This case focused on certain current and former IBM employees within IBM's Technical Services Professional and Information Technology Specialist job categories, alleging, among other things, that those employees were classified as exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act and certain state laws, and that they should have been classified as non-exempt and paid overtime compensation. Under the terms of the settlement, still subject to final approval by the Court, each qualified individual in these two job categories will be entitled to apply for a payment, in accordance with an agreed formula, in full and complete settlement of all claims in the case.
Litigation of this case would have been lengthy, burdensome and expensive, and IBM chose to resolve it, without admitting any wrongdoing or liability, for a total of $65 million. IBM had established a provision for the probable settlement of this case in the third quarter of this year.
Under the TMP, you are getting COBRA coverage which by law allows the employer to charge 102% of the active employee rate. If you were laid off from IBM, IBM usually pays 100% for the first six months of coverage and then you pay the rest for the next 12 months. After 18 months, you can switch to retiree or FHA coverage if you are eligible. Otherwise, you are on your own.
In the Hudson Valley, the 2007 rates are as follows:
Retiree coverage costs more because IBM has chosen to group retirees into their own, separate insurance pool. According to a recent Towers Perrin study, employees 50 to 65 years old use 1.4 to 2.2 times as much health care as younger employees in their thirties and forties. With no young, healthy employees to share the cost, the insurance has to cost twice as much.
When you add the Medicare deductibles, the IBM deductibles ($1,500), the Out of Pocket Maximums ($7,000)to that, you can see how easy my out of pocket costs will probably average $1,200 a month. This is quite a change from the free paid up medical IBM said I would get as part of my "Deferred Compensation" for the many years I worked for them.
I stopped taking the less expensive IBM Plan after I had cancer, because of the cap on prescription drugs. If my wife or I should have cancer again that requires expensive drugs for treatment, my out of pocket would certainly go over $100,000. Basically, IBM has forced many retirees to make the choice between paying a super high premium for insurance, or take the chance of losing everything they own from high drug costs. Either way, their standard of living goes in the tank.
It seems like a win-win situation for IBM. Our high premiums probably cover most of our medical care, and if we die early because medical care gets too expensive, IBM no longer has to pay our pension either. IBM could easily help us at no cost to them, by putting the retirees back in the same pool as the active workers, who have a much larger income and can afford these heavy medical costs.
Perhaps I am just old fashioned, but I still think about the old "Respect for the Individual" that was one of the three basic beliefs we were all proud of. I guess we just have to accept the fact that the new people in top management do not agree with what we were led to believe in the past. I am not angry over this, just hurt to think about the whole situation.
Most folks are not complaining about having chunks of their pension ripped off from them, or being screwed out of promised levels of medical care simply because they did not *plan* properly... no, they are pissed because, no matter how well you planned for something, they do not like being lied to or taken advantage of.
If a someone comes up to you and threatens you with a gun demanding you give them $5 or they will shoot you... you are not going to be happy about it. It's not that the loss of $5 is going to change your day one way or the other... it's that you just do not like being robbed!!! Well, it's the same thing here for many of us.
Another thing, If these pension and medical benefit take backs were really, really necessary, I think that most retirees (as well as active employees) would have rolled up their sleeves and willingly bite the bullet without complaint... but the truth of the matter is that it appears a large chunk of the changes were implemented for no other reason than to line the pockets of many of our Sr. execs.
Gerstner walked away with what, $600,000,000.00 or so? How much medical insurance could that have paid for? How many BILLIONS (yes, BILLIONS when you add it all up) in (excessive) executive compensation was paid for off the backs of employees (through reduced retirement and medical benefits?
"Super Cynics"? Just because thousands of deserving employees don't like being cheated out of their promised pensions and medical benefits that makes them cynics? And yes, we have been cheated. Like I said before, if the money was not there to pay the benefits originally promised, there is NO WAY IBM could have (or still is) paying these outrageous bonuses to our Sr. execs.
No, the only problem is that IBM can not afford to do both, and has made a conscious decision to pay out the big (and generally unearned) bonuses rather than keep the promises made to dedicated employees. It's rape, pure and simple.. and when it is all over, IBM will nothing more than an empty shell (we're almost there!!).
Funny that every time there is an RA, employees go by the bunch, managers go by tiny amounts and execs (who supposedly run the business) get bonuses.
Now some will say it is the corporate way. But I, for one, always expected more from IBM just as they always expected more from me. Thanks for taking the time to write this....
One of my doctor's said UHC failed to pay him from the proper payment schedule for an in office procedure, instead paying him from a previous year's schedule in which the procedure was a hospital outpatient procedure, shorting him about $2000. Even the State Insurance Commissioner could not force them to correct it.
In 2000, I was insured by Aetna, when my wife was admitted to a non- network hospital in Hawaii. Even though they didn't pay until they were billed twice, they paid 100% of the bill after my copay. Other than that incident, I had no problems with Aetna, and I used them for a few years. Even the Aetna Dental DMO worked well. And I never encountered any office that wouldn't accept Aetna.
You should note Aetna may be different in each state (the same for UHC, I suppose), because the insurer is licensed separately in each state and has it's own individual identity apart from the others. Formally, ours is called Aetna Oklahoma. Can Aetna Connecticut be different? I haven't the foggiest idea.
Being on Medicare, when my wife reaches that pinnacle in her life, we will be looking at a Medicare Supplemental plan to join. But I've already ruled out AARP's offering and Secure Horizons because they're both either owned or administered by UHC.
My prescription bill runs a little over 5K a year. Therefore, I always go with the IBM Low Deductible because there is no limit on what the plan pays for prescriptions in a calendar year. (The Medium and High Deductible plans have prescription caps while the Low does not)
You do realize that with most jobs now, you don't qualify for health care unless you have worked there first for 6 months, 1 year, and in some cases, 2 years first. It isn't like the old days when you got a job and had health coverage by the end of the week. So plan on using IBM's health care until your job's health care benefits kick in.
Also, you do realize that you must work full time on that new job to qualify for health care. A lot of companies book you for less than full time, hence, you never qualify for health care because you can't get full time hours worked.
Also, when you finally qualify for their health benefits, after the waiting period, after earning a full time hours worked, you may end up with a high deductible health plan where you first pay thousands of dollars up front in premiums, deductibles, and co-pays before you receive any benefit at all. Oh wait, I just described some of IBM's plans.
Lastly, you might want to vote in those congresscritters that advocate health insurance for those in the 55 - 65 age gap (prior to Medicare). Personally, I would like to see it. However, since Bush is vetoing the SCHIP program (health care for low income children), I'm sure he would not like it if those between 55 - 65 were covered too. Problem he has with it is that for every 100 persons with a health plan covered by SCHIP or otherwise, it crowds out 40 persons that would otherwise buy their insurance from private company. Those companies want the policies and premiums from those 40 people, and the hell with the other 60. (oh let them eat cake for heavens sake)
So there you have it. Yes, get a job. Work full time (you might have to fight for those hours). Qualify for benefits after a year or so. Then prove continuous coverage from IBM's plan over to their plan. You are all set!
The presidential candidate said his plan would also restore retirement security for the middle class through tax reforms and savings help, allowing more people to put aside money and purchase stock from companies. He said those companies would perform better for regular workers under his corporate reform proposals.
Edwards said a culture of greed has taken over and that while profits are skyrocketing on Wall Street, "main street is drowning under a sea of costs and debt."
Instead of protecting the compact of equal opportunity and shared prosperity, Washington protects corporate profits and hoards prosperity of the few," he told a crowd gathered in downtown Des Moines. "This is wrong, it is shameful, and it is bad for our economy to boot."
Edwards said companies and their lobbyists can't be allowed to write their own rules any longer, and he called it "the moral test of our generation whether we are going to ensure that our children have a better life than we've had." ...
The former North Carolina senator said it's especially important to force companies to honor their pension promises. In recent years, he said, about two-thirds of companies have frozen their plans, and many workers are seeing cutbacks in their pensions. Companies also should not be allowed to strip workers of pension benefits through corporate reorganization, or be able to classify workers as contractors to avoid paying them benefits, he said.
We all have seen the greed of these execs and have railed against it verbally and to some extent legally. Greed that has as its core the premise that if they can take away wages and benefits from employees and retirees it will personally benefit them not the traditional rewards given execs of growing the business.
We are now entering a whole new era of this greed; the conscious and planned total denial of IBM medical benefits that were inferred and verbally promised to many of us as legacy retirees of IBM. This is being done to us in the context of a very profitable corporation with regal bonuses to its current execs unprecedented in business history to retirees who have no time or opportunity to adjust to their new circumstances.
That will in turn result in the needless future sickness and in some cases premature death of some of your fellow IBMers.
These execs are now approaching the deserved appellation of murderers. Other than a letter do you really expect them to admit and justify such a crime?
Those of us in the riff-raff class rarely realize how hard life is for the rich. I don’t mean the merely rich, but the richy-rich – the billionaire class. Yes, if you’re one of them, you’ve got half a dozen luxurious houses around the world, servants galore, private jets and helicopters, your own chef, and… well, anything you want. But what if you don’t “make it?”
The “it” is the list, the annual Forbes magazine list of the 400 richest Americans. This is the ultimate social register, the measure of whether your wealth is really “wow”… or just common. Well, this year’s list has come out, and even being a billionaire no longer assures you of making the cut. In fact, being at the very bottom of the list, the 400th richest American, now requires $1.3 billion in wealth. This means that 82 certified American billionaires failed to qualify. How embarrassing is that? You can practically feel their pain, can’t you?
Part of the problem for run-of-the-mill billionaires is that a horde of Wall Street speculators have recently zoomed to a level of über-wealth, thanks to the unregulated schemes of hedge-fund managers and private equity executives. Of the 45 newcomers to this year’s Forbes list, half made their bundles in such schemes. With these operators pocketing billions of bucks, such regulars as the honcho of Starbucks and an heiress to the Campbell Soup fortune were bumped right off the Forbes list. See… it’s a cruel world.
Interestingly, these high-flying Wall Streeters have been lobbying furiously in Washington to stave off any regulation of their financial flim-flammery and, especially, to forestall efforts to tax their pots of gold. After all, if they are regulated and taxed, even at the low level of other billionaires… they are not likely to make next year’s list.
Given the large number of people uninsured or poorly insured in this country, it was no surprise that Americans were the most likely to go without care because of costs. Fully 37 percent of the American respondents said that they chose not to visit a doctor when sick, skipped a recommended test or treatment or failed to fill a prescription in the past year because of the cost — well above the rates in other countries.
Patients here were more likely to get appointments quickly for elective surgery than those in nearly all the other countries. But access to primary care doctors, the mainstay of medical practice, was often rocky. Only half of the American adults were able to see a doctor the same day that they became sick or the day after, a worse showing than in all the other countries except Canada. Getting care on nights and weekends was problematic.
Often the care here was substandard. Americans reported the highest rate of lab test errors and the second-highest rate of medical or medication errors.
Consider Massachusetts, whose mandatory health insurance law is the model for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal and which provided much of the inspiration for a similar legislative proposal vetoed by Schwarzenegger earlier this month. ...
Today the law remains a mess. Despite tax penalties for failure to buy insurance, only 20 percent of the uninsured have purchased the mandatory plans - and 94 percent of those who have enrolled received full or partial public subsidies. ...
Neither approach constrains skyrocketing premiums, deductibles, co-pays, drug costs or hospital charges. That’s a fatal flaw. Millions of Californians are likely to end up with junk insurance that increases their health insecurity with policies that will jeopardize their financial health if they use medical care or encourage them to self-ration and not use the care they still have to pay for. ...
A second point of contention is how much tax will be levied on employers who don’t provide health coverage for workers. But both the amount favored by the governor, and the one in the Núñez bill that was vetoed, are substantially less than what the average California business offering health plans now pays, a clear incentive for businesses to reduce coverage or drop benefits entirely and just pay the tax.
Sadly, the main beneficiaries of a rushed “compromise” will be the same insurance companies that created the present crisis. They would harvest millions of new customers, with the government using its power and the public purse to further an insurance industry that will continue to be able to profiteer and deny care.
We don’t have to turn just to Massachusetts to see an example of how this can lead to disastrous public policy. A decade ago, the same “consensus” pushed the hurried passage of energy deregulation. That was followed by blackouts, skyrocketing energy costs for consumers, financial calamity for the state, and open thievery by Enron and other energy corporations.
It is thus tempting to believe that the moment for reform has finally arrived and that we stand on the verge of historic change. Yet before reform advocates get too exuberant, they would do well to remember what happened the last time health care reform topped the national agenda. In the early 1990s, reformers also believed that the conditions were ripe for change; then, as now, soaring health care costs and growth of the uninsured population fueled public dissatisfaction (see table). When President Bill Clinton took office in 1993 with Democratic majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives, the country appeared inexorably headed toward health care reform. But just a year after its introduction in September 1993, the Clinton Health Security Act (see box) was dead in Congress. What happened to the Clinton plan, and what lessons can today's reformers learn from its failure?
This is why an increasing number of us on the front lines have started calling for meaningful change in the form of a single-payer system in which the government funds health care. ...
Opponents of a single-payer system argue that single payer could be even more inefficient and bureaucratic than the current system. They point to other countries, such as Canada, that have national health insurance and yet have long wait times to see doctors.
But research supports the opposite conclusion. For example, a 2003 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that the average overhead of U.S. insurance companies is 11.7 percent, compared with 3.6 percent for Medicare and 1.3 percent for Canada’s national health insurance program. And the waits in Canada are a result of Canada’s low level of health spending - on a per capita basis, about half that in the United States. The efficiency of Canada’s national health insurance program coupled with our current high level of health funding would yield the world’s best health care system. ...
Some also suggest that the quality of health care would decline under a single-payer system. But again, this is unlikely. Life expectancy is shorter and infant mortality rates are higher in the United States compared with most nations with a single-payer system, and a comprehensive analysis has found that Canadians receive care at least as good as most insured Americans. The only difference would be that instead of sending bills to private insurance companies - a difficult and time-intensive process - doctors and hospitals would bill the national health insurance program. ...
Despite the merits of a single-payer system, none of the major 2008 presidential candidates supports it. Instead, they have put forth a creative array of meaningless, incremental reforms that would do little for our failing system. ...
Although few mainstream politicians endorse single payer, we see reason for optimism. A recent survey of Massachusetts physicians found that almost two-thirds favor single payer, and we believe health care providers are coming around nationwide as well. We hope the political thrust for single payer will come soon. If it doesn’t, we face a future of more wasteful spending, more inefficiency - and ever more Americans struggling to get by without health insurance.
Yet she is now a freshman at Montana State University, taking six classes, living in the dorm, and hanging out with friends. "I've been doing outstanding," Eckerdt says. "Not every day is good. But now I know that if one thing goes wrong, I don't have to have a bad day; I can have a bad moment. I learned that in treatment"—two months of cognitive-behavioral therapy at Rogers Memorial Hospital in Oconomowoc, Wis., during the summer.
The price her family paid for her progress: $22,380. That was on top of $15,040 Ken and Jenny Eckerdt paid out of pocket for 51 days of inpatient treatment in 2006. Her parents have health insurance, but they'd burned through their coverage and had to pay upfront with retirement funds and credit cards.
Many families find themselves similarly strapped. The need for mental-health treatment is great—an estimated 1 in 4 Americans has a diagnosable mental disorder; 6 percent suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or other serious problem. But coverage falls far short. It is not unusual for a policy to set a lifetime limit of $1 million for medical care but just $50,000 for mental-health treatment.
"If our daughter was told she had cancer, the first question in our mind when we looked at our insurance policy would not be 'I wonder whether they can cure this within the 30-day limitation for the calendar year?'" says Jenny, a legal secretary for the city of Billings. She praises her plan's administrator for wringing every possible dollar out of their coverage. "It's just that when the plan states you have 30 days, there's no 'Gee, can I have a few more days because I need them?'" she says. "It's 'no.' It's not appealable."
"There's an assumption (in the public) that universal coverage means government-run," says Karen Ignagni, president of the industry trade group America's Health Insurance Plans, which sponsored briefings with policymakers and reporters here.
Executives from Swiss and Dutch health insurers spoke at the briefings, which come amid growing discussion about whether and how to change the health care system in the USA. Next week, Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt goes on a fact-finding trip to Switzerland and the Netherlands.
Both spend less on health care than the United States does. The Dutch spend 9.2% of their economy on health care, while the Swiss spend 11.6%. The U.S. spends 16%. "Wholesale adoption of such a system in the United States is unlikely, but they may have learned some lessons that could improve the delivery of health care in this country," says Kevin Schweers, a spokesman for HHS.
A big thank you goes to all people who supported IBM Italy workers in their struggle over the last 6 weeks. From protesters who came to Second Life and joined the action, to the petitioners who wrote letters to IBM Europe management, to those who took the time to give their ideas on how to proceed when there were no visible results to our protest and to the press who covered the event in more than 30 countries which helped put pressure on IBM as well.
A company's culture instills in it's managers whether or not the worker is treated with respect. There is an old Italian saying, "The fish stinks from the head down". Unfortunately, a union contract will not deodorize this stinking, rancid culture that is today's IBM. My suggestion is for all who are unhappy at IBM, and there are many, to begin the personal organization of resume building, job hunting and networking. Explore other careers, investigate companies, find out what it is that will make you happy and go for it. Life goes by very fast and speeds up with every passing year. Soon, we will all be dust and none of this will matter. So find a place that makes you happy, respects you as an individual and most of all enjoy what you do ( even if it's for less money) Just my opinion. -Anon-
If there is more balance of power between management and employees so that management has to put more resources into where the product value really gets added - the employees - then management would have less resources for use in tolerating incompetent, inefficient, and bloated management structure. The result - a more efficient and "excellent" company all the way around. It's basic economics - if you want to improve economic efficiency throw the resources towards where the shareholder value gets added - non-managerial employees. If you instead want to systematically dismantle the company while redistributing wealth to where shareholder value doesn't get added - throw the resources at bloated management. I happen to think the former is best for the market economy and for society. -a little birdie-
If I could wave my magic wand and have all of IBM in North America unionized tomorrow, I agree that IBM would continue downsizing and offshoring, and would not ever go back to the good place to work it was 20 years ago. They would still be a bunch of bastards, but at least those bastards would have to face to face deal with the remaining workers, A union would have the power to stand up to management and make them listen to and deal with the workers. Those left could improve conditions and save some of the jobs. Those workers who did get laid off from a unionized IBM would have a union that could negotiate for better severance and fairer termination.
As it is, as IBM slowly fires more and more of its US workers, they are going to give the remanding workers less and less and treat them worse and worse. At this point, IBM has enough assets in North America that the union has some leverage. IBM would lose a ton of money not dealing with a North American Union today. As the years progress without a union, the leverage will decrease until the last North American worker turns off the light. -ExRochBeamer-
Today (10/29/07) I received my annual "love letter" from Randy Mac Donald (Sr. VP of Human Resources) stating that my new monthly premium was being increased to $1,402 per month reflecting a 35% increase from the prior year's premium and what amounted to a monthly premium of more than 4 times what I paid as an active employee only 2 years ago.
Thanks, IBM, for being so considerate to those who dedicated their professional lives to your success. Having just turned 62 years of age, I now look forward to endorsing my monthly social security check over to IBM every month. Please, Mr. Mac Donald, don't send any more cover letters with your annual benefits package touting how IBM is at the forefront of employee/retiree benefits. -Retired 2005-
Vault's IBM Business Consulting Services message board is a popular hangout for IBM BCS employees, including many employees acquired from PwC. A few sample posts follow:
I didn't have any internship in college, had joined IBM from a top 20 ranked University with some intention of moving on to better things after 1-2 years.
I look back on reading this board 10 months ago and laughing at myself now, just how right on your comments have been. But, back then I thought it was just the result of a bunch of disgruntled workers.
Now, I need some serious advice, on what you would do, this is not the situation I imagined myself to be in, getting paid for doing nothing, not getting any career opportunities, and almost zero educational value, except these stupid online classes that I am asked to do for the past 4 months, that are of no value at all.
So far, it appears you have 2 assets. You are young and probably with not too many obligations and you graduated from a top 20 ranked school.
First, get going on getting yourself recruited ASAP. Quickly go back to your alma matter and put your name out in the employment office. Even if the blue pig sees you keep getting your name out at the school. Wherever you are, start networking in local circles lobbying for the job.
If you are technical, consider short term technical certifications that you can do while still being paid by IBM. They probably won't support you, but the certifications can help sharpen your skills and give you access to other folks who may have access to jobs. Consider certifications like MCSE, CISO, CCIE, Red Hat, PMP.
If you aren't technical, decide what industry you can target and see if you can rustle up going on sales calls with client teams to customers in that sector. A visit, contacts are invaluable.
Ask why you aren't going on engagements while other new employees are getting assignments. Knowing that will help you as you interview for a new job somewhere else. Don't despair. Just get going and start looking for another job somewhere else.
This site is designed to allow IBM Employees to communicate and share methods of protecting their rights through the establishment of an IBM Employees Labor Union. Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act states it is a violation for Employers to spy on union gatherings, or pretend to spy. For the purpose of the National Labor Relations Act, notice is given that this site and all of its content, messages, communications, or other content is considered to be a union gathering.