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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—August 30, 2008

  • Charlotte News & Observer Talk Back: Where workers are 'resources': IBM and the American dream. By Dragana Djuricic Mendel. Full excerpt: Last week, IBM laid off about 30 people in Research Triangle Park as a cost-cutting measure. IBM doesn't like to use the word "layoff," as it will personalize the victims; it uses the term "resource action." If you were to read the IBM dictionary, you would see that the company does not have any employees or people, only "resources." Everyone and everything is a resource. Well, the resources that have been eliminated from IBM's payroll translate into people and families that do not have monthly paychecks anymore.

    The last time IBMers got a memo from their leader about the state of the company was in early spring, when CEO Sam Palmisano was raving about corporate profits and the stock price increase. In fact, he did his job so well that he received $20.9 million in compensation, an 11 percent increase. In contrast, most resources did not receive a pay raise this year, and the lucky resources that did cannot say that the raise is outpacing inflation.

    The math is very clear to me: Rob people of their livelihoods so that the fat cat can get even fatter. The corporate greed of the 21st century and the return of the robber barons is nothing new. IBM is not the only multinational corporation that has total disregard for the people it hires and fires. The bigger question is: Why are people doing nothing about it?

    How low will the American middle class go before it starts demanding a New Deal from the government to protect it from modern-day robber barons? In France, for example, a corporation needs to show at least three consecutive quarters of losses before it can lay off a single person. It makes sense to me. How about this one from Japan: salary caps!

    Unfortunately, a lot of people in the U.S. still believe in the American dream. They still hope that one day they will strike it rich and make millions of dollars. Statistically speaking, that will never happen to Joe Average. As long as Joe Average does not realize this, the fat cats will continue to use the American dream as a carrot on a stick to prevent the people from uniting and demanding a change.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Where workers are 'resources': IBM and the American dream" by "sstern0626". Full excerpts: I am a victim of this "resource action" that is mentioned in your article. I worked for IBM in the Tivoli section of the SWG for about one year and one month. My review was excellent and I received a raise (even though it was measly....it was still my first raise).

    After working about 24 hours in two days, I get a phone call at 9:00am in the morning stating this: "due to internal resource actions, IBM is going to have to lay you off...this is a definite lay off...however I am going to dedicate the next 30 days to finding you a job internally."

    So here I am in shock because 1) I just bought a house; 2) I have bills to pay; 3) I was never AWARE that a layoff was imminent for PROFITS were being reported. I applied for about 10 internal positions and was turned down for the majority of them due to the fact that a 90 day internal freeze was in effect for any positions that had anything to do with SWG was in effect.

    Now, in the package I received it stated I had 30 days...yes a grand spanking 30 days to find a position within IBM or I will be laid off. (This is total BS because we all know how slow the Big Blue wheels turn when it comes to job application processing internally or externally). My boss found two positions in Texas (he is located there and I am in Atlanta) that were a 25% percent match...but I cannot leave the state because my mother has breast cancer which is why I opted to work remotely.

    I came into the position that required at least 5 years development experience internally, as a new hire (my information was received from Project View which later led to a interview). During out interview I asked "Will I be trained on the product in which I will be supporting" and the answer was "Yes you will be, I promise you will be up to speed in 6 months". Well...6 months into my career no training was offered in the product I was supporting.

    Development was to help me along...however that never occurred due to them being overworked and understaffed and well...not wanting to deal with someone who was "not up to their speed". I was told to "learn by trial by fire".

    My L2 counterparts received all the training courses for the product however, I was only able (due to "budget" limitations") approved to take an advanced level 2 course. One would think that it would make more sense for me to be allowed to take the pre-req courses before this...right? Well, it did not happen that way.

    So here I am as a college new hire, working for one of the world's greatest companies which is reporting profit gains, but I could not get a approval to take courses designed to TEACH me the basics and how to support the product. The very same product that I am to support and create bug fixes for.

    As a side note, I just found out that an actual developer was to fill the position I was in. However, he went on vacation and never came back...therefore Development proposed to bring in a new hire and they will bring him/her up to speed on the product because they could not afford to loose anymore team members.

    In closing, IBM has basically spit on my American dream and has left a horrid taste in my mouth. When I met with the IBMers I have been out of college for about one year now and due to the situation in the economy it is going to be difficult to get a new job with only 1 year worth of experience. I was proud to say "I worked for a company that who is actually doing things to help the world". But, in actuality I was just a resource, with a lot of broken IBM promises.

    Also, sorry if there are some grammatical errors or tense issues...but i'm typing this from my 8525 pda.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Where workers are 'resources': IBM and the American dream" by "Dragana Kostic". Full excerpt: I am very sorry about your lay off and the struggles you are going through. Each resource action is a person that needs a paycheck for him and her family. If you didn't need the money, you wouldn't be working in the first place.

    As you have said, who would except a layoff when the company finances are stellar. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. The multinational company like IBM has a good balance sheet because most of the work is being done in low cost regions of the world while gradually and continually reducing the work force in high cost areas like the US and Western Europe.

    Quote: "A longer view of this trend reveals a troubling trajectory. In 1980, CEOs made 42 times the pay of average factory workers. In 1990, they made 85 times as much. By 1999, CEOs made 475 times as much as workers. Sklar asks, "How big a gap will we tolerate?" from http://www.westfairinc.com/future/archive/081808.php

    In addition to steady outsourcing of all kids of jobs to low cost regions, the executive greed went through the roof! The US executives are rolling in dough, their cost cutting plan is working and no one is even thinking about stopping them from robbing the employees, let alone doing something about it. That's why I am a big fan of salary caps. If 42 times was good enough for them in '80s lets make that cap again now. Without that, we can all work as hard as we want to and never obtain "the American dream". Not just American dream, but stable secure middle class lifestyle.

    At this rate, if nothing gets in the way of continual wage gap, I wonder how long will it take before we see social unrests spilling into streets. Argentina anyone? Do you remember how that country has lost middle class layer overnight? In the US is not happening overnight, but it can get there.

    Going back to IBM... if you are from Atlanta, I assume you must be GA Tech grad. If so, no one can ever take away your excellent education. Use it wisely. Unfortunately, I really don't see much future in IBM as it has embraced the cost cutting strategy and it is being awarded by Wall Street. There are few things that I and anyone else that have a job today can do is: save extra money, live below your means and bitch at government for change because corporations will not do it. I'm sure you are guessing correctly by now that there is no way in hell I will vote Republican.

  • ZD-Net Australia: Strike vote fuels IBM Australia debate. By Suzanne Tindal. Excerpts: A potential impending strike action at one of IBM Australia's Sydney facilities has sparked debate about whether it was still worth striving to work at one of the largest and most prestigious technology firms in Australia and the world. About 70 employees at IBM's Baulkham Hills facility will by midday Friday vote on whether to go on strike in a secret ballot. The workers want a collective agreement granting better pay and work conditions. A number of readers who claimed to be current and former IBM staffers have been discussing the company, using ZDNet.com.au as a forum for the debate. With this in mind, we spoke to a number of past IBM Australia workers to get their thoughts on the matter. ...

    He also felt the rankings for performance pay, from one to four, were distributed arbitrarily, because managers could only give a limited number of ones, and if a worker received the top score last year, he was unlikely to get it again the year after no matter how hard he worked. ...

    Another employee said the problem was money. "Bottom line was king," he stated, adding that working in the outsourcing division, staff were encouraged to always stick to the letter of the contract, providing the minimum level of service and making sure that anything extra was charged as an upgrade. He acknowledged, however, that the mentality may have been a recent development. "Speaking to people who had been there for a longer period, 20 or 30 years, it hadn't always been that way," he said.

  • ZD-Net Australia: IBM Australia workers vote to strike. By Suzanne Tindal. Excerpts: Workers at IBM's Flightdeck in Baulkham hills have voted to strike for better pay and conditions, according to the Australian Services Union, which counted the vote today. A section of under 100 employees working at the organisation's "Flightdeck" at Baulkham Hills wanted a collective agreement granting them better pay and conditions, and had decided to vote on a strike after IBM failed to address employee concerns. ...

    The aim of the strike is 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 following are selected comments from readers of the ZD-Net Australia articles:
    • "IBM At Baulkham Hills". We are one of those company's whose data is hosted at Baulkham Hills. Given the level of service we get from IBM this latest development doesn't surprise me one bit! I just wonder what sort of impact this is going to have on customers like us who host critical equipment there!
    • "Not a surprise". You might be surprised to know the declining service to clients is one of the core frustrations leading up to the unionisation. There are highly skilled people on that Flightdeck, some with 20+ yrs experience, that take great pride in their work and they certainly appreciate how the recent decline in standards reflects poorly on them as much as it does on IBM. You would not believe the level of frustration at the current policies and strategies that are making it increasingly difficult to provide the clients with the level of service they pay for and deserve.

      Offshoring to poor quality environments whose low standard of service tars local staff with the same brush, dumbing down of local roles, ever shrinking resources to perform ever increasing workloads and on it goes.

      The pay issues are more about internal equity amongst flightdeck employees not simply getting more money. It'd be ill advised to reduce it to that. Yes it's obvious many other 9 -5 depts in IBM outside Strategic Outsourcing have it relatively easy and indeed years ago that same 'no need for bloody unions here' attitude was prevalent on the Flighdeck. However its hard to swallow the 'IBM is a great place to work' line when there's no funding to replace obsolete and unreliable equipment, a skilled and competent employee has no pay increase in several years and redundancy entitlements have been completely removed while IBM profits continue to rise and Sam gets his $25,000,000.

      I understand how easy it is to spout off about union stereotypes but I suggest you acquire a more in depth knowledge of the situation before passing judgement so quickly.

    • "IBM Australia vs Staff". I worked at IBM for 8 years having left last year, They are no longer in my view the employer of choice nor are they a fair employer, as a female they often state they have the best facilities for female employees this is not true anymore. They pay well under market rate within the IT industry but assume people will want to work there for the prestige of working at IBM. I left as I could get significantly better pay and working conditions elsewhere. The employees at IBM do attempt to provide high quality service to their clients this I know but this is hard with the working conditions and restrictions they have.
    • "Employers of Choice?" I have been in "IT" for over 30 years. Yes, once there were employers that you would chew your arm off to work for - IBM, HP, Compaq, CSC etc. These employers trained you, treated you with respect, listened to your observations and advice and generally did a good job at maintaining employee conditions.

      Today - it's about shareholders, not employees. Sales teams sell deals that the delivery teams can't deliver for the price - so companies hire less skilled staff to deliver and put them under pressure to "self educate".

      Once upon a time the "flight deck" team was called "operations". A bunch of tape jockeys and batch jockeys. Today, they need to be level 1 & 2 diagnosticians for networks, servers, mainframes, backup, security and in many circumstances manage the facilities as well.

      They should be a highly valued and highly trained set of staff. Sadly - most organisations view them as just "ops staff" I have built and run data centres (up to 4000sqm) over the last 5 years - so I know what I am talking about. IMHO there is no organisation that is an employer of choice in the IT space anymore.

    • "Big Blue has lost its sheen". IBM has turned into a company filled with "yes" managers who are unable to actually deal with situations like morale, pay or conditions. As someone who was an IBM employee, I was amazed to find the HR department was actually incented on limiting the total renumeration across the company to < 5% despite the net growth in head count.

      The middle management are incredibly naive in their attitude to staff and focus on revenue and outsourcing at the expense of solid business foundations. Expect Sam to cash in his shares in the next 12 months as the company has eroded its intellectual assets and is currently taking cash from customers without providing value.

    • "Been There Seen That". I work for IBM and have seen the results from when employees do not agree with policies,or when employees take action against the company. IBM management gets the drift and instead of working with the employees to come to a good resolution they make arrangements to outsource.

      IBM stinks in the way it works and I pity the people that work the flight deck as this action taken may have implications in their future employment. IBM tends to have project codes that IBM execs know and when the action is taken i.e. outsourcing it is known to all the name of project code name. Very very disappointing.

      I wish the guys of the flight deck good luck and good stuff for taking the action as it gives other teams/departments a little courage to take some similar actions.

      It is all nice and dandy for managers to be in place and change the world and when it gets tough they **** off elsewhere and screw up the next department.

      IBM has done major damage to its internal structure and customers are starting to feel it. IBM is not the same place as 5 years ago. In honesty it has moved backwards allowing the competitors to take more chunks out of IBMs space.

      I hope the shareholders and execs feel the pinch and stop being so greedy screwing this company to the ground.

  • Yahoo! IBM Retiree Information Exchange: "Re: Car Rental Agreement" by Bart Bartholomew. Full excerpt: Here is what we researched and found out from IBM Procurement: Rental Car Discount Sites. The discounts are available to active and retired IBMers. Effective immediately, Hertz, National Car Rental, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car are IBM's preferred rental car suppliers in North America for all locations covering on-and off-airport requirements. Hertz continues to have exclusive status outside of North America. Hertz, National, and Enterprise rentals can be booked through Hertz, National, and Enterprise directly via the links below.

    National Car Rental custom benefits for IBM: Rates and all provisions can be used for both business and leisure rentals. Frequent Flyer Miles and Rewards Program offering. Guaranteed vehicle availability with 12-hour advance reservation. Complimentary membership in The Emerald Club. Bypass the rental counter and go directly to the Emerald Club Aisle® at more than 50 major airports in the United States and Canada. Choose any car from the Emerald Club Aisle and be on your way. Speed up returns with an E-Receipt. Sign up to receive this benefit and receipts will be automatically e-mailed to you within 24 hours. To learn more about The Emerald Club enrollment information, go to the IBM Web enrollment link at https://nationalcar.com/offer/IBM and sign up using the IBM National Account number 5666666.

    Enterprise Rent-a-car custom benefits for IBM: A network of 7,000 neighborhood locations in North America to service local off-airport needs With advance notice, free pick-up service allows travelers to receive their vehicle at their hotel, office and home. Free enrollment in the Enterprise Rent-A-Car member program, Enterprise PlusTM. Print a copy of your receipt anytime you need it by going to http://www.enterprise.com. To learn more about Enterprise Plus enrollment information, go to http://www.enterprise.com/plus and sign up using the IBM account number XZ24Y01 and the three-character access code IBM.

    Hertz #1 Awards Program coming to IBM renters in February, 2008. Fee waived membership in Hertz #1 Club Gold Guaranteed vehicle with six hours advance notice on Midsize, Full Size and Premium car classes. Special reduced contract rates, including benefits, at Hertz off-airport Local Edition locations. All insurance provisions continue to apply. Hertz Reservations IBM Corporate Discount Program ID (CDPID): 40000. Custom Reservation web site for IBM is http://link.hertz.com/link.html?id=5013885&LinkType=HZLK&TargetType=Reservations\.

    W. R. ('Bart') Bartholomew President, IBM Greater Atlanta Quarter Century Club (QCC)

  • Workforce Management: Latest Ruling on Cash-Balance Plans Seen as Ending ‘Fear of Litigation’. A unanimous decision last week by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco joined four other appeals courts in ruling that the plans do not discriminate against older employees. Excerpt: “The fear of litigation should be over. The courts have spoken very clearly on the issue,” said Jeffrey Huvelle, a partner with Covington & Burling in Washington. He was lead counsel for IBM Corp. in its successful appeal to the 7th Circuit of a lower court’s 2003 ruling. “Given the universal conclusion reached by all courts of appeal, notwithstanding their diverse political leanings, this challenge should be buried once and for all,” said Nancy Ross, a partner with McDermott, Will & Emery in Chicago. “There is little doubt that the issue finally has been settled,” added Ethan Kra, chief actuary with Mercer in New York. That will be of great comfort to employers, legal experts say.
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retiree Issues message board: "Re: Interest Rate on Pension only 1 percent?" by "madinpok". Full excerpt: If my records are correct, the interest rates your C-B account should have earned are as follows:
    1999: 5.5%
    2000: 6.0%
    2001: 6.8%
    2002: 3.9%
    2003: 2.7%
    2004: 2.3%
    2005: 3.1%
    2006: 5.0%
    2007: 6.0%
    2008: 5.2%

    So, if your account earned only 1% in the 2007-2008 time frame, something does indeed appear wrong.

    As Don suggested, to protect your legal interests, you should write to the Plan Administrator via certified mail, return receipt requested and tell them you believe your account may be in error and ask for a complete accounting of your C-B account, including an explanation of the interest rates paid each year. Also, be sure to keep a copy of the letter you send for your records. The address to write to is:

    Plan Administrator
    IBM Employee Services Center
    5411 Page Road
    Durham, NC 27703

    Once you straighten that out, if you no longer work for IBM, I would suggest that you seriously consider rolling your account balance over to an IRA with a good mutual fund company, like Fidelity or Vanguard. The C-B plan is one of the worst places to leave your money since it pays fairly low interest rates. You can make investments that will give you a better return with an IRA, even if you want to keep the money in fairly safe investments.

    Once you receive an answer, if you are willing to do so, please let us know what they tell you so others may learn from your experience. And perhaps we can help you with the next step if you don't get a satisfactory answer.

  • Yahoo! IBM Retiree Information Exchange: "Re: pension increase" by "dorieann2003". Full excerpt: I am a surviving wife. My increase is $35.36. I can only hope that lastdino1 would one day have some insight concerning unhappy participants. Remarks conveying hurt, disappointment or anger are scoffed at. There are ethical and moral issues here, concerning IBM,that some need to understand. Through no fault of our own some of us have had catastrophic events that have made this chapter in our lives difficult at times.

    As for IBM, my husband had felt for years as though it was "his family". When "your family" treats you badly, because of your age,it hurts. In his last stages of cancer, his only sense of satisfaction came from believing he had helped provide me with medical benefits for life. (I know—no one can find the written word.) At least he didn't have to endure that last disappointment because he never knew. Don't worry I am still relatively happy but tired of the flaunting. Dorie

  • IBM Employee Issues message board: "Drug Costs" by Gene Ehrich. Full excerpt: As I do every year at this time I have gone over my max drug coverage on my IBM plan. On my prescription Flomax which I take two per day my cost through Medco for a ninety supply is $489. I just ordered the same thing from Canada Drug for $169 for a 100 day supply. When I adjust the Canada Drug to 90 days supply it costs me $155 vs $489 for a savings of $334. Amazing.
  • Workforce Management: Many U.S. Firms Lack Long-Term Talent Strategy. Despite the prolonged economic downturn, it seems most companies aren’t giving much thought to protecting their talent if the economy continues to worsen. Excerpts: Despite the prolonged economic downturn, it seems most companies aren’t giving much thought to protecting their talent if the economy continues to worsen. One-third of U.S. companies do not have workforce contingency plans in place, according to a recent survey by Watson Wyatt Worldwide. Of those companies that say they have contingency plans in place, more than half say those plans center around layoffs, while an additional 46 percent say their plan is “to restructure their organizations.” Few companies surveyed seem to be thinking of creative ways to protect key talent should the economy remain in a slump, says Laura Sejen, global director of strategic rewards consulting at Watson Wyatt. ...

    As a result, companies constantly will be chasing the problem. When the economy picks up, they are going to be paying a higher premium for talent, experts say. The lack of workforce planning is going to put many U.S. companies at a disadvantage in competing with their counterparts in Asia and Europe, which for the most part have workforce contingency plans. ...

    European companies may be more proactive about workforce planning because they are, for the most part, dealing with unions, which are more prevalent in Europe than in the U.S., says Gary Rich, a New York-based leadership consultant. “Having contingency plans could be part of companies’ agreements with their unions,” he says.

    But the fact that so few companies have developed contingency plans for their workforces shows how shortsighted U.S. employers still are, Rich says. “This is a comment on American companies’ planning processes and the quarter-to-quarter mentality at public companies,” he says

  • Workforce Management: Toyota Idles Factories but Can’t Lay Anybody Off. As the U.S. auto industry sheds workers, and even Nissan offers buyouts, Toyota is sticking by its expensive tradition of no layoffs during hard times. Excerpts: They will relearn how to pick up screws. They will study safety practices. They will take classes on workplace diversity and ethics, study corporate history, clean up the mess of urban vandals and probably even plant flowers. But one thing Toyota’s 4,500 idle North American workers will not do is get laid off. ...

    “This was the first chance we’ve really had to live out our values,” says Latondra Newton, general manager of Toyota’s Team Member Development Center in Erlanger, Kentucky. “We’re not just keeping people on the payroll because we’re nice. At the end of all this, our hope is that we’ll end up with a more skilled North American workforce.” ...

    Despite Toyota’s contingencies, it is unclear that the large-scale retraining will be enough to see the San Antonio and Indiana workers through until production resumes. The automaker says it has not decided what employees will do after completing their classes, but they probably will work in community service programs around San Antonio and southern Indiana. That would put Toyota employees to work cleaning public parks and scrubbing graffiti from buildings around San Antonio, a company spokesman says. And if executives can resolve logistics and safety issues, they may authorize a weeklong employee assignment to clean up the shoreline of a Texas lake.

  • Investment News: Overcoming clients' puny nest eggs. Most baby boomers will continue to work because they haven't saved enough. By Jane White. Excerpts: If you thought our health care system was in need of a fix, get ready for an even bigger crisis — insufficient retirement savings. As we approach 2011, the year that the first baby boomers are scheduled to start retiring, we are discovering that most won't be able to afford to give up their jobs.

    Why is there a crisis? The only retirement savings for the 80% of Americans in the private sector are the assets in their 401(k) plans. Because the typical rate of employer contributions to 401(k) plans is a stingy 3% of pay, the average American household head between 62 and 65 has a nest egg of only about $110,000.

    That is the sum of the median 401(k) account balance and the median rollover IRA balance — or less than twice the median annual salary of $61,600 for that age group. This average American nest egg of two times "final pay" is just one-fifth the sum recommended by many pension actuaries in calculating a defined benefit pension.

    What this means, unfortunately, is that our nation's de facto retirement program, the defined contribution pension, is nowhere near able to provide the retirement income that boomers will need. Ironically, the U.S. mutual fund industry, whose products constitute the bulk of 401(k) assets, doesn't measure retirement readiness. ...

    The inconvenient truth that most investors in their 40s and 50s need to hear is that no investment product can make up for decades of little or no saving. That is why baby boomers must stay in the "accumulation phase" until they have achieved a minimum of 10 times their final salary. For our average pre-retiree earner of $61,600, that means a nest egg of $616,000. ...

    The best fix for America's 401(k) system is to adopt the Australian system, which mandates a 9% contribution rate by employers. Until that happens, the entire financial community should be obliged to disclose that the only solution to the retirement shortfall is to keep working.

  • New York Times editorial: Where’s the Prosperity? Excerpts: There is so little good economic news these days that we were cheered on Tuesday after the Census Bureau reported that in 2007 the income of the typical American household rose for the third year in a row. We weren’t cheered for long.

    A closer look confirms what Americans already know: most families reaped none of the benefits of the previous six years of solid economic growth. Median household income last year was still 0.6 percent less than it was in 2000, when the last economic expansion peaked. Households led by someone 65 or under made an average of $56,545 last year — 3.4 percent less than in 2000.

    The census offers the same mirage when it comes to health insurance. While the overall number of uninsured dropped — from 47 million in 2006 to 45.7 million last year — that still left the number of uninsured Americans 7.2 million higher than in 2000. The improvements were entirely attributable to an increase in the number of people enrolled in Medicaid and other public programs. ...

    There are multiple reasons why Americans are working harder and not getting ahead, including a weak labor movement, globalization, technological change and a slowdown in educational attainment. Except for a few years in the late ‘90s, wages and benefits have grown more slowly than the nation’s income for nearly 30 years. Under the Bush administration workers’ share of national income has fallen with a vengeance, to its lowest point since the 1960s. The Bush expansion may be the first in recorded history in which poverty rose and typical American families never regained the level of income they had attained at the end of the prior one.

  • Bloomberg: Oracle's Ellison Earns Scrutiny With 38% Pay Raise. By Rochelle Garner. Excerpts: Oracle Corp. founder Larry Ellison, the fourth-richest man in America, is drawing criticism from some shareholders for a $72 million pay package that's 12 times bigger than the median pay of CEOs in the technology industry. Ellison, who proposed the 38 percent raise and won approval from a committee of board members, is now the second best-paid chief executive officer of a U.S. public company. He received about $1.7 million less than Merrill Lynch & Co. CEO John Thain in 2007. Oracle's market value is three times Merrill's. ...

    The pay for Ellison, 64, doesn't include the $544 million he made last year exercising stock-option grants. His package was examined and ranked in a study by compensation specialist Graef Crystal, a consultant to Bloomberg News who's based in Santa Rosa, California. Crystal included Ellison's $1 million salary and $10.8 million bonus, plus $1.45 million to cover such items as his home security system and air travel. The study valued the CEO's options granted during the year at $58.8 million, a more conservative estimate than Oracle's figure, $71.4 million.

  • Washington Post, courtesy of the Salt Lake Tribune: Just a few speculators fueling the volatility in the oil market. At one point, Swiss trader held 11 percent of NYMEX contracts. By David Cho. Excerpts: Regulators had long classified a Swiss energy conglomerate called Vitol as a trader that helped industrial firms acquire oil to run their businesses. But when a regulatory agency examined Vitol's books last month, it found that the firm was in fact more of a speculator, holding vast oil contracts as a profit-making investment rather than a means of lining up the actual delivery of fuel. Even more surprising to the commodities markets was the massive size of Vitol's portfolio - at one point in July, the firm held 11 percent of all oil contracts on the New York Mercantile Exchange. ...

    ''It is now evident that speculators in the energy futures markets play a much larger role than previously thought, and it is now even harder to accept the agency's laughable assertion that excessive speculation has not contributed to rising energy prices,'' said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. He added that it was ''difficult to comprehend how the CFTC would allow a trader'' to acquire such a large oil inventory ''and not scrutinize this position any sooner.'' ...

    ''When the CFTC granted the 1991 hedging exemption, it signaled a major shift that has since allowed investors to accumulate enormous positions for purely speculative purposes,'' said Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich. Now, he added, ''legitimate businesses that hedge and take physical delivery of oil are being trampled by the speculators who are in the market purely to make profit.'' A second turning point came when Congress passed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000. The law formally allowed investors to trade energy commodities on private electronic platforms outside the purview of regulators.

  • Nation Center for Policy Analysis: Double-Dipping Social Security. By Laurence J. Kotlikoff. Excerpts: The current Social Security system allows individuals to claim reduced, early retirement benefits beginning at age 62. Individuals who wait until the full retirement age to collect receive about 30 percent more in monthly benefits. If they wait until age 70 to collect, their benefits will be about 60 percent larger than at age 62. So what choice should people make?

    Assuming a normal life expectancy and using the interest rate on government bonds, the actuarial present value of lifetime benefits are the same for those taking early retirement as for those waiting to take benefits at a later age. Of course, if one’s life expectancy is not normal (either because of illness or particularly good genes), one retirement age will look more attractive than another. Fortunately, you can have the best of both worlds: You can retire at age 62, then pay back and reapply for Social Security benefits at age 70 if you come to regret your earlier decision.

  • PlanSponsor: Boeing Agrees to Keep Pension. The Boeing Co.’s second contract proposal to the Machinists union does not include its request to close its pension plan to new employees. According to the Everett (Washington) Herald, the company said on Tuesday that it had eliminated three out of four of the issues the Machinists said they would strike over: pension for new employees, retaining Wichita in the bargaining unit, and outsourcing. The company is still attempting to eliminate early retiree medical benefits for Machinists hired after January 1, 2010.

    Boeing announced in June that its pension plan will be closed to nonunion employees hired or rehired after January 1, 2009 (See Boeing Announces Switch to DC Only). The company hopes to avoid a labor strike at a critical point in the manufacturing of its new 787 Dreamliner (See Boeing Attempt to Drop Pension for New Hires Sparks Conflict).

  • Wall Street Journal MarketWatch: Boeing gives up on pension-plan modifications. By Christopher Hinton. Excerpts: Boeing Co. has reportedly withdrawn an offer to begin replacing its traditional pension plan with an employer-sponsored plan, such as a 401(k), after its machinist union threatened to strike. According to a Wall Street Journal article late Tuesday, the Chicago-based aircraft manufacturer has instead offered to lift its monthly pension payments by 11.4% and give its machinists raises totaling 9%. ...

    Companies across multiple industries are trying to dump their pension plans as health-care expenses have climbed and as former employees now live longer. At the same time, companies have been posting record profits and paying their top executives salaries in the millions of dollars, leading many unions to cry foul over such attempts to trim employee packages.

  • American Chronicle: Why 401(k) Retirement Plans Really Don't Work. By Steve Selengut. Excerpts: The good news about the Internet is the information we can get our cursors on instantly; the bad news is the information we can get our heads around instantly, but without any way of gauging accuracy, relevance, or completeness. This is particularly evident in the financial-investment-retirement world, where thousands of websites tell us how to do things and why, and why things work the way they do and how. Few gurus explain why and how certain concepts and plans of action just may not work the way they are supposed to. ...

    Employers are providing a valuable benefit in the form of a defined contribution savings plan, a self-directed investment program that has little in common with defined benefit retirement and pension plans. It's not free money at all. It's a clever, goal-directed, business expense that is both touchy-feely visible to you and far less expensive for your boss. It's a good deal, but not a retirement plan.

    Although it is true that you do not pay taxes on your contributions during your earning years, you will undoubtedly pay through both nostrils when you retire. If your karma is off, you may find yourself trying to retire at a time when the stock market is not in a party mood and your shrinking mutual funds just don't seem as secure as you thought they were a few months earlier. Typically, the 65-year-old retiree can expect four or five major mutual fund shrinkages during retirement.

    Similarly, more fortunate retirees (those who get the "gelt" during a rally) generally fail to lock in a guaranteed stream of income, and find themselves in the same cyclical conundrum as their less market-timely brethren. The money worries continue well after retirement; the taxes become much larger than anyone ever anticipates; the misconception that the 401(k) is a retirement plan continues. In fact, a recent president once proposed to change the only true retirement program that most of us belong to into a similar non-retirement program. ...

    Retirement programs are income machines designed to support people, not to make them feel wealthy, investment savvy, or temporarily tax-free. Pension plans produce fixed amounts of monthly income that don't change appreciably when dot-coms, real estate, CDOs, or index funds (they're next) self-destruct. You just can't buy dinner or medications with currency futures, gold bars, or appreciated acreage.

    The investments contained in a pension plan are designed to produce income, and are managed by trustees who are experienced in constructing safe, conservative, diversified programs that are just as boring as they can possibly be. Most pension plan benefits are calculated as a percentage of the amount earned while employed.

  • CNN/Money: IBM spent over $2M lobbying in 2Q. IBM spent over $2 million in second quarter lobbying on technology, energy, other issues. Excerpt: International Business Machines Corp. spent over $2 million lobbying in the second quarter on trade, immigration and other issues, according to a recent disclosure report. IBM, which provides technology services, software and servers, lobbied the federal government on legislation related to data privacy and identity theft, patents, renewable energy, government contracting, air cargo security, labor issues, telecommunications and taxes, according to the report filed July 21 with the House clerk's office.

    Besides Congress, IBM lobbied other agencies in the April-June period, including the departments of Defense, Commerce, Agriculture, Education, Health and Human Services, Transportation, Energy, Labor and Homeland Security, as well as the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, the Environmental Protection Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Trade Commission, Federal Communications Commission and the Food and Drug Administration.

  • New York Times Op-Ed: Feeling No Pain, by Paul Krugman. My first reaction to Bill Clinton’s convention speech was sheer professional jealousy: nobody, but nobody, has his ability to translate economic wonkery into plain, forceful English. In effect, Mr. Clinton provided an executive summary of the new Census report on income, poverty and health insurance — but he did it so eloquently, so seamlessly, that there was no sense that he was giving his audience a lecture.

    My second reaction was that in Mr. Clinton’s speech — as in the speeches by Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden (this column was filed before Barack Obama spoke on Thursday night) — one heard the fundamental difference between the two parties. Democrats say and, as far as I can tell, really believe that working Americans are getting a raw deal; Republicans, despite occasional attempts to sound sympathetic, basically believe that people have nothing to complain about.

    As it happens, the numbers support the Democrats.

    That Census report gives a snapshot of the economic status of American families in 2007 — that is, before the financial crisis started dragging the economy down and the unemployment rate up. It’s a given that 2008 will look much worse, so last year was as good as it will get in the Bush years. Yet working-age Americans had significantly lower median income in 2007 than they did in 2000. (The elderly, whose income is supported by Social Security — the program the Bush administration tried to kill — saw modest gains.) Meanwhile, poverty was up, and health insurance — especially the employment-based insurance on which most middle-class Americans depend — was down. ...

    Last week John Goodman, an influential figure in Republican health care circles, explained that we shouldn’t worry about the growing number of Americans without health insurance, because there’s no such thing as being uninsured. After all, you can always get treatment at an emergency room. And Mr. Goodman — he’s the president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, an important conservative think tank, and is often described as the “father of health savings accounts,” a central feature of the Bush administration’s health policy — wants the next president to issue an executive order prohibiting the Census Bureau from classifying anyone as uninsured. “Voilà!” he says. “Problem solved.”

    The truth, of course, is that visiting the emergency room in a medical crisis is no substitute for regular care. Furthermore, while a hospital will treat you whether or not you can pay, it will also bill you — and the bill won’t be waived unless you’re destitute. As a result, uninsured working Americans avoid visiting emergency rooms if at all possible, because they’re terrified by the potential cost: medical expenses are one of the prime causes of personal bankruptcy. ...

    You see, Mr. Goodman’s assertion that lack of health insurance is no problem precisely echoed what President Bush said a year ago: “I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room.” That’s because both men — like Mr. Gramm — were just saying in public what modern Republicans say when they talk to each other. Despite attempts to feign sympathy, the leaders of today’s G.O.P. fundamentally feel that Americans complaining about their economic and health care difficulties are, well, just a bunch of whiners.

News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
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  • US News & World Report: How Crafty Health Insurers Are Denying Care. You can fight back when your health plan says no. By Bernadine Healy M.D. Excerpts: Britain's government-run health system is under siege for restricting new therapies. The outcries became especially sharp this summer after patients and doctors got wind of plans to deny several new cancer drugs that are widely available in Europe and the United States, including Avastin and Sutent, because they aren't "cost-effective." In an op-ed in the Daily Mail, one of Britain's leading oncologists, Jonathan Waxman of Imperial College London, decried a "misguided and barbaric decision to ban four kidney cancer drugs" that double life expectancy. And that means years of life in some cases. You may think this is just a British battle over care denial in a country with rigid caps on its health purse and a penchant for rationing. Not so. In the United States, it's private insurance companies, which make hefty profits managing half of America's medical expenditures for the non-Medicare population, that in ways often hidden and arbitrary have the authority to deny coverage—and therefore, in all too many instances, care.

    Outrage tends to bubble up when denials become human drama, triggering media interest. There's the 17-year-old girl who died before her liver transplant was approved. Or the people in California whose insurers canceled their policies retroactively after they got sick. What's often missed is that these cases are the tip of an opaque iceberg. An estimated 10 to 15 percent of claims are denied for various reasons, some of them technical, such as not meeting filing deadlines or failing to get pretreatment authorizations. Denials that produce the most disputes are those where insurers judge the care to be unnecessary or unproven, pitting a proverbial sick David against a multibillion-dollar Goliath. What few Davids know is that insurance contracts by law grant companies the legal right to manage a patient's care, including denying it, sight unseen, and give them the final say, if challenged. Unless the state steps in. ...

    When insurance authorization is required for each new service or each hospital stay for the same serious illness, who's best to say what's medically necessary? Doctors and their staff will spend hours trying to get the approvals, but patients should be warned that if the company ultimately denies payment, for whatever reason, it's the patients who are responsible—with bill collectors ready at their door.

    The problem is bound to grow as insurers make use of sophisticated data tools dubbed "denial engines," which are touted to reduce reimbursements by 3 to 10 percent. Bearing brand names like Ingenix Detection Software and Bloodhound Technologies' ClaimsGuard, they search patient records for any signs that claims have strayed outside company parameters. Weeding out fraud or speeding up processing is one thing; serving up excuses to deny legitimate coverage is another.

  • BusinessWeek: Medical Bills You Shouldn't Pay. In a controversial practice known as "balance billing," health-care providers are going after patients for money they don't owe. By Chad Terhune. Excerpts: As health-care costs continue to soar, millions of confused consumers are paying medical bills they don't actually owe. Typically this occurs when an insurance plan covers less than what a doctor, hospital, or lab service wants to be paid. The health-care provider demands the balance from the patient. Uncertain and fearing the calls of a debt collector, the patient pays up.

    Most consumers don't realize it, but this common practice, known as balance billing, often is illegal. When doctors or hospitals think an insurer has reimbursed too little, state and federal laws generally bar the medical providers from pressuring patients to pay the difference. Instead, doctors and hospitals should be wrangling directly with insurers. Economists and patient advocates estimate that consumers pay $1 billion or more a year for which they're not responsible. ...

    National statistics aren't available, but there's little doubt that many consumers unwittingly fall victim to balance billing. The California Association of Health Plans, a trade group in Sacramento, estimates that 1.76 million policyholders in that state received such bills in the past two years, totaling $528 million. The group found that 56% paid the bills. "Patients think they owe this money, and it causes tremendous stress and anxiety for people," says Cindy Ehnes, director of the California Managed Health Care Dept. "It is inappropriate to put the patient in the middle of this." ...

    Quest Diagnostics, the country's largest lab chain, with revenue last year of $6.7 billion, has faced investigations and lawsuits over allegations of balance billing. A private suit that seeks class-action status in federal court in Newark, N.J., alleges that Quest has balance-billed thousands of patients covered by private insurance and Medicare, turning over many accounts to debt collectors. Quest, based in Madison, N.J., denies any wrongdoing.

  • Toledo Blade: Patients suffer as care, coverage limits collide. Physicians say insurers intrude on treatment. By Steve Eder and Julie McKinnon. Excerpts: When a patient steps into a doctor’s office, he trusts that the only thing on his physician’s mind is how to make him better. But physicians across the United States fear that increasingly stringent insurance rules and the frequent second-guessing of doctors’ orders are eroding the doctor-patient relationship. A Blade investigation, including interviews with about 100 physicians and a national survey of doctors with more than 900 responses, revealed that a growing number of doctors believe there’s an epidemic of insurers dictating medical-treatment decisions. ...

    Doctor after doctor expressed the same worries that their clinical decisions are increasingly overruled by insurers, at times harming patients. The delays and denials affect all types of patients in a multitude of ways, doctors say — from grade-school children who terrorize classmates when insurance won't pay for their behavior medication to a man who waited weeks to learn whether he would be covered for a second opinion on a potentially life-saving kidney-liver transplant. ...

    The profit factor. Insurers are in business to make a profit. Last year the nation's largest insurer, UnitedHealth Group Inc., made $4.7 billion, with its president and chief executive, Stephen Hemsley, receiving $13 million in total compensation. Physicians say that the drive for profits is partially to blame for the tension between doctors and insurers.

    'Insurers have been trying to practice medicine from an economic standpoint, and what we are finding is that what we think is the best thing for the patient isn't the best thing for the insurance company monetarily, and therefore it gets nixed right off the bat,' said Dr. Marc Saunders, a Warren, Ohio, surgeon.

    Dr. Robert Jandl, an internal medicine physician in North Adams, Mass., said he feels like a midlevel bureaucrat for insurance companies. 'There are so many ways in which we are either coerced or recruited to deal with medication issues or preapproval for testing,' said Dr. Jandl, who chafes at sending his patients to specialists he views as inadequate when there are physicians he trusts available but not in network.

  • Wall Street Journal: Uninsured to Spend $30 Billion, Study Says. By Jane Zhang. Excerpts: Americans who lack health insurance will spend about $30 billion out of pocket on medical care this year, but others -- mainly the government -- will end up covering another $56 billion in costs, according to a new study. The tab to cover all the uninsured would be $208.6 billion -- $122.6 billion more than this year's projected total -- mainly because people with insurance tend to use more health-care services, the study found. ...

    The new study estimates the government pays 75%, or $42.9 billion, of the amount uninsured patients can't pay -- through Medicaid, the federal-state health-insurance for the poor and Medicare, the federal program for the elderly and disabled, as well as state and local taxes.

  • National Public Radio (NPR): Plans To Cut Health Costs May Not Pay Off. By Joanne Silberner. Excerpts: In a discussion about the presidential candidates' health care plans, the starting point is the number $2 trillion. That's what the United States spends each year on health care. Plans by both Democratic Sen. Barack Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain aim to hold down costs and improve the quality of care.

    And both candidates propose to do so through the existing private health insurance system. The idea is that with more customers, insurers will compete for business by offering good policies and finding ways to make care more efficient and thus cheaper. But at least one health expert says that whatever savings their plans might provide won't be enough to offset rising care costs.

  • Taking Note: Lessons from Massachusetts. By Niko Karvounis. Excerpt: The Massachusetts experiment in health care reform is all about expanding access. But it doesn’t try to control costs. This, in a nutshell, is why it’s running into trouble. The plan didn’t reform health care delivery, just coverage. Granted, in terms of bringing more people in under the tent, it’s been a success: Since the plan went into effect in 2006, 439,000 people have signed up for insurance—a number that represents more than two-thirds of the estimated 600,000 people uninsured in the state two years ago. This surge in coverage has reduced use of emergency rooms for routine care by 37 percent, which has saved the state about $68 million. (Going to the ER for routine care drives up health care costs by creating longer wait times and tying up resources that can be used to help patients who are critically ill).
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 08/24/08: Found out the other day that several of my buddies and 10+ other IBMer's jobs are being sent to Argentina. They are to write detailed "procedures" on their jobs, train the Argentine replacements by phone and "find a new job" by some soft date before year end. When they asked about severance packages they could not get firm answer/specifications from mgmt. (Big shock I know...) I just sent in my dues to renew with the Alliance for 3rd yr. Any of you casually reading this should remember ... "If we do not hang together we will surely hang separately" -Anon-
    • Comment 08/25/08: We have been challenged with a 20% cut in Development (RTP, NC), to be balanced with investments in China or other low-cost countries. Job cuts are probably looming for the 4th quarter of 2008. Happy holidays from IBM. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 08/25/08: More layoffs coming at Burlington plant. IBM history in Vermont. Get out now before IBM lay you off. Site numbers at all time low. Start polishing resume. Consider joining Alliance. At least you have voice in this unfair practice to employee. -Wong Fu-
    • Comment 08/26/08: OK folks, lets get some specifics. Regarding the RTP development cuts reported below, which brand is this for? Tivoli, Rational, Websphere or Lotus? I've confirmed a 20% haircut is coming for Tivoli. Does anyone have any specifics for the Rational, Websphere or Lotus brands? -PigsDon'tFly-
    • Comment 08/27/08: I was RA'd on 8/11, last day is 9/10. Got the package, and will take the pension (58 with 30 years 4 mos). I knew it was coming, like many others, I was "managed" out of the business with a phony appraisal that was pre-ordained at contest time. My first, second and third reactions were relief, relief and relief :-) I don't have enough saved to retire (who does?), but, what the heck. Being closer to Omega, gives one the wisdom and experience to know that anything is possible. Adios IBM. Now, if I can figure out a way to turn the Watson's grave spinning into perpetual motion, I'd really have it made!! -AphaOmega-
    • Comment 08/28/08: It's hard to fathom why IBM's STG division (which reported revenues of over $9.4 billion for first half 2008 and also reported that gross profits were up over $200 million for first half 2008 vs first half 2007) is considering more layoffs for it's Burlington VT semi-conductor plant. But I guess without a union to represent us at board meetings, we will never know the real reason. Other than guessing corporate greed. I have instructed those IBMer's who have not joined the union as of yet, to stop complaining about what has been happening to them over the last 10 years. You can get kicked in the teeth only so many times before you must fight back and protect yourself. These days, being employed at IBM without a union to represent and protect us, is like entering a boxing ring with your hands tied behind your back. Join the union, stand up and protect yourself, or else continue to get a sharp stick in the eye and be happy about it! -KickedEnough-
  • General Visitor's Comment page:
    • Comment 08/25/08: My manager told me today that negative newspaper press articles such as pay cuts in the Mid Hudson area shouldn't be placed on a wall for others to see and should be taken down! Any comments regarding your legal right on free speech and company policy ? Also, for the record are union authorization forms keep private so IBM management is not aware of who the the person is that submitted the request form? -Not targeted- Alliance reply: Union forms are confidential. IBM will not see them. Regarding the newspaper articles: You do not have any legal right inside a company to put things on the wall; but if other things are allowed on the wall, the newspaper articles should be allowed too. We would suggest putting a copy of the Bill of Rights up, and see what your manager says. There have been attempts by companies to force employees to take things down. It is an ongoing battle.
    • Comment 08/26/08: If you had any lingering doubt about how this company is being run...allow me to give you this example. A 31 year veteran was placed on a 90 day plan early this year for a violation of the Business Conduct Guidelines. The branch business manager sent out a note to the entire branch to defer their expenses to the next reporting period at the end of 2007 so the branch could make the fourth quarter numbers. This is a glaring violation of the BCG as well as a Federal crime. The 31 year veteran was retired in June and the branch business manager got an "IBM Means Service" award. -gadfly-
    • Comment 08/28/08: To -gadfly- That's why they changed the logo for means service from the triangle to the lips from the Rolling Stones albums. Cuz IBM means LIP service. Various theme songs go along with it. HR's is "I can't get no satisfaction". Sammy's is "Sympathy for the Devil." Payroll's is "You can't always get what you want." -Exodus2007-
    • Comment 08/26/08: I will say one good thing about IBM. I am deploying with my Reserve unit for 1 year. Unlike many other employers, IBM still pays me a pay differential while deployed. So I'll be making about $1,000 extra each month while on duty. Plus I have a position held for me while I'm gone (in the midst of layoffs). So, yes, IBM stinks. But I will give credit where credit is due. Several of my fellow soldiers don't have this benefit. However, I'll probably come back from deployment only to quit IBM and find a better job elsewhere :-) -IBM_stinks-
    • Comment 08/26/08: To -IBM_stinks- : Best of luck to you on your deployment. -Mistressofthei5-
  • Pension Comments page
  • Raise and Salary Comments
    • Comment 08/22/08: Salary = 45000; Band Level = 2; Job Title = ssr; Years Service = 12; Hours/Week = 40 to 55 +10 day work weeks before a ns day; Div Name = igs; Location = hell; Message = I take it SSR's don"t read this site or are they too embarrassed of their pay? Only 5 responded at band 2 and 3 at band 3??? btw I was one of the 5 -SSR-
    • Comment 08/27/08: Salary = 74880+6240 bonus (new company); Band Level = Was band 8 at $69800+2100 bonus; Job Title = Former 1st Line, now Business Analyst; Years Service = 8 at IBM; 2 at new company; Hours/Week = 60-70 at IBM; 45 at new company; Message = I left IBM 2 years ago as a very disgusted first line manager, and took a job as a Business Analyst with a software firm. I very rarely work more than 44-45 hours a week, and have been called off hours twice in two years. At IBM, I was on call 2 weeks out of every month and worked 60-70 hours a week. Raises at the new company are small (3-4% range, but I draw 4 quarterly bonuses like clock work, and have drawn an annual bonus both years I've been here. I love my job and I love the people I work with (most of them). -Just a Reference Point-
  • 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:

  • "FTSS" by "surfman". Full excerpt: I had a question regarding the Field Technical Sales Specialist (public sector) position within IBM. I was just wondering if anyone knew the salary for this type of role? (I have 10 years similar experience, but no "IBM" experience). My current salary is $120K/yr plus 15% bonus. Is this a "high" level position or low on the food chain? What "band" it falls in to. What, if any, extras come with the level of position i.e. work from home, bonuses, etc. Thank you in advance
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.