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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—March 7, 2009

  • IBM, courtesy of MarketWire: IBM Outranks All Information Technology Companies on 100 Best Corporate Citizens List by CRO Magazine. Excerpts: IBM announced that it has ranked #3 overall on the 100 Best Corporate Citizens List, outranking all other information technology companies on the list. The annual list is published by the Corporate Responsibility Officer (CRO) Magazine. CRO's 100 Best Corporate Citizens List is the only such list based on 100% publicly-available information and ranks Russell 1000 companies on their performance in seven key areas: Environment, Climate Change, Human Rights, Philanthropy, Employee Relations, Financial and Governance.

    "Some believe the current economic climate dictates corporate citizenship efforts be put on hold. At IBM we believe just the opposite. A strong commitment to corporate citizenship strengthens our brand and increases shareholder value," said Stanley S. Litow, vice president of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs at IBM. "Improved environmental performance, intelligent community partnerships and investments make us competitive. They are not separate; they are an integral part of business strategy."

  • Business Standard (India): IBM leads race for Satyam buy. By Arun Kumar & Leslie D'Monte. Excerpts: Global IT giant IBM is understood to be the front-runner to acquire Satyam Computer Solutions, a company it named as one of its main competitors in a filing to the New York Stock Exchange in February. The US major, said sources close to the developments, has begun discussions with Satyam's government-nominated board and expressed its desire to acquire a majority stake in the company. A team of investment bankers and lawyers from the US and Europe has been brought in to assess the size of the deal and the risks associated with it. The company is also understood to have conducted an initial due diligence on some of Satyam's major customers. ...

    If IBM wins the race to acquire Satyam, it will become the largest IT services player in India, with a combined employee strength of over 125,000 people (more than current leader Tata Consultancy Services). Analysts said IBM will benefit significantly by acquiring Satyam because the Hyderabad-based company has a low-cost structure that can give IBM the leverage to compete with Indian IT service providers.

  • New York Times: Piecemeal Layoffs Avoid Warning Laws. By Steve Lohr. Excerpts: With the economy weakening, chief executives want Wall Street to see them as tough cost-cutters who are not afraid to lay off workers. But plenty of job cuts are not trumpeted in news releases. Big companies also routinely carry out scattered layoffs that are small enough to stay under the radar, contributing to an unemployment rate that keeps climbing, as Friday’s monthly jobs report is likely to show.

    I.B.M. is one such company. It reported surprisingly strong quarterly profits in January, and in an e-mail message to employees, Samuel J. Palmisano, the chief executive, said that while other companies were cutting back, his would not. “Most importantly, we will invest in our people,” he wrote.

    But the next day, more than 1,400 employees in I.B.M.’s sales and distribution division in the United States and Canada were told their jobs would be eliminated in a month. More cuts followed, and over all, I.B.M. has told about 4,600 North American employees in recent weeks that their jobs are vanishing. J. Randall MacDonald, I.B.M.’s senior vice president for human resources, said it was routine for the company to lay off some employees while hiring elsewhere. “This business is in a constant state of transformation,” he said. “I think of this as business as usual for us.”

    These unannounced cuts, labor experts say, raise issues of disclosure and the treatment of workers. They argue that the federal law requiring warning of certain kinds of layoffs should be overhauled to cover smaller job cuts. That would give people more time to seek new jobs, career counseling and retraining. ...

    At I.B.M., the layoffs are coming swiftly, if with less disclosure. The estimate of 4,600 job cuts comes from adding up the itemized headcounts in information packages given to employees in each of the businesses. Some of them were supplied by Alliance@IBM, a small but active unit of the Communications Workers of America union, and some by I.B.M. workers directly. The cutbacks surfaced only because of their size and timing, with word spread through blogs, employee message boards and the union group.

    In its financial statements, I.B.M. does report the cost of severance payments and outplacement counseling for layoffs — about $400 million annually in the last five years — but not head counts. I.B.M. says it remains the largest high-tech employer in the nation, with 115,000 workers. The company is adding jobs as well as slicing, in a cycle that it says has helped make it increasingly global and successful as it shifts toward higher-profit software and technology services businesses. ...

    But I.B.M.’s American employment has declined steadily, down to 29 percent of its worldwide payroll of 398,445 at the end of 2008. The cuts have also come sooner and deeper in North America this year than in recent years. As part of a government filing last week, I.B.M. said its work force in Brazil, Russia, India and China had climbed to 113,000. These are markets with faster growth than the United States, and less expensive skilled labor.

    In interviews, I.B.M. workers whose jobs are being eliminated were mainly chagrined that the undisclosed cuts, and the timing, seemed to contradict the company’s public statements.

    Rick Clark, 50, an engineer in East Fishkill, N.Y., had worked for I.B.M. for 11 years. He said he was disappointed in I.B.M. this time because the job cuts were deep and spread across so many businesses and came at a time when I.B.M. has been proclaiming its success. “I do think I.B.M., like other companies, has used this recession as an excuse to lay people off,” he said. ...

    Some labor experts would also like to see a requirement for large corporations to report employment country by country annually. “All our multinational companies are increasingly less American, except when they are asking for tax breaks and increased government spending in their industries,” said Ross Eisenbrey, a labor researcher at the Economic Policy Institute, a labor-oriented research organization in Washington. “Knowing where their employment really is would be useful information for policymaking.”

  • KTTC-TV (Rochester, MN): IBM Job Cuts. (5 minute, 49 second video, highly recommended)
  • YouTube video: Good Bye IBM.
  • CNN/Money: Relax - your pension is safe. The good news: The money you've already made isn't going anywhere. The bad news: your plan's days are probably numbered. By Janice Revell. Excerpt: With the stock market cratering, and once-venerable financial institutions biting the dust, you might be wondering about the safety of your traditional pension plan. I've got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the pension you've earned to date can't be taken away from you; it's protected in a host of ways. The bad news is that if you're one of the lucky 30 million American workers still covered by an old-fashioned pension, the odds are pretty good that your company will jettison the plan before your career is over. Editor's note: IBMers need not worry--IBM has already jettisoned its traditional pension plan.

    Traditional pension plans give you a guaranteed annual payment upon retirement, based on your final average salary and your years of service. Your company puts up all or most of the money, and unlike the case with a 401(k) plan, the benefit you accumulate under a traditional pension can't be demolished by a plunging stock market. Even when markets are tanking, as they are today, corporations are required to keep their defined-benefit pension plans well-funded. Back in 2006, Congress passed legislation, called the Pension Protection Act, that put in strict new rules dictating how much cash a corporation must inject into its pension plan each year to keep it healthy.

  • EE Times (India): Indian colleges to compete in IBM's "Blue Battle". Excerpts: IBM has launched the first of its kind Gen-next technology challenge, dubbed the "IBM Blue Battle", in over 25 leading engineering colleges across India. This is an opportunity for students to get hands-on-experience on high end technologies and use IT tools to develop innovative solutions for difficult computing problems in real time. IBM expects over 1000 students in each of the 25 hosting colleges to participate in 'IBM Blue Battle.' The first in the series has been launched at IIIT Hyderabad and is being conducted on IBM Multi-core architecture for gaming. Colleges lined up in the IBM Blue Battle series include UVCE Bangalore on Green IT, JNTU Hyderabad, Madras Institute of Technology (Anna University) Chennai, few IITs and NITs.
  • CNET News: Tech jobs hold up as unemployment rate rises. By Larry Dignan. Excerpt: As expected, the Department of Labor's February jobs report Friday was a train wreck. The economy lost 651,000 jobs in February, the unemployment rate ticked up to 8.1 percent, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics revised December and January job counts sharply. But the information technology industry's job picture looks decidedly better in some areas. It's hard to find a few bright spots when 651,000, 681,000, and 655,000 jobs were lost in February, January, and December, respectively. However, the data indicates that there are more computer systems design and consulting services gigs than a year ago. There are also more communications equipment manufacturing jobs than a year ago.
  • eWeek: Dominos Keep Falling in H1-B Visa Fraud Schemes. By Roy Mark. Excerpts: Two months before federal authorities issued indictments charging two New Jersey IT firms with using small Iowa towns as mail drops in an H1-B visa fraud scheme, the hammer had already fallen on a Massachusetts' scam where a state employee allegedly created bogus H1-B job certifications. In the scheme, four men were charged Dec. 4 with producing documents falsely stating that H1-B visa applicants had a job with the Commonwealth when, in fact, they did not. Richard Schwartz, a now former Massachusetts' employee, signed the documents and is charged with one count of visa fraud, which brings penalties of up to five years in prison time and a $250,000 fine. ...

    U.S. Attorney Matthew Whitaker said at a Feb. 12 press conference that the indictments were "just the tip of the iceberg" when it comes to U.S. visa fraud. "This is an enforcement effort that points to a significant vulnerability in our visa process, and we're trying to close these loopholes and to take away the incentive to conduct these fraudulent schemes," Whitaker said. The 15 now charged with visa fraud follows an October 2008 USCIS (U.S. Customs and Immigration Service) report found that the H1-B program has more than a 20 percent violation rate. The fraud identified in the report included jobs not located where employers claimed, H1-B visa holders not being paid the prevailing wage, forged documents, fraudulent degrees and "shell businesses." Both Vision Systems Group and VenturiSoft used mail drops in Coon Rapids and Clive, Iowa, as part of their scam.

  • Workforce Management: Markets Put Employers on Defensive About 401(k) Plans. Corporations that sponsor 401(k) plans may have more pressing issues at the moment, but that hardly means they should ignore the waning confidence in what has become their primary retirement benefits offering. By Mark Bruno. Excerpt: Just a few years ago when companies were putting the brakes on traditional pensions and driving a massive portion of the workforce toward 401(k) plans, employers couldn't have asked for better timing. The economy was rebounding from a relatively brief recession and the equity markets were en route to all-time highs. Participation rates also were escalating steadily, and scores of workers were given the chance to feel confident about their ability to make sound investment choices. Not anymore.

    Now, more than ever, workers have every right to question the merits of the 401(k) system—and the basic tenets for forming a so-called fundamentally sound investment portfolio. Workers lost billions of dollars in their retirement accounts last year. And no portfolio—no matter how diverse—held up amid an unforgiving economic environment. At the same time, many plan sponsors have been forced to stop matching their workers' 401(k) contributions in a bid to conserve cash and shore up their businesses.

  • Accounting Web: America's retirees working to protect health care benefits they earned. Excerpts: Retirees and baby boomers throughout the nation are wondering with great trepidation, what would happen to them if their health care coverage were simply taken away? Many fear that the current economic crisis in America will speed up that process. It has already occurred with retirees of some of America's largest corporations, and municipalities are threatening to follow suit. According to Paul Miller, executive director of the national retiree advocacy group, ProtectSeniors.Org, the situation is as dire as the bailout was for the auto industry, Wall Street, and America's major banks.

    "There are currently an estimated 18.5 million American retirees and baby boomers in the United States with health benefits being significantly threatened," Miller says. "If cancelled by the corporations they once worked for, most would be dumped into the federal and state healthcare systems. In effect, this means their former employers would be getting an additional back-door federal bailout at the expense of the taxpayer."

    The health care coverage Miller is referring to is earned retiree benefits that tens of millions of Americans earned and paid for during their working years. He says that for whatever reason, many corporations never actually set that money aside and are using the current financial turmoil to threaten the cancellation and further reduction of these benefits.

    Editor's note: IBM didn't wait until the "current financial turmoil" to cheat its employees out of their long-promised retiree medical benefits. They started the process in 1999, with the start of the Future Health Account (otherwise known as the Future Hell Account), followed later by the complete loss of any retiree medical benefits whatsoever.

  • Social Science Research Network: Shattered Dreams: The Effects of Changing the Pension System Late in the Game. By Andries De Grip, Maarten Lindeboom, and Raymond Michel Montizaan. Abstract: This paper assesses the impact of a dramatic reform of the Dutch pension system on mental health, savings behavior and retirement expectations of workers nearing retirement age. The reform means that public sector workers born on January 1, 1950 or later face a substantial reduction in their pension rights while workers born before this threshold date may still retire under the old, more generous rules. We employ a unique matched survey and administrative data set comprising male public sector workers born in 1949 and 1950 and find strong ex ante effects on mental health for workers who are affected by the reform. This effect increases as birth dates approach the threshold date. Furthermore, the effects differ in accordance with worker characteristics. Finally, we find that the response of those affected by the reform is to work longer and to save more.
  • IT Business Edge: Why Layoffs Generally Result from Incompetent Management. By Rob Enderle. Excerpts: Last week, I praised HP's executive team for sharing the pain with their employees (I'm on a best practices role this week and am using others as examples for the new U.S. President). This week, Susan Hall's piece on the aftermath of layoffs made me realize that I haven't really addressed why you do a salary reduction over a layoff, or why companies should consider another alternative. I spent much of my early life in tech cleaning up after acquisitions of failing channel partners, rebuilding after layoffs, and generally fixing problems caused by managers who didn't seem to understand that employees aren't machines you can turn on and off or decide, on the current whim, to embrace or ignore. I'm fascinated and perhaps a bit frustrated that year over year I watch executives do layoffs and then seem surprised that rather than making things better, they often simply postpone what appears, in hindsight, to be a foregone conclusion of company failure. Susan's story, which goes into detail on why layoffs are difficult for those who stay, is on point because it presents the argument that often, people left behind wonder whether they aren't the unlucky ones. (In more cases than not, my answer would have been "yes.") This is generally because they feel betrayed by their own management at a time when that management, for reasons connected to its own survival, needed that loyalty reinforced.

    In a normal market, and this clearly isn't a normal market, a company doing a layoff is admitting that its management was incapable of building a working team and has chosen to go back to the drawing board. But a layoff isn't surgical. It is catastrophic. It would be like using a saw to cut off major portions of a race car in order to keep it in the race; the result won't win but maybe it will finish. But if the goal is to win, and generally that is the goal of any management team, the saw approach is clearly an additional problem to overcome. Looking back at the result of layoffs generally confirms the opinion that the promised benefits are seldom realized. A company is a team, and a team is a complex structure. There are dependencies among members, among groups, and even among companies. If the firm is well run and hits an economic problem, the result should be a surgical approach that alters the makeup of the company to address that problem. The goal, however, is to ensure that the management response doesn't do more damage than the economic problem did. This is a goal that I think many companies forget in doing a layoff. Some argue that this is because CEOs intentionally ignore the negative results. Myopic CEOs generally don't lead successful companies.

  • CNET News: Despite layoffs, Microsoft holding firm on H-1Bs. By Charles Cooper. Excerpts: In the 18th century, the epistolary novel was all the rage in France and England. Now, it seems, the tit-for-tat style of opposing letters has become a preferred method of dialogue between Iowa Senator Charles Grassley and Microsoft. Grassley: Not thrilled with Microsoft's H-1B policy In late February, Grassley urged Microsoft to rethink the use of "H-1B or other work visa program employees over qualified American workers." Grassley issued his letter after Microsoft announced its first across-the-board layoffs. "I encourage Microsoft to ensure that Americans are given priority in job retention. Microsoft has a moral obligation to protect these American workers by putting them first during these difficult economic times," Grassley wrote. Microsoft responded with an anodyne statement at the time but declined to engage the Senator. Until now.

    In a detailed response, the company's general counsel, Brad Smith, said there would not be a "significant change in the proportion" of employees working at Microsoft with H-1B visas. Here are the key excerpts from Smith's letter to Grassley:

  • InformationWeek: Microsoft Hopes To Train 2 Million In IT By 2012. The company's Elevate America program will offer 1 million vouchers for online coursework that isn't currently free. By J. Nicholas Hoover. Excerpt: Microsoft launched a new program this week called Elevate America that aims to provide technology training to as many as 2 million people during the next three years, often with free training that until now would have cost budding IT and information workers money. As part of the program, Microsoft will work with state and local agencies, partners, nonprofits, and community organizations to identify people interested in acquiring Microsoft certifications or taking basic technology training courses in class or online. The company also will maintain a Web site where people can get started with their training.
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: Future Health Account implications" by "sby_willie". Full excerpt: The FHA account "benefit amount" is not real $. The FHA is a notional account. IBM is just making an unqualified and not close to a promise that if you are at least 55 years old with at least 10 years of service you qualify and can obtain retiree health insurance through their FHA plan until the account balance runs out.

    Think of the FHA funds in your name as poker chips. If you get a bad hand (not 55 years old and 10 years in IBM when they RA you) or or have to fold (leave IBM before meeting the FHA requirements) then, yes, you lose the FHA. Hope you get a good hand (in regards to your retirement health). Be sure IBM has you anteing up (by trying to make it to 55 years old and at least 10 years in IBM) and and BTW, are you now All In or not?

  • Detroit Free Press: Questions arise from GM's use of pension for buyouts, VEBA trust. By Tim Higgins. Excerpts: Details are emerging about how General Motors Corp.'s U.S. pension funds went from a $20-billion surplus at the end of 2007 to a $12.4-billion deficit 12 months later. Newly released numbers show that the funds, which help support more than 650,000 Americans, were tapped for billions of dollars over the past year for employee buyout programs, benefit increases and as part of the UAW's retiree health care trust deal. While pension experts have said using pension funds for headcount reduction is common in some industries, some said it also raises questions.

    "To the extent it is consistent with the law, the question is: Is it really consistent with the promise?" asked Olivia Mitchell, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and executive director of the Pension Research Council. "Workers deferred part of their compensation to get a pension later, and to the extent that salary deferral is going to somebody else, it's going to be a big disappointment," she said.

    The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the federal corporation that insures retirement plans, last fall raised concerns about how GM and other Detroit automakers were spending their pension funds, warning that using money for buyouts and employee-reduction programs "may undermine the state of the plans." GM numbers released last week verified some reason for concern.

  • Wired: Report: Diebold Voting System Has 'Delete' Button for Erasing Audit Logs. By Kim Zetter. Excerpts: After three months of investigation, California's secretary of state has released a report examining why a voting system made by Premier Election Solutions (formerly known as Diebold) lost about 200 ballots in Humboldt County during November's presidential election. But the most startling information in the state's 13-page report (.pdf) is not why the system lost votes, which Wired.com previously covered in detail, but that some versions of Diebold's vote tabulation system, known as the Global Election Management System (Gems), include a button that allows someone to delete audit logs from the system. ...

    "Deleting a log is something that you would only do in de-commissioning a system you're no longer using or perhaps in a testing scenario," said Princeton University computer scientist Ed Felten, who has studied voting systems extensively. "But in normal operation, the log should always be kept." Yet the Diebold system in Humboldt County, which uses version 1.18.19 of Gems, has a button labeled Clear, that "permits deletion of certain audit logs that contain — or should contain — records that would be essential to reconstruct operator actions during the vote-tallying process," according to the California report. The button is positioned next to the Print and Save As buttons (see image above), making it easy for an election official to click on it by mistake and erase crucial logs.

  • TechFlash (Seattle): Why WashTech isn't trying to organize Microsoft contractors. By Todd Bishop. Excerpt: The newfound unrest among Microsoft's contract workers might seem like a labor leader's dream. But the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, the Seattle-based union better known as WashTech, says it's not in a position to capitalize on the situation by trying to organize the workers. The problem is the way the contract workforce is structured, said Les French, the WashTech president, via phone today. Contract workers are employed not by Microsoft but by employment agencies that bill the company for placing workers there. The situation is complicated by the temporary nature of the work, and the frequency with which contractors change jobs.
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • New York Times: Franklin Delano Obama. By Nicholas Kristof. Excerpts: We have the best health care in the world, and you want to create a socialized bureaucracy? You want to wait months for a necessary operation, as in Canada? And you really want higher taxes to pay for this, stifling the economy and undermining our long-term competitiveness?

    So let’s examine those arguments. It’s true that the existing system offers top-line medical care. The top five American hospitals conduct more clinical trials than all the hospitals put together in any other country in the O.E.C.D., the club of industrialized nations.

    Yet over all, it is preposterous to argue that we have the best medical care in the world. Partly because so many Americans fall through the cracks and don’t have insurance, life expectancy is higher in most of Europe than in the United States. Even the people of Cyprus live longer than Americans, according to United Nations figures. Meanwhile, American children are twice as likely to die by the age of 5 as children in Portugal, Spain or Slovenia. And the World Health Organization found that an American woman’s lifetime risk of dying in childbirth is more than three times that of a woman in Greece, Spain or Germany.

    Meanwhile, Americans spend $6,800 per person to get these second-rate results, about double what is paid in Canada or much of Europe.

    It’s true that Canadians and Britons wait longer for non-urgent medical procedures than we do. But we have to wait a bit longer than Germans do. McKinsey Global Institute found that the United States spends about $650 billion more on health care each year than one would expect for a country at its income level. That’s $2,100 per American, and it’s one gauge of the waste of our existing system.

    Repairing the system is thus not only a moral imperative but also an economic one. American businesses are at a competitive disadvantage when they have to pay for health care and foreign companies don’t. Among General Motors’ burdens is that it has to pay health costs equivalent to $1,500 for each car it sells. ...

    So if our health system is broken, is it really so awful that we increase taxes for the wealthiest Americans to make repairs? In 1980, the top-earning 1 percent of Americans accounted for 8 percent of the total income pie; by 2006, they grabbed nearly 23 percent.

    Think of the way the system treated Michelle Morse, a full-time student at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. Michelle was found to have colon cancer in 2003, and her physician recommended that she take a leave of absence for chemotherapy. But if she took a leave, she would lose her insurance. Michelle stayed in school and underwent her treatments, while campaigning bravely for a law (eventually passed nationally last year) to let students remain on their parents’ health insurance while on medical leave from college. The law came too late for her: she died in 2005. Would it have made a difference if Michelle had been able to take a leave and focus on treatment? “We’ll never know,” said her mother, AnnMarie Morse. “It was horrible,” she said of her dealings with the insurance companies. She said that when one executive told her indignantly that the company had already paid out a lot of money for Michelle, she responded, “I would give my life for you not to have to pay one cent for my daughter.”

  • New York Times editorial: Evidence and Health Care Reform. Excerpt: Medicare has proposed not to pay for so-called virtual colonoscopies because there is not enough evidence that they would benefit people aged 65 and older. That may be disappointing for older Americans who would prefer a virtual exam to a real one. But those sort of judgments will be fundamental to any successful health care reform effort. Eliminating unproven procedures and reducing needless costs is necessary if the nation is to improve the quality and lower the cost of care over all.
  • New York Times: Health Insurers, Poised for Round 2. Excerpt: Go ahead, take a guess: Which company has developed a 2,000-page strategic plan and gathers its senior executives almost every other working day to talk about how well they are doing?
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.

  • New York Times: Forced From Executive Pay to Hourly Wage. By Michael Luo. Excerpts: Mark Cooper started his work day on a recent morning cleaning the door handles of an office building with a rag, vigorously shaking out a rug at a back entrance and pushing a dust mop down a long hallway. Nine months ago he lost his job as the security manager for the western United States for a Fortune 500 company, overseeing a budget of $1.2 million and earning about $70,000 a year. Now he is grateful for the $12 an hour he makes in what is known in unemployment circles as a “survival job” at a friend’s janitorial services company. But that does not make the work any easier. “You’re fighting despair, discouragement, depression every day,” Mr. Cooper said. ...

    Interviews with more than two dozen laid-off professionals across the country, including architects, former sales managers and executives who have taken on lower-paying, stop-gap jobs to help make ends meet, found that they were working for places like U.P.S., a Verizon Wireless call center and a liquor store. For many of the workers, the psychological adjustment was just as difficult as the financial one, with their sense of identity and self-worth upended.

  • New York Times: Braced for a Higher Tax Bill, Some May Dodge the Bullet. By Ron Lieber and Tara Siegel Bernard. Excerpts: The wealthiest stand to lose the most under President Obama’s proposed budget, while individuals with lower incomes could gain in many different ways. But many of those in between — those with household incomes of $200,000 to $400,000 or so — may not see as much of a difference in their tax bills as they may have feared. Plenty of people in this income range live in high-cost areas of the Northeast and California and stretched, rightly or wrongly, to afford their homes when real estate prices were higher. They may not consider themselves rich at all, laughable as that may seem to people earning far less in the middle of the country. But they’ve been worried sick as the president has persistently defined them as rich enough to pay more in taxes — at the exact moment when their jobs may be in danger or their small businesses or commission income may be suffering.

    It turns out, however, that many of them were already subject to pretty high taxes because they were paying the alternative minimum tax. Even if the new tax increases go into effect, the amount of taxes they owe may not change much, according to Clint Stretch, the managing principal of tax policy at Deloitte L.L.C. in Washington. That’s because the amount they owe under the regular income tax system, while higher under Mr. Obama’s plan, may not push them out of A.M.T. territory, he said.

  • New York Times: Ex-Leaders of Countrywide Profit From Bad Loans. By Eric Lipton. Excerpts: Fairly or not, Countrywide Financial and its top executives would be on most lists of those who share blame for the nation’s economic crisis. After all, the banking behemoth made risky loans to tens of thousands of Americans, helping set off a chain of events that has the economy staggering. So it may come as a surprise that a dozen former top Countrywide executives now stand to make millions from the home mortgage mess. ...

    But to some, it is disturbing to see former Countrywide executives in the industry again. “It is sort of like the arsonist who sets fire to the house and then buys up the charred remains and resells it,” said Margot Saunders, a lawyer with the National Consumer Law Center, which for years has sought to place limits on what it calls abusive lending practices by Countrywide and other companies. More than any other major lending institution, Countrywide has become synonymous with the excesses that led to the housing bubble. The firm’s reputation has been so tarnished that Bank of America, which bought it last year at a bargain price, announced that the name and logo of Countrywide, once the biggest mortgage lender in the nation, would soon disappear.

  • New York Times: Obama Says He Is Open to Altering Health Plan. By Robert Pear and Sheryl Gay Solberg. Excerpt: President Obama vowed Thursday to end a decades-long stalemate on overhauling the health care system, and he indicated for the first time that he was open to compromise on details of the proposal he put forth in the 2008 campaign. Mr. Obama spoke at a White House forum on health care, where he bluntly warned lobbyists and “special interests” not to stand in the way of efforts to rein in costs and guarantee coverage for all Americans. He said he intended to achieve those goals this year.
  • National Public Radio: Who's Paying To Overhaul Nation's Health System? By Scott Horsley. Excerpt: One measure of President Obama's commitment to health care overhaul can be found in his budget. The administration's 10-year spending plan includes more than $630 billion to help cover the cost of expanding coverage and improving care. "This is a significant down payment that is fully paid for and does not add one penny to our deficit," Obama told participants at a White House health care summit Thursday. "And I look forward to working with Congress and the American people to get this budget passed." But some members of Congress, including Democrats, are challenging the president's plan to raise about half that money through higher taxes on the wealthy.
  • Health Reform. gov: Health Care for All Americans. Excerpt: Sky-rocketing health care costs for families, businesses, and government are unsustainable. Reform is imperative to help America’s families struggling with rising costs and those who are losing their insurance. At the same time, real health care reform is crucial to keeping American businesses competitive in the world economy and for the country’s long-term economic viability. President Obama believes we can no longer afford to put health care reform on hold. As he said in his address to congress last month. “Health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year.” State your support for health reform this year.
  • Huffington Post: What Battered Newsrooms Can Learn From Stewart's CNBC Takedown. By Will Bunch. Excerpts: The most talked-about journalism of this week wasn't produced in the New York Times, CNN, Newsweek or NPR. It was Jon Stewart's epic, eight-minute takedown on Wednesday night's Daily Show of CNBC's clueless, in-the-tank reporting of inflatable bubbles and blowhard CEOs as the U.S. and world economies slowly slid into a meltdown. You can quibble about Stewart's motives in undertaking the piece -- after he was spurned for an interview by CNBC's faux populist ranter Rick Santelli -- but you can't argue with the results.

    The piece wasn't just the laugh-out-loud funniest thing on TV all week (and this was a week in which NBC rebroadcast the SNL "more cowbell" sketch, so that's saying a lot) but it was exquisitely reported, insightful, and it tapped into America's real anger about the financial crisis in a way that mainstream journalism has found so elusive all these months, in a time when we all need to be tearing down myths. As one commenter on the Romenesko blog noted, "it's simply pathetic that one has to watch a comedy show to see things like this."

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 2/27/09: Thursday March 26 2009 is the date planned for the RA in the Joanne Collins-Smee organization. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/27/09: Supposedly Sammy told Maria Bartiromo that no IBM executives will get raises or bonuses this year but when she asked him about his compensation he mentioned his equity (stock options) "..went up a bit.." "..went up a bit.."? Sam was that to the tune of about $75,000,000 or so last August alone? Gosh Sam I pray for your soul if you can't grease St. Peter at the pearly gates. But I'm sure Lucifer wouldn't mind some of your equity to get you a slightly less broiling place down below! -Xtian-
    • Comment 2/27/09: I have also heard rumors flying around that IGS will be hit hard and heavy at the end of March. (With departure dates in April). Will this ever end? After a while, you just sit there, and expect it to happen. The person who wrote about 'learned helplessness' was dead on with that observation!!!!!!! Good luck to all. -miss understanding-
    • Comment 2/28/09: A question on the 'Will Not Sue' agreement. If a person is about to be fired for poor job performance, based on the fraudulent job search and training performance ratings, will they be asked to sign the WNS agreement? Also, if that same person were to retire rather than be fired for a trumped up poor performance rating, will they also be asked to sign the WNS agreement? -anonymouse- Alliance reply: With all due respect; Don't you think you should ask IBM that question? Or were you being rhetorical? IBM will stoop to any level it needs, to get rid of US employees....legal or legally questionable, whatever it takes.. Do not invest in hope that IBM will 'waive' any chance to get you to sign anything absolving them from your termination or separation. Let's review: THERE IS NO LABOR CONTACT between IBM employees and IBM. You are an "At Will Employee". REPEAT: At Will Employee. No union contract.
    • Comment 2/28/09: In SEA&T (Application Services under GBS), we are starting to train our replacements on IGA contracts both in Test and Systems Engineering. Brazil and India are primary destinations for our replacement. Some of the people we work with have no idea of basic concepts since they have learned everything in schools or fly by tech schools - these people have no real project experience. There is no cost savings here Sam - get out there and walk the floor. We keep here rumors of a big RA coming in a few months I had my meeting to discuss the GDP and got nothing even though I had a 2+ rating. Now I am told that all there is freeze on all discretionary spending. -ConcernedAboutRA-
    • Comment 2/28/09: To all being RA'ed. Make sure you sign the "Will not sue" agreement. All that happens by not signing is you forfeit your severance pay. The Alliance has stated numerous times on this board that your employment is "At will" with IBM. I know first hand as I was fired for a very stupid reason given by a very stupid 3rd level. I retained a lawyer. Followed his directions. When I attended my subsequent firing session with aforementioned up level, I tried to get my reason for dismissal in writing. No way. IBM backed down. The new reason was "violation of BCGs".

      When pressed to have that put in writing and also which section. I was finally given the "At will employment" speech. IBM has a stable of very smart Lawyers to cover the a$$es of very dumb management. Unless a person's civil rights are violated, such as, age, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc..there will not be a basis for a lawsuit. Bottom line....sign the forms, get your money and move on. You will be better for it.

      By the way, I left with the clothes on my back that day. No offer of a package or severance. Had to threaten HR with legal action just to get my unused vacation pay. Only took three months for that payout and they shorted my check anyway. I guess IBM needed the money more than I did! Done with the BS!! No Union contract = no rights to employment! -Ben Dover-

    • Comment 2/28/09: I do not think it will happen soon enough to save any of us... but from what I have seen to date, US corporations are not "factoring in" some of the real costs of going GR:
      • ZERO loyalty. The GRs (rightly so) see how the US treats "loyal" employees and thus offer only lip service not loyalty.
      • No free lunch. While US employees are accustom to giving free overtime many GRs are punching the clock.
      • Language/culture/experience barriers. Difficulties in comprehension as result of accents and vocabulary as well as cross-cultural expressions that do not play well.
      • Turn-over and re-training costs. The GRs (and who can blame them) are far more willing to walk off the job to a competitor. Why not? There is very little that ties them to a particular company. The high cost of re-training replacements and loss of account knowledge and working relationships with customer and on-site folks is killing many accounts.
      • Time-zone issues. Naturally everyone wants to work during the day in their local country. This causes support issues for the account. If a system Admin. locks up a computer in the US at 2AM that means someone here has to roll out of bed and address the problem... Standards of living will definitely decline here in the USA, but I do not think they will reach "parity" as a result of the very real costs of the above factors. -target_on_back-
    • Comment 2/28/09: if you are being fired you do not have to sign the WNS document. ibm will process you without it. if you are being ra'ed i believe you still do not have to sign but sometimes it will hold back your package. -retired-
    • Comment 3/01/09: I just checked the whitehouse.gov website. You are now allowed up to 5000 characters in your email to the White House. I just used >3000 in my letter about offshoring. Lets send enough emails to get one of those 10 letters to President Obama. -countzero-
    • Comment 3/01/09: Has anyone else noticed they goofed up the vacation payout? I was paid for 1.5 days when it should have been 3 days based on my calcs. My former manager is giving me the "call the esc" BS and I can't get through yet (been on hold 2 hrs and counting as I write this) I plan to put a complaint in for unpaid wages with the proper gov't authorities (which shouldn't violate my "agreement") Curious..... -James Bond-
    • Comment 3/01/09: IGA account IS being GR'd. SDMs, Duty Managers, tech support, Operations the whole nine yards. End of April. More layoffs very soon. -Beat Up-
    • Comment 3/02/09: Here comes the other shoe, and its going to drop BIG TIME! IGS/ITD is scheduling a HUGE round of layoffs at the end of March. -tai mai shue-
    • Comment 3/02/09: Any comments from those on the bench who are travelling down the monitored path to their own unemployment? No updates? Nothing to say? Everyone happy with their job searching and with training their own replacement? Expecting to get severance if you cooperate? Everything copasetic? How true: REPEAT: At Will Employee. No union contract. --anonymouse-
    • Comment 3/02/09: To Bond, James Bond, The vacation follows a chart on an HR web page. Either HR can't do simple math or they won't payout smaller increments than half days...so instead of just pro-rating vacation, they follow a chart that sometimes gives people less vacation and sometimes gives people more vacation. Also, in order to get vacation for the full month of Feb, you apparently need to have worked up to and including the last workday of February. The whole thing is strangely petty on IBM's behalf. -anotheronegone-
    • Comment 3/02/09: 2010: it's coming faster than you think IBM USA folks. IBM will do anything to make their $9.20 per share target and they can't do it without tons of further cost cutting measures. Either organize now for collective bargaining protections or join the increasing ranks of the employed. -anonymous-
    • Comment 3/02/09: I saw an organizational chart. I have never seen more VP's, directors, senior managers, project manager, product managers. Big blue is ridiculously top heavy. Do these managers do any real work? -anonymous-
    • Comment 3/02/09: In 06 I was one of the lucky SSR's moved to Qualxserv and spend two years mainly running around servicing desktops, small printers and laptops, quite a downturn from servers and brokerage but at least I was employed. Then IBM pulled the printers and sent them to some provider I'd never heard of (not the Ricoh deal) and I was cut loose but two days later was employed as a server SSR at 50% more than IBM ever paid and servicing Federal Government accounts.

      I keep up with my former co-workers at IBM and now have found out that this unknown printer service company has made such a mess out of service that IBM has pulled the service back after dealing with angry major accounts. I also was told that many of the commercial Lenovo calls are coming back from Qualxserv also due to poor service. My former co-workers at Qualxserv have told me that the company acquired BankTec's SSRs and that they are in danger of layoffs due to the fact that the BankTec people work very cheap. So much for the wonderful high-paying IT jobs of years gone by.

      The Qualxserv jerks are showing their loyalty by getting rid of their veterans and IBM is running around in circles clutching at any available straw. I guess they'll be servicing automatic flush toilets next. I do not miss the toxic environment at either one of these companies - getting called at 3AM to remind me of a call at 8AM or having someone at the NAMC calling me onsite to remind me that I have less than 30 minutes to get to my next call which is in the same computer room and any idiot could look at my queue and figure out what was going on but not dear old IBM. I am treated as an adult individual nowadays and just do my job with a minimum of company involvement. I am sorry to see the IT field turning into one in which its workers are just highly educated raw dispensable labor. I hope it bites IBM and other companies in the A$$! -GladImGone-

    • Comment 3/02/09: Got an interesting call from a head hunter today. Said they had a 3 month project in North Carolina if I was interested. Said they found my resume on Monster. I asked what company, they said it was a contracting position for IBM. I said I work for IBM now and am about to be benched. She abruptly said bye bye. -given2fly-
    • Comment 3/02/09: More job cuts coming at the BTV plant. IBM can't sustain a money pit. IBM can't keep throwing money down the toilet. The picture would have been different if IBMers joined together in the early 90's and formed a union to protect our jobs. That didn't happen and we are now in the mess we are in. The IBM executives are to be blamed for this mess. It is 100% their problem. Please pledge what ever you can to the Alliance. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 3/03/09: In addition to the "several" Austin STGers who were removed from the RA list (see 2/26 comment by "none"), I know of at least one Beaverton STGer who got the same deal. No explanation for the change of heart. Just an offer of the old job. I wouldn't be surprised if there were others, but since IBM is hiding all the numbers, it's impossible from my vantage point to know if there are others. -FYI-
    • Comment 3/03/09: I returned to work today from 10 weeks medical leave. My manager had scheduled a meeting with me today so I drove in even though we had a foot of snow today... Wanted to make a good impression on my first day back..... Well my manager didn't show up but did call me on the phone to tell me that I had been RA'd back in January... I was a manager with several 2+ ratings. I was informed that I was put into another job code while on medical leave and that this job had been eliminated.

      I have 30 days to find a job and please make sure I'm back in the office tomorrow so I can get my formal RA package... I asked about a bridge to retirement and was told I was 12 weeks short of being able to bridge so I loose my Health account money and my retirement benefits. I was sent the flyer to apply for "project match" as my manager thinks it could be my best option right now... wonderful company... Does anyone know what the impact is to someone on the old defined benefit retirement plan if they are RA'd at 28.8 years instead of making it to 30 years ?? -in shock-

      Alliance Reply: My personal experience is that with less than 29 years, (I had 28.5) I was also not able to bridge when IBM sold the Endicott Microelectronics division. I was eligible for the "Vested Rights" pension only, of my 28.5 years service. Not the full pension. No medical, No severance, No package. BTW.. as a former manager, you should not be shocked by IBM's treatment of you. Did you think you were untouchable?

    • Comment 3/03/09: It's no surprise that IBM/IGS's goal is to offshore as much work as they can. 2009 is the year they do it. Any job that can be offshored, will go. The customer contracts were signed last year, so everyone's manager knows what account is going offshore and what account is staying. If your mgr is honest with you, they will tell you if your account if affected or not. I know my account is affected. I was lucky and I have a great mgr who actually told me the truth about my account status. -tai mai shue- Alliance reply: To all reading this comments section: We need details on what is being offshored, what contracts/accounts and where they are being offshored to. If you don't want to post it here send us an email to allianceibmunion@gmail.com
    • Comment 3/03/09: I am in a GBS IGA account on DOU. My DOU is ending March end, I am told I need to find a transferable position, no DOU possible. In reality it is difficult to find a position since all hirings are frozen What will happen to me once my DOU is over? Am I be RAed? My last rating is 2, previous 3. Is there anyone out there like me? -gbsguy-
    • Comment 3/03/09: re: removed from Ra list.. I'm was in STG too and fall plan wasn't complete until later Mid-Feb and more work was added to the plan after the RA hit in Jan...besides that, the RA was put together and people chosen in Nov. well before fall plan was done. The 30 days that folks think is time graciously given to find another job has nothing to do with finding another job. The 30 day period exists so that IBM can back pedal when they discover RA of some individuals break the business. So probably, more work was found or somebody chose the wrong person for the RA. In my job category there was only a 3 or 4 person change in the total. -anotheronegone
    • Comment 3/04/09: I was on med leave last year. On the day I was released to come back to work, IBM told me to turn in my stuff that afternoon. They counted my sick leave time as adequate to find another job within IBM...like that was going to happen....I'm still recovering and hope to get back in to the job market shortly -Free at last....-
    • Comment 3/04/09: GBS division sending messages out to lower subcontractor count...quotas being given. GBS employee bench is reaching record levels. Trying to get the employee's staffed and contractors out. Next step is RA of employees because of poor utilization. -anonymous-
    • Comment 3/05/09: First quarter close is fast approaching. USA and global economy is still a mess. This will undoubtedly mean more IBM RA's so Sam and his henchman can cut costs to preserve their entitlements. We are all at will employees with no union contract meaning we are all about equally threatened. R U next to go after 4/1/2009? -anonymous-
    • Comment 3/06/09: No money for education. Class rooms emptied out - not even a drop cord left. I am guessing there is no need to educate people targeted for RA and all the keepers have the skills they need. Are you a keeper? At Will Employee. -Young Lady-
    • Comment 3/06/09: got wind of a bunch of people that were just moved from STG to ISC. Does anyone have any insight? -Nick-
    • Comment 3/06/09: The Satyam thing is not good. Because of their recent scandal, Satyam are weakening and losing customers. Potential Indian bidders for Satyam are losing interest too, since they just wanted to bag those customers' revenue streams. They certainly don't want to acquire staff without the work to keep them profitable. This makes it *more* likely IBM will win the race to buy Satyam. IBM has deep pockets right now (remember the 'raise' you didn't get?) and doesn't care about having a lot of underutilized (and relatively cheap) Indians on-board. Quite the contrary. They have big plans for them (and you, unfortunately). Still think you've been saved by the economy? More like calm before the storm. -PlayTheirGame-
    • Comment 3/06/09: I think the reason some of the offshoring is slowing down is that they have run out of what they consider 'skilled resources' . Our area has been seeing new GRs hired 'off the street' and the quality gets poorer and poorer. Since turnover in these countries is so high, they may just be waiting for some 'skilled 'and I use the term lightly in some cases to hit the market again. Trust me, it's not because they are taking pity on the US worker.. they really don't care about us.. just the bottom line. -anonymous-
    • Comment 3/06/09: Any idea how the bench is in GBS? Is it very bad? I see some comments here on RA for GBS? Is that confirmed? -Mous-
    • Comment 3/06/09: Hubby's last day was last week....we are done with this company...no more walking on eggshells...I just hope he finds a good job where people actually care about their employees....its bad out there but we're being hopeful. Good riddance IBM, hope Sam rots in hell! -Good Riddance-
    • Comment 3/06/09: March 31st ends Internal Account work for some GBS employees. But there is utter silence regarding what happens to them afterward. Bench time and/or Resource Action is still unclear. March 31st is also end of 1Q09. Thoughts are that it's all tied together to try to give a 1Q09 earnings that won't reverse the '09 Outlook by implementing a culling of the Human Capital.

      This Satyam news, however, might shift the 100% GR resourcing of Internal Accounts to happen sooner than later. First thought was 1Q10 would finish up the Internal Accounts. Now I am not so sure. Replacements are from Brazil, none appear offered to US citizens (new or otherwise).

      I think Big Blue miscalculated the strength, or rather lack of strength, of the US economy. February job losses were staggering for a month of 28 days. I anticipate the loss of my job within 3 to 6 months since I'm training someone. If you haven't heard much chatter it is because the next 'action' will be on 03/31 when some internal account workers are benched. How long between a bench and a resource action is unknown but as some have mentioned it is expensive to have people on the bench. As was also stated by a poster...the silence is deafening. The lack of clarity (and information) is the polar opposite of those highly touted IBM values. -Internal Accounts are Dead-

  • General Visitor's Comment page
  • Pension Comments page
    • Comment 2/25/09: Does anyone know how much the new monthly fees are on the netbenefits website? I have not checked off the "I Accept" button because I can't comprehend blindly agreeing to an undisclosed monthly fee. They do not state so much as a minimum or maximum. I am apparently not even allowed to update my performance pay election unless I agree blindly to this fee. Has anyone agreed and what was the result? Real fun that they send around a reminder just today to go in and update our elections by Friday. A$$HOLES. -FeeWhatFee?-
  • Raise and Salary Comments
    • Comment 02/25/09: Salary = 80K; Band Level = 08q; Job Title = materials logistics advisory professional; Years Service = 31; Hours/Week = 40 Message = IBM -anonymous-
  • PBC Comments
    • Comment 2/27/09: This Yr Bonus = <nuff; Prior Yr Bonus = <nuff; Message = When are your freakin' idiots gonna understand this bonus pay is a HOLDBACK pay program. IBM uses what it is gonna give you or not to make money for itself. They pocket the interest on you and make you wait 14.5 months to get what you earned 12 months in the last year. Also, anyone happy that they got a bonus less than or equal to last years bonus based on "how the economy is now" you deserve less! That mentality you have is just what IBM wants! Keep drinking that kool-aid it'll get better folks LOL. -anonymous-
    • Comment 2/28/09: Prior Yr PBC = 2; This Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr Bonus = 6.1%; Prior Yr Bonus = 3.6%; Message = Hard work does pay -Appreciated-
    • Comment 2/28/09: Prior Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr Bonus = 7000; Prior Yr Bonus = 8000; Message = same pbc rating along with great, encouraging words from manager. net, $1000 less in bonus even though IBM had, in Sammy's words, "record, record, record, record". What a load of crap! -master of the i-
    • Comment 3/01/09: Band Level = 9; Years Service = 31; Prior Yr PBC = 1; This Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr Bonus = 5%; Prior Yr Bonus = 8% Message = Better than a sharp stick in the eye, but frustrating to see how much our executives are raking in at the expense of the worker bees. -Riding out the storm-
    • Comment 3/03/09: Band Level = 8; Years Service = 8; Prior Yr PBC = 2; This Yr PBC = 2; This Yr Bonus = 2.6%; Prior Yr Bonus = 3.2%; Message = Moved to a new job in 2007, so last 2007's pbc was split between my old job and my new job. This was in different organizations. A month after getting my new job, I got a new manager. So I got my previous 2 and figured it was the usual new person in a new job rating combined with having the year split. Well, in October 2008, I got another new manager. So 2008's pbc was split between having two managers. Unfortunately my new manager is pretty much a twit and still doesn't know what the team does and from my perspective couldn't represent me well when meeting with second lines to set pbcs. So I ended up not only with another 2, but also on the RA list. Ironically, the manager I had for most of 2008 now works for another company and has given me a stellar reference and an open door to a new job. If there is any take home lesson out of this, I would say the PBC rating is a reflection on how well your second line manager knows you...nevermind what you do or how well you do it. -gimmeabreak-
    • Comment 3/03/09: Band Level = NA; Years Service = NA; Prior Yr PBC = NA; This Yr PBC = NA; This Yr Bonus = NA; Prior Yr Bonus = NA Message = I left IBM 5 months ago and it was the best decision I could have ever made. The PBC system is a joke and a means of putting more money back in Sam's pocket. I already have to deal with Uncle Sam, so I figured I didn't need to deal with another Sam. Sam will get his due one of these days. Hopefully he will loose everything he has and be like the rest of us. Amen -Brian-
    • Comment 3/03/09: Band Level = 9; Years Service = 31; Prior Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr PBC = 3; This Yr Bonus = 0; Prior Yr Bonus = ?; Message = Worked harder and more responsibility got me a 3. This was a nice move to get rid of the older employees at the same time work the dog s... out of us. That's why we need a union. -Lost the fight-
    • Comment 3/05/09: Band Level = 7; Years Service = 9; Prior Yr PBC = 3; This Yr PBC = 2; This Yr Bonus = 2.3%; Prior Yr Bonus = 0; Message = Just waiting for the right job to come up in a different company. PBC rating is directly related to how much crap you spew in meetings and not the proper work you do. -fed up-
    • Comment 3/05/09: Band Level = 9; Years Service = 2+; Prior Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr PBC = 6%; This Yr Bonus = 6%; Message = No significant change from last year... -Working still-
    • Comment 3/05/09: Prior Yr PBC = 1; This Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr Bonus = 6%; Prior Yr Bonus = 9%; Message = From what I heard, 6% is about avg for 2+. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 3/06/09: Band Level = 8; Years Service = 25; Prior Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr Bonus = ?; Prior Yr Bonus = 4500; Message = -Deep In Hole- Managers are too busy covering and watching their a$$ and in meetings since another RA is fast approaching. Managers apparently have no time to tell you about your bonus. It could very well be your bonus is less than last year even though you had the same PBC rating and IBM had in Palmicrapo's musing "a record, record year" and your manager doesn't want to have to tell you this. Don't be surprised if you find out what it is in your 3/15/09 paycheck. -anonymous-
    • Comment 3/06/09: Band Level = 9; Years Service = 32; Prior Yr PBC = 1; This Yr PBC = 2; This Yr Bonus = 4%; Prior Yr Bonus = 8%; Message = Dropped two appraisal ratings but worked just as hard. Business unit didn't make its numbers, so all employees in that unit penalized. Just waiting for the economy to get better so that I can bail out of this dysfunctional, abusive organization. -IGS Consultant-
  • International Comments
    • Comment 03/01/09: Country = UK; Union Affiliate = None; Job Title = Abused "Software Engineer" Grunt; IBM Division = SWG; Message = It is now becoming very clear the here in the UK SWG division PBC ratings have taken a massive battering. I gather there was urgency to get employee input back early. Then things stalled waiting for something else/guidance from IBM Corporate. I've heard of one area where 1st/2nd line managers could not agree/accept they had any PBC 3 performers. It went for higher review. Not yet heard what the outcome was.

      Closer to ground level I hear there are many employees sharing information on how they and their colleagues have been downgraded from 2+ to 2 and 2 to 3. Looks like past consistent 1 performers also got heavily hit. In the areas where my info source work, moral for employees aged 40+ with many years experience is at rock bottom. Some don't want to comment but apparently you can feel, see and hear the deep depression and total lack of faith in anything related to being an IBM employee. The feeling amongst the older people is that levels and ratings are being freely given to the younger cheaper employees

      These employees seems to take their gifts whilst at the same time continue to plan the extraction of maximum money/share options whilst they last. Then they leave. Meanwhile the experienced old timers hold the fort but get no rewards for doing so. When it comes to development then it is reported that many think that the Hursley UK Labs will be shut within the next 10 years. Already there is key product development going on with people in China, Russian and India. Resource/headcount I gather is sadly lacking in the labs, putting many projects under severe strain to such an extent that creative accounting reporting is going on back to Corporate. Makes me kind of glad to be elsewhere employed in the UK business. -UKEye-

    • Comment 03/06/09: Country = UK; Union Affiliate = No; Job Title = IT Specialist; IBM Division = IGS; Message = UK HR have changed rules about PIP (Performance Improvement Plan), used as 1st step towards possible MIS (Management Initiated Separation). Previously needed after consecutive PBC 3 ratings, now on 1st PBC 3 rating. Rules changed in February, after PBC sign-off in January. HR attempting to make change back-dated to affect existing PBCs. -easyrider-
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.

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