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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—August 16, 2008

  • ZD-Net: IBM Australia faces strike action. By Suzanne Tindal. Excerpts: IBM's Australian operation is facing the possibility of strike action among its workforce after a secret ballot opened yesterday for employees in a Baulkham Hills facility. A section of under 100 employees who work in the "Flightdeck" at Baulkam Hills want a collective agreement granting them better pay and work conditions. So-called "Flightdeck" due to the rows of computers and big screens, which looks like a flight deck.

    According to statements published by the Australian Services Union (ASU), after IBM Flightdeck employee meetings in June, the 46 Flightdeck employees in the union voted to apply for a protected action ballot with the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) which would decide whether to take legal industrial action.

    The aim of the negotiations was to achieve rights for all Flightdeck employees including regular pay rises, pay equity, travel allowance, fair redundancy and retrenchment provisions, paid shift handover periods, fair access to leave entitlements and time off in lieu, shift penalties and the option to work from home.

  • The Register (United Kingdom): Union takes IBM outsourcing case to employment tribunal. Excerpts: A £400m outsourcing deal between local authorities and IBM was unfair because the full details of the transfer of staff to a private company were not revealed, workers' union Unison has said. It has lodged a claim with an employment tribunal over the deal, which it says led to the local authorities and IBM breaking a Transfer of Undertakings agreement.

    The deal, announced in October 2007 as a £400m shared services agreement spanning 10 years, created a new private company to which 1,500 council workers will transfer. It was set up by IBM, Somerset County Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council and the Avon and Somerset Police Authority. The new company was called Southwest One. Unison claims that neither it nor staff were given enough details of the outsourcing deal, and that only parts of the deal were revealed to them.

  • The Register: Reader comments on ‘Union takes IBM outsourcing case to employment tribunal’. A few sample comments follow:
    • Re: Staff are our Greatest Asset... by "Mark": What about "we must remain competitive with salaries" to mean "paycut or we sack you". This jars with "we must pay competitive rates to get the right people" to mean "wodge of wonga for the executives".
    • Unions... by "JimC": The trouble is in this sort of situation, where the people making the management decisions are utterly divorced from the effects of the crap decisions they make, the unions are about the only protection the staff have...
    • Staff our our greatest assets... by "Neil Barnes": right after paper clips and carbon paper...
    • "some sort of confidentiality protocol" by "RW": What ever happened to the concepts "freedom of information", "openness", and "transparency". Oh. I see. They got in the way of underhanded deals to screw employees. Somebody needs to remind those public bodies that they are paid out of taxes and they are public servants, so goddamned well serve the public instead of pretending to be their Overlords. Sorry for the invective, o divine Moderatrix, but this kind of thing gets me really steamed. As you may have noted.
    • looks bad by "P. Lee": Forget the confidentiality agreement, when I saw a new company had been formed to take on the staff rather than the outsourcer taking on staff directly, I thought the outsourcer was trying to distance themselves from the new staff. A separate company can be left to twist in the wind. Once a company is failing financially, all bets are off! Of course, its also possible that the current staff are a bit rubbish and need management to help them find new, more productive, roles... Mines the one with the P45 in the pocket.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Early retiree comment" by "panpeeker1". Full excerpt: It's been over a year now since my job disappeared (Bangalore) and, after searching unsuccessfully for more than 6 months for another internal position, I was forced to take early retirement. This after 29 years of consistently high performance evaluations working in IT. For what it's worth, over those 29 years I reported to 47 (count 'em) different managers, only a handful of which were related to change of assignments.

    My IBM pension amounts to roughly 25% of my annual salary.

    In the interim since I left IBM, I have applied to over 1000 jobs but, this having failed to produce a job, I now work as a proofreader making 15/hr and I'm finding it impossible to make ends meet.

    I hope that Sam P (for whom I provided technical support & account planning prior to his coronation) experiences a period of personal suffering equivalent to the suffering he has brought down on so many who gave so much for the privilege of working for "such a great company".

  • American Public Media's Word for Word: How the rich get richer. Introduction: You may have heard there's no such thing as a free lunch, but David Cay Johnston says there is — and wealthy Americans do get richer because of it. In an April 14, 2008 speech at the Commonwealth Club of California, Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author of "Free Lunch," outlines how government-private sector collusion affects the middle class and the poor.
    • In a Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board post, "finitewisdom" comments on the "How the rich get richer" broadcast. Full excerpt: This program is mind-boggling. Listen to it if you want to know more about who *really* benefits when your tax dollars are used to subsidize business. Or stick your head in the sand and continue to believe that corporate hand-outs are good for the economy.
  • New York Times: Study Tallies Corporations Not Paying Income Tax. By Lynnley Browning. Excerpt: Two out of every three United States corporations paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005, according to a report released Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. The study, which is likely to add to a growing debate among politicians and policy experts over the contribution of businesses to Treasury coffers, did not identify the corporations or analyze why they had paid no taxes. It also did not say whether they had been operating properly within the tax code or illegally evading it.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: After deal to retain jobs, IBM opts to cut pay" by "jwrenna". Full excerpt: I have been a hard working employee of IBM for almost 13 years and can honestly say, I never thought I (and thousands like me) would ever have been treated so badly in the face of record earnings. Early in 2008, I had to take a 15% pay cut, because over the years, IBM refused to pay me for overtime, and, after a law suit forced them to agree to a settlement, they now had a change of policy. Now I was going to be paid for overtime. Well, so far so good, right.

    Wrong! IBM just told me that overtime is being cut out. In fact, the several days a year I must work Saturdays and/or Sundays (every quarterly close) my manager says I should adjust my work week, so that I do not get overtime, but instead, get two days off. Clearly in violation of IBM HR policy on overtime. Am I getting my 15% pay cut back. What do you think?

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: After deal to retain jobs, IBM opts to cut pay" by "Barbara". Full excerpt: I did the 12 hour shift for a little while in the late 90's. There is no way on God's green earth I'd do that shift without that premium. Right after they announce this fleecing of the state they fleece the workers too..Like I said before. They got a set the size of church bells. Oh well. This sounds selfish but I'm glad I'm out of there and I don't have to worry anymore where the next shoe is going to drop. Good luck to all of you who are still there.
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: Retirement gifts..." by "w2uhabud". Full excerpt: What ever happened to IBM? I retired over 24 years ago. I had one choice early or age 65. Early meant 55+, we had no 30 year thing, no bridge, no cash balance or anything like I hear about on this site,I don't know the meaning of "second choice," "FHA," or some of the other terms Ii hear about, and not being able to talk to current employees, I am at a loss.

    Things were good in the 50's. I remember family outings, large dinners with excellent entertainment, fun in the sun days, IBM means service awards, silver spoons when a new arrival came along, managers required to visit retirees once a year to see how they were doing, flowers and manager's visit when someone in the family died, I could go on an on.

    My retirement was OK in the early years. good medical coverage etc. I took leveling so I retired at 55 and had a little extra income until I turned 65, but along came the "cookie monster" and the world changed. Now with UHC and paying for premiums, my health care is actually non-existent from IBM. I think the most significant change for me is not being able to get info on almost any subject from anyone in IBM. I learned more from sites like this.

    Current employees and recent retirees must be going through an agonizing time with the changes that have taken place and I believe you have one person who started these changes which have continued through the years to blame. Sorry for the ranting and raving but I had to get this off my mind. Things were good once. Maybe they will return some day.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Whatever happened to IBM..." by "Adrian Rice". Full excerpt: You retired at a good time, where you could feel good for the rest of your life about the company you worked for. I started with IBM in 1982 and remember those days fondly. A few years after you retired (in 1992 to be exact), IBM was in trouble due to bad management -- and too much management -- and Lou Gerstner was brought in to save the company.

    Some changes were good -- removing excessive layers of management, for example. Some changes were bad, such as layoffs without retraining or redeploying. Then things just started going downhill, and by 1995 I noticed that IBM could be any company at all.

    The death blow as far as I can tell was with the acquisition of Price Waterhouse Cooper, because IBM brought in many of their managers as IBM managers with no training or IBM indoctrination at all. Those managers sucked beyond belief and have taken over IBM completely.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Retirement gifts..." by "Adrian Rice". Full excerpt: I thought some of you who retired 20 years ago would get a kick out of knowing the kinds of career milestone gifts that IBM employees are getting these days.

    My father, who retired nearly 20 years ago, was given a choice of really nice gifts which were worth about $1000. For his Quarter Century Club gift he got a Rolex watch and a check for $1000.

    I just retired at 55 and got to choose both my QCC gift and my retirement gift at the same time. The QCC gifts are really pretty decent, and can be bought on Amazon for around $900. I chose a 32" Sharp Aquos HD LCDTV, and had lots of other cool choices in jewelry, housewares and electronics. However, the retirement gifts were pretty chintzy -- and I was so underwhelmed with the first gift I chose that I sent it back and chose a different one.

    All the gifts can be bought on Amazon for $200 or less, and I had a hard time finding anything I even wanted. (The jewelry choices include tiny little freshwater pearl necklaces or rings set in birthstone gems like garnets and blue quartz, and department store watches. Houseware items are things like small Waterford lamps and beverage sets.)

    But the thing that nearly killed my father when I told him was that my retirement letter from Sam P misspelled my first name. He said both of the Watsons must be spinning like tops in their graves!

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: Retirement gifts..." by "Adrian Rice". Full excerpt: What? You got a frame? My letter was just placed in the package that contained the retirement gift catalog. No frame, no separate envelope -- nothing. If things keep going downhill at this rate, people who retire next year won't even get a letter!
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: Retirement shaft" by "collbbfan". Full excerpt: I'm sure my father made out much better than my brother and I will ever think of at retirement. My father retired from Tampa, with around 36 years in 1985. Received wonderful parting gifts, and a nice pension.

    Me? They cut me short 30 days in 2006, with 28 Y 11 M, making me ineligible to bridge 1 lousy year to get my pension in 2008. My manager did jack to help me. I was only 52 at the time. (Maybe I should have been laid off in 1993). I will hopefully start receiving a pension in 2010.

    My brother? Missed the old pension plan by 30 days, and figured out he must work 8 more years to be able to think of any kind of health benefits, which will cost him anyway.

    I was on COBRA for about 12 months, at employee price of $328 month. I stopped it before they had a chance to kill me with monthly premiums over $1000. Now I have benefits thru a state job, and will have a pension in 9 years, if I live that long.

    My brother will be too old to get another high paying job, and has no college. He better have a hefty 401k. So, yea my father is spinning with the Watsons.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: Retirement gifts..." by "Bob". Full excerpt: You had a choice in retirement gifts? I had none. They gave me a pewter plate (not even engraved). It still sits in its box on my closet shelf. I had considered donating to the Olympics for use in the discus competition. I'd rather they had given me a pewter mug - at least I could have used it for ice tea or coffee or even wine (I'm not a beer drinker). At least when I joined the QCC, I had a choice and took the Atmos clock (plus the one grand - almost $600 after taxes).
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: Whatcha gonna do when you retire?" by "Adrian Rice". Full excerpt: Even though I did not expect to retire at 55 and had not made any specific plans, by accident I ended up starting a business in accounting services and business management, which morphed into income tax planning and preparation for small businesses and self-employed individuals. So I started taking accounting classes at a local community college which will allow me to sit for the CPA exam. (Good use of the tuition reimbursement part of the Separation Agreement!)

    I volunteer at the IRS-sponsored tax assistance centers from January - April, and again from August-October. Preparing income tax returns for lower income people is a real eye-opener after spending my whole life working and being around people whose incomes put them in the upper middle class range. Although I hated being kicked out of my job, I am definitely much happier now!

  • MarketWatch: SPEEA Demands Boeing Disclose Funding of Executive Pensions. Excerpts: To ensure the pension program relied on by 21,400 technical employees at The Boeing Company is not being secretly used to fund executive retirement benefits, the union representing the employees is demanding the company immediately disclose the extent and funding source of its executive pension plans.

    The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001, formally requested the information from Boeing after a recent investigative news report by The Wall Street Journal uncovered U.S. corporations funding executive pensions by funneling funds through regular employee plans. This practice weakens employees' pensions while allowing corporations to take advantage of huge tax benefits not normally available for executive pension plans.

    In the Aug. 4, page-one, report, The Wall Street Journal called the pension maneuvers by corporations a "dubious use of tax law" that "risks harming regular workers."

  • San Diego Union-Tribune: With no paid sick leave, workers face grim choices. By Dean Calbreath. Excerpts: In every war there is collateral damage, and in the legislative battle to pass the long-delayed state budget, one of the casualties last week was a bill that would have provided paid sick leave to workers. What that means is that for the next year, at least, millions of California workers will face two choices when they're sick: go to work and risk spreading their disease to their co-workers, or stay home and risk losing their pay or even their jobs. It's not a pretty choice.

    Nearly 40 percent of California's work force, totaling 5.4 million workers, do not have the right to take paid time off work when they are sick, according to data from the Institute for Women's Policy Research, or IWPR, in Washington, D.C. “People are losing their pay, losing their jobs or being penalized in some other way because they had to stay home sick or to take care of a sick child,” said Vicky Lovell, acting director of research at the IWPR.

    As with so many other things regarding worker health and safety, the United States stands virtually alone in not guaranteeing workers paid leave when they get sick. In 145 other countries – including Japan and the top economies of Western Europe – employers are legally required to provide paid sick days or short-or long-term leave for illnesses. In 127 countries, employers must provide at least one week of paid sick leave per year. In contrast, outside of San Francisco – which recently passed its own law on paid sick leave – there is no such requirement in the United States.

  • New York Times: Cost-Cutting in New York, but a Boom in India. By Heather Timmons. Excerpts: Wall Street’s losses are fast becoming India’s gain. After outsourcing much of their back-office work to India, banks are now exporting data-intensive jobs from higher up the food chain to cities that cost less than New York, London and Hong Kong, either at their own offices or to third parties. Bank executives call this shift “knowledge process outsourcing,” “off-shoring” or “high-value outsourcing.” It is affecting just about everyone, including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Credit Suisse and Citibank — to name a few. ...

    Cost-cutting in New York and London has already been brutal thus far this year, and there is more to come in the next few months. New York City financial firms expect to hand out some $18 billion less in pay and benefits this year than 2007, the largest one-year drop ever. Over all, United States banks will cut 200,000 employees by 2009, the banking consultancy Celent said in April. The work these bankers were doing is not necessarily going away, though. Instead, jobs are popping up in places like India and Eastern Europe, often where healthier local markets exist. ...

    Proponents of the change say Wall Street’s wary embrace of the activity may signal the beginning of a profound shift in the way investment banks are structured, with everyone but the top deal makers, client representatives and the bank management permanently relocated to cheaper locales like India, the Philippines and Eastern Europe. In the future, executives in India like to joke, the only function for highly paid bankers in New York or London will be to greet clients and shake hands when the deals close.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Questions on retirement medical options etc" by "majorninth24". Full excerpt: I've been with the company for 35+ years, am one of those rare birds that actually enjoys my current job for the most part. However, my husband just took ill and it appears we may have some serious medical procedures and hospitalizations in front of us. At this point it looks like I'll need to retire as quickly as possible to give him the kind of day-to-day care that he requires. I'm only now beginning the process of investigating the retirement medical options... currently we're both covered under the IBM medical plan; even though he's over 65 we had opted to stick with this rather than choose the Medicare part B for him. Not sure what our best options are at this point, lots of research to do in the next few days/weeks. Any words of advice on what we should be considering, cautions, pitfalls?

    One other thing, I haven't yet said anything to my management about retirement, but feel I probably own them a heads-up as soon as I get my act together. What are the unofficial rules on family medical emergencies, etc? Should I use up all my vacation days in taking my husband for blood tests, Dr appointments, hospital stays? My boss is brand new to management, but so far has been supportive in "taking all the time I need" to get through last week's emergencies. Thanks in advance for any insight that you can give.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: Whatcha gonna do when you retire?" by Jon Maguire. Full excerpts: I just got RA'd yesterday. Got the package from UPS this morning. 58 with 30 years 4 months. Ahh, I love the smell of retirement in the morning :-)
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: Whatcha gonna do when you retire?" by "rsd1955". Full excerpt: Reading about all you happy retirees makes me depressed. I was let go in February after 28 years with IBM. Since I was only 52 I couldn't retire and lost quite a bit. The SOB's gave me back to back 3 ratings and canned me. In 26 years I was never a 3 once, and was actually a 1 many times and was even part of the executive resources program. IBM screwed me, but I'm glad to know so many of you got what you worked all those years for.
  • CNN/Money: How to lure Gen Y workers? Do good Recruiters highlight their community and environmental projects to draw civic-minded youth. Efforts are window onto corporate culture and give firms a leg up with top students. By Tami Luhby. Excerpts: When it comes to recruiting the Millennial Generation, it isn't only about salary ... it's about community service. Young people entering the job market today want to work for companies that care about the world, and employers are picking up on this trend. As recruiters prepare to descend on college campuses next month, many are revamping their brochures and banners to highlight their community service and environmental initiatives. They are drawing attention both to their corporate responsibility efforts and to the volunteer opportunities they provide their workers as a way to lure top students to their firms. ...

    Even the giveaways send a message. Instead of post-it notes and highlighters, some companies are handing out tree seedlings and recycled bags, said Laura Bochenek Klein, an associate director in Rice University's career services center. Some employers are taking it a step farther. IBM, for instance, is debuting a new recruiting campaign with the tagline "Work for the World. Start @ IBM."

    IBM's brochures highlight the company's involvement in green technology and innovations in helping the blind experience streaming video and animation. It tells prospective employees: "You will make a difference...you might contribute on a grand scale or perhaps influence the life of a single individual." Recruiters, meanwhile, will further explain the tech giant's efforts in cleaning up rivers around the world or aiding employees who volunteer in their local schools. The company hopes that showcasing such initiatives will lure top college talent.

  • Arizona Daily Star: Raytheon is ordered to restore health aid. Judge's ruling affects 1,000 early retirees, dependents. By Jack Gillum. Excerpts: In a decision that a union group says may set an important legal precedent, a federal judge has ruled that Raytheon Missile Systems must restore health-care benefits to its employees who took early retirement. The ruling, in U.S. District Court for Arizona, was called on Thursday a "major victory for Raytheon retirees" by the International Association of Machinists Local 933, the AFL-CIO-affiliated union that represents Raytheon's hourly employees.

    The decision effectively restores about 1,000 retirees' and dependents' health-care benefits to levels before July 1, 2004, an attorney for the union retirees said. It requires the company to compensate the class members for premiums they paid since then — which the plaintiffs' attorney estimated were between $6 million and $12 million. ...

    "This is a great victory for our retirees," James Watson, the union's local directing business representative, said in a prepared statement. "They deserve the benefits they fought for during their years with the company, and a dignified retirement without the worry of skyrocketing medical premiums on a fixed income." ...

    At issue in the lawsuit was whether Raytheon could decide to cut benefits to its employees between the time they retired early and the standard retirement age of 65. In granting summary judgment for the workers on Monday, U.S. District Judge David C. Bury said the collective-bargaining agreements established between 1990 and 1999 "unambiguously provide vested medical benefits for retirees until age 65 at no cost."

  • Workforce Management: Retiree Health Care May Live On. Employers who want to extend retiree health care fall into two camps. One believes that continuing to offer such a benefit is key in giving them an edge in recruiting. The other camp is made up of organizations that want to continue to offer retiree coverage to encourage older workers to retire, rather than continue working just to have health benefits. By Jessica Marquez. Excerpt: Traditionally, employers used defined-benefit pension plans to nudge workers into retirement. With those plans, as soon as employees became eligible to start taking payouts from their pensions, many would retire. But since employers have switched to defined-contribution plans, there is no longer a clear-cut time when employees feel ready to retire, says Paul Fronstin, director of the health research and education program at the Employee Benefit Research Institute. And with health care costs increasing, many older workers are postponing retirement because they’re concerned about how they will pay for their care. "As soon as they take away retiree health benefits, they have essentially lost their tool to manage the retirement process at their organizations," Fronstin says of employers. "It makes it harder to get those workers to retire on a voluntary basis."
  • National Institute on Retirement Security: A Better Bang for the Buck: The Economic Efficiencies of DB Plans. Excerpt: Worries about retirement security abound. Families fear that they won’t have enough to support an adequate retirement income as home values and financial markets plummet. Dwindling profit margins have employers looking to cut costs.

    And governments are concerned about delivering on the promises that they have made to their citizens and to their employees as tax revenues shrink amid a weakening economy. In this environment, some have proposed replacing traditional defined benefit (DB) pensions with 401(k)-type defined contribution (DC) retirement savings plans in an effort to save money.

    But decision-makers would be wise to look before they leap. To deliver the same level of retirement benefits, a DB plan can do the job at almost half the cost of a DC plan. Hence, DB plans should remain an integral part of retirement income security in an increasingly uncertain world because they offer employers and employees the best bang for the buck.

  • Economic Policy Institute: Social Security: Here today, still here tomorrow. Why today’s young workers should be confident about the program’s future. By Alexander Hertel. Excerpts: This August 14th Social Security will celebrate its 73rd anniversary, a good time to reflect upon a program that allows us to retire after a lifetime of work and keeps millions of people out of poverty. But advocates for privatization continue to paint a bleak picture of Social Security’s future, and the message has reached young adults in particular: 73% born between 1977 and 1994 believe the program will no longer exist when they retire. The reality is far more optimistic.

    Since the early 1980s, Social Security has been taking in more in worker contributions than it has been paying out in benefits. This has resulted in a growing trust fund of more than $2 trillion. These reserves are projected to grow for another decade, and then will decline and run out in 2041. If no action is taken, benefits will have to be cut by about 25%, as they will be funded entirely from current contributions. Even if lawmakers allowed this to happen, future retirees will receive benefits that are more generous than those received by previous generations. Retiring at 65, the typical young adult born between 1980 and 1990 will receive retirement benefits valued at $188,000 in 2007 dollars, up from $181,000 for retirees born between 1960 and 1970.

    The bottom line is that Social Security is in good shape—we should all be so lucky at age 73. Changes to shore up the program’s financing and make it more progressive are warranted, but there is no crisis, and certainly no need to rush to dramatic reform.

  • Taking Note: Happy Sweet 73. By Bernard Wasow. Excerpts: Social Security has survived another year. In at least one important policy area, good sense has triumphed over ideology. We have not shredded the safety net in a celebration of rugged individualism. We have not promised to transfer resources from the poor to the rich, from women to men, from the old to the young.

    In a curiously American drama, “liberal” commitment to tried and true policy has beaten back the “conservative” drive for radical change. We can only hope that this liberal caution will mark the next president’s policy not only toward Social Security but toward taxation, spending, and military adventures as well. ...

    Social Security is something of a bureaucratic miracle; it is good government, getting the job done. At a cost vastly lower than the cost of running a private insurance company or bank, the Social Security system tracks 197 million accounts, delivers checks on time every month to more than 49 million beneficiaries. Like a rock in the wild sea of economic change and uncertainty, Social Security stands prepared to anchor the lives of the old, the disabled, and families whose breadwinner has died.

  • CNN/Money: This time, wage slaves can't revolt. The Fed is banking on a weak labor market to keep employees from demanding wage hikes that could boost inflation. But consumers are feeling pinched. By Colin Barr. Excerpts: With the price of practically everything jumping, you probably wouldn't mind getting a bigger paycheck. But your employer isn't the only one who's unenthusiastic about that idea. Fed chief Ben Bernanke is counting on a weak labor market to keep employees from demanding wage hikes, which could in turn boost inflation. With unemployment rising and jobs moving overseas, you're probably not in the mood to push it anyway.

    So the good news is that the Fed's probably right when it says that we're not headed for a replay of the stagflation of the 1970s, replete with its so-called wage-price spiral. Unfortunately, that means Americans are going to be feeling poorer - with no end in sight.

    On Thursday, the government said consumer prices soared 5.6% from a year ago in July, the biggest year-over-year rise in 17 years. Much of that increase was driven by the soaring costs of food and energy, though Bank of America economist Lynn Reaser notes that prices were sharply higher across the board. "This number was a shocker," Reaser says, adding that practically "the only benign increase was in health care," where prices - after years of strong growth - were a modest 3.5% above year-ago levels.

News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
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  • Columbus Dispatch: Health-care costs may overwhelm retirement. By Steve Wartenberg. Excerpts: The rising cost of health care is making it harder for Americans to put enough away for retirement, an academic report indicates. A study released yesterday by Boston College's Center for Retirement Research found that when the costs of health care are considered, 28 percent of all workers incorrectly think they will have enough money for retirement. According to the center's National Retirement Risk Index, these people are actually "at risk" and don't perceive the financial problems that lie ahead. ...

    "People don't realize how much you need to save for retirement," he said. "And medical care has become a huge factor. More employers aren't providing medical care for retired workers, and some are even taking it away from (retirees)."

  • USA Today: Prices for some drugs skyrocket. Excerpts: By Julie Appleby. Excerpts: Drug companies are quietly pushing through price hikes of 100% — or even more than 1,000% — for a very small but growing number of prescription drugs, helping to drive up costs for insurers, patients and government programs. The number of brand-name drugs with increases of 100% or more could double this year from four years ago, researchers from the University of Minnesota say. Many of the drugs are older products that treat fairly rare, but often serious or even life-threatening, conditions.

    Among the examples: Questcor Pharmaceuticals last August raised the wholesale price on Acthar, which treats spasms in babies, from about $1,650 a vial to more than $23,000. Ovation raised the cost of Cosmegen, which treats a type of tumor, from $16.79 to $593.75 in January 2006. The average wholesale price of 26 brand-name drugs jumped 100% or more in a single cost adjustment last year, up from 15 in 2004, the university study found. In the first half of this year, 17 drugs made the list.

  • Associated Press, courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle: Dems agree on a health care guarantee for all.
  • New York Times opinion: Can It Happen Here? By Paul Krugman. The draft Democratic Party platform that was sent out last week puts health care reform front and center. “If one thing came through in the platform hearings,” says the document, “it was that Democrats are united around a commitment to provide every American access to affordable, comprehensive health care.”

    Can Democrats deliver on that commitment? In principle, it should be easy. In practice, supporters of health care reform, myself included, will be hanging on by their fingernails until legislation is actually passed. What’s easy about guaranteed health care for all? For one thing, we know that it’s economically feasible: every wealthy country except the United States already has some form of guaranteed health care. The hazards Americans treat as facts of life — the risk of losing your insurance, the risk that you won’t be able to afford necessary care, the chance that you’ll be financially ruined by medical costs — would be considered unthinkable in any other advanced nation.

    The politics of guaranteed care are also easy, at least in one sense: if the Democrats do manage to establish a system of universal coverage, the nation will love it. I know that’s not what everyone says; some pundits claim that the United States has a uniquely individualistic culture, and that Americans won’t accept any system that makes health care a collective responsibility. Those who say this, however, seem to forget that we already have a program — you may have heard of it — called Medicare. It’s a program that collects money from every worker’s paycheck and uses it to pay the medical bills of everyone 65 and older. And it’s immensely popular.

  • New York Times: Health Benefits Inspire Rush to Marry, or Divorce. By Kevin Sack. Excerpts: It was only last February that Brandy Brady met Ricky Huggins at a Mardi Gras ball here. By April, they had decided to marry. Ms. Brady says she loves Mr. Huggins, but she worries they are moving too fast. She questions how well they really know each other, and wants to better understand his mood swings.

    But Ms. Brady, 38, also finds much to admire in Mr. Huggins, who is three years older. He strikes her as trustworthy and caring. He has a stable job as a plumber and a two-bedroom house. And perhaps above all, said Ms. Brady, who received a kidney transplant last year, “He’s got great insurance.”

    More than romance, the couple readily acknowledge, it is Mr. Huggins’s Blue Cross/Blue Shield HMO policy that is driving their rush to the altar. In a country where insurance is out of reach for many, it is not uncommon for couples to marry, or even to divorce, at least partly so one spouse can obtain or maintain health coverage.

  • Financial Week: Health-care costs projected to rise a painful 10.6% in 2009. By Mark Bruno. Excerpt: Only when discussing health care would a double-digit increase in expenses be considered good news for employers. Aon Consulting estimates that the cost of providing health-care benefits to employees will rise by 10.6% over the next 12 months. At almost three times the rate of inflation, that number is nothing to snicker at. But there could be some encouraging news for companies in the estimate: The projected increase in health-care costs would be the lowest in roughly 10 years.
New on the Alliance@IBM Site:
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  • Is IBM offshoring the IBM Payroll Help Desk to Manila, Philippines? If you have documentation please send to: Allianceibmunion@gmail.com
  • Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comment 08/10/08: With full recognition of the serious degradation of my work environment during the LEAN times I have observed a very abrupt and unilateral change in the relationship with my manager. What was a reasonably cordial and functional relationship (given the dysfunction of the LEAN process) has suddenly changed into a pattern of hostility and antagonism. I can only assume that I have just been placed on the next RA list and am now being "stimulated" to leave on my own accord sans any severance package. I am determined to stay put until I am"properly" RA'ed with a reasonable compensatory severance package.

      My question to the forum is, how long should I expect this period of"stimulation" to last? Can I expect to be degraded and humiliated for a couple of weeks or will this go on for months or longer? In other words, how long do they attempt to stimulate you to leave on your own before they relent and tell you to go with a severance package. Emotionally I'd prefer to take the bastards to court as a court judgment in my favor would be much more satisfying but practically speaking I'll take a severance package and move on, never to look back. Thanks in advance for any advice and/or wisdom from those that have "gone" before me. -married_to_ibm_but_a_divorce_is_pending-

    • Comment 08/11/08: If there was ever a case for unionizing IBM, look no farther than Fox News Online. Verizon just got a new contract and a strike was averted. Take a look at this excerpt from Fox News. "Job security and health care were among the main points of contention. They were negotiated in 2003, after a threatened strike was averted when federal mediators joined the talks. That settlement was for a five-year contract. The proposed new contract applies to workers in 10 northeastern and mid-Atlantic states and Washington, D.C., 50,000 of them CWA members and 15,000 in the IBEW. IBEW president Ed Hill said the talks "met our goals to protect the retirees who helped to build this company and ... ensure future jobs for union members." Oh, and did I mention there was a 10.5% wage increase too? Wake up people!! -DA Catboid-
    • Comment 08/11/08: I'm with GTS in CA, last yr my mgr had 45 fulltimers and 5 contractors, I notice last week there was only 16 fulltimers and about 35 contractors, i believe SRA's has been going on without our knowledge.. -Lionheart-
    • Comment 08/12/08: I was milling around PBS archives. Here is 15 min news segment from June, on the Labor Unions including how they have been on declined since 1954. Where in 1954 1 in 3 workers where in a union compared to 2007 where 1 in 8 were. From my point of view, I think Labor Unions are on the precipice of recovery. http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/06132008/watch.html -Anonymous-
    • Comment 08/12/08: IBM GBS is cutting back on costs - anything to make the bottom line while creating such a positive work environment. 3Q spending (POs/Bond/Education/Travel (T&L) that is not paid for by the commercial customer is frozen.

      Exceptions: Thanks Awards, Invention/Disclosure Awards, Mobility expenses within GBS mobility guidelines spending levels, Travel as part of a revenue generating commercial contract.

      Frozen/Restricted: ALL Education Certification and industry institution fees. All travel that is not commercial customer paid. All POs, Bond and Amex purchases - including SW, books, periodicals, travel, education, industry memberships (i.e. PMI, etc.), gifts, luncheons, WS/PC peripherals & parts, any BOND purchases charged to AS departments, and Supplies -Anonymous-

    • Comment 08/13/08: We heard that the state of Vermont has received notice that the microelectronics division is going to have a significant resource action in October in Vermont. We are hearing numbers of 700 people-indirects and poor performing production workers. The support groups are going to take the bulk of the resource action. We are hearing end of October? Anyone else hearing this? -Anti-Blue-
    • Comment 08/13/08: It must really be a positive work place as workers do nothing to improve it. I am reminded of Tennessee Ernie Ford's song "16 Tons". "I owe my soul to the company store". I guess it may well have to reach that point of misery in IBM before the union takes hold. It is sad to see people used and abused in this manner and do nothing about it. Stockholm Syndrome maybe? Whatever the reason it is indeed a sad day in America. -Exodus 2007-
    • Comment 08/14/08: This fall there will be significant changes at IBM Burlington. To all of those who feel immune from any cut think again, this one is going to show what Corporate wants to do with BTV. Hopefully Vermont is ready for this. -Big Cuts-
    • Comment 08/14/08: Heard today that Jeff Miller (Operations Director), announced to his mangers (Nichole and Helene) that he plans to close the Southbury and Poughkeepsie command centers by early next year, if not sooner. This includes mainframe, iseries, distributed and ebus. Jeff then plans to proceed to quickly close all operations in Lexington and RTP. He has already moved close to 700 jobs to Brazil, India and other locations outside of the US. He has now told Nichole that this number is falling short of Joann Colin-Smee’s target and he has told his managers that 70 more jobs will need to be sent global by year end. UNREAL! -Buckleup-
    • Comment 08/14/08: I heard that 21 jobs in support of Problem & Change are being sent to Argentina within the next few months. This is in addition to more than 100 jobs so far that have already been eliminated this year. When is it going to end? The US team is hyping up these new US based GDF's (Fishkill/Boulder) but it's only a ploy to keep some of the US resources temporarily calmed as more jobs are sent off shore. -TIRED-
    • Comment 08/15/08: Programmers at IBM Endicott NY are being told, they will need to apply for new jobs soon. Some managers feel that, IBM will be done with them soon and will let them go. -oldibmgone-
    • Comment 08/15/08: Spent some time today, here in BTV, asking some of my sources about the rumors of another big layoff. The conclusion is there will be another one, about 300 people, in November. Happy Holidays from IBM ... and good luck paying for your heating fuel this year. -Hmmm-
  • General Visitor's Comment page:
    • Comment 08/10/08: Like -another exibmer- and so many others, I was let go a year ago after 8 years also. I was chosen because I wasn't the managers pet. I also have a new job, and my manager always thanks me for doing a good job. I've gotten more time off around holidays, bonuses at christmas, company gifts at thanksgiving, etc. Once you are out of IBM you realize that life doesn't have to be like that. You don't have to worry about your job, constantly be threatened by an idiot manager. It's better on the outside. -justanother_exibm'r-
    • Comment 08/11/08: To -Exodus2007- You know what gets taken away next? Your JOB! When are people going to wake up. Join the union. Get word out to your co-workers, build the ranks. Don't let IBM treat you (and me) like this anymore. You ask how much lower they will sink? Look at what they are doing. No one stops them, so they keep on taking. The only way it will stop is if we organize and stand up for ourselves. Until that time, we will continue to be squeezed until the last ounce is dry. Then they will toss us out in favor of workers in some foreign land. -miss understanding-
    • Comment 08/11/08: ALL of your personal data....Name, Social Security #, Birth date, Address is now residing in Manila with the new IBM payroll help desk. This is in a country with known terrorist groups working. These groups have been known to steal American identities to gain access to the United States. You ARE ALL IN SERIOUS RISK. Meanwhile ...none of the officers data was moved over there. You all should be escalating this to HR NOW! -ID Theft Coming!-
    • Comment 08/12/08: Interesting article on CNN this morning about IBM and the mobility@work initiative. I am in the midst of navigating IBM's new corporate cell phone program and the crux of the issue is that IBM does NOT intend to provide me with additional functionality beyond telephony. I guess this article falls in the category of things IBM can sell, but does NOT intend to use. Here's the link.... http://bigtech.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2008/08/08/ibm-makes-mobile-push/ -gadfly-
    • Comment 08/14/08: Well, I guess that I had spoke too soon. Today the standby time got pulled out from under me. I will now be forced to FULLY realize my 15% pay cut. And my manager didn't even have the guts to tell me in person. He sent me an e-mail just before he left for vacation. -Lowly SA-
  • Pension Comments page
  • Raise and Salary Comments
    • Comment 08/06/08: Band Level = 2; Job Title = operator; Years Service = 12; Hours/Week = aws; Location = burlington; Message = how much more can a worker under 40k take in cuts I was just cut my aws shift premium of 20% then had my base raised so the cut was 5.5% starting 1/1/09 ..what a bunch of BS my 3rd level said he didn't get a increase this year whoo hoo SHANE R. way to go to help the co. why don't u take a cut IBM in VT will soon be a thing in the past some of my friends with 25+ years service lost 10% -vtibmer-
    • Comment 08/13/08: IBM has new plans and so do I. IBM cuts my pay 10%, I cut the amount of work done in a day by 10%! Plus I'll reduce output by another 10% as a penalty to IBM for having betrayed me and my co-workers... That's my plan IBM. Just business, don't be upset. -MyPlan4IBM-
    • Comment 08/13/08: Salary = 68k; Band Level = 7; Job Title = pick one; Years Service = 30+; Hours/Week = 55; Location = Oak Brook, Illinois; Message = Standby pay cancelled. Chicago. Effective 8/16/2008 15% paycut GUY. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 08/16/08: Location = east fishkill Message = one of my friends just got let go from IBM for speaking his opinions in a local newspaper article about the 20% big pay cut, how can you accept a cut, yet again? and while the newspaper says IBM is hitting record profits? I'm glad he got out, one way or another life goes on and IBM is not the only place to work, Don't get locked in without a union to support you. Sign the petition -sid-
  • 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. A sample post follows:

  • "When outsourcing how do I keep IBM away?" by "Frank Cary". Full excerpt: I'm about to start putting together the RFP for outsourcing a medium-sized city's IT functions. I have one mainframe and over 100 Dell servers, 5000 laptops, GIS and networks-both wired and wireless, galore. The politicians like to keep non-US citizens out of such deals: bad publicity on them for laying off citizens and taxpayers in an election year. How do I keep the Pig out of the running and how do I get assurance of a 100% US of a vendor workforce?
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.