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Highlights—April 4, 2009

  • Hudson Valley Times Herald-Record: IBM files for patent on offshoring jobs. Seeks to protect tax incentives. By Christine Young. Excerpts: As IBM was firing thousands of American workers last week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published Big Blue's application to copyright a computerized system that calculates how to offshore jobs while maximizing government tax breaks.

    Update: IBM withdraws its application, calling it an error.

    In their application to patent a "method and system for strategic global resource sourcing," five Hudson Valley IBMers describe how it weighs such plans as "50 percent of resources in China by 2010," against such factors as labor costs, infrastructure and the "minimum head count to qualify for incentives."

    The five Westchester County inventors, Ching-hua Chen-ritzo, Daniel Patrick Connors, Markus Ettl, Mayank Sharma, and Karthik Sourirajan, submitted the application to the patent office in September 2007, but it took a year and a half for that patent to be published online. None could be reached by telephone Sunday except Ching-hua Chen-ritzo of Mahopac, who declined to comment, and attempts to reach IBM were unsuccessful.

    Lee Conrad, national coordinator for Alliance@IBM, a group trying to unionize Big Blue, was stunned to learn of the application. "This is obviously outrageous — a patent on how to offshore U.S. jobs," Conrad said. "IBM is obviously doing all it can to decimate the U.S. work force, and it is all the more reason why IBM should not get any tax breaks or stimulus money. They clearly are abandoning the U.S. work force."

  • ComputerWorld: Patent filing describes IBM's new offshoring math. Application details mathematical model for assessing 'global resource sourcing'. By Patrick Thibodea. Excerpts: The patent application describes a computer-driven approach for putting values on both the quantitative and qualitative attributes of a "global resource sourcing strategy." For instance, the methodology takes into account the language skills and morale of offshore workers, as well as a list of the hard numbers involved in setting up an offshore operation, including labor rates and currency valuations.

    In short, IBM is attempting to reduce offshoring considerations to a mathematic model — or, in the words of the application, "a robust and reusable sourcing template" for identifying and analyzing "global resource pools." ...

    In the patent application, IBM said the described methodology "allows decision-makers to conveniently trade off one or more qualitatively defined levels between one or more factors in terms of quantifiable, direct, costs."

    The methodology also looks at some scary assumptions as part of its mathematical models — scary, that is, if you're a U.S.-based IT worker. In a hypothetical assessment, the application sets up an example that includes a company having "50% of resources in China by 2010."

  • ComputerWorld: Selected reader comments concerning the above article follow:
    • Kinda remember the wiz kids on Wall Street using state-of-the-art formulas to create minimum risk products. I guess that worked out to everyone's satisfaction. Congrats to IBM for selling the America worker down a ditch.
    • The new math: IBM - US Workers + offshoring = profit + larger executive bonuses You can get a patent for this?
    • In a word, shameful. It is nothing more than an excuse not to take personal responsibility for such poor decisions. Don't blame me, the system picked you out! It will be nice when corporations wake up and stop sawing off the limb they stand on to make their profits
  • Hudson Valley Times Herald-Record: IBM drops patent application for outsourcing offshore jobs. Axes filing same day Record made it public. By Christine Young. Excerpts: The same day the Times Herald-Record reported IBM had applied to patent a computerized system to help businesses outsource offshore jobs while maximizing government tax breaks, Big Blue did an about-face. The application "was filed in error and will be withdrawn," IBM spokesman Steve Malkiewicz said Monday. ...

    Some 17 months ago, IBM abruptly withdrew a similar application immediately after it was made public. "A method for identifying human-resource work content to outsource offshore of an organization," was submitted for a patent in January 2006. IBM withdrew the application in October 2007, saying it lacked "substantial technical content." ...

    Lee Conrad, national coordinator for union-backed Alliance@IBM, said the patent filing was further proof that IBM was "abandoning the U.S. workforce." Rep. John Hall, D-Dover Plains, who received $11,995 last year from IBM, his fourth-largest contributor, lambasted the company as "downright unpatriotic and un-American." Malkiewicz said the filing would be withdrawn because it "is contrary to our patent policy on business methods."

  • Poughkeepsie Journal: Hall criticizes IBM for outsourcing jobs overseas; workers' group calls for demonstration. Ball to hold press conference to fight for better ex-IBMer benefits. By Craig Wolfe. Excerpts: U.S. Rep. John Hall, D-Dover, has condemned IBM for developing a method of maximizing the economic impact of sending jobs to other, lower-cost countries. Meanwhile, state Assemblyman Greg Ball, R-Carmel, announced that he will hold a press conference Thursday outside of IBM's Poughkeepsie site to call attention to the corporation's separation packages. “This is yet another step in the wrong direction from IBM,” Hall said. “IBM’s actions are downright unpatriotic and un-American,” he said in a news release. ...

    Hall is asking the U.S. Government Accountability Office to investigate whether federal funds were involved in developing the software. He also urged the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to reject IBM's application, a point that is now moot.

    Ball will join ex-IBM employees at 12:30 p.m. Thursday to discuss IBM's severance benefits, which do not provide basic health coverage to ex-employees age 65 or older, he said in a press release. Ball will also call for an official hearing into the $45 million in state aid given to IBM by the Empire State Development Corporation.

  • Network World: IBM Steps On American Workers - Future IT Managers Replace IBM. By Mitchell Ashley. Excerpts: That great sucking sound isn't NAFTA, it's IBM (and their empty headed executives) thumbing their nose at 5k of IBM's productive, loyal North American workers, while IBM sucks their jobs right from under them and the American economy. Layoffs are layoffs, most companies have been forced to take some type of action, either out of necessity or by riding the curve and trimming during the recession. Even Microsoft was forced to make a 5k layoff move, but at least Microsoft was hiring another 2-3k positions at the same time. But IBM's move says much more about IBM's declining commitment to the American market and its workers.

    Yes, we live in a global economy but the US is still the economic engine that fuels the world economy. IBM will pay the price by being so anti-American towards its North American' workforce. Those ditched workers who were dissed twice, first by being laid off and then by losing their jobs to overseas workers, will remember IBM's actions towards them in their next IT positions. The political climate for blatant off shoring is also less favorable, and IBM faces a less favorable and negative viewing by US lawmakers, taxpayers and customers.

    IBM claims its a "globally integrated enterprise" and as such it "continues to rebalance its workforce globally to improve its global reach and competitiveness and to reflect the changing geographic mix of business". Well, rebalance this IBM. Lets hope the American IT manager "rebalances" her look at IBM and re-evaluates the type of strategic partners she chooses to align with.

    The pendulum of outsourcing everything offshore is well on its swing back from nirvana. IT groups now know that not everything makes sense to offshore, and for those things where it can work, there's a lot of hard work on this side of the pond involved in making it a success. And who's going to work hard on this end to make it a success, that recently laid off IBMer whose job was offshored? ...

    I give Microsoft a lot more credit. They are shifting a portion of their workforce through their announced layoffs, moving up to 5,000 out of jobs no longer needed and hiring back in 2-3,000 in new jobs, without just shipping them overseas, to better align the company's resources around its new product and market strategies. IBM’s missed something that Microsoft figured out. With all of the layoffs our economy is experiencing, there’s a wealth of extremely talented workers here in the US. Now that talent pool is now longer available to IBM. What a very stupid move on IBM’s part.

  • New York Times: Tallying I.B.M.’s Layoff Numbers. By Steve Lohr. Excerpts: Big Blue is laying off another 5,000 workers in North America, in news first reported last week by The Wall Street Journal. And I.B.M. is taking the step in the same way it handled the previous 4,600 layoffs this year: without making any public announcement.

    There are those who say the I.B.M. approach lacks candor, and that companies should be required to report sizable job cuts, even if the layoffs are scattered widely across the country. I.B.M. replies that it remains the largest technology company employer in the United States, that it reports its American payroll numbers yearly, and that it discloses the related costs to Wall Street.

    This year, I.B.M. has said that shedding workers — “work force rebalancing” is the company’s phrase — will cost $300 million to $400 million. Really?

    The total costs of laying off a well-paid high-technology worker, including severance payments, extended medical coverage and outplacement services, can average up to $100,000 a worker, by some estimates. That sort of calculation would put the total for layoffs in the first quarter alone at $960 million.

  • New York Times: Selected reader comments concerning the above article follow:
    • IBM is hiring more people at it ’s centres in India. Average work hours there exceed eight hours daily with no overtime at all , health care is minimal beyond group insurance, replace older Indian workers by younger freshers who are told to stretch in initial months to “learn” tasks. An Indian in Delhi, India ps IBM has more Indian workers than anyone . May we call it Indian Business Machines?
    • To add to the outrages of IBM taking millions in NY State money to keep jobs in the state, then offshoring the workers as soon as possible thereafter, please note: IBM is now trying to patent their offshoring system that maximizes government subsidies while sending jobs overseas! http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090330/BIZ/903300315
    • Why would a company *not* want to develop a lasting and profitable relationship with it’s employees that spreads outwards to it’s customers? Could this be irrational paranoia at the top, cascading all the way down to the bottom? The top dog doesn’t want anyone to find out how incompetent he really is (Or thinks he is; He’s clinically paranoid, remember?) so he makes himself *look* powerful by whacking his underlings? It’s a Shakespearean level of dysfunction to say the least.

      I feel like I’m watching a much-loved great-aunt being dragged under by Alzheimers. The patient is still breathing, but I know the IBM I loved is gone forever. And in it’s place I see a grotesquely sociopathic circus. A “World Class” one, to boot.

    • Look closely at the numbers in the layoff packages and you’ll realize that IBM is laying off its older workers disproportionately with its younger ones. People who are fired (it’s not *really* a layoff since none get called back) are locked out of any openings within the company. Talk to the people who were forced to train their foreign replacements and feel their anguish. Trying to find a job in the current marketplace isn’t exactly easy, especially given the number of H1B visas issued in the last few years.

      Oh, and those who take IBM’s so-called generous severance must sign a covenant not to sue for age discrimination…no matter how blatant.

    • The same outsourcing / layoff deal happened to me about 6-7 years ago. There was definitely an age component to IBM’s decision (all were over 40), I was making a base of about $85 plus bonuses/commission and the severance came to about $20,000. You had to sign that you would not sue to get it (people did anyway).

      IBM had a clever way of not disclosing it was a mass layoff because it had many employees work from home (there was no attachment to a particular office location). That, combined with matrixed management, made it quite easy for them to be fuzzy with numbers and provide the minimum of separation benefits. COBRA, of course, was prohibitively expensive. Fun stuff…

    • Why bother outsourcing the little guys? Outsource the executives. Instead of paying IBM’s CEO $20 million as Sam Palmisano was paid last year, the IBM board could hire an Indian executive for, say, $50k, maybe even 100k for someone really good. That’s a $19.9 million in savings on one position. Outsource the top 200 execs and they could probably save $500 million or more. Then the people who have to work for a living can keep their jobs.
    • IT salaries and rates are dropping across the board - 50% or more. Most calls I get for contract positions are from Indian companies in India wanting to pay Indian rates. So we’ve been flooded with H1Bs or the jobs have been outsourced to overseas and now we’ve got all these US IT people thinking about how the bottom fell out of what was a damned good career and thinking about other ways of making a living.

      Well done politicians and big biz! Another American career path down the toilet. Hey NY Times - how about an article on all the companies that fire US workers and illegally replace them with H1B’s? Why do we need all the H1B’s when there are so many qualified US applicants anyway? I too have trained my Indian replacement more than once.

    • This kind of layoff should be a call to arms for all IBM’rs in the US and all IT workers in the US. Off-shored work should be taxed to the extreme and such actions (all at the expense of American workers who built IBM to what it is today) should also result in the US Government canceling any current or future projects. Tech worker salaries have remained flat in the US for the past five years thanks to an oversupply of H1B visa workers. What percentage of recruiters that call you now are from India on an H1B and have turned to recruiting for their sponsor because they couldn’t cut it in the role they were hired to do?

      I am not sure there is sympathy on both sides of the aisle right now but there is sympathy towards this type of action among key congressional leaders. I suggest people start writing the congressional representatives.

      The numbers in this article are grossly overstated. IBM is taking every opportunity to cut the severance packages down to a pittance.

      The worst part of all of this is that IBM is using the downturn in the economy to do this yet it is abundantly clear that IBM is not suffering financially and their forecasts are rosy and all this really is is IBM moving work offshore and blaming it on the economic downturn.

      The customers out there need to remember that you get what you pay for. The lost efficiencies of having to work with people half way around the world, who don’t communicate well and have a high rate of rework because of inability to interpret specifications ultimately results in higher costs to the customer. It is an absolute outrage!

    • Medical transcription jobs are also being outsourced to India, Philippines, and Pakistan by the thousands. That includes names, addresses, social security numbers, credit card and insurance info, etc. I think that is very dangerous for the Unites States citizens. All for money!
  • eWeek: IBM Layoffs Continue, Could Spur Union Effort. By Darryl K. Taft. Excerpts: It's on again at IBM. As expected, the layoffs that began earlier in 2009 started anew on March 26, which Alliance@IBM, an organization pushing for union representation at IBM, is referring to as "Black Thursday." And black, or bleak, it has been for IBM employees, with Alliance@IBM identifying nearly 1,700 workers cut in one division alone. The IBM cuts are coming across the board in areas such as IBM Global Business Services, Global Technology Services and Application Services—the division where 1,674 jobs were eliminated.

    Lee Conrad, national coordinator of the Alliance@IBM, said the organization expects job cuts in the range of 4,000 to 5,000. If IBM hits that larger number, the company will have cut almost 10,000 positions since the beginning of 2009.

  • WRAL-TV (Raleigh): IBM insider on layoffs: 'It's kinda like sheep going to the slaughter' Excerpts: Having escaped recent rounds of layoffs, longtime IBM veteran I. B. Gone could have felt survival was his destiny. Then came Thursday, March 26 – the day Big Blue said I.B. was truly gone. I.B., soon to be I. Wz., was “RA’d,” or resource action-ed. I.B. has until May 26 to find another position within Big Blue or catch on with the company that is to benefit from the outsourcing of I.B.’s job, along with hundreds of others.

    What mystifies I.B. (a fictitious name to protect the vet’s identity) beyond losing a job with a very profitable company is how fellow Big Blue workers are reacting. Is there a sense of outrage? Frustration? “Yes, on both counts, but amazingly (at least to me), they aren't doing anything about it!!” I.B. told The Skinny. “Just waiting for it to happen to them!! “It's kinda like sheep going to the slaughter!!” ...

    The fear is that more cuts are coming that will make previous U.S. cuts look small. “Everybody assumes there's more to come,” I.B. says. “The main rumor going around is that IBM wants to drastically lower the population in the U.S. I've seen numbers like down to 70,000 from last year’s 115,000. “This is how IBM is coping with the downturn in the economy, by cutting the population in the U.S. and sending the work to low cost countries like the BRIC countries [Brazil, India, Russia, China], and Poland I've also heard about.”

  • Christian Science Monitor: For laid-off IBM workers, a job in India? By Ben Arnoldy. Excerpts: IBM announced a major round of US layoffs on Thursday, even as the company has been hiring workers in developing nations like India. But over the past year, the company began offering US workers who are facing a job cut a novel carrot: If you apply for a new IBM position in a foreign country and are hired again at local wages, we will cover some of the transition costs like visa fees.

    The IBM offer hints at a future where it’s not just skilled Indians who might have to travel halfway around the globe for a job. It’s likely that more American job seekers will have to think globally, say analysts, and the experiences of Americans who have taken jobs with companies here say it’s not something to fear.

    “I was making six figures when I left the States. I’m making six figures here – in rupees,” laughs Jeanne Heydecker, a marketing executive now living outside of Delhi and working at her third Indian company. The salary for this single mother actually translates to roughly $50,000 a year. But it would be a mistake to suppose her quality of life has gone down.

    Most everything she could want is available in Delhi. The healthcare, she says, has been top-notch and bottom-dollar. And like most Westerners and wealthy Indians here, she is able to hire people to cook, clean, and drive for her. “You can come home from work and focus on your family, not on maintaining the car and the housework,” she says. ...

    In IBM’s case, fewer than 20 people have taken up the offer for help in locating a new IBM job overseas, estimated company spokesman Doug Shelton, speaking Monday before the latest layoffs. He declined to make any employees available for interviews. But the jobs in places like India are worth considering, Mr. Shelton suggested, saying that the cost of living is lower and international experience is highly prized in a global marketplace.

    “It didn’t go down very well,” says Lee Conrad, a national coordinator with the Communication Workers of America who is trying to unionize IBM. “It was like people felt they were seeing not only their jobs offshored but their citizenship offshored. “It’s definitely a huge loss in wages to the American worker,” he adds. “I think that’s why it isn’t being so readily accepted. In years past, IBM would transfer an employee to another country, but they would stay with their US wages. That’s changed.” Mr. Conrad adds that IBM workers are upset at having to train Indians to do their jobs, only then to be laid off.

  • Christian Science Monitor: Selected reader comments concerning the above article follow:
    • Now the propaganda begins. Lost your job? Things are better overseas. Corporate America will start spinning the advantages of offshoring. Congress won’t do anything, because they are owned by big business. Wall street loves it. That don’t give ahoot for the American worker if it means bigger profits. What is left for the average American? Maybe it is time for a second American Revolution.
    • I retied from IBM in 1997 after 30 years of service. When I joined IBM they told us that we would spend “at least” 10% of our time with the company in some sort of training so we’d be equipped to handle the future. I’m sorry to say it appears IBM has chosen the path of least resistance and most profit by sending jobs overseas. IBM employees are no longer loyal to IBM because the company is no longer loyal to them. It’s understandable that low skilled jobs would be farmed out. However, importing H1B employees is just another excuse for not spending the money and time to train your own employees for the future jobs. I’m glad I no longer have to work in this environment at IBM. Time will tell if this will make IBM “just another company” instead of the great company it was in the past.
    • The race to the bottom continues.
    • IBM is an American company. It was incubated by US taxpayers money and has major government contracts. Laying people off to send the jobs abroad seems a little ungrateful, oops wait a minute this is a corporation what was I think of? I have lived in India for 7yrs. There is nothing wrong with India, it’s just not the United States. It seems nationality and citizenship is the next Union that the corporations need to crack to get at more profits. Where’s Hugo Chavez we need a little help here.
    • $50,000 a year is about 2,500,000 rupees. The typical white collar professional job in the US offshored to India would pay in dollars 1/10th to 1/7th, maybe 1/5th, of what it paid in the US. So, if you were making $100,000 in the US, expect to make somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000 in India for the same work (and this is really pretty high - I have seen a lot lower). Ms Heydecker’s situation is more akin to that of an Expatriate making a non-local salary than to a typical white collar Indian salary. Even her duties as described sound like a very specialized position that is not what most of the IBM employees would be dealing with.
    • Remember when we were supposed to get Computer Science degrees for the jobs of the future? Remember that? I did. I work at Microsoft. More and more we are using “contracts” with vendors to restrict hiring to effectively only Indians and Chinese. Then we move those teams back to India and China. Soon we will have no jobs here. America will be a shell. It will truly be a “ownership” society. There will be the owned and the owners. Its the second rising of slavery. And Americans just sit around on their asses while it happens. They are getting what they deserve.
    • HI… I’M ARUN KUMAR SHUKLA,I’M PURSUING MY B.E.(FINAL YEAR),IBM IS A DREAM COMPANY FOR ME.I WISH TO IBM A REASON TO BE PROUD OF ME. I’M AGREE TO WORK WITH YOU IN ANY CONDITIN.
  • CNN/Money: IBM stands for 'I've Been Moved'. Amid thousands of U.S. layoffs, a plan to relocate some workers abroad has some questioning the company's motives. By David Goldman. Excerpt: Shifting U.S. jobs overseas is nothing new for technology giant International Business Machines Corp. -- or the tech sector in general -- but a brave new employee relocation strategy at Big Blue is raising some eyebrows. The plan, announced earlier this year, gives U.S. employees the opportunity to move their jobs to emerging market countries, and in turn, the company will foot some of the relocation costs.
  • New York Times: I.B.M. Reportedly Will Buy Rival Sun for $7 Billion. By Ashlee Vance and Andrew Ross Sorkin. Excerpt: I.B.M. appears on the verge of acquiring Sun Microsystems, a longtime rival in the computer server and software markets, for nearly $7 billion.
  • Forbes: IBM And Sun: There Will Be Blood. By Andy Greenberg. Excerpts: When titans collide, blood runs. And as rumors circulated Friday that IBM and Sun Microsystems are inching toward a deal to sell the Silicon Valley computing pioneer to Big Blue for close to $7 billion, IT industry watchers began speculating on how the integration would proceed. The outlook: This could be a particularly messy merger.

    Given IBM and Sun's similar mix of servers, storage and software businesses, IBM could lay off as much as a third of Sun's staff to eliminate redundancies--a total of more than 10,000 employees--or the equivalent in combined Sun and IBM job cuts, according to Forrester Research analyst James Staten.

    "This deal is definitely going to lead to a lot of combined layoffs," predicts Staten. "And it wouldn’t be a surprise if most of that bloodletting happened on the Sun side." ...

    IBM certainly hasn't been timid about laying off its own employees, even as it has consistently outperformed earnings projections through quarter after quarter of the recession. According to Alliance@IBM, an IBM employees union group, the company has cut more than 10,000 jobs since the beginning of 2009, outsourcing many of those positions abroad. IBM hasn't publicly reported the precise number of those job cuts; Given that the company has more than 400,000 employees, the layoffs don't represent a significant portions of its expenses.

    That cost-cutting is a sign that IBM will likely share pink slips with Sun employees, too. "There's going to be pressure on IBM to make this acquisition accretive as quickly as possible," says Revolution Partners' Falvey. "Laying off people here while you spend there and don't do layoffs ... It doesn't go over very well on Wall Street. So they'll definitely take a hard look at Sun's costs."

    IBM has taken criticism for its aggressive layoffs while simultaneously seeking stimulus money from the Obama administration. Just as the first rumors of layoffs at the tech giant began to spread in January, IBM Chief Executive Sam Palmisano briefed the president-elect's transition team on a report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, predicting that $30 billion in spending on high tech could create 950,000 jobs. (See: "The Tech Solution to the Recession")

  • Forbes: Make Sure Your Employees Trust You--Or Else. By Ken Blanchard and Terry Waghorn. Excerpts: The key to building trust in both good and bad times is to realize that none of us is as smart as all of us. There are companies that have embraced this simple truth and used it to maintain trust before, during and, we're sure, after this economic downturn. All these companies seem to have two characteristics in common.

    First, they have a higher purpose than simply making money. Let me give you a couple of examples.

    Southwest Airlines, from its beginning, has expressed the conviction that it is in the freedom business. The freedom of all Americans to be with friends and relatives during good times and bad times--thus, their low price structure. Herb Kelleher, who co-founded Southwest, not only wanted to give his customers the lowest possible price, he also wanted to give them the best possible service. As a result, Southwest is set up to empower everyone, right down to its frontline employees--to make decisions, use their brains and be customer maniacs so they can create raving fan customers. ...

    Second, companies that engender trust democratize the decision-making process by soliciting input and sharing the decision-making itself with as many people as possible. In his primetime address to Congress in February, President Barack Obama acknowledged "difficult and trying times" but sought to rally the nation with an upbeat vow that by working together "we will rebuild, we will recover." How do you do that in business organizations?

    It isn't complicated. When leaders treat their people as their business partners and involve them in making important decisions, those people feel respected, and respect leads to trust. If you respect your people and they trust you as a leader, they will give their all to get the best results they can for your organization. ...

    Unlike many companies today, where the top managers are locked behind closed doors, cutting costs while holding everybody's fate in their hands, these two great businesses open their books to everyone so they can know what's happening and go right to work cutting costs and increasing revenue.

  • Society for Human Resource Management: Executive Pay: Perception and Reality. By Robert J. Grossman. Excerpt: As the economy tanks and rank-and-file workers lose income, security and jobs, executive pay has again become the focal point of public anger. The pay gap between the most affluent executives and the average worker yawns wide. Last year, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 chief executive officers averaged $10.5 million a year, 344 times the annual pay of typical U.S. workers. By contrast, the ratio is 22 in Britain, 20 in Canada, and 11 in Japan. Now, U.S. stakeholders are zeroing in from all sides: Shareholders are pressing for "say on pay," the president signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and regulators are setting disclosure requirements and pay limits for executives whose companies feed at the taxpayers’ trough.
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  • Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comment 03/30/09: To the still employed person "-Nervous and Anonymous-". Your name says it all. They have you (and everyone else still on payroll) right where they want you. It was planned this way: You can't run (nowhere to go) and you can't disobey orders to whack yourself and your coworkers further. It's a classic fascist play: Use fear and favor to divide and conquer. I don't know what's happened to our, "land of the free and home of the brave"? Ten years ago, I would have laughed at the jerk who suggested Americans could be such a pushover. But today, I'm that jerk as I watch our nation's wealth-generating infrastructure quickly being dismantled. That said, we need to be pragmatic here. Those of you who are *out* should ruthlessly try to maximize your personal gain. This is no time to be a nice guy. Internally, you have no say anymore, so look after yourself and good luck. Those who are *in* still have a say in how the game plays out. You are still needed. You still have leverage - so don't waste it. This *could* be a defining moment in American history. Your choice. And may the best man win. -PlayTheirGame-
    • Comment 03/30/09: I just did an interview with Monica Chen of the Durham Herald Sun. She is looking to talk with other people who have been affected by the IBM layoffs, especially folks who live in the RTP, NC area. Her e-mail is MChen@heraldsun.com. -Kris-
    • Comment 03/30/09: Job cuts provide a stronger stock price and a higher bottom line. These two numbers are used to increase the pay of IBM executives, period. Greed is still good at IBM. What does a 60 year-old white male DO with a billion dollars? Buy off US Congress people to get laws passed so that he can leave it all to his kids without paying taxes, I guess. Or maybe live in 4 houses at once or eat 6 expensive dinners at the same time; drive 15 Bentleys that say "look at me, look at me." These represent the traditional values of IBM, right? Sorry, I forgot this was the Age of Madoff. Never mind. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 03/30/09: Another RA victim...My PBC was 3 though my PA says my performance was outstanding and my utilization was 100%. My PDM was very rude and he had something personal against me and hence this rating. I appealed with HR and when they wanted to schedule the review, he's going on vacation and returning just before my departure date. What can be done in such situations? -Anon- Alliance Reply: We are sorry for your job loss. There is not much you can do. You can try and fight as an individual, but you will lose, sorry to say. Remember: At Will Employee=No union contract=no protection from abuse by management=no voice and few choices.
    • Comment 03/30/09: Wow re: Christine Young & the patent. I worked w/IBM Research & mgmt definitely does periodically ask the math dept. to do quaint analyses on labor force stuff (and researchers always try to patent any of their analyses) so this is for real. -RA'd in Feb-
    • Comment 03/30/09: Another one here. Division 7: Global Services. Told to get out while a large number of contractors in the department remain. Contractors are no longer ballast to protect the employees should reductions come -- this is not about the lack of work or need to reduce numbers to mesh with contract costs. This is purely an opportunity to cut the number of US employees. At least I will get a severance package. The cuts to come will involve forced relocation with no severance if you do not play along. You can bet that my recommendations in the future will likely be putting IBM at the bottom of the list for all potential purchases and services from whatever employers I have. -1 2 X U-
    • Comment 03/30/09: IBM jobs database is being manipulated, and jobs are put out of reach to RA's I think: I was notified of impending layoff in spring of 2008 when my job was outsourced to India, and had to train replacements. Found a new job internally in the IBM jobs database, but that job was also outsourced to India in 2009. I was familiar with the IBM internal jobs database by that time, and my profile was still on file, so I was able to apply very quickly for several internal jobs. Within days, all the jobs I'd applied for were WITHDRAWN from the database and I was ultimately out of luck and had to leave the company in the RA. -looked within IBM-
    • Comment 03/30/09: To What To Expect (on the exit interview)... Basically, it is a zero-sum account interview. It is to settle accounts with you. You of course need to turn in any IBM-owned equipment, your badge and corporate credit card (if you have one). Then, it is running down the papers that your manager has had generated by filling out forms, on your salary due, severance, earned and unused vacation, minus any money you may owe IBM such as loans, advances, travel advances, where IBM owes you on outstanding travel expenses, etc. One bit of advice is to communicate with your manager and detail for him/her how many vacation days you have taken this year (and how many LAST YEAR you did not take), also how many weeks of severance you expect, and also detail any other financial items that would affect this. Document it in an e-mail, so you have something you can prove you told them and when you did, in case a dispute arises (you may not win, but you will have documentation). Al in all, it's really just making the balance sheet equal zero. -RA in Jan-
    • Comment 03/31/09: Like it or not, the patent application that has everyone up in arms apparently describes LEGAL means for companies, not just IBM, to take advantage of poorly-constructed Federal laws and state governments willing to bid against one another to add jobs. It\'s time to eliminate those legal loopholes and stop corporate welfare. -Think-
    • Comment 03/31/09: Joanne Collins-Smee was the main driving force behind this most recent RA. This was her pet project to justify her existence and we are all paying the price. She made this her personal objective for 2009. People like Joanne need to know the impact they are having on hard working Americans. We need to start calling out these brainless decision makers and hold them accountable. Lets not let them live in peace in while we all struggle. Anyone have her home address? email: jcsmee@us.ibm.com phone: 1-914-766-4570 -Naming Names- Alliance reply: We have also heard she wants to offshore the State of Georgia contract. If anyone has more information on that please post here or send it to the Alliance.
    • Comment 03/31/09: To those of you who were RA'd and are looking for another IBM job - In our weekly staff meeting my manager told us that he has been given the approval to hire a number of much needed IT Specialists. However, they must be contractors - they cannot be IBM'ers. He actually encouraged us to tell people that if they quit and come back as contractors he'd consider hiring them. Wonder how wide spread that is. No one in our dept has been RA'd since 2007 - but I'm sure that won't last. Good luck to all those who are now out of a job. -Join the Alliance Now!-
    • Comment 03/31/09: To those of you who were RA'd and are looking for another IBM job - In our weekly staff meeting my manager told us that he has been given the approval to hire a number of much needed IT Specialists. However, they must be contractors - they cannot be IBM'ers. He actually encouraged us to tell people that if they quit and come back as contractors he'd consider hiring them. Wonder how wide spread that is. No one in our dept has been RA'd since 2007 - but I'm sure that won't last. Good luck to all those who are now out of a job. -Join the Alliance Now!-
    • Comment 03/31/09: I'm a producer from CNN. Email me if want to talk on-cam today about IBM's aborted attempt to patent a process for offshoring? cnnproducercbh@gmail.com thanks -anonymous-
    • Comment 03/31/09: I got the call from my manager on Thursday telling me of the "Resource Action" LAYOFF and that I was affected. Everyone was told not to say anything, since it's all "IBM Confidential". It wasn't even spoken of in the group staff meeting the following day. I only personally know of myself and one other from my group that were shafted this time, but I understand the numbers are high. IBM has been hiring worker from Argentina, Brazil and India. The don't give a damn about American workers. -anonymous-
    • Comment 03/31/09: Atlanta Div 48, Div G2. Business units - RSSCC, Intel Smart Center, SNSC. All call centers. Div G2 is the brand new Business Controls unit I was just transferred into. 8 of us transferred in and 6 got whacked. 10 people in the RSSCC. Ha, find out it doesn't matter a whit if you're a top rated 1 performer or not. Just whack ya. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 03/31/09: today .. I found they hired two more people from brazil .. my last day is 27th .. btw I came from India to work with IBM for better future and now they want us to go back -black friday-
    • Comment 03/31/09: -Naming Names- I love that idea! The arrogance of these executive who proudly announce that our jobs are moving off-shore is simply amazing. They make no bones about it. Karma's a b**** ! As employees, we are branded troublemakers if we don't agree and no one says anything out of fear. -Proud Alliance Member-
    • Comment 03/31/09: Challenging RTP employees - Join the Alliance..what do you have to lose ? Ten bucks a month ? Send the letters to Obama and our NC reps to make sure they understand what is happening in their state. Either invest a little or sit there until they lay you off and believe me, it will be sooner than you think! -RTP employee-
    • Comment 03/31/09: To answer the gag order question on the front page, yes there is, in SWG at least. In signing the paperwork, you get your severance, you agree to not talk to the media and you will not sue IBM. It's easy to understand why no long time vets are talking openly. Anyone with over 12 years would be risking 6 months pay. Given the current unemployment rates and economic situations that a lot of people are in, giving up half a years pay to vent on the news isn't a smart move unless you happen to have something else lined up that will make up for that loss of income. Pretty nice arrangement for IBM... -Gettin-Hosed-
    • Comment 03/31/09: Dear Samsuwanee Palmaslurpee, As other have indicated, why don't you and the blue pig offer us over 30 employees a buyout? It's a win-win for everyone. In essence, you have put me in a no-lose situation. I can stay and just-do-enough to get by while collecting my salary. I can get a buyout or RA'ed (ka-ching) and retire. It's up to you. I fit right in with the mediocracy ibm is fast becoming. It's the work environment resulting from your direct actions. Sam, don't you just hate it that an employee is in a no-lose situation? It must drive you crazy, you slimeball piece of crapsuwanee. -over30+SammyCantHurtMe-
    • Comment 03/31/09: Thank You, Alliance and to the reliable, prophetic information posted by readers. I was RA'd on 3/26. I was mentally prepared (as much as I could be) and I have less anxiety than many of my co-workers who sadly didn't see it coming. Lee & Co.: you are true patriots and heroes. -Grateful4ThisSite-
    • Comment 04/01/09: Why are so many of your surprised that IBM is taking away the reimbursement for DSL/internet access? Does anything surprise you anymore? Everything you take for granted will be slowly eroded away. No contract - no voice -miss understanding-
    • Comment 04/01/09: My department stopped paying for home access and business cell phones several years ago to cut costs. This hasn't stopped my second level from keeping his blackberry and full data access. Offsetting my eating cost of DSL vs driving in every day I'm still way a head with my expenses at the end of the month and I'm being "green" by cutting back on the driving. If IBM's on this "green planet" kick, maybe the media should pick up on what the effect on thousands of people now having to drive again will be on the environment vs. IBM's pronouncements. I know! IBM will be "green" by RA'ing all the new commuters! -anon-
    • Comment 04/01/09: First IBM stops paying for internet access, next will be the phone reimbursement. In the US we at least have unlimited access for the internet for one fee, most other countries are charged by the amount of data that is transmitted or received. If this is worldwide, some of the other country's employees will be affected more than the US employees. Join the alliance, at least make an attempt to preserve what is left! -RTP Employee-
    • Comment 04/01/09: "To anonymous spoken to 2nd line mgr": Don't beat yourself up. It had nothing to do with you or your performance. Even if your exact job isn't going to another country, your salary is. They are shuffling the worldwide deck for cheapest workers on outsource contracts. Simple as that. And, you can be sure they used that mathematical model to do it (why else would they think they could sell it?). It's becoming clear now - that's what happened to all of us. Only thing they ignore is the risk of hostile action by these countries (besides common decency). History is full of disastrous consequences of ignoring the 'tails' or outliers in such models. Wall Street relied on models for selling derivatives. Look what happened. NASA didn't associate enough risk to the weather/O rings in the Shuttle (if anyone remembers that!). Write your Congressmen. -anonymous-
    • Comment 04/01/09: Folks, Today my manager told me that IBM wants all those who are RA'd must go. They will not be hired. So to look for jobs within IBM till the departure date is bull shit. My wife\'s last day in IBM was on March 30th. The severance pay check contains lump sum money before taxes and 401k is NOT deducted from the severance check. Very Important: Medical coverage was automatically removed after the last day of departure. After calling ESC found that we need to call ESC and initiate the continuation of medical coverage. Have 45 days to decide on what options we need. Vision and dental not covered by IBM. Also you need to call ESC and initiate the pension plan. After departure day enroll in online courses to avail the $2500 training benefits.It cost like $55 for most of the local community college online courses. After enrolling for these courses register for unemployment benefits. We can also file for unemployment benefits online. Just like the protests in London, We American citizens should also go out to the streets like Million IBM\'ers March to White House. -taxpayer-
    • Comment 04/01/09: You think it can't happen to you???? 1.January 2008 - made non-exempt and salary cut 15% 2. No salary increase for past 3 years 3. Still a 2+ performer 4. Decent GDP 5. RA'd 3/09 6. NOW, internet provider services won't be reimbursed (effective 5-1-09) WHAT WILL IT TAKE ALL OF YOU WHO ARE LEFT TO UNDERSTAND THIS IS NOT WHERE YOU WANT TO WORK??? I can retire so this doesn't break my heart as much as it could. I mourn the company that IBM was for the first 21 years. It's sad that most of the posters here have no idea what I'm talking about. Last day 4-27.-another old timer-
    • Comment 04/01/09: I read where IBM is making employee's purchase their own computers to use at work. They will reimburse the expense each month but if you are RA'ed you are stuck with the payment. What a company, next thing is they will deduct $50. per week from everyone's paycheck to pay for Slumlord Sam's plane to take him to China and India. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/01/09: As an Indian in the future I can say this much. If IBM tries this stunt and takes away Indian IBM jobs to send them to a cheaper location, then I'll guarantee Nationalization of IBM in India. This stunt which Sam is doing now will only work in the USA or Canada-not in India and China. IBM and it's leaders have no shame whatsoever. They care nothing for their own countrymen. As an Indian American, I am at risk as you are and love the USA. IBM is now just a JOB and nothing else. First chance I get to leave, I will. I will not regret it -pussycat-
    • Comment 04/01/09: -miss understanding- You r so right again!!! I say just use modem dial up and try to work on the minimum bandwidth (14.4KB?). If this means you can't be on a conference call and also to be on your Lenovo/IBM stinkpad at the same time tell them to take their pick on what you are to do! If IBM is so friggin' cheap now..they deserve no better. So much for IBM being "green". Now they'll want to shove work at homes back to occupy largely vacate IBM sites, like Southbury which comes to mind. More cars in the parking lots..more pollution..more waste..IBM less environmentally green for sure if it all still really matters. -blueharmony?-
    • Comment 04/01/09: According to a DPE, the job cuts last week and this week for GBS and EUS in Canada and the U.S. are only 'Phase1'. Much more to come. Expect I'll be getting a package soon - I intend to take it with both hands and say good riddance to this horrible company! -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/01/09: A whole whack of people got notice yesterday across Canada in regards to the GDF sites. I think they even got 3 months notice since there's so many! -whatever-
    • Comment 04/01/09: The policy change to stop reimbursing for work at home internet access is real. It's Corporate Instruction CIO 128 dated March 30, 2009. Managers were notified the last couple days, the employee announcement goes out April 6, 2009. April 30, 2009 is the last day to submit expense reimbursement for internet access. This FAQ is the most detailed web page: http://w3.ibm.com/news/w3news/top_stories/2009/03/mgr_internetpolicy_faq.html (Editor's note: This link is only available on IBM's intranet.)

      To clarify about the recent terminations (they're not layoffs if there are no plans to rehire); at least 2 different divisions were impacted, Global Business Services and IBM Global Services. Both employees and contractors were impacted, but it sounds like most were employees. If you look at the staff counts, most positions are being transitioned to contractors - even if the positions remain in GDF locations in the USA.

      Face it, if you're a USA employee you won't be working for IBM for more than a couple years. As termination victims point out here; skills, education, performance, overtime, etc. have no factor on whether you get the axe. Don't waste time trying to improve your situation at IBM. Working more overtime, applying for internal jobs, etc. are a waste of time. Either get a job with another company now or keep cashing the paychecks and doing as little work as possible.

      Another way to voice your displeasure with IBM is to comment on glassdoor.com. They have company reviews (and salary reports) for companies. The IBM opinion there is close to here, but the more the better. Maybe we can drive the IBM rating down so low that no one will want to work for or hire IBM. If they have no staff and no customers the company won't be viable. It won't happen overnight but we can eat this elephant one bite at a time and enjoy the final day when the blue beast dies. They believe in capitalism, let's give it to them; survival of the fittest. Finally, thank you to the staff here at Alliance@IBM. This is the best source of information I have for what's going to happen at IBM. I can recall at least 4 job cut and/or policy changes over the past year which I learned about here. This is NOT a rumor mill. Time after time the "rumors" leaked here prove to be true. Is ibmleaks.org available? It might be a good domain alias for the union to buy. -IBMer-

    • Comment 04/01/09: Look who's on AIG's Board of Directors; Virginia M. Rometty Senior Vice President Global Sales and Distribution IBM Corporation. Great job you did there governance wise Virginia, guess you're teaching Sam how to get handouts from the government? -anon- Alliance Reply: Yes, we know. Someone has already posted several posts about her affiliation with AIG. Please read our entire comments section along with the General Visitors Comment section as well.
    • Comment 04/01/09: Everyone who works from home should tell their manager they are moving back to the office. This will cost them a fortune of blue dollars and drive the bean counters nuts as they won't know what to do. You only have to go in three days a week. I am on-call 24x365 so whenever I get a call now they will have to wait for me to go into the office. Instead of 15 min response time they will now get 45 min. -WFH-
    • Comment 04/01/09: Of the very few professional job openings that IBM has in the U.S., TWO are for immigration experts -- H1 visa experts, e.g.: "The US Immigration Services Team is responsible for all immigration and work authorization issues that affect foreign nationals working for IBM in the US. The Immigration Case Manager / Specialist is responsible for all activities pertaining to the management of individual foreign national's work authorization in the US. # collection and review of all foreign national documents and details necessary to prepare a request for work authorization from the USCIS. # assessment of eligibility and / or prevailing wage for various non-immigrant visas, including but not limited to E-3, H-1B, J-1, L-1A, L-1B, O-1 and TN." -One of the Many-
    • Comment 04/02/09: Hi, I'm a British journalist based in India. I'm studying Project Match for an article I'm doing. Can anyone put me in touch with anyone who's taken up the offer since Jan-Feb? Or someone who is considering it? I'd also be interested in talking to someone who's been offered the choice and is going to have to take redundancy.... you can get me at richardworange@gmail.com or rworange on Skype. Cheers and good luck! -Richard Orange-
    • Comment 04/02/09: Some people have asked how can they be selected for an RA. Those who are retirement age and ready to retire may want to do this to get the severance pay. First, hope IBM doesn't get smart and cut back on severance pay in future RAs. Then take action now. if you are at a customer site, transfer to an internal account you think will be vulnerable to being outsourced in the future. Watch this bulletin board for rumors of another layoff and make yourself expendable at that time. Take a leave of absence just before the rumored layoff. Or if you are working on a customer contract, do whatever it takes to go on the bench a month before the rumored layoff and don't find another assignment. It really isn't that difficult to do if you do your planning. -retiring with severance-
    • Comment 04/02/09: Called the ESC yesterday as I was about to mail in my check for Cobra payments for March/April, which is due 4/18. I asked them what the deal was with the 65% stimulus pkg subsidy - why that wasn't taken out of this bill. They said that I would be receiving a rebate in May for the 65% for the months I'm sending in now, and then my bill for May would only be for the 35%. Of course if I don't have my check by 5/15, I'll be calling them again... Sucks that I'm out the $ for a month while I wait for them to send it back to me, but if I don't pay on time they'll cancel my benefits and I need them. -RA'ed Feb 24 2009-
    • Comment 04/02/09: To everybody that works from home and can not expense their internet anymore: Stand up and tell IBM your personal internet connection is not for business use, and you will have to go into the office. If they make it difficult for you, make it difficult for them. -GoneIn07-
    • Comment 04/02/09: It is interesting how they send out GBS wide email on some mundane executive promotions but will choose not to say a word internally when laying off 5000 people. "Amy Wright, our GBS North America Human Resources Leader, has been named Vice President of Human Resources for Worldwide Sales" "Over the past two years Amy has been instrumental in leading a number of key initiatives, including Diversity Fusion, improvements in our leadership assessment and campus recruiting processes, and most recently, creation and launch of our Talent Strategy."...or should we say "Talent Drainage Strategy"? What is "Talent Strategy" anyways?? -TalentedyetRAed-
    • Comment 04/02/09: The only thing that is clear about Big Blow's recent decision to eliminate home office expenses (DSL/phone) is that it has absolutely nothing to do with reducing costs or improving efficiency. The only purpose of this action is to intimidate employees and make them want to quit before IBM lays them off. The only cost cutting is in the saving of severance dollars and state unemployment insurance claims.

      To counter this nonsense I propose that we all engage in a bit of "passive aggression". When you are called up at 10pm with an urgent crisis go into the office and take your time to get dressed and have a snack first, then drive to the office as safely as you can by observing the speed limits. In my case my 42 mile commute to my GDF site will take about an hour and a half. I expect a minimum of 2 to 3 hours time to respond to any crisis!

      If you don't want to drive to the office fire up a 14.4 modem and watch those Sametime conversations slow to a c r a w l! Oh, you need to join a swat call, fine, disconnect the computer and join he call, oh you need to check the server, drop off the swat call, go have a snack, tuck the kids into bed, fire up the modem and log in, check the server, disconnect the modem, use the bathroom, then rejoin the swat call a half hour or so later. If we all engage in this form of "passive aggression", then perhaps the jerks running (or is it "ruining"?) this company will gain a little bit more respect for their "most valuable asset" - the employees! LOL -Anonymous-

    • Comment 04/02/09: Just announced .. effective May 1, all IBM employees are to reserve economy or compact class cars when they travel.... I want to see Sam in a Yugo. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/02/09: To the anonymous post starting "To all the people complaining about losing internet expenses." Yes, I absolutely submitted reimbursement over the actual cost of having of my DSL line. As a wfh employee, IBM only compensated for phone service and internet, NOT the electricity, gas, water, trash, and sewage service they are getting FOR FREE at my expense. Yes, wfh is a privilege, but IBM is just being cheap (as usual). Don't forget the millions they are saving in real estate costs. I'm quite sure the company is coming out on top financially, otherwise they wouldn't have done it. -Anon-
    • Comment 04/02/09: Well, well, well--New York State is at least ONE state that is waking up. On my drive home from work I heard that IBM is now being investigated! Evidently, the millions that they took in tax breaks to keep jobs in the US were SUPPOSED to be exactly for that! Instead, they are cutting NY workforces--along with those in many other states, while still probably getting the tax breaks. I can't wait to see what happens here, but in the meantime, any NY union members, or those who are not yet members (but should be) definitely need to write to your congressmen/women, senators and of course the White House. A note to Andrew Cuomo would also be helpful. He's definitely not one to be intimidated by any big corporations. If they were guilty of breaking a law, he'd lock them up in a second because he's not on the 'take' with anybody. So now we have Wagoner fired--are Sam and Randy next in line? I sure as heck hope so!!! -Out in 2005 and Happy-
    • Comment 04/02/09: Heard from a relative at corporate offices in armonk that the recent cuts are phase 1 of 3 -headsup-
    • Comment 04/02/09: The comment about IBM doing division level announcements about mundane VP changes and not a word about 5,000 hard working employees being laid off is ironic and indicative of where IBM is today. I find myself carousing this website to find out information about IBM and what is really happening that is not available through IBM management communications or any other means. Employees are isolated and cutoff by the US management team. This site is the only source of real open and accurate information that is available to US employees at this point. Keep the good information flowing! -Readytogo-
    • Comment 04/03/09: Still working at IBM - waiting for my turn to join the free on IBM's dime - and then to move on to better pastures. I can visualize it now: life after IBM - things are looking brighter every day. Back to the current reality: The Indian developers working for me are clueless. You give them a high-level design. Then you set them free to use some "creativity" to produce the desired functionality for the customer. They work for several weeks on what are really very simple problems. During that time they lie to you saying, "It's almost complete." When they finally say that it is complete, you find that they were somewhere way out in left field. They totally miss the mark. So you give them very direct step by step instructions.

      You get back with them a week or two later to walk through some of their code to verify they followed the instructions. They give you convoluted reasons why they did not follow the instructions you gave. But having worked with the same code for several years, you know that what they did will simply not work. So you tell them exactly what needs to be done again and hope they will follow your expert advice this time. And this scene repeats on and on again. Now code freeze is a week away and you have 10 projects that several different Indian developers were working on.

      Unfortunately the majority of them followed this same pattern throughout the entire development cycle. 9 out of the 10 projects are incomplete and totally off track - due to the Indian developers' inability to come up with solutions on their own and even worse their inability to follow simple instructions. During all of this time you have been telling management on the development and customer support sides of the house about the developer issues. And during all of that time it seemed like you were talking to a deaf audience.

      Now that it has become obvious that promises made to customers regarding a delivery date are going to be broken, management starts threatening with their usual nonsense - and claiming ignorance to all of the red flags you have been raising for several weeks now. They imply that you can somehow cast a magic spell or something so that the Indian developers suddenly get it and make up within a week what they could not do over the past couple months. You ask them in a polite manner to join the real world and to face the reality they have brought upon themselves.

      I feel for some of those in management. After they finish firing (er, RA'ing) the few remaining US team members (i.e., the people with the expertise to provide real solutions for real customers), then they may finally come to realize that they were being dealt the same raw deal as the rest of us. I guess the higher up the food chain; the more blinded one tends to be one's own misguided sense of importance. All I can say to them is, "Have fun after we're all gone!" You'll never get us back again. -Looking forward to the day-

    • Comment 04/03/09: RA's continue like clockwork in the Software Group in RTP, NC. More occurred on Thursday 4/2. -SWG_RA's_continue-
    • Comment 04/03/09: I can't understand all the petty complaints about paying for internet access when there are so many other real issues. I worked for IBM for 35 years and never once had them pay for internet access, even when it was a second phone line. Broadband internet access is now so pervasive in almost every home. Years ago I didn't ask IBM to pay for my white shirts and ties, which I didn't use for anything but work. Neither did they pay me to drive to work, or buy me a suitcase so I could travel on business, or buy me a heavy coat when I had to travel to Rochester. Go work on some real issues that don't make you look petty. -anony-
    • Comment 04/03/09: According to the separation package, there were 534 employees affected from the US CIO organization out of 2,925 as a result of the RA action taken on 3/26/09. -Bob-
    • Comment 04/03/09: I called the ESC this morning and was informed IBM will be mailing out info on the 65% stimulus cobra by the end of april. i was shocked to find out what my full cobra payment would be for a family of four - $1,258 per month. This is the NJ Health HMO plan. -gts-employee-
    • Comment 04/03/09: Why are people surprised at how IBM is treating them? It has never been about people, but only the profits for those in power. The problem with unions in general (in this country) is that many white collar professionals think they are 'above' that, not realizing that they are just workers, in essence in the same situation as the 'proletariats' who in spite of their lack of education were smart enough to unionize. In my 10 years with IBM, there has never been a 'human' factor at IBM even though it may have been falsely presented as such. More effort should be put to educate the white collar people why unions are essential. Americans have become afraid to speak up and fight for what they think is right. Would wearing black and blue do anything? No. Would anyone openly say 'i am not working for this 30 or even 15 min'? no... Peoples' mentality needs to change, before they are actually thrown off the boat. -anon-
    • Comment 04/03/09: To SUN employees...be afraid be very afraid. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/03/09: Regarding IBM's no longer paying for broadband access for IBMers who work from home, I thought I would point out that -- as a former IBM manager who was laid off during the January round with my last day at IBM being 2/23/09 -- I think it's a cheap shot and further evidence that IBM's former focus on "respect for the individual" (for those of you who remember) is truly a thing of the past.

      From what I've heard from my friends in the IBM Real Estate division, it costs IBM, on average, around $150 per month to provide an IBMer with office space in the U.S. So why would they stop paying for your Internet access to force you to move into an IBM office? Below are my thoughts on what brought this about.

      When I moved to a home office 18 months prior to my layoff, IBM did (at that time) save around that $100 per month. I can say that because in my case the office I gave up in Somers to work from home was re-used by IBMers who had to vacate the closed White Plains facility. In addition, IBM reportedly made $76 Million on the deal when they sold the White Plains office space (see http://www.allbusiness.com/operations/facilities-commercial-real-estate/4419933-1.html), so it made good sense to have me working from home and pay for my Internet access.

      I can only imagine that IBM is doing a bit of an about face now, and is asking IBMers to take up $150 per month office space (and telling them they won't pay $50 per month toward their home-based Internet access) because they have laid off so many IBMers at most locations that they have boatloads of vacant offices that they finally realized are becoming a big drain on the bottom line (and believe me, any drain on the bottom line will impact senior executives bonuses, and must be eliminated). So I suspect the IBM Real Estate folks helped cook up this scheme as a clever means of greatly reducing the amount of wasted space that is just costing IBM money.

      I can hear the corporate staff meeting now: "Hey, guys we can put all this unused and costly office space to good use, now that we've laid off so many IBMers, by telling our work-at-home employees that we'll no longer pay for their home office expenses. That way we can force them to drive in to the closest IBM office, and we'll save money on the deal because they'll be using internet access, lights, and heating and cooling, and cleaning services we're already paying for, whether the offices are used or not. Better yet, if they don't come into the office, we can just book the $50 per month savings and work toward eventually closing the whole site, just like we did White Plains, and are planning to do with Southbury."

      You can bet someone is a hero (and will likely get a substantial corporate award) for coming up with the idea. I would also expect that no one in the meeting batted an eye at the thought that a crass move like this would lead to a further decline in the morale of an already demoralized work force. I mean, really, who cares about morale when you've decided your people, who Tom Watson (Senior) felt were IBM's greatest asset, are just another "resource" to be moved around wherever you need it -Left 2/23-

    • Comment 04/03/09: I worked at Global Services out of college for two and a half years and to be honest I don't remember anyone getting RA'd who didn't have it coming, mostly the slowpokes, lifers and overpaid dinosaurs, they were good people, but this is business. In the end I broke the complacency of working from home to get off my ass and take a similar job at RIM for about 20K a year more. Cheers! -LoveMyRIM_job-
    • Comment 04/04/09: to LoveMyRIM_job who wrote: "to be honest I don't remember anyone getting RA'd who didn't have it coming, mostly the slowpokes, lifers and overpaid dinosaurs, they were good people, but this is business." I'm a "lifer" with 30+ years, the offspring of a "lifer" with 30+ years. My spouse is a “lifer” with 30+ years who is also the offspring of a “lifer” with 30+ years. Do the math at how many years that is. I'm still standing after an RA that took away 2/3 of my department. I worked 50-60 hours a week before, and I don't know what will happen now, but I will tell you this. My RA'd colleagues were more than good people. They cared about the job and gave everything they had. They produced and are very well respected.

      With each of the prior cuts, we absorbed the work. The shock reverberated when our colleagues in other groups learned of these latest cuts. This is not the IBM I joined and not the IBM my Dad joined. He would be very sad to see IBM as it is now. The brain drain in IBM is incredible, and I cannot believe how much knowledge is walking out the door. I’m talking about knowledge IBM paid for, nurtured, and counted on to make critical decisions. So things have changed, LoveMyRIM. That’s terrific that you love your job. I still care about mine and will long after I am tapped to go. I care about the excellent workers who are leaving. Your implication hit a nerve with this “lifer”! -Lifer and proud of it-

    • Comment 04/04/09: I read a warning to Sun employees below to be very afraid. Did you know that Sun itself has gone through the same layoffs as IBM lately? Right now Sun is laying off the IBM equivalent of IGS personnel. Before that it was Sales and etc. Some in Sun believe that the layoffs were mandated by IBM before IBM acquires Sun. How is that for a conspiracy theory? -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/04/09: As educated professionals why are we so adverse to having a union? Do you think the below groups have employment contracts? Do you think they have a say in the HR policies that effect their benefits, compensation, professional growth, and career opportunities? Think about it!! Whey don't we have a Union representing our collective interests? Government Engineers - Professionals with a Union; Doctors and Nurses in government and some large health groups; - Professionals with a Union: Police and Firefighters; - Professionals with a Union: Government accountants; - Professionals with a Union: Government Attorneys; - Professionals with a Union: AT&T; - Professional IT workers with a Union: Verizon; - Professional IT workers with a Union Also: High speed internet is a tool that IBM lives on. It is a company operational business expense. It is not the responsibility of official WAH IBM employees to fund core IBM business operations -Another IBM Serial #-
    • Comment 04/04/09: I have worked at IBM for over a decade. However, I am more familiar with Sun products than those of IBM and have supported SunOS, Solaris, and Sun hardware throughout the majority of that time. I was RA'd during this March event, and I want anyone out there from Sun Microsystems (and its partners) to heed these warnings. You will not be treated with any respect. Regardless of your contributions to your company currently or over the years of your employment, as an individual you are of no value to IBM. Hard work, intelligence, innovation -- nothing matters to the executives and bean counters that are in charge these days. They are captured by Wall Street's desire for positive quarterly earnings reports. They are only concerned with their paychecks and the stock price for this term which are going to reflect the degree to which they have reduced costs.

      It does not matter how badly the service will suffer in the future. It does not matter how much they have destroyed the potential for future innovation. The reaction of the day-traders rules the market and the direction of corporations today. Research and development have been jettisoned and quality of service has been replaced by the drive to lower the costs for the moment.

      IBM has acquired a number of companies over the past few years in an effort to expand their portfolio. They have not integrated their products with IBM, but instead have tossed aside the developers and support staff. There are plenty of examples from hardware and software that are enumerated here and elsewhere, just look up some of them over the past few years (and don't miss smaller players such as Transarc and Datapower).

      Sun is larger, but it will be no different. The Sparc processor could be tossed aside in favor of the struggling Power chips. Storage, application software, sales, training, etc. will be redundant to IBM and will be dropped over time. Support contracts (phone and field engineers) will be migrated into IBM's model, though it may take time. Eventually, there will be a lot of people on the street looking for jobs. Sun utilizes a lot of partners in hardware support, training, etc. and they will all be in jeopardy as they are annexed by the "empire" that IBM has become.

      The frightening thing is that those who have no affiliation with IBM should be very worried as well. As technical support that was once considered to be paid at Band 6, 7, and 8 is moved to a GDF and paid at a Band 3, 4, and 5 level, it is only going to devalue the work that is done in the IT industry regardless of the company for which you are working. IBM's direction is going to turn the skilled and intellectually valued positions that we occupy into minimum wage jobs of tomorrow. The clients' environments will suffer, the perception of our skills will suffer, and our country's labor force will suffer.

      What can you do? Fight it now. You can join the CWA union now, while you still have a chance. If you are with Sun, join now and be ready to fight. If you are still with IBM and have survived until the next round of arbitrary firings, sign up. You can also speak up. Talk to your coworkers. Believe me, too many of them are unaware of what is actually happening. They may have drank the Kool-Aid that the corporations are handing them or they have on their blinders to the activity around them.

      Post comments to the stories you come across on internet new sites. Send letters to your local media and politicians. Not all of this will matter or make a difference, but enough actions will add up to the point that they cannot be ignored, Together we can all make sure that we matter. The NBC new mention of IBM on 4/3 shows that the situation is at least gaining some recognition. Those who have been RA\'d: do not give up. If you do not make your voice heard, the travesties that have been implemented at IBM will only spread to other areas of our industry. IBM is large enough that its decisions will have an effect on how we are treated regardless of who may employ us in the future.

      Do not let IBM's devaluation of its professional staff reach beyond its borders. We need to make certain that our skills and knowledge are valued, that quality of service is valued at least as much as cost. This should not only be a revolution in the way that IBM employees are treated, but throughout the industry before it reaches everyone out there to the extent that it has within the range of IBM. It is tough to equate having the skills and knowledge that we do with the need to organize or fight in the way that the assembly line workers in the industrial revolution needed to do, but the time is now. You need to recognize that corporations do not have your best interests in mind. But they also do not have the best technology, service, or long-term strategies in mind, either. The goal has become short-term gains, and the workers need to stand for what they know to be the best course for themselves and the industry. Don't sit quietly and let it happen on your watch. -SickOfItAll-

    • Comment 04/04/09: Letter to Greg Ball: Dear Sir: First of all, you are doing the right thing. I have worked at IBM, 13th year now, was on short-term disability when the call came on Thursday - my job was gone. This as Palmisano committed to creating more jobs here in the US. I recently bought a house, about a year ago, am struggling to make my payments since there will be no income. In my group, the 3 of us laid off from a large group of people, 1 completely disabled, 1 was out sick for 6 months and me, who is on STD. We feel lost, never been unemployed.

      I waited 13 years to buy a house, saved and put every penny into it, and now may not be able to keep it. I support my parents, who are old, live in India, now I can't. My father had to bring his sister who is very sick - back from the hospital, they can't afford to keep her there (one of their sisters died on March 5).

      Sure it is business, but then why should IBM get ANY of my money as a tax-payer sir ? Why should IBM get ANY business from companies that got money out of TARP ? Why sir ? Why should my money, go to create jobs in India ? I have nothing against Indians, I am an Indian American, but, if it is about business, let is be about business. I have the right to refuse IBM get any of my tax payer money. Please sir, if I may say, I beg of you, do something. I want to see justice done. -MD-

    • Comment 04/04/09: I was trying to send a Thanks Award to Sam, however you are not allowed. How disappointing. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 04/04/09: Get yourselves educated. Spend some time on Wikipedia. This is not your father’s union. Unions have evolved way beyond the stereotypes of the past. Every conceivable profession has associated unions representing employee rights, collective bargaining, representation by lobbyists, provisions for continuing education, support programs, etc. The cost of this representative is shared by all members thru their dues. I read recently that unions are elevating employment rights as human rights – not so much a right to a job, but basic human rights in how people are treated. The IT industry has suffered from the ‘boiled frog’ syndrome. If you place a frog in water and slowly turn up the heat, the frog doesn’t realize he is being cooked. I’m afraid we’ve all been cooked. I seriously doubt many unions would allow their workers to be summarily dismissed and their jobs shipped offshore. This list is just a small sample:
      • Screen Actors Guild (120,000 members – every actor you care to name)
      • American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (70,000 members)
      • Actors Equity Association (stage managers)
      • Writers’ Guild of America
      • Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (46,000 members)
      • Air Line Pilots Association (52,250 members)
      • Guild for Professional Pharmacists
      • Communications Workers of America (700,000 members)

      Teachers, carpenters, farm workers, custodial workers, retail, nurses, sheet metal, letter carriers, air traffic controllers. NFL Players Association, musicians, steel workers, auto workers, office workers….and many, many more. Who is standing up for you? -boiled frog-

    • Comment 04/04/09: 'I was trying to send a Thanks Award to Sam, however you are not allowed' How funny. I guess they know what most will put in the comments section. How very clever of you, -Anonymous-. With a retirement of $20K a day, he can buy all the merchandise he likes. By the way, will anyone ask him if he can live on $20K a day at this year's shareholder meeting? I doubt if the previous very brave gentleman will be allowed the microphone. -anonymous- Alliance Note: This comment was moved to the General Visitors Comments section
  • General Visitor's Comment page
    • Comment 3/29/09: Why would non-exempt technicians read and reply to Lotus notes on their days off and on vacation? It is called ranking. The first lines tell you that you should not do it because it is over time and they will not pay you for it. Then with a wink and a nod you are asked why you are "out of loop" on your three days off. Gee, if you want to get ranked on the bottom just follow the rules. Want to improve your ranking you better do like the others and keep your mouth shut. Of course we as a company own the Dutchess County politicians and the labor department is afraid of Big Blue. -Ranking Games-
    • Comment 3/30/09: My observation seems that these recent RA'ed IBMers are making more than usual crow about their fate. Could be these were the folks that thought they truly were immune from a resource action. Are we seeing more band 8-10's and maybe some D's in this RA? I think so. Judging by some comments on these boards these folks had no clue of what severance is, how to apply for unemployment, what transition medical benefits are, etc. They truly must have thought they were immune from an RA. Most if not all of the recent RA'ed never gave the Alliance a peep or even joined as associate members since they felt they didn't need to. Well guess what now you need the Alliance now? It's now obvious IBM has cut all the fat, muscle, cartilage, and shaved bone it can from the IBM cadaver. Now it is just sawing bone away in the USA. Pretty soon they'll be nothing left even for the scavengers to pick at. -anonymous-
    • Comment 04/03/09: IBM saves bundles by making employees pay for IP connections for work from home. This was a requirement to help pay for the Golf Memberships at Westchester Country Club, Augusta National, Pinehurst, Sea Island Plantation and several other trendy locations that have sufficient airport facilities for IBM Corporate "Jets" to take Slumdog Sam and the other 3,500 Greedy Bastards to hit the little white ball. -Work from Home-
    • Comment 04/04/09: High speed internet is a tool that IBM lives on. It is a company operational business expense. It is not the responsibility of official WAH IBM employees to fund core IBM business operations. -another IBM serial#-
  • Pension Comments page
  • Raise and Salary Comments
    • Comment 4/02/09: Salary = $102K; Band Level = 8; Job Title = Senior ITS; Years Service = 7; Hours/Week = 40/week; Message = Average salary, really. -LowPaidIBMer-
    • Comment 4/02/09: Salary = $79.682.40; Band Level = 08; Job Title = I/T Specialist - Sr.; Years Service = 24.9 years; Hours/Week = it don't matter; Div Name = 1K (MBPS? GTS?) does it matter?; Location = Southbury; Message = -LowPaidIBMer- maybe a little above average now for you actually. I sincerely hope you don't see an RA soon. I would not wish an RA from IBM on my worst enemy, honest. Stay off the radar so to speak if you want to stay in IBM. BTW, some band 9's don't hit six figures. USA salaries are going down quite fast now in this IBM. I know more than a few IBMers with band 08 salaries no higher than the 80K's now.. My numbers are not a lie. Promise. I'll be available for a lie detector test if ya can arrange and pay for it :) Band 8 since May 1997...PBC "2+" performer for most part... continually help band 9's and 10's with technical and not-so-technical issues. Can't get recognized. Can't get ahead. Tried salary review years' ago and talked to my director about it and got no action. I am also a proud Alliance member since 1999. If you haven't joined yet please do and stand with me for all rank and file IBMers! --
  • PBC Comments
    • Comment 3/29/09: Band Level = TE; Years Service = 1.5; Prior Yr PBC = 2; This Yr PBC = 1; This Yr Bonus = 9%; Prior Yr Bonus = 4%; Message = I am satisfied with rating although I`d like to have higher base salary -IBM-er-
    • Comment 3/29/09: Band Level = 7; Years Service = 2; Prior Yr PBC = 2; This Yr PBC = 2; This Yr Bonus = 1800; Prior Yr Bonus = 1500; Message = meh. I don't work hard, and I don't expect much. They screw everyone over in the end. Why try. Just collecting a paycheck to move on to something better. -No Name-
    • Comment 3/30/09: Band Level = 8; Years Service = 1.5; This Yr PBC = 3; Message = The feedback I got from my Project Manager was outstanding performance. Utilization is 100%. Still my PDM gives me 3. This is not at all acceptable. I appealed with HR and when they scheduled the Panel Review my PDM says he is going on vacation. He's returning back just 2 days before my 30 days notice ends. Really disgusting. Can anyone suggest me what can be done in such situations. -Anon-
    • Comment 3/31/09: Band Level = 9; Years Service = 20+; Prior Yr PBC = 2; This Yr PBC = 2; This Yr Bonus = 2100; Prior Yr Bonus = 4300; Message = Since I was RAed, I don't care about talking about my numbers any more (I was one of those who respected IBM's request to not discuss salary - silly me) Anyway, Band 9, base salary (please don't hate me, I did work hard for over 2 decades and had not had any increase in 5 years) was just over $140k But, look at the bonus. This year's bonus was supposed to be better than last, but I was RAed. Same PBC. Better year for IBM. More $ to the people, says Sam in his address. But the numbers don't lie. -RA'ed-
    • Comment 4/04/09: Band Level = 8; Years Service = 18; Prior Yr PBC = 2; This Yr PBC = 2; This Yr Bonus = 2000; Prior Yr Bonus = 4000; Message = Will IBM ever answer the question "eligible for rehire" for former employees on an employment reference (or a background service) -joe-
  • International Comments
    • Comment 4/02/09: Country = India Union Affiliate = none Job Title = Journalist IBM Division = none Message = Hi UKeye, anyone else. I'm a British journalist based in India. I'm doing something about IBM layoffs and Project Match. I'm also looking at how some of the Indian IT companies seem to be stepping up hiring in UK and US. I'm looking to talk to anyone -- anonymously if necessary -- who:
      • a) Has been offered redundancy or relocation to India on Indian wages (Thanks Big Blue!)
      • b) Has taken up the offer (there may be one or two)
      • c) Has not taken up the offer
      • d) Has been offered or is going for a job in UK, US or elsewhere with Wipro, TCS or Infosys (or AN Other)
      • e) Who can give me any background at all on any of the above.

      I'm available at richardworange@gmail.com, 00919920543869, or rworange (skype) Cheers and good luck, -Richard-

News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
Minimize
  • New York Times: Going Abroad to Find Affordable Health Care. By Walecia Konrad. Excerpts: When Ben Schreiner, a 62-year-old retired Bank of America executive, found out last year he would need surgery for a double hernia, he started evaluating possible doctors and hospitals. But he didn’t look into the medical center in his hometown, Camden, S.C., or the bigger hospitals in nearby Columbia. Instead, his search led him to consider surgery in such far-flung places as Ireland, Thailand and Turkey. ...

    Mr. Schreiner is what’s known in the health care world as a “medical tourist.” No longer covered under his former employer’s insurance and too young to qualify for Medicare, Mr. Schreiner has a private health insurance policy with a steep $10,000 deductible. Not wanting to spend all of that on the $14,000 his operation would have cost stateside, he paid only $3,900 in hospital and doctor’s bills in Costa Rica. ...

    At the moment, however, the bulk of medical tourism candidates are uninsured and underinsured people paying their own bills and looking for low-cost alternatives to American care. Medical tourism advocates argue that the quality of care overseas is often equal to or better than that in the United States. Many countries have high success rates, American-trained English-speaking doctors and the newest facilities, often built specifically to attract foreign patients.

  • New York Times: A Tumor at the Heart of Medicare. By Mark Lange. Excerpts: Generating efficiency in the health-care market will be one of President Obama’s greatest challenges. To do this, he will have to create meaningful competition between drug companies, and between public and private plans. Congress’s attempt at market-driven health care offers good instruction in what not to do. ...

    Medicare Part D, the prescription benefit that went into effect three years ago, was supposed to let the elderly get their medicines more cheaply by creating competition between private insurers. Yes, the program has undeniably improved access to prescriptions. But the cost to taxpayers has been 3.5 times the market value of those prescriptions, according to a study in the journal Health Affairs.

    Part of the problem was that insurance analysts saw a chance to double the size of the managed care industry. Drug companies stood to collect $30 billion in windfalls over the coming decade. So legislation was pushed, paid for and effectively drafted by thousands of lobbyists. Proposals requiring the government to use the buying power of 40 million Medicare patients to negotiate prescription prices were defeated. Pharmaceutical lobbyists fought for direct federal subsidy of drug benefits, knowing plans would be reimbursed no matter how much prices were inflated. Lobbyists also prevented identical but less expensive drugs from Canada and other countries from coming here. After arm-twisting that reduced at least one member of the House of Representatives to tears, the bill to expand Medicare passed at 5:53 a.m. on a November morning in 2003.

    When the program went live in 2006, a fragmented market of 80 insurers — with 1,400 prescription drug plans — lacked the purchasing power to negotiate drug prices. Nor did those insurers have much reason to bargain, since Part D subsidized the most costly patients at 80 percent. So prices under Medicare private insurance plans for the top 10 medications shot up, and in 2006 the five largest drug firms notched a 45 percent spike in profits over the previous year. After insurers rushed to sign as many retirees as possible at attractive rates, they raised premiums 13 percent. Medicare patients in private plans cost taxpayers about 15 percent more than those covered under traditional government programs. ...

    This year, total Medicare and Medicaid spending will probably account for nearly a quarter of all federal spending, and by 2016 it could rise to almost a third. Enlisting real competition will be crucial to containing costs. So before offering a new universal benefit for the millions of Americans who lack health insurance, Congress should put an end to manipulative profiteering in Medicare. As challenging as the program’s problems may be, they do not prove that a market-based approach can’t work.

  • Associated Press, courtesy of The Detroit News: Workers bear brunt of woes in health care 6M more uninsured than in mid-'90s, report says, yet they pay bill to cover the poor, elderly. By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar. Excerpts: American workers -- whose taxes pay for massive government health programs -- are getting squeezed like no other group by the nation's health insurance woes. While just about all retirees are covered, and nearly 90 percent of children have health insurance, workers now are at significantly higher risk of being uninsured than in the 1990s, the last time lawmakers attempted a health care overhaul, according to a study to be released today. The study for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that nearly 1 in 5 workers is uninsured, a statistically significant increase from fewer than 1 in 7 during the mid-1990s. ...

    About 20.7 million workers were uninsured in the mid-1990s. A decade later, it was 26.9 million, an increase of about 6 million, the study found. In the 1990s, there were eight states with 20 percent or more of the working-age population uninsured. Now there are 14: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Texas.

  • Health Care Voices: The uninsured problem isn’t as bad as you thought - it’s worse. By Bill Salganik. Excerpts: The most-often-used measure of how many Americans are uninsured comes from the Census Bureau's annual survey. The most recent Census report concluded that 45.7 million Americans were uninsured - a huge number, representing nearly one American in six. Now, however, a new study by the consumer advocacy group Families USA shows that the problem is actually twice as big.

    The Census survey counts people as uninsured if they were without health coverage for the whole calendar year. But many people are uninsured for several months, although not the whole year. Someone might even be uninsured from, say, March, 2007 to October, 2008, or a year and a half - but wouldn't count as uninsured in the Census numbers for either 2007 or 2008, since they had coverage for part of each year.

    If you counted everyone who was without coverage for a month or more over 2007 and 2008, you'd get 86.7 million - or one American in three, according to the Families USA study, which draws on the same Census survey and two other federal government data sets. Of those, three-quarters went without coverage for six months or more. ...

    There are so many uninsured, the report said, because "job-based health insurance is becoming increasingly scarce" as employers cut back, because rising premiums mean "more and more working families are being priced out of job-based insurance" and because safety-net programs don't cover all the people who need coverage.

  • New York Times: A Health Plan for All and the Concerns It Raises. By Reed Abelson. Excerpts: It is one of the most contentious health care proposals President Obama has floated: offer a federal, Medicare-like insurance plan to anyone, at any age. And let commercial insurers offer their private health plans alongside it. “It gives consumers more choices, and it helps keep the private sector honest, because there’s some competition out there,” Mr. Obama said this month at a health care forum in Washington.

    But the insurance industry and others wary of too much government intervention vehemently oppose the idea. They say the heavy hand of the government will eventually push out the private insurers, leaving the government option as the only option. That is why the industry seems unwilling to give ground on the issue, even while making other concessions to national health reform — like the industry’s announcement on Tuesday that it might be willing to stop charging sick people higher rates than healthy customers. ...

    But supporters of a public plan say that its low price would impose greater discipline on insurers by forcing them to keep costs in check and make their policies affordable — something they say commercial insurers have seemed especially unable to do in providing coverage to small businesses and individuals. “It would transform the market for private insurance,” said Karen Davis, the president of the Commonwealth Fund, a health policy research group. She estimates the average premium for a family of four would run around $9,000 a year under a public plan, in contrast to nearly $11,000 for a typical private alternative. The savings to the nation’s health care bill over the next decade could run into the trillions of dollars, she said.

  • Century Foundation Health Beat: Are Private Insurers Really Giving Up Much Ground? Excerpts: Over at Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review Bob Laszewski explains why the insurance industry has made a second concession to health care reform. In November, the industry said it was willing to cover everyone. Now, it has decided that it is willing to move toward charging everyone in a given community the same premium, regardless of pre-existing conditions. (Today if you have employer-based insurance, chances everyone in your company pays the same price for a particular plan, but if you are in the individual market, buying insurance on your own, insurers in most states are allowed to charge you more if you are sick or if you are old.)

    t just how much risk are insurers taking on? Laszewski’s answer: not much.

    He explains: “Underwriting rules are meant to protect [the insurer] against people buying insurance on the barn after it burns down.” By the same token, you don’t want people waiting until they are sick before buying health insurance. “But if everyone is required to buy the insurance from the start, you don’t have the problem of people putting off or buying insurance when it is advantageous for him or her and not for the insurer. ...

    And that is why insurers are making this second offer. They are desperate to block that public sector alternative that we at HealthBeat have decided to call Medicare E (Medicare for Everyone—hat tip to reader Pat S. for suggesting this label.) Both the insurance industry and conservatives are adamant on this point. Will the Obama administration give up the idea of forcing private insurers to compete with a public sector plan? I don’t think so. As the president said at the health summit, many think we need the public-sector option to give people “choice” and to “keep the private insurers honest.”

    Insurers loathe the idea because they realize that if they are competing with Medicare E, it will serve as a benchmark for regulation. In order to protect Medicare E from unfair competition, the government will have to lay down very strict rules, requiring that private insurers offer at least as much coverage as the public plan (so that they don’t “cherry-pick” younger healthier customers looking for a less comprehensive, cheaper plan.) For the same reason, private insurers probably would not be allowed to offer low-premium, high-deductible plans. And they wouldn’t be able to sell Swiss Cheese policies filled with hidden holes.

    Yet today, this is how many for-profit insurers make their money. And they know that if the government is not trying to protect a public-sector plan, it is much less likely to issue tight regulations, and much more likely to let companies “compete” with each other however they like—even if consumers end up buying plans that really don’t deserve to be called “insurance.”

  • New York Times: A Lesson on Health Care From Massachusetts. By Kevin Sack. Excerpts: But there is only one real-life model in this country for the kind of sweeping change being considered in Washington, and that is in Massachusetts, where a landmark law signed in April 2006 has achieved near-universal coverage. And in that state, leaders decided from the outset to decouple access and cost, and to deal first with covering the uninsured.

    Predictably, rising costs now threaten the viability of the Massachusetts plan, leaving Gov. Deval Patrick and his Legislature to play catch-up. Mr. Patrick has warned he might try to regulate insurance premiums if insurers and hospitals do not demonstrate self-discipline. And lawmakers are awaiting recommendations from a state commission charged with reinventing the payment system so doctors and hospitals are rewarded for preventive care rather than the quantity of treatment they provide.

    Health policy experts differ about how much one state can do. However, they agree that misplaced financial incentives are responsible for tremendous waste in American medicine, contributing to premiums that have grown this decade at four times the rate of inflation.

  • Miami Herald: Insurers shun those taking certain meds. How health insurers secretly blacklist those with certain ailments. By John Dorschner. Excerpts: Trying to buy health insurance on your own and have gallstones? You'll automatically be denied coverage. Rheumatoid arthritis? Automatic denial. Severe acne? Probably denied. Do you take metformin, a popular drug for diabetes? Denied. Use the anti-clotting drug Plavix or Seroquel, prescribed for anti-psychotic or sleep problems? Forget about it. ...

    Sandra Foertsch, who sells individual policies, says the fundamental concern of insurers is clear: ''They don't want to buy a claim,'' meaning that they would start to collect $500 monthly premiums from a person and quickly pay out more than that to doctors and other providers. Foertsch said she was surprised that any of the guides could be found on the Web. ``I'd guess someone made a mistake.''

    The Miami Herald asked several other major Florida insurers -- Aetna, Humana and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida -- for copies of their underwriting guides. All refused, saying they contained propriety information and were confidential. Searching the Web, The Miami Herald found underwriting guidelines for Coventry Health Care, which owns Vista; Wellpoint; Assurant Health; and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska. Among the health problems that the guides say should be rejected: diabetes, hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, quadriplegia, Parkinson's disease and AIDS/HIV.

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: Administration Seeks Increase in Oversight of Executive Pay. By Stephen Labaton. Excerpt: Officials said the proposal would seek a broad new role for the Federal Reserve to oversee large companies, including major hedge funds, whose problems could pose risks to the entire financial system. It will propose that many kinds of derivatives and other exotic financial instruments that contributed to the crisis be traded on exchanges or through clearinghouses so they are more transparent and can be more tightly regulated. And to protect consumers, it will call for federal standards for mortgage lenders beyond what the Federal Reserve adopted last year, as well as more aggressive enforcement of the mortgage rules.
  • BuzzFlash: Tim Geithner, Barack Obama: Why are the Arsonists Who Started the Wall Street Fire Being Paid Premium Dollars to "Put it Out"? Excerpts: The populist and "Krugman" progressive wing revolt against the Obama Administration's coddling of Wall Street firms and individuals that broke the back of the American economy is simple: Why are the very people who crashed the economy to the tune of a couple trillion dollars or more being championed as the only people who can fix it? This belies common sense, and the uproar on America's Main Street represents not so much a pitchfork rebellion as the eruption of just plain, straightforward common sense.

    President Obama and others have asked that we act responsibly and reward those who work hard and achieve success. But that rule appears to have been turned on its head as far as the oligarchy on Wall Street. What the White House doesn't appear to understand is that you can't have one standard for 99% of America -- sacrifice, work hard, do your job right -- and another for the "Masters of the Universe" who run our financial system -- be greedy, screw up, and receive millions of dollars in "compensation" from the taxpayers. ...

    ...on Wall Street -- and the oligarchy -- a different standard applies: wreck our economic system to the brink of a total implosion out of greed, and not only will we keep you in your job, we will make the case (i.e., the White House and Geithner) that your "expertise" is essential to saving our economic system from disaster, although you are the ones that created the catastrophe.

  • Jim Hightower: The Sanctity of Corporate Contracts. Excerpts: You know what really gets my goat about AIG shelling out 165 million of our tax dollars to the top executives of the very same division that destroyed the company? EVERYTHING, that’s what!! The arrogance, the greed, the secrecy, the lies, the elitism, the thievery, the weaseling, the numbskullduggery, the inconceivable nincompoopery! Skunk farms don’t stink as bad as this scandal.

    But one particular aspect of it hasn’t received enough attention, and it really rubs me raw. It’s the rationalization that was made by AIG’s CEO, and then docilely accepted as truth by Obama’s top economic team. Their claim is that, since the bonuses were part of the employment contracts of the executives, everyone must now bow down and meekly pay up. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says he’ll prevent future AIG bonuses, but, alas, he shrugged, the sanctity of the existing contracts must be honored. “It would be legally difficult to prevent these contractually mandated payments,” he whimpered.

    Come on, there are amoebas with more backbone than this! There is nothing sacred about a corporate contract – just ask union members and other workers. CEOs routinely abrogate legal contracts on wages, health care, and pensions for working folks. In fact, just last December, Washington demanded that car companies simply tear up their contracts with the United Auto Workers. Yet, suddenly we’re to believe that AIG’s contracts with these rich, incompetent investment bankers are so sacrosanct that even the President of the United States must stand impotently aside while they rob our public treasury?

  • Senator Bernie Sanders: Let's Stop Wall Street Loan Sharking. Excerpts: The “Masters of the Universe” on Wall Street – through their greed, recklessness and illegal behavior – have plunged this country into a deep recession causing millions of Americans to lose their jobs, their homes, their savings and their hope for the future. In order to fully understand the cause of this fiasco, I have introduced legislation calling for a thorough investigation of the financial meltdown and the prosecution of those CEOs who broke the law. The culture of greed, fraud and excessive speculation must come to an end. ...

    Let’s be clear. At a time when many Americans in the collapsing middle class use credit cards for groceries, gas and college expenses, what Wall Street and credit card companies are doing is not much different from what gangsters and loan sharks do when they make predatory loans. While the bankers wear three-piece suits and don’t break the knee caps of those who can’t pay back, they are still destroying people's lives.

  • New York Times: The Market Mystique. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: But it has become increasingly clear over the past few days that top officials in the Obama administration are still in the grip of the market mystique. They still believe in the magic of the financial marketplace and in the prowess of the wizards who perform that magic. The market mystique didn’t always rule financial policy. America emerged from the Great Depression with a tightly regulated banking system, which made finance a staid, even boring business. Banks attracted depositors by providing convenient branch locations and maybe a free toaster or two; they used the money thus attracted to make loans, and that was that.

    And the financial system wasn’t just boring. It was also, by today’s standards, small. Even during the “go-go years,” the bull market of the 1960s, finance and insurance together accounted for less than 4 percent of G.D.P. The relative unimportance of finance was reflected in the list of stocks making up the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which until 1982 contained not a single financial company.

    It all sounds primitive by today’s standards. Yet that boring, primitive financial system serviced an economy that doubled living standards over the course of a generation.

    After 1980, of course, a very different financial system emerged. In the deregulation-minded Reagan era, old-fashioned banking was increasingly replaced by wheeling and dealing on a grand scale. The new system was much bigger than the old regime: On the eve of the current crisis, finance and insurance accounted for 8 percent of G.D.P., more than twice their share in the 1960s. By early last year, the Dow contained five financial companies — giants like A.I.G., Citigroup and Bank of America. ...

    Underlying the glamorous new world of finance was the process of securitization. Loans no longer stayed with the lender. Instead, they were sold on to others, who sliced, diced and puréed individual debts to synthesize new assets. Subprime mortgages, credit card debts, car loans — all went into the financial system’s juicer. Out the other end, supposedly, came sweet-tasting AAA investments. And financial wizards were lavishly rewarded for overseeing the process.

    But the wizards were frauds, whether they knew it or not, and their magic turned out to be no more than a collection of cheap stage tricks. Above all, the key promise of securitization — that it would make the financial system more robust by spreading risk more widely — turned out to be a lie. Banks used securitization to increase their risk, not reduce it, and in the process they made the economy more, not less, vulnerable to financial disruption.

  • Now on PBS: Credit and Credibility. Introduction: What role did the credit rating agencies play in the current economic crisis? This week, a former managing director at Standard & Poor's speaks out on U.S. television for the first time about how he was pressured to compromise standards in a push for profits. Frank Raiter reveals what was really going on behind closed doors at the credit rating agencies the public relies on to evaluate the safety of their investments.

    "During this period, profit was primary; analytics were secondary," Raiter tells NOW Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa. Who was watching the watchers? Surprising new revelations about the economic debacle, this week on NOW.

  • New York Times: The Forgotten Rich. Excerpts: The Senate budget debate began this week against a backdrop of war and recession, rising unemployment and surging foreclosures, runaway health care costs and diminishing insurance coverage — to name just a few of the nation’s big problems. But for Senator Blanche Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas, and Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, the most pressing issue is clear: America’s wealthiest families need help. Now.

    The two senators plan to propose an amendment to deeply cut estate taxes for the fraction of the top 1 percent of the population still subject to those levies.

    The proverbial millionaires next door — the plumbers, contractors and accountants who amass substantial wealth through hard work and modest living — are not the intended beneficiaries of the proposed cut. The Obama budget already takes care of them, because it retains today’s law, which imposes the estate tax only on couples with property worth more than $7 million, or individuals with property worth more than $3.5 million. That means 99.8 percent of estates will never — ever — pay a penny of estate tax.

    The heirs of the remaining 0.2 percent of estates are who Ms. Lincoln and Mr. Kyl are so worried about. Their amendment would increase to $10 million the level at which the estate tax kicks in. It would also lower the top estate-tax rate to 35 percent from 45 percent....

    In addition to creating the false impression that the estate tax eventually hits everyone — by mislabeling it a “death tax” — opponents routinely denounce the 45 percent top tax rate as confiscatory. In fact, the rate applies only to the portion of the estate that exceeds the exemption. As a result, even estates worth more than $20 million end up paying only about 20 percent in taxes.

  • New York Times: Has the News Reached Armonk? By Floyd Norris. Full excerpt: If there is one cause of the current crisis, it is excessive faith in computer models. The banks, the bond raters, the regulators and the institutional investors all believed that the models proved risks were under control.

    It turned out that they were not.

    But nobody seems to have told the marketers at I.B.M.

    In a television commercial running on the NCAA basketball broadcasts this weekend, I.B.M. proudly proclaims that “math can do anything.” Among the things it can do, I.B.M. says, is predict financial markets.

    Could somebody please tell I.B.M. that it looks really stupid?

  • New York Times: Selected reader comments concerning the above article follow:
    • They should have read up on Li & Gaussian model and all of Wilmott warnings. No one ever expects the tails. Without some oversight, the same inherent risk exists by offshoring American jobs & core industry IT operations (banks, etc.) to the BRICs. Sure the salaries are cheaper and the business model looks good. But what happens to financial markets & economy if one of the BRICs decides to pull the plug? Anyone put that into a mathematical model?
    • Yes. “Math can do anything” and I.B.M. is not the problem. It’s the bonus driven bosses that order the variables in risk management models to be “adjusted to suit”. Then they go for a routine $200 lunch!
    • As a recent IBM employee of over 30 years, now laid off, I think Armonk has seen the news - they just don’t care. Seriously. From an objective perspective, why should they care? Why does IBM need a positive image in the US?

      IBM sees the future, and has concluded that the future ain’t in the US.

      Did I hear the Chinese are proposing a new global currency to replace the Dollar, the current de facto global currency?

      Not only is the IBM corporation indifferent to the plight of its workers or US citizens, the IBM corporation has no respect or fear of any laws or any government, including the US government.

      Sam the Butcher knows, like Bush the Third, that when you are powerful enough you can do whatever you want and nobody can stop you.

      Sure, blogs are full of people harrumphing and tut-tutting but IBM keeps doing what IBM does and nobody can stop them. IBM doesn’t even need to pretend to care anymore.

Vault Message Board Posts
Minimize

Vault's IBM Business Consulting Services message board is a popular hangout for IBM BCS employees, including many employees acquired from PwC. Some sample posts follow:

  • "More coming in 2 months" by "CapOneApplicant". Full excerpt: There will be another 1000-2000 lay-offs in the next 30-45 days. The recent failure and contract losses (not to be named but in Financial Sector and Industrial Sector) will have a HUGE impact on revenue. This means that the costs have to be cut. Another big one coming.
  • "Hard times in IBM Australia" by "it_guy_oz". Full excerpt: Was verbally informed by management yesterday that tea bags, and instant coffee would not be replenished in Australian IBM offices. Also, employees will no longer be reimbursed for DSL network expenses. This comes only months after record profits were made last year. I'm not a big fan of instant coffee at the best of times and actually pay for my own DSL, but I shake my head at the message this trivial bean counting sends to the workforce. Might be time to start working just 6-7 productive hours a day now (no caffeine fix) and definitely wont be working late each evening (no home network). Perhaps the work life balance benefits of this madness might be worth it.
  • "Jesus was right..." by "omegadoom". Full excerpt: Only the meek shall inherit the earth. Dirt that is. Stick around and see if your piece of dirt is fertile or salted like Carthage. ;-) IBM has record profits because they are moving work to areas where they have lower cost of operations along with less stringent labor laws. So IBM Australia, IBM US, IBM Canada, are all going to cut costs any way they can as try to continue to trim the fat.

    Too bad these bean counters never took any sort of medical training, or were a collegiate athlete. I hate to be the one to tell them that once you get to a certain amount of minimal body fat, your body burns muscle. If you get to a certain point, your health is in jeopardy. This can be said as an analogy for the corporate health of IBM. But hey! After Sam checks out for retirement, who's gonna clean up the mess?

  • "What's next? Soon we'll be driving Smart Cars" by "IGS_Consultant". Full excerpt: The latest "downsizing" of IBM's travel policy: Effective May 1, 2009, employees are to reserve economy or compact class car rental vehicles per changes to car rental policy. Perhaps inline with India Business Machine's move to "everything India", Hertz will be directed to purchase Tata's new $2,000 car for exclusive use of IBM employees while on business! Sam, of course, will continue to fly in one of his corporate jets.
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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