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Highlights—February 9, 2008

  • CNET/Money: IBM Announces New Global Delivery Center in Noida (Uttar Pradesh), India. IBM to Continue Expansion Drive -- Another Center to Open in Vicinity in the Coming Months. Excerpts: IBM today significantly expanded its operations in the state of Uttar Pradesh with the inauguration of a new Global Delivery Center in Noida, by Dr. Subas C Pani IAS, Secretary, Planning Commission, Government of India. This is IBM Global Business Services' first such center in Noida; and, in phase two of the expansion, IBM will open another center in the vicinity, which is expected to be fully operational by mid-2008. Both the centers are located in Sector 62, and will house close to 3000 employees once fully staffed.

    These centers will enable IBM to increase its existing application services portfolio to support a growing global client base. With the addition of these centers, IBM's Global Delivery operations are provided from six(1) locations in India and the new centers will increase the company's presence in Northern India. These centers will be an integral part of IBM's global delivery network, spread across three dozen countries around the world.

    IBM will increase its operations in Noida by hiring technology graduates and IT professionals with skills in IT strategy and architecture, business consulting, enterprise solutions (SAP, Siebel, and Oracle), testing, and business intelligence.

  • CIO Magazine: Citing Botched ERP System, Fire Truck Maker Says IBM Contributed to Bankruptcy. In its Chapter 11 filing, American LaFrance claims a "problem-riddled" ERP transition led to its debt of more than $100 million. By Thomas Wailgum. Excerpts: American LaFrance, a maker of emergency vehicles such as fire trucks and ambulances, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Jan. 28, and in court papers is claiming that IBM’s work on installing and transitioning to a new ERP system contributed to inventory and production problems. ...

    Citing company statements, the newspaper added: "The two systems were not entirely compatible, and a wide range of financial information was lost in the changeover. Inventory was in disarray, and workers were unable to find the parts they needed." According to U.S. Bankruptcy Court documents, the new system ALF set up with the help of IBM had "serious deficiencies" that had "a crippling impact" on the company's operations, according to The Post and Courier. The multitude of business and IT problems "forced American LaFrance to seek protection early Monday from its more than 1,000 creditors, who collectively are owed more than $200 million," the paper reported.

  • Vault IBM Global Services message board post: "IBM/SAP & Chapter 11" by "Flatsflyer". Full excerpt: IMHO, there are 100's of other companies that will shortly be holding IBM at least partially responsible for their problems. I worked on many IBM/SAP Projects as a Consultant and all of them where disasters. IBM can't manage even small projects so large ERP Projects are out of the question. With aholes like Sam and the other Greedy Bastards cutting corners, staff, quality et all it's easy to see why these companies become IBM VICTIMS.
  • Vault IBM Global Services message board post: "No problem" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: One of our core competencies is contractual ambiguity, backed up by legal contingencies and qualifications. While we virtually never deliver on our project delivery commitments, or project results, there is always enough fluff and blame shifting ideas that we would usually not be legally liable for our incompetence. It's all part of the grand cashing out strategy of the front office.
  • IT Business Edge: The Tech Industry, H-1B Visas and Ageism. Excerpts: With Dr. Norman Matloff, a professor of computer science at the University of California at Davis. A former database software developer in Silicon Valley, he is the author of one textbook in computer science and another in statistics, as well as several popular software packages. Matloff writes about social issues such as immigration, affirmative action and age discrimination. He has served as an expert witness in litigation regarding age and racial discrimination in the software industry. His writings on immigration have been used as course materials at Stanford and Cornell.

    Question: Last year, several Indian outsourcing firms were asked by federal legislators to account for how they used H-1B visas in light of the fact that nearly a third of the visas went to nine Indian firms in 2006. Do you think that American companies should also be required to provide this sort of information? Matloff: Yes, the politicians should NOT pick on the Indian firms. All the firms abuse H-1B, not just the Indian ones. ...

    Question: One issue that you've studied that doesn't seem to get much attention elsewhere is employers' apparent desire to hire younger workers with H-1B visas rather than older engineers and programmers to save money on salaries. Aren't there other factors as well, such as the desire to employ those with the most current skills? Matloff: The skills issue is a red herring. Just look at the major tech firms that have admitted to replacing Americans by H-1Bs and L-1s, and then forced the Americans to train their foreign replacements. Clearly, it's the Americans who have the skills, not their foreign replacements. I've seen numerous cases of American programmers and engineers who have the skills being advertised but who never even get called for a phone interview.

  • BusinessWeek: Are H-1B Workers Getting Bilked? Overseas companies are accused of underpaying foreigners on work visas—and hurting U.S. wages. By Moira Herbst. Excerpts: A few years ago, Vishal Goel had high hopes of moving from his native India to the U.S. to work as a computer programmer. He approached Patni Computer Systems, a Mumbai company that provides tech services to many American businesses, and Patni agreed to apply for a U.S. work visa on his behalf. By 2004, Goel was in Bloomington, Ill., working for Patni at State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance, the largest car insurer in the country.

    But this was no dream job come true. Goel's base salary was $23,310, about half the $44,000 that Patni had said it would pay on the visa application, according to a lawsuit he has filed against the company. When Goel complained, one official said that Patni would brand him a "troublemaker" and that his parents in India would be harassed unless he stopped, the suit alleges. Goel, who left Patni in 2005, filed suit in November, 2007, in federal court in Illinois. He's suing along with a former colleague, Peeush Goyal, who alleges he was subjected to similar treatment. Patni declined to comment, though in court documents it denies the charges.

    Goel's is not an isolated case. A number of the most active users of the work-visa program, for what are known as H-1B visas, have been accused of underpaying or otherwise mistreating workers. Last year, Patni paid $2.4 million to 607 H-1B visa workers after a Labor Dept. investigation uncovered systematic underpayment of wages. "I highly suspect that these employment practices are widespread among the tech-outsourcing firms," says Ron Hira, assistant professor of public policy at Rochester Institute of Technology, who will testify as an expert witness in the Goel case. ...

    The Goel lawsuit raises questions for U.S. workers, too. The H-1B program requires companies that bring employees into the U.S. to pay the prevailing wage in that job, so as not to depress the salaries of Americans in similar occupations. Documents filed in the suit appear to show that Patni told the Labor Dept. it would pay Goel a base salary of $44,000, which it said was more than the $43,867 prevailing wage it determined for a midlevel programmer and analyst. Yet even after working the equivalent of 23 days of overtime at $11.72 an hour, Goel earned a total of $35,305 in 2004. "Patni's underpayment of wages not only harms its H-1B employees but also harms the wages of U.S. employees," the lawsuit charges. ...

    State Farm has had layoffs as it has brought in Patni workers. Outplacement specialist Challenger, Gray & Christmas says the insurer has let go 10,000 workers nationwide since 1995, though Luedke says only one quarter of those were "involuntary severances." He says Patni employees have not replaced staffers and the insurer's own IT staff has risen from 5,500 in 1995 to 5,900 in 2007. Luedke says State Farm doesn't track how many outsourced workers it uses.

    George Moraetes is a U.S. worker who believes he was affected by the H1-B program. A specialist in info tech security, he worked at State Farm from 2002 to 2004, when the company declined to extend his contract. Now in Chicago, he's unable to find a staff position in his specialty. "The whole industry is being outsourced and contracted," he says. "The American IT worker is a dying breed."

    Moraetes has empathy, not anger, for employees such as Goel who come to the U.S. on H-1Bs. "The workers are living in squalor," he says. "I feel sorry for them."

  • Forbes: Tata Consultancy, IBM Dismissing Workers In India. By Ruth David. Excerpts: It’s layoff time, even in booming Mumbai. Tata Consultancy Services, India’s largest software services company, said Tuesday it had shown the door to 500 of its employees after a performance appraisal. “Those who cannot meet the performance requirements of our company are asked to look for another job commensurate with their abilities,” spokesman Pradipta Bagchi told journalists. ...

    Last week, The Economic Times reported that IBM had dismissed 700 entry-level trainee programmers across India based on their performance in aptitude tests. IBM officials didn’t officially confirm the number but acknowledged they were exploring new ways for employees to certify their skill levels.

  • WRAL (Raleigh, North Carolina): Big Blue Hands 700 ‘Fresher’ Indian Engineers Pink Slips. Excerpts: IBM’s full-throttle drive to hire thousands of tech workers across India has hit a major speed bump. Some 700 first-year engineers, or “freshers,” have received pink slips after they apparently failed to measure up to Big Blue’s standards, The Economic Times of India reported Saturday. ...

    The firings could prove to be a setback for IBM’s aggressive recruitment of Indian technology talent. Big Blue even has a specific Web site set up for “fresher” recruits in India, where the company employs more than 47,000 people. Many of those have been hired over the past couple of years as IBM publicly boasted about its plans to make India a major hub of its international operations.

    India also has been the destination for thousands of jobs in offshoring positions from the United States and Europe. Reasons include lower salaries and cheaper costs of doing business. Offshoring is an especially touchy subject around the Triangle where IBM employs more than 11,000 people - so far its largest employee campus.

  • Alliance@IBM: UNITES Professionals of India condemn IBM firings. Excerpt: UNITES Professionals strongly condemns IBM dismissing 700 entry-level trainee programmers (ELTPs) across major offices in India. For the following reasons: Most of these ELTPs, who are engineering graduates are from reputed colleges & Universities with good academic track records, who were selected by IBM after giving IBM's own test & evaluation (does that mean IBM evaluation is faulty?)
  • Wall Street Journal: Treasury Validates Some Pension Rollbacks. By Ellen E. Schultz and Theo Francis. Excerpts: Under pressure from employers, the Treasury issued a ruling that allows companies to freeze the pensions of older workers in certain cases without running afoul of laws meant to protect employees' nest eggs.

    In addition to validating some pension rollbacks that could save companies billions of dollars, the Treasury's action also could tip the outcome of long-running lawsuits alleging age discrimination by pension plans at AT&T Inc., Cigna Corp., Dun & Bradstreet Corp., El Paso Corp., and other major companies. The stakes are huge: In just the AT&T case, nearly 24,000 current and former workers had opted into a class action as of December, with potential claims exceeding $2 billion. ...

    The crux of the issue is whether employers that change from traditional pensions to so-called cash-balance plans can freeze the growth of older workers' pensions for months or years following the change -- a phenomenon called "wearaway" -- even as younger workers' pensions continue to grow. Many companies let employees remain in the old plan for a time, but that only delays the onset of wearaway. The Treasury ruled that decades-old "backloading" laws that effectively prohibit companies from temporarily freezing pension growth don't apply when the freeze is delayed, even if it is eventually implemented. ...

    Over the past decade, hundreds of employers shifted from traditional pensions to cash-balance plans. This saves companies money because instead of calculating benefits by multiplying years of service and salary, which produces rapid pension growth in the later years, the company converts the pension to a cash-out value. This becomes an account that then grows at a flat annual rate, commonly about 3% of pay.

    Many companies low-balled older workers in establishing an opening account balance, setting it at, say, $80,000 even if the cash-out value was $100,000. The older person's pension thus was effectively frozen, since it would take years to grow back to the amount the worker was entitled to at the time of the changeover.

    Thousands of employees sued, arguing that this violated a law requiring that pension growth occur with a certain steadiness -- for example, it can't fall to zero, then jump. The law was intended to prevent practices such as, say, a backloading formula by which an employee earned almost no pension for 19 years, with 90% of the pension benefit kicking in at year 20. This would be considered abusive because it would allow an employer to avoid paying a much bigger pension by firing an employee in year 19.

    Some courts sided with employees in wearaway cases; wearaway was one of five claims in a suit that International Business Machines Corp. settled for $320 million in 2003. (In 2006, IBM won its appeal on a separate age-discrimination claim in that suit.) ...

    Employers responded with a volley of lobbying, enlisting more than two dozen lawmakers to ask the agency to back off. With Friday's ruling, the Treasury and IRS are now agreeing that employers aren't violating backloading laws when they give employees a pension option that delays wearaway but doesn't eliminate it.

  • OpEd News: Treasury and IRS Agree; Pension Freezing is Legal! By Mike Folkerth. Excerpts: First things first, the Pension Rights Center defines pension freezing as: “When a company freezes its pension plan, some or all of the employees covered by the plan, stop earning some or all the benefits from the point of the freeze moving forward. Which employees, and which benefits, depends on the details of the specific situation. Companies have great latitude to change their pension plans. However, they cannot take away any benefit that employees have already earned up to the point of the freeze.”

    There has been a constant battle over freezing some older workers pension benefits since IBM ran afoul of its senior workers in 1999. That fight may be over as the U.S. Treasury has now issued a ruling that determined that no foul is committed when employers give pension options that delays what is known as “wearaway” (the effects of a freeze), but doesn’t eliminate it. ...

    Like most complex rulings on tax and benefit laws, the jargon and rhetoric could lull an insomniac to sleep. So let’s cut to the quick and shed some light on the subject in the form of plain English language. The employers (primarily large corporations) want to save money on the pension plans in order to pay higher salaries to the CEO and greater dividends to stockholders. The employee’s on the other hand want to be paid what they thought was promised, and therein lays the problem. The employee’s lost.

    Karen Friedman, a policy director at the Pension Rights Center said, "These companies that traditionally did right by workers have given a green light to other companies. This opened the floodgates. It became permissible." Director Friedman has compiled a list of more than 75 companies freezing pensions in the wake of the IBM and Verizon moves. "Companies are getting out of the pension business. They are backing out of promises to workers," she added. ...

    IBM froze its pension plan in early January 2006, yet the retirement for the CEO at age 65, will be greater than $10,000 per day!

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Pay remix if out due to medical: not" by "sby_willie". Full excerpt: I was diagnosed with an acute severe respiratory infection and on the advice of my doctor will be out of work for at least a week. I was one of the "7600" affected with the reclassified "pay remix" (the base pay cut of 15% and moved from exempt to non-exempt). I'm not asking for any sympathy but this whole things makes little sense to me.

    IBM still says this is a "pay remix" and your OT will make up the 15% of the base pay you lose. But how am I to make it up with OT now if I am out on a medical leave? Of course sickness or illness days are worth less now. Can we also infer that exempt medical or illness leaves are worth more than non-exempt ones due to the hourly vs. salary distinctions?

    Another chilling and stark reminder: it's a pay cut by IBM and not a "pay remix".

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Bands/Levels" by "lastdino1". Full excerpt: The salary grid is set at the midpoint of each band based on the avg. market value for that job. This is also localized based on salary range in the area that you live. The PBC rating usually determines if you get an increase. Even if you are in the top of your avg. grid number you can still get a raise if you are a 1 performer.

    You also need to remember that the manager gets a budget based on PBC and salary levels. They can distribute the $'s as they see fit as long as they don't go over budget. So a person making big $'s getting a 3% increase will kill the budget fast. Also there usually is a min % that they want to give instead of giving crumbs to everyone. So the 1 and 2+ performers get it first and if there is any other money left then the next highest ranked 2 performer gets a raise. Sometimes the high paid 1 performer does not get an increase because it will kill the 2+ group. That is why the number of 2+ performers are going down.

    Also most promotions are around 5 years and only if you either perform at a 1 for the last 1 or 2 PBC's. That's the way I heard it from a few managers in the past. So if you are a 2 then don't plan on a raise. If you are a 2+ in the middle of the grid then don't plan on it. If you are a 1 and on the low end of the grid then plan on it. Go talk to your manager and see where you fit into the plan. You need to figure out what you need to do to get a 1. Simple as that.

  • Money Magazine: What's next for boomers In the years ahead, five key trends will dominate your financial life. So far you've been lucky, baby boomer. Now it's time to be smart. By Janice Revell. Excerpts: The past 25 years: For decades you've watched your parents' generation retire happily on three basic sources of income: their company pension plans, Social Security and personal savings. That's what old retirement planning handbooks refer to as the "three-legged stool."

    For your retirement, though, the metaphor probably doesn't stand up. Maybe it's because you bounced around from job to job in your career, never staying one place long enough to build a real pension. More likely it's that your employer never offered a pension or froze the one it had. Indeed, the share of private-sector workers covered by a pension has fallen from 39% in 1980 to just 18% today.

  • Huffington Post: The State of the Union Bush Forgot to Talk About. By Senator Bernie Sanders. Excerpts: I listened intently to President Bush's State of the Union speech. Frankly, I had a hard time understanding what country he was talking about, what reality he was talking about. Certainly, if the "state of the union" refers to what is happening to the shrinking middle class of this country, and how we as a people are doing, the president had almost nothing to say that rang true. In fact, the speech just reminds us once again how far removed from the reality of ordinary life this president is, and how little he and his administration know about what is going on with the vast majority of Americans.

    The president said that "in the long run, Americans can be confident about our economic growth." I wish that was true. Unfortunately, Since President Bush has been in office it is important to understand that:

    • Nearly five million Americans have slipped out of the middle class and into poverty. Amazingly, the poverty rate is higher today than it was during the last recession in 2001.
    • Median household income for working-age Americans has declined by almost $2,500; and overall median household income has gone down by nearly $1,000.
    • 8.6 million Americans have lost their health insurance.
    • Over three million manufacturing jobs have been lost, including more than 10,000 in my State of Vermont.
    • Three million workers have lost their pensions, and about half of American workers in the private sector have no pension coverage whatsoever.
    • The annual trade deficit has more than doubled, and the national debt has gone up by $3 trillion.
    • Health care premiums have increased 78 percent; the prices of gas and heating oil have more than doubled; and college education costs have increased by over 60 percent. In addition, to those statistics, let me just mention a few more:
    • Last November, the personal savings rate was below zero, something that up until 2005 hasn't happened since the Great Depression.
    • According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 35.5 million Americans struggled to put food on the table last year and the number of the hungriest Americans keeps going up.
    • The average college student has racked up nearly $20,000 in debt upon graduation and some 400,000 qualified high school students don't go to college in the first place because they can't afford it.
    • Home foreclosures are the highest on record turning the American dream of home ownership into an American nightmare for millions of Americans.
    • The number of working families paying more than half of their incomes on housing has increased by 72 percent over the past decade.
    • The United States has the highest rate of childhood poverty, the highest infant mortality rate, the highest overall poverty rate, the largest gap between the rich and the poor the largest incarceration rate and is the only country not to have a national health care program of any major developed country on earth.
    • And, the number of college graduates earning poverty level wages has more than doubled over the past 15 years.

    In other words, not only is the middle class being squeezed by skyrocketing prices; the middle class is actually shrinking and poverty is increasing. Meanwhile, the wealthiest people in our society have not had it so good since the 1920s.

  • BusinessWeek: Economists Rethink Free Trade. It's no wholesale repudiation, to be sure, but something momentous is happening as doubts begin to creep in. By Jane Sasseen. Excerpts: Many ordinary Americans have long been suspicious of free trade, seeing it as a destroyer of good-paying jobs. American economists, though, have told a different story. For them, free trade has been the great unmitigated good, the force that drives a country to shed unproductive industries, focus on what it does best, and create new, higher-skilled jobs that offer better pay than those that are lost. This support of free trade by the academic Establishment is a big reason why Presidents, be they Democrat or Republican, have for years pursued a free-trade agenda. The experts they consult have always told them that free trade was the best route to ever higher living standards. ...

    GAINS ONLY FOR A TINY SLICE. No one is suggesting that trade is bad for the U.S. overall. According to estimates by the Peterson Institute and others, trade and investment liberalization over the past decades have added $500 billion to $1 trillion to annual income in the U.S.

    Yet concern is rising that the gains from free trade may increasingly be going to a small group at the top. For the vast majority of Americans, Dartmouth's Slaughter points out, income growth has all but disappeared in recent years. And it's not just the low-skilled who are getting slammed. Inflation-adjusted earnings have fallen in every educational category other than the 4% who hold doctorates or professional degrees. Such numbers, Slaughter argues, suggest the share of Americans who aren't included in the gains from trade may be very big. "[That's] a very important change from earlier generations, and it should give pause to people who say they know what's going on," he says.

  • Xconomy: IBM Counters Suggestion in Economic Report That It’s Sending Massachusetts Jobs Offshore. By Wade Roush. Excerpts: We got an interesting e-mail on Tuesday from the global communications staff at IBM. The company was concerned about the message some readers might be taking away from an economic report published last Friday, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s 2007 Index of the Massachusetts Innovation Economy.

    That report’s executive summary emphasized the growing challenges for Massachusetts companies in the face of international competition, and it listed IBM, alongside General Motors and Microsoft, as one of several U.S. companies expanding its global footprint and hiring large numbers of employees in places like India and China. In their note to us, IBM staffers expressed concern that readers of the summary might peruse that section and question Big Blue’s commitment to employment and innovation in Massachusetts.

  • CNET News: A golden anniversary for Lego. Excerpt: On Monday, Lego is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the day it filed its first patent for the iconic plastic brick. Since the beginning, Lego sets have been themed, and the very first theme was space. Not long afterward, Lego added castle and pirate themes. One of the first major elements of the "System of Play" was the Lego Town Plan. To celebrate the 50th anniversary, the company is releasing a new, updated commemorative Town Plan this year. While updated, it includes '50s-era elements like a gas station, car wash, and garage, plus a movie theater and, of course, a town hall.
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
Minimize
  • New York Times editorial: Clinton, Obama, Insurance. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: The principal policy division between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama involves health care. It’s a division that can seem technical and obscure — and I’ve read many assertions that only the most wonkish care about the fine print of their proposals.

    But as I’ve tried to explain in previous columns, there really is a big difference between the candidates’ approaches. And new research, just released, confirms what I’ve been saying: the difference between the plans could well be the difference between achieving universal health coverage — a key progressive goal — and falling far short.

    Specifically, new estimates say that a plan resembling Mrs. Clinton’s would cover almost twice as many of those now uninsured as a plan resembling Mr. Obama’s — at only slightly higher cost. Let’s talk about how the plans compare.

  • Boston Globe: Subsidized care plan's cost to double. Enrollment is outstripping state's estimate. By Alice Dembner. Excerpts: The subsidized insurance program at the heart of the state's healthcare initiative is expected to roughly double in size and expense over the next three years - an unexpected level of growth that could cost state taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars or force the state to scale back its ambitions.

    State projections obtained by the Globe show the program reaching 342,000 people and $1.35 billion in annual expenses by June 2011. Those figures would far outstrip the original plans for the Commonwealth Care program, largely because state officials underestimated the number of uninsured residents.

  • Associated Press, courtesy of the New York Times: Docs Oppose Aetna Plan on Colonoscopies. Excerpts: A group of doctors from New Jersey is opposing a plan by Aetna Inc. to drop coverage of a type of anesthesia used during colonoscopies. Gastroenterologists and other doctors say patients anxious about colorectal screening may balk unless they are assured that their insurance coverage includes the cost of anesthesiologists who administer propofol, an anesthesia the doctors say is effective and comfortable.

    ''The idea should be to encourage these procedures because of their lifesaving ramifications,'' said John Fanburg, counsel for the New Jersey State Society of Anesthesiologists and the New Jersey Gastroenterology and Endoscopy Society.

  • The Commonwealth Fund: Health Care Opinion Leaders' Views on the Presidential Candidates' Health Reform Plans. Excerpt: The 13th Commonwealth Fund/Modern Healthcare Health Care Opinion Leaders Survey asked a diverse group of experts for their perspective on the health care reform proposals of the 2008 presidential candidates. Survey participants strongly support reform proposals that applied a mixed private–public market approach. Additional favored policy strategies for reform include a requirement for individuals to obtain health insurance, new private market regulations, and a requirement for employers to provide coverage or contribute to a coverage fund. Alternatively, respondents think proposals that focus on tax incentives to purchase individual private health insurance are not an effective method for controlling the rising costs of health care or achieving universal coverage. Health care opinion leaders call for the next president to simultaneously address universal coverage and quality, efficiency, and cost containment policies to move our health care system toward high performance.
  • The Commonwealth Fund: Reform Is No 'Either-Or': We Must Fix the Payment System Along with Access. By Darrell Kirch, M.D. Excerpt: In this year's election-charged political climate, the need to provide health care coverage for all Americans is the central focus of the reform debate. While universal coverage is certainly an essential goal, there are multiple other reforms on which we must focus if we are to attain the objective of a better U.S. health care system.
  • The Commonwealth Fund: Tough Choices Ahead: Candidates Ignore Pain of Needed Cuts to Health Costs. By Dallas L. Salisbury. Excerpt: The consensus of employers, government officials, academics, health consumers, presidents, and presidential candidates over the past 70 years has been that the U.S. health care "nonsystem" is broken and needs to be fixed. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's tenure saw the first proposals for universal health insurance. The creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965 was seen by most as major reform, but by 1968 President Nixon was talking of a health care cost crisis, demanding more reform and proposing a universal coverage program. ...

    Researchers at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, suggested in that debate of the early 1990s that the answer was an individual mandate, an end to employment-based coverage and major changes in the tax treatment of health insurance benefits. They proposed that the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program was a perfect model, and that individuals could be allowed to buy into it if nothing else, as a replacement for employer coverage.

    This year, most of the Democratic candidates have embraced a number of the Heritage Foundation proposals, though they don't agree that employers should be closed out of the system. Most support an individual mandate. Most would support the option of purchase into the federal employee program. Most support some tax policy modifications. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) does not favor a mandate, but did say in New Hampshire that his first preference was a single-payer system—he just doesn't think it could become law.

    Republican candidates likely do not know that the individual mandate was a conservative think tank proposal. The head of the Heritage Foundation, Edwin Feulner, was a domestic policy consultant to President Reagan, and Edwin Meese, a top aide to Reagan and later attorney general, has been affiliated with the foundation since the end of that administration. As recently as the final New Hampshire Republican debate the candidates condemned the "socialist" proposal of an individual mandate "coming from the Democrats." In fact, staffers at Heritage were key actors in Gov. Mitt Romney's Massachusetts health care reform.

  • The Henry Kaiser Family Foundation: Bush Administration Argues That Veterans Not Entitled to Specific Types of Health Care. Excerpts: The Bush administration on Wednesday filed arguments in a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of San Francisco stating that veterans have no legal right to specific types of medical care, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The arguments were filed in response to a class-action lawsuit brought by veterans who claim they were illegally denied mental health treatment by the Department of Veterans Affairs (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/5).

    Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth filed the suit in July 2007, alleging that VA is responsible for a "systemwide pattern of abusive and illegal administrative practices." The lawsuit claims VA failed to deliver the mandatory two years of disability benefits for veterans, failed to address staff problems that led to long wait times for care and provided insufficient care for post-traumatic stress disorder. The lawsuit also claims VA deliberately reclassified PTSD claims as pre-existing disorders as a way to avoid paying out benefits.

  • National Public Radio (NPR): Consumer-Driven Health Care Plans Hit Obstacles. By Dianne Finch. Excerpt: All Things Considered, February 6, 2008 · A small company in New Hampshire provided "consumer-driven health plans" to about 7,000 people, before it had to be assumed by a larger insurer. Those plans typically have high deductibles and some form of tax-advantaged health savings account.

    The company's owner, Nick Vailas, says widespread adoption of the plans will drive health care costs down, because people will have to pay more out-of-pocket and will shop for the best prices. But he laments the obstacles that he feels are holding back development of the consumer-driven market.

    One of his customers — the owner of a small diner — talks about why she chose her plan and how it has worked out, and a Harvard economist talks about the market from a wider angle.

  • Fortune: Unusual perks: Goldman Sachs covers sex changes. The investment bank, No. 9 on the Best Companies to Work For list, added the benefit last year as part of a push to recruit and retain a more diverse workforce. By Althea Chang. Excerpt: Wall Street is typically considered a pretty conservative place to work. But the classic white-shoe investment bank is loosening things up by adding health benefits that cover sex-change operations. Not only is Goldman Sachs ranked No. 9 on Fortune's list of 100 Best Companies to Work For, it also appears on what could be a list of transgendered job-seekers' ideal employers as well. (Editor's note: As has been the case for several years, IBM is no longer on the 100 Best Companies to Work For list. At one time, it was almost always one of the top five companies in the list.)
  • Physicians for a National Health Program: What Government Does Better: Health Care. By Howard A. Green, MD, FACP, FAAD, FACMS, Palm Beach County Medical Society. Excerpts: You’ll listen to me because I’m your doctor. I only have your health interests in mind.. I have written this article without ‘prior authorization’ from any insurance companies.

    There are some intuitively obvious services that the government runs more productively and efficiently than private for-profit enterprises. For example, our armed forces and GI’s conquer and hold and protect territory more effectively and at a fraction of cost of private militias such as Blackwater USA and the Crescent Security Corporations. In addition, the government rules and regulations which our governments’ military adhere to insure an ethical cohesive fighting force compared to the unregulated for-profit corporate armies. Our GI soldiers assigned to kitchen duty prepare and cook meals at a fraction of the cost of identically prepared meals from the private for-profit logistics divisions of the Halliburton or Kellog Brown and Root Corporations. Government regulated public education in America such as the undergraduate and college systems of the City of New York and other large metropolises have for over a century produced more CEO’s, doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers, chemists, poets, philosophers and military officers than any private school system, and at a fraction of the cost compared to all the private schools in the country combined. Take away the government grants, government tax breaks, and government sponsored free overseas labor from Americas top private Colleges and their classrooms and graduate programs would most likely shut down, no matter how large their private endowments. The government run and regulated public school systems of Israel, India and China are churning out competent engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs at a quality and rate much greater than that of any collection of private schools in any country in the world. These non-American people, highly educated by their government run school systems, have formed a new collective worldwide labor arbitrage system which is fueling the productivity of intercontinental private business. The Marshall Plan, Interstate Highways, Space Program, Peace Corps, and the GI Bill all demonstrate successful government run bureaucracies of their time.

    In a similar fashion, our mammoth government-run health insurance company (Medicare) operates at a fraction of the cost of private insurance corporations such as Aetna, Cigna, United, Blue Shield Blue Cross, Kaiser Permanente and Humana. Medicare, the government health insurance for the elderly uses only 1-2% of your dollar to achieve rates of morbidity (sickness) and mortality (death) among their patients which are identical to those of the private health insurance corporations. However, private insurance corporate bureaucracies inefficiently siphon $350 billion per year, or 20-25% of your hard earned dollars away from doctors, hospitals and patient care into the pockets of their executives, administrative employees, shareholders and politicians. The recent stock option fraud perpetrated by the CEO of United Health Care demonstrates the negligent disdain the private insurance corporations have for physicians, hospitals, health care workers and patients. Since their founding 40 years ago, private health maintenance insurance corporations have failed to deliver what their business plans always promise; lower rates of morbidity and mortality associated with low costs to the patients. These insurance companies are financially profitable for their shareholders and executives, but medically bankrupt for their patients. Without their own massive government subsidies, government protection from malpractice lawsuits, and a government ban on collective bargaining by physicians the private health insurance corporate bureaucracies of Aetna, Cigna, United and Humana, and hundreds of other smaller health insurance companies of the health insurance industry would undoubted fail to exist. Most elderly people who call themselves Republicans, and conservative physicians in this Country have recognized the efficacy of our government regulated Medicare health insurance corporation and have enrolled themselves and utilized this Government run health insurance company for their own medical needs (despite the shrill cries of socialized medicine from their leaders). 40 years ago we heard these same shrill cries from organized medicine and Republicans concerning the establishment of Medicare. After accepting hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicare Insurance payments over the ensuing 4 decades, one can only wonder why conservative physicians still rally like Quixote against this government run insurance product.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site:
Minimize
  • Alert: Be aware that IBM is blocking e-mail from the endicottalliance address to IBM internal e-mail and filtering from employee to employee with the term Alliance@IBM
  • IBM Spain employees to strike over outsourcing to ATT: IBM Spain employees to demonstrate and strike in regards the outsourcing of IBM jobs to ATT. IBM Spain employees are going on strike next Thursday 7th, from 10:00 and 14:00. The employees also will have a demonstration in the door of the main building of one of the biggest of IBM's customer in the electricity industry. The employees are going on strike the week of 18th of February, 5 days.
  • IBM cuts pay; rebands job families 24A & 06A! Sign the Petition to IBM Management: NO PAY CUTs! Link To Pay-Cut Petition. Are you next? Join the fight back! Send us your name, home e-mail and location to: endicottalliance@stny.rr.com
  • Plan Now! Make your voice heard at the IBM Stockholder meeting April 29th in Charlotte, North Carolina. Details to follow...
  • From the Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comment 2/3/08: I will not pay you to afford your house... I will not pay you enough to feed a mouse... You will not have a job by end of year, I do it because I can... I don't like US workers, SamEyeAm.... Wake Up Folks!!! Love, The new AT&T employees you shafted! -SamEyeAm-
    • Comment 2/5/08: ibm starting layoffs in east fishkill.being called in groups of 2 to 3 employees.more updates to follow... -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/5/08: Layoffs starting at EF, MLC. Feb 5. anyone hear anything else. Rumors have it there will be a few here, a few there. IBM doesn't want bad publicity. Targeting higher paid bands and those with many years service. They are also letting people they want to 'save' move to other areas. What a joke! -EFK-
    • Comment 2/5/08: 8A Family is now being targeted. 7 PM's RA'd. Rumor has it that COTS - Rebanding will take place next quarter. They are going to split the ranks like the 24A family. The pay cuts will be in the 25% range. Band 9's will remain exempt and over worked. I can confirm that a hand ful of folks that I know in 24A had their pay reduced by 25%, not 15%, with the dangling carrot (phallic) of OT to make it up. The OT offer is pure BS as they are keeping the band 8's as fodder for OT because they were not rebanded Substantial reductions in each quarter going forward.

      Notice that there has NOT been any major signing announced? Notice that upper management is NOT rallying the troops like back a few years ago? Notice that rumor control is very very limited from management. THEY CONDONE this miserable work environment as a way to force folks out. Global Services as a whole is not worth the effort / returns that are generated. We have too many divisions competing with each other. There has been a concerted effort to realign, with poor results (project sydney). It's easier to spin off groups and departments due to the new drive for more profits with little overhead.

      The forced attrition is the drive to weaken our morale even more so when we get hit with the news that we are being sold, most FTE's will have split. You can look to the high performers and high band members who have left ibm in droves. Talent is and will continue to flee this year. Look for 4th qtr / 1st qtr 09 for GS being sold to our indian competitor wipro and ? they will team the companies up in a partnership to buy GS. AS always, management will provide KY for those who need it -screwed by sam-

    • Comment 2/5/08: My situation might be different from the majority on here who are from the US (I'm in Canada). But believe me, IBM is IBM anywhere you go; and that means the most brutal employer you could ever hope to wish upon your enemies. Anyway, just thought I'd share that without much difficulty, I found a contract position paying a bit better than what I received at IBM, even though the new position was much more junior. Recently I moved into a much more challenging position with an excellent employer (full-time, benefits, proper OT, etc.) paying more than $20K base more than what I made at IBM. Trust me, if you feel nervous about your position at IBM, your gut is probably right. Start looking and bail now. Your mental health will thank you later. Good luck to you all. -NeverBeenBetter-
    • Comment 2/5/08: To all Kentucky IBMers: Drop a note to Mitch McConnell's office and let him know what you think about the pay cuts and voice your opinion of how his wife runs the National Labor Relations Board. Dialing the Labor Board back to center would be an excellent reason to vote Democrat this election cycle. Time to fire a shot over the bow. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/6/08: OK the NY and Vt MLC areas were hit this week for 105 employees. There were 30 mfg types in EF and 50 mfg types in BTV with the other 25 coming from eng and support areas. This was based on reduced need for their products and no other area needing people. -Big Blue-
    • Comment 2/6/08: East Fishkill employees had an All Hands meetings this week and the news is that 154 people are going to get layed off in the MLC area. I have gone to numerous meeting like this and all we are given is lies. We were told that the manpower people are going to be used as a buffer in the event of layoffs and would be the first to go, however that has been a big lie since all I see are hard working IBM'ers losing there jobs. Now the company wonders why there is no employee loyalty???? Why don't they start laying off the hundreds of Vice Presidents that are in the company making $200k a year. These lazy asses don't do a damn thing to begin with. Start laying off the multiple layers of management that IBM thrives on and said that they reduced in the big 1993 layoff. There are more layers of management now then there even was. Oh and to you Julius in East Fishkill when you said "It's only 154 jobs" which angered me because try explaining to those 154 people that there services are no longer needed. Hard working men and women who have families to take care of. You are just as cold and heartless as all of the other IBM exec's. Just remember what comes around, goes around... -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/6/08: Why hasn't the news of the 150 people who were fired last night at IBM East Fishkill NY mentioned in the Poughkeepsie NY Journal today? -Been Surplus- Alliance reply: We sent the news of job cuts in EF yesterday to the Poughkeepsie Journal and talked to a reporter. They have to get confirmation from IBM before they can put it in the newspaper.
    • Comment 2/8/08: Still nothing in the Poughkeepsie Journal today about the 150 people or so in EFK/POK Mid Hudson Valley, NY that were let go. If so, the print is either too small or it is buried in today's paper. Why IBM isn't being available to tell the Poughkeepsie Journal is news in itself. Do you think IBM has told the Poughkeepsie Journal it will pull it's advertising from the newspaper if they release these latest permanent"drive by" firings. Maybe IBM was not happy how the reclassifications and 15% pay cuts have been reported since it is clear IBM wanted to keep this action hushed. -IBM MHVer- Alliance Reply: The POK Journal may be waiting for IBM to respond. If they don't respond or have 'no comment', then the paper will print the story. This kind of thing has occurred previously. Stay tuned.
  • General Visitor's Comment page:
    • Comment 2/2/08: CNBC's inimitable Jim Cramer told his investor following last night to stay away from IBM until they heard that IBM CEO Sam Palmisano was gone. Since taking over the company five years ago, Palmisano has returned 1% to stockholders, Cramer said, "you might as well have your money in a bank account." Actually when Palmisano picked up the reins IBM was at $103. Now it's at $98. Cramer consigned Palmisano to his"Wall of Shame." -$ammy-
    • Comment 2/5/08: RA'd in June here. Wanted to tell folks about a trip I just took to Florida and met some relatives of my wife for the first time. One is an IT professional with an IBM Business Partner. He tells me, from his perspective and he is an ex ibmer, "I am doing everything I can to completely end our relationship with IBM, I can see what has happened to the company and after talking with you (that would be me) it confirmed what I think. That IBM has turned into a scum sucking slave driving, wage cutting company that treats the human assets like shit." Those where his words, not mine. It cheers the soul to know that customers and others, are beginning to see the truth! Hang Tough Folks! -Paulie42652-
    • Comment 2/5/08: IBM has really gone to new lows. The following is a conversation I had with my manager - I am on the bench and my manager wants to know if I am going to stay with IBM. What the hell do they want to hear? They are concerned about my employment history, before I came to IBM. The problem at IBM is that you have to prove yourself to each manager whenever there is a reorganization which seems to be every year. There is no relationship established with management. Looking at other options. The "new" IBM will learn its lesson the hard way when critical resources keep heading for the door. I wonder if others have had a similar experience with first-line management. By the way, what is the typical time a person sits on the bench before you are let go? All feedback is welcome. -anonymous-
    • Comment 2/5/08: I feel for those seeing pay cuts now after the lawsuit was settled. Just another scummy move by big blow. I spent years on call, being paged in the middle of the night, holidays, weekends, and working many holidays for free. I look at the lawsuit payout as a little of the compensation they owe me. At least it's some closure for me after I got canned last summer. IBM is not a good place to work, and the best thing you all can do, is get out. -Finally_paid_for_on_call-
    • Comment 2/6/08: I have 3 children that all graduated college with 3.6 or higher GPA's. Prior to 1996, I looked forward to having my children apply and create a career at IBM. Since 1996, I have discouraged my children to seek careers elsewhere. And they have. IBM has become a shameful company to work for. Lack of integrity, Lack of morals and Lack of leadership. After all my years employed working hard and long hours, IBM has become an embarrassment. -Beat Up-
    • Comment 2/7/08: We hear of about 7600 USA IBMers getting hit with a 15% pay cut. The news will just get worse for most all of us come March. The news that is going around that the Growth Driven Profit bonus pay (the "new improved variable pay"), despite a RECORD IBM earnings year with profit and revenue (confirmed by 2007 quarterly reports and Sam Palmiselloff himself), is not much better than it was as last year's bonus payout was. Will IBM significantly increase the payout pool based on RECORD results?

      Hardly. IBMers: don't expect much more if any more over 1% more this year. Don't be surprised if you get even more less than last year, especially if you were dropped from a PBC "2+" to a "2". IBM purposely made more people "2's" to save money on this bonus payout. One would figure with a RECORD YEAR by IBM we should have not more PBC "2''s" but PBC "2+"'s and "1"'s. All that for your labors that gave IBM a RECORD EARNINGS in 2007. Expect Sam and the rest of the executives to do MUCH, MUCH BETTER with their bonuses to reward themselves lavishly for the RECORD YEAR at your expense of course! -GDP?-

  • Pension Comments page
  • Raise and Salary Comments
    • Comment 2/1/08: Salary = 97500; Band Level = 8; Job Title = Architect; Years Service = 12; Hours/Week = 45; Div Name = GTS; Message = What ever happened to IBM's 3 basic belief's. T.J. Watson has rolled over in his grave. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/1/08: For those that carry a pager, being re-classified could be a good thing. At least for those at one account in CT. They are getting paid to carry a pager. The formula works out to be 22 hours a week extra pay for the weeks you carry the pager. For those that carry the pager 24x7, that is more then a 50% pay raise. Still a 35% pay raise after the pay cut. Carry the pager 1 week a month, and that's more than a 12% pay raise. A 50% pay raise to carry a pager and doing the same work is a great a deal. For those that carry a pager and did not get re-classified, they are getting screwed. -Disappointed-
    • Comment 2/1/08: FYI India Cost of Living Rank (Bangalore): 134; Average Salary for: Head of Sales & Marketing -- $56,171; Data Entry Operator -- $1,913; Number of Days Off: 31; Projected 2008 Pay Increase: 14.1% -Big Blue-
    • Comment 2/1/08: Salary = 60,000 (Pre-Cut); Years Service = 2; Hours/Week = 50-60; Location = Chicago. Message = I was affected by the 15% reclassification which went into effect as of today. I was transitioned onto account as an outsourcing action, and brought into IBM on a bridge. It was never told to me, or those on the account that our severance bridge was only valid for the first year. Was just revealed after ot expired and everyone else on my team were let go. My team had been part of a resource action. I've been averaging 50 to 60 hour work weeks.

      Within my new division as a now non-exempt employee I have to use a tool for pre-approval for my o/t. Using historical data for the past two years in claim, for this month my request was submitted for 60 hours o/t. Average about 15 hours a week in overtime. I work 5 to 6 days, 10 to 12 hours per day. I have no back-up resources on the account I support, and I'm the only one left on the account from my previous team.

      Those in the competency I just moved into and work with are not local. The client requires I am available 24x7 as needed (on-site!), and was given permission to distribute my cell phone to the business units I support. If there is an emergency, I am the only resource on-site. Submitted my overtime through the toolset for approval, listing the transition projects, sites I'm involved with for decommissioning, etc. and was denied. Told we needed to reevaluate my functions/role and support for the hours I work. This is already off to a great start! -Anonymous-

    • Comment 2/4/08: Alliance - Managers are telling those impacted by the reclassification not to discuss it with their co-workers. Does IBM have any legal right to prevent workers from talking to each other about their salary cuts? I thought freedom of speech was still allowed in this country (or has Sam changed that as well?). -Gagged-

      Alliance Reply: IBM has always maintained that prohibiting employees from discussing their personal information with each other, was for the employees 'protection'. Clearly, that's not their only motivation. As far as freedom of speech goes, inside IBM property or while working on IBM equipment; speech is limited and not free as defined by the Constitution of the USA. This is a little known fact. However, speech made while actively union organizing is protected under the NLRA or Wagner act of 1938. This has been consistently challenged in court by companies in the US, over time, who work to suppress union activity in their workplace. Unfortunately, some of those cases have been ruled in the company's favor. If you want to discuss your salary or personal IBM related information with your co-workers; that is your decision. While you're doing it, why not organize your co-workers? In the meantime, check out this link: American Rights At Work

    • Comment 2/4/08: Hi Danger. My group is required to carry pagers 24x7 and respond/be available for pages at all times. They are telling us that we do not qualify for any pager compensation at all. We get paid if we get paged but not for the inconvenience of having to be readily available. They say if we have a backup in place that we don't necessarily have to be readily available. Although I was never given that impression when we were salaried. Do you have a link to a directive that outlines pager pay? -PAGER PAY?-
    • Comment 2/5/08: "Managers are telling those impacted by the reclassification not to discuss it with their co-workers." It doesn't say this in the IBM BCG so I'm getting the word out. The reason why IBM wants to keep this as quiet as possible is because they broke the law by not paying out OT previously and now they are being grossly unfair in handing out arbitrary 15% base pay cuts. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/5/08: I have a question about personal details and sharing with other IBMers. Before this change, I would have been on a team working on a project. My project manager would know how many hours OT was allowed but if I needed to work more, he/she would ok it as it was needed for the project. It was no big deal. Now, my PM will have to know I am hourly because he/she has to go through hoops to ask for OT approval for me. How is that fair that I now have to explain I am hourly and can't work more OT? or maybe it is no big deal? Others will know as well that I don't think should know. When work comes in, peers of mine will have to deny me opportunities that I would have otherwise gotten because I am hourly. -Anon1-
    • Comment 2/5/08: It is really disappointing to 1. Be told you are no longer a professional; 2. Receive a 15% pay cut; 3. Be told you will make up the diff. with OT and then be told OT is only when necessary.; 4. Managers all told to use global resourcing to reduce OT in the US; 5. Find out 3 sales people based in Phoenix on a large NY based financial account, took one Director from the already signed and in place contract, to the Super Bowl in Glendale on Sunday, spending thousands of $$ to take someone that has no contract signing ability, no new business opportunities, nothing but a huge expensive boondoggle for them and using a customer to expense it all. they should all be terminated -Disappointed@IBM-
    • Comment 2/5/08: IBM HR organization has not given us any information regarding 15% pay cut. No explanation as to why I'm affected; No FAQ to help us understand, and it seems management is holding back information or avoiding elaborating too much. -RAM-
    • Comment 2/6/08: Salary = 80k - 15%; Band Level = 07Q; Job Title = 999K - Tech Services Prof - Adv; Years Service = 6+; Hours/Week = 45+; Location = Phoenix, AZ; Message = Well after being informed of our pay cut, we were told we'd be able to get 5 days O/T pretty easily (for the past 6 years we HAD to work a minimum of 4 so this sounded almost reasonable). It seems that our 5 days may already be in jeopardy as our PMs are now holding all our normal project duties that HAD to be done after hours (per customer request) until the time when IBM says it "can't afford the O/T" anymore. Which per most estimates is the end of March, early April. At that time, our Argentina support will be doing all those because they won't be working O/T (of course we had to train and write documentation for them to use, it was MANDATORY).

      This has now made my teams job redundant and pretty much useless because we can't do any work during the day normally. My manager is nonexistent and won't talk to us. Trying to get information from the PMs or anyone higher in the organization is useless because they are all trying to protect their own behinds by "cutting costs" and lying to customers and us. I'm waiting for IBM to come back any day now as say your fired. IBM made a brilliant financial move for this year. I hope they can afford it later when customers start pulling their contracts due to the fact they can't get what they want done. Thank goodness I cashed in all my IBM stock and got rid of all reference to IBM in my 401k. I'm not wasting my money supporting them when they can't even tell me the truth. -IBM peon-

    • Comment 2/7/08: Sam's Fourth-quarter, full-year 2007 earnings propaganda e-mail 'As a result of our strong overall performance in 2007, I am pleased to tell you that the company's employee bonus pool is being increased. IBM's compensation is tied to our marketplace performance, and your work and innovation have earned a significant increase in the Growth-Driven Profit Sharing Program, which was introduced in 2007. The payout for employees will be up significantly from last year's amount, driven entirely by year-over-year growth in IBM's worldwide revenue and pre-tax income. This is a very tangible result of IBM's strategic repositioning and superior execution.'

      Market reference salary is calculated from base salary + OT + assumed 6% GDP bonus = total compensation. The 6% of salary GDP bonus is if IBM meets 100% of targets. My brother-in-law is a global services manager and told me this year Sam is only contributing 5% per employee not the 6% to the GDP employee bonus pool. All the while Sam and the executives are telling investors and employees that the pool was increased when it was decreased. They are stealing 1% from everyone and the managers have to lie about it. When raise time doesn't happen HR will add the 6% GDP $ to your total compensation $ amount not the 5%. Your market reference salary looks bigger than it is and HR says your total compensation is fair already. More lies No raise -tangledweb-

    • Comment 2/7/08: Life is too short to work for IBM. Find a new place to work folks. I left IBM in November and got a job paying $20,000 more base within 2 months. What's really great about my new job is that they actually care about the employees and believe that we are a valuable asset to the company. I forgot what it was like to be treated like a human being instead of being continuously threatened with losing my job and pay cuts like I was at IBM. -Blake-
    • Comment 2/7/08: Salary = -15% less; Band Level = 08 could be 07 in a year; Job Title = IBM I/T grunt resource; Years Service = doesn't matter; Hours/Week = too many; Div Name = it keeps changing; Location = anywhere USA; Message = Has HP or Sun Microsystems or other I/T based companies have to or have reclassified it's I/T Specialists and I/T Services professionals from salaried exempt to hourly non-exempt? If so just wondering how their action compares to IBM's action like with the 15% base pay cut. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/8/08: "Has HP or Sun Microsystems or other I/T based companies have to or have reclassified it's I/T Specialists and I/T Services professionals from salaried exempt to hourly non-exempt?" I've heard from folks I know who work for Sun that they have done exempt to non-exempt reclassifications for these types of positions. The main difference being, they haven't cut pay. Show me the law that required IBM to implement a 15% pay cut, I'd love to read it. Oh, that's right, there isn't one. -Anonymous-
  • PBC Comments
    • Comment 2/2/08: The PBC system is a joke. You get the same rating whether you bust your a$$, or surf the net all day long. From now on, I'll do the minimum to not get fired. I'll make sure that IBM gets its money's worth out of me, ha ha ha... -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/2/08: Prior Yr PBC = 2; This Yr PBC = 2; This Yr Bonus = ???; Prior Yr Bonus = 0; Message = I've been here almost 2 years. Decided from the beginning that I'll do only what I need to. It's not in my blood to kiss behind to move up. Got a 2 last year because I was "new", apparently I am still new this year because I still got a two. Didn't get a bonus last year because I make too much (or "above market value"). I expect another song and dance this year. After a recent shake up in my team, my manager basically told me to make sure I pick up more work from the remaining team members. I won't. I'll just do my share and no more. Deadlines may need to be pushed back but I won't be working 50, 60, 70 hr weeks. I work to live, not the other way around. Fortunately I'm in a position that I don't have to support a mortgage, spouse or kids. So if the time comes when I have to tell IBM to shove it, I will gladly do it :) Knowing what my true "market value" is, I know I won't have a problem finding a job with better pay. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/4/08: This Yr PBC = 2; This Yr Bonus = ??; Message = I received a PBC of 2 in my first year with IBM.Not sure if I will get a raise or bonus. I am in GBS, the problem I have with the PBCs is that you don't know well you are performing compared to others in the department since we work from home or at client site. It is very difficult to rate people from remote location. I thought I did a good job - meeting all of the objectives and tasks for the year. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/5/08: Prior Yr PBC = 2; This Yr PBC = 1; This Yr Bonus = ?; Prior Yr Bonus = piddle; Message = I got a 1, thanks to working too many hours to have a life and having been lucky (?) enough to catch the eye of the leadership team. My reward? To be told (unofficially of course, since they can't risk documenting it) I should target even higher ute this year, in addition to giveback, travel, coaching, and presales. By my calcs it'd add to a 70-hour week. Ok, 65 if I don't take vacations... How to demotivate your employees in one easy lesson. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/6/08: We hear of about 7600 USA IBMers getting hit with a 15% pay cut. The news will just get worse for most all of us come March. The news that is going around that the Growth Driven Profit bonus pay (the "new improved variable pay"), despite a RECORD IBM earnings year with profit and revenue (confirmed by 2007 quarterly reports and Sam Palmiselloff himself), is not much better than it was as last year's bonus payout was. Will IBM significantly increase the payout pool based on RECORD results? Hardly. IBMers: don't expect much more if any more over 1% more this year. Don't be surprised if you get even more less than last year, especially if you were dropped from a PBC "2+" to a "2". IBM purposely made more people "2's" to save money on this bonus payout. One would figure with a RECORD YEAR by IBM we should have not more PBC "2''s" but PBC "2+"'s and "1"'s. All that for your labors that gave IBM a RECORD EARNINGS in 2007.-GDP?-
  • International Comments
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.

  • "Is this typical?" by "kellerdog". Full excerpt: Does IBM put a lot of their IBM India resources in the US? Just curious ...I got an offer from GBS but when I interviewed with IBM few weeks back, all of the 3 people who interviewed me are all Indians - and I think the other two that didn't interview me are also Indians. Is that the typical resources mix nowadays in IBM? Is it because IBM put a lot of their IBM India resources in the US? I interviewed with the other major IT consulting companies, but that was a unique experience for me, and no, I didn't interview for a job in India but in the US.
  • "If you plant eggplant seeds..." by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: ...you grow eggplants.

    Since the entry level pipeline is now stacked heavily from Injuns, it stands to reason that after a few years of that, the middle levels will be as well. Most of them are capped in terms of upward mobility, but they are so thrilled to be living in a civilized society, they are willing to coast along at IBM career path speeds a lot longer than an American resource would. That makes them doubly attractive to IBM.

    Let’s just ignore the fact that they can’t do much more than Gestapo command and control over their off-shore tech-head minions, and don’t bring anything to the table in terms of innovation or business process. Warm bodies are all we need to keep our heads above water, and besides, they are cheap as hell.

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!

  • Wall Street Journal: Takeover Vet's Palm Beach. By Christina S.N. Lewis. Excerpts: What: Midcentury waterfront house with seven bedrooms, 9.5 bathrooms, measuring 10,300 square feet on one acre Where: Palm Beach, Fla. Amenities: Media-room cottage, pool, spa, private generator, loggia, 156 feet of frontage on Intracoastal Waterway. Asking Price: $23.5 million. Annual Property Taxes: $179,000. Due Diligence: Howard Gittis, the longtime business partner of takeover specialist Ronald Perelman, bought this home in 2001 for $9.95 million. Marion Sims Wyeth, one of Palm Beach's best-known architects, designed the two-story Georgian-style house in the 1950s. Mr. Gittis, who died in September at age 73 and was an owner of Palm Beach's Amici Ristorante & Bar, landscaped his home in a classical style, tiled the pool and added gardens, fountains, lighting and a dock with an electric lift that accommodates a boat of up to 30 feet. Inside, among other changes, he remodeled the five fireplaces, adding marble mantels purchased from London's period-fireplace specialist Chesney's. The master suite has a 240-square-foot balcony with a retractable awning.
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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