I am a fairly young person- I delude myself into thinking this anyways, as I am not yet 55 but I did put in my 30 years here at IBM Burlington in Vermont. I am quite aways from Medicare coverage for myself and my spouse. She works part time and uses my benefits. I just was switched from the employee plan to the retiree plan. I have no problem telling you all I was covered under an HMO plan here in VT. for myself, wife and one child still in college. I paid $241.00 per month for this plan as an employee. When I switched to the retiree equivalent plan - they called it a "low copay HMO option" with the same coverage, etc, my cost went to $1750 per month.
Needless to say, I am in shock and need to do something here to reduce this cost. I and my family are all healthy and maybe aside from getting an annual physical, women's checkups, etc. do not have any real medical usage. I really want catastrophic coverage and maybe a well visit for a checkup every year. Now, I will be calling the benefits dept. to get all the info I can on my options but I just wondered if there was any other folks in a similar scenario as myself and what lower cost options there might be.
I have a Future Health Account that IBM put aside for me the years I was working and I had hoped to have this augment my costs until Medicare kicks in. But at these rates, it will not last two full years!! Living in Vermont there are not a lot of outside insurance companies that offer anything here. There are not AARP plans, etc. that are offered in this state- legislation has driven insurance companies out of the state.
I guess I just can't get my head around going from $240/month to $1750/mo for the same thing. Its totally insane but I never really had to face rates like this. Is this really a "benefit" for retirees with costs like this?? Anyways, thanks for letting me vent. I was glad to find the group and look forward to participating in the future.
Charlotte, N.C. – IBM Corp. employees, members of Communications Workers of America Local 1701, Alliance@IBM, will rally and set up an informational picket line outside the IBM annual meeting set for April 29. The group will focus on critical issues for employees and retirees, including executive compensation, the continued off shoring of jobs, employee pay cuts, and shrinking retiree pensions with no cost of living increases, among other issues.
"While IBM employees face a decline in their standard of living and retirees see pension checks evaporate due to the lack of cost-of- living adjustments coupled with increases in medical retirement co- pay, our executives live the life of luxury. Executive greed and bloated compensation needs to be challenged," said IBM employee and Alliance Vice President Earl Mongeon. Mongeon submitted Proposal No. 4 on Executive Compensation that asks the board of directors to determine that pension income from any defined benefit plan will not be used as a factor in setting executive compensation.
Lee Conrad, National Coordinator of Alliance@IBM CWA, is calling on IBM to stop shifting U.S. jobs to low cost countries. "At a time when the US economy is in recession and unemployment is rising, it is unconscionable for companies like IBM to continue to move work offshore. The Alliance is urging elected officials, community leaders and citizens to call on IBM to halt this destruction of U.S. jobs."
"The Alliance@IBM CWA strongly encourages IBM to be fully transparent in the number of jobs being sent off shore and to detail how many U.S. jobs are lost because of IBM's shifting this work to low cost countries," said Linda Guyer, president of the Alliance@IBM CWA Local 1701.
Picket line at Charlotte Convention Center at 8:30 am, Tuesday, Apr. 29 Rally at close of IBM annual meeting, 12:30 pm.
Indians may have taken over three-quarters of the world's call-center jobs, but they've also taken on the stresses of those jobs: weight gain, depression, boredom and, often, relationship troubles. Worse, for the legions in India busy helping Americans reboot their hard drives or refinance their mortgages, the problems are often more severe, both because of cultural differences and because the work, by virtue of time differences with the U.S., largely takes place at night.
In his job at a Wal-Mart in Texas, Mike Michell was responsible for catching shoplifters, and he was good at it, too, catching 180 in one two-year period.
But one afternoon things went wildly awry when he chased a thief — a woman using stolen checks — into the parking lot. She jumped into her car, and her accomplice gunned the accelerator, slamming the car into Michell and sending him to the hospital with a broken kneecap, a badly torn shoulder, and two herniated disks. Michell was so devoted to Wal-Mart that he somehow returned to work the next day, but a few weeks later he told his boss that he needed surgery on his knee. He was fired soon afterward, apparently as part of a strategy to dismiss workers whose injuries run up Wal-Mart’s workers’ comp bills. ...
At a Koch Foods poultry plant in Tennessee, the managers were so intent on keeping the line running all out that Antonia Lopez Paz and the other workers who carved off chicken tenders were ordered not to go to the bathroom except during their lunch and coffee breaks. When one desperate woman asked permission to go, her supervisor took off his hard hat and said, “You can go to the bathroom in this.” Some women ended up soiling themselves.
Don Jensen anticipated a relaxing life of golf after retiring from his human resources post with Lucent Technologies in New Jersey, where he was in charge of recruiting graduates from Stanford, Cornell, MIT, and other top universities. But when Lucent increased its retirees’ health insurance premiums to $8,280 a year, up from $180, Jensen was forced to abandon his retirement. He took a job as a ten-dollar-an-hour bank teller. ...
One of the least examined but most important trends taking place in the United States today is the broad decline in the status and treatment of American workers — white-collar and blue-collar workers, middle-class and low-end workers — that began nearly three decades ago, gradually gathered momentum, and hit with full force soon after the turn of this century. A profound shift has left a broad swath of the American workforce on a lower plane than in decades past, with health coverage, pension benefits, job security, workloads, stress levels, and often wages growing worse for millions of workers. ...
Since 1979, hourly earnings for 80 percent of American workers (those in private-sector, nonsupervisory jobs) have risen by just 1 percent, after inflation. The average hourly wage was $17.71 at the end of 2007. For male workers, the average wage has actually slid by 5 percent since 1979. Worker productivity, meanwhile, has climbed 60 percent.
If wages had kept pace with productivity, the average full-time worker would be earning $58,000 a year; $36,000 was the average in 2007. The nation’s economic pie is growing, but corporations by and large have not given their workers a bigger piece. The squeeze on the American worker has meant more poverty, more income inequality, more family tensions, more hours at work, more time away from the kids, more families without health insurance, more retirees with inadequate pensions, and more demands on government and taxpayers to provide housing assistance and health coverage. ...
A 2007 report by the Congressional Budget Office found that the top 1 percent of households had pre-tax income in 2005 that was more than two-fifths larger than that of the bottom 40 percent. (After taxes, the top 1 percent’s income in 2005 was still nearly 10 percent greater than the bottom 40 percent’s.) As Paul Krugman wrote, “It’s a great economy if you’re a high-level corporate executive or someone who owns a lot of stock. For most other Americans, economic growth is a spectator sport.” ...
Pensions, the other pillar of employee benefits, are under assault as never before. In May 2005, a bankruptcy judge allowed United Airlines to default on its pension plans and dump them on the federal agency that protects retirement benefits. Because that agency guarantees pensions only up to a certain amount, many United pilots will receive only half what they expected when they retire. United’s move was the biggest pension default in American history, releasing it from paying $3.2 billion in obligations over the following five years. One of United’s lawyers predicted that more and more companies would use this “strategic tool” to increase their competitiveness. Since then, US Airways and Delta have followed suit. When Delphi, the auto parts giant, filed for bankruptcy in October 2005, its chief executive, Robert S. Miller, threatened to slash the company’s pensions unless the workers agreed to massive wage concessions.
As part of this assault on pensions, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Verizon, Sears, Motorola, and many other companies have embraced a riskier, far less generous type of retirement plan, 401(k)s, while turning away from the traditional plans that promised workers a specific monthly benefit for life after they retired. When Hewlett-Packard took that step, a company spokesman said, “Pension plans are kind of a thing of the past.” With pensions growing ever scarcer, more and more workers are convinced that they won’t have enough money to retire. Ominously, some economists have begun to warn that millions of Americans might have to continue working into their seventies. ...
Employee productivity has also far outpaced wages, rising 15 percent from 2001 through 2007.) Corporate profits have climbed to their highest share of national income in sixty-four years, while the share going to wages has sunk to its lowest level since 1929. “This is the most pronounced several years of labor’s share declining,” said Lawrence Katz, an economics professor at Harvard. “For as long as we’ve had a modern economy, this is the worst we’ve seen it.” Very simply, corporations, along with their CEOs, are seizing a bigger piece of the nation’s economic pie for themselves, leaving the nation’s workers and their families diminished. ...
The squeeze on the American worker has been further exacerbated by corporate America’s growing sway over politics and policy, making it harder for beleaguered workers to turn to government for help. When investigators unearthed serious child labor violations at a dozen Wal-Marts, officials in the Bush Labor Department signed a highly unusual secret agreement promising to give Wal-Mart fifteen days’ advance notice whenever inspectors planned to visit a Wal-Mart store to look for more such violations. Wal-Mart officials had been major donors to the Republican Party. ...
Nor have the tax policies emanating from Washington been very friendly to workers. President Bush and Republicans in Congress pushed vigorously to minimize taxes on investors, that is, taxes on dividends and capital gains, while urging elimination of the estate tax. Bush’s tax cuts saved the average middle-class taxpayer $744 a year, while saving $44,212 a year for the top 1 percent of taxpayers and $230,136 for the top one-tenth of 1 percent of households.
Every year, American businesses tell us how they are unable to retain the qualified people that they want to retain because of the artificially low H-1B visa caps and related regulations that do not reflect market realities. This situation is ironic, since most of those unemployable people were educated in the United States. As a country, we are effectively handing these highly educated, extremely desirable individuals a diploma and a plane ticket. The message we are sending is: "You can learn here, but you have to work in another country."
... A number of bills in Congress would raise the H-1B cap, at least for a few years, by double or triple the existing amount. The Republican Study Committee named yet another bill, known as the Skil Act, that would elevate the number of visas to 115,000 and raise the cap by 20 percent after each year in which that bar was met.
But a recent study of real-world portfolio returns, which fluctuate significantly from month to month and year to year, has found that there is no particular advantage in this approach. You would do just as well, with no greater odds of doing poorly, by simply picking an allocation of stocks and bonds that you can live with for a long while and sticking with it.
That's important, because since the Reagan administration, the Republicans -- with the enabling of most Democrats -- have swept the mugging of the middle and lower classes under the rug. Every time a Democrat brings up the plight of the working class and the poor, he or she is accused of engaging in "class warfare" by the Republicans. Of course, the GOP domestic economic policies since Reagan have been an actualized strategy of conducting a class war, in which the few select wealthy Americans at the top have become engorged with money at the expense of everyone below them, meaning the other 99.5% of us. But don't dare talk about it, as they pummel any meaningful discussion into the ground. ...
It hasn't been a strong economy. The confusion rests with the fact that Bush's pals in the top 1% and one-tenth of 1% have been doing extremely well. Almost all of the wealth that has been created in recent years has gone to the top 1%. But the middle class is in steep decline, and in deep distress. That was the case before the foreclosure crisis, and that is even more so today.
And he scoffs at Bush's business-degree background: "Thanks to our first MBA President, we've got the largest deficit in history, Social Security is on life support, and we've run up a half-a-trillion-dollar price tag (so far) in Iraq. And that's just for starters."
Embracing this game of now-you-see-us / now-you-don't, the Bushites, have devised a neat way to go soft on corporate criminals. Called "deferred prosecution agreements" – or "DPAs" – this ploy allows corporations and banks that are guilty of everything from robbery to bribery to be given a get-out-of-jail-free card. Monsanto, Merrill Lynch, and some 50 other corporations have recently been allowed to pay a relatively cheap fine and agree to certain internal reforms rather than be prosecuted for their crimes. Under this scheme, even the big mortgage hucksters who have defrauded so many home buyers and wrecked our housing market could end up writing a check and walking away.
DPAs were originally meant to help real people (usually first offenders) get a second chance, but they've become the favorite wrist-slap of Bush prosecutors and corporate violators. They argue that full prosecution could be "a corporate death sentence" with "catastrophic collateral consequences," so these criminals shouldn't be treated like mere people.
Of course, such judicial favoritism creates an incentive for criminal behavior, since corporations now know that they can likely avoid prosecution if caught. And fines are no deterrent – multibillion dollar corporations can simply absorb them as a necessary cost of doing business.
Usually, however, the best, least-expensive option is to buy an individual policy, but that can be problematic if you have pre- existing health conditions. Just ask Henry and Kathy Hamman. ...
Before leaving Florida, the couple filed an application for a policy with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, and provided medical records. “The agent suggested that we might get ‘uprated’ for some relatively minor pre-existing conditions,” Mr. Hamman recalled. “We were fully expecting to pay as much as $500 a month.” A few days later, their insurance agent called. BlueCross BlueShield had turned them down.
“We were stunned and flabbergasted,” Mr. Hamman said. “I had only been in the hospital overnight twice in my entire life — once to have my tonsils removed and once for elective sinus surgery. Kathy had been in the hospital once for an elective procedure and another time when she was 11 years old to have her appendix removed. We are both runners.”
Over the years, he said, he had occasionally dealt with “slightly elevated cholesterol,” which was one reason BlueCross BlueShield rejected him. He said Mrs. Hamman was denied “because of slightly elevated blood pressure, which was easily controlled by inexpensive medication.” ...
The Hammans were lucky because they could get coverage. “Trying to buy an individual policy is tough,” said Stephen L. Wyss, the managing director of Affinity Group Underwriters in Glen Allen, Va. “About 40 percent of people in the 55-to-64 age group that we try to place are getting turned down because of pre-existing conditions. Almost everybody has some kind of health problem. Many may not be able to get insurance even if they can afford the premiums.”
The fact that the move toward Tier 4 is adversely affecting a particularly vulnerable population raises ethical issues, not least the widening gap in access to health care between the wealthy and non-wealthy. This may attract the attention of policymakers.
As it turned out, the exclusive distributor of H.P. Acthar Gel is Express Scripts, a company whose core business is supposed to be helping employers manage their drug insurance programs and get medicines at the best available prices.
But in recent years, drug benefit managers like Express Scripts have built lucrative side businesses seemingly at odds with that best-price mission. A growing portion of their revenue comes from acting as exclusive or semi-exclusive distributors of expensive specialty drugs that can cost thousands of dollars. And the prices of such medicines are rising much faster than for the mainstream prescription drugs available through a wide variety of distributors. ...
The main drug benefit managers make as much as 10 to 15 percent on each sale of a specialty drug, whose prices can range from $5,000 a year for certain anemia drugs to $389,000 in the case of Soliris, a drug for a rare blood disorder, whose distributors include Express Scripts’ specialty drug unit, CuraScript.
Thus, the proposals for reform taken most seriously by Democrats -- including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton -- would retain the central role of the investor-owned private insurance industry as well as the thousands of for-profit businesses it pays to deliver medical services. This is the industry, mind you, that has brought us to the predicament we're in now, so let's take a quick look at it.
She writes, "The Bush administration has perfected the nasty habit of cost-shifting to the states." For example, "in August 2007, President Bush stopped states from expanding SCHIP to cover children in families who earn more than 250% of the federal poverty level," and the "administration has also proposed or issued eight different regulations that alter the federal-state Medicaid partnership." The SCHIP rule will cause states to "carry the additional burden of providing health care for these children," and the Medicaid rules "simply shift costs to states and localities," according to Napolitano.
The Alliance has been losing members due to retirement, job loss and employee financial difficulties. This web site receives an average of 40,000 visitors a month.
Tough economic times are obvious; however, we simply can not go on or take employee advocacy to higher levels if we don't build our dues paying membership. It is not just this web site: It is an office and an organization that is at stake. Our staff of 1 full time, 1 part time and volunteers/members are dedicated to building this organization; but it is up to YOU to see that we are able to keep the office open and the organization financially viable. We need to become financially independent--We can not continue to rely on being financed by non-IBM CWA members. IBM employees need to support their own organization!
Frankly if IBM employees do not see the value of this employee organization then the future of our work is in jeopardy.
Please consider joining the Alliance@IBM as a member for only $10 a month--the cost of a few Starbuck's coffees. Your dues and involvement help the Alliance with the following:
We also have the expense of keeping an office up and running: Rent, Office supplies, fax, phones internet access and mailings of organizing materials; such as newsletters, flyers and brochures.
We believe Alliance@IBM has, by its very existence; given IBM Corporate Mgmt pause, during their anti-employee actions.
The bottom line is that if we are NOT here, then IBM Corporate Management has the field. There will be some who say that employees do not want representation through an employee organization or a union. Now is the time: Prove them wrong or prove them right.
Alliance reply: As we have said a number of times--it doesn't have to be this way. With a union and a contract; everything is negotiated and the contract life is a few years, so you know what is coming and you can plan.
Vault's IBM Business Consulting Services message board is a popular hangout for IBM BCS employees, including many employees acquired from PwC. Some sample posts follow:
The company I'm currently working for has offshored work to India in the past, and due to less than satisfying results(surprise, surprise), are starting to shop around. Can anyone share their experiences on working with offshore companies from other countries? Specifically, Vietnam, China and the Philippines?
In the past, I have briefly worked on a project involving setting up a call-centre in the Philippines. I found the workers to be courteous, hard-working and communicated in English very well. Customers loved them. However, the only issue was that they could be too accommodating sometimes. Many training sessions involved trying to get across the concept of "scope creep" and which customer demands need to be escalated to change requests that require careful impact analysis. Promising customers the universe then being unable to deliver and/or causing further system instability = BAD! Overall, my experience with them was good and I have put them forward as a possible contender. Do any of you have any pros & cons regarding offshoring software development & support to the Philippines?
As for India, my experience with them both in Big Blue and outside of it has consisted a lot of the following:
I have suggested taking on and training college grads, but as a previous thread in this board has mentioned already, many grads these days don't seem bright and/or motivated enough to tie their own shoelaces! I have pointed out that one of the star employees here is a grad that they hired 2 years ago, and who is motivated to stay with the company as this is his preferred city to live in. But people like him are getting quite rare. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
By the way, the business my wife is in hired two Filipino staff members - they literally sponsored their immigration and they have worked out just great.
Now, as for China and Vietnam and any other rapidly developing nation, the issue of keeping good workers will be a problem as long as demand overwhelms the supply of talent. And not only is this a retention issue, it's also a cost issue - if you want to keep the best, you'll have to keep the pay competitive.
Second, I think you'll see a lot of the same issues with India in terms of a very thin pool of great talent and large pool of inexperienced or otherwise unprepared persons.
Last, a) there is no free lunch, b) you get what you pay for and c) you only scream once when you buy quality.
On a related point, I've heard rumblings that Strategic Outsourcing is having a real tough time convincing folks that have been outsourced on a deal to come over to the blue pig to get screwed some more before being let go as skills garbage. This is a real problem, because the pricing on an outsource is highly sensitive to having at least a good percentage of the outsourced client environment skilled personnel coming over to the blue pig as continuing slave labor for a little while during the transition part of the outsource contract.
The problem appears to be that the blue pig doesn't seem to be able to prove convincingly that the majority of those folk that come over during transition get new careers in the pig and are happy to have been outsourced!
It's probably not a surprise to anyone on this forum that SO has run into problems. The "raison d'etre" in SO has always been COST CUTTING. Charge exorbitantly high fees to the clients, yet run the business as cheaply as possible.
The cost-cutting mentality has infected the entire business. Every day, I deal with managers whose major (probably only) concern is that they don't get stuck with the bill. I'll bet everyone on this forum who works (or has worked) for IBM has dealt with them.
This mentality has certainly affected customer relations. Employees working for customers don't want to work for IBM, because they know what's coming. The customers also know what's coming, because they bring in lots of lawyers, outsourcing consultants, etc. before signing any deal. The chickens are coming home to roost, indeed.
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