’s sell their home, they will take out their equity (assuming they have some). But they’ll eventually spend that. In addition, this assumes the Frosts can sell their home right now — in the worst housing market in the last 20 years. In other words, this argument makes a lot of assumptions that probably won’t play out in reality. When they’re done spending the loan proceeds, they’ll be poorer. In taking out a home equity loan, the Frost’s are simply delaying he inevitable — bankruptcy. The Frosts would then have a note which would provide a drain on their finances until the loan proceeds ran out. At that time, the Frosts would have an additional payment in their monthly nut in addition to medical costs. I’m not sure if Malkin realizes the debt issue in America, but it is pretty severe. For example, foreclosures doubled this month.

    Here’s the basic problem. The Frosts aren’t rich and they have children. That means medical expenses are their biggest problem. Under the Malkin theory, either poor people shouldn’t have children because insurance is too expensive, or the poor should go into debt to pay for insurance which under the new bankruptcy laws is tantamount to indentured servitude.

    Anyway — now that I’ve weighed in on the Frost debate, I want to bring back the central arguments I have always made (and will continue to make) about single-payer health care.

    While I will almost always advocate for a market based economic approach to allocating resources, health care is not an area where the profit motive should dominate decision making. Simply put, the end product is a patient’s health. Private health insurance has a conflict of interest between the insurance company and the insured which will be resolved in favor of the insurance company a majority of the time.

  • The Commonwealth Fund: A Roadmap to Health Insurance for All: Principles for Reform. By Sara R. Collins, Ph.D., Cathy Schoen, M.S., Karen Davis, Ph.D., Anne K. Gauthier, M.S., and Stephen C. Schoenbaum, M.D., M.P.H. Excerpt: Presidential candidates, governors, and members of Congress are advancing proposals to expand health insurance coverage to all Americans—the most important step in improving access to quality health care. This report, prepared for The Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System, explores the different options and how each may not only increase coverage for the uninsured, but also improve quality and efficiency and gain control over spiraling health care costs. Proposals are grouped into three approaches: tax incentives and the individual insurance market; mixed private–public group insurance with shared responsibility for financing; and public insurance. The Commission believes the most pragmatic approach to coverage for all is mixed private–public group insurance that builds on the best features of our current system with shared responsibility for financing from individuals, employers, and government that minimizes dislocation for the millions of Americans who currently have good coverage.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board post: "Re: UAW contract news" by Kathi Cooper. Full excerpt: Medicare should be allowed to negotiate drug prices with the drug companies. The military can do that. Canada does it (with the same drug companies) Why can't Medicare do that?

    Oh, I remember now. The drug lobbyists won't allow it.

    To hell with grandma and grandpa anyway. They are no longer productive so they deserve to pay it all to the drug companies.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board post "Re: Health Care" by Kathi Cooper. Full excerpt: "It was reported that the pharmaceutical companies poured millions of dollars into the campaign coffers of Republican candidates, hoping to avoid a plan for negotiating drug prices as they must do with the Veterans Administration. A recent survey found the VA pays 48.2 percent less for the 20 drugs most frequently used by senior citizens. Another study in Florida by Consumers Union found the VA paying less than half the price on six key drugs in the Medicare drug plans." http://www.seniorjournal.com/NEWS/MedicareDrugCards/6-11-13- BushAdministration.htm
New on the Alliance@IBM Site:
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  • From the Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comment 10/14/07: I was RA'd in May and didn't realize at the time it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I got a job at better pay and no horrible overtime and no on call and much closer to home. No more worries about offshoring for me and life is good. I wish the rest of you good luck but don't waste your life worrying. Look for another job and get out. You will be very glad once you are out of there and don't have to worry anymore and can live a normal life again. Good luck to all of you. I would not wish this company on anybody. -Onto BetterThings-
    • Comment 10/15/07: Are you people that got laid off really finding better jobs with MORE PAY like "ONTO BETTER THINGS" below? I was laid off last November in Endicott NY and it's gonna be a year now and I've had about 10 good interviews and none were with better pay than IBM nor the benefits especially the vacation. So unless you really have another job setup and it DOES pay more, I'd stay and get with the union and fight for your company back! In a little more than a year we will hopefully get the Whitehouse back and someone more in tune with the real problems facing THIS country and all of us Americans and not just the oil companies and Big Corps. But until then we're best just helping the unions get strong and be ready to fight especially if there happens to be more of the same elected!!! -Anonymous-
    • Comment 10/15/07: -Onto BetterThings- I concur with your comments. I was selected and extended during the May 1st RA action. I cannot stress enough to my former IBM'ers.. GET PREPARED and start looking. There are jobs out there that pay well and you don't have the 85 hour weeks stressing over RA's and zero raises. IBM wants you to quit so that they don't have to pay you to leave. Its all going offshore.. PERIOD. If you can do the work remotely.. it can be done cheaper off shore.. there is no loyalty left.. its over. There is a special place in hell for sam and team.. a very special place -Soresphicter-
    • Comment 10/15/07: Congrats to those who have successfully moved on. Those who are still at IBM should keep their eyes open to opportunities elsewhere, perhaps using contacts who have been successful finding better jobs. No harm in looking; just have your resume updated & ready to go. After Jan. 1, there's really no incentive to stay on, if you're on the old pension. Better to leave on your own, with head up high, than to be tossed out like rubbish. -Good luck-
    • Comment 10/16/07: Just FYI in case you hadn't heard, AT&T mainframers coming to IBM will have to pass a drug screen and background check (AT&T's mandate, so we're told). We had to do that out of the blue back in March. Our boss didn't have to, even though the guidelines are quite clear that he should have. Those of us who were absorbed into the collective a few years back were told that we might be getting calls from folks coming over, and we were told not to paint a bleak picture for 'em. Our contract back in 2K required at least 10%/year headcount reductions...my group went from around 15-20 people in 2K to 5 original members (it's since merged with another group, so our #'s are back up). -Mole-
    • Comment 10/16/07: For those that have been writing in comments and haven't joined the Alliance, well now is your chance. Read about the membership drive on the Alliance web site and JOIN! I will be asking the Alliance how many of you join this month and if it is low I will raise holy hell with you. -member-
    • Comment 10/16/07: Latest rumor circulating thru the rumor mill is that WIPRO is in talks with IBM over a possible buy out of IGS Server Services. With the falling price of the US dollar, and the higher value of the Indian rupee - this might actually come about. IGS is being sliced into pieces and given to the highest bidder. Foreign cash is flooding into the US because of the weaker dollar so US companies are becoming steals. -on the way out-
    • Comment 10/16/07: I got RA'd in May too. I am making about 15 percent more much less hours and much less stress. I would move on if possible. Good luck to all! -new and better life-
    • Comment 10/16/07: India call center employees not so eager to work there anymore. see article: http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1671982,00.html?cnn=yes So, what will IBM and other companies do when they cannot live up to their contracts to provide these "outsourced services" to their customers and In-house employees. Logic would tell me that they will staff these centers with less than desirable candidates which will result in less than stellar service compared to the less than stellar service their customers already receive. Greedy decisions do not go unpunished. IBM execs, Sam, you will be haunted by your greedy decisions. Your arrogant thinking that you can predict the future for the sake of lining your pockets is shameless. The end is coming. This is but a glimpse of the problems that lie ahead with all this outsourcing BS. -grim reaper-
    • Comment 10/16/07: In response to comments on 13th Oct re Global Admin (GA)...regular IBM secretaries & PA's are losing their jobs (some after as many as 9 years of service) and yet the Regional Admin People Manager in Australia, the Manpower onsite Manager at IBM Cumberland Forest Australia office and the Team Leader of the new ODS in CF Australia(ODS=On demand Service - similar to a 1950's typing pool) managed to EACH get their DAUGHTERS into jobs with ODS. This is very unjust and unfair and yet the Director of HR ANZ was compliant in this duplicity. These 'People Managers' should be eating cake! and then to provide us all with a bottle of wine or box of chocolates for making a profit in Q3 when really it was because peoples jobs were sent off-shore, yet we were the ones rewarded....the gifts should have gone to those that were outsourced ....I'm OUTRAGED! -Anonymous-
    • Comment 10/17/07: This is in response to the CNN article http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1671982,00.html?cnn=yes . It seems that the youngsters over in India realize their potential. They realize that being burned out and stressed is not worth it after all. Maybe IBM should appeal to their sense of corporate loyalty, like the loyalty that I had for many years when I worked overtime for free because I cared about quality work; or what about patriotism, don't they care about the USA? Oh I forgot - my bad - why should they care about the company or the USA. Are you happy IBM, is cheaper worth it? Go ahead and pay for their MBAs, give them a boost. Sooner or later they will leave just like we are. -USA Worker-
    • Comment 10/17/07: To Oneofmany: BRAVO! I wish you would have copied Jeff Miller (RTP), Owen Cropper (Lexington), Dianne Diggleman (POK), and Larry Longseth (Boulder). It would be nice to see this circulating around every IBM facility. It's the same game in all organizations. Hardworking, dedicated IBM employees everywhere have a right to know. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 10/18/07: To: hawkeye_myass, not only is ibm "deliberately lying and firing people to move jobs offshore". They are purposely making US employees miserable and unhappy in hope that you quit. This cost them virtually nothing. Now that you realize this, the best action plan is to do "just enough" to keep your job and remained employed collecting your paycheck. This will drive them crazy. If they want people gone(and they do) let them offer you decent and meaningful incentive. Otherwise, ka-ching every pay period :>) Either way we win. -ScrewedByIBMrtp-
    • Comment 10/18/07: JD- Your concerns about LEAN are valid. I went through the LEAN "class" garbage in Fishkill for the server operations teams. During the kick-off meeting this creepy stiff exec starting touting all the great things LEAN was going to do. During Q&A I waited until everyone spoke up and asked point blank. "Is the ultimate goal of the implementation of LEAN a way to reduce the US workforce?" This jackass answered with a lot of BS but did not address my question. Another manager realizing his evasiveness stepped in and took over and acknowledged that it would involve reductions in workforce

      We were all assigned to groups. Rhythm, Blues and Jazz, for order of complexity of problem tickets that came in. Rhythm being the easier problems, blues a little more difficult and Jazz most complicated. So we were assigned to the groups based on our level of experience etc. Everyone was required to report to Fishkill for this LEAN implementation which was supposed to last 4 weeks. Folks from out of state were flown in and put up in hotels.

      After the first week, I was RA'd. After the second week the fishkill thing was disbanded (due to a supposed freeze in travel expenses) So all the preparation and brainstorming went down the tubes and the result was positions eliminated and work load for those who kept their jobs increased 10 fold. It was the biggest farce I had ever seen. It was just a way to identify how many people could be RA'd and who they could dump all the extra work on. It's a sham. Sorry to say but either expect to be RA'd or expect to have your workload increase many times over. There will be job losses in your area. I have no doubt about it. Good luck. -LEANedON-

    • Comment 10/18/07: JD, If I were you, I'd assume that there is an RA somewhere in your future. If you are LEANing, other than to tie your shoe, chances are pretty good that your area will be affected by RAs. When my team (i5 tech support) lost some techs who were very talented and knowledgeable on the i5, that's when I saw the writing on the wall. Nobody, unless you happen to be fishing/hunting buddies with the manager, is safe. Being a remote employee, hell, I knew my number would come up eventually.

      I decided to leave on MY terms, not Big Blew's. My resume was polished up and I papered my town with them. I only wished there was a way to file a lawsuit against them for creating a "hostile work environment." Having your workload quadruple in front of your very eyes and knowing you have NOBODY to talk to about it I think is the very definition of a hostile work environment. Too bad my manager didn't chase me around the desk. THAT would have been a lawsuit! Oh well. On to greener pastures now.

      (PS) The funny thing is when I gave my notice, my manager was out. I spoke to another manager and when he asked me why, and I told him it was zero job security, he didn't bat an eyelash. He said "yes, I've heard that before" as he lost one of his techs a few days before I gave notice. I wonder how many more times he's heard that since I've left? How can one tell if IBM management is lying? Their lips are moving. -Mistressofthei5-

    • Comment 10/18/07: I heard an HR Partner today say that the new CV tool was because IBM didn't want to make people redundant and could reskill / redeploy - the next call was on using people from Finland and Latvia as they cost less -Pissedoff brit-
    • Comment 10/18/07: to: -LEANedON- Remember the game Wack-a-mole. What happens when you poke your head up and comment about lean, you get whacked. I made a very similar comment about LEAN our LEAN circus meeting. The stiff didn't get my point, but everyone else did. I was RA'd at the end of the next month. The morale of the story: If you want to get the package, open your mouth and expose the obvious in your LEAN meeting. The genie will grant your wish. He did mine! -RA'd bear-
    • Comment 10/18/07: -ScrewedByIBMrtp- You are RIGHT ON THE MONEY. IBM is in a full war of attrition to get folks to quit IBM so that it doesn't cost them money. I was BLINDSIDED when I was hit may 1st. I have been a higher band 2+ 1+'s PBC for the almost 9 years with IBM. Your ranking means NOTHING. I have a highly desired skill set in PM and Technical including architecture.

      I have felt this company slide down hill for years. I have also seen the lack of pay and benefit cuts as a way IBM is forcing folks to leave. These are good folks who in the long run will be in a position to bring IBM business or reject it. I was floored when I got the call from my manager. I had recently responded to a dire request for people on a new team and went over to help them with a shortage. I was rewarded with a termination with IBM.

      My mantra that I will tell EVERYONE is look out for yourself as IBM is NOT looking out for you. Get your resume up to speed. Start looking for a job. This way when you are hit with a RA, you take a severance to leave this hell hole. Its better on the outside. Its a shock to the system to look again, but if you get prepared while you are on IBM's salary, you wont get the emotional kick in the nuts I got. Sorry for the profanity, but this was one of the worse things that happened to me.

      I am partially disabled and being able to work from home was very key to my life and limitations. When I brought this up to HR after the initial notification, I was told , " That's not our problem" That's VERBATIM the statement told to me by HR management. We see what they are doing to folks a few years short of their retirement as well. This company seems to get extreme pleasure from the suffering of others. Keep that in mind when you determine your dedication to this company. IBM USE to be a great place to work. Not anymore.. its over. The same abuse is happening overseas as well, where the laws are less restrictive as the USA. IBM is a tech sweatshop -Soresphincter-

    • Comment 10/18/07: To anyone who thinks they might be RA'd--DON'T quit!!! Do everything that you know you'll have to do when you do get RA'd--update and send out the resume, etc., but do not quit, especially if you have more than 10 or 15 years. Bite your tongue, listen to the B.S., pretend to work (but don't do much) and let them send you on your way with a good severance package.

      I was sick to death of my job for about two years before I was RA'd. I hated it--boring, and during the last year, a really dumb a*& manager who, although a native born American, couldn't even put a sentence together without making a mistake. Just having to report to this dope drove me nuts, but I stuck it out and when I left, I received a half-year's severance pay, a full year of health insurance, a little money towards courses. It was good. I had time to take a rest/vacation by using some of the severance pay and I used the rest of it to go back to school for another Master's degree--all on IBM.

      For those who want to stay in business, take advantage of this and go work for a competitor. Believe me, many will want you to come and work for them. In my case, I did a total career change and went into education, like many others that I have seen post on the board. Maybe not a huge salary, but at least, after a few years, you can retire with a monthly pension and health insurance. And all of that is small in comparison to how good you'll feel about yourself when you're working in something that will definitely have an impact on our country's future.

      In all of my years at IBM, I don't think I ever really felt that anything I was doing was worthwhile. At the time I probably thought I was a big shot making good money with a good company, but when I look back, I didn't really do anything that mattered too much. Again, DO NOT QUIT!!! Let them PAY you to go. They're on their way out, not even in the top 100 companies to work for anymore when they used to be one of the top ten, or better. -Anon-

    • Comment 10/19/07: I disagree with those who are suggesting that if you think you might be RA'd, polish up your resume but DO NOT QUIT. I am sorry, but it can take weeks or months or even LONGER to find another position in another company with anywhere NEAR comparable pay. I had been wanting to leave Big Blew since 2005 but wasn't able to find the right job. Thankfully, the right position for me opened up shortly after the May 1st bloodbath and I gave my notice the first week of July. I DID end up taking a $10K cut in pay for my new position, but let me tell you this.... you can't put the feeling of job security in the bank! Plus OT is a rarity, *NOT* a job requirement! That alone was worth the pay cut. I was a band 8 making mid-90's at the time I left the evil empire. I'm a whole lot happier now, even though I can no longer work wearing my bunny slippers and jammies. -Mistressofthei5-
    • Comment 10/20/07: Well, I can say I have had the last straw. I am a contractor for IBM and I just got notice that the OT I have put in in this project is getting audited. All the mucky mucks get their bonuses from this project and all my OT gets audited (after it was all approved at the beginning of the project), and I did all the labor. Cheap Cheap Cheap. For what it's worth though, it took one phone call to a big outsourcing competitor that also deals in hardware and I was hired as a full time employee with a 10k per year raise and only have to be on call once every 1.5 months. Dreams do come true, and I no longer have to deal with BigBlew. -BleuHoooIWon'tBeWorkin'FerYouuuu-
    • Comment 10/20/07: So far this year our second level has hit his mark of getting head count done by 7 people. All done over several months with no fan fare by anyone. "You got close to 30 years, there is the door, go, or we will find a reason to fire you". Big trick was travel accounts. Of course like good beamers the rest are keeping their heads down and talking in whispers. Good news is the latest one out is now a consultant working on the same project as before he left Now that project will will cost Armonk several million more per year. Way to go Fishkill. Nice to see local management screwing other management in the "gotta look good" game" Sam must be so proud. -Still here in EFK-
  • General Visitor's Comment page:
    • Comment 10/17/07: I got two emails in the same replication cycle:
      • Sam P.- "Our revenue was $24.1 billion, up 7 percent year-to-year, as reported, and our pre-tax income rose 3 percent, to $3.3 billion. We achieved $1.68 in earnings per share, up 16 percent year-to-year. Our gross profit margin declined slightly during the quarter, to 41.3 percent --"
      • Bob Fuller- "Please make sure your teams understand that corporate has implemented BOND restrictions that will remain in affect through end of year... Restrictions include supplies such as printer ink cartridges and other general procurement items."

      My question is this, at 41% profit, why can't we afford printer cartridges, pencils, or paper? I think I'm going out on a limb here, but I call it greed. -gadfly-

    • Comment 10/17/07: Mightymouse - If you should have any dealings with the Employee Service Center make sure you keep a log of date, time, who you spoke to and what was said - record any calls if possible. I found NetBenefits showing one thing and the ESC databases not in sync. These folks cashed my Cobra Premium check and claimed I had no insurance since the day I left. Trusting IBM is for the foolish! -VTbear-
    • Comment 10/18/07: I was RA'd during the May 1st round and was wondering if I have any grounds for a discrimination suit. I am 42 and and was hired by IBM in Feb of 2000. I spent 7 loyal and solid years providing internal deskside support. One day my manager was asked if he knew of any qualified and interested candidates to work on the server team. I applied and was hired to the new position within 2 weeks. 6 months later I was RA'd. No doubt I was an easy target due to being low guy on the totem pole. But I feel I was lured into a job that was destined to be eliminated. No one can tell me this LEAN thing popped up over night. This was in the plans well before I started this new position. If I had just stayed put in my deskside position, I would still have a job. I feel this was a setup but I don't know if I have any recourse. Any advice? Thanks. -lied to-

      Alliance reply: Discrimination lawsuits are difficult to win. You need a lot of documentation and even witnesses to prove the allegations you're making; plus deep pockets. You're probably one of thousands, within IBM, that have been let go because of their age. What you feel and what you can prove are two very different things. We've been trying to tell everyone now, for several years: the best way to beat IBM is to organize and vote for a union contract. Get your co-workers involved BEFORE you get selected for RA. For some reason, many have not listened to us until it was too late.

    • Comment 10/20/07: Been a frequent visitor since June. Based on my experience I offer the following to help get through Lean:
      1. In most instances your manager knows far less than you do. Help him with Lean by doing EXACTLY what he asks. Do not point out errors in his thinking. When things begin to crumble you stand off to the side, shrug shoulder and say "what do you want to do next"?
      2. Realize they want you to work your ass off to make the changes work. Don't! Who cares if customer complaints start. Let them fly since it only solidifies your job and highlights the poor job of your manager. At 5pm, lock up the office and go home to your family. Don't answer the phone, turn your pager off.

      Basically "work to rule" should be your internal motto. If the boss feels pain then eventually his boss will feel pain and sooner or later somebody will take action. You have more strength than you think but it takes effort. You may not win the war but you'll have some fun along the way and will win the odd battle now and again. -chauncy-

      Alliance reply: And while your at it; why not join Alliance@IBM? "Work to Rule" is one of the first steps that union workers take to get management's attention and recognition. Think about it.

  • Pension Comments page
    • Comment 10/15/07: It's sad that IBM doesn't educate us all more about what the pension freeze will mean to all of us: either "traditional", grandfathered/grandmothered defined benefit plan, first choicers, second choicer, those forced to the cash balance plan, and later 401k pension plan, etc. will mean to us all individually. Let's not make them successful in dividing us in our confusion and discussion of this.

      An anonymous poster mentioned "forgive me for my ignorance about the upcoming pension freeze" and I can have sympathy with since IBM is purposely confusing the issue by their lack of communication! Just goes to show IBM doesn't care about any of our pensions and what impact it will be to us. So let's all try to constructively help each other understand what IBM wants to continue to obfuscate from day one of the announcement of the pension freeze and what it'll mean to each of us individually. -sby_willie-

    • Comment 10/15/07: no_ky - Agreed, I did need to do more legwork myself. That's exactly why I have been reading Netbenefits, run the estimator and called the ESC. As a result, I'm only slightly more knowledgeable than I was on 10/12 when I originally posted my question about the 1/1/08 pension freeze. By running the estimator, I saw what my monthly pension annuity check **might be** depending upon the various ages I might retire from IBM. What I did find useful in your response is that IBM has yet to detail the conditions of the freeze and must do so by 11/15/07. I didn't know that piece of information, and it's certainly worth knowing. If you see it prior to 11/15, you gonna post it here? -Anonymous-
    • Comment 10/15/07: To 10/13/07 2nd-choice questioner: From your original post, it sounds like you're stuck in the job, but the good news is that you won't be hurt by the pension freeze as much as some others will, since you've already hit 30 years. (And the really good news for you came in '99, when you got that 2nd choice, which a lot of our friends and colleagues didn't get.) If you run NetBenefits for an end-of-year departure and look at the link that shows how your pension was calculated, you can see how many points you'll have accumulated at the end of this year, when the freeze takes affect, versus the maximum possible points.

      I doubt that you are maxed out. If not, then your pension would have continued to grow without the freeze. On the plus side, you will get some extra money in your 401K next year. The biggest risk you are taking though, is that they could decide to do another cash-balance conversion on the remaining 2nd-choicers. I retired out of fear that this would happen, but I think now that I might have been overly paranoid. There's nothing to stop them from doing it again, however. -alreadyGone-

    • Comment 10/21/07: >> ALSO as a side note, the detailed report seems to now include the settlement figure from the cash balance lawsuit. In my case, the 'settlement' appears to add about $10 (that's ten dollars) PER YEAR to my reduced IBM pension. I do see all the thank you notes to the individuals who negotiated this settlement. I don't know if they are aware of how small the settlement actually is. Ten dollars per year. -Anon-<<

      To Anon: I don't know how closely you watched the progress of the lawsuit. Just as a refresher, IBM won their appeal of the cash balance issues. The only part of the settlement that is being paid out is based on the 1995 age discriminatory conversion from a traditional pension to a pension equity plan. That piece of the settlement was only $300 million and was divided across 250,000 employees and retirees. If you didn't have a substantial earned pension already in 1995, then you didn't get a very large share. I wish we had won the appeal. I wish the other $1.4 billion of the settlement was being paid out. But wishes don't get us very far. And by the way, I was not a party at the settlement table; I am only an informed reporter. -Janet Krueger, Rochester-

  • Raise and Salary Comments
    • Comment 10/19/07: What is the point of busting your ass for this company if at the end they keep raising the bar so that you never get a promotion or a raise?? I saw a billboard this week: ACT YOUR WAGE. Words of wisdom and exactly what I'm doing. -me2-
    • Comment 10/20/07: Salary = 70,200; Band Level = 8; Job Title = IT Specialist Advisory; Years Service = 24; Hours/Week = 45-50; Div Name = ITD; Location = virtual; l Message = Started as non-exempt hourly wage employee, while moving through ranks, never received raises when promoted. Average a 2+ PBC rating. -losing ground-
  • PBC Comments
    • Comment 10/13/07: Prior Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr Bonus = 2,000; Prior Yr Bonus = 2,100; Message = As the year starts winding down, my thoughts are beginning to turn to the upcoming PBC ratings. After our group was 'leaned', the remaining managers were each given 50+ people to manage. Even my new manager (My old mgr was RA-ed back in May) told me that there is no way he can appraise everyone. So now what happens? Does he just use the same pbc rating as last year, or does he pick favorites and give everyone else a lower rating? Maybe IBM is planning on RA-ing most of the workers before the next pbc comes due? -time to go-
    • Comment 10/19/07: Prior Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr PBC = 2; This Yr Bonus = ?; Prior Yr Bonus = ?; Message = I don't know who Loki works for, but it's sooooo not the IBM I left back in July. I was not RA'd. TOP performers on my team were RA'd. The PBC ratings mean NOTHING. True story: An executive-type buddy of mine received a letter from his 2nd line manager CONGRATULATING him on a great job, his numbers (sales, customer sat, whatever) were all great. Two weeks later, he receives a letter from the same 2nd line manager... informing him that he's been RA'd. WTF?? So, PBCs, performance ratings, meeting your metric obligations (whatever they may be) is meaningless at Big Blew. Don't think that by virtue of anyone being a 1 (= Supastar!) means you are safe. All it means is that you may be incredibly surprised a month after you receive that rating. -Mistressofthei5-
    • Comment 10/20/07: Prior Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr Bonus = 3.8K; Prior Yr Bonus = 3.5K; Message = Long story short - if you've got a decent salary and you're making a living then to heck with it. What many in my group have realized is that the raises are so damn insignificant that it's not worth the effort trying to attain a 1 so why bother? Sit back, relax, do the bare minimum take your 0 and go home at the end of the day. On the other hand you could work your butt off for a lousy 1 or 2 %. To me this is the main thing IBM is missing. Every year they dangle the carrot for you and never follow through so there's no point in trying. My goal now is to do as little as possible so that I can say relatively speaking I get paid well. -Chauncy-
  • International Comments
    • Comment 10/17/07: Country = Ireland; Union Affiliate = CWA Local 1701; Job Title = training; IBM Division = server group; Message= We have listened and you guys are right its just we see what's going on in the U.S.A. and we feel for you guys but in dublin 99.999% of staff want IBM to do what we all know they are gonna do and go to asia...we have given up the fight -cisco-
    • Comment 10/18/07: Country = Canada; Union Affiliate = I only wish I were; Job Title = PPQA Process Owner; IBM Division = AMS; Message = I was forcefully retired in June 2005. I was given health care benefits as part of the severance package but found out as of Sept 1, 2005 that something was wrong when I submitted my prescription receipts. At the time, the employee services help desk was in Alberta. Some time between September and the new year, the help desk was offshored to Costa Rica.

      In total frustration I contacted the insurance provider and found out that when retired, the individual (probably the PDM) entered two conflicting codes into the HR system: one that indicated I was retired, and one that indicated I was terminated. The insurance provider had created a health care account for me, but because their system codes indicated I was terminated, they couldn't pay any bills.

      When in March 2006, I still had not been able to sort this out I sent an email to the IBM employee services help desk and copied the IBM contact at Sun Life and threatened legal action. The Sun Life employee phoned IBM Canada and essentially told them what was going on. According to the HR employee at IBM Canada,"Costa Rica was not talking to IBM Canada". At the same time, my dearly beloved husband died of bone cancer. In short, my happy retirement from IBM has been a complete nightmare.

      Now, over two years later, because the problem wasn't sorted out on their system until the end of March 2006, I expect that due to the same error, IBM did not issue the correct tax forms to me. In fact, I have never yet received a T4A form from IBM but Revenue Canada (equiv to the IRS) certainly has and now the refund I received in 2006 has to be paid back. I had no idea I was missing any tax forms. I was not trying to hide anything from the tax man, I gave them everything I had received at the time. This is now costing me dearly. Is there no justice for employees who have been treated so poorly? -Anonymous-

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.

  • "ASAP" by "Dr.Xray". Full excerpt: I have been given a great offer from another company. I see people on here are very disgruntled with IBM and I totally understand why. My situation has been decent at IBM but I would like to leave for another offer. I have an MBA from a great university and feel that my skills would be much better applied in the role with this other company.

    My dilemma is that I just started a good task with IBM and I am working with senior IBM staff. They are relying on me to produce quick results for the client. If I leave now, I fear they will be left in a terrible position. I know most of you could care less, but I do not want to leave on bad terms. It could make for a very painful two weeks. It will take at least two weeks to get someone trained up in my role and may set the project back.

    The problem is that with IBM consulting, we are always starting new tasks and there will never be an ideal time to leave the company. Not to mention my offer will not be good in two months when this quick project ends. This job offer is something I cannot pass on. What is the proper way of notifying management at IBM? i.e. where do I start? Can someone please suggest how to best deal with the situation when I am told how my departure is screwing them and the task will be jeopardized? Please be sincere in your replies.

    I know that I should not care what they think if I am leaving, but they have been good to me and I would like to be cordial about it. My management has to know that I am shy and tend to avoid conflict (I say yes to them too much) and I don't want them to take advantage of that and the fact that I am female. Please help!

  • "If you can leave on good terms, that's great..." by "civilliberty". Full excerpt: But, if not, then you may have to bite the bullet.

    Put it this way. I and a number of others were given notice when we were just starting to dialogue with a client that IBM was wooing. Ultimately IBM lost this client and though I was never informed as to why I have good reason to believe it was due to the ill-timing of our forced departure from IBM - it left the client without the experienced staff they needed. This said sent the message:

    1. IBM really doesn't care about it's employees.
    2. IBM doesn't really care about it's customers.

    At the end of the day, IBM doesn't care about you either. But I don't believe in leaving a company in the lurch for revenge, and strangely enough did what I could to ensure a reasonable handover of current tasks.

    If you do leave though under these circumstances it will probably go as a black mark against your name, and may never get a chance to go back (not a concern for me, nor I suspect one for most disgruntled employees).

    I can only talk from my experience. Hopefully those with management expertise will tell you how IBM management would view your situation.

  • "A matter of degree" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: No one ever leaves a company on good terms, and as you have realized, there is never a good time to leave a company, especially if you have been an effective employee. There is always a void to fill, and you can’t allow that to get in the way of your career.

    It is natural for you to feel that you are vital, and borderline indispensable to the company. It is also commendable that you have the sense of pride and conscientiousness to want to finish what you started. I generally take the same approach, and despite my well-documented opinion of IBM, I still dedicate myself 100% to the work that I do here.

    However, you have to look at the big picture. That new role supercedes any commitment that you have to IBM. It is more important to you than you are to IBM, even with this important new assignment. If it is such a critical project, it will be easier for them to find a replacement than it will be for you to find a comparable opportunity if you miss it.

    If you have a firm written job offer, then send an E-Mail tomorrow morning to your line manager, HR manager, and partner in your practice and for this project telling them that you have found another opportunity, and are giving your two weeks notice. If they push back on the timeframe, negotiate for a retention bonus, after you see how amenable your new company will be to push your start date out. Do not negotiate with the new company – simply ask what they would be comfortable with and let that be your guide. The impression you make on your new company is 100 times more important than maintaining the same goodwill that you have always had with IBM. The former is your priority.

    Like you, I have always been uncomfortable giving bad news. The way I deal with it is to simply let my pragmatic side take over, and it works every time. Make the case to yourself, and the rest will come easy. Congratulations and good luck!

  • "which other companies to apply to?" by "UF43". Full excerpt: I'm graduating this semester and I'm very interested in a consulting (technology/strategy) career. I plan to work for about 1-2 years while I get my part-time masters from a nearby university, hopefully IBM will reimburse me. Is IBM a good stepping stone into better companies after a couple of years? Based on this information, is IBM a good choice for me? I prefer IBM over Accenture... I don't know which other consulting firms to apply to. Bearingpoint?? Deloitte Consulting doesn't come to my school. Thanks.
  • "Accenture over IBM" by "bluedngone". Full excerpt: Accenture would be a much better career choice over IBM. IBM pays lip service to educational plans and it is extremely difficult to get one approved. They say they have the plans, except there is a very small budget for them. Then it is based upon management approving your for both the money and time. Most of what I've seen is fat chance of getting college monies.

    Accenture's history contrary to IBM is out of the Big8/6/4 accounting firm culture. They will work you very hard for the money you make. Don't expect a lot of spare time and personal life. However they will give you excellent experience (contrary to what IBM does) and fully expect that you will move on in 2 to 4 years.

    IBM in general which includes IBM consulting is a farce. What they are pushing right now is "Supply Chain" consulting based upon Bob Moffat's efforts. What supply chain in a nutshell is: screw your vendors and offshore your technical jobs to third world countries.

    IBM's success in supply chain is based upon that it's the world's second biggest bureaucracy next to the US Gov't. Anything they've gained from Supply Chain is from minor simplifications. What I actually saw in purchasing was that it became harder for the divisions to actually fill needs to produce timely products. The system was unusable and the eventual results is divisions tied up in unusable processes were actually being sold rather than fixed. They've sold very profitable ThinkPad and Printing systems because they don't make investments to grow the business. They just spun off Networking because they screwed it up with LEAN. GBS is on life support because most of the PWC talent has bailed.

    IBM as a place to start a career is terrible. The will place you in mundane jobs and will do little to advance your skills or standing in your career. IBM education is a pipe dream and you would discover if you entered IBM that they are disingenuous and CHEEP! They will work you to death and lie at every opportunity. Then grade you bs PBC, IDP and skills assessments while you are spending all your time trying to comply with ITCS requirements. You will fine a lot less bull crap and more opportunities to advance yourself at a Big 4 type firm.

  • "When you have to eat - the decision is often made for you" by "bluedngone". Full excerpt: You've been told what IBM is like. If the choice is between working and selling pencils, you work.

    I worked years ago with a Big8/6/4 firm and know the culture. I also worked 14 years at IBM and know the culture. IBM is not going to give you the experience a Big 4 firm will. It will give you a paycheck. But if you have any moxie at all, you will be looking to move on from BigBlew the moment you start. A big 4 firm understands that you will most likely move on and when the time comes, often will help you get jobs with a client.

    IBM will do no such thing. On the contrary, IBM will make it difficult when you leave. IBM doesn't give recommendations or references on former employees. To give such is grounds for termination! When you leave IBM, they in fact have prospective employers call Fidelity who will only tell you dates and titles. They will not even answer the eligible for rehire question. When you leave, they also make you sign no compete clauses. In IBM you are either in or out. When you are out, you are treated worse than if you were ever there.

  • "how about for MBA?" by "UF43". Full excerpt: thanks again. I really had IBM on the top of my list but it looks like PwC has taken over it. I assumed that the IBM brand will look better on my resume compared to an accounting firm when I apply for admission to MBA schools or for future stepping stones into other companies. Apparently, this doesn't seem to be the case?

    I know a guy who graduated from the same school that I attend and started working for IBM as a consultant. He is currently at Columbia Business School getting his MBA. I'm hoping to land interviews+offers from other companies because IBM nor PwC are my ideal employers...so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I can't think of any other companies to apply to.

  • "The question is not where?, it's what?" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: What you do in your first role is much more important than where you do it, if you are concerned about graduate school or your career track.

    There are two reasons to be concerned about where you work. 1) To the extent it influences what you do. 2) for sanity, peace of mind and personal career momentum (not career path, but how much you get charged up about what you are doing. In the grand scheme, and in the long term, this is more important than what lilly pad you jump to next.

    IBM is horrible on both of these points, for all the reasons mentioned above. You will be given grunt work, the bureaucracy is stifling, and the people that influence you (HR, line management, and more experienced peers) will not give a rat's @$$ about your career or personal objectives. People are in survival mode, and as in that dumb reality show, that means manipulating themselves ahead of guys like you.

    If you like the area that PwC has you slated for, go for it. It is as good a credential as you could get short of McKinsey, or an IB. They still maintain high recruiting standards, and the caliber and professionalism of staff is quite high. Accenture will work you much harder than IBM, but the caliber of staff is higher, and they are less pedantic and pedestrian in their service delivery. You will learn more.

    As for other firms, it depends on what you want to do. Your question is like asking "which car should I buy". In general, smaller and less technology based is better if you want to develop more marketable skills.

  • "Brands, herds, mirages and the road to success" by "ancientblueconsultant". Full excerpt: I have a gut sense that you are a good person, young and of good, sound stock. CEO or business leader material. Unfortunately, you are at a personal crossroads and without a mentor. Just like music is a channel to manipulate your soul, I will attempt to influence you with words.

    A few months back, I read an article which warmed my heart in the Wall Street Journal. It proved to me a guttural hypothesis I'd had for years. My hypothesis? For a high school student, the odds of being a Fortune 1000 CEO are better going to a community college and having modest roots than going to Harvard and/or having lots of connections. The power of networking is still important, but moving away from American and economic elitism.

    Why? Because if you go to Harvard you are more likely expect more and thus achieve more at the start to but less at the end of a career, when it counts. The community college grad has no illusions and knows that she/he must focus and work hard from the first day at work to the last day of your career.

    Let's look at hunger...

    If you're hungry, you can just become an employee aspiring to be more in your spare time, only allowed that when the employer wants it and it doesn't endanger the brand (IBM). On the other hand, if you really want to be a CEO or a leader, you sell pencils, knowing that the skills you acquire selling pencils is an investment to learning about business and more important learning to deal with people. If you are an entrepreneur wanting to create value quickly, you sell pencils long enough to get someone else (an employee) to sell for you under your tutelage while you identify a more profitable business endeavor.

    Such is the case with consulting. A brand image is a view of the past, taking advantage of you stealing your future through higher profits. If you read Consulting Magazine, the latest issue surprised many by showing the sudden resurgence of niche and regional consulting firms, rising above the herds of Ivy League, Big 6 players. Why?

    Therein lies the road less travelled, the road to success for many new successful and future rich people in business. Heed it.

    Don't take the road followed by the herds. You may succeed, but it will be harder and more painful. Seek the niche firms, growing firms, the roads less travelled waiting to welcome you. You will grow more quickly and they don't have a brand like IBM, Accenture and CSC to protect at your personal expense.

    If you want Washington, government isn't the only choice. Look at health care, fashion, entertainment and other industries. There's more tech there than in many places in government.

    One last thing. Remember tech is a tool, a staff function, not the main reason for business. Tech is fun and great in youth, but is a hindrance in the peak of success. Appreciate tech but don't fall in love with it unless you accept you won't want to aspire to your full potential.

  • "Concerned about responses" by "powersnax". Full excerpt: I interviewed with IBM GBS and expect to receive an offer soon. Their explanation of benefits and career advancement opportunities / training were very attractive to me. After reading the responses to GreenconneXion I'm thinking twice about IBM.

    The other consulting firm on the top of my list is Booz Allen, which after reading posts of disgruntled IBMers seems like a much better choice now.

    I was also disturbed by IBM's "LEAN" practices, whatever it really means. Here is a frightening blog post that explains this: http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2007/pulpit_20070504_002027.html

    *Sigh*... I was really excited to work for IBM! Are you guys for real? The interviewers can't all be lying, can they?

  • "Use your consulting skills" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: If you are perceptive, you can read through the legacy of posts here and discern that this is real. Ask yourself what could possibly motivate someone like me to continue to respond to inquires thoughtfully and with focused relevance for each inquirer for so long.

    If I was a typical disgruntled employee who couldn't hack it, I wouldn't still be here after four years unless I was psychotic, delusional, or sociopathic. Do I sound psychotic, delusional, or sociopathic?

    Move on if you know what is good for you. Booz is no picnic, but it is a much better place to launch a career. More overtly political than IBM, but it is a great place to learn the ropes and a much better credential. Good Luck!

  • "The I Cringley is a joke with some reality" by "bluedngone". Full excerpt: I Cringley included a journalistic mistake. He said that IBM would be laying off 150,000 this year which is a tad too high. What is really happening as been discussed in this blog. IBM is moving about everything they can to third world countries for "cost reduction" purposes. I think Cringley probably meant to say 15,000 which is more inline with reality. All the reductions are Resource Action. Most are actually through selling parts of the business. They've probably hard RA'd about 4000 to 5000 employees so far this year. Then they will eliminate about another 5000 to 7000 through the sale of Printing Systems and Network Services. I've even heard they are now instituting a performance action against bottom performers between now and Dec 31.

    LEAN is a joke. It is an attempt to apply Six Sigma to non-manufacturing activities and has been a dreadful disaster. IBM has backed off quite a bit on the rhetoric because it has created a public relations nightmare. But the attitudes are still the same. IBM first line managers early in the year were forced to read about it and put it into the corporate PBC's for their employees. The meetings for LEAN actually provided little substance and were mostly used as forums for time study analysis of individual employees. LEAN was just to assign metrics to all activities - not measure results.

    What is coming out of these forums is that IBM is just a oversold brand. IBM is a walking talking disaster and that was brought out in the latest quarterly numbers. IBM cannot grow any business because it is run by uninspired cost cutters. The products being produced are mediocre quality (that includes consulting) and the traditional support is non-existent. When you get in IBM you will discover that compliance with IBM policies is the most important item on your PBC list. Actually producing a product that is marketable is near the bottom of the heap.

    PwCC is just a shell of what it was when IBM bought it. The same can be said for the IBM hardware and software products. Talented people don't put up with putting saving money as the number one goal in their PBC's.

    I Cringley will probably not post any more articles on IBM without hard facts after he was embarrassed by that article. I think he was probably feed some bogus info by an IBM Exec to destroy his credibility.

  • "A Letter to Ralph Nelson...And To Others" by "jm6546jm". Full excerpt: Oct 17, 2007 2:50 PM EST.
    To: Ralph Nelson
    IBM Corporation
    294 Route 100
    Somers, NY 10589

    Dear Ralph,

    I'm in the midst of administering your performance Attrition program which dictates I identity more than 3% of my organization and target them for separation from IBM, all in the name of maintaining vitality.... What a crock! As so many of us in management know you're really not a leader at all; just another suit who cow tows to others.

    I find this latest IBM behavior revolting on so many levels. It's the corporate equivalent of culling the herd; except in this instance we're not ridding ourselves of the poor performer as you 'd like us to believe. We're cutting employees because in 2008 you've increased the Global Resource target to 70% and there are only two ways to do that.

    • Find new work and staff off-shore
    • Reduce the U.S. IBM population.

    Obviously, option 2 is the direction, plain and simple. You can run that 'maintaining a high performance culture' crap all you want; but this is nothing more than a veiled resource action with half the separation benefits; where we're screwing employees and in this case ruining lives once again. Just out of curiosity, how many executives are being PA'd out the door? Are they all "superstars" like you?

    And let's have three cheers for the good old gang in HR. Someone needs to remind them that their mission used to be to look out for employee well being and ensure everyone is treated fairly. Nowadays, HR is nothing more than your staff department. Never have I seen such a transparent, collective group of overhead (other than you) in my life!

    Better yet, by copy to Randy Macdonald, please tell your wunderkinds to stop uttering the all too familiar phrase, 'Ralph wants', in front of every God damned sentence. At least make an attempt to appear helpful, insightful, useful, and unbiased.

    As usual, I'm copying outsiders and this time around I'll also print a bunch of these letters and send to people chosen at random from Blue pages. It's time others hear about this.

    cc: Alliance@IBM
    Randy MacDonald - Armonk, NY
    Sam Palmisano - Armonk, NY
    The Wall Street Journal

  • "Help hold the line!" by Lee Conrad. Full excerpt: IBM employees and retirees continue to face pressure on their livelihood. From the pension freeze and lack of adequate pay raises to rising co-pay on health care, employees are finding their standard of living decrease. Job insecurity increases as off-shoring and LEAN take a toll on employee jobs. The new corporate mantra of a global worklife integration instead of worklife balance will have an adverse affect on employees and their families and simply enslaves them to the job 24/7.

    Retirees face evaporating pensions as Cost of Living Allowance are just a thing of the past. Meanwhile IBM corporate executives, like other corporate executives across the USA, enrich themselves while employees and retirees see attacks on pensions, benefits and wages at an unprecedented scale.

    Corporate America is waging a war on us and we will continue to lose unless we all band together, hold the line and push back in the workplace and in the political arena.

    IBM, Corporate America and their allies are well funded—we are not. One way to push back is to support the Alliance@IBM/CWA that advocates for IBM employees and retirees.

    Some of our activities are:

    • Political action on pensions and off shoring legislation.
    • Challenging IBM on policies and practices detrimental to employees and retirees.
    • Fighting for cost of living increases in pensions.
    • Exposing job cuts, redeployment and training of offshore replacements.
    • Working with International IBM employee Unions to develop worldwide responses to adverse IBM employment policies and activities
    • Legal references
    • Media source for IBM employee issues.
    • Working with Federal, State and Local officials to make sure employees, retirees and their communities find remedies for toxic substance exposure.
    • Organizing employees in order to bring IBM to the negotiating table.

    Help us hold the Line! Help us push back! JOIN the Alliance@IBM CWA Local 1701 today. Names are confidential. Non-management, exempt employees ARE eligible to join.

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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