Specifically, as you well aware, the expectations for resource utilization has been increasing dramatically over the past years, to where it actually is now officially set at 105%, as this expectation allows for the possibility of vacation and holidays to exist and to still meet the required 100% levels. Now obviously these levels cannot be sustained, which is where the deviousness gets into the picture. Clearly if you do not obtain these levels of utilization, then you are a 'poor' performer and will be getting '3' ratings on your PBC's. Next stop, you are now on the shortlist for getting the ax.
As bad as that one is, the next one is even worse. The BCG - "Business Conduct Guidelines" which all IBMers must digitally sign once a year, has some very interesting clauses contained in it, such that anyone who task resources to perform certain activities and to charge those efforts to internal codes (i.e. B&P), are now subject to levels of scrutiny and auditability which are unsustainable in any reasonable manner. I dare say, that none of those of you who have done this 'giving a code for people to work on' have the degree of specific task oriented detail (down to the minute, that the specific task was performed) to pass this scrutiny, and therefore now you are in violation of the BCG, and subject to immediate termination. (no bridge, no benefits, no anything).
This is the one, they are going to use to hit most of the higher bands (9,10) for certain, probably some of the 8's as well. So my sincere advice to all of you, is to start capturing in silly amounts of detail any task efforts that you have assigned to other people.
If you don't think it can happen to you, think again. I know of at least 5 people who this has happened to in the last 6 months, two of those were at the 29 year mark.
Please take this to heart, I know most of you are saying this won't affect you, but it can and it will, they are very capable of using tactics such as this, and given the interest in keeping costs down, this is the one that holds the best mechanism for doing that. Be careful out there, the sharks are in the water!
It is a good idea to leave a non-zero balance in your FHA account to ensure that you can re-enter the FHA plan at a later date. However, it may be difficult to draw it down to a number as low as $100. Since you can only chose to take money out of the FHA account in 10% steps of the annual premium, you may have to leave $1000 - $2000 as a balance to avoid drawing it down to zero.
Right now, I think the choice to use COBRA or the FHA first is a roll of the dice. Although the new administration will push for health insurance coverage for the uninsured, it appears at the moment that that will not include people who have coverage through employment or retirement benefits. But given how politics work (or don't work), maybe the changes will cover a wider base than they are talking about, making it attractive for employers to end retiree health plans. Another possibility is that IBM could dump retiree health coverage regardless of what the government does. But I think that is unlikely.
Either way, it will probably take a year or two for the changes to be implemented. If you believe retiree health coverage will not change, then you should use COBRA first. But by the time COBRA runs out and you are ready to use the FHA, that puts you right in the time frame where the world of health insurance might change and the FHA could disappear. If that happens, a better choice might have been to use the FHA first, while it was still there.
Since no one knows where this will all end up, it is really a gamble right now as to what the right choice is.
TERESA GHILARDUCCI: It’s really the end of a thirty-year experiment with a do-it-yourself pension system. The United States stood above all other nations in saying, “Look, we’re going to hand over this saving and investing responsibility over to individuals. They want control. The stock market is healthy.” The finance industry told people that all you had to do was invest in the stock market, wait for a long term, implied that that long term would end at the end of your working career and you would have enough to live on for the rest of your life. And that experiment is over: it failed. And just like the Great Depression, just like the policies proposed in the Great Depression that brought us Social Security, I think we’re at that point now where we have to rethink that experiment and rethink how we get people their valentines, their pension valentines. ...
GONZALEZ: And by defined benefit, that meant that they were guaranteed a certain income per month when they retired.
GHILARDUCCI: Yes, that’s right. It was based on years of service and on pay, so lower-income workers got less, higher-income workers got more. But that was fair. The point is that it was guaranteed for the rest of a person’s life. And that’s precisely what people want when they retire. They don’t want to be rich. They don’t want to make it big in the stock market. That was always seen as something you did in Las Vegas or with money on Wall Street, money that you could afford to lose. The idea is that pensions were supposed to be secure for the rest of your life.
And we now have a system where older people who are retired have Social Security and their pension on top of that, and we have the great success story in America, was that we went from the 1950s, where to be old meant that you had a high probability of being poor, to a situation now, even though it may be at risk, it may be over, where if you are old, you could actually count on some income. Thank goodness we have Social Security.
HP was once trying to compete with IBM as the most prolific patent producer...But after Chief Executive Mark Hurd arrived at HP in 2005, the Palo Alto, Calif., company spent less time and money filing new patents as the CEO strove to make HP more efficient, said Kevin Light, a deputy general counsel and vice president for intellectual property at HP. ...
This strategy is a far cry from IBM's position, which has been to seek a wide array of patents on just about everything, some of which have been downright silly, like its patent on, wait for it, patent trolling. Or how about the patent on offshoring?
So where are pension funds going to go to make money? I have some ideas, which I will discuss tomorrow, but it's worth mentioning what another successful trader told me tonight: "Pension fund managers have an asymmetric payoff. If they lose billions, they get fired, get a huge package, polish up their c.v. and get hired by some other pension fund. If they make billions, they get a huge bonus and they are treated like gods. Their incentives are skewed to take huge risks and not to protect against downside risks."
This trader is smart and he eats what he kills. He knows what it means to have "skin in the game" because if he is not making money, he's in big trouble. It's the risk of ruin that keeps him on his toes, always thinking about how he can protect the downside risk before he enters a position.
But pension funds got sloppy in the last six years and 2008 was a huge wake-up call that reminds them to always worry about systemic risk and to stop blindly throwing billions into the latest "product" that investment banking sharks or brain dead pension consultants are peddling and packaging to them.
The devices are custom-made vacuum pumps that suck harmful gases from the ground beneath the buildings and send them into the air, where they are to disperse without a trace. They are there to protect the homes and offices of about 2,400 people who live and work in what's become known as The Plume. ...
The contamination of Endicott and the cleanup effort by its main polluter, IBM Corp., have established the village as one of the largest known examples of vapor intrusion, a phenomenon in which volatile chemicals creep from far underground into the air of buildings above. "VI," as the scientists call it, is still such a new discovery that its long-term effects are unknown. Endicott has seen a rise in some cancer cases. Those may or may not be linked to The Plume, but have cast an unmistakable shadow on this village. ...
But for much of its history, Big Blue routinely polluted its birthplace. Tons of industrial solvents used to clean computer parts were dumped down drains or leached from leaky pipes into the ground for years before environmental rules required that such "spills" be reported. In 2002, scientists discovered the ground was exacting its revenge: The large underground chemical plume was releasing gases into homes and offices in a 350-acre swath south of the plant. The main chemical was a liquid cleaning agent called trichloroethylene, or TCE, that has been linked to cancer and other illnesses.
The move, to be announced Tuesday, is part of a settlement with the insurance giant UnitedHealth Group, which operates the industry databases. It results from a yearlong investigation by Mr. Cuomo’s office that concluded the data had understated the true market rates of medical care by up to 28 percent. The settlement will have a nationwide impact because UnitedHealth, the biggest health insurer in New York, operates the databases used by the entire industry, through its Ingenix business unit. The deal calls for creation of a new independent database, to be run by a university that is still to be selected. ...
In an interview Monday, Mr. Cuomo said: “For years this database was treated as credible and authoritative, and consumers were left to accept its rates without question. This is like pulling back the curtain on the wizard of Oz. We have now shown that for years consumers were consistently low-balled to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.”
The insurance company determined via Ingenix that many procedures Jerome needed — including chemotherapy medications — were not considered “usual, customary or reasonable.” After three surgeries and treatment for an embolism, Jerome was left owing $46,000.
Weakened from cancer and frightened over her finances, Jerome was fighting a battle on two fronts. She remembers “the devastation it gives to a patient who is at the worst time in their life. They’re trying to fight one battle, and then they have to fight a second battle when they have nothing — physically, spiritually, emotionally — left to fight with.”
But Jerome’s daughter, Eva, who is a Manhattan lawyer, encouraged her mother to appeal to the state’s attorney general. Jerome’s complaint was one of hundreds from angry customers, which prompted Cuomo to launch an investigation of the insurer.
“This is huge. This problem went across the country,” Nancy Nielsen, president of the American Medical Association, told the TODAY show. “It’s industry-wide, throughout insurers. So, it touched every state. Many doctors. Many millions of patients, and this has been going on for years.” ...
In a statement, UnitedHealth Group told TODAY: “We respectfully disagree with the New York Attorney General’s findings that we manipulated data … (or that our ownership of Ingenix was a conflict of interest.) We agreed to his settlement because it was an effective way to address any perceived conflict of interest.” Cuomo says he’s now looking into other health insurance companies for the exact thing. So, there may be millions more on the line here, as well. In addition, some patients plan to bring a class action lawsuit against UnitedHealth Group.
The rub comes in defining what is reasonable and customary.
That calculation for most of the industry is made by a company called Ingenix, which conveniently is owned by UnitedHealth. The whole system is rendered suspect by an obvious conflict of interest: If Ingenix pegs the customary rates low, it keeps insurance reimbursements low and shifts more of the cost to the patient.
Investigators for Mr. Cuomo contend that UnitedHealth and Ingenix have been manipulating the data through a variety of stratagems to keep the customary rate calculation low — and the insurance payments low.
To date, funders include the following: AARP; Abraxis BioScience, Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD, Founder, Chairman, and CEO; Aetna Foundation; Alcoa; Amgen Foundation; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts; California HealthCare Foundation; The Funari Family Foundation; General Motors Foundation; Johnson & Johnson; Karen Katen; Charles N. Martin Jr., The Martin Foundation; Pacific Business Group on Health; Pfizer; RAND Corporate Endowment; RAND Health Board (designated gifts from individual members); Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; John J. Rydzewski; Leonard D. Schaeffer; The Suzanne Nora Johnson and David G. Johnson Foundation; United Health Foundation; and Wellpoint Foundation.
That's four major health insurance companies and four pharmaceutical companies, other medical industry-allied foundations, including the Blue Cross-funded California Health Care Foundation, and GM. No wonder the "tool" is such an elegant, well-built toy--lots of informational popups, colored interactive boxes and decisions made in advance about what works and what doesn't.
In the "analysis tool" above (here's a link to the actual page), the health-care payment option with the most pluses (in RAND's opinion) is "individual mandate," in which individuals must prove they've bought health insurance, or face tax penalties. That turns government into a customer-delivery system for insurance and drug companies, while lightening the burden on employers.
"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.
The committee sounded alarmed that no one knew what had happened to the millions or even billions in taxpayer bailout funds given to financial institutions. "The Panel still does not know what the banks are doing with taxpayer money," it wrote. "For Treasury to advance funds to these institutions without requiring more transparency further erodes the very confidence Treasury seeks to restore."
I am 58 years old and it seems that IBM is doing everything they can to force me out. I know for a fact when this GDF/GDC starts up on Jan 19th, that we will have System Administrators that somehow remain exempt mixed with System Administrators that were reclassified to non-exempt. I am waiting to see if there is a re-classification when this happens so that all the SA's are either non-exempt and had the same 15% reduction in base pay that was given to so many of us, or (HAH!) all the SA's in GDF/GDC will be reclassified to exempt and those that unfairly were forced to take the reduction have the 15% cut re-instated. Not Likely.
So once I know that there will be this issue is not being handled as stated above, I plan on filing a discrimination suit against them. IBM can not throw all of us back into a pool and have some SA's exempt and others non-exempt. I have already started looking for a law firm that is interested in taking IBM to task again over unfair labor practices. People have had enough from the continued screwing IBM delves out. All those that feel the same, should investigate any and all means to stop this unfair labor practice. Sign me Mad as Hell - And I'm Not Gonna Take This Anymore Lying Down! -Screwed Again-
Unfortunately the company has fallen into a short sighted, boost the immediate stock price kind of company. Watson would have never even considered any kind of layoffs while the company simultaneously was making billions in profits. Things began to change in the 80's when company pay and benefits began to mirror every other company. Layoffs began to mirror every other company. Companies with average benefits and no pensions attract average employees with no loyalty. This of course leads to an average company.
It's a shame that such a beautiful and special company has squandered it's long built up reputation for short term bottom line gain. Unfortunately the word is now out. IBM is not the best place to work anymore and employees no longer have pride in the company they work for. No amount of 30 second commercials proclaiming "I'm an IBMer" will ever resurrect their reputation now. The horse is out of the barn. A great company has become average and no different than any other. There is no one to blame but those in upper management.
No doubt the layoff will be timed to coincide with the Presidential Inauguration to try and bury it on the back page and reduce the bad public relations. These are the decisions that justify a mammoth bonus for a few lucky executives. Signed-Sad ex-ibmer who was once proud to wear an IBM badge. -Anonymous-
During the course of 2009, various “waves” of the technical support group (SSO) will be required to report to one of three locations in the U.S. (Boulder, Fishkill and a 3rd undisclosed location). Employees will be required to drive in to an office to work. Those who currently do not live near one of those three locations will be required to move. Moving expenses will not be covered. If you do not move, you will loose your job.
There are approximately 8,000 technical employees (SSO). Approximately 75-80% telecommutes. I cannot fathom what the management at IBM is thinking. With global warming and the effort to reduce greenhouse gases, having 6,000 more people commuting is unconscionable. I hope that publicizing this will cause IBM management to step back and see that this move makes no business or environmental sense. Not to add that employee moral is in the basement. -work at home-
Vault's IBM Business Consulting Services message board is a popular hangout for IBM BCS employees, including many employees acquired from PwC. A few sample posts follow:
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