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Highlights—July 4, 2009

  • New York Post: NYC Hit By Nerd Job Rob. City $$ for Indian Hires. By Susan Edelman. Full excerpt: It's a geek tragedy. While the city vows to save and create jobs for recession-ravaged New Yorkers, one of its biggest contractors is importing techies from India, instead of hiring local computer nerds.

    IBM won a $1.9 million contract with the Department of Finance to analyze its old main databases so they can be improved, but the company has transported "consultants" from Mumbai and other parts of India to do most of the work.

    At least 17 employees hired by an IBM subsidiary in India have worked in New York since October, inspecting the city's computer systems, which hold property and other tax records, insiders said.

    "It was a dream come true," said Sunny Amin, 25, who traveled from his Mumbai home to the Big Apple -- his first US visit. Amin, who has an engineering degree from a college in Aurangabad, landed his first job with IBM-India. While a bit lost at first, Amin said, he rented an apartment in Parsippany, NJ, and commuted by bus. After nine months on Wall Street, he's being sent to another IBM job, in Minneapolis, on his three-year work visa. Amin would not reveal his pay but did say, "I make about 10 times more than I would in India.

    In contract documents, IBM says it pays its technical consultants at rates ranging from $26.24 to $278 an hour, not counting travel and living expenses.

    It could not be learned whether IBM pays its Mumbai recruits the same rates, though watchdogs say US firms hire thousands of workers from India because they come cheap. IBM did not return calls.

    But Amin's fortune means US citizens get shut out of well-paying jobs, critics charge. "It's like a slap in the face," said Robert Ajaye, president of Local 2627, a union of city-employed computer specialists. "We have people in house who could do this job." Instead, he said, some city staffers have had to "translate" for Indian techies lacking English skills.

    Finance spokesman Sam Miller defended the contract. "Our systems are so old that there are not many companies that have the ability to work on them. IBM does," he said.

  • New York Post: Selected reader comments concerning the above article follow:
    • realist22 wrote: It seems like IBM may not be following the H1b process. I believe in order to sponsor a visa they needed to have done everything they can to find a citizen or greencard holder. Pretty hard to justify in this economy. Another issue I have is who the heck is unionizing computer specialists? If they were able to do this stuff and we're paying them then why aren't they? If they can't do this they need to be removed from the payrolls.
    • roybjr wrote: Cancel the contract with this company and deport these people back to India where they belong.
    • User Image CJC wrote: To me, it sounds like abuse of the H1B process. There are certainly many thousands of American computer specialists in NY out of work, who are highly qualified. The justification for IBM and their Indians getting this work is that the systems are very old. That is completely disingenuous... Americans are the ones with knowledge of the older systems. Indians (almost exclusively) work on newer technologies like Java, whereas older Americans (50+) are the ones with knowledge of the much older technologies like COBOL and IMS. I do recruiting for a tech staffing firm, and I could have 17 Americans lined up to do this work within a week. I wonder if the fact that imported Indians will work for 50% lower wages has anything to do with this situation??? Obama, where are you?
    • hojo wrote: I praise this paper for printing stories like this one, there are many more, please continue until this is on the FRONT BURNER. Where is the Mayor, Governor and POTUS. Something is wrong when a company on US Soil can win contracts and hire people from foreign countries and those living here illegally and openly before American citizens. What's more appalling is when one points this out you're accused of being racist. Which is laughable to this American Black man. If people don't express outrage at this practice, then you get the treatment you deserve. Nowhere on earth would this be tolerated than in America. What a shame.
    • KevinFlanagan wrote: Indian visa workers are cheap, and that is all. The normal H-1B makes on average $23/hr. IBM bills the gov't $200/hr, and refuses to hire Americans. IBM can use the H-1B or L-1 visas to legally discriminate against American workers. They have been doing it for years. A Senate bill is working a way through the Judiciary committee that will make it almost impossible to continue this practice. SUPPORT S.887, or more Americans will be displaced. Read more: endh1b.com
    • jase wrote: Susan, Great article! Why are we importing/ out-sourcing jobs when so many New Yorkers do not have one? And it is the taxpayers who are paying their unemployment benefits
    • DrGeneNelson wrote: This is a very timely article that documents how big employers like IBM abuse the controversial loophole - laden H-1B Visa program. As a consequence of this employer abuse, this program, created in 1990, should be abolished. Free-market economist and Nobel prize winner Milton Friedman was quoted as saying that the H-1B Visa program was a "government subsidy." Please google this title, "H-1B Is Just Another Gov't. Subsidy" to learn more. Of course the special interests with their snouts in the trough hire high priced lobbyists and pay legislators to maintain the status quo via political expenditures. After all, the manager's bonuses depend on it.

      flcdatacenter.com/CaseH1B.aspx is the address of the government H-1B wage disclosure website. Use H-1B EFile 2008 as the year, IBM for the Employer, and New York for the Work State. You will learn that the important feature of the H-1B program is low wages. IBM paid $60,598 for a consultant in New York City. The maximum was $135,000 for a research staff member in Albany. Typically, these firms mark up their labor cost substantially.

      There are 628 of these jobs reserved for foreigners just in FY 2008, just in New York state. Annually, IBM adds thousands more of these immigrants each year - displacing a similar number of experienced American citizens. This vicious process has been repeated year after year for about two decades.

      You can learn how bloated this program has become by using google to find the PDF version of the article, "The Greedy Gates Immigration Gambit." You will learn about the tens of millions of visa admissions in just five high skill visa programs between FY 1975 and FY 2005.

      When you are fed up with this outrage, use the powerful no-cost citizen activism tools at NumbersUSA.com to demand reforms. Your career may depend on it.

    • Borat of NYC wrote: Good going Mayor Mike in creating "well paying jobs for all New Yorker" as your bogus ad on TV spouts. Keep outsourcing jobs and you might find yourself outsourced this November. It is really disgusting how this two face mayor just farms out work to foreign nationals while thousands of computer specialist were laid off from Wall Street firms. Why not hire some of those poor folks who have been hammered by the recession rather then pay some programmer from India? I guess it makes sense in Bloomberg world!!
    • exibmer wrote: Sadly IBM is doing this all over the country. IBM executives have abandoned US employees. The IBM workers group Alliance at IBM is trying to organize the employees.
    • IGS Slave wrote: I am a U.S. IBM Global Services employee. It is becoming increasingly difficult to be placed on consulting projects such as the NYC Finance project because executive management prefers to use cheap "global resources" (i.e. H1-B or L1 visa holders from India) instead. I will likely be laid off from IBM in the near future because I have spent so much time on the "bench." My skills are excellent, far superior in fact to those of my Indian counterparts. However, my internal billing rate is four times that of a "global resource", so IBM would rather fire me and employ more people from India.
  • Hudson Valley Times Record-Herald: Former worker sues Big Blue IBM counters with federal case. By Christine Young. Full excerpt: A Somers man who was fired from IBM after 40 years will go it alone against a battery of lawyers who are trying to turn his $1,060 lawsuit into a federal case. Gordon Sears, 68, will appear on July 16 in the Town of Somers Justice Court, where he filed a small-claims suit last month accusing IBM of failing to honor a written promise to subsidize his medical premiums after he was terminated in February.

    Sears says he signed a separation agreement in which IBM granted him 26 weeks of severance pay and promised to subsidize his medical coverage for one year, during which his rate would stay the same as when he was working. But it didn't work out that way. Because Sears was over 65, IBM forced him to make Medicare his primary provider and refused to pay the subsidy. Instead of making $38 monthly premiums, Sears now pays $128 each month. He complained, but IBM wouldn't budge. Sears decided to file suit.

    At first, he said, the company tried to settle. "The lawyers called and said, 'We'll offer you $500,'" Sears said. "They wanted confidentiality, and I told them I'm not doing that. I'm really principled and honest, and I don't want to be weasled."

    In a June 11 court filing, IBM asked to move Sears' complaint to federal court, arguing that it falls under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA, which governs, among other things, severance plans. Sears, who is representing himself, says it's a simple breach of contract. "This subsidy has nothing to do with ERISA," he said. "It's IBM's great, compassionate stuff about how they're going to give you the same medical coverage as if you stayed working. I signed a contract, and they're trying to weasel out of the medical coverage."

    IBM spokesman Doug Shelton said the company "believes the plaintiff's claims have no merit and will defend itself vigorously." Shelton said the case belongs in federal court because the claims "arise under federal law." During the next court conference, Sears will try to convince the judge otherwise. "I'm not arguing about Medicare or ERISA," he said. "I'm arguing about their promise that I was going to be subsidized, and I got treated crappy."

  • Hudson Valley Times Record-Herald: Selected reader comments concerning the above article:
    • On Jul 1, 2009 at 09:05 AM, jc4 said: Welcome to corporate america... Don't bother to sue. You'll lose. You know they got the highest paid lawyers. It's not worth wasting your time for. I've seen things like this happen before. And the person suing winds up getting counter sued by the company. Believe me these companies know all the loop holes...
    • On Jul 1, 2009 at 10:32 AM, DarkestB4 said: IBM is usually smarter than this. THis is not even penny wise and pound foolish. Over $1,000, they are accumulating legal fees of that every couple of hours. Should offered the entire amount, and settled without court filings.
    • On Jul 1, 2009 at 12:49 PM, Phs1 said: This is how the rich and powerful treat the honest people like garbage. Horrible. Thanks to the Record to let us know about it, we won't forget.
    • On Jul 1, 2009 at 02:14 PM, katsura said: Wow, how stupid is this. IBM made a mistake on his separation agreement that would cost them a lousy thousand bucks and rather then give him the money they decide not to honor a signed contract. Now they'll spend a fortune in legal bills and still end up looking like jerks.
    • On Jul 1, 2009 at 07:16 PM, cheated said: One would think that someone at IBM, with a reputation only second to Bernie Madoff, would have the brains to pay this poor gentleman what he is asking rather than have all this bad press. Morons is being kind!!!
  • The insider trading page on this site has been updated to show the latest "trading" by senior IBM management. Given IBM's huge number of firings this year, as well as its paltry raises and bonuses, it is quite enlightening to see how well our senior management is doing.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "IBM insider selling" by "cybertramp66". Full excerpt: Does anyone know if the amount of insider selling on this link is significant, or just routine? Looks like a lot but I'm no expert. Anyway it's nice to see some of the sales for $0, which I assume are options that expired worthless (tough luck there Sammy).
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: IBM insider selling" by "bits_bytes_and_bugs". Full excerpt: I don't believe the option exercises at $0 mean the option expired. I believe the strike price was $0, and they exercised the option to buy at $0. In short, they are freaking gifts (probably stock grants). Every quarter you see these.

    It does appear that there must be a policy on those $0 options that they must keep at least half of the shares they picked up, since the numbers indicate that around 45% +/- 2-3% of the shares were sold on the same day as the options were exercised.

    Now, you ask if this is normal. Well that page you reference goes back nearly two years, so you can check the current vs. history yourself.

    Execs will tell you that they're just balancing out their portfolio so it's not overweighted in IBM stock. Yeah, right.

    What I find curious is that the execs always seem to time the market such that the stock sales are at high points. Oddly enough, these seem to sync up with stock buybacks.

    I'm sure there are a lot of non-executive IBMers that would love to be given options for thousands of shares at $0, but none go outside the executive class ruining the company

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: IBM insider selling" by "flatsflyer". Full excerpt: Your (sic) right, the 3,500 Lettered Executives are all provided financial and tax planning support by an internal department. A good portion of the annual share buy backs are not retired but rather provide to these same executives as stock options. Most of the buy, sell transactions you see as "insider transactions" are done for the executives by the internal department, often without consultation of the executives themselves.
  • New York Times: Et Tu, AARP? Good Guys Cut 401(k)s, Too. By Ron Lieber. Excerpts: It’s been a truly ugly year for just about everyone saving money in a retirement account at work. First came the stock market collapse, tempered only a bit by the rebound of the last few months. Then, struggling employers of all sorts decided to suspend or eliminate part or all of their matching contributions to workers’ 401(k) and similar plans — companies like Xerox and Black & Decker and nonprofit groups like PBS and the Austin Museum of Art in Texas.

    This happened in other recessions, so it was entirely (if sadly) predictable. But the big surprise this time came when the AARP decided to suspend its 401(k) match for at least nine months. Yes, the same AARP that used to refer to itself as the American Association of Retired Persons.

    Given its track record of fighting for the financial rights of retirees, it seems shocking that the organization would turn around and take from its own 2,200 or so employees what they’d hoped would be a big pile of matching money. It’s almost as if the Teamsters decided to build a new national headquarters and hired nonunion labor to do it. ...

    In its defense, the AARP also notes that it still maintains an old-fashioned pension for its employees. That is a good (and increasingly rare) thing. And AARP, like many employers, has to make a huge deposit into its plan this year to make up for losses in 2008. That also ratchets up the financial pressure. Still, for a pension plan to do any good at all, employees need to work for an organization long enough to benefit, and some AARP employees will not stick around that long. Also, the plan itself will need to survive. The cynic in me thinks that the AARP will probably freeze the pension plan before too long, as so many other employers have, though Mr. Certner says that option is not currently under consideration.

  • eWeek: When H-1B Visa Holders and the Recession Collide. By Don Sears. Excerpt: A recent CIO Insight article written by an immigration lawyer gives a pretty full picture of what an employer is dealing with, especially as companies are cutting full-time employees who are citizens and H-1B visa holders. Here's the kind of thing employers, human resources departments and CIOs are dealing with (and a whole lot is more discussed in the article)...
  • BusinessWeek: An Academic's Labor Helps Fight H-1B Visas. Norm Matloff, a computer science professor with a Chinese-born wife, says the U.S. skilled-immigrant visa system exploits workers everywhere. By Moira Herbst. Excerpts: Not many computer science professors are activists on immigration policy. But Norm Matloff of the University of California, Davis wears both hats. He has been a vocal critic of the H-1B visa program for skilled immigrants since the mid-1990s, and now maintains a Web page and e-mail listserv discussing offshoring and the H-1B visa program, which he calls a "sham." He says his motivation is to protect and preserve tech job opportunities for the students he teaches. ...

    Matloff stresses that the problem is not fraud or crime but the H-1B visa law itself. He says that the law as currently written allows H-1B visa holders to receive below-market wages. The policy also allows for age discrimination as older U.S. tech workers are displaced by a younger workforce from abroad. "Though the industry lobbyists portray it as a remedy for labor shortages and as a means of hiring 'the best and the brightest' from around the world, the visa is used to access workers that cost less and are de facto indentured servants," Matloff writes on his blog.

  • Wall Street Journal: Only the Employed Need Apply. By Dana Mattioli. Excerpt: With unemployment at 9.4% and rising, it’s a buyer’s market for employers that are hiring. But many employers are bypassing the jobless to target those still working, reasoning that these survivors are the top performers. “If they’re employed in today’s economy, they have to be first string,” says Ryan Ross, a partner with Kaye/Bassman International Corp., an executive recruiting firm in Dallas. Mr. Ross says more clients recently have indicated that they would prefer to fill positions with “passive candidates” who are working elsewhere and not actively seeking a job.
  • Financial Times: Temps suffer as US job cuts spread. By Sarah O’Connor and Alexandra Ulmer. Excerpt: A strange thing has happened at an IBM factory in Vermont: the microchip plant has just hired some workers. Having aggressively cut jobs as the recession deepened, the plant has seen an increase in demand and is hiring about 50 people to cope. But they have only been given temporary contracts.
  • Jim Hightower: Reining in Corporate Tax Dodgers. Full excerpt: The British Virgin Islands – the very name conjures up a Caribbean paradise of soft sand beaches, tropical breezes, and the leisurely island lifestyle. Surprisingly, though, this tiny spot is home to more than 400,000 major corporations!

    Not that you'd find any factories, corporate headquarters, or even employees on the islands. Indeed, all 400,000 companies are located in one gray, two-story building on the island of Tortola. This is where the global giants register incorporation papers for their very special subsidiaries. You see, the place is a tax haven. By registering there, corporations can claim they are based on the islands – even though they do no business there – letting them dodge paying taxes back home.

    This is the kind of scam that President Obama intends to stop. He has recently proposed to close loopholes that allow such giants a Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, Citigroup, Pfizer and Procter & Gamble to hide income in order to shirk their tax responsibilities to America.

    Corporate America, whose lobbyists and political lapdogs plugged these loopholes into our taxcode, have been frequent fliers to tax havens all over the world. Of the 100 largest U.S. corporations, 83 have created subsidiaries to stash profits in these havens, located in such places as the Caribbean, Liechtenstein, the Philippines, Uruguay, and Labuan – wherever that is.

    Citigroup, for example, has created 427 of these tax-avoidance subsidiaries! In the past six years, it has more than quadrupled the amount of profits it tucks into the havens, presently stashing nearly $23 billion in them. This is, of course, the same Citigroup that has taken a $45-billion bailout from us taxpayers.

    To support the crackdown on this shameful corporate shell game, contact the Public Interest Research Group at www.uspirg.org.

  • Jim Hightower: Finding Ways to Perk Up CEO Pay. As we're learning the hard way, CEOs are not quite the brilliant cockadoodledoos they wanted you and me to think they were. To be fair, however, let's admit that the top honchos are astonishingly creative and bold, in one special aspect of big business leadership: goosing up their own paychecks. Yeah, yeah, I know that the salary and bonuses of corporate chieftains actually dropped six percent last year, now averaging a mere $10 million. But, hey, these people are nothing if not clever, so while their pay sagged, they quietly reached into the goodie bag and increased the number and value of perks they receive by seven percent.

    Associated Press surveyed some 300 major corporations and found that the median value of such executive perks as chauffeured limousines, free personal use of the corporate jet, and memberships in exclusive clubs has risen to $170,000 last year. That's more than three times the income of most families!

    Chauffeurs and jets turn out to be the least of it. Take Ray Irani, CEO of Occidental Petroleum. Not only was he paid $30 million last year, but he also was given $400,000 to cover the cost of his financial planners. An Occidental spokesperson explained that this perk was beneficial to the corporation because it helped Irani "keep his complete attention on the company’s business." What, is Irani so flighty that he can't focus on his job without worrying about his personal money? Maybe so, but – come on – with a $30 million paycheck, couldn't he afford to cover them out of his own pocket?

    Meanwhile, some corporations are concerned that these pricey and princely bennies look bad to the public. Not to worry, though – that problem can be handled by another executive perk that's increasingly popular with CEOs: bodyguards.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site
Minimize
  • Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comment 06/29/09: How to get the word to Obama (and Lou Dobbs etc.) "Most of the contract workers at Federal/State govt. sites are H1-B visa holders". How Govt. can ask commercial organizations stop this practice in this situation? -Anonymous-
    • Comment 06/29/09: notified today by management that my last day is July 27th. 9 years working in Toronto -anonnymous-
    • Comment 06/30/09: If you are working on a Govt Stimulus project now or in the future, you should report here in a comment how many GRs and H1Bs are working on the project and how much the project costs. And name names, locations, project details, etc. The Stimulus package is meant to help US workers, paid for by US taxpayer money. It was not designed to line the pockets of Greedy Sammy and his executive gangsters by offshoring the work. The press seems to monitor this forum. Maybe it will bring attention to the looting. -RA lottery winner 2009-
    • Comment 06/30/09: Have heard of two cases of 'surgical' layoffs in Midwestern area this week. Both were senior sales reps, 30+ years of service, excellent performers. Interesting were not initially offered the max 6 month severance, as in past layoffs. Were told IBM did not have to give any severance, and that it was negotiable..they were given the 30 days to find another job BS. -BigBlues-
    • Comment 06/30/09: Was told that unless I want to move to Boulder or Toronto that I was going to be laid off sometime real soon. Is that legal? They are not even offering to pay to move me, not that it's an option I would even consider. -anonymous-
    • Comment 06/30/09: This Finance thing from the Post... Does it strike anyone as strange that the Finance comment is that only IBM knows how to work these systems, implying they're a bit, well, old? Sure, I'm sure that's the case. And a 25 year old from Mumbai has experience in these systems HOW???? IBM has laid off everyone who might have been able to do the work. They are hiring IBM because it was IBM who did it before. Not because of the experience. Just some other lackey covering his keester. -RAed in Jan-
    • Comment 06/30/09: Was a June RA, decade with IBM, never a low PBC rating. ITD org, Americas. 30 days to find a new position, to reaffirm for anyone new to this, is a joke. Honestly, the hardest part is making this clear to co-workers who think there's a possibility you'll still be a colleague in the future. -surgicallyremoved-
    • Comment 07/01/09: -anonymous- IBM can move your job anywhere. Repeat after me: at will employee = no say in where your job is. Your only legal protection that could stop this action by IBM is a union contract. -moveatwill-
    • Comment 07/01/09: To "Was told that unless I want to move to Boulder or Toronto." Companies use location moves to shed employees, They know only a certain percentage are willing to move to a remote location only to get laid off a short time later. This happened to my group when I worked at another corporation. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/01/09: IBM should have no problems by offering you a job that you must relocate to. There is no law I know of that says they have to offer you relocation assistance. You can take it or leave it (and lose your job). We all received an email more than once that said your job description included 100% travel. If you refused such a job offered to you, you were considered to have resigned (and get no severance and no unemployment I guess). I guess relocating yourself to a job is the same thing. -anonymous-
    • Comment 07/01/09: IBM Canada pull the plug on Internet expenses for mobile employees as of June 15 2009, IBM suggested if anyone is affected by this should return to an IBM office or mobility center, paying $60.00 a month is not a problem for my own internet, the issue is, should I use it for work. Kinda leaning to no more emails after hours and weekends... Also, rumors that mobile employees cell phone expenses will be cut soon and may have to pay for their own Thinkpads in the future... -Zion-
    • Comment 07/01/09: As I read the comments, it's clear that things are getting worse for IBM employees. As I think about how we got here, the main item that comes to mind is the lost of the effectiveness of the employee opinion survey. When we had the annual survey, management literally feared us. If we got a bad manager, in 1 or 2 bad surveys, they were gone. They have no fear anymore. They would fear us if we unionized. Then we would have leverage, we have nothing today. BTW, for those hanging on to get a "package", carefully read the recent comments, that is about to become history. Another benefit gone, no cushion to help you once you are laid off. We must unionize to protect what little we have left and hopefully get some back!!!! -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/01/09: >> the employee opinion survey. What a joke that was. No one I knew told the truth, out of fear of recrimination. Yes, they could track down the submitter, make no mistake. Yes, I do remember when it was effective, when it was taken seriously. For the last two years, however, with sadists in management, there was no need for a real opinion survey, since the first level was aided and abetted in their Machiavellian ways by upper management. Problem solved. Management has nothing to fear anymore, the sadists have the employees exactly where they want them -- fearful, in desperate need of a salary, and fearful, willing to act as mushrooms. You may be correct, the Black Thursday 5K and the previous 4600 may have been the last ones to get a package. Amen, the ONLY recourse is to unionize. Hopefully, it is not too late. NB: AT WILL EMPLOYEE, UNIONIZE OR BE SCREWED. -Anonymouse-
    • Comment 07/01/09: I was RA's in late April, I am understanding that the severance package that they are offering now max's out at 13 weeks instead of the 26. Is this true? -RA in 2009-
    • Comment 07/01/09: What's been lost is not the "effectiveness of the opinion survey" but the commitment of executives to "respect for the individual" and the idea that what IBM sells is customer satisfaction, not stock price appreciation. The Watson's (among others) understood that the last (stock price appreciation) followed from the next to last (customer satisfaction) which followed from the first: respect for the individual. Somewhere along the way the current executive cadre lost that insight. And it is too bad for IBM's customers, IBM's employees and (if not reversed) IBM itself. But what do I know? I'm just a retread physicist, PhD but no MBA. -old-fat-slow-
    • Comment 07/03/09: Heard from IBMers used to work with that business in the US is terrible. Expenses are frozen and they are expecting 2nd quarter numbers to be terrible. This person said they are begging for work and no one is buying IBM. This might be the beginning of the end for IBM. -Anon-
    • Comment 07/05/09: Is there any new news about IBMers filing claims for TAA benefits? I know one group was denied before the changes went into effect. I'd like to know if any successful claims have been submitted, and if there are any tricks to submitting a successful claim. -Anon- Alliance reply: The Alliance has been working with the State of Connecticut on a TAA claim. It has been filed. Other locations in the works. Will update as information becomes available.
  • General Visitor's Comment page
    • Comment 06/30/09: Looking for info regarding unsafe working conditions in Boulder CO. Per the rumor mill several reports filled with OSHA. -BN-
    • Comment 07/01/09: Folks contact OSHA regarding health issues in Boulder building ten floors 4 and possible 1, 2 and 3... 800-321-6742. Also for current status dial ext 107 for all updates. OSHA can't show up onsite IBM let's IBMer's look into the issue and fix the issue. What a joke!!! They are working for IBM not the employee... Alll employee''s please report you don't need to leave a name and contact the Colorado State department too.. We have a better chance of these folks showing up on-site.... -A concerned human- Alliance reply: Keep the heat on OSHA and IBM. We are also working on this.
    • Comment 07/01/09: I have found out from a very reliable source who works for an IBM customer that IBM is billing them in excess of 40+ hours per week for each of the contractors that IBM has working on their account. IBM, however, limited the number of hours that these contractors could work to 32 hours per week. Other than being unethical, is IBM breaking any laws? When I bring this to the attention of the CFO of this IBM customer, I think the PE of the account will have some explaining to do. This BS has to stop. So much for "Business Conduct Guidelines." -IveBeenMisled-
  • Pension Comments page
    • Comment 06/26/09: Has anybody tapped into the Future Health Account when they retired yet ? I am curious what the cost of insurance is when you are paying for it with the FHA. -long time beemer-
    • Comment 07/01/09: To -long time beemer- You can elect to use the FHA money to cover from zero percent to 100 percent of the monthly premium. The price is so high for covering a family of four it will be exhausted in less then 2 years if you do 100 percent. Last time I looked at IBM retiree coverage it was 1600 per month for the same coverage levels I had while working and I am sure it has gone up since. I personally elected to use my wife's coverage and not use any IBM coverage for now. My understanding is I have up to 10 years to start using FHA before I lose it. A lot depends on how many you are covering of course. For just yourself I am sure its a lot less then my price for 4 people. Hope this answers your question. -Exodus2007-
    • Comment 07/01/09: Exodus2007, in regards to FHA, another way to think about it is to burn it down as quickly as possible. Just because you have 10 years to use it doesn't mean it will be there. It is not in any way protected (ERISA) and can be cancelled anytime. -burn_FHA_asap-
    • Comment 07/04/09: Agreed. Burning it up asap may be the best move for some. It sure would not be the first thing promised by IBM that disappeared. Live better work Union. -Exodus2007-
  • Raise and Salary Comments IBM CEO Sam Palmisano: "I am pleased to announce that we will not only be paying bonuses to IBMers worldwide, based on individual performance, but that they'll be funded from a pool of money nearly the same size as last year's. That's significant in this economy -- and especially so, given the size of the 2007 pool. Further, our salary increase plan will continue, covering about 60 percent of our workforce. As always, increases will go to our highest performers and contributors. We should all feel good about the company's ability to invest in people in these very concrete ways."
    • Comment 06/28/09: Salary = 87k; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; Band Level = 8; Job Title = Senior I/T Architect Specialist; Years Service = 25+; Hours/Week = 46; Div Name = ITD/SSO; Location = work@home; Message = Take it from someone who's been around for over 25 years. Don't waste your time busting your butt around here. 1) It's not appreciated 2) It isn't going to get you a bigger raise 3) It isn't going to get you a better position. Do what you need to do. Don't goof off, do your work and make the customer happy. Be selective in what you volunteer for. Don't take crappy assignments that won't amount to much. There are tons of projects out there that have no future because the project is not funded past the point of initial development. Why bother working on something that is already dead in the water? Make sure you find out ahead of time if the project has a future. OR that it will give YOU something (such as another valuable skill or ability to grow into another position). It's all about YOU. IBM is thinking only of itself, YOU do the same. -anon-
    • Comment 06/29/09: Salary = 20 lacs; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; Band Level = 9; Job Title = Consultant; Years Service = 16; Hours/Week = 40; Div Name = Solution Architecting; Location = Kolkata; Message = Need to know IBM Salary band wise -Anonymous-
    • Comment 06/29/09: Band Level = 7; Years Service = 9; Hours/Week = 60; Message = PBC rating 1, raise this year 3.1 -Anon-
    • Comment 06/29/09: Salary = 102K; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; Band Level = 8; Job Title = Project Manager; Years Service = 25+; Hours/Week = 55+; Div Name = CHQ; Message = PBC 1 and got 2.1% raise. Seems reasonable given my penetration into the salary band. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 06/29/09: Salary = $122K; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; Band Level = 9; Job Title = Senior IT Architect; Years Service = 31; Hours/Week = 55; Div Name = GTS; Location = US; Message = PBC Rating of 2+. Raise of 1.2%. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 06/30/09: Salary = £110000; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; Band Level = 9; Job Title = SWITA manager; Years Service = 11; Hours/Week = 40; Div Name = SWG; Location = UKI; Message = Smile, though your heart is breaking -Bob Pure-
    • Comment 06/30/09: Salary = 60,000; #Yrs Since Raise = 0; Band Level = 7; Years Service = 11; Hours/Week = 45; Div Name = 07; Location = US; Message = 2+ performer got 2% pay raise. I count my self lucky that I've gotten raises every year at IBM. Still 2% effectively means a pay cut. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/01/09: Salary = 97K; #Yrs Since Raise = 3; Band Level = 8; Job Title = IT Specialist; Years Service = 18; Hours/Week = 44-48; Div Name = GB;S Location = NY; Message = PBC of 2 for 2008. 2006-2007 was a 2+ but didn't get a raise then either. BS in the management presentation about "poor year" from IBM. My mgr all but told me I might never get another raise. -Never a raise-
    • Comment 07/01/09: Salary = 99k; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; Band Level = 8; Job Title = Project Manager; Years Service = 11; Hours/Week = 40; Div Name = BPD; Message = Raise was 3.7% PBC = 1 I have been a 1 for past two years. Heard that 4% was the highest allowed by anyone. -IBMer_BPD-
    • Comment 07/01/09: Salary = $115K; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; Band Level = 8; Job Title = Advisory Engineer; Years Service = 14; Hours/Week = 40 - 60; Div Name = STG; Location = Austin; Message = PBC = 2+ performer, got 1.3% raise -Anon-
    • Comment 07/01/09: Salary = 81K; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; Band Level = 5; Job Title = SSR; Years Service = 32; Hours/Week = 40 +O/T; Div Name = MTS; Location = East Coast; Message = 1 performer and it only got me a 1.3% raise. How cheap can they get. What a pathetic company -Going in reverse-
    • Comment 07/02/09: Salary = $125k; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; Band Level = 9; Job Title = RSM; Years Service = 5; Hours/Week = 50; Div Name = Research; Location = New York; PBC= 2+ Raise= 1% Message = 2+ PBC led to a 1% raise -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/02/09: Salary = 118K; #Yrs Since Raise = 3; %Raise = 1.8; Band Level = 8; This Yr-PBC = 2+; Job Title = Advisory Engineer; Years Service = 26; Hours/Week = 40; Location = Poughkeepsie; Message = Waited 3 years for a 1.8% raise. The cost of a sandwich for lunch has gone up a lot more than 1.8% in the last 3 years! -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/02/09: Salary = 58900; %Raise = 2; Band Level = 6; This Yr-PBC = 2+; Job Title = gts; Message = Same % as last year, expected nothing more.. -Jehosaphat-
    • Comment 07/02/09: Salary = 59000; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; %Raise = 2; Band Level = 6; This Yr-PBC = 2+; Job Title = IT Spec; Years Service = 5; Hours/Week = 40; Location = South of Mason Dixon Line; Message = Not even at PMR. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/03/09: Salary = £61k GBP; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; %Raise = 0; Band Level = 8; This Yr-PBC = 2+; Job Title = PM; Years Service = 13; Hours/Week = 50; Div Name = GBS; Location = UK; Message = No one in GBS UK is getting a payrise in 2009...first time in 22 year career; but the world has been through financial meltdown so I can cope with a one-year blip... -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/04/09: %Raise = 2; Band Level = 9; This Yr-PBC = 1; Job Title = Sr. Software Engineer; Years Service = 21; Hours/Week = 50; Div Name = STG; Location = Rochester; Message = 1 rating = %2 raise. I was told only merit raises were given this year, and no "market rate" ones. -Anonymous-
  • PBC Comments
    • Comment 06/29/09: Band Level = 9; Years Service = 10+; Prior Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr Bonus = 4K; Prior Yr Bonus = 4K; Message = The PBC model is a disgrace. Sam knows it, leaders know it. Many 1st and 2nd lines I know say as much in confidence. Management are robots. Say something and you get a recorded response. IBM will move their HQ to Mumbai soon. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/03/09: Band Level = 7; Years Service = 14; Prior Yr PBC = 1; This Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr Bonus = 2500; Prior Yr Bonus = 4000; Message = My 3 step PBC Survival guide. 1) NEVER be late with CLAIM 2) Make my manager's life easy (tip: what are THEIR PBC objectives? Aim to do something, however meaningless, that they can use to bolster their PBC results) 3) Work sh*t loads of o/t and be prepared to have no life. NB: This plan used to work fine, but I'm finding that the only people left in my team are the ones with the same idea. New ideas for a Smarter Plan(et) on a postcard please. --
  • International Comments
    • Comment 07/02/09: Country = UK; Union Affiliate = No; Job Title = IT Specialist; IBM Division = GTS; Message = GDF Is about to to be implemented in the UK. So far no one has been able to able/willing to confirm if relocations of remote workers to GDF sites will be expected. It will be interesting to see how this is handled in the UK..... -wage_slave-
    • Comment 07/03/09: Country = UK; Union Affiliate = na; Job Title = Admin; IBM Division = GTS; Message = Just heard that Dealhub UK was also going to Hungary this summer. Some staff in Business Operations also to go or gone already...IBM knows how to operate discreetly...! -spitfire-
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
Minimize
  • New York Times editorial: Insurance Company Schemes. Excerpts: A House oversight subcommittee took a close look at a particularly shameful practice known as “rescission,” in which insurance companies cancel coverage for some sick policyholders rather than pay an expensive claim. The companies contend that rescissions are rare. But Congressional investigators found that three big insurers canceled about 20,000 individual policies over a five-year period — allowing them to avoid paying more than $300 million in medical claims.

    The companies typically argue that the policyholders withheld information about pre-existing conditions that would have disqualified them from coverage. But the subcommittee unearthed cases where the pre-existing conditions were trivial, or unrelated to the claim, or not known to the patient. When executives for the three companies were asked if they would be willing to limit rescissions to cases where the policyholder deliberately lied on an application form, all said they would not. This tactic will not be ended voluntarily.

    Meanwhile, the Senate Commerce Committee was getting an earful from a former head of corporate communications for Cigna, a big health insurer. He charged that the industry deliberately confuses its customers by making it hard to obtain information about its practices and issuing incomprehensible documents. He also charged that the companies “dump the sick,” through rescissions and by purging small businesses whose employees’ claims exceed what underwriters expected. They are often hit with huge rate increases intended to force them to drop coverage.

  • Forbes: The Gloves Come Off On Health Care Reform. Obama hits back at insurance companies for opposing public option. By Brian Wingfield. Excerpts: It took a few months, but tensions between the Obama administration and private health insurers seem to be coming to a head. In a White House press conference Tuesday, President Barack Obama described a government-run health care option as "an important tool to discipline insurance companies" and brushed aside criticism that such a plan would ruin the industry.

    "If private insurers say that the marketplace provides the best-quality health care," pondered the president, "then why is it that the government--which they say can't run anything--suddenly is going to drive them out of business? That's not logical." ...

    "Too often insurance companies have been spending more time thinking about how to take premiums and then avoid providing people coverage" than thinking about providing insurance when families need it, the president said.

  • Political Irony: Like a jealous lover, the insurance industry doesn’t want you to be able to get health insurance from anyone, even if they turned you down. Instead of a “healthy” debate, the arguments against health care reform are becoming more and more bizarre. I’ve already talked about the fact that even though most people are in favor of single-payer health insurance, our representatives are so owned by the insurance companies (who are paying off politicians with the money they have been ripping off from us) that they are not allowed to even mention single-payer as a possibility.

    But it gets even weirder from there. Now the insurance industry is trying to kill the idea of even giving you a choice of a public option. Who could be against the idea of giving you a choice of either keeping your existing health insurance, or having the option of a government-run insurance plan (especially to people who have been turned down for insurance)? We are talking about something like Medicare, but which would be available to all those people that private insurance companies refuse to cover. If we can’t have the single-payer system we want, could this be a reasonable compromise?

    But like a jealous lover, the insurance industry doesn’t want you to be able to get health insurance from anyone, even if they turn you down! Take the recent argument from Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Grassley argues that a public insurance option would be so popular — that people would prefer it so much over private insurance — that it cannot be permitted. The private insurance industry is so important (at least to his campaign contributions) that he would prefer that people die rather than give them the choice of a public plan!

  • Political Irony: If a public option would drive private health insurance out of business, how do UPS and Fedex survive against the USPS? Excerpts: The next time a pundit claims that a public option will put private health insurance companies out of business and lead to socialized health care, I hope someone asks them how UPS, Fedex, and hundreds of other smaller delivery companies are still in business, despite having to compete with the US Post Office.

    This is actually a good analogy, since the USPS provides universal service — delivering letters to anywhere in the US for the price of a stamp (even remote locations) — while private companies provide enhanced services to those people who are willing and able to pay more. This is how it should be with health insurance (and is how it works in countries like New Zealand). The government provides universal coverage for a basic price, while private health insurance companies compete with enhanced services (i.e., they could cover elective procedures that the public plan doesn’t).

    Imagine the outcry if the Fedex and UPS insisted that the US Post Office be abolished, while retaining the right to refuse delivery to locations that they determined were too expensive to service. Sorry, that check you wanted to send to your daughter spending the summer in Alaska — no can do! Or imagine if there were hundreds of delivery companies and each one had different complex rules and addresses to which they deliver, and purposely tried to figure out how to not deliver your letters. Sorry, you used a USPS zip code, and ours have 23 digits — into the trash! Would that be that different from the situation that doctors and patients now find themselves in dealing with health insurance companies? ...

    The truth is that the health insurance industry doesn’t want to have to compete. How then could they continue to charge so much more for health care, pocketing the extra money while providing terrible service and results?

  • New York Times: Obama Steers Health Debate Out of Capital. By Sheryl Gay Stolberg. Excerpt: With Democrats deeply divided over health legislation, President Obama is trying to enlist the nation’s governors and his own army of grass-roots supporters in a bid to increase pressure on lawmakers without getting himself mired in the messy battle playing out on Capitol Hill.
  • New York Times: Insured, but Bankrupted by Health Crises. By Reed Abelson. Excerpts: Health insurance is supposed to offer protection — both medically and financially. But as it turns out, an estimated three-quarters of people who are pushed into personal bankruptcy by medical problems actually had insurance when they got sick or were injured.

    And so, even as Washington tries to cover the tens of millions of Americans without medical insurance, many health policy experts say simply giving everyone an insurance card will not be enough to fix what is wrong with the system. Too many other people already have coverage so meager that a medical crisis means financial calamity.

    One of them is Lawrence Yurdin, a 64-year-old computer security specialist. Although the brochure on his Aetna policy seemed to indicate it covered up to $150,000 a year in hospital care, the fine print excluded nearly all of the treatment he received at an Austin, Tex., hospital. He and his wife, Claire, filed for bankruptcy last December, as his unpaid medical bills approached $200,000. ...

    At St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, where he went for two separate heart procedures last year, the hospital’s admitting office looked at Mr. Yurdin’s coverage and talked to Aetna. St. David’s estimated that his share of the payments would be only a few thousand dollars per procedure. He and the hospital say they were surprised to eventually learn that the $150,000 hospital coverage in the Aetna policy was mainly for room and board. Coverage was capped at $10,000 for “other hospital services,” which turned out to include nearly all routine hospital care — the expenses incurred in the operating room, for example, and the cost of any medication he received.

    In other words, Aetna would have paid for Mr. Yurdin to stay in the hospital for more than five months — as long as he did not need an operation or any lab tests or drugs while he was there.

  • New York Times: Who Gets Employer-Based Health Insurance? By Catherine Rampell. Excerpts: One important issue of the health care debate is what to do with the employer-based health insurance system. As Uwe Reinhardt has written, nowhere else in the industrialized world does losing your job also mean losing your health care.

    But which Americans are actually in the system? It’s easy enough to say those who are employed (and some who are dependents of the employed), but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

  • New York Times: Selected reader comment concerning the article "Who Gets Employer-Based Health Insurance?":
    • Anonymous BE: If they are content with the employer-based insurance system, they are FOOLS. The most fundamental point is that in America’s employer-based system, no one is really insured. I am not really insured, and I doubt that you, unless you are very wealthy, are insured either. It is not 45 million uninsured - it is the overwhelming majority of society that is uninsured.

      Yes, employer-based health insurance coverage is not really insurance! Why?

      1. Because the moment you lose your job, your health insurance is in jeopardy. Yes, there is COBRA, but when one’s income suddenly drops to zero, how is one supposed to continue paying the premiums? Only 44% of people who lose their jobs even qualify for unemployment insurance (another scandalous problem), and then even those receiving unemployment insurance often receive only a fraction of what is necessary to cover food, shelter, utilities, and health insurance. And COBRA runs out after 18 months, and if the company goes bankrupt, there is no COBRA available. Being unemployed does not qualify you to receive medicare, and though some states have special insurance programs for low-income children, this is a patchwork with lots of cracks to fall through and inconsistencies. Yes, Massachusetts has nearly-free health insurance set up by the state for low-income people, but there are issues with how quickly the unemployed can enroll, and moreover, many healthcare providers will not accept the Massachusetts state plans, as was recently reported in the New York Times. And Massachusetts is but one state - no other state even comes close to Massachusetts.
      2. Isn’t health insurance most important when you are so infirm that you cannot work? Yet, if you become too sick to work, you can lose your job and then you are in the same situation as the unemployed person, except that you may have huge medical bills and difficulty even obtaining proper care unless adequately insured. Your employer can fire you simply for being sick, forcing you to lose insurance rather quickly. Also, many insurance plans (except for the ones that conservatives mock as “gold plated”) have huge deductibles and uncovered expenses, even if the sick person has COBRA coverage. See this NY Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/01/business/01meddebt.html?ref=business

        This can, in short order, drain a person’s savings and make it impossible to pay for COBRA coverage, let alone the unpaid bills by the company that is supposed to insure the person. If it is a permanent condition, you might be able to apply for Social Security Disability payments, but this takes months, is usually rejected before appeal, and is not relevant for people with curable illnesses. And Medicaid only kicks in after two years of being on Social Security Disability.

      3. Many employers offer insurance that is not really good enough to be called insurance, and employees do not have other options. Many plans have such high deductibles that people avoid seeking medical treatment (the opposite of what insurance is supposed to provide) or have many exclusions, restrictions, etc. One major health event can leave a person bankrupt, despite such insurance. This recent article from the New York Times exposes many of the problems with high-deductible plans: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/30/health/30patient.html

        As the article notes ““For most people, a high-deductible plan is basically a bet against yourself…You’re betting that you won’t get sick and you won’t have an accident. But isn’t that exactly what insurance is supposed to be? A bet that something might happen, and if it does you’ll be protected?”

      4. Of course, many of those working in small businesses, low-wage jobs, part-time work, irregular work, or those who are self-employed simply do not have access to group insurance plans, as the charts above indicate. Individual plans are exorbitantly expensive (so they exclude those most likely to need them, the working poor), and exclude pre-existing conditions from coverage (the very people who most need insurance). Many people with a history of illness or pre-existing conditions cannot obtain health insurance at any price. Healthcare for these people and their families is characterized by exclusion, waiting until very sick to seek treatment, and bankruptcy or lifelong debt when a major medical event occurs.
      5. Those who do not have a job to begin with, such as recently graduating students, also have no access to group health plans - there is no COBRA for those who have not been employed (though maybe some parents pay for a COBRA for university health plans for some recent college graduates from wealthier families).

      Insurance is supposed to be about creating peace of mind; a feeling of assurance in one’s life. The current employer-based system does not do that. Where is insurance if you lose your job? If you are too sick to work? Where is insurance if you cannot find a job that provides it? If you work for yourself or even want to take a sabbatical or retire before you are eligible for Medicare?

      There are other reasons to end employer-based health insurance: the employer should not have so much power over his or her employees that the threat of being fired carries with it the threat of losing one’s ability to access health care. Entrepreneurs and artists should not be restrained from going where their talents take them because of health insurance concerns. Those with chronic illnesses should be able to lead as full a life as possible. Having a chronic illness is painful enough - it is vicious of a society to impose extra financial costs on those already suffering. Need for medical treatment should never be a cause for bankruptcy or debt. The huge percentage (about 50%) of personal bankruptcies caused by medical bills is deeply damaging to individuals and society.

      Health insurance reform must be about ensuring that every citizen and permanent resident of the United States receives medical care, regardless of employment status or income or health condition. Anything less is simply not worthy of the term “insurance.” Perhaps there is a role for private sector companies in that, as contractors for the government, but we will only truly have universal health insurance in the United States when, regardless of what else comes to pass in one’s life, one knows that medical care is guaranteed, young or old, employed or unemployed, sick or healthy, and when one is not penalized financially by the degree of need for medical treatment.

      In the end, a capitalist system does allocate things based on ability to pay. Some people have fancy houses, some have simple apartments. But we also have a minimum wage (and food stamps) to ensure that everyone has enough to eat and basic housing. Unlike food and shelter, where the the basic cost is the same for everyone, more or less, medical costs fall unevenly. Minimum wages and Earned Income Tax Credits will never be able to deal with medical costs. Some people, because of genetics, accidents, misfortune, etc. will need $ millions in medical care, and others none at all. Hence, medical care cannot be part of a market system the way that food and shelter are, with subsidies to get everyone to a minimum level. A market-based model simply does not work for the healthcare sector.

      Yet, there is one final, and even more important reason for the government to ensure that everyone receives equal and excellent medical care: all human lives are of equal worth to society. Being rich may provide a luxurious life, but we cannot allow it to be decider of who is left to suffer and who is cared for; who has peace of mind and who lives in constant anxiety about illness; who lives and who dies.

      So, the homeless man on the street and the richest of the society deserve the same quality of healthcare. The rich should not be able to opt out and have better healthcare than everyone else. Indeed, the healthcare system will get the political and financial support it needs when even the rich have to support it, or they too will be negatively affected.

      Yes, the costs are substantial, but every other rich country in the world has managed to do this, for a smaller percentage of GDP than the United States already spends on healthcare. The essential fact is that the status quo is not really insurance, and so must be changed not merely because of costs, but because we want to end the savagery that allocates medical care based on ability to pay and so often imposes crushing debt or bankruptcy on the sick and vulnerable.

      It is time for us to pursue our Human Rights.

  • Jim Hightower: Why No Republican Health-Care Reforms? Full excerpt: We've heard a good deal about Democratic Party plans to reform America's corporatized, no-care health care system – but it's time we considered what Republican congressional leaders are offering.

    It's really pretty simple – nothing. When it comes to altering the power of the insurance giants to control our health care options, the Republican position can be expressed in one word: HellNo! The party's intransigence stems not only from its servility to corporate funders, but also from its blind faith in the mythical workings of the Holy Free Market. The Washington Times, a Capital-area mouth piece for the GOP, summed up Republican opposition to Barack Obama's idea for a publicly-run insurance option in this sentence: "The government cannot possibly do for Americans what the marketplace can."

    Let's see – that would be the marketplace that presently excludes 47 million Americans from any coverage, under-covers about twice that many, has doubled our insurance premiums in the past eight years, costs us more for health care per capita than any other country, limits our choice of doctors, creates profits for insurers by aggressively denying doctor-prescribed treatments to sick people, delivers a quality of care that ranks 37th in the world (just a notch above Slovenia), and intentionally blocks consumers from access to cheaper medicines.

    Wow, I think Republicans are right – government couldn't possibly do all of that for the American people!

    Three out of four Americans say that this current system, controlled by insurance-company profiteers, must be completely overhauled. Yet, all we're getting from the opposition party is head-in-the-sand subservience to the status quo. No wonder the GOP's job approval rating is lower than that of swine flu disease!

    Aren't there any grassroots Republicans who can move their backward party forward?

  • Jim Hightower: A Bankrupt System That Bankrupts Families. Full excerpt: America's corporatized health care system keeps producing unpleasant surprises.

    We've known for some time that this system, which puts profit above care, is morally bankrupt – but now we learn that it is literally bankrupting hundreds of thousands of American families. In fact, the system's exorbitant medical bills have become the number one cause of personal bankruptcies in the USA.

    Researchers from Harvard and Ohio State recently conducted a national, random-sample survey of more than 2,300 families who filed for bankruptcy in 2007. As they report in the American Journal of Medicine, 60 percent of those families were forced into bankruptcy by high health-care bills. The situation is likely much worse today, since this survey was taken before the current spike in job losses.

    Here's an even more sobering finding: the great majority of those bankrupted were not uninsured poor folks, but middle-class, well-educated people – 75 percent of whom had health insurance! As one of the researchers, Dr. David Himmelstein, put it: "Unless you're Warren Buffett, your family is just one serious illness away from bankruptcy."

    What a disgrace for the richest country in the history of the world. Indeed, America's deplorable connection between physical illness and fiscal disaster does not occur in other highly-developed countries, because they provide national health insurance for all of their citizens. Yet, too many of our congress critters in Washington don't really want to change our current system of health care profiteering. Instead, they merely want to tinker with reform by extending our corporatized system to more people that will neither improve health care nor prevent more of those financial catastrophes. We need a complete overhaul of the system by adopting a single-payer method of insurance coverage for everyone.

    To help push change that works, contact Physicians for a National Health Program: www.pnhp.org.

  • New York Times editorial: Health Care Hopes and Realities. Excerpts: This week, President Obama took his case for a public health insurance plan to the voters, campaign-style. On Capitol Hill, the war over the costs, details and philosophy of health care proposals has grown more intense by the day. The Congressional Democrats are deeply split over how to pay for more coverage, and the Republicans are attacking the Democrats for supporting a public health plan.

    Most Americans say they want substantial changes in the current system, as even the insured face soaring costs and diminishing coverage. When Room for Debate published two forums on the health care issue — on the call for mandatory insurance and on ways to change doctors’ pay — hundreds of readers, including many in medical professions, wrote in to describe how they manage (or don’t) to live with this system. Here are excerpts from their comments.

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: Banks Balk at Agency Meant to Aid Consumers. By Edmund L. Andrews. Excerpts: Banks and mortgage lenders are placing top priority on killing President Obama’s proposal to create a new consumer protection agency that would regulate home loans, credit card fees, payday loans and other forms of consumer finance .The Obama administration fired an opening shot on Tuesday, sending Congress a detailed, 150-page proposal for an agency that would set new standards for ordinary mortgages, restrict or prohibit risky loans, investigate financial institutions and enforce new laws aimed at protecting credit card customers. “This agency will have only one mission — to protect consumers,” said Timothy F. Geithner, the Treasury secretary, in a written statement on Tuesday.

    But industry executives vowed on Tuesday to fight Mr. Obama’s plan with everything they have, even though banks are still heavily dependent on many taxpayer-supported loans and loan guarantees to get through the crisis. ...

    The industry’s heated reaction presages an intense lobbying battle that is already beginning. Opponents include JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo as well as thousands of regional and local banks that have close ties to lawmakers in every part of the country. But the opposition could also include countless mortgage lenders and independent mortgage brokers. ...

    The plan’s supporters, which includes consumer groups, argue that a dedicated, standalone agency is crucial to reining in risky and deceptive financial practices. “It’s obvious from the history of the last 20 years that the regulators never understood that protecting consumers is also a way of ensuring the safety and soundness of financial institutions,” said John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

  • Wall Street Journal: Big Pay Packages Return to Wall Street. Compensation on Track to Soar as Earnings Recover From Crisis; 'Like It's 2007 Again. By Aaron Luchettii. Excerpt: Business is back on Wall Street. If the good times continue to roll, lofty pay packages may be set for a comeback as well. Based on analysts' earnings forecasts for 2009, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is on track to pay out as much as $20 billion this year, or about $700,000 per employee. That would be nearly double the firm's $363,000 average last year, and slightly higher than the $661,000 for the average Goldman employee in fiscal 2007, according to analyst estimates reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
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. Sample posts follow:

  • "Raises are effective 7/1" by "bigbertha92". Full excerpt: Don't expect a raise if you're a 2 performer. Only top contributors (1 & 2+) will receive a raise. The raise will most likely be around 1%. No kidding. Executives are not getting raises this year.
  • "IBM Just don't get it" by " Toa". Full excerpt: If you get the same money for a half ar*ed effort as you do for a good effort then why bother trying to do a good job! I've even seen 2+ being downgraded to a 2 because the manager didn't believe the 2+ was valid.
  • "Let's Go Global!" by "bigbertha92". Excerpts: Everything is "global" - from EO training to forced-by-mgmt-to-take IBM learning courses. Learn when no means yes, how not to be offensive, and watch slang!

    We all have to play nice-nice with our GR (global resource) peers. and when your GR team lead sends notes to IBM US mgmt that they need MORE WORK from their US counterparts, IBM mgmt. rolls over and gives them more work. Reminds me of an old CCR song: Fortunate Son.

    And when you ask them, how much should we give? Ooh, they only answer more! more! more. What a sad, pathetic, f'ng company.

  • "The Truth Can't Be Told" by "Frank_Reality". Full excerpt: Yes, even though the GRs in India can't handle simple tasks on time, with adequate quality and within cost, they are given more and more responsibility they cannot begin to handle. And of course when they screw up and fail as often happens, it's always the US teams' fault. It is pathetic (and clueless) to reward this incompetence with more work and more responsibilities.

    What's more pathetic is how India is not held accountable since they are Sam's chosen ones and how anyone who reports problems with India are considered anti-team, racist and uncooperative.

    The sacred cows over in India aren't cattle, they're the "office boys" pretending to be IT professionals working for IBM. What a sad, pathetic f'ng company indeed.

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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