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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—December 22, 2007

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: IBM 401K (TDSP) rollover" by "ibmaccountant". Full excerpt: Well, regardless of which side is correct, IMHO the primary reason why many employees will assume IBM is screwing them regardless of the facts is that one of the key legacies of the Gerstner tenure has been a complete loss of trust and confidence in management by a significant part of the employee population.

    Before you challenge me with "facts", go to the internal websites and see the employee feedback surveys. They will say it all. Although the percentage varies and management has never had the guts to ask the question "Do you the employee have confidence in your management?" the tangential statistics to answers of similar questions will prove the point.

    We would not have even a hint of unionization if this wasn't the truth. It may take time, but the handwriting is on the wall. IBM management has squandered their most important asset, the trust of its employees for a few years of fabricated earnings. Before Gerstner, even though the management was incompetent and sometimes felonious in the nature of some of their actions, the employee was still considered an asset. Today, the employee is a resource, a tool, to be used and consumed with no thought for their future welfare or that of their families. Despite many recent efforts from HR to repair this image, they can't fix it until there is a wholesale cleansing of executive and some of the lower management.

    The unfortunate part for IBM and the unionization efforts is that when you lose confidence and trust in management, you prepare plans to leave as soon as you can. You leave and the vote is then lost for unionization. The younger folk have left in droves, and in the case of the older employee it's a balancing act to prepare for departure because of the pension issues. However, in 2008 this will change, thanks to the second to final pension theft action which is to freeze the DB pension to maximize the executive options from the 90's.

    The hope is that once the Gerstner era options expire in 2008 and the geriatric long-term management in place finally leaves thinking they've gotten all they can get, the company may somehow begin to cleanse itself of the younger single minded selfish sadistic executives and regain a semblance of its past image.

    Frankly, I don't give a damn for the company anymore. I'm just a happy 30+ year service employee ex-"hanger on" that made a lot of money betting against it in the market.

  • CNN/Money: IBM Corporate Responsibility Report Highlights Citizenship in the 21st Century. Excerpts: IBM today issued its 2007 Corporate Responsibility Report titled "Global Citizenship," presenting the results of the company's innovative societal partnerships and its strategy to address the challenges and opportunities in an increasingly global and networked economy.

    "Today's globally integrated enterprise demands a next generation of global citizenship impacting individuals, companies and the society at large," said Stanley Litow, Vice President of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs and President of the IBM International Foundation. "In this report we highlight IBM's leadership in global citizenship among these groups and the innovation and new direction we think is necessary to make progress in meeting the needs of each."

  • New York Times: Nightmare Before Christmas. By Bob Herbert. Excerpts: Christmastime is bonus time on Wall Street, and the Gucci set has been blessed with another record harvest. Forget the turbulence in the financial markets and the subprime debacle. Forget the dark clouds of a possible recession. Bloomberg News tells us that the top securities firms are handing out nearly $38 billion in seasonal bonuses, the highest total ever.

    But there’s a reason to temper the celebration, if only out of respect for an old friend who’s not doing too well. Even as the Wall Streeters are high-fiving and ordering up record shipments of Champagne and caviar, the American dream is on life-support. ...

    The poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners for the Change to Win labor federation, found that only 16 percent of respondents believed that their children’s generation would be better off financially than their own. While some respondents believed that the next generation would fare roughly the same as this one, nearly 50 percent held the exceedingly gloomy view that today’s children would be “worse off” when the time comes for them to enter the world of work and raise their own families.

    That absence of optimism is positively un-American. “These are parents who cannot see where the jobs of the future are that will allow their kids to have a better life than they had,” said Mr. Stern. “And they’re not wrong. That’s the problem.”

    Record bonuses on Wall Street at a time when ordinary working Americans are filled with anxiety about their economic future are signs that the trickle-down phenomenon that was supposed to have benefited everyone never happened.

    The rich, boosted by the not-so-invisible hand of the corporate ideologues in government, have done astonishingly well in recent decades, while the rest of the population has tended to tread water economically, or drown. ...

    According to Demos, a policy research group in New York, “American families are using credit cards to bridge the gaps created by stagnant wages and higher costs of living.” Americans owe nearly $900 billion on their credit cards. We’re running out of smoke and mirrors. The fundamental problem, the problem that is destroying the dream, is the extreme inequality pounded into the system by the corporate crowd and its handmaidens in government. ...

    Americans work extremely hard and are amazingly productive. But without the clout of a strong union movement, and arrayed against the mighty power of the corporations and the federal government, they don’t receive even a reasonably fair share of the economic benefits from their hard work or productivity.

News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
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  • Associated Press, courtesy of the Washington Post: Health Savings Accounts for Poor Tested. By Kevin Freking. Excerpts: The popularity of health savings accounts for the poor will be put to the test in Indiana under a program approved Friday by the Bush administration. Under the plan, someone making $20,000 a year could get health coverage for about $19 a week.

    Bush has long pushed health savings accounts as a way to slow the rising cost of medical care and extend basic coverage to the uninsured.

    Under the Indiana program, eligible residents can pay up to 5 percent of their incomes into state-subsidized "Personal Wellness and Responsibility Accounts" that cover their initial medical expenses up to $1,100. Once that deductible is reached, private insurance purchased by the state kicks in. ...

    The program will be monitored closely because of the philosophical divide among lawmakers about the value of health savings accounts for the poor. Many say such accounts work best for healthier and higher-income people with low medical expenses.

    Judith Solomon, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said she doubts that many people making $10,000 a year can afford to pay $500 for health insurance. She said that about 50,000 people lost Medicaid coverage in Oregon after that state got permission to raise insurance premiums to $20 a month. "You can say it's better than nothing, but I just don't see how many of those folks will be able to afford it," Solomon said.

  • Associated Press, courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle: Uninsured Cancer Patients Die Sooner. By Mike Stobbe. Excerpts: Uninsured cancer patients are nearly twice as likely to die within five years as those with private coverage, according to the first national study of its kind and one that sheds light on troubling health care obstacles. People without health insurance are less likely to get recommended cancer screening tests, the study also found, confirming earlier research. And when these patients finally do get diagnosed, their cancer is likely to have spread.

    The research by scientists with the American Cancer Society offers important context for the national discussion about health care reform, experts say _ even though the uninsured are believed to account for just a fraction of U.S. cancer deaths. An Associated Press analysis suggests it is around 4 percent.

    Those dealing with cancer and inadequate insurance weren't surprised by the findings. "I would just like for something to be done to help someone else, so they don't have to go through what we went through," said Peggy Hicks, a Florida woman whose husband died in August from colon cancer.

  • New York Times: Health Care Excuses. By Paul Krugman. Excerpt: I mean, people have access to health care in America,” said President Bush a few months ago. “After all, you just go to an emergency room.”
  • The Virginian-Pilot: Military retirees may face big bump in health costs. By Dale Eisman and Kate Wiltrout. Excerpts: A Pentagon task force proposed dramatic increases Thursday in the health insurance premiums paid by more than 3 million military retirees and their families, warning that medical costs are growing faster than the federal budget or the U.S. economy.

    The 14-member panel unveiled a complicated fee structure that would more than double the annual cost of family coverage for 1.1 million military retirees under age 65, hiking their average fee from $460 to $1,100. While all those retirees would see fee increases, the exact amount for each would be tied to his or her pension, so those who retired at a higher rank would pay more.

  • Rand Corporation: Quick Fix. Drug Benefit Plans Driven by Short-Term Savings Could Be More Costly in the End. By Geoffrey F. Joyce and Dana P. Goldman. Excerpt: To date, the evidence suggests that more cost sharing is associated with more hospitalizations and emergency department visits, particularly among the chronically ill. In some cases, cost sharing can steer patients to more cost-effective treatments without harming health. But for drugs that are known to be cost-effective in preventing expensive medical care, greater cost sharing appears to be cost-ineffective in the long run.
  • Families USA: Too Great a Burden: America's Families at Risk. Excerpts: Health care costs have become a growing burden for America’s families, as premiums and out-of-pocket expenses continue to rise at alarming rates. Left unchecked, health care costs will keep going up, forcing more and more American families into debt—and even into bankruptcy. According to public opinion polls, health care is now the number one domestic priority. At the same time, pressure on policymakers to take decisive action is expected to grow. In 2008, voters will head to the polls seeking, among other things, to see that the cost of care is brought under control. ...

    Our analysis paints a stark picture: Nearly one out of four Americans under the age of 65—61.6 million people—is in a family that will spend more than 10 percent of its pre-tax income on health care costs in 2008. Shockingly, the vast majority of these people (82.4 percent) have health insurance. And 17.8 million non-elderly Americans—more than three-quarters of whom have health insurance—are in families that will spend more than 25 percent of their pre-tax income on health care costs in 2008.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site:
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  • From the Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comment 12/18/07: I was on a call today and one of the B10 old timers said he's gotten 15 calls and emails from colleagues leaving in S&G and IGS. Lots of people gave 2 week notices on Monday to depart by 12/31.-Scared Young'un-
    • Comment 12/21/07: RA'd in May and I have to say it was the best thing to ever happen to me. No more stress, no more being constantly peed at the world. At my new job I was at the Christmas party last night. The owner came up to me, told me he was glad to have me and gave me a card with several large bills in it. Today we had a Christmas lunch and more gift cards.

      What did IBM ever give me for Christmas? A pager and on call for free during the holiday which always ruined everything being paged Christmas morning at 2am, Thanksgiving, New Years eve, etc.

      Once you get out of this hole you will realize how badly this company treats you and never look back. Don't try and hang in there, it's not worth it.. Oh yeah, now I have no on call and no OT for free. Never again will I be awakened to the sound of a pager in the middle of the night. And it's so nice not to have a moron of a manager and team lead that gives me weekend work and then goes home never to help us out. What a joke. -So happy I'm gone !!!-

  • General Visitor's Comment page:
    • Comment 12/17/07: Last year I remember reading here that all site Christmas parties were ordered canceled because of budget constraints. All sites except for Armonk of course, who still had their "pigs at the troth" spread. I'm curious what happened this year. Did they even bother attempting anything at any of the site locations? And what kind of feast is being held at Armonk? -Scrooge Alive and Well?-
    • Comment 12/17/07: Scrooge.. My department in Fishkill is having an IBM paid for lunch this week at a local buffet. 180 turn from last year. The posted survey on one of the quality charts shows morale in the sewer. If management thinks a lunch is really going to help they are sorely mistaken. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 12/18/07: To: -Scrooge Alive and Well?- Last year in Southbury CT they had a site holiday gathering during the afternoon with a modest food spread. This year it amounted to holiday snacks and a h'or d' or two. I reckon other IBM USA sites, sans Armonk and Somers (basically "Corporate HQ north"), was mostly the same if they had one or are going to have one at all. As far as holiday "parties" go the "bring your own food" the on site conference room gatherings by dept. or group is all I have heard about. IBM would gladly cancel the holidays if they could so they can squeeze a few more workdays during the year end in their place. -sby_willie-
    • Comment 12/19/07: It is really disheartening when I read about Nick kissing away 4.1 million dollars and I am scraping to make ends meet. Why are the IBM execs paid so much money? For what? We are doing the grunt work and he is sucking in the cash from IBM like a vacuum cleaner. I feel like a slave working for IBM. Just call me boy. That right, Master Nick. I'm your boy. -Just a Slave-
    • Comment 12/20/07: I am wondering if anyone on this board has information leading to a NY attorney for IBM clean room chemical caused child birth defects. My wife an I were told yesterday that one of the babies (twins) is forming without kidneys. I did a quick google search and everything I have read is pretty close to what we are going through. Any help is appreciated. -Anonymous-

      Alliance Reply: Please contact us directly through this link: http://www.allianceibm.org/contact.php Your information will be kept strictly confidential. We have multiple contacts. Also visit this page for more information: http://www.allianceibm.org/ultimatetakeaway.htm

    • Comment 12/20/07: Be aware that if you signed up for the Chase Health Savings Account (HSA) that you will be routinely charged ridiculous "Account Maintenance Fees", "Paper Maintenance Fees" and $20 "Account Closing Fee". I STRONGLY recommend that you DO NOT DO BUSINESS with CHASE and that you DO NOT get involved with the HSA "benefit", as it has been nothing but trouble. -Joe punchclock-
    • Comment 12/20/07: On the Twelfth day of Christmas IBM gave me... twelve global morons, eleven management layers, ten business sell-offs, nine clients leaving, eight lawsuits pending , seven execs enriching, six weeks of severance, five layed off friends, four LEAN stages, three pay cuts, two pension thefts, and a lousy place to work! Happy Holidays everyone! -Weird Al Yahtzhisname-
  • Pension Comments page
    • Comment 12/19/07: I am on a LOA to retirement and am on the prior plan, when I will hit 30 years on the nose. I just noticed that these IBM bastards have changed the conversion factors used to calculate pension payments. When I did a NetBenefits calculation in October, it used a 11.835 conversion factor. Today, for the EXACT SAME parameters, it used a 12.042 conversion factor. That's a reduction in monthly payments. An HR VP told me point blank that these factors wouldn't change. What a lying bunch of bastards. And, the lump sum payment was reduced by 2 percent, too. All I can say to Randy MacDonald and the rest of the idiots who came up with this screw job - GO STRAIGHT TO HELL. -new con factor-
    • Comment 12/20/07: The form 5500 data for 2006 is available now at freeERISA.com. The pension fund net assets increased by $4,368,041,043 in 2006 to $52,909,773,120. The 2006 fund income was $7,351,433,007. Subtracting pension payments of $2,846,823,230 and admin expenses of $136,568,735 yields the net increase in assets. YE 2006 liabilities were $43,397,934,404. It appears that the fund has an excess of $9.511 billion. Think they are after this?. -FreeERISA-
    • Comment 12/21/07: Has anyone seen a clear explanation on HOW to frozen pension funds will be calculated and distributed ? I hope they do not use the funny money calculations that they tried to use in 1999. Cash Balance fiasco. Somehow they calculated that my total with the upgrade funds added would total UNDER $110K in 1999; then in 2005 my Lump Sum and Annuity combo was lump sum of over $200K and about $2K/month annuity for the second choicers new Old plan. For those of you that haven't left, I wish you the best, especially NA folks . You'll need it, if IBM succeeds in doing what it plans in 2008. -no-ky-
  • Raise and Salary Comments
    • Comment 12/18/07: Lesson number 1, do not believe everything your manager tells you. This is a scare tactic. Scare tactics are working well in corporate America today. We constantly hear how bad things are, but the top management continue to get large bonuses by pushing all of us to do more. When IBM offered me my position, I told them I was insulted and wanted 20% more, they gave it. I don't care if they think I am out for the money, because I know that's what they are also trying to get. It's turning into a dog eat dog world, you have to look out for yourself. Thanks, -JT-
  • PBC Comments
    • Comment 12/17/07: Prior Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr PBC = 1; This Yr Bonus = ???; Prior Yr Bonus = 3500; Message = I just received my PBC rating for 2007. I received a 1 rating this year. Makes me feel comfortable - however my manager also stated "let me know what release date you want since you have been asking for one". Funny that I receive a 1, I run this team and she knows it and couldn't do it without me, but is willing to let me go. I have been blocked 3 times already from other positions b/c of "our need for you in this position".. Now they are trying to be nice?? Or is it that cuts are coming and she is trying to save my butt. -ConfusedByMessage-
    • Comment 12/18/07: Prior Yr PBC = 1; This Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr Bonus = ?; Prior Yr Bonus = 3500; Message = Can't complain, got what I thought I deserved. Also got promoted this year. Heading off to at&t with the NS teams. Wondering how at&t will use pbc info for figuring out raises/bonuses. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 12/19/07: "Managers will read enough of your PBC to be able to articulate your results": Some managers in IBM truly are dimwits who just don't know how to really read, let alone write. My manager, whom I never have met or seen in person, called me up for my PBC and couldn't get my first name right! But then again since I am just a resource, who cares what my first name is. Since the PBC ratings are already decided in February, does it really matter what your results are? -I(ve) B(een) M-
  • International Comments
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Modern-Day Robber Baron Corner:
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noneToday's highly compensated executives face many difficulties, including figuring out how they can possibly spend all of the rich rewards they've earned on the backs of ordinary workers. Take a look at the insider trading of many of our IBM executives—spending the cash from all that stock "acquired at $0 per share" must be a real challenge! Or, imagine the difficulty IBM CEO Sam Palmisano will face spending his $10,000 to $20,000 a day pension when he retires!

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

  • Forbes: Party Like A Billionaire. By Chaniga Vorasarun. Excerpts: Who wants to party like a rock star when you can party like a billionaire? That is if you are lucky enough to get invited to one of their blow-out bashes.

    Our roundup of the splashiest billionaire fetes proves that these titans don’t just know how to make money, they also know how to spend it. Their parties--often costing well into the millions--are spectacular exercises in hedonism, frequently featuring intimate performances by rock stars, week-long extravaganzas on private islands and mingling with A-list crowds of other magnates and celebrities. Not to mention all the finest champagne, caviar and other gourmet treats they can get down their gold-plated gullets.

    One of the hottest tickets of 2007 was an invitation to the 60th birthday party of private equity king Stephen Schwarzman, which took place in February just four days after his Blackstone group announced the world’s biggest buyout ever, a $39 billion deal involving commercial-building empire Equity Office Group.

    Held in the cavernous Park Avenue Armory on Manhattan’s swank upper east side, the party, reported to have cost $3 million, drew 350 guests including Donald Trump, new Merrill Lynch chief John Thain, TV personalities Maria Bartiromo and Barbara Walters and Washington D.C. insider Vernon Jordan. Rod Stewart performed and Patti LaBelle sang happy birthday.

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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