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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—July 25, 2009

  • Associated Press, courtesy of Hudson Valley Times Herald-Record: IBM revamps welfare service. Company at risk of losing contract worth $1.16B. Excerpts: IBM's 362-page plan to fix problems with Indiana's privately run welfare system calls for providing more face-to-face help and no longer "forcing clients to self-service channels" such as telephone call centers and online applications. The plan, obtained by The Associated Press, also describes mechanical and human errors such as an automatic call distributor that "inappropriately fails" about twice a month, losing all telephone calls in progress, and infighting within IBM's coalition of partners.

    Clients, including Joyce Clemons of Evansville, and their legislators and advocates have complained of long hold times on phone calls, lost documents and unfriendly service. "That made me feel like they really didn't care if they took care of the customers or not," Clemons, 47, said Wednesday. She is a divorcee who gets $200 monthly in food stamps.

    Anne Murphy, secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, said the state wants the IBM team to succeed, but it might resort to canceling IBM's 10-year, $1.16 billion contract if there's not enough improvement. Four lawmakers who met with her in June said she also told them ending the contract was possible. The state is due to measure the improvements this fall. So far it has paid IBM more than $315 million.

  • Alliance@IBM Job Cuts message board post by " -anon-". Full excerpt: As Indiana mulls over whether to fire IBM from a 10-year, $1.16 billion contract to modernize its welfare-to-work system, it is not the first state to fork over millions, only to learn that Big Blue's "smart solutions" sometimes fall short on both counts. For example:
    • Last year, IBM was fined $900,000 by the state of Texas, which stopped transferring state records to an IBM data management program, citing IBM's failure to perform critical backup required by its seven-year, $863 million contract, jeopardizing at least 20 Texas agencies' ability to deliver services.
    • In 2006, North Carolina's Board of Education fired IBM from a $78 million contract to centralize the state education computer system in a project dubbed "NC WISE." But educators, frustrated by the program's tendency to crash and freeze, referred to it as "NC Stupid" in local news reports.
    • In 2001, citing mismanagement, waste and violation of city purchasing rules, New York City dumped IBM after paying the company more than $9 million on a failed contract to create and store death certificates, while New Jersey had designed a successful electronic death registration system for $250,000. -anon-
  • Philadelphia Inquirer: A layoff by any other name. By Lori Borgman. Excerpts: The only thing harder than keeping a job these days is to lose one straight up. People are getting fired, cut and canned, but businesses can't bring themselves to say so. When a company in the Pacific Northwest that makes scanners for supermarkets cut 89 jobs, the CEO described it as a "permanent reduction in force" and "a restructuring of the company's global presence."

    If I was one of the people losing my job, I'd hope the president would have enough stripes in his bar code to tell me I was being laid off as opposed to some blah, blah about restructuring a global presence. When Caterpillar chopped 22,000 jobs, the chief executive said, "It is now clear that we need to sharply lower our production and costs." I would like it if the boss man stood on a backhoe loader and said, "This is the lowest day of my life." I would appreciate it if his chin quivered, he choked up and had to excuse himself to the men's room. ...

    Just once I'd like to hear a CEO of a mismanaged company say, "I am standing here today because we have been greedy hogs slobbering at the trough. We pimped out our industry to pointy-headed business types who didn't know squat about our product and our market. We took bad risks, incurred ridiculous debt and now you're going to pay for our foolishness." A speech like that wouldn't really help if you were one being downsized, reduced or pruned - but it sure would be refreshing to hear.

  • Alliance@IBM Job Cut Comments. Comment 07/21/09: I read the A layoff by any other name article! How "Andy Rooney-esque". But the columnist is right. Here's something she didn't say but I will; Palmisano ain't got a big enough pair of cojones to come out and tell America in plain English exactly what IBM is doing. Instead IBM's spin doctors are as cleverly deceitful as any you'll find anywhere. The pathetic scumbags. -Anonymous-
  • Motley Fool: VMware Is Hiring While IBM Is Firing. By Anders Bylund. Excerpts: VMware isn't acting like your average company in this recession. When I look at the virtualization expert's second-quarter report, I see rock-solid business results -- and clear signs of cheerful optimism. ...

    So while IBM is celebrated for growing earnings amidst massive job cuts and even Google seems to have joined the cost-cutting party, VMware is hiring new people to make sure that its future business growth has the fuel and fire it needs. And the company sure can afford to spend a little money now to make a lot of money later.

  • US News & World Report: Study: Freeze the Pension Plan, Hurt Your Company’s Bottom Line. By Emily Brandon. Excerpts: The decline in companies offering traditional pensions to retirees hit a new milestone this year. Almost a third of Fortune 1000 companies have now frozen this often valuable retirement benefit. Some 190 companies on the 2009 Fortune 1000 list now have frozen their pension plan, up from 169 companies last year and just 45 companies in 2004. Generally, employees can keep what they have already earned, but won’t accrue additional retirement benefits in the plan. New hires are also generally prohibited from signing up. ...

    Many companies freeze their pension plans in an effort to get retirement benefit expenses under control. Companies that halted their retirement plans significantly reduced net pension expenses from $72 million in fiscal 2003 to an average of about $3.6 million in 2008, Watson Wyatt found.

    But a separate Watson Wyatt study found that freezing pensions generally didn’t enhance the company’s market value. The announcement of a pension freeze or close had either an insignificant or negative impact on stock prices, according to Watson Wyatt’s analysis of 82 publicly-traded companies that froze or closed their pension plans between 2003 and 2007. “Even if these freezes do lead to savings, there will be no immediate positive effect on firm value, which could even become diminished in the long run if employees begin to view the firm as an uncompetitive employer in light of its shrinking commitment to retirement and its transfer of risk to employees,” says Mark Warshawsky, director of retirement research at Watson Wyatt.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: Re: Study: Freeze the Pension Plan, Hurt Your Company’s Bottom Line. By "dave49_98". Full excerpt: There must be some truth to that. IBM stock was 136.25 on July 12, 1999. Dead money ever since. They have been screwing the employees and retirees for a decade and the stock is dead money. Lee Ioccoca was the only CEO I ever hear say that you had to sell more that no company would ever cut themselves rich. Well I don't remember how long ago that was but just today I read Howard Schultz (Starbucks) said the same thing. You have to sell more, cutting expenses will not grow the corporation. He's right, IBM isn't growing and the stock reflects that
  • WashTech: Protectionism - Give it a Second Look! By Rabindra P. Kar. Excerpts: In the past year, as the much-hyped wonders of the "global free market" unravel before our eyes, the public has been subjected to a barrage of warnings about the return of that old bogeyman - protectionism. From President Obama and British PM Gordon Brown, down to the editorial in my neighborhood's free weekly paper, the opinion leaders are portraying protectionism as the "original sin" of economics, for which the world may incur the ultimate consequence -- be driven out of the "paradise" that is Western capitalism. ...

    The higher up the economic ladder you go, the better are your personal interests served by "free trade". If your primary source of income is from stock and bond investments, then it benefits you if the corporations you invest in pay Third World wages but sell at First World prices. It should come as no surprise that, by and large, the wealthy do not support trade barriers, except for those that protect their own sources of income. Pharmaceutical company executives are happy to buy inexpensive clothing made in Honduras, or 60" flat-screen TVs made in Korea. They just don't want Indian-made antibiotics sold in the US at prices comparable to Indian prices. ...

    How would managed trade ("protectionism" to its detractors) work in the US economy? Ultimately it comes down to identifying which industries or professional skill-sets are considered vital to the economy. If garment manufacturing is not vital, then impose no restrictions or duties on clothing imports. If home construction is not strategic, then issue thousands of temporary work-visas to Mexicans or Central Americans to come here and build houses. If auto or aircraft manufacturing is vital, then impose high import duties on the import of cars or airplanes. If biochemistry is a strategic technology, then impose local-content requirements on any biochemical product that the Pentagon or National Institutes of Health buys from commercial sources. This is not as "un-American" as the free trade boosters would have you believe. President Ronald Reagan, that darling of political conservatives, limited Japanese imports to 2 million vehicles annually (less than 15% of the US market) to protect the US auto industry. This forced the Japanese to build automobile plants in the US, using Japanese designs but American workers.

    For decades, this country has let its political and economic discourse be constrained by the demonization of certain words and ideas. The political right-wing has effectively used labels like "big government", "liberal", "socialist", "government-run", "class warfare" and of course "protectionist" to discourage the consideration of policies that would benefit the average person at the expense of immensely powerful corporate interests. There is nothing inherently right or wrong about either free trade or protectionism. Both create winners and losers in society. By definition, protectionism protects and benefits some part of the general population. The national discussion we need is not whether to be a protectionist nation, but whom to protect and how to manage trade, so that the number of winners far exceeds the losers.

  • New York Times: Ruling May Bolster Claim to I.B.M. Fortune. By Katharine Q. Seelye. Excerpt: The Maine Supreme Court on Thursday upheld an adult same-sex adoption by a descendant of the founder of I.B.M., with a share of the multimillion-dollar fortune at stake. The ruling may bolster the standing of the adoptee as she pursues her claim in Connecticut to what she says is her share of the family fortune.
  • Wall Street Journal: Pay of Top Earners Erodes Social Security. By Ellen E. Schultz. Excerpts: The nation's wealth gap is widening amid an uproar about lofty pay packages in the financial world. Executives and other highly compensated employees now receive more than one-third of all pay in the U.S., according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Social Security Administration data -- without counting billions of dollars more in pay that remains off federal radar screens that measure wages and salaries.

    Highly paid employees received nearly $2.1 trillion of the $6.4 trillion in total U.S. pay in 2007, the latest figures available. The compensation numbers don't include incentive stock options, unexercised stock options, unvested restricted stock units and certain benefits.

    The pay of employees who receive more than the Social Security wage base -- now $106,800 -- increased by 78%, or nearly $1 trillion, over the past decade, exceeding the 61% increase for other workers, according to the analysis. In the five years ending in 2007, earnings for American workers rose 24%, half the 48% gain for the top-paid. The result: The top-paid represent 33% of the total, up from 28% in 2002.

    The growing portion of pay that exceeds the maximum amount subject to payroll taxes has contributed to the weakening of the Social Security trust fund. In May, the government said the Social Security fund would be exhausted in 2037, four years earlier than was predicted in 2008. The data suggest that the payroll tax ceiling hasn't kept up with the growth in executive pay. As executive pay has increased, the percentage of wages subject to payroll taxes has shrunk, to 83% from 90% in 1982. Compensation that isn't subject to the portion of payroll tax that funds old-age benefits now represents foregone revenue of $115 billion a year. ...

    The $2.1 trillion figure understates executive pay, however, because it includes just salary and vested deferred compensation, including bonuses. It doesn't include unvested employer contributions and unvested interest credited to deferred-pay accounts. Nor does it include unexercised stock options (options aren't subject to payroll tax until exercised), and unvested restricted stock (which isn't subject to payroll tax until vested; the subsequent appreciation is taxed as a capital gain).

    Also not included in the total compensation figures is executive pay never subject to payroll tax. This category includes incentive stock options (which are generally taxed as capital gains), "carried interest" income received by hedge-fund and private-equity fund partners (also taxed as capital gains), and compensation characterized as a benefit (benefits generally aren't subject to any taxes). ...

    Lifting the earnings ceiling could result in higher Social Security benefits payments to higher-income individuals, since benefits are based on a worker's highest 35 years of earnings. But the additional tax revenue would have decades to earn a return, thus offsetting the cost of the additional payments. Social Security Administration actuaries estimate removing the earnings ceiling could eliminate the trust fund's deficit altogether for the next 75 years, or nearly eliminate it if credit toward benefits was provided for the additional taxable earnings.

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  • Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comment 07/19/09: I'll go you one better. I was RA'd this year and did see an internal job posted that was a perfect fit. It took some back and forth communications via Randy's office and division HR, but I was eventually told - in writing -that I could not have the job because it was marked to be offshored. -anonymous-
    • Comment 07/20/09: to Anonymous that couldn't get another job because they were labeled "offshore" - same thing happened to me. I was offered the job, the job was legit and needed to be backfilled, but the Upper Execs in that division blocked my transfer in. This is what I think - we, the "RA'd resources" are considered overpaid for the current job. A year ago this was not true, we probably even got a raise last year and a great Variable Pay Bonus (I did).

      This is what I think - IBM took a snapshot of certain jobs/skills. Then they figured which jobs could be offshored. Then they gave those jobs/skills the new "market salary" based on offshoring. So after many years of great appraisals, raises, var pay bonuses us older ones are pretty high compared to the offshore cost. Rather than offer us the Opp to keep our job at the new salary (at least until this recession is over and we have a fighting chance out there) they did a massive RA.

      So the job I was turned down for - I probably would have been in the same position (overpaid vs. offshore resources). That job was/is probably next on the list to get offshored. We are all feeling the brunt for prior management's decisions to increase our salaries as we perform well over time. What happened in the world - is that technology (i.e. what WE HELPED BUILD) made the market global. That increased competition with third-world countries. That plus a world-wide recession = perfect layoff candidate. This will lead to disloyal employees who jump ship at the next better job / salary that comes by... no reason to stay with same company - especially if the OT, travel, or worklife/balance options change.....UNLESS THERE IS A UNION. This is a new paradigm and what goes around comes around. Karma baby. -silly willy-

    • Comment 07/21/09: to silly willy - that's right. According to this article, EPS increase is due solely to cost cuts. Until tax laws change, it's a great deal to cut American jobs and replace at a fraction overseas -- and still have overall cost savings! And they aren't done yet. "...Now, if you look at the way that $3.5 billion rolls out (cost savings), we’ve got about $0.5 billion in the first quarter, about $1 billion in the second quarter, so that leaves another $2 billion to roll out through the second half of the year. And given that it’s kind of structural in nature, I would look at that kind of evenly distributed across that second half..." http://seekingalpha.com/article/149843-the-arithmetic-behind-ibm-s-2009-eps-guidance-revision -annonymous-
    • Comment 07/21/09: There isn't anything that hasn't already been posted here previously with regard to jobs being sent offshore. That said, here's my experience. A little over a year ago, I was informed that a portion of my job was going to India. However, my manager did say that the work going to India would be replaced by new work coming into my department. Last October I began giving turnover of a portion of my job to a guy in India. I worked providing turnover to the Indian Team until approximately December when it was officially decreed that the India guy was the primary contact on the accounts I turned over. Through the first quarter of 2009 I supported him, and I knew he still needed me, but as far as my management was concerned, he was in the drivers seat and I was only there for "an occasional question or two."

      I asked my manager on two separate occasions when would I see the replacement work he spoke of in the summer of 2008, but his answers were vague and noncommittal. Straight talk was never something he specialized in, so I figured sooner or later something would happen. I was right too! Something did happen on March 26th. My manager called me to deliver the news that I had been selected to participate in the Resource Action. (BTW, the guy in India panicked when he heard the news!) I left IBM in April. And in case your wondering, the "new work coming in" hasn't materialized yet according to the former teammates that I keep in close contact with. -my sad story-

    • Comment 07/21/09: Thought I would check in to see how former beemers were doing. Sorry to see its the same old...you guys should really join a union or something. I left as part of the RA back in April...you could say it was planned on my part to get out of the sinking ship, take the severance, and run. I was a fast tracker at The Big Blues...only job since college, made to an exec level in a decade higher than what most people retire at... I am glad I left, while the comfy feeling of being in a govt like company is not there in my new company, I make more money, have a higher position, and enjoy work. Its a lot more work, but it's great.

      Whereas I dreaded working at GBS, it felt like I was a temp employee, even though I was an exec there. Ugh... the place sucked...the more I think about it. So for those wondering and able...go out there and find a greener pasture...the blue pasture is covered in pesticide. If you wondered what it would be if you can die of boredom, work at IBM forever and you will find out.

      Wow...same old ticks with EPS - they did the same with the PwC acquisition in 2002 - read how they reported growth in McKinsey. Valuation, organic growth actually fell negative that timeframe, they used the order books of PwC to look like they had real growth. I wouldn't blame them if I was the CFO, was the right thing to do - shareholders come first. Remember that and you will disabuse yourself of "making a difference" -Big Who?-

    • Comment 07/23/09: Big Who said a lot and made some fair points. To me it all nets down to this - IBM's execs cant grow IBM's business by shrinking it. They can only grow the business by selling more of its goods and services. That's something they obviously have no ability to do. So they resort to the only tool they've got, the axe. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/23/09: Budget, what budget? Recognition, what recognition? Person "A" papers approved to become a Distinguished Engineer - Sorry, there's no $ so there is no promotion. Person "B" Nth Invention Plateau - Sorry, there is no $, here's only a piece of paper. Person "C: Congratulations on your Outstanding Technical Achievement Award (OTAA) - Sorry, there is no $, here's only a piece of paper. It is no wonder that people are bailing in Research. Our department has had two highly qualified people in two weeks jump ship to go to other companies. -anon-
    • Comment 07/24/09: I have a friend who works for UPS. UPS outsourced their I/T department to IBM. Guess what IBM's first step was to do? Yep - they found the cheapest labor in India and moved the jobs there. The UPS employees are training their replacements in India. They have no idea what is going to happen to them. They were told the "IBMers" are there to "Help" them with the workload. This guy has 22+ years in with UPS, and still had a defined pension plan with UPS. He's wondering now what will happen to his pension if he's booted out at this point. -It's sad all over-
    • Comment 07/24/09: Just got a generic/blanket email from a recruiter fishing for candidates to staff the Boulder GDF. One year contract opening... it looks as though they are really gearing up to staff the GDFs, as I have gotten quite a few of these emails for posts in Iowa. It seems as though the move of account services to the GDF locations is certainly on the near horizon and that will lead to the forced relocations, firings, etc. that have been discussed before. -PurplePeopleEater-
    • Comment 07/25/09: Plans are moving ahead with Iowa and Boulder GDFs. Boulder is in the 3rd phase that ends in October. Iowa just finished its first phase, and is moving into the 2nd phase. Mgmt is in the process of identifying accounts that will move to Iowa or Boulder, If you are associated with those accounts, you will be given details at the last possible moment. Mgmt has already figured out that they will get little to no takers for these moves, so they are actively trying to hire folks. I know of someone who gets recruiter emails almost every day for Iowa. -dun-4-
  • General Visitor's Comment page
    • Comment 07/24/09: I got home last night and after dinner was working on my hobby and realized just how relaxed and happy I have been for a while now. I just got my 2nd year review at my new job. I was praised up and down for my good work. My manager took me to lunch, and I got a 10% raise. At Christmas the past 2 years I've received a 5k bonus. There is no worry what so ever about being let go. I go to work happy, enjoy my job, make more money than in the IBM days, am much closer to home, no pager, no on call. Your job should not stress you out till you are near a heart attack. Take a good look at what Big Blow is doing to you. Either organize and unionize, or get out, because life is too short to suffer the way they make you suffer. It doesn't have to be that way, and shouldn't be that way. -Gone_in_07-
  • Pension Comments page
  • 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 07/20/09: Salary = 132,600; #Yrs Since Raise = 1.1; %Raise = 1.8; Band Level = 9; This Yr-PBC = 2+; Job Title = Senior Development Engineer; Years Service = 30; Div Name = IBM Systems & Technology Group, Semiconductor Solutions; Location = Fishkill, NY; Message = I hit my peak earning power in 2001. My salary, in inflation adjusted $ is worth 5.5% less than it was in 2001. (last year it was down over 8% but the lasy tear has actually seen disinflation as measured by the CPI). This is the worst stretch of negative income grown in by IBM career. Couple with that that IBM charges me much more for health care, has cut the bonus PLAN during this period and my standard of living has taken a big hit. But the worst thing has been the constant feeling of dread and uncertainty. The feeling, that no matter how hard you work and what you accomplish, is that you could be thrown out with the trash tomorrow. -BFL-
    • Comment 07/21/09: Salary = 15000$; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; %Raise = 2.5%; Band Level = 5; This Yr-PBC = 1; Job Title = IT Specialist; Years Service = 3; Hours/Week = 45; Location = Czech Republic; Message = First they've cut the meal vouchers and now they are giving these insulting increases! I wonder what next year will bring -BRNO-
    • Comment 07/21/09: Salary = 119000; #Yrs Since Raise = 0; %Raise = 4.1; Band Level = 10; This Yr-PBC = 1; Job Title = Consulting Sales Spec.; Years Service = 13; Hours/Week = 40; Div Name = S&D; Location = USA; Message = People, I see a lot of disproportionately low band level folks complaining. I hate to say this, but I get the feeling that many are clock punchers. Band 9 and 30 years service? Something doesn't add up. If you haven't made it to 10 by 20... well, there's probably a reason you're not getting a raise. As much as I think that IBM execs can be ruthless, there is a pay for performance element here which is at its base, healthy. It's this kind of whining entitlement which is sapping at the strength of the American technology workforce -anon-
    • Comment 07/21/09: Salary = 87000; #Yrs Since Raise = 0; %Raise = 1; Band Level = 8; This Yr-PBC = 2+; Job Title = Mg Cons.; Years Service = 8; Hours/Week = 40; Location = TX; Message = Are the Sales bonuses a direct % of salary or a big number driven by the Business Won? -anon-
    • Comment 07/21/09: Salary = 59K after last year's remix (ahem, PAY CUT); #Yrs Since Raise = 0; %Raise = 1; Band Level = 7; This Yr-PBC = 2+; Job Title = IT Specialist; rated 2+ for the past 6 years; Years Service = 26; Hours/Week = 50; Div Name = ITD; Location = Boulder; Message = to "anon": Get out of here, you troll. How many band 10 positions are even out there? And are YOU going to quit your job voluntarily so that I have a chance to move up to band 8 to replace the guy that moves up to band 9 to replace the person that gets YOUR job? Get real. There are PLENTY of us in the "lower bands" that pull our weight AND MORE, especially now that we have to compensate for work no longer being done by our FIRED (not laid off) peers and/or transitioned to GR equivalents that don't have the 20+ years experience that some of us DO have (and business knowledge, and familiarity with the corporate culture DOES count for something). You can't be a chief when there are no Indians.... so count YOUR blessings that there are those of us in the "lower bands" that do at least part of the REAL work that somehow keeps at least part of this company afloat. -Get Real-
    • Comment 07/21/09: "People, I see a lot of disproportionately low band level folks complaining. I hate to say this, but I get the feeling that many are clock punchers. Band 9 and 30 years service? Something doesn't add up. If you haven't made it to 10 by 20... well, there's probably a reason you're not getting a raise." Most IBMers never can even sniff band 9 let alone band 10 in a career. It's even difficult now to get to band 8 in an IBM "career". For non-exempts band 5 is no longer a real possibility. The bands and who gets to them are all political don't you agree? Anon, are you an Alliance member? BTW: Nice condescension. IBM needs more of your ego. -clockpuncher-
    • Comment 07/21/09: Salary = 156k USD; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; %Raise = 2; Band Level = 10; This Yr-PBC = 1; Job Title = IT Architect; Years Service = 3; Hours/Week = 50; Div Name = SWG; Location = USA; Message = will quit IBM soon and go to a competitor -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/22/09: Salary = $74,000CAN; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; %Raise = n/a; Band Level = 7; This Yr-PBC = 2+; Job Title = Adv. IT Spec.; Years Service = 10; Hours/Week = 40 to 50; Div Name = IGS; Location = Canada; Message = Those of us in Canada have yet to hear a peep about our raises, but it's pretty clear that it's going to go down the same route as the US. I'm expecting a 1% at best, given the spin this year. Nevertheless, I still have a job and can still support myself and my family which is something I can't say for a lot of people who were walked out the door earlier this year. We might as well accept the fact that the high-paid execs are going to continue to realize their own substantial increases despite the limits of the economy. They sit at the top of the food chain, and have positioned themselves to gain. I want to also mention that having read many comments on this site, I suspect there are many complacent IBM "day jobbers" here who think a lot more highly of their performance then perhaps their peers do. We all work with someone who has a sense of entitlement that eclipses their performance, and don't deserve what they make, much less a penny increase. People here need to spend less time whining openly about how poorly they are paid, and instead take action in the office by refusing to do extra work, work long hours, or go above and beyond. And if you get fired, then at least you get your package. Like it or leave it. -Anonymous-

      Alliance reply: The alternative to organize, exists in Canada at some level. There are links here that can take you to organizations that can help you do that: National Office CWA|SCA Canada 7B - 1050 Baxter Road Ottawa, ON K2C 3P1 Telephone: 613-820-9777 Toll-free: 1-877-486-4292 Facsimile: 613-820-8188 info@cwa-scacanada.ca

    • Comment 07/23/09: Salary = 50000; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; %Raise = 1.1; Band Level = 4; This Yr-PBC = 2+; Years Service = 11; Hours/Week = 40; Location = Atlanta; Message = 2 percent last year, 1 percent this year. I'm falling behind to inflation. -GyppedInGeorgia-
    • Comment 07/23/09: Salary = $71,200; %Raise = 1; Band Level = 7; This Yr-PBC = 2+; Job Title = UNIX Systems Administrator; Years Service = 24; Hours/Week = 50; Message = I received a total of a 1% raise over the last 3 years. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/23/09: Salary = $105,000; Band Level = 8; Job Title = Sr IT Specialist; Years Service = 2; Hours/Week = 48; Div Name = 6C; Location = NE Florida; Message = Was let go a few months back and happy to be gone from IBM. I was involved in 3 of the most outrageously bad assignments of my career ever. All 3 were red-teamed. My team of 400 were wiped out except for most of the managers and a few PM\'s. The managers and the PM's were the cause of the bad projects and they kept their jobs. What a joke! Peace to all. -ednwilbur-
    • Comment 07/24/09: Salary = 114,000; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; %Raise = 1; Band Level = 9; This Yr-PBC = 2+; Job Title = Software ITS; Years Service = 26; Hours/Week = 50+; Div Name = S&D; Location = Midwest; Message = Just got my incentive payment. SWG had outstanding first half. My incentive payment didn't reflect it. Was told that the incentive "bucket" was only funded at 60%. So,,, where's the incentive to make or exceed numbers when they won't pay out what is earned! -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/25/09: Salary = 92,000; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; %Raise = 2; Band Level = 9; This Yr-PBC = 2; Job Title = Senior Marketing; Years Service = 9; Hours/Week = 70-80; Div Name = STG; Location = RTP; Message = Manager went into "parity meeting" with 2+. Came out with 2 for my rating. No raise this year despite working harder than ever in a more toxic environment. -Tinkerbell-
  • PBC Comments
  • International Comments
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
Minimize
  • Wall Street Journal: Democrats' New Worry: Their Own Rich Voters. By Jonathan Weisman. Excerpt: A group of Democrats elected in recent years from some of the country's richest congressional districts have emerged as a stumbling block to raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for President Barack Obama's ambitious health-care overhaul just as the plan has begun to meet increasing resistance over its cost. Friday, two freshmen representatives -- Dina Titus, from suburban Las Vegas, and Colorado's Jared Polis, representing Boulder, Vail and some of the tonier suburbs of Denver -- joined Republicans to vote against Mr. Obama's top-priority health-care overhaul when it faced a vote in their House Education and Labor Committee. One reason was a one-percentage point-surtax on couples earning between $350,000 and $500,000 -- gradually increasing to 5.4 percentage points on earnings more than $1 million -- to pay for it.
  • Washington Post: Health Insurance Industry Spins Data in Fight Against Public Plan. By David S. Hilzenrath. Excerpts: The industry that helped scuttle health reform 15 years ago with its "Harry and Louise" ads is back, voicing support for a central element of the Obama administration's plans: making sure everyone is covered. That does not mean the industry is backing the administration. Indeed, the leader of the insurance lobby has sent lawmakers a message: Be careful what you change, because "77 percent of Americans are satisfied with their existing health insurance coverage."

    Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), invoked the statistic to argue against the creation of a government-run insurance option. But the polls are not that simple, and her assertion reveals how the industry's effort to defend its turf has led it to cherry-pick the facts. The poll Ignagni was citing actually undercuts her position: By 72 to 20 percent, Americans favor the creation of a public plan, the June survey by the New York Times and CBS News found. People also said that they thought government would do a better job than private insurers of holding down health-care costs and providing coverage.

    In addition, data from a Kaiser Family Foundation poll last year, compiled at the request of The Washington Post, suggest that the people who like their health plans the most are the people who use them the least. Those who described their health as "excellent" -- people who presumably had relatively little experience pursuing medical care or submitting claims -- were almost twice as likely as those in good, fair or poor health to rate their private health insurance as excellent. ...

    "Insurers promise choice, they promise innovation, they promise a lot of things, but I think they've delivered very little," said Alan Sager, professor of health policy and management at Boston University. "I think net they give us very bad value for the 10 to 20 percent share of the health dollar they skim off the top." Instead of choice, they offer "the illusion of choice," he said.

  • New York Times: More Cost Cuts Sought From Drug Industry. By Duff Wilson. Excerpts: The pharmaceutical industry has remained relatively unscathed so far in Washington’s effort to overhaul the nation’s health care system. But it is too soon for drug makers to declare victory — especially now that the cost of health care has become a central issue in the debate. Despite the much publicized 10-year, $80 billion cost-saving promise the drug industry made to President Obama and the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee last month, some House leaders do not think the drug makers have given enough. ...

    What is more notable is that on many other issues in the health care debate, the drug industry seems to have staved off some of the measures it most feared. None of the legislative packages now favored by the Democratic leadership, for example, include long-simmering proposals to let Americans buy cheaper drugs from Canada. Nor is there a push to end the tax breaks for drug advertising that some critics say promote the unnecessary use of costly pills. And seemingly off the table is any talk of giving the federal government new powers to negotiate drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry.

    “PhRMA’s biggest worry is price negotiation,” said Steven Findlay, a health policy analyst at Consumers Union, using the nickname for the drug industry group. “They would like to keep that totally off the table — this year and forever.” John Rother, executive vice president of AARP, the lobby for older Americans and a longtime critic of the drug industry, described PhRMA as “one of the big winners so far in health care reform.” ...

    Drug companies have invested nearly $1 billion in lobbying over the last decade, more than any other industry, according to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics, and more than $100 million in campaign donations, increasingly to Democrats. And the drug industry in the last three months has increased its spending, according to reports filed Tuesday: PhRMA spent $6.2 million during that period and 10 drug companies each spent more than $1 million. ...

    On July 7, Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama’s chief of staff, and Mr. Baucus assured at least five pharmaceutical companies during a White House meeting that there would be no provision in the final health care package to allow the reimportation of cheaper drugs from Canada or elsewhere, according to Mr. Tauzin. The industry’s message, Mr. Tauzin said, was, “Don’t put us in a big negative fight over this issue while we’re trying to help you pass something that would be good for the American public.” The meeting included chief executives from Pfizer, Merck, Amgen, AstraZeneca and Abbott Laboratories.

  • Wall Street Journal: Obama Backs Health Surtax. Proposal Targets Millionaire Families to Help Fund Overhaul of Medical Care. By Laura Meckler, Greg Hitt and Jonathan Weisman. Excerpt: President Barack Obama, looking to pay for his ambitious health-care plan and shore up public support, endorsed a surtax on families earning $1 million a year for the first time Wednesday. "To me, that meets my principle" that the cost of overhauling health care is "not being shouldered by families who are already having a tough time," he said at a prime-time White House news conference.
  • New York Times op-ed: Costs and Compassion. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: The talking heads on cable TV panned President Obama’s Wednesday press conference. You see, he didn’t offer a lot of folksy anecdotes. Shame on them. The health care system is in crisis. The fate of America’s middle class hangs in the balance. And there on our TVs was a president with an impressive command of the issues, who truly understands the stakes. ...

    At one point in his remarks Mr. Obama talked about a red pill and a blue pill. I suspect, though I’m not sure, that he was alluding to the scene in the movie “The Matrix” in which one pill brings ignorance and the other knowledge. Well, in the case of health care, one pill means continuing on our current path — a path along which health care premiums will continue to soar, the number of uninsured Americans will skyrocket and Medicare costs will break the federal budget. The other pill means reforming our system, guaranteeing health care for all Americans at the same time we make medicine more cost-effective. Which pill would you choose?

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.

  • Associated Press, courtesy of the New York Times: Firm Agrees to End Role in Arbitrating Card Debt. Excerpts: The Minnesota attorney general, Lori Swanson, said Sunday that her office had reached a legal settlement that would require a Minnesota company to get out of the business of arbitrating credit card debts and other consumer collection disputes nationwide. The agreement comes less than a week after Ms. Swanson sued a Minnesota firm, the National Arbitration Forum, over its handling of debt disputes between consumers and credit card companies. The lawsuit accused the firm of violating state consumer fraud, deceptive trade practices and false advertising laws by hiding financial ties to collection agencies and credit card companies.

    “To consumers, the company said it was impartial, but behind the scenes, it worked alongside credit card companies to get them to put unfair arbitration clauses in the fine print of their contracts and to appoint the Forum as the arbitrator,” Ms. Swanson said. Ms. Swanson had said the National Arbitration Forum handled more than 214,000 collection claims in 2006, 60 percent of which were filed by law firms with ties to the collection industry.

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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