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Highlights—February 21, 2009

  • IT Examiner (India): IBM 'pulls out of US'. Apart from sales By Jayant Mishra in Mumbai. Full excerpt: IBM, which laid off approximately 15,000 employees last year and a similar number already this year, plans to move all non customer-facing positions off North American soil. The company plans to deploy its existing employees to cheaper destinations.

    Earlier this month, the Examiner reported that the IBM has given an option to its 2,000 ex-employees who were recently laid off in Canada and the US to relocate to cheaper destinations like China, Brazil, India and Europe. However, an insider told the Examiner, it’s not just ex-employees but even existing employees are being asked to make the move.

    "Those who shift will be paid at the prevailing wage of the country they shift, and may even include a lower position. The company will pay for their movement to the other country but will not guarantee a job length or help in moving back to the original country. The exception to this is for executives," said the insider.

    “IBM’s goal is to move all non-customer facing jobs off North American soil," he added. An IBM Bangalore spokesman told IT Examiner: "We do not comment on internal employee movement."

  • AllAfrica.com: Nigeria: IBM to Set Up Computer Plant in Country. By Hamisu Muhammad. Excerpts: A US-based International Business Machines (IBM), has concluded plans to build a production plant for software and hardware computers in Nigeria. The company revealed last Thursday during a visit to Nigeria's Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Alhassan Bako Zaku in Abuja that the plant will attract more Nigerians both at home and abroad to work.

    The leader of IBM team, Vice President David J. Kappos said his company is prepared to invest in the sector to further help Nigeria to develop and produce software and hardware. He sought Government's assistance to actualise the target. Daily Trust recalled that IBM relocated from Nigeria to Ghana some three decades back as a result an Indigenisation policy by the then military administration.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Resource Actionees: Did / Will severance include payments for commis" by "dakra137". Excerpt: Thought your severance would be corrected for commissions earned? Think again.

    The USSD Summary Plan Description Page 3 (at the top) states: "For employees on a commission plan on the date of their termination, payroll will calculate the employee's average income including base salary equivalent and commissions for continuous months of service on commission up to a maximum of 36 months. (36 month average). If this calculation provides a greater payment than the initial base salary separation payment, an adjustment will be paid approximately 60 days after the the employee's termination date. Appropriate taxes will be withheld."

    Sounds nice, even though rather than current salary it will be based on 36 month average. So if you had a raise in the last few years, some of that will average out.

    Here's the trick: The people on commission who received their "Resource Action" last month were, without notification, moved from their commission plan to 100% salary, retroactive to January 1, 2009. I only found out by noticing the apparent increase in "regular salary" in my February 15 payroll stub. It turned out that was due to no longer having anything held back pending commission earnings.

    Since these people will not be on commission on their termination date (the day they leave IBM) they will not be eligible for the 36 month average income calculation and payment.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Less than 4 months short of being able to bridge to full retirement" by "cspolski23". Full excerpt: I'm curious as to what options I have, if any, to argue/fight/beg for the less than 4 months I need to get to 29 years with IBM so that I can bridge to retirement and receive full retirement benefits. The difference in monthly pension payments is a loss of $380/month in my monthly pension. If I start collecting at age 55 (I'm currently 50), and live for at least 25 years, that adds up... ($114K). I'd give up the severance pay if I could get that bridge.

    There are no jobs in BTV site right now and I guess a move to another location for 4-5 months is not worth the upheaval to myself and family. I would not move my family and do not want to separate for them. I am not hopeful of finding another job within IBM where I can stay in VT.

    I have read on this site that i can sign the papers, get the severance pay and then file an age discrimination complaint. I'm just wondering if anyone else has been in this situation and thought of something that helped them get this bridge that I haven't thought of yet. Thanks. Carol P.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Less than 4 months short of being able to bridge to full retirement benefits" by "blueserv". Full excerpt: Well, since you're not a god-like exec with immunity to the real world: it's too bad you can't come down with some mysterious disease that puts you in a protected status that gets miraculously cured after you're able to bridge. Other than that, personally - I'd try to stick it out. That's a great deal of money to us mere mortals. Wishing you the best of luck
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Less than 4 months short of being able to bridge to full retirement benefits" by "makeyourignorancework4u". Excerpts: Frozen is as frozen does. The age provisions were not frozen. If that had been done that be considered age discrimination. The parts frozen consists of the following:
    • Salary increases no longer increase your pension.
    • Additional years of service no longer yield additional points or pension increases.

    What is not frozen is that your benefit still can increase with age. In this case the most critical variable is "retirement eligibility". That can only be achieved with 30 years service if you are below age 55. You cannot retire with 29 years service at age 50. All you can do is collect your "vested rights" which are age dependent. Once you have 30 years service, you can retire at any age.

    As a last resort, what I would recommend is that you write an OPEN DOOR Letter to the IBM CEO before your last day with IBM...ASAP...requesting an OPEN DOOR. You have a most reasonable request. I would request a panel review. They will refuse that. Do not allow them to foist an HR employee on you as the investigator. Insist on someone that works for the exec you report to or someone similar. I would give this option a 20% of succeeding...particularily if you make a good case based on past job performance, willingness to work for the last 4 months anywhere and for any salary...even $0.00. Be exceedingly polite at all times throughout this process....and good luck.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Less than 4 months short of being able to bridge to full retirement benefits" by "nvstock". Full excerpt: The early retirement bump still occurs, even though the plan was frozen. From the Q&A of the freeze announcement (PCF = NEW/OLD):
    "Q3. I'll be just short of 30 years when this change takes effect. Doesn't this mean I'll never get to my 30-year milestone for pension purposes in the PCF?
    A3. No, that is not true. Age and service continue to count toward retirement eligibility even after the plan changes take effect for 2008 -- so you can still "grow into" early retirement. The pension you've earned through year-end 2007 won't grow any further as a result of new pay increases, and you won't earn any more points, but the benefit payment will still increase at key early retirement milestones -- by as much as 25% in some cases -- as you continue to work for IBM. So in other words, if you were going to reach 30 years in January 2010, even though the accrual of your additional pension benefit stopped two years prior, you would still receive a bump-up at your 30-year milestone for reaching early retirement. The same applies if you are 51 now, and reach age 55 (with at least 15 years of service) some time after the 2008 changes go into effect. So reaching these key early retirement milestones is still important."
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Unemployment Insurance NY State" by Stephen D Bartlett. Full excerpt: Just attended an NY Dept of Labor seminar in POK; filled the room, an indication of the # let go here. If just riffed, involuntary separation, than your IBM pension does affect unemployment benefits: if your monthly pension exceeds $405/week, then you will get nothing. We were told severance does not affect unemployment benefits. If you go to work for another company, even a contractor to IBM, then you are let go (IBM does not need your services, so the contractor terminates you) then you may be eligible of UnBen based on your earnings from your last employer - not IBM. The Stim bill is said to have funded extensions to UnBen; it may be several weeks or months before that gets implemented, but it could double. Steve
  • Washington Post: Out of Work and Challenged on Benefits, Too. In Record Numbers, Employers Move to Block Unemployment Payouts. By Peter Whoriskey. Excerpts: It's hard enough to lose a job. But for a growing proportion of U.S. workers, the troubles really set in when they apply for unemployment benefits. More than a quarter of people applying for such claims have their rights to the benefit challenged as employers increasingly act to block payouts to former workers.

    The proportion of claims disputed by former employers and state agencies has reached record levels in recent years, according to the Labor Department numbers tallied by the Urban Institute. Under state and federal laws, employees who are fired for misbehavior or quit voluntarily are ineligible for unemployment compensation. When jobless claims are blocked, employers save money because their unemployment insurance rates are based on the amount of the benefits their workers collect. ...

    Unemployment compensation programs are administered by the states and funded by payroll taxes that employers pay. In 2007, employers put up about $31.5 billion in such taxes, and those taxes typically rise during and after recessions, as states seek to replenish the funds. With each successful claim raising a company's costs, many firms resist letting employees collect the benefit if they consider it undeserved. "In some of these cases, employers feel like there's some matter of principle involved," said Coleman Walsh, chief administrative law judge in Virginia, who has handled many such disputes. But, he said, "nowadays it appears their motivation has more to do with the impact on their unemployment insurance tax rate. Employers by and large are more aware of unemployment as a cost of business."

  • New York Times: Our Hotel Was Attacked (some uplifting news for a change). By Raymond Bickson, Chief executive, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces. Excerpts: The terrorist attacks on Mumbai that began Nov. 26 — they’re calling it “26/11” over here — could have been a setback for India, for Mumbai and for my company, whose flagship hotel, the Taj Mahal Palace and Towers, was one of seven targets throughout the city. If it was a setback, it was only momentary.

    I have a feeling that our hotel was one of the targets specifically because the terrorists knew the iconic role it plays for Indians. Opened in 1903, it was built by the Parsi industrialist Jamsetji Tata after he was refused entry to a Mumbai hotel with a strict Europeans-only policy. Incorporated as the Indian Hotels Company, it was the first company of the Tata Group. ...

    While reopening the hotel was important, our first response was to our fellow employees and guests. Within 24 hours of the attack, we set up five outreach centers for our associates and guests. We had 15 experts in post-trauma counseling talking with people individually and in small groups. It’s a process that will continue for quite some time.

    Families of the 15 Taj employees who died will be paid their deceased’s salaries for the rest of their lives, as well as all medical benefits and education for those up to age 24. In addition, the Taj Hotels have set up a trust to provide immediate relief to all families of those who were killed, whether from the general public, the security forces, employees of the Taj or of other establishments affected by the terrorists

  • BusinessWeek: Tech That's Still Ticking. By Douglas MacMillan, Aaron Ricadela, Olga Kharif and Arik Hesseldahl. Excerpt: After columnist Roger Kay sang the praises of his 10-year-old notebook computer, a Hewlett-Packard Jornada, and lamented the all-too-common "planned obsolescence" of much of today's technology, dozens of readers cried a collective "Amen." Turns out that many of you are also clinging to outmoded hardware and software that continues to do the job well, despite frequent updates. In tech, as in other industries, newer doesn’t necessarily signify better. We used readers' comments to Roger's story to compile this list of your favorite "outmoded" tech, starting with the most recent equipment.
  • Seattle Times: Downturn dilemma: Foreign professionals and worker visas. As joblessness soars, employers are under mounting pressure to save U.S. jobs by laying off foreign professional workers first, a scenario that for many H-1B workers triggers a frantic search for a new employer to sponsor them so they don't have to go back home. By Lornet Turnbull. Excerpts: Favored by high-tech companies — but increasingly divisive in this imploding labor market — employment visas are issued to hundreds of thousands of foreign professionals in a range of specialty occupations from high-tech to high-fashion modeling. And they are issued even when qualified U.S. workers are available to fill the jobs. ...

    Locally, Microsoft had more than 1,000 H-1B visas approved for 2008, the fifth-highest for any U.S. employer. Others, like the University of Washington, got approval for 104; Seattle Children's Home for one. At best, though, these foreign professionals have tenuous acceptance in the U.S. labor force. Critics say they displace U.S. workers and sometimes are hired on the cheap, paid less than their American counterparts in violation of program rules. They say some workers — beholden to employers — allow themselves to be exploited in exchange for the ultimate reward that comes with these visas: a green card.

    A federal report last year detailed fraud in 21 percent of applications for H-1B visas that it examined. And the government last week arrested 11 people in six states and indicted a New Jersey employer in a suspected H-1B fraud case.

    Now, with joblessness soaring in the U.S., employers are under mounting pressure to cut their foreign work force first, to save American jobs. This is happening even as employers prepare and submit government paperwork that would allow them to hire up to 85,000 new H-1B workers nationwide.

  • National Law Journal: Retiree benefit cutbacks roil courts. Circuits split on benefit promises. By Pamela A. MacLean. Excerpts: A bad economy, aging workers and long-ago company promises of lifetime health benefits for retirees have combined to produce a spate of conflicting federal appellate standards as companies try to cut back those benefits. In a dozen cases, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in the heavily unionized Rust Belt, has embraced broad acceptance of the premise that retiree benefit rights vest if evidence is bolstered by evidence outside the contract.

    The 7th Circuit is tougher. It generally assumes that benefit promises expire with the labor contract. And the 3d and 4th circuits take an even harder line, requiring retirees to show a "clear and express" contract statement that benefits vest. "It's a mess," said James P. Baker, co-chairman of the Jones Day employee benefits practice in the firm's San Francisco office. ...

    The trend to pull back on retiree health benefits began in the 1980s and sped up in 1992 with an accounting rule change requiring employers to treat future health costs as a current expense, according to Baker. The central question for circuits has been whether a company commitment to provide health benefits vests when workers retire, given the often murky or conflicting language in union contracts or retiree benefit plans. The disputes boil down to the retiree's right to rely on a promise of medical care, often repeated in contracts over decades, or whether it is trumped by a reservation-of-rights clause added to contracts allowing companies to change or eliminate benefits some time in the future.

  • New York Times: A Swiss Bank Is Set to Open Its Secret Files. By Lynnley Browning. Excerpts: In the hush-hush world of Swiss banking, the unthinkable is happening: secrets are spilling into the open. UBS, the largest bank in Switzerland, agreed on Wednesday to divulge the names of well-heeled Americans whom the authorities suspect of using offshore accounts at the bank to evade taxes. The bank admitted conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and agreed to pay $780 million to settle a sweeping federal investigation into its activities. ...

    In a striking admission, UBS said that from 2000 through 2007, some of its private bankers and managers had “participated in a scheme to defraud the United States” and the I.R.S. by helping American clients set up and conceal offshore accounts. The scheme involved falsifying or not properly obtaining or filing certain tax forms required of both the bank and its clients. UBS’s offshore private banking business once employed some 60 private bankers in Lugano, Zurich and Geneva. Prosecutors claimed UBS referred clients to lawyers and accountants who set up secret offshore entities to conceal assets from the I.R.S.

    UBS urged some American clients to destroy records and to stash watches, jewelry and artwork that they had bought with money hidden offshore in safe deposit boxes in Switzerland. The bank also encouraged them to use Swiss credit cards so the I.R.S. could not track purchases. In a statement on Wednesday, Peter Kurer, the chairman of UBS, said that “UBS sincerely regrets the compliance failures in its U.S. cross-border business that have been identified by the various government investigations in Switzerland and the U.S., as well as our own internal review. We accept full responsibility for these improper activities.”

News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • Associated Press, courtesy of the New York Times: The INFLUENCE GAME: Coalition Rises, Then Stalls. Excerpts: Labor unions and business groups have teamed up in a multimillion-dollar national lobbying campaign to pressure President Barack Obama and Congress for big changes in the nation's health care system. But as they get down to the specifics, their strange-bedfellows alliance is quietly at odds. After spending two years and more than $20 million to promote the idea, collaborators in the Divided We Fail coalition -- a project of the seniors lobby AARP, the service workers' union, and groups representing small business and the Fortune 500 -- are indeed divided over key elements of how to fix health care.

    Its members agree that something should be done to revamp health care in the United States, and there's consensus on a vague set of general principles that include making coverage more accessible, affordable and efficient. But they differ over important details, including what roles the government and private businesses should play.

    The emerging rifts highlight how difficult it will be for Obama and the Democratic-run Congress to deliver what they say they are committed to: a health care overhaul that would guarantee everyone affordable coverage.

  • New York Times: For Uninsured Young Adults, Do-It-Yourself Health Care. By Cara Buckley. Excerpts: They borrow leftover prescription drugs from friends, attempt to self-diagnose ailments online, stretch their diabetes and asthma medicines for as long as possible and set their own broken bones. When emergencies strike, they rarely can afford the bills that follow.

    “My first reaction was to start laughing — I just kept saying, ‘No way, no way,’ ” Alanna Boyd, a 28-year-old receptionist, recalled of the $17,398 — including $13 for the use of a television — that she was charged after spending 46 hours in October at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan with diverticulitis, a digestive illness. “I could have gone to a major university for a year. Instead, I went to the hospital for two days.”

    In the parlance of the health care industry, Ms. Boyd, whose case remains unresolved, is among the “young invincibles” — people in their 20s who shun insurance either because their age makes them feel invulnerable or because expensive policies are out of reach. Young adults are the nation’s largest group of uninsured — there were 13.2 million of them nationally in 2007, or 29 percent, according to the latest figures from the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit research group in New York. ...

    When Robert Voris last had health insurance, in 2007, he stockpiled insulin pumps, which are inserted under the skin to constantly monitor blood-sugar levels and administer the drug accordingly. He said the tubing for the pump costs $900 a month, so lately he has instead been injecting insulin with a syringe. But Mr. Voris, 27, a journalism student at the City University of New York who works at a restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn, is constantly worried about diabetes-induced seizures like the one that sent him to the hospital last summer. (Because it happened at work, his boss covered the ambulance and other bills.)

  • Physicians for a National Health Program: Massachusetts’ Plan: A Failed Model for Health Care Reform (PDF). Executive summary: The Massachusetts Health Reform Law of 2006 expanded Medicaid coverage for the poor and made available subsidized, Medicaid-like coverage for additional poor and near-poor residents of the state. It also mandated that middle-income uninsured people either purchase private health insurance or pay a substantial fine ($1,068 in 2009). Smaller fines (up to $295 per employee) were also levied on employers who fail to offer insurance benefits.

    The reform law has not achieved universal health insurance coverage, although half or more of the previously uninsured now have some type of insurance policy.

    The reform has been more expensive than expected, costing $1.1 billion in fiscal 2008 and $1.3 billion in fiscal 2009. In the face of a state budget crisis in fall 2008, Gov. Deval Patrick announced that he will keep the reform afloat by draining money from safety-net providers such as public hospitals and community clinics.

    While the number of people lacking health insurance in Massachusetts has been reduced, several recent surveys demonstrate that substantial problems in access to care remain in the state. While the new health insurance improved access to care for some residents, many low-income patients who previously received completely free care under the state’s old free care program now face co-payments, premiums and deductibles that stop them from getting needed care.

    In addition, cuts to safety-net providers have reduced health resources available to the state’s remaining uninsured, as well as to others who rely on safety-net providers for services in short supply in the private sector. These safety-net services include emergency room care, chronic mental health care, and primary care. The net effect of this expensive reform on access to care is at best modest, and for some patients, negative.

    By mandating that uninsured residents purchase private health insurance, the law reinforced the economic and political power of health insurance firms. Thus, the reform augments the already high administrative costs of health care. Moreover, the agency that administers the new law (the “Connector”) adds an extra 4 to 5 percentage points to the already high overhead of private health insurance policies.

    The reform failed to reduce overreliance on expensive, high-technology services. Indeed, some of its provisions such as changes in Medicaid rates and cuts to safety-net providers (who do more primary care) have further tilted health spending toward expensive, high-technology care.

    A single-payer system of non-profit national health insurance could save about $8-$10 billion annually in the state through reduced administrative costs. This money could be used to cover all of the state’s uninsured residents and to improve coverage for those who now have insurance, without any increase in total health care costs.

    The Massachusetts reform law is not providing universal access to care, even in a state with highly favorable circumstances, including previously high levels of spending on health care for the poor, high personal incomes, and low rates of uninsurance. It is not a model for the nation.

  • Reuters (United Kingdom): New U.S. health insurance program envisioned. By Will Dunham. Excerpts: A prominent private U.S. health policy group on Thursday proposed creating a major new public health program and government-operated insurance exchange as part of a plan to expand coverage and rein in health care costs. The Commonwealth Fund, a leading private health policy research group, unveiled a comprehensive plan for changing a U.S. health care system that is the world's most expensive yet lags many other nations in important measures of quality.

    They hope the Obama administration and lawmakers consider the ideas as they move forward this year with plans for major changes in the health care system. This plan is one of many being advanced as U.S. policymakers move toward action. The proposal favors a mix of public and private insurance options over the idea of a fully government-run health system. Every American would be required to have some form of public or private health insurance, and one choice would be a new nationwide government program for anyone under 65, the age when eligibility for the existing Medicare program begins.

  • The Commonwealth Fund: The Path to a High Performance U.S. Health System: A 2020 Vision and the Policies to Pave the Way. Overview: Overview This report from the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System offers recommendations for a comprehensive set of insurance, payment, and system reforms that could guarantee affordable coverage for all by 2012, improve health outcomes, and slow health spending growth by $3 trillion by 2020—if enacted now to start in 2010. Central to the Commission’s strategy is establishing a national insurance exchange that offers a choice of private plans and a new public plan, with reforms to make coverage affordable, ensure access, and lower administrative costs. Building on this foundation, the report recommends policies to change the way the nation pays for care, invest in information systems to improve quality and safety, and promote health. By stimulating competition and delivery system changes aimed at providing more effective and efficient care, the policies could yield higher value and substantial savings for families, businesses, and the public sector.
  • New York Times: Health Care Industry in Talks to Shape Policy. By Robert Pear. Excerpts: Since last fall, many of the leading figures in the nation’s long-running health care debate have been meeting secretly in a Senate hearing room. Now, with the blessing of the Senate’s leading proponent of universal health insurance, Edward M. Kennedy, they appear to be inching toward a consensus that could reshape the debate.

    Many of the parties, from big insurance companies to lobbyists for consumers, doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, are embracing the idea that comprehensive health care legislation should include a requirement that every American carry insurance.

    While not all industry groups are in complete agreement, there is enough of a consensus, according to people who have attended the meetings, that they have begun to tackle the next steps: how to enforce the requirement for everyone to have health insurance; how to make insurance affordable to the uninsured; and whether to require employers to help buy coverage for their employees.

    The talks, which are taking place behind closed doors, are unusual. Lobbyists for a wide range of interest groups — some of which were involved in defeating national health legislation in 1993-4 — are meeting with the staff of Mr. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, in a search for common ground.

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.

  • Wall Street Journal: Morgan Stanley, Citigroup to Give Brokers Big Retention Fees. By Aaron Lucchetti. Excerpts: Building the biggest brokerage firm on Wall Street is proving costly to Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Inc., which are planning to pay brokers about $3 billion to keep them from being poached away from the joint venture, people familiar with the matter said. While the terms aren't expected to be announced until later this month, the issue could grow politically sensitive, because the U.S. government holds stakes in Citigroup and Morgan Stanley as part of its bailout of the financial system. Morgan Stanley is paying Citigroup $2.7 billion to take control of the joint venture, which was announced last month and will combine its brokerage operation with Citigroup's Smith Barney unit. ...

    The pay packages, ranging from 50% to about 260% of a broker's annual production, are rubbing some the wrong way, especially at a time when financial-services firms have taken government money and many of the brokers' clients are suffering losses. Depending on the size of the individual broker's business, the payments can exceed $10 million. "I'm incredulous that the regulators" and administrators of the government's bank investments "aren't focusing on this," says Michael Campbell, head of boutique brokerage firm Dominick & Dominick. "It's been a mindless recruiting war."

  • BusinessWeek: No Outcry About CEO Pay in Japan. For one thing, Japanese executives don't earn nearly as much as Westerners—and the implications are far-reaching. By Kenji Hall. Excerpts: In recent weeks, the news from Japan Inc. has been a steady drumbeat of layoffs, plant shutdowns, and gloomy earnings forecasts. Yet few CEOs have been shown the door. And there are scant signs that the public and political outcry against CEOs' fat pay packages in the U.S. will be echoed in Japan.

    That's because most Japanese chief executives don't earn anywhere near the big paychecks of their Western counterparts. CEOs at Japan's top 100 companies by market capitalization earned an average of around $1.5 million, compared with $13.3 million for American CEOs and $6.6 million for European chief execs at companies with revenues of higher than $10 billion, according to an analysis of 2004-06 data by Towers Perrin, a Stamford (Conn.) human resources firm.

    It shows, too. Japan's corporate bigwigs might travel around in chauffeured cars and play golf on the company's dime, but they don't trot around in designer suits, shuttle between cities in private jets, or order up multimillion-dollar houses. And the moment the company's profits plunge, they often take one for the team. Last month, Sony announced plans to halve the pay packages for Chairman and CEO Howard Stringer and his top lieutenants, while Honda has said its board members will take a 20% pay cut.

  • Jim Hightower: Bankers on a Binge. Full excerpt: Don’t tell me that bankers are hopeless stiffs who don’t know how to get down. Not only can the Wall Street crowd boogie with the best, but they’ve got the money to party large! Take Bank of America. At the recent Super Bowl, this bunch of bankers didn’t just throw a tailgate party, they hosted a five-day carnival extravaganza in special tents set up next to the stadium. The good-time affair offered 850,000 square feet of what ABC News called “sports games and interactive entertainment activities for football fans.” What fun!

    Uh, wait – isn’t this the bank that just got a multi-billion dollar bailout from you and me in January? Well, yes. And less than a month later they’re hosting a Super Bowl Blowout? Yes. What did this thing cost? Well, Bank of America won't tell us. The NFL, however, conceded that was a “multi-million dollar” event. Indeed, the tents alone ran more than $800,000.

    Meanwhile, Citigroup announced that it’s a sporting sort of corporation, too. Despite losing billions of dollars last year, firing 5,000 employees, and getting $345 billion from us taxpayers, the bank now says it intends to blow $400 million for the right to put its name on the New York Mets’ new baseball stadium.

    Not to be outdone, Morgan Stanley, recipient of a $10 billion taxpayer bailout last fall, showed that it can rise above hard times. Late in January, its top bankers gathered with clients for a lavish three-day confab at the Breakers, a five-star oceanfront resort in sunny Palm Beach. These bankers, too refused to reveal the price of their outing, but they did report that they’d gotten a discounted room rate. Only $400 a night, per person. Let’s hope they gave a champagne toast to us taxpayers.

  • Jim Hightower: What's the Word for Wall Street Greed? Full excerpt: America’s titans of finance have caused the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, and what is their reaction? Party time! “Break out the champagne/ We’re feeling no pain/ Let the bonuses rain/ It’s all to our gain!” Obtuse? Self-indulgent? Narcissistic? What’s with these people? Let’s review just three examples of their insanity:

    While Merrill Lynch was collapsing last year, requiring a $25 billion salvage job from us taxpayers, its CEO was merrily redecorating his office, picking out such necessities as $28,000 worth of curtains, a $35,000 antique commode, and a $1,400 waste basket. Then he magnanimously doled out $4 billion in executive bonuses.

    Citigroup, which lost $28 billion in the past 15 months, has now been given a $345 billion bailout from Washington and is presently holding a fire sale of its corporate parts in a desperate effort to survive. But this didn’t stop top executives from trying to buy a new, $50-million, Dassault Falcon corporate jet for themselves. Never mind that the bank already had five executive jets.

    Despite losing billions of dollars last year, then going hat in hand to the government for multibillion-dollar bailouts, Wall Street investment bankers paid themselves $18 billion in bonuses at the end of the year. In a poll of these bankers, 46 percent felt they deserved bigger bonuses.

    We have to have some new words. “Greed” doesn’t say it. “Outrageous” falls way short. “Shameful” has no effect on bankers. Help me out here: How shall we describe their abominable sense of self-entitlement? Channel your furry into creativity, and send me your ideas for new words that nail these bankers. Top three winners get an autographed copy of my book, Thieves In High Places. Send us your suggestions!.

  • New York Times op-ed: Decade at Bernie’s. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: Last week the Federal Reserve released the results of the latest Survey of Consumer Finances, a triennial report on the assets and liabilities of American households. The bottom line is that there has been basically no wealth creation at all since the turn of the millennium: the net worth of the average American household, adjusted for inflation, is lower now than it was in 2001.

    At one level this should come as no surprise. For most of the last decade America was a nation of borrowers and spenders, not savers. The personal savings rate dropped from 9 percent in the 1980s to 5 percent in the 1990s, to just 0.6 percent from 2005 to 2007, and household debt grew much faster than personal income. Why should we have expected our net worth to go up?

    Yet until very recently Americans believed they were getting richer, because they received statements saying that their houses and stock portfolios were appreciating in value faster than their debts were increasing. And if the belief of many Americans that they could count on capital gains forever sounds naïve, it’s worth remembering just how many influential voices — notably in right-leaning publications like The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and National Review — promoted that belief, and ridiculed those who worried about low savings and high levels of debt. ...

    If you want to see what it really takes to boot the economy out of a debt trap, look at the large public works program, otherwise known as World War II, that ended the Great Depression. The war didn’t just lead to full employment. It also led to rapidly rising incomes and substantial inflation, all with virtually no borrowing by the private sector. By 1945 the government’s debt had soared, but the ratio of private-sector debt to G.D.P. was only half what it had been in 1940. And this low level of private debt helped set the stage for the great postwar boom.

    Since nothing like that is on the table, or seems likely to get on the table any time soon, it will take years for families and firms to work off the debt they ran up so blithely. The odds are that the legacy of our time of illusion — our decade at Bernie’s — will be a long, painful slump.

  • PBS Frontline: Inside the Meltdown (video). Abstract: On Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008, the astonished leadership of the U.S. Congress was told in a private session by the chairman of the Federal Reserve that the American economy was in grave danger of a complete meltdown within a matter of days. "There was literally a pause in that room where the oxygen left," says Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.).
  • Forbes: Perverse Incentives. By Sean Masaki Flynn. Excerpts: Bonuses made sense. Until traders reaped million-dollar rewards for hiding billions of dollars of risk. For anyone interested in making the world a better place, economics boils down to just one phrase: Incentives matter. Set up the right incentives--be they bonuses, subsidies or stock options--and you can get people to do nearly anything.

    But be careful: If you're not paying close attention, the incentives that you set up can have perverse consequences--even, in some cases, causing people to work against the goal you were trying to achieve. On Wall Street, year-end bonuses made sense--until traders discovered they could reap million dollar rewards by hiding billions of dollars of risk.

  • Jim Hightower: Ending the Culture of Executive Entitlement. Excerpts: I don't mind losing when we lose, but I hate losing when we win. One big reason that Barack Obama now occupies the big chair in the Oval Office is that he embraced the public's rising indignation at the blatant greed of Wall Street bankers, striking the proper populist tone in last year's presidential election. After all, these slick financial elites crashed our economy, yet they kept enriching and pampering themselves, even as taxpayers were being forced to throw hundreds of billions of dollars at their failing institutions.

    Having won and taken office, Obama proceeded to rip right into the bankers' shameless avarice, denouncing their "culture of narrow self-interest and short-term gain at the expense of everything else." Great stuff! Go get 'em, Barack!

    A week later, however, the president's treasury chief, Timothy Geithner, rolled out the administration's plan to add more than a trillion dollars to the ongoing Wall Street bailout, and — Holy William Jennings Bryan — Obama's populist bark had been reduced to a puppy whimper! It seems that Geithner and Obama's top economic advisor, Lawrence Summers — both of whom have long been cozy with the very same greed-headed bankers who caused the financial mess we're in — had been cooing into the president's ears about the "danger" of "harshly" punishing executives and "spooking" private investors.

    Thanks to them, even though populist politics won, populist policy lost. Gone from Obama's proposal is the idea that top managers of the failed banks — the executives who made the foolhardy investments that brought the system down — should be ousted (if not tarred and feathered). Instead, our trillion-plus bucks are to be put right into those same hands! If ignorance is bliss, Geithner and Summers must be ecstatic. ...

    In the past couple of decades, the ethical notion that business leaders should be trustees for the enterprise — with responsibilities to future shareholders, employees and the larger society — has been displaced by a singular focus on amassing short-term wealth for the few by driving up the stock price, no matter what shortcuts must be taken to achieve that soulless goal. CEOs who can jack up those prices, by hook or crook, are hailed as geniuses and treated as royalty, no matter how much damage they're doing to their company or our country. ...

    This celebration of manipulated wealth has even fostered an absurd bit of conventional wisdom that we can't get competent executive talent for a mere $500,000 a year. This stems from the prevailing (and pernicious) corporate fiction that the best are, by definition, the ones who're paid the most. Yet 500K is 25 percent more than our country's president makes, more than our top-rated non-profit leaders receive, more than most community bankers take and way more than America's finest teachers are paid. Wall Street conveniently equates compensation with value — and since CEOs compensate themselves extravagantly, they've come to assume that they are America's most valuable people. Indispensable, even.

  • New York Times: Madoff Never Made Supposed Investments. By Diana B. Henriques. Excerpt: The clients who trusted Bernard L. Madoff still do not know exactly what he did with their money. But they know what he did not do with it: He did not buy any of those blue-chip stocks and Treasury bills listed on their account statements over the last 13 years. The court-appointed trustee who is winding down Mr. Madoff’s business said on Friday that his team had searched records going back almost to 1993 and found no evidence that any securities were bought for investors during that time.
New on the Alliance@IBM Site
  • Survey Question: If you were resourced from IBM, in the 24 months prior; were you ever on a medical or personal LOA? Please provide your answers in your comment message to Job Cuts... we will post them.
  • RA's employees needed to talk to media. Anonymous if you wish. Send email, name and phone number to ibmunionalliance@gmail.com Alliance@IBM (2/9/2009)
  • Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comment 2/13/09: Looks like they have me in their sights. I am training two new PM's in India on my job. These two guys from India do not have a clue on what a PM does. And they still won't after I train them because they just do not and can not learn. -Still Ducking-
    • Comment 2/13/09: I heard from a reliable source that Randy McDonald, Sr. VP HR, will make a 10-15% layoff standard operating policy every year in IBM. His reasoning is that it makes the company competitive. Get rid of the bottom 10-15% every year. They are the slackers and poor performers. What do you folks think about that? -hopefully not a slacker-
    • Comment 2/13/09: Reading the job cut news & finding out how IBM operates is not great news for me. I've just been told IBM is taking over some of our work & I'm moving over to them, with no choice. Feel for you guys! -doomed-
    • Comment 2/13/09: GBSer - GBS RA or the push from internal to 'commercial opportunities' has already started. According to one person's view that was affected the actions were set for later in the year but like IBM mentioned last month they skewed their 'normal established process' to first and second quarter. Call it what you want. Some have until end of this quarter. I am guessing the rest will follow end of second quarter - Internal accounts for US employees are dead - how widespread is it? I don't know. -Internal accounts are dead-
    • Comment 2/13/09: Finally joined the alliance today as a full member - don't want it on my Conscience that I busted my a** on my job but never took the time to keep it safe. I've seen more people terminated in the last 2 years than all the years I've been working combined. The majority were good, hard, intelligent co-workers - some who can't find a job in this tight economy. We provided excellent service to our customers in a filthy work environment, poor equipment and doing the work of 2 to 4 people depending on the day of the week.

      Our customers have been very happy with us. In light of great customer satisfaction the accounts keep going overseas and the complaints are non-stop from lack of experience, knowledge and many times English. Accounts that take a couple of years to master are pushed out to countries that are only allowed a few weeks training - and no one in upper management seems to care or notice. A five year old could have planned these transitions better.

      America - we lost 1.8 million jobs in the last 3 months. It's not stopping and the fat cats on top keep making more money while we lose jobs and these poor third world countries which continue to create sweat shops for the while our clients are paying for poor service which is hurting their business. This is not a Global Economy - it is a legalized sweatshop mentality and some day we may get our jobs back if we're willing to work for 8 to 15 thousand dollars a year.

      I'm not going down without a fight and the only place to go for help is the Alliance - if we all pull together. Yes there are better companies to work for and I'm so happy for those of you that will find them but jobs are getting harder to find. Lets work on keeping ours. -brokeback-

    • Comment 2/13/09: New RTP based voting alliance member here. Colleagues it is time to step up and put Sammy and the Big Blue meat grinder in it's place. Project Match, that is the straw that breaks the camels back. Alert your local media "troubleshooter" team and alert them to this Project Match concept, somebody will certainly want to pick up that story right? Stand up be counted now or be prepared to be another statistic. -RTPUnderPar-
    • Comment 2/14/09: Just joined as a voting member, though I don't expect I'll be an employee by the end of the year. I am *SO* sick of us employees being treated like toxic waste by Sam and the rest of the bloatocracy @ IBM. It may be futile, but I'll be damned if I let them win without a fight. -irRational-
    • Comment 2/14/09: Nah, the India offer is for homeward-bound Indians only: Young IBMers can't move 'cause they're still paying student loans or are trapped in negative-equity mortgages. The middle-aged can't move because their kids are in school getting the education they'll need for survival. And the older IBMers can't risk moving 'cause they need good health care (Male life expectancy in USA = 75 yrs. Compared to India = 69 yrs, Russia 59 yrs, Nigeria = 46 yrs [source: CIA WorldFactbook]). Move at your peril.

      No, the much-trumpeted India "offer" is nothing more than a sensational smokescreen to hide the REAL scandal here: Namely, IBM's demand that US employees move *within* the USA at their own expense and with scant job security. By openly publicizing the *India* offer, IBM has very cleverly steered the press onto a much more"sensational" story. Predictably, the public lost interest once everyone realized it wasn't a forced move. The real outrage - the callous way a once noble and respected US institution kicked their friends in the teeth - has been cleverly buried. These guys are smart. Very smart. -Consultant Dude-

    • Comment 2/14/09: I never thought I'd be in a position to join a union, but I did it today. I don't know if the Alliance can help - but doing nothing sure won't. I'm tired of seeing talented, hardworking people disparaged and RA'd while incompetent management destroys products and climbs the corporate ladder. I expect to be hit next quarter, but maybe joining today will help someone down the road. -done rolling over-
    • Comment 2/15/09: I'm curious if anyone caught in last month's RA has been able to find another position inside IBM. Anyone having any luck? -Hard Luck in S&D- No. On the bright side, consider yourself 'lucky' that you were RA'ed. You get severance and unemployment. Those put 'on the bench' are forced to be instrumental in their own demise, via the rating of how well they look for a job that isn't there, and at the end of this futile exercise, will be deemed 'unsatisfactory' and fired with no severance or unemployment. How clever IS this all? So, is it only -slammed- and myself who are in this position? I know it isn't. Are the others too afraid to speak up, even at this late date? -anonymous-
    • Comment 2/15/09: -hopefully not a slacker-, 10-15% layoff standard operating policy every year in IBM has been in place for a long time..and the policy is used as the argument why IBM feels it does not have to publicize layoffs. Normal business. Now how do you feel that no matter what you do, or what you produce, or how well you perform....in a group of 1 performers....some will still be on the bottom 10 - 15 % that will be cut loose from their jobs as part of an established business model and policy. That only reduces your chances of a pay increase. Slacker or not. Hard worker or not. They can drop you at any point for any reason. See you on the bench or see you on the unemployment office. -targetted-
    • Comment 2/15/09: How strange is this .. IBM has dozens of jobs posted on Dice.com !! - Many for Atlanta. I'm convinced now that IBM is a rudderless ship. They are so large that they have no clue as to what is really going on. -former IBMer too-
    • Comment 2/15/09: Not only just US Jobs being move to China and India... Even in Asia they are planning to move some of the operations to China and India for cost cutting. IBM is no longer the IBM that I use to work in...things have changed to the big bosses what they wanna see is money saving to make them look good. The lower bands suffers.... There is already trends resource action on SDM and move PA as SDMs.... this is a disgrace, the PA cant even do the job of a SDM role, they have to be taught and sometime even not sure what they are doing when facing customers. I just don't understand what the management are thinking when moving the PA up to the post when they do not even have PM exp, technical exp..... -KT-
    • Comment 2/16/09: There seems to be a sentiment that all RA's are associated with relatively low performance. This may be true in some divisions, but not all. In mine very high performers were laid off while low performers were kept - it was the project that was stopped. The people doing them were simply discarded. What a way to run a company. -anonymous-
    • Comment 2/16/09: Despite finding another job in IBM, my management was so intent on eliminating me that they interceded on any opportunity I found. So despite being able to find other work in the company for people who knew my skills, management was intent on eliminating me no matter what. Despite having these skill(s) my manager was a useless pawn and is a lonely old hag. Hope she rots in her retirement community (and in hell) cause I know she is destined to be there!!!!. -Stiffed-
    • Comment 2/16/09: after reviewing all of the open job postings currently in the internal job postings, it is apparent that roughly 80% were posted prior to the fourth Q and 70% are for positions offshore. fyi you cannot be denied unemployment simply because you were 'on the bench'. IBM will have to have HR show up at your hearing and prove you were a non-performer. that's how the system with the ESC works. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/16/09: "10-15% layoff standard operating policy every year in IBM has been in place for a long time" I can vouch for that too. This model is applied at many large high tech companies. Every year the management team ranks their employees. The bottom 10-15% gets shit canned. Plain and simple. Think about it. It scares the living hell out of the employees who are left so they work harder. It also reduces costs 10-15% each year. It is a brilliant idea to run the company and cut costs. The trouble is that it may work in the short run but it doesn't work in the long run. Randy McDonald is a friggin idiot for not seeing that. -Sammy's Cronie-
    • Comment 2/16/09: I hereby vow to contact at least 2 people each day to convince them to join the union. If everyone who reads this board will join, and then get 10 other people to join and convince them to get 10 others to join, we can have a working union before the next wave of firings. I hear the next big wave will come just after July 4th... Who will do this with me? Post here if you are in. I'm sick of $am P sticking it to my highly-qualified co-workers and friends. C'mon people, let's not just sit here and take this crap ! Don't let them fool you into complacence with promises of raises and variable pay. You might get them this year, and next year (or even later this year), you might get the axe! -union_positive-
    • Comment 2/17/09: If you work or were RA'd and worked in a call center/helpdesk; Please look at this web site http://www.ibmcallcenterovertime.com/ -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/17/09: To Stiffed: Management is not your friend. They are NOT there to help you. The only people they help are the azz kissers that have sucked up to them for years. They have their favorites, and those people remain in the company. Your manager had a head count number to get rid of. They don't care about you. They need to get rid of that head count they were told to, to save their own azz. My manager would not even answer my emails for the last 30 days I was there. They don't want to talk to you or help you in any way. That became very apparent to me. If I ever see my manager on the street, they are in for an ear full. The only way to fight this is if there is a Union in place, period. Good luck in your external job search, because within big blow is useless. -Stiffed2-
    • Comment 2/17/09: Project Match is in fact targeted toward H1B, green card, etc. They are the only group that wants to or can live in India, etc. Other than a few exceptions, the native US workers can't and won't move. For almost all, there just is no way they can make the money work. Never mind, the bad taste the whole deal leaves in the mouth. The interesting thing about Project Match is nearly every job listed in the xls file requires fluent English, while the requirements for the native language of the country range from none to moderate. In other words, those jobs are the ones being axed over here in the US.

      For a US worker, IBM has given you three choices; 1) leave IBM, 2) reband 3 levels down and move yourself, or 3) take a full time travel job. As far as I can see, choice #1 is preferred over choice #2, because the rebanded pay scale will be less or equal to the pay scale found in the SMB sector and may not involve a move. IBM is hoping fear of the unknown will keep IBMers loyal. The ability to do choice #3 depends on individual circumstances. And here IBM is leveraging economic circumstances to force workers, who normally would never consider full time travel, into these perpetually vacant positions. However you interpret it, one thing is painfully clear and that is IBM does not want to pay a US wage. -anotheronegone-

    • Comment 2/17/09: Out of morbid curiosity has anyone seen/been given any of the pay scales for which they would be expected to work in other countries? Thanks -anon-
    • Comment 2/17/09: Have talked to a 32 year veteran in Software Group that has recently been strongly stiff-armed into retirement. The person wanted to work another 10 years. They will receive 6 months salary and 12 months medical, similar to an RA. How much of this is going on making the number of involuntary cuts impossible to count. -HardToCountEm-
    • Comment 2/17/09: Folks, IBM has become a meat grinder. Grind them up and spit them out. The average time an IBM employees has been with the company now is about 5 years. That is what Sammy wants. That is what Randy McDonald wants. Grind them up and spit them out. Who cares about your family. Who cares about your home mortgage. That is your problem. IBM wants a flow of idiots so no one will be around long enough to think about a union. That unfortunately is why the Alliance is not getting a strong membership. Most of the old IBMers have been given the shaft and are gone. This company is hitting rock bottom. -OldIBMer-
    • Comment 2/18/09: Seeing a lot of first line managers in my slice of GBS getting people totally moved out from under them and moving to other positions for protection. The first line mgrs. left now have a bunch of people under them with skills that the manager has no idea about. I guess that are getting ready for the GBS cut in March. -going_to_get_it-
    • Comment 2/18/09: I have been told that my job is going away (GBS) and I need to find a new position or I will be hitting the bench on March 31st . I have not been offered a RA package so I am unsure what happens after 03/31/09. It's my understanding, though not confirmed by my resource manager. That I need to find a job, be it 100% travel or moving with limited M&L. by the end of April or it will be considered "voluntary resignation" with no severance pay at all. This seems to be happening to a lot of people in Global Business Services with a March deadline to hit the bench. My question is what will really happens at that point ? I cannot see myself involuntarily volunteering to resign! -mytime-
    • Comment 2/18/09: I think "Unhappy Camper" has every reason to fear IBM's retaliation. It's naive to mock him and think otherwise. All of us have lost faith and trust in IBM at this point. We've seen too many colleagues burned by Lean and off-shoring. IBM is indeed not American affiliated. It is "of the global corporation, by the global corporation", and it will sell Americans out to employ Chinese, Indians, Brazilians, or whomever is cheapest. The IBM executives may be predominantly Americans, but they have no loyalty to America. So, do I fear them since they hold my livelihood and my family's livelihood in their hands? Yes, I do. I fear them, and I distrust them more than ever.

      It is a VERY bad environment in which to work, and I've never been more unhappy at IBM in my life as I've watched my myself become increasingly irrelevant as more and more responsibility is handed on a silver platter to India. If they cared about America, they would at least ease up on this off-shoring in 2009, given the rising unemployment rate, but instead, off-shoring is just accelerating. What gripes me is that Sam Palmisano goes to the media and brags about how IBM is sitting strong and pretty on a mound of cash and how 60% of employees will get bonuses/raises, and then he proceeds to massacre the American workforce in 2009 during the Great Depression II. -Unhappier yet-

      Alliance reply: Fear is, every bit, IBM's main strategy against union organizing. It always will be. If you and -Unhappy Camper- are afraid of standing up for what's right and for your jobs and your families, then don't expect someone else to do it for you. It won't get done. There are plenty of people working for IBM that are in exactly the same shoes you are. Alliance members have taken some very public stands against IBM management over the years, from speaking out at stockholder meetings, to walking picket lines at IBM sites, to doing media interviews and writing letters. They did this as employees of IBM. Do you not think they thought IBM would retaliate? Of course they did and they have spouses and children too.

      But they believe in something bigger than themselves. They believe the pension change in 1999 was theft. They believe IBM employees need and must have a voice and an union contract. They believe that pay cuts for workers as the executives get huge raises and bonuses is flat out wrong. They believe this and have put their names to it. It is time for others to do the same. If we ALL don't speak up as individuals AND as a collection of voices; Sam Palmisano will keep getting away with all of it. When you get 'griped'; do something about it!

    • Comment 2/18/09: Hi guys, Global Services representing. Anyway, I hear the next round of layoffs is targeted towards Global Services. I haven't seen any indication of any layoffs where I'm working - not even a rumor. In fact, we're so busy IBM is actually sub-contracting outsiders to fill positions. My condolences to those that have been RA'd - you deserve to be treated so much better than that. There's a lot of sad news here, but it's not all bad for some of us. I received a 2+ this year (1 is not attainable by humans any longer) and also was given a small increase in pay. It kind of goes against what's happening throughout the country, but if you're working at a client site on a long term contract you're pretty much golden. I've always disliked Global Services because I felt more like a contractor than an employee, but when times are tough like this, it makes you appreciate where you're at. -Cooper-
    • Comment 2/19/09: I see lot of comments on Lay off in GBS in March or Q2? is this real? Also how does RA happen if you are on Bench? I will be coming on bench in March and starting to get worried.... -nymou-
    • Comment 2/19/09: Please forward this web site to current and former IBM employees. Whether your worked in a Call Center , Help desk or even managed in the area. We need your input. http://www.ibmcallcenterovertime.com/ This Law suit is not going away. The case filed on April 28 2008. October 22, 2008 -- We have begun conducting discovery and are currently preparing to depose members of IBM management regarding its timekeeping practices and failures to pay wages to its call center representatives for time worked before the start of their shifts and after the end of their shifts. We are also preparing our motion to certify this case as a collective class action so that we can issue notice to all those employees whose rights may have been violated. We are encouraged by the participation of current and former IBM employees who have joined the case. If you worked for IBM as a call center representative and want more information on your rights, please contact us. -anonymous-
    • Comment 2/19/09: To -mytime- A few years ago, an email was sent to GBS employees saying travel is a condition of employment. If you are not willing to travel, it is grounds for dismissal. A bigger problem is even if you're willing to travel 100% there may not be any assignments or projects available to work on. That's why there's so many people currently on the bench. -travel required-
    • Comment 2/19/09: Had 1 on 1 with manager, she confirmed "rumors" that another huge layoff will take place. Due to federal law now requiring 90 day notice, they will make announcements by APril 1st in order to have people off books by beginning of 3rd quarter. ALSO the talk about IBM plan to eliminate 75% of US jobs, IS not rumor, that IS their plan. My mgr is doing what she canto keep us on line but no promises, told us to work on resumes. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/19/09: I work in GBS in Ontario, Canada, and I've heard several people say very cryptic things about March. People in the know won't come out and say anything, but, are saying "things are happening March 31st". Does anyone know what's going on? Will there be more job cuts. Any information would be greatly appreciated, because IBM sure isn't telling me anything. -Northern IBM-er-
    • Comment 2/20/09: <Also how does RA happen if you are on Bench?> -nymou-, that's a good question and, you should be worried. There is no word on whether severance is going to be offered or if those at the undetermined end on the bench will even be offered an RA or a severance. The only recourse available to those on the bench and its mysterious variables will be communication here. The questions so far: how long will the bench sitting last? How will people be rated on their job searching? How will a negative job search rating affect the employee? Will they be fired for poor performance and thus get no severance, if it is offered? If an employee does well with the job searching, and how does an employee do well, will they be offered an RA severance or a minimal severance? So many questions, so little time. -mytime-, pay no attention to -noky-, who has obviously never been on the bench. -anonymous-
    • Comment 2/20/09: Regarding rumors that the next round of layoffs will be in Global Services. With so many people on the bench and not many projects going on. I can see why not? -consultpro-
    • Comment 2/20/09: to stiffed: anyone who thinks they're going to be saved by finding another job in that 30 day grace period is fooling themselves, to say its an uphill battle is a serious understatement. I was part of the 5/07 RA and I remember at that time being offered a spot in another team that had been trying for awhile to get my particular skillset.. in the end though, joanne collins-smee herself was nixing every single request.. even if your management stands up for you and says they could really use this person, the executives wont hear any of it, they're simply not interested in skills, quality or your value to the company.

      i was told the only chance i had of even remotely staying on with ibm was to take a full time travel position in another division. in retrospect i count my lucky stars that i turned it down. best of luck to all those being RA'd, best thing you can do is start being proactive about finding another job and leave ibm behind. whether you've been given notice or not. too many of my friends at ibm are sitting around like cattle waiting to be slaughtered, either convinced it wont happen to them or playing some defiance game of "I'm gonna make them give me a package!!".. all the while slowly swallowing each new "plan" ibm shoves down their throats (read: GDF)... it's just not healthy and in the end you'll still be left standing there with nothing but a closet full of stupid ibm logo'd backpacks and no job. and to another person who asked about Boulder gdf.. yes it's in place, yes people are now coming into the office.. they have managers and employees side by side in a big bullpen with its very own mini-cafe!! yay ibm. or something. -left-awhile-ago-

    • Comment 2/20/09: I've come to the conclusion that if your Notes address ends in IBMUS then there is nothing you can do to stay in the company. Just accept it and start working on your resume. I wallowed in my own pity for almost 3 weeks on this before I came accepted it, now i'm over it and am job hunting. I'm in GBS (unfortunately) and have been rated a PBC 1 for 4 of the last 5 years and have been told that my job is going to the Philippines this summer. I figure that means that no one can stay in the company unless you're an executive, so suck it up, get motivated and find something else. Try to leave them before they stick it to you. I also suggest praying to God for comfort and guidance, look for that window he's opening. I wish you all the best of luck. -Soon-To-Be-Canned-
    • Comment 2/21/09: For the RTP-based folks in NC: after our exit interviews on Monday 2/23, I suggest we meet for lunch at Randy's Pizza (5311 S Miami Blvd) at 12:30 pm or so. If I get there first, I'll grab a table on the left side of the room - the newly-opened part- and I'll have some kind of sign on the table so that you can recognize the group. See you there, and let's support each other in the coming weeks or months. -soon-to-be-ex-SWG-
    • Comment 2/21/09: Pay cuts vs layoffs: I think this is a discussion we should have. Considering that many people are being laid off, wouldn’t it be better for everyone, not to mention more humanitarian, for everyone to take a trim instead? Suppose, for example, that 10% of the workforce is to be laid off. From the company’s point of view, this is the same as having an across-the-board pay cut of 10%. This would remove the stresses of not knowing where the axe is going to fall next, and where to find a job in today’s economy. The company would have a full crew instead of a decimated one so all the work could still be done at the customary levels of quality. I think Watson Sr set the precedent for this during the great depression. Everybody gets hurt a little instead of a few getting hurt a lot, and nobody has survivor’s guilt. -Stimulus-

      Alliance reply: It is our opinion that IBM wants employees terminated in the US. The company is offshoring at a record pace. Offering pay cuts for job retention is not in the plan. They want you out.

    • Comment 2/21/09: Has anyone researched the 'Future Health Account' implications? Seems that IBM will have an awful lot of cost savings by cutting the employees when they did. For instance, if I'm reading this correctly, I have $32K in my Future Health account - but it's "if you meet certain age and service requirements when you leave IBM." If I read it correctly, it has to be 10 years and 55 years old - so those of us that were let go before 55 are completely SOL. Wondering if that is grounds for a lawsuit? Of course, the 10 yrs would be July, so I would be worried about the next round of cuts if I were still with IBM. I sent a $20 donation for using this board. I hope those that still have a job (not a career like I thought I had ) with IBM will consider joining the union so they don't do to you what they've done to me & my family. Thanks -Losing it-

      Alliance reply: We appreciate your support. Thank you. As for the FHA; there are no real grounds for a law suit regarding that account. Alliance determined in 1999-2000 that the FHA is nothing but "vapor money" because very few people end up qualifying for it (blame layoffs, separations, and firings). FHA was created by IBM for false security and 'feel good' purposes only. The plan, from the beginning, was to cut jobs in the US and get out the responsibility to those employees for FHA, and even pension; if they could manage it. All of this would be a moot point if IBMers had joined Alliance in bigger numbers, over the years, and enabled us to actually work toward a union contract. A contract would have eliminated the sad discussion about benefits, pension, and salary.

  • General Visitor's Comment page
    • Comment 2/18/09: Why isn't Sammy stepping up to the plate during this economic crisis? Why isn't he stepping forward and forfeting is 2008 bonus? I saw on the news today that Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, is not taking his 12 million dollar 2008 bonus. Congrats to Jeff!!! Sammy needs to take a lesson from Jeff. Sammy is still the slime ball greedy bastard that he always was even though thousands of IBMers are getting laid off losing their jobs and can't feed their families. Sammy with all his personal wealth could probably feed thousands of needy families. Sammy doesn't give a crap. He is a greedy S.O.B. and just wants to hoard his millions all for himself. -IBMer-
    • Comment 2/20/09: Just got email from our mgr yesterday if we were "interested" in going to work at the Dubuque GDF. I personally don't think he received any responses on it. -anon-
    • Comment 2/20/09: anon, this email is the primer to make sure that the employee's have been notified about potential open positions. it is also a legal requirement. i suspect that the manager didn't need anyone to raise their hand. so considering no one offered to take the bait you are now a candidate for the upcoming RA. good luck -retired-
  • Pension Comments page
  • Raise and Salary Comments
    • Comment 02/18/09: Salary = 84,000 US dollars; Band Level = 9; Job Title = marketing; Years Service = 22; Hours/Week = 45; Div Name = sales; Location = Canada; Message = Looks line salaries in Canada are lower than in the US -flatliner-
  • PBC Comments
    • Comment 2/10/09: based on my info for 2008 the PBC distribution was supposed to be something like this. 3% MIS with 5% 3's. 3% 1's followed by 92% of the remainder of 2+ and 2's. the distribution for 2+ and 2's was 40% 2+ and 60% 2's. i don't know what the final numbers were but i suspect it was close. so here is the net:
      • 3%= 1's
      • 36%=2+
      • 56%=2's
      • 5%=3's

      Just a note here in 2007 the split on the 2+ to 2's was 60/40, so the 2008 goal was to flip this percentage. I believe that more pressure will be to increase the MIS number and bring the 3's up to 8% for 2009. good luck -retired-

      Alliance Reply: Your stats explain what pressure there is on management, by management. What they don't indicate is the pressure on employees to organize and push back on the ridiculousness of the PBC program, altogether. You've posted other information like this, here, in the past; but you never advocate actions the employees could take to counter this kind of manipulation..why is that?

    • Comment 2/10/09: -retired- I think your PBC distribution is about right on! Of course the distribution sucks since IBM had a "record 2008 year" so why there are proportionally more PBC "2"'s than PBC "2+'s" and less PBC "1's" now is beyond me. -anonymous-
    • Comment 2/13/09: Prior Yr PBC = 2; This Yr PBC = 2; This Yr Bonus = ?; Prior Yr Bonus = 5100; Message = Ratings seem to be all about money as probably 80% of everyone in 2nd line org get 2's. My high base salary (120k band 8 SW engineer) and geography (upstate NY) pretty much ensure no salary increase with a PBC of 2. Bonus last year was a little over 4%, not expected as much this year. One $200/month in the last 5 years, but my salary is fairly high for a band 8 so I can't complain too much. -anonymous-
    • Comment 2/18/09: Prior Yr PBC = 2; This Yr PBC = 2; This Yr Bonus = NA; Prior Yr Bonus = NA; Message = Everyone, and I mean everyone, in my department received a 2 rating. There seems no point in the PBC process now. -whoknew-
    • Comment 2/19/09: Prior Yr PBC = 2; This Yr PBC = 1; This Yr Bonus = 9.5%; Prior Yr Bonus = 4.1%; Message = It's really not worth it. You could just get a second job, you don't really learn anything new with those extra hours. IBM is a terrible place for a new college grad, or anyone that wants to progress their career. -LexMark-
    • Comment 2/20/09: Prior Yr PBC = 2; This Yr PBC = 2; Message = As others have said, the PBC system is useless. Several years ago I found out just what a joke it was. I got a 2 the prior year, so I asked my boss what I had to do to get a 2+ (or 1). Of course, the response was "take on more work and more responsibility", so I did. I still got a 2. The next year, after realizing "more work and more responsibility" didn't help, I reverted back to just doing the bare minimum. That year I got a 2+. Ever since then, I've regarded the PBC process as a useless effort. Also, employees are supposed to be rated against others in the same band level, NOT against everyone, but that's not what I've seen. -AnotherDrone-
    • Comment 2/20/09: 120k band 8, you are in an over paid condition so unless you can see a band 9 in the future you will not get an increase unless you get a few pbc 1's. considering you are a pbc 2 and in this salary range the likely hood of you being at risk for an RA is high. so either get the 1 or move to another job where you can get the 1. good luck -retired-
  • International Comments
    • Comment 02/13/09: Country = UK; Union Affiliate = no; Job Title =Systems Programmer; IBM Division = Dunno yet; Message = Reading the job cut news & finding out how IBM operates is not great news for me. I've just been told IBM is taking over some of our work in the UK & I'm moving over to them, with no choice. Feel for you guys! -Doomed-
    • Comment 02/21/09: Country = Japan; Union Affiliate = JMIU-IBM; Job Title = Financial Analyst; IBM Division = F&P, IBM Japan; Message = I am vice secretary general and union website administrator of Japanese workers union (JMIU-IBM = Japan Metal and Information machinery workers Union).

      I have also "ranked" as PBC 4 for 2008 in spite of PBC 2 for 2007, and my salary for 2009 will be down over 20%. In this annual income reduction, my household economy is a situation in front of a breakdown. I am very surprised at viewing your site that IBM in US acts the same as in Japan.

      During last quarter, IBM Japan has not only cut over 1,000 job, but also posts the mail includes the preliminary announcement for low evaluation to many employees who did not accept the "resource action program", and almost all of the "projected" PBC score had realized last month.

      I think that Your site, especially "IBM Employee News and links" is excellent at informing the situation around IBM. I shall make the English-language site for excerpts from our Japanese union website and "Kaina" (an Japanese old term means "Arms") paper articles in the near future. I am certain that we have to fight against the dismissal and low evaluation, salary decrease attack from IBM in worldwide basis. Let me share the information each other, and fight together to stop the "resource action program"s. -Takayuki Ishihara-

Vault Message Board Posts

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:

  • "I just spoke to a friend still caught in the Blue Pig..." by "omegadoom". Full excerpt: His take was that Sam has only a couple of years left and he wants to get as much short term dollar gains at the expense of IBM's long term reputation. Why spend a premium on software and services when the only thing you compete upon is price. QoS is getting worse and the short term key is to maximize margins on lower dollars. Kind of sucks for those in SWG who try to develop a good product with their hands tied.
  • "The End Game" by "Frank_Reality". Full excerpt: There will be no internally-driven change for as long as one can predict. Those that "get it" are too low on the corporate ladder to effect change. Those who try will be destroyed by the layers of executive sycophants who protect the Leader from reality. Denial is key to maintaining their positions. The Leader must be right, or else! The changes that will occur are the ones to be eventually exacted by the market. The market may be slow, but it is ultimately brutal. I have no hope that Sam's replacement will be any more enlightened than Sam. Disaster looms. There is no hope for the clueless.
  • "Has the other shoe dropped yet?" by "omegadoom". Full excerpt: I escaped the blue pig a couple of years ago. I'm finding out a couple of my friends (including a very senior exec in SWG) have gotten their pink slips. Rumor has it that Friday the 13th or the following Tue was when those in IGS/BCS were getting their cuts announced. Has anyone heard anything?
  • "Don't know dates..." by "messy desk". Full excerpt: I don't know any dates (it's just now tues eve so something could have happened) but I have heard discussions from leaders placing names on RA lists...
  • "no GBS cuts, yet" by "VMember99". Full excerpt: I think you meant GBS...the term BCS was retired a while back. No announced cuts in GBS AG. Reductions likely will not happen in GBS until Q2 or Q3.
  • "igs, bcs,gbs" by "omegadoom". Full excerpt: All the same... I guess one could joke about GBS meaning global business solutions in that when staffing a project in the US, their sources will be global and on shored. ;-) No offense to those in GBS, but rumor has it that the new centers in IA and MI are going to be staffed with H1B as much as possible.
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.