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Highlights—October 18, 2008

  • WRAL (Raleigh): IBM lays off 100 contractors in Triangle; other cuts rumored. By Rick Smith. Excerpts: IBM Corp.’s rosy earnings report this week didn’t translate into good news Friday for some 100 contract workers at its campus in Research Triangle Park. Fred Chastang, 53, a contractor who tested IBM servers in a lab, was among scores of workers who were let go – on Hawaiian shirt day. Told at 9:30 a.m. that his job was being eliminated, Chastang left the IBM complex an hour later along with several other workers. Chastang had worked at IBM for a year and a half. ...

    Lee Conrad, a spokesman for Alliance@IBM, a union representing IBM workers, wasn’t surprised by the layoffs. “They have been going more for contractors because that way they don’t have to pay the wages or benefits – the contract firm does – and it’s easier to let them go,” Conrad said. “It also doesn’t make as much news. It’s not IBM throwing people out the door. It’s the contractors.”

  • Human Resource Executive Online: Passion at the Helm. Randy MacDonald, senior vice president of human resources for IBM and this year's HR Executive of the Year, pins his success on getting fired up about the business. By Tom Starner. Excerpts: Sitting down to chat with J. Randall (Randy) MacDonald, you initially encounter a calm, cool, articulate persona. There's a thoughtfulness and confidence, even perhaps a reserved quality, about the man who sits at the top of IBM's HR organization, charged with keeping some 400,000 employees productive and engaged. But as the conversation continues, something else emerges: his passion about what he's done within the HR profession -- including his past eight years as senior vice president of human resources for IBM and the initial 18 years he spent as an HR executive with companies such as GTE and Ingersoll-Rand. ...

    MacDonald earned his HR stripes not only with his trademark passion, but by following a very basic, but effective, work philosophy -- be proactive and innovate. At IBM, MacDonald has relentlessly pushed HR's contributions, redesigning nearly every major program and reviewing processes across the world to ensure they deliver on IBM's business proposition -- even when it has meant, at times, pursuing an atypical HR strategy, one others in the profession might discourage. ...

    So how is MacDonald's philosophy serving IBM? So far, MacDonald believes, so good. As most who follow Big Blue know, IBM, which has about 400,000 regular employees and a 150,000-person contingent workforce, has been in the throes of transforming itself from a multinational, fragmented organization -- a seriously outdated concept, according to MacDonald -- into a seamless global enterprise.

    The more descriptive turn of phrase around IBM has been "global transformation," the company's mantra for the past several years. MacDonald and his IBM senior-management peers understand the futility of having seemingly unconnected operations in dozens of countries (IBM operates in 170), each practically working in a vacuum. ...

    "The world we know is changing," he says. "There is tremendous growth in Eastern Europe, South America and Asia. As an HR executive, you have to be able to tell the business, 'If that's what you are going to do, these are the resources you need and when you need to get them.' This is the first time HR ever directly contributed to the strategy at IBM. What's the proof point? HR converting the strategy into execution."

    WMI works by bringing together a strategic set of processes, policies and procedures with 15 specific applications. Key components include the Global Opportunity Marketplace, a staffing tool that processed more than 376,000 job applications in its first nine months, extending an average of 100 job offers daily.

    Another, Expertise Assessments, allows more than 95 percent of IBM's professionals to classify and document their skills. Others include Professional Marketplace (see below) and Workforce Dashboard, a manager self-service tool that improved manager efficiency by 80 percent by the end of 2007, according to IBM.

  • eWeek: Government Report: Evidence of H-1B Visa Fraud. Excerpt: H-1B visa holders and the companies that use them are bound to be in for more scrutiny after a recent report examining fraud in the program. USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) recently released a report to members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee examining issues with fraud and technical violations within the H-1B visa program.
  • YouTube: Ever Onward IBM.
  • Detroit Free-Press: Disappearing pensions make Americans' lives less secure. By John Gallagher. Excerpts: Through most of his working life, steelworker Ray West looked toward a secure retirement. His company pension was expected to bring in around $30,000 a year, his union contract promised retiree health coverage and he had 401(k) savings of about $50,000.

    Three years ago, it unraveled. His company filed for bankruptcy. The collapse reduced his expected pension to around $5,000 a year and canceled his retiree health insurance. And, in three years of unemployment since then, West of Hazel Park blew through the entire $50,000 in his 401(k) just getting by as he trained for a new career. "I lost my job after 27 years before I got my retirement. I ain't going to get nothing," says West, 52. ...

    Of all the trends, perhaps the most worrisome is the failure of highly touted 401(k) private savings accounts to replace fast-disappearing traditional pensions. Not only do millions of workers not save enough, or like West drain their 401(k)s well ahead of retirement, but all the risk of making wise investment choices and planning for decades of retirement now falls entirely on workers who have no training to deal with it. "The goal of trying to educate everybody up so they can do this kind of thing is just silly," Munnell says. "We don't need a whole nation of financial analysts. We need people to play with their children and coach Little League and do all that kind of stuff." ...

    Perhaps the biggest threat to retirees' living standards has been the demise of traditional pension plans in the private sector. For decades a mainstay of retirement, so-called defined-benefit pension plans are those in which employers promise to pay a fixed amount of money to their retirees each month for life. Those plans flourished after the 1940s as big carmakers, steelmakers and other industrial firms needed to build and keep a large, skilled, loyal workforce and buy labor peace. Promising lifetime checks to retirees became common. By 1980, about 60% of U.S. workers in private industry were covered by defined-benefit pensions. ...

    For millions of workers, having a pension simplified retirement, because all a worker had to do was cash a check each month. "You could plan, you could count on it, the investment risk was all on the company," Stumpff says.

  • Indianapolis Star: 401(k) fallacy: Get-rich scheme was too good to be true. By Marie Cocco, Washington Post Writers Group. Excerpts: The essential fallacy of the 401(k) has been exposed. It took a historic market collapse -- one that threatens to impoverish workers already in retirement and those who are nearing it. But then, crushing hardship is often what's required to usher out an era of ideological illogic and unconscionable greed.

    The advent of the 401(k) in the late 1970s and early 1980s was a leading indicator of what became a political mania for shifting the risk and responsibility for life's big challenges -- health care, an adequate income in retirement -- from employers and other broad-shouldered institutions to the narrower, weaker backs of individuals themselves.

    It was never sold this way, of course. The pitch for the 401(k) was a contemporary version of the get-rich-quick scheme: The promise of strolling along a sun-dappled beach in retirement would be realized with ease, as long as workers regularly contributed modest amounts to the accounts and then let the compounding magic of the market work. To hear the mutual fund companies and the media tell it, only fuddy-duddies and dinosaur employers would be foolish enough to opt for the old-fashioned defined-benefit pension, the type employers paid for and professional managers oversaw, and which guaranteed monthly payments in old age.

    But despite the hype, the data on 401(k)s have never -- ever -- shown that these accounts were creating a mass of workers who would be able to retire with security, let alone luxury. The 401(k)s didn't expand the proportion of the work force with pension coverage, notwithstanding claims that shifting to accounts that required workers to contribute would make employers more willing to offer the benefit. Less than half of workers have any pension coverage from their current employer at all, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

  • Washington Post: Retirement Wreck. Are 401(k)s Still Viable for Saving? By Nancy Trejos. Excerpts: For many Americans, 401(k) plans were supposed to be their own little golden parachutes into retirement. Now, it seems, those parachutes may not open in time.

    The global financial crisis that revealed the flaws of Wall Street has also exposed the vulnerability of America's retirement system. Employers have increasingly abandoned traditional pensions, forcing workers to rely on 401(k)s and similar plans that have a lot more exposure to the stock market. The assumption was that even if the market suffered short-term losses, over time it would rise, allowing workers to recoup their savings. But the steepness of this year's market collapse and the still-uncertain depth of the economic downturn has prompted lawmakers, academics and economists to question the wisdom of letting workers hitch their retirement fortunes to the precariousness of the stock market.

    So far this year, the Dow Jones industrial average is down 36 percent, eroding the savings of millions of Americans and forcing those who had planned to retire in the next few years to reconsider their plans. "Right now, we're really seeing the risks come home, and people are recognizing the extent to which their retirement savings are on the line when the stock market goes down drastically," said Jacob Hacker, a political science professor at the University of California at Berkeley who chronicled the advent of 401(k) plans in "The Great Risk Shift." ...

    "Everyone wiped their hands of any obligation for retirement, and the burden shifted from the employer to the employee, and the risk is shifted from the employer to the employee," said Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, who last week convened a hearing to examine 401(k)s. "In the beginning, no one ever said, 'Would this be sufficient? Would it work?' and what you see is a plan that is highly responsive to external events unlike Social Security, unlike defined-benefit plans, unlike a public pension plan."

News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
Minimize
  • Wall Street Journal: The Most Expensive Drugs Are Getting Even More Expensive. By Jacob Goldstein. Excerpts: Specialty drugs — often sold by biotech companies, and used to treat complex conditions such as cancer — are some of the most expensive medicines on the market. As it turns out, their already high prices are rising much faster than inflation, and even faster than the prices of other prescription drugs. Last year, the wholesale price of specialty drugs rose 8.7%, three times the rate of inflation. The price of non-specialty, branded drugs rose 7.4%, while the price of generic drugs fell by 9.6%. ...

    The price of specialty drugs can run to tens of thousands of dollars per patient per year. Drug makers explain the high prices by pointing to high research costs, small patient populations and the complexities of manufacturing biotech drugs. Even so, the prices have been getting plenty of pushback lately from patients, government officials and even the occasional Wall Street analyst wondering how high prices can go. That hasn’t stopped companies from jacking up the prices of drugs already on the market: Among 112 commonly used specialty drugs that were on the market from Dec. ‘03 through Dec. ‘07, the average price rose by 42.9%, the survey found.

  • USA Today: Study: Many cancer patients forgoing care because of cost. By Liz Szabo. Excerpts: At a time when they're already fighting for their lives, more cancer patients are now struggling to pay for their medicines. One in eight people with advanced cancer turned down recommended care because of the cost, according to a new analysis from Thomson Reuters, which provides news and business information. Among patients with incomes under $40,000, one in four in advanced stages of the disease refused treatment. ...

    David Johnson, director of hematology and oncology at Nashville's Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, says some of his patients have opted to stop treatment partly because of the cost. His own brother-in-law, a truck driver, turned down Erbitux when he was facing colon cancer four years ago. He says patients face a painful dilemma: "Do they pay out of pocket — sometimes in the thousands of dollars — or do they forgo the therapy to preserve for their family what modest assets they may have?"

  • The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation: Business Groups Question Health Benefits Cost Disclosure Bill in Senate. Excerpt: Several business groups are "reacting with caution" to a bill proposed last week that would require employers to show the entire cost of an employee's health coverage on a tax form, CongressDaily reports (Edney, CongressDaily, 10/10). Under the legislation -- sponsored by Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee ranking member Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), and Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) -- employers would have to disclose on annual W-2 tax forms the amount spent on health insurance premiums for employees and their families, as well as the amount spent on dental and vision coverage (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 10/8). The senators believe that showing employees the cost of health care they lose in wages will encourage them to be more thoughtful in making health care decisions and help reduce health care costs, CongressDaily reports.
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: High and Rising Health Care Costs. Demystifying U.S. Health Care Spending. By Ginsburg PB. Excerpt: Concern about high and rising health care costs in the United States has increased sharply in recent years. With the increase in costs and the lack of affordability of health insurance for many Americans, health policy experts are discussing whether steps can be taken to expand insurance coverage while keeping costs down.
    • Health insurance is becoming increasingly difficult for workers—and their employers—to afford. Premiums increased 114 percent between 1999 and 2007, while workers’ earnings increased only 27 percent.
    • U.S. spending on health care—as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product—is more than six percentage points higher than the average for other developed countries.
    • Technology—not demographics or medical malpractice—is the key driver of health spending, accounting for an estimated half to two-thirds of spending growth.
    • Other important drivers of health care spending include health status (particularly obesity) and low productivity gains in the health care sector.
  • Workforce Management: Kaiser Permanente Signs Up Employees for Microsoft’s Online Health Record Service. Nonprofit health insurer Kaiser Permanente announces that its 159,000 employees will be the first employees to participate in Microsoft’s Healthvault online health record. Excerpt: Kaiser, which made the announcement Monday, June 9, will allow employees to transfer prescription information, test results and other health data from the company’s own online personal health record, My Health Manager, to Microsoft's Health Vault. If the pilot program for employees is successful, Kaiser said it will make the service available to its 8 million members nationwide, according to news reports.
  • New York Times: The Plight of the Underinsured. Excerpts: It is well known, by now, that almost 50 million Americans lacked health insurance for all or part of last year. What is less well known is that 25 million Americans who did have health insurance often found it pitifully inadequate when a medical crisis hit. They were only marginally better off than those who had no coverage at all.

    That is the disturbing finding of a survey by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation specializing in health policy research, that was published by the journal Health Affairs. The survey found that some 22 million adults with health coverage all year still spent a large chunk of their incomes — at least 10 percent for middle-class families — for out-of-pocket medical expenses. Another 3.4 million were saddled with high deductibles that would cause financial problems if they became ill.

    Conservative health theorists and insurance industry leaders have long argued that the best way to slow soaring health care costs is to force people to pay a significant share of the bill so that they will buy medical services more judiciously, and sparingly. But as out-of-pocket expenses and deductibles have risen, many families are instead postponing or forgoing treatment. Many of those surveyed had put off seeing a doctor when sick, failed to fill prescriptions or skipped tests, treatments and preventive care. About half had difficulty paying their bills; many took out loans, mortgages or credit card debt to pay them.

  • WebMD Health News: Infant Mortality: U.S. Ranks 29th. U.S. Ties Slovakia, Poland for 29th Place in Infant Deaths. By By Daniel J. DeNoon. Excerpt: Nearly seven U.S. babies die out of every 1,000 live births. More than 28,000 American babies die before their first birthday. In Japan, ranked in third place behind Singapore and Hong Kong, the infant mortality rate is 2.8 per thousand live births -- less than half the U.S. rate.
  • Washington Post: As Budgets Tighten, More People Decide Medical Care Can Wait. By Ceci Connolly and Kendra Marr. Excerpts: From Park Avenue dental offices to the Arlington Free Clinic, the global economic crunch is forcing a growing number of Americans to scale back on medical care. Consumers are attempting their own form of triage, pushing off seemingly less-urgent services in the hope that their financial health will improve. But the danger, say physicians, is that the short-term savings may translate into more severe long-term health implications.

    At the extreme are cases such as the Texas woman who went to the hospital complaining of back pain. Physician Doug Curran immediately spotted cancer on the X-ray. "She'd had a lump in her breast for a while, but things were tight and she said she couldn't get it looked at," he recalled. "We're going to see more of that."

    Nationwide, the number of consumers who went without a prescription, tapped into retirement savings to pay for health care or skipped a doctor visit for themselves or a child has risen since last year, according to a survey released this summer by the Rockefeller Foundation and Time magazine. One-quarter of the 2,000 respondents, for example, said they had decided not to see a doctor because of cost in 2008, up from 18 percent the year before. Ten percent said they did not take a child to the doctor for the same reason.

News and Opinion Concerning the U.S. Financial Crisis
Minimize "It is a restatement of laissez-faire-let things take their natural course without government interference. If people manage to become prosperous, good. If they starve, or have no place to live, or no money to pay medical bills, they have only themselves to blame; it is not the responsibility of society. We mustn't make people dependent on government- it is bad for them, the argument goes. Better hunger than dependency, better sickness than dependency."

"But dependency on government has never been bad for the rich. The pretense of the laissez-faire people is that only the poor are dependent on government, while the rich take care of themselves. This argument manages to ignore all of modern history, which shows a consistent record of laissez-faire for the poor, but enormous government intervention for the rich."

From Economic Justice: The American Class System, from the book Declarations of Independence by Howard Zinn.

  • Forbes: The Socialism Of Bankers. By Melik Kaylan. Excerpts: In the early 1980s all sensible folk abandoned faith in socialist ideas because it became clear that socialism was what socialists did--not what it promised. It promised utopia, but you had to sacrifice to the system. If you had faith in the machine, it would save you. The results said otherwise. We all said "no thanks" to that idiot utopia.

    Enter, instead, the new cult of the free market, aka the Chicago School. The entire economy of South America collapsed, as did the post-Soviet economies. Some said the cause was too much free market, some said not enough. If only we could get just the right amount of free market. If we stuck with it, if the entire globe competed freely, non-stop, around-the-clock, we'd all be rich. Possibly dead from exhaustion, but rich for sure. Now the world's economy is collapsing and nobody has a clue. What we lack, apparently, is confidence in the market. In other words, faith.

    There is doubtless a lot of truth to that. If no one goes to the marketplace to buy and sell eggs and butter because they don't trust the pricing, there will be none available. But it's also true that we have suffered from too much faith. Now that we're disabused, we won't believe again for a while. Too many common sense doubts remain un-addressed, or so it seems to a layman like me. At times like these when the media blizzard roars loudest, it always seems that the most glaring questions don't get asked. Here again, in no particular order and in all humility, I offer a few such probes...

  • New York Times: Banks’ Bailout Unlikely to Crimp Executive Pay. By Reed Abelson. Under the bailout plan for the nation’s banks unveiled on Tuesday, no heads will roll, as they did in the United Kingdom. No banking executives are likely to go hungry, either. But their parting may not be quite as sweet. The Treasury’s plan seeks to take aim at the eight-figure pay packages given to Wall Street executives that have enraged so many Americans in the wake of the country’s financial collapse. ...

    Compensation experts say that the provisions, though politically prudent to appease public anger, will probably have little real impact on how financial executives are paid in coming years. They predict banks will simply pay higher taxes and will find other creative ways of paying their executives as they see fit. Some say there could even be a sudden surge in compensation as soon as the government program ends, in a few years, leading to eye-popping numbers down the road. ...

    Like other experts, Professor Murphy expects the $500,000 cap to be largely ignored, with banks willing to accept the tax consequences. For many of the top executives, such a salary would simply not be competitive: “$500,000 was supposed to be a good week,” he said, adding that many of these executives would respond to such suggestions by leaving for jobs at unregulated banks or hedge funds.

  • FinancialWeek: 'Perverse' bonuses, not exuberance, led to crisis, study claims. Excerpts: Perverse bonuses for managers at some less-than-prudent banks and financial intermediaries, not irrational exuberance, fuelled the debt securitization boom that led to the financial crisis, a study said on Tuesday. “A large number of financial intermediaries retained a prudent policy over the last years. But others, including some large players, did not,” said the study by the Center for Financial Studies (CFS) at Frankfurt’s Goethe-University. “This set off the infection which first hit these players, but then undermined the confidence in the financial system on a large scale, with far-reaching contagion effects,” CFS said. ...

    Thanks to incentives such as profit-sharing bonuses, banks’ managers were keen on asset securitization “simply because it may increase their income with no commensurate risk premium imposed—the risk in the form of increased default probabilities is mostly borne by shareholders and third parties in case of bank insolvency,” CFS said. “The incentive to expand securitizations was upheld by the fact that the management pay-off was cashed out as a bonus well before the externality was felt in the profit/loss of the bank,” it said, describing such incentives as “perverse”.

  • Washington Post: Executive Pay Limits May Prove Minimal. Lawmakers Hail Plan, but Analysts Question Its Impact. By Lori Montgomery. Excerpt: With the nation's largest banks set to receive an unprecedented infusion of public funds, lawmakers boasted yesterday that the top executives will for the first time face federal limits on their multimillion-dollar pay packages. But outside analysts and the banks themselves said the new limits are unlikely to significantly reduce anyone's paycheck. The $700 billion Wall Street rescue plan Congress approved less than two weeks ago does little to limit overall compensation, which averaged $22 million last year among chief executives at the first nine banks that will accept public money under the program.
  • New York Times: Buy American. I Am. By Warren E. Buffett. Excerpts: The financial world is a mess, both in the United States and abroad. Its problems, moreover, have been leaking into the general economy, and the leaks are now turning into a gusher. In the near term, unemployment will rise, business activity will falter and headlines will continue to be scary.

    So ... I’ve been buying American stocks. This is my personal account I’m talking about, in which I previously owned nothing but United States government bonds. (This description leaves aside my Berkshire Hathaway holdings, which are all committed to philanthropy.) If prices keep looking attractive, my non-Berkshire net worth will soon be 100 percent in United States equities.

    Why?

    A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. And most certainly, fear is now widespread, gripping even seasoned investors. To be sure, investors are right to be wary of highly leveraged entities or businesses in weak competitive positions. But fears regarding the long-term prosperity of the nation’s many sound companies make no sense. These businesses will indeed suffer earnings hiccups, as they always have. But most major companies will be setting new profit records 5, 10 and 20 years from now.

  • Washington Post: Worldwide Financial Crisis Largely Bypasses Canada. Tight Regulations, Strict Lending Practices Encourage Optimism. By Keith B. Richburg. Excerpts: While the United States reels from the global financial crisis, with credit markets still frozen and stock prices careening from highs to lows, Canada has remained relatively insulated .Canadian banks have not gone shaky like their American counterparts, economists and other experts said. There is no subprime mortgage or home foreclosure mess. And while the United States fears a prolonged recession, Canadians have remained relatively sanguine, convinced that they are in a good position to weather the economic tsunami from the south. ...

    The main reason for optimism here is the banking system. Experts here note that Canadian banks are more tightly regulated, more liquid and less highly leveraged. Instead of being highflying investment banks, they tend to operate in a more traditional manner, with large numbers of loyal depositors and a more solid base of capital. ...

    Strict rules also govern mortgage lending. By Canadian law, any mortgage that will finance more than 80 percent of the price of a home must be insured. Two-thirds of all Canadian mortgages are insured by the quasi-governmental Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. As a result of the tough standards for insurance, "people tend not to get mortgages they cannot afford," Gregory said. Defaulting on a loan is also more difficult in Canada than the United States, Gregory said. "You can't just drop off the keys and walk away."

New on the Alliance@IBM Site
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  • CWA Pushes Economic Recovery Plan for American Families. Excerpt: CWA is joining with other unions, civil rights, community and faith-based groups, student and senior organizations, and others to build support for a recovery plan that addresses the current and longterm needs of American families – especially when it comes to quality jobs, Cohen said. "We've seen an enormous handout for Wall Street, now we need real attention to Main Street. That means the creation of quality jobs by developing alternate energy sources, necessary repairs to our highways, bridges, schools and communities and especially important, investment in the global economic engine for the 21st century, the build out of high speed Internet networks," Cohen said.
  • Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comment 10/15/08: At the end of October IBM is shipping 24 staff members and their families to Bangalore, India for 18 months, their job prepare staff over there for the 3000 jobs IBM will ship over in 2009. More Americans out of work so we can help the Indian economy out. IBM the grand old US company do it's best to drive America into a depression -Ex-IBMer-
    • Comment 10/15/08: Trust in every relationship. When jobs are moved to India and other countries and people are put on a resource firing list that person is given 30 days to find a new job. What they don’t tell you is your manager needs you to exit IBM to count you in their exit numbers for their PBC. If you find a new job then your manager needs to fire someone else to make their target. This is why people can’t find jobs in those 30 days! -Anonymous-
    • Comment 10/16/08: Folks it has been a little over a yr now since i received my call from the spineless first line mgr advising me I had lost my job. It was rough at first, i went through a lot of interviews and heard the usual, over qualified or they couldn't come close to paying what I was making at ibm. I did eventually find a job and a good one at that. I now work for UPS @ a distribution center. I still sit behind a computer (don't touch a box) for 5 1/2 hrs a day. The pay is about half of what I was making at ibm BUT I only work 5 1/2 hrs a day. The insurance is great, $33/month for medical and dental for the entire family, medical alone at ibm was $240/month.

      After working there 6 months I received a 4% raise. I have already been told by my mgr when I want to go full time to let him know and they will start me @ $60K per yr. Right now I am kind of enjoying this 25.5 hr work week and will probably go full time at some point. The meaning of this post is for folks who are looking for a job to check out UPS, the insurance is great and unlike ibm they will PAY if you are a top performer. They are a stable company and appreciate someone who can function without having someone stand over them and direct their every move... ....good luck to all -A year later- Alliance Reply: UPS is also unionized in some job classifications; is this true for your job?

    • Comment 10/16/08: I have selected to be let go at end of October 2008; however, I am less than 3 months away from age 54 in which case I can get 1 year to retirement. I will lose out on retirement insurance benefits. What recourse actions do I have? How can I complain to my HR person? There were over 200 GTS people affected. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 10/16/08: to retire you need 30 years OR 15 years + 55 yrs or older. You can bridge ONE YEAR to retirement in your 29th year. Check with you HR contact or call the ESC . Most management is clueless about retirement/benefits, etc. -anon-
    • Comment 10/17/08: IBM claims they have a test program place http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/gbs/bus/html/daksh.html to replace front software agents at the Atlanta call center. India started taking calls the week of 10/1/08, official start 10/13/08, Affecting 23 contractors. Normal actions clear out the contractors, then the IBM'ers on the back end are next. Right now the IBM'ers are fixing/recording process problems for India. Once the process is smooth, bye bye -Anonymous-
  • General Visitor's Comment page
    • Comment 10/13/08: Does anyone know when the annual manager survey goes out to employees, so we can "rate" our managers? -Wondering-
    • Comment 10/13/08: to -Wondering-: That's like asking to fill out a comment card for the breakfast you just had on the Titanic...are you serious? You make ME wonder... -youmakemewonder-
    • Comment 10/13/08: Wondering...we were told this year we would not be rating managers. Div 16. -Marbles-
    • Comment 10/15/08: So in addition to no raise again, I get to see an increase in my LTD premium. This is mighty generous of IBM. -Anonymoius-
  • Pension Comments page
  • Raise and Salary Comments
    • Comment 10/17/08: Gotta love to know we are in tough times financially with IBM, but Mr Sam is able to receive $74million in sold stock this year. Yes. $74,000,000. http://biz.yahoo.com/t/40/4114.html -About to go insane @ IBM-
  • PBC Comments
  • International Comments
Vault Message Board Posts
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Vault's IBM Business Consulting Services message board is a popular hangout for IBM BCS employees, including many employees acquired from PwC. Some sample posts follow:

  • "Where's the money?" by "wonderaboutibm". Full excerpt: Help. My mental capacity to figure out what IBM really sees in outsourcing is failing me. I am searching for advantages, but I just can't find any. (And please don't try to tell me I am just mouthing off as a North American IT person.) Effectiveness or efficiency? Not in my experience. Low cost? I can't see how, with the staff turnover, rocketing wages in India, etc. and the extreme difficulty in keeping competent resources overseas. Let's hear the inevitable rejoinders.
  • "How does IBM calculate utilization?" by "Em_Bush". Full excerpt: How does IBM calculate utilization?
  • "Wrong question" by "Blue_Bystander". Full excerpt: They calculate it the way most professional services companies do: Billable hours / 2080. The real question is how do they determine your utilization targets? Do they expect you to hit 95%, take your vacation, get your training, and travel too? If so, your actual target will be in excess of 100% per week.
  • "Well..." by "wonderaboutibm". Full excerpt: You hit the target by doing what IBM management asks: most GBS units specifically request 44 hours billable work each week that the staff member does work. You also increase (pad?) your utilization toward the end of each quarter, in response to the blizzard of notes requesting that, again from IBM management. Remember that we are supposed to go to asset-based value for the customer. Yeah, right.
  • "With Utilization" by "Premaria". Full excerpt: If you really want to excel at IBM, you should plan how to increase your utilization at the beginning of the year. (1) You must be billable on more than one project at the same time - the only way you can maintain over 45 hours/week is to perform work on at least 2 projects every week. Of course, this means an average of 8 hours for the essentials (sleep, eat, bathe, etc.) each 24 hour period, but you'll get used to it. (2) Although you got 3 weeks of vacation when you joined the company, you can not use it. The best you can do is be sick or take mental vacations through WoW or Second Life.

    You think I'm kidding, but I've worked with guys who worked their butts off for 10 months and were able to take 2 months off and still have 100% utilization. Of course, they didn't have a life during the 10 months, but for them, it was worth it.

If you hire good people and treat them well, they will try to do a good job. They will stimulate one another by their vigor and example. They will set a fast pace for themselves. Then if they are well led and occasionally inspired, if they understand what the company is trying to do and know they will share in its sucess, they will contribute in a major way. The customer will get the superior service he is looking for. The result is profit to customers, employees, and to stcckholders. —Thomas J. Watson, Jr., from A Business and Its Beliefs: The Ideas That Helped Build IBM.

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