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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—June 7, 2008

  • CNN/Money: IBM agrees to $20M settlement of options-related lawsuit. Settlement calls for IBM to pay $20 million to settle shareholder suit over options expensing. Excerpt: IBM Corp. has agreed to pay $20 million to settle a lawsuit by shareholders who claimed the technology company misled the public about employee stock-option expenses in 2005. The settlement, disclosed Monday by lawyers for the plaintiffs, comes a year after the Securities and Exchange Commission determined that IBM's conduct had violated federal law. However, the SEC stopped short of finding that fraud had been committed, and it imposed no fine on IBM.
  • Poughkeepsie Journal: IBM gets OK for sales tax break. Dutchess County Industrial Development Agency votes 5-1. By Craig Wolf. Excerpts: By a split but mostly favorable vote, a five-year sales tax abatement deal with IBM Corp. was approved this morning by the Dutchess County Industrial Development Agency. The agreement aims at keeping IBM jobs and investment in Dutchess County, and is the fourth of its kind, the first having been made in 1993 in the wake of massive downsizing by the county’s largest private employer. ...

    Under the approved deal, IBM gets an exemption from the state’s 4 percent sales tax that would normally apply to internal transfers of computers and software. An incentive provision offers a graduated scale of breaks from the Dutchess portion of the sales tax, which is normally 3.75 percent. A third provision offers an additional quarter-percent relief if IBM goes through with a $36 million upgrade of data center facilities in Poughkeepsie.

    IBM did not meet the job targets to collect any of the additional Dutchess incentive in the current five-year deal, agency Chairman Michael Tomkovitch told his board. But the majority favored renewing the incentive.

  • In a Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board post, "copyright1997" responds to this comment from another message board participant: What I think is that the majority of people who post here hate IBM. Maybe you don't and that is fine but you seem to be the exception. You don't bash IBM the same way some others do. You just say that things were great when you were at IBM but now you are glad your gone. That is still IBM bashing. I can see why you would think that anyone here who does not think the same way as the majority would be here only to stir up trouble. Whatever. Believe what you want to.

    "copyright1997"'s full reply follows: agrav40, I am an infrequent poster on this board. I still work for IBM (over 30 years), band 10 employee, multiple patents, good appraisals, have made what most people would call good money and have mostly had a great history with IBM. (And no, I am not a manager.) Having said that, while you may not believe it or want to believe it, the underlying theme of the comments made to you are true:

    1) I don't know how long you've worked for IBM, but the IBM of today is dramatically different than that of the 80's or even 90's in how employee's getting a RA are treated. While it is possible to get another job, it is also (very) infrequent. I have seen for myself a situation where an organization that was trying to pick up an individual had a hard time doing so because the individual was on a RA list. They had to get special approval from HR and at a high level in the management chain. Again, while it can be done, the red tape and questioning (of the hiring management) makes this happen only if you have some special (unique) skill set they require and can't get otherwise.

    2)You mentioned that "My first and second line managers are not helping in any way. " THINK about this. I don't know whether you mentioned why/how you ended up on an RA list? (I apologize if I might have missed it in the large number of posts.) Were there a small number targeted for RA, or was this the result of some bigger action where entire group(s) were eliminated? If a small number, it means that they thought you were expendable (and I understand it may hurt to be thought of that way). The fact is that you might be the best thing since sliced bread, but for whatever reason they (at least your second line), thinks that if he/she had to cut their team size (head count cut), or wanted to "make room" for other people, they picked you. If they wanted you to remain with IBM, why wouldn't they be doing everything they could to help you find another job in IBM? Also, don't you THINK the acquiring manager is going to call and talk to your existing manager? (I know I would.) Look, I do to a certain extent know how it feels. Many moons ago I was surplused, with a 1 appraisal and the highest ranking in a fairly large group of people. Luckily (for me), it was before the days of the large scrutiny on the acquiring organization in picking up such an employee.

    3) I assume you've found the link for the jobs database: https://bluepages.ibm.com/password/vendor/auth/login.wss?code=hr_globalopp One thing I will tell you is that many job transfers/openings still happen without the job being posted there. That is why it is important to network with friends, old managers, anyone who might have an upcoming opening or know someone that might help.

    Good luck with your search. I sincerely hope you find something. I do suggest you don't limit your search to within IBM. One thing I will leave you with that IBM is simply a corporation whose values are made up from those who run and operate the corporation, and those values have changed dramatically over my 30+ years. The management culture is such that they believe that IBM (that is, their stock holdings and careers) are best served by a "globally integrated" company, and that the company's financial model is best served by severely reducing high-cost labor (e.g. United States) with technical skills in other low(er) wage countries, and in fact over multiple locations. They also don't seem to have any moral problems in implementing that plan. Maybe you will think by saying this that I too am an IBM basher. What I am is a realist.

  • IBM Call Center Overtime Class Action Lawsuit. Excerpts: On April 28, 2008, named Plaintiff Charles Seward filed a lawsuit against Defendant International Business Machines Corporation ("IBM") seeking to recover unpaid overtime compensation on behalf of all IBM Call Center Employees who worked, but were not paid for all the time spent booting up their computers, initializing software programs and engaging in work related phone calls. The lawsuit charges that IBM violated federal law by deliberately failing to keep accurate time records and failing to pay wages earned as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).

    Plaintiffs allege that this lawsuit applies to hundreds of Call Center Employees working for IBM at one or more of its Call Centers located in Georgia, Texas and other states. Plaintiff brings this action on behalf of himself and all other current and former Call Center Employees employed by IBM in the United States from April 28, 2005 to the present. ...

    In this case, Plaintiffs allege that IBM failed to use an accurate time keeping system and only recorded time logging on and off IBM’s telephone system that did not account for all hours worked by Call Center Employees. Plaintiffs allege that they and other similarly-situated employees worked unpaid overtime off-the-clock for IBM performing a variety of duties including but not limited to booting up the computer system, initializing software programs, working through break times and engaging in work related telephone calls. ...

    “I was pressured by IBM to only log onto the telephone system at my scheduled times and not while I was performing work before or after my scheduled shift,” said named plaintiff Charles Seward. “I booted up my computer system, worked through break periods and took work related phone calls. I was never compensated for this work which contributed to IBM’s successful operation.” ...

    If you are currently employed, or have been employed in the past three years, by IBM in one of its Call Centers and would like more information concerning your legal rights, please feel free to contact...

  • CNN/Money: IBM Transforms How People Work Together to Deliver Software. Excerpts: IBM today announced new software that will transform how people will collaborate thereby driving greater value and performance from their globally distributed software investments. In front of more than 3,500 customers and business partners attending the IBM Rational Software Development Conference, IBM announced 20 products that break down the walls that inhibit organizations from truly collaborating with partners, suppliers, customers and their employees. These new offerings use IBM's Jazz collaborative technology to help geographically distributed software delivery teams work together in an open, real-time and transparent manner to more effectively deliver and source software solutions.

    The challenges of globalization are forcing companies to become more nimble, using an increasingly geographically-dispersed and virtual workforce to remain competitive. In the world of software delivery, this means around the clock collaboration with specialized teams around the globe to pick up where another left off. For other stakeholders in an organization, such as lawyers, a finance department, CIO or CEO, there is an increased need for visibility into how the software is delivered on a global scale. Technologies built on, or using, Jazz can interoperate with software from other vendors allowing customers to significantly improve their ability to communicate data within and between their enterprise.

  • Washington Post: A System That Needs to Be Retired. By Martha M. Hamilton, Business Columnist. Excerpts: Sure, you expect to retire someday. But the pretty images on TV of sailing and golfing and traveling the world are colliding with a cold, hard truth: There's a good chance your retirement years could be accompanied by a drastic drop in your standard of living.

    The reason: Traditional pensions largely have been replaced by retirement savings plans. As currently designed, the new plans will fail to provide adequate retirement security for many people, according to a growing number of economists, benefits specialists and policymakers. ...

    Health-care costs scare me the most. Last year, Fidelity Investments calculated that a 65-year-old couple would need about $215,000 to cover medical costs in retirement, up 7.5 percent from the previous year. Medicare covers about 51 percent of medical costs, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute. So that leaves a lot of bills for you to pay out of your retirement savings. And when it comes to how much is in those accounts, EBRI found at the end of 2006 that nearly three-quarters of participants had balances lower than $61,346, the size of the average account balance. ...

    Economist Teresa Ghilarducci, author of "When I'm Sixty-Four: The Plot Against Pensions and the Plan to Save Them," said creating a new plan is better than tinkering with a bad system to make it better. Like many others, Ghilarducci points out how backward it is to design a retirement system in which the incentives to save are biggest for the highest-income individuals. Because contributions are tax-deferred, the tax break is biggest for those high earners.

  • WashTech: The Other Cost of Outsourcing - Part 2. Culture of Competition and Mental Health. By Priyanka Joshi. Excerpts: One among 20 IT workers in Bangalore regularly considers suicide, according to a survey done by leading newsmagazine, India Today. The survey further reports that 36% of Bangalore's IT workers can be classified as "probably psychiatric" cases, while 10% report severe, continuous mental stress. These findings are surprising especially since India is on the rise, with stratospheric salaries, opportunity available on an unprecedented scale, and global avenues within reach.

    Why is the Indian IT worker so unhappy? Incessant international travel making him feel rootless, fear of the pink slip, impossible deadlines of the global economy and constant guilt of not meeting demands of the spouse and family have been quoted as the main stressors in his/her life. This again, in an India that is paying stellar salaries to its young workforce, enabling them to buy swanky apartments, expensive cars, and the latest gadgets- proving perhaps, that money, verily, cannot buy you happiness? ...

    Instant gratification, self-absorption, blithely willful action, also remind us of the actions of certain powerful American corporate head honchos. For instant gratification- "Outsourcing today will net me xyz amount of profit"- they send American jobs to other countries while the employees struggle to support families juggling low pay, fear of job loss, high inflation and healthcare costs. Their sense of entitlement and self absorption ensure that they treat employees not as human beings, but as mere statistics in their company's growth. They care nothing for the IT professional who has worked hard, accumulating student debt and has a family to support, while they conveniently outsource his/her job away, or invite cheaper guest labor for him to train and then take over his job!

  • eWeek: Tips for Older IT Job Seekers. By Deb Perelman. Excerpts: The older you are, the longer it can take to get a job, a situation that is exacerbated in the ever-changing world of tech. What is considered "old" by employment standards these days seems younger every year. In industries such as IT this is especially apparent, as the stereotypical tech guru is rarely envisioned as being in the 50-plus set, yet statistics suggest that this would be a more accurate depiction of an IT professional. ...

    Unfortunately, the older you are, the longer it can take to get a job. Compared to 18.9 weeks for younger workers, it took workers 55 and older 25.8 weeks on average to find a job in 2004. But for an unemployed or under-employed professional, or one that has needed to get back into the workforce after a premature retirement, this can feel like an eternity.

  • IBM Retiree Information Exchange: Re: COBRA is good value vs. Retiree FHA plan. By "tcimini". Full excerpt: Well, I've never been a gambler and although I've always been an loyal employee, I'm crazy but not stupid, which is why I made my original comment about FHA probably not being available for me if I elect COBRA first.

    It's just that my spouse and I really need the benefits and neither of us will be Medicare eligible for years beyond what COBRA and FHA would cover. We also will have a cash flow problem, but a high deductible/catastrophic plan really won't work for us.

    Too old to be hired by another company, too young to dip into TDSP yet, not 60 so can't retire with full benefits yet. The stress of all this is going to ensure that we'll need the best medical coverage that we cannot afford.

    I haven't had an opportunity to get "official" information regarding "my" options yet.

    Having worked in the old IBM culture, never in our wildest dreams did we expect this from IBM. We're caught between a rock and a hard place with no good choices. Feel like we've been set out to sea on a raft with only a few days supplies. Thanks to everyone for their thoughtful and thorough replies!

  • IBM Retiree Information Exchange: Re: COBRA is good value vs. Retiree FHA plan. By "madinpok". Full excerpt: I wouldn't say it is faulty logic. Rather, it is decision, involving some risk, over how to minimize your total costs over the long term. One approach is to do as you say and use the FHA money from day one to pay the full cost of insurance. If you do that, the money will be gone in 2-3 years and you will pay 100% out of your own pocket after that. This minimizes the risk that IBM will take the money away before you can spend it, but may cost you the most in the long run.

    A second approach would be to use COBRA for 18 months and then switch to using the FHA account after that. Since COBRA can cost about 1/3 less than the retiree plans and offers better coverage, this could reduce your long term costs - if IBM leaves the FHA in place for a few more years. Although the cost of the retiree plan will increase year to year, that will happen no matter what. The costs will probably increase at a slightly higher rate than the interest being paid on the FHA account, but you will not lose much to inflation during the 18 months you are on COBRA - probably just a couple of percent. To me, the much lower cost of COBRA more than makes up for the loss to inflation.

    A third approach is to use the FHA to pay just $7000 per year towards the cost of retiree medical and pay the rest out of your own pocket. This would bring your cost in line with what the retirees on the old plan pay. That way, the FHA will last longer (maybe even until you are eligible for medicare, depending on how early you retire). But, if you do this, you have a much larger risk time-wise that IBM might take away the FHA.

    In summary, you are right - the FHA is free money now. But you might spend more of your own money later if you don't take advantage of COBRA while you can.

    As far leaving money in the FHA account goes, that has nothing to do with the fees you pay. If you draw the FHA account down to zero, you can still get insurance through the FHA plan by paying 100% out of your own pocket. But if you ever stop using the FHA plan (because you got coverage somewhere else, such as from another employer) and your account balance is zero, you can never come back.

    If you leave at least $1 in your FHA account, then you can come back. But it may not be easy to draw the account down to such a small amount since you can only withdraw funds in 10% increments of the total annual cost. So, more realistically, you might get stuck with leaving $500, $1000 or more in the account to guarantee future access.

  • IBM Retiree Information Exchange: "Re: COBRA is good value vs. Retiree FHA plan" by Janet Krueger. Full excerpt: I feel like I'm throwing a wet blanket on your thinking, but I'm not sure where all these assertions come from that FHA will be available later if you keep some money in it or if you use it continuously, etc.

    The fact is, there is no guarantee at all that FHA will be available next year to anyone, or that $$ in FHA will somehow ensure continued access to health insurance at reasonable rates. My prediction is that FHA probably won't be available for you in several years regardless of whether you elect COBRA first. FHA is not funded. Scan through the annual report. There are NO funds allocated to FHA anywhere. If IBM continues to fund FHA, it will be through the operating budget -- if they have a shortage in the operating budget, it is an obvious place to make cuts.

    The virtual dollars in FH accounts are not in your name -- they can be cut at any time.

    The only legal obligation IBM has to provide health insurance to people who are no longer employees is COBRA.

    While people assume that if IBM provides health insurance one year, they will have to provide it the next, that does not create a legal obligation. IBM continues to provide health insurance to retirees because they get a substantial tax benefit for doing so -- that tax benefit can be eliminated by Congress at any time.

    IMHO, the best way for you to get continued access to health insurance between now and when you reach age 65 is to realize you are in exactly the same plight as all the other uninsured Americans in your age bracket who never worked at IBM. Don't you think a national solution that solves the problem for everyone might be worth working towards? The United States is the ONLY industrialized country with thousands of citizens facing this problem. Maybe it is time for a change?

  • The Charleston Gazette: 14,871 to take pension benefits. School system employees to switch out of underfunded 401(k)s. By Phil Kabler. Excerpt: Nearly 15,000 West Virginia teachers, administrators and school service personnel will trade in their underfunded 401(k)-style retirement plans for guaranteed pension benefits. Accountants Tuesday notified the Consolidated Public Retirement Board that 14,871 participants in the Teachers Defined Contribution system had elected to transfer to the Teachers Retirement System. That amounts to 78.3 percent of all active TDC participants - well above the 65 percent threshold needed for any transfers to take place.
  • ComputerWorld: Google loses big in H-1B lottery as Congress gets new visa push. Senate bill would allow advance degree holders to get green cards. By Patrick Thibodeau. Excerpts: The effort in Congress to make it easier for tech companies to hire foreign nationals gained support today from two U.S. senators who are pushing a bill to give foreign nationals who earn advanced degrees in the U.S. permanent residency. The latest measure comes as one large tech employer, Google Inc., complained publicly that 90 of its 300 H-1B applications were rejected in the government lottery for visas. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) held a lottery after receiving 163,000 applications for 85,000 visas . That figure includes 20,000 visas set aside for advanced degree holders.

    The Senate legislation, unveiled today by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), would allow foreign national graduates of U.S. universities to receive green cards, or permanent resident status, as long as they have a job offer. ...

    Wolf and Chavez defended Google's hiring of H-1B workers. "Although we're committed to hiring outstanding American candidates, Google hires employees based on skills and qualifications, not on nationality. Many times our strongest candidates are Americans; in fact, about nine out of 10 of our U.S.-based employees are citizens or permanent residents. But if we're to remain an innovative company -- one that is creating jobs in the U.S. every day -- we also need to hire exceptional candidates who happen to have been born elsewhere." Google received more than 1 million resumes, Wolfe and Chavez wrote on their blog.

News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
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  • South Florida Sun-Sentinal: ERISA should be part of reform talks. By Lawrence D. Bache. Excerpts: You may have heard the recent story about Wal-Mart suing an employee who suffered severe brain damage when her minivan was hit by a tractor-trailer. Wal-Mart sought to recover $417,000 it paid for her medical care under its employee health plan. This $417,000 was money the woman desperately needed for life-sustaining nursing care. Due to substantial negative media coverage, Wal-Mart dropped its claim against the woman and dismissed its lawsuit.

    Wal-Mart had a legal right to recover from the disabled woman under the federal law of ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act). If you are one of the substantial number of Americans who receive their health coverage in connection with their employment (excepting government or church employees), ERISA applies. Absent from the ongoing debate about health care reform is a discussion about the impact of ERISA. ERISA is an onerous and oppressive law that HMOs and insurance companies love and cherish, but do not want the public to understand.

    Under ERISA, an insurance company or HMO can deny coverage without penalty, even if that denial of coverage causes serious harm or even death. The only consequence for a wrongful denial of coverage under this law is the obligation to provide the benefits that should have been provided in the first place. The occasional report in the media about a large verdict against an insurance company or HMO for failing to pay for or authorize necessary medical care does not involve coverage to which ERISA applies. It must be considered that a refusal to pay $45,000 for a hip replacement, for example, results in a $45,000 profit. The insurance companies and HMOs protected by ERISA have an incentive to deny coverage, and no negative consequence for doing so.

    Under ERISA, the individual who challenges a denial of coverage is required to fight through multiple grievance procedures. That individual bears the burden of proving to the large and well-staffed company that the denial was wrong, even though he/she is often sick and not well versed in the type of sophisticated medical evidence that may be required to perfect their claim.

  • Center for American Progress: Myth vs. Fact: Consumer-Driven Health Plans. Excerpts: “Consumer-driven health care” is the euphemism for high-deductible health plans with savings accounts. It is based on the theory that increased financial exposure will encourage patients to act like consumers, comparing quality and costs and negotiating lower prices. It also, according to the rhetoric, gives people greater control over their health care.

    Yet many experts paint a different picture. Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, called a hearing last week to take an honest look at whether consumer-driven health care plans contain, or merely shift, costs. Announcing the hearing, he said, “HSAs and high deductible plans … make things worse, not better. Instead of using the tax code to encourage people to purchase coverage that may be woefully inadequate, we should focus on providing comprehensive health care coverage to those most in need in the most cost-efficient way possible.”

  • Watson-Wyatt: Health premium payments to be eliminated in Alberta. Excerpt: Most employers in the province of Alberta will experience significant cost savings from government plans to eliminate premium payments for the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHICP). The elimination will take effect on January 1, 2009. Employers may need to review contractual commitments and collective agreements in light of the change. ...

    Eliminating health premiums has been a trend in much of Canada. AHICP premiums were eliminated for senior citizens in Alberta on October 1, 2004. Once AHICP premiums are eliminated in the province, British Columbia and Ontario will be the only provinces in Canada with compulsory health care premium payments

  • New York Times: After Caesareans, Some See Higher Insurance Cost. By Denise Grady. Excerpts: When the Golden Rule Insurance Company rejected her application for health coverage last year, Peggy Robertson was mystified. “It made no sense,” said Ms. Robertson, 39, who lives in Centennial, Colo. “I’m in perfect health.”

    She was turned down because she had given birth by Caesarean section. Having the operation once increases the odds that it will be performed again, and if she became pregnant and needed another Caesarean, Golden Rule did not want to pay for it. A letter from the company explained that if she had been sterilized after the Caesarean, or if she were over 40 and had given birth two or more years before applying, she might have qualified. ...

    With individual insurance, unlike the group coverage usually sponsored by employers, insurance companies in many states are free to pick and choose the people and conditions they cover, and base the price on a person’s medical history. Sometimes, a past Caesarean means higher premiums. ...

    Individual insurance differs sharply from the group coverage with which most people are familiar. Group policies generally require that the insurer cover everybody in the group, and charge the same rates for all. But with individual coverage, insurers in many states can vary their prices based on medical history, exclude certain services or reject anyone they consider a bad risk. (Several states, however, including New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, ban such practices.)

  • US News & World Report: The Limited Appeal of Limited-Benefit Insurance. By Michelle Andrews. Excerpts; Is having some sort of health insurance—even spotty coverage—better than having no protection at all? That's the conventional wisdom behind initiatives like the bill signed last week by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist that allows insurers to sell inexpensive health insurance policies with limited benefits to uninsured Floridians. The new law is the latest example of a nationwide trend toward offering "limited benefit" or "bare bones" plans that often cover some everyday medical expenses like visits to the doctor and prescription medications but may come up seriously short if a policyholder gets seriously ill.

    The governor acknowledges that the new Florida plans won't offer "Cadillac coverage." But for $150 a month or less, he says, they'll include some coverage for preventive services, drugs, surgery, screenings, and durable medical equipment, among other things. And how is that possible, you're wondering. Some plans won't provide catastrophic coverage that would pick up the tab for major medical expenses like cancer treatment or heart surgery, for example, nor will they necessarily cover all of the benefits available through comprehensive plans, like podiatry or certain transplants. There could be dollar limits or other restrictions as well.

    It's easy to understand the appeal of these policies to politicians and business owners, who are scrambling to find ways to insure people amid escalating costs. But consumers need to ask hard questions about what they're really getting for their money and read the fine print of any policy they're considering. "I could cover everybody for a dollar a head, but the policy wouldn't cover a toothbrush," says Karen Pollitz, a research professor at the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University.

    Low premiums can make these plans seem very affordable, but people should focus instead on what they'd pay out of pocket if they got sick. "The whole point of health insurance is what happens if your health gets worse," says Pollitz. I've written about how people with cancer, for example, can be hard hit by coverage shortfalls.

  • National Bureau of Economic Research: Covering the Uninsured. Excerpts: The U.S. is the only wealthy industrialized nation that does not guarantee universal health care for its citizens. Currently 47 million Americans, or 18 percent of the non-elderly population, lack health insurance. The problem of the uninsured has been a major concern for policy makers for years and is back in the spotlight this year due to the presidential election and a recent major health care reform in Massachusetts. In "Covering the Uninsured in the U.S." (NBER Working Paper 13758) researcher Jonathan Gruber reviews the lessons of economic research regarding the uninsured and conducts simulations to show the effects of several popular reform proposals to increase access to care. ...

    Gruber also asks why we should care about the uninsured. One reason is externalities, costs that insured people bear as a result of uninsurance. These include physical externalities from communicable diseases (uninsured people may spread disease to others) and financial externalities from uncompensated care. However, these costs are too small to provide a major rationale for universal coverage. A second reason is "job lock" - workers may be afraid to change jobs for fear of losing their health insurance, which can lead to a mismatch between workers and jobs and lower U.S. productivity. Other reasons include paternalism (people may not realize the value of insurance) and redistribution (many of the uninsured are low-income). ...

    Gruber closes by noting that his study largely ignores the other major problem plaguing the U.S. health care system, rapidly rising costs. He notes that most cost control measures currently being discussed, like electronic medical records, will lower costs very little if at all. Effective control of health care costs will involve denying coverage for care that does little for health but that consumers now want. He concludes "until we are understand more fully which health care spending is justified and which is not, we are not prepared to take on the American public on cost control. The fundamental insight of this round of reform is therefore not to hold the attainable goal (universal coverage) hostage to the (currently) unattainable goal, fundamental health care cost control."

  • Health Affairs: On The Road To Universal Coverage: Impacts Of Reform In Massachusetts At One Year. By Sharon K. Long. Excerpt: In April 2006, Massachusetts passed legislation intended to move the state to near-universal coverage within three years and, in conjunction with that expansion, to improve access to affordable, high-quality health care. In roughly the first year under reform, uninsurance among working-age adults was reduced by almost half among those surveyed, dropping from 13 percent in fall 2006 to 7 percent in fall 2007. At the same time, access to care improved, and the share of adults with high out-of-pocket costs and problems paying medical bills dropped. Despite higher-than-anticipated costs, most residents of the state continued to support reform.
  • New York Times: Study Finds State Gains in Insurance. By Kevin Sack. Excerpts: Massachusetts reduced its proportion of uninsured adults by nearly half in the first year of mandatory health coverage and made gains in the share of people receiving routine preventive care, according to the first major study of the 2006 law. The decline in the share of residents without insurance was nearly equivalent for those with low or moderate incomes and those with higher incomes. ...

    “The entire increase in coverage appears to have been drawn from the ranks of the uninsured, because there is no evidence that publicly funded programs are crowding out employer coverage,” wrote the study’s author, Sharon K. Long, a principal research associate with the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan research group in Washington. ...

    Undercutting the positive trends for Massachusetts are signs that the state’s supply of primary care physicians is not sufficient to handle the increased demand created by newly insured residents. Though there were overall declines in the percentage of residents who said they were not receiving needed care, the study showed increases in the share who said they did not get care because they could not find a doctor. That finding may support anecdotal reports from internists and family practitioners that they have been stretched by an influx of newly insured patients, causing long delays for some appointments. The study actually found a slight increase in the share of low-income residents who sought treatment in hospital emergency rooms for conditions that were not urgent.

  • Chicago Sun-Times: Lipinski, Kirk seek life extension of COBRA. By Monifa Thomas. Excerpts: Pointing to the rough economy, U.S. Representatives Mark Kirk and Dan Lipinski are pushing to revive a measure that would drop the 18- to 36-month time limit on extending health-insurance coverage after leaving a job. The proposed Health Insurance for Life Act, introduced last year, would allow people to pay for insurance coverage from their former employers until they qualify for Medicare at 65.

    COBRA coverage now allows people who have left a job to keep their group insurance for up to 18 months, and sometimes up to 36 months, by paying the entire premium.

    Removing the time limit would benefit people who wouldn't qualify for a new insurance plan because of pre-existing health conditions and whose jobs don't offer insurance, Kirk said Thursday. It would be a bridge for retirees who are too young for Medicare.

  • Wall Street Journal, courtesy of the California Nurses Association: McCain's Free-Market Health Plan Would Boost Role of High-Risk Pools. By Laura Meckler and Anna Wilde Mathews. Excerpts: John McCain's plan for a health-care system built around consumers shopping for their own insurance comes with a significant downside: for people with a history of illness, it can be impossible to find coverage on their own. The Republican presidential candidate's main answer is to bolster the role of high-risk pools, which sell insurance to people with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, cancer and AIDS.

    These pools, typically created by state governments, require significant government subsidies, charge high premiums and sometimes sharply restrict benefits or enrollment. Nationally, fewer than 200,000 people are enrolled in such pools, while 47 million people in the U.S. are without insurance.

    "They tend not to work particularly well," said Sara Collins, an assistant vice president at the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit health-care-research group. "States have really struggled to finance these adequately."

New on the Alliance@IBM Site:
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  • From the Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • To readers of the Alliance comment sections: Please read the front page of the Alliance web site for important news on our membership drive. Many of you read and participate in the comment sections and find them a valuable resource for what is going on inside IBM. But in order to keep this resource we need growth in our dues paying membership. Please click the links above and join the Alliance. Your only source for the real news inside IBM.
    • Comment 06/01/08: To "wantapackage" : How did you make out? I also have heard mixed messages on this - 1) If you ask for a pkg then forget it, you won't get one. More or less a result of reverse-self-selection and 2) Since mgmt. is under pressure to cut, it makes more "sense" to cut those that WANT to go so as to save moral... this is something perhaps a rational manager would do but then again many managers these days are not rational, and indeed you might be one of the more valued team members and thus... "Why would IBM pay you to quit?" Anyway... let us know eh? Thanks! -Anon-
    • Comment 06/01/08: Good Luck to all my friends from printers in your new positions in Ricoh. Unionize now so you have a say in your future. Stop the abuse before it becomes standard operating procedures. Your position will never be stronger then it is right now to organize. -Exodus 2007-
    • Comment 06/02/08: I am hearing more job cut notifications going out tomorrow June 3rd from HR to Managers. I know Tivoli is being Impacted and other units. I verified this with a IBM manager and he stated he gets his email from HR tomorrow letting him know it is okay to let people know. -Anon-US-Tiv-
    • Comment 06/02/08: I heard today that there is a huge move to outsource some of the Project Managers. Has anyone heard anything similar??? -ABIW-
    • Comment 06/02/08: June 2, 2008 2pm EDT - IBM just announced a move of "Classic SBC" (AT&T Account) jobs from USA to Brazil. IBM began cS account on 12/1/2007. I'm told these folks were guaranteed a job for only 6 months. About 350 to 400 employees came over from the "new" AT&T (the former SBC after buying AT&T). No USA employees will be offered jobs in Brazil.

      IBM claims this is not a "resource action". IBM claims it is a "global company" and uses this as an excuse to offshore jobs. No individuals have yet been selected for offshoring. People were told today but no one knows which individuals will be targeted. Transition starts June 1, 2008 - May 2009.

      IBM employees are expected to train their new counterparts in Brazil. Managers of people affected once again are doing nothing to stop this. They are merely pawns in the corporate torture chamber known as IBM. -Next On The List-

      Alliance reply: A news reporter is looking to interview any former IBM employee who had to train their offshore replacement and then lost their job. Contact the Alliance at allianceibmunion@gmail.com with your name and phone number.

    • Comment 06/03/08: ABIW - Yes, the reports I hear is that we're far too short on PMs so they will move foreign PMs to be the TPMs managing the GR's. US based PM's will be forced to be more business and customer centric and be expected to travel 100% of time. I also heard one of our cores has offered to take over all US PM slots and promise to deliver 20%+ reduction in costs. -PMs Get Ready-
    • Comment 06/03/08: As I'm sure you are all aware the Dublin plant is losing its I/P series assembly operations to China. We have been predicting this for the last 2 years. It looks like the end is coming. We have been told Jan 09 with a major announcement due in October....so guys any info pls reply. -Cisco101-
    • Comment 06/03/08: Yes - Project Managers are in the spotlight for off-shoring. Not a good career move if you're in the US, unless you want to be layed off. -miss understandgin-
    • Comment 06/04/08: I was on the AT&T Account Cycle Time Initiative Project before I was cut due to funding. This is one messed up project. Duplication of work on both the IBM and AT&T side with a push to off-shore most of the work. It's funny that one of my managers on the project just got an IBM Technical Excellence award from corporate - just amazing. -Aron-
    • Comment 06/05/08: Ok, I/T Specialists and SysAdmins are being phased out in the USA and go to the BRIC and now PM's seemed to be next. Question: what position or career path is a good career move in the USA in IBM now? Isn't it clear folks we need a union to protect USA IBM jobs? -anonymous-
    • Comment 06/05/08: Hearing cuts are happening in Tivoli (Software Group) in RTP, NC -black&blueAllOver-
    • Comment 06/05/08: 08A Family - YOU ARE IN THE SPOTLIGHT. I was RA'd last May. I still have plenty of friends all through out the upper ranks within the blue pig.The PM's have been targeted for quite a while. Most of them are band 8 and above and are pulling in more money than what what the pig pays for contract PM's, so you're next.

      IBM can get skilled experienced PM's for approx 60K to 80K MAX on the outside all day long. Take into consideration that BRIC PM's are substantially cheaper than that. There will be a sizeable reduction in PM's over the next 3 quarters.

      SO / ITD will continue to bleed profusely. Unless your outsourcing contract is in litigation for failing to meet the terms of the contract, you're overstaffed. That's the new standard, not customer sat.

      Polish your resumes and start looking. Be prepared, so when you do get ra'd, your leave with a smile. I wish I was more prepared, so I didn't stress like I did, but I landed on my feet with more money and RESPECT.. something sorely missing in the blue pig. Remember when we had work life balance and spirit? Remember when we had an across the board increase to retain folks? Its over. North American works are targeted. -former IBM'er-

    • Comment 06/05/08: The rumor mill is buzzing that there will be layoffs at the Burlington VT plant this summer. I heard from a very credible source (my former 2nd level manager) that IBM plans to pull out of the Williston buildings and sell them off. Williston employees will move to the main site and there will be substantial layoffs as part of restructuring and cost cutting. Best of luck to to all. -Don't shoot the messenger-
    • Comment 06/06/08: My goals for next year include 103% utilization. My manager told me last week that just meeting the goals will result in a rating of 2. IBM really wants people to leave with these unrealistic goals. Majority of people in my group will a 3 next year due to business development team not able to close on deals (we already several business development team members leave/retire/quit in the last few weeks). I am barely hanging in right now. I hate working everyday knowing the end is coming - no motivation right now. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 06/05/08: Reply to -why a union- Very few companies have the revenue and business position to leverage that IBM has. IBM WAS a great place to work and can be again. A union would force Greedy Executives to invest some resources in employees instead of themselves. IBM as a corporate entity can afford any change a union would want without any pain at all. In reality why should a CEO get a 29 Million dollar Bonus and his employees nothing in a profitable business.

      In these times a cost of living raise would be a great help to ALL employees and not an unreasonable thing for IBM to provide because they certainly can afford it. My last 10 raises in my 30 year career were most certainly merit raises because they were far too small to be cost of living raises and I was a 2 plus or a one

      In the past year alone costs in Maryland have gone through the roof. The Gas and electric company got 78 percent in rate hikes and gas has climbed almost a buck a gallon and most IBMers in Maryland will see less then 3 percent in raises in a company posting record profits.

      A successful organization of IBM will set the standard for the whole industry and raise the quality of life for an awful lot of American workers. When you hear workers talking about their profession and they say " Union scale is XXX" that's leading the way and improving life for people. You seldom if ever hear union scale being LESS then a company pays. Unions help define the workplace for ALL American workers. IBM is not a doddering failing business on the verge of collapse. IBM is a vibrant worldwide player making record profits from the labors and sacrifices of its workforce yet pleading poverty to its workforce when its raise time. Or benefits time. Or retirement time. Unless you are an executive of course. -Exodus 2007-

      Alliance reply: Excellent answer Exodus 2007. I would add that any company is made 'great' by it's employees; the ones who use the means of production to put out a quality service or product. Thomas Watson Sr. once said to his employees during a dept. meeting in Endicott, "Managers are a dime a dozen. You people are the ones that keep this company going. You are all very important to this company's success". I know this, because my father heard those words directly from Thomas Watson Sr. himself, at my father's dept. meeting, in 1956. At that time, IBM was making sure that their employees knew that they were valuable, so that management didn't have to worry about unions.

  • General Visitor's Comment page:
  • Pension Comments page
  • Raise and Salary Comments
    • Comment 06/02/08: Salary = 41000; Band Level = 3; Job Title = SSR; Years Service = 12; Hours/Week = 40; Div Name = 48; Location = Florida; Message = Can you help me to compare what I am making compared to other technicians in Florida and Alabama? I believe I am very underpaid for the work I do. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 06/02/08: Salary = 15% Less; Band Level = 7; Years Service = 10; Message = -Panon- Along with 50+ other people in my organizations, I appealed, and ALL of us were denied. Go figure... I am also waiting to see if any of the 15% less people also get a chance to get a raise this year. Of course a 15% raise would be optimal, but has anyone heard anything about raises for those affected by the pay cut? -ABIW-
    • Comment 06/03/08: to -Anon- Sam's Raise was pretty robust the last 5 years or so. So were other executives I'm sure. Proof once again that you only get what you negotiate in IBM. Not what you deserve. What's that you say? You didn't negotiate your salary increases ? You didn't negotiate your benefits and severance and retirement benefits? Lou did and I'm sure Sammy did too. It's not too late. A successful organization will result in all these things done by trained, experienced negotiators . With leverage of a strike over IBM's heads we can see how well they handle pressure. All we have to do is ORGANIZE. Record Profits and no raises is Bullchit!! -Exodus 2007-
    • Comment 06/03/08: Here is the latest salary survey summary:
      • Band 2: 5 respondents, avg: $33K, standard deviation: $10K, range: (min/max reported): $20K to $42K
      • Band 3: 3 respondents, $34K, std dev: $8K, range: $25K to $41K
      • Band 4: 11 respondents, avg: $46K, std dev: $10K, range: $32K to $60K
      • Band 5: 5 respondents, avg: $62K, std dev: $13K, range: $48K to $77K
      • Band 6: 61 respondents, avg: $56K, std dev: $9K, range: $37K to $78K
      • Band 7: 125 respondents, avg: $70K, std dev: $12K, range: $48K to $110K
      • Band 8: 103 respondents, avg: $96K, std dev: $16K, range: $55K to $130K
      • Band 9: 35 respondents, avg: $119K, std dev: $18K, range: $89K to $152K
      • Band 10: 11 respondents, avg: $148K, std dev: $25K, range: $107K to $190K

      To the Band-3 person who posted on 6/2: your pay of $41K seems to be on the high end of that band, although the sample size is small (only 3 respondents). -Anonymous-

      Alliance Reply: As always, on behalf of all Alliance@IBM members; thank you for your efforts to help us all understand the IBM salary statistics. We hope you have become a member of Alliance@IBM, at some level. We encourage you to consider it and to contact us.

    • Comment 06/04/08: My (manager) friend told me that this year raise bucket will be smaller than last year. They will give you BS about ...yeah even though we had a record profit yr last yr, that was for bonus. Raise bucket is based of the current market, economy, and the future spending, etc. Another way to screw employee this year. So, you can expect the raise to be a lot smaller than last year. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 06/05/08: I understand any raises will be announced at the end of this month instead of during the first half of this month like in years past. You will not see any raise for the 6/15 paycheck. Any raise will be made retroactive to June 1st on the 6/30 paycheck. Why this change from years past? IBM wants to hold onto as much $ due to the employee as long as they can. So IBM is keeping 2 weeks of employee $ and pockets whatever interest from it they can despite record profits and solid revenue growth. It's another subtle form of cost control at the expense of the employee. Next year they might make you wait till the end of July to see a raise, if any are given out. Cheap bastards. I want a contract so I will know the exact date when I am getting the $ from a raise instead of relying on the whim of IBM. -anonymous-
    • Comment 06/06/08: Unless you are an executive call it what it is. A raise Thimble. Not a raise bucket. Amounts as small as raises have gotten would not even wet the bottom of a bucket. -Exodus 2007-
  • PBC Comments
  • 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. Some sample posts follow:

  • "IBM GBS or CSC" by "nelly56". Full excerpt: Hello All. I started working for CSC and now have an offer from IBM GBS. Initially they declined to make an offer and so I went ahead and accepted CSC, but now they have come back with an offer more than CSC. I am in a dilemma to accept it or stick on to CSC. I don't want to burn any bridges here and moreover, don't really know how it would be worth the move? any suggestions
  • "Neither" by "civilliberty". Full excerpt: I have only worked at IBM, not CSC, but I don't hear many good stories from CSC. I think they may all be a much of a muchness, with IBM tipping the scales towards being more dehumanising.

    Consider the rigged appraisal system at IBM. Consider the recent 15% reduction in salary for many workers (in the US). This should tell you something about management's attitude towards workers. Consider the persistent lies about bonuses and never seeing them materialise. Consider the 4th quarter apologies for not making enough to pay you a bonus or give you a salary increase, and then in the 1st quarter of the next year announcing a stellar profit. Consider that you will be shoe-horned into roles totally unsuitable, just to keep you billable, and which don't reflect you career interests (would you like to do Excel macro work when you've run very successful teams on high profile engagements ?).

    That's just for starters. Consider you won't learn how to do pretty much anything correctly (good process/methodology and structure). Consider IBM has a number of managers who've never worked at the coal-face of a project (never coded, tested, designed or implemented anything). They are more akin to bureaucrats who squabble over project costs and deadlines than facilitating on-time delivery and realistic deadlines.

  • "Stick it to the Blue Pig" by "bluebie". Full excerpt: Let's say you are leaving today on the Resource Action and you had yourself set up to put $2,000 in your MSA this year. But, you've only deposited 5/12 of that and have medical expenses of about $800 this year so far. Don't forget that you can spend up to the full $2,000 today and get it all back from your MSA--and the Blue Pig pays! You get $1,200 in free money. Go get your teeth cleaned. Buy 89 days of every conceivable OTC medicine, contact solution or whatever and claim it against your MSA. Don't need the stuff? Donate it to a nearby church or shelter, they'll figure out what to do with it.
  • "Compensation" by "suid79". Full excerpt: Anyone know what the compensation is for the Sales leader roles at IBM? (ITS, GTS) Thanks in advance...
  • "Services Sales Leader" by "ancientblueconsultant". Full excerpt: I have interviewed 6 folks out of the GTS space in that position in the last few weeks. Salaries from resumes average 68K to 118K, including commission. Apparently they call their sales plan the 50% plan because you get a 20% cut in salary in exchange for a up to 130% possibility in total compensation. Of the 6 interviewees, none ever had made the maximum pay. Too many caveats and fine print to stop you from making the big bucks.

    Job appears to be more a QA management SOX CYA function than actual sales. Not much chance to learn anything but very rigidly defined service products within service lines. This is done to ensure reduced chances of defection. Very reduced client face time, since that's reserved for ITSM position and client execs.

  • "Skills shortages forcing changes" by "ancientblueconsultant". Full excerpt: Rumors abound that ITS and SO (both within GTS) in Americas will have to merge because they can't keep up with the growing retention problem. People quitting and they can't get quality replacements. Most sales engagements now being staffed with GTS forced sales labor and business partners even when they know they won't get commissions on the sale.

    You'll see ITS-GTS give up the SPL mess let it go to business partners as they try to save that they think is the more lucrative SO business. Shortage most acute with architects. Most PM's and IT specialists in all of IGS and SWG getting laid off and being replaced with offshore labor.

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.

This site is designed to allow IBM Employees to communicate and share methods of protecting their rights through the establishment of an IBM Employees Labor Union. Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act states it is a violation for Employers to spy on union gatherings, or pretend to spy. For the purpose of the National Labor Relations Act, notice is given that this site and all of its content, messages, communications, or other content is considered to be a union gathering.