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.
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.
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."
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
Yes, employer-based health insurance coverage is not really insurance! Why?
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.
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?”
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.
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?
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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