"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."
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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:
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?
"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.
"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.
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.”
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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-
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-
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?
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-
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-
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:
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.