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Highlights—August 15, 2009

  • Hudson Valley Times Herald-Record: Big Black and Blue. Excerpts: Let's be clear: IBM has every right as a major corporation to look for ways to improve efficiency and maximize profits. Shareholders would argue it has a duty to do so. But — and this is a really big one — it has no right to continue to portray itself as a compassionate corporation dedicated to helping employees realize the American Dream by preserving American jobs. Not as it continues to lay off thousands of workers while also accepting taxpayer dollars in exchange for a promise to preserve American jobs. Assemblyman Greg Ball, R-Patterson, has been making that argument much of this year, calling for a state investigation of deals made between the state and IBM. With no sign of movement on his request, Ball renewed his call last week. "IBM is systematically outsourcing large and complete portions of their overall business while negotiating with local, state and the federal governments for taxpayer-funded benefits," Ball said. ...

    Once upon a time, Big Blue was seen as the savior of the Hudson Valley and regarded as the model of a responsible, not just profitable, corporation. Its employees were well paid and well treated. It's still profitable, but the rest of that image has been tarnished. If it wants to repair its reputation, be more upfront in its dealings, it's unlikely anyone will object. In the meantime, it should stop portraying itself as Big Red, White and Blue.

  • eWeek: Our Lips Are Sealed: More IBM Layoffs. By Don Sears. Excerpts: Big Blue has evidently had layoffs again, mainly in Global Services, but you'd hardly know it from IBM. A company spokesperson gave this statement: "IBM is constantly managing resources as client demands evolve across a base of nearly 400,000 employees." That's like saying ice melts in the sun. The company has laid off an estimated 10,000 employees in 2009 so far, say union officials, who are the only ones keeping track of the data publicly. ...

    While moving work overseas is one way IBM can boost profits, it's certainly a contentious predicament for U.S. workers. And when you add in the secrecy when it comes to publicly talking to stockholders and the general public about layoffs, you end up coming off as if you're hiding something.

    Doesn't IBM owe its employees a little decency? Is it like they never worked there? They weren't doing meaningful, profit-producing work for you? That's sad and rather callous, IBM. Where are the shareholders in all of this? Seems like you are hearing very little dissent from them on this secrecy subject. If it were me, I'd want clear numbers regarding what you are doing with a labor force this large and important to IBM's business. If there ever was a company that is its employees, IBM is that company.

  • eWeek: Reader comments concerning the above article. Selected comments follow:
    • IBM's layoffs are especially troublesome, given the company receives taxpayer monies through many avenues. These include incentives from states like Iowa and New York, property tax relief / abatements beyond the incentives, plus Federal stimulus funds. Data from the layoffs (over the past several years) shows strong evidence of age discrimination. And the company over-rewards its executives with perqs while having ongoing reductions in employee benefits. Is this the kind of company that should be receiving taxpayer money?
    • They should change the company name to India Business Machines. IBM invented offshoring. For that reason, I would never consider a job offer from them, nor do I ever consider them as an IT vendor. I dumped ISS as a firewall management vendor about a year after IBM got there grubby little hands on that company.
    • IBM is a for profit company, and somehow in some people’s minds this makes destroying the American economy further OK, an acceptable cost of business as long as some “shareholders” can make more money. The sad part is that every time a company “cut costs” the stock prices go up which is precisely why they do it.

      I don’t think IBM is losing money, profits may be down, but so are the profits of many, many other companies. This practice in my mind is never acceptable. IBM will eventually pay for it though. I once worked for a company who closed the doors for profit, The plant was in the black making money, lot’s of it! But this “Multi-national” company thought they could get more money by off-shoring. I know a few hundred people who will no longer purchase anything from these weasels or their subsidiaries. And the best thing is, is that this company lost a ton of money, skilled laborers, engineers, technicians and the rest only to find out that the skill set necessary to produce these products is not available overseas.

      I now work for one of the competitors which is privately owned and the owner is aware of the importance of keeping the people with skill sets necessary to produce a FAR superior product and is growing and expanding in spite of the current economic downturn. Some people actually like quality product built and designed by SKILLED people. I for one, will do my darndest to always recommend against using IBM products and personally will no longer purchase IBM products until IBM renews its commitment to being an American business that serves its own people and treats them like the skilled folks that they are.

    • I was just resource actioned out, effective 9/30. Most IBMers in my dept. were also. IBM wanted us out 8/30 but due to business considerations, they were forced to extend it a month. Our work is going to Boulder (to the GDF), mostly populated by Indians. They cannot get the staff and skills they need and we have NO ONE to turn our work over to. But it will happen anyway. There are hundreds of accounts around the world that we support that have no idea their support is about to go kaflooey. IBM is literally insane.
    • IBM is moving people away from "home" offices and back into central offices, like their new center in Dubuque, IA. If you don't want to relocate you'd better be ready to find a new job.
    • I involuntarily left IBM about 3 months ago. They treated me pretty well as far as severance terms, but still, I didn't want to leave. I enjoyed my job, and was widely recognized at being quite good at it. In fact, recently won awards (with cash/stock) for "Innovation", "Contribution", and "Leadership" and was well liked by each and every one of my clients.

      But I was also a senior Band-9, at the top of my pay level, and over 55. I was not alone, many of my coworkers also were "laid off". Most were high Band 9 or Band 10 employees. Many were high achievers with great track records.

      Last week I was approached by a former client in the insurance industry to see if I was interested in a six week consulting engagement. They are unhappy with the experience level of the engagement leader on their latest IBM staffed project, and wanted an independent review and mentoring by "someone who knows our business". Sadly, I had to turn them down due to my severance agreement and employment contract. Had I taken this on I would have lost my severance.

      I understand IBM wants to maintain a healthy profit margin, but in my opinion, they are selling high levels of expertise (senior staff) but staffing with mid-level experience. Client's pay IBM premium rates to get premium people.

      You know, If IBM approached me and said we need to reduce spending and will need to either lay people off or have them take pay reduction, I most likely would have taken the reduction over a lay off. Maybe others would not have, but at least IBM could have asked. Instead, we are being replace by Indian and Chinese nationals... often here on a 1HB visa.

      IBM is it's people. But in the US, its people are running scared (at least those beyond a band 8). I still have close friends at IBM, and more than a few have commented that they'd leave if they could find another position elsewhere.

    • I worked for IBM when the then chairman, Tom Watson followed his father's lead in not laying off employees during the great depression. The Watson's would roll over their graves to see what the greedy SOBs from Harvard Business School have done to their comp
    • The taxpayer dollars they receive certainly are something that should be taken into account, however, why the stockholders sit back and don't seem to care about the millions that Palmisano and his cronies take the company for in salaries and bonuses is beyond comprehension. This is why I'm actually ALL FOR Government intervention in PUBLIC held companies. Somebody has to watch out for the stockholders and, in this particular case, the employees. It's ridiculous. If you have financial obligations of any type, IBM simply isn't a good place to work full-time. It a shame. They could be a GREAT company to work for.
    • Huge numbers of my co-workers including the IBM Regulars were recently let go with their jobs transferred to Bolder, India, and the Czech Republic. A few of us (very few of us) were transferred to work on other projects in the short term (no fixed ending date) but IBM has stated that policy will be that the centers will be in Bolder Colorado, India and the Czech Republic and that's about it for support centers and when the current contracts expire or when they are renegotiated to other centers all of those of us who aren't in these locations will get the boot.

      IBM is a business who's goal is to make money. If someone in another country can do the work at the same quality level for less then they deserve the work. It is important to note that qualifier "at the same quality level". Someone who's sole criteria for getting a job is that they can speak English or whatever other language rather than real technical and personal skills is irresponsible and does a disservice to the clients IBM is trying to service. Clients will have to dictate what they want and negotiate what they are willing to pay for it.

      Do they want a workforce in North America that will cost them monetarily more or outside of North America that will cost them monetarily less but may (and I stress may) have inferior or inadequate skills. Other companies are able to provide the same type of service that IBM does. If a client isn't satisfied they can always go elsewhere.

      Clients decamping from IBM (with their lucrative contracts) would be an indicator to management that maybe the decision to move these jobs elsewhere wasn't a good idea. Any company getting hit in the pocket book learns from their errors or doesn't stay in that business very long.

    • I was laid off on 5/26 from IBM. I was not getting paid much, but my manager hit everyone located in RTP, NC. While I agree it makes business sense that if it costs 60% less to find staff in another country, you are also hurting your own country by continuing, and continuing, and continuing to lay off American workers. IBM will be a small 25k American company within 5 years, and 350k folks overseas. Is this what Tom Watson had wanted? Is Tom Watson Jr still alive?? how about his son, or any family members? I want to see what THEY think. Phooey on big blue -- more like big brown POS.
    • Friends, it is really more like 26 to 30,000 this year. We feel that there will be only about 45,000 US IBM employees left. All under the radar, no headlines saying that they are offshoring many of the big bases - marketing, tech support, et al. It is so sad, and no one knows.
    • The government should cancel all IBM transactions and projects until they start hiring Americans and Permanent Residents. They are getting a lot of tax payer money and yet they still outsource heavily.
  • ComputerWorld: Layoffs could hit 16,000 by year's end. IBM's job cuts, in most cases, appear incremental and regular. By Patrick Thibodeau. Excerpts: There's always a little bit of stealth to IBM's workforce reductions. Layoffs are usually scattered across the country and in numbers small enough to avoid triggering state and federal mass layoff notification laws. And so it was this week, as IBM cut employees from its Global Business Services unit. IBM never comments on its cuts, the size or locations. It never says anything more about the reason for its reductions than it did today, in a note sent via a spokesman: "IBM is constantly managing resources as client demands evolve across a base of nearly 400,000 employees." ...

    "It is not right that IBM continues to keep job cut numbers, locations and divisions secret," said Conrad in an email. "IBM needs to come clean on how many jobs are being terminated as the work is offshored. We call for full transparency." The Alliance@IBM is a Communications Workers of America local that doesn't have enough members to gain official recognition as a bargaining unit. ...

    IBM's annual report, which is due out next winter, will likely sum up the net impact of the company's shrinking U.S. workforce. In 2006, IBM employed 127,000 in the U.S; in 2007, 121,000; and last year, 115,000. Meanwhile, its employment in India, Brazil and other nations has been increasing.

  • LinkedIn: Selected comments concerning the above article follow:
    • I am one of the many IBM employees that was part of the resource action that occurred at the end of April this year. I can confirm that this statement is true: Laid-off employees receive a 30-plus page package that includes what appears to be IBM's standard severance package. The last few pages of these packets usually include a listing of the job title being cut, employee ages and the number of people at a particular age. For instance, "SR Managing Consultant (MGR) 36(1), 37(1), 47(1), 53(1), 57(1), and 59(1). Or Assoc Partner Sales, Mgmt Auth 35(2), 37(1), 38(3), 39(1), 41(1), 46(2), 47(1), 48(1), 49(1), 52(3), 53(1), 55(1), and 56(1)." Although the numbers show that all ages have been cut my gut reaction is that the "Mature workers" IBM claims to want to retain were hit the hardest. I am extremely disappointed in IBM for offshoring more jobs when it is the American worker who made this company into the World Wide organization that it is today.
    • IBM did not cut jobs because of the recession. They saw an opportunity to fix organizational issues and move more people off shore and claim it was due to the recession.
    • This is deja vu all over again. As one of the 'lucky 200k' let go in the 90's, I saw that the 'mature workers' seemed to be a higher percentage as well. Many of our slots went to India. Since our jobs were 'surplussed' and they had the gall to tell us to train our replacements, I hope things are a bit better now. Welcome to the ever growing cadre of ex-IBMers.
    • I was laid off in December because "my job went away". funny enough, a counterpart of mine who is younger and does the same job was retained. Two other employees who are in their 60's were also let go. Age is a factor, I think because our salaries are higher. IBM doesn't focus on retention in my former area (sales) because you can hire a younger person at a much lower salary. They assume these young kids won't stay long, so they move to the cash balance pension plan. IBM is just like every other corporation. btw, Hamish, it is an American corporation that went global. Hence the reference to American workers..
    • I agree with Mr Decker - many companies are using the recession as an excuse to reorganize and get lean. While I think this is overall a good thing, because it will make businesses more efficient, I think in IBM's case the ones making the layoff decisions are the career managers - who, in my experience, are not the most productive people. One of the reasons I left 2 years ago.
    • The church of global free trade, which rules American politics with infallible pretensions, may have finally met its Martin Luther. An unlikely dissenter has come forward with a revised understanding of globalization that argues for thorough reformation. This man knows the global trading system from the inside because he is a respected veteran of multinational business. His ideas contain an explosive message: that what established authorities teach Americans about global trade is simply wrong--disastrously wrong for the United States. For many years Gomory was a senior vice president at IBM. He helped manage IBM's expanding global presence as jobs and high-tech production were being dispersed around the world. The experience still haunts him.
    • As long as we have the various trade agreements sucking our jobs and industries out of America we will continue down the current path of fewer jobs and businesses. It won't stop until our production base is completely wiped out and our standard of living is brought down to those of our trade partners. You can't fault IBM for working within a competitive environment that includes countries that don't abide by the same rules we do. For 200+ years we protected our industries from unfair competition and that was all wiped out with the implementation of the various trade agreements put in place over the last 10+ years. You want to fix the problem? Call your House/Senate Reps and tell them to either end the trade agreements or rewrite them to protect our production base. Otherwise, expect more of the same.
    • It is not just in the US that this is happening. In the 'old' countries of Europe the same relentless drive is taking place. The main criticism I have is that IBM is destroying the loyalty of its employees who in the main work over and above what is required of them. They are in danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
    • In order for IBM to retain their position as best in class they must absorb and hire as many people as possible, get the most out of them that they can and then cut them loose. As recently as less than 5 years ago 50% of the staff had 5 years experience or less. Besides lower wages, no pension load, and no long term commitment people have clearly become a commodity for IBM to use and dispose of at their leisure. To claim people are their greatest asset, lobby for stimulus funds and lay people off in all the same day is an abomination that will catch up to them. How long will it be before that really smart guy from MIT says no thanks to IBM and they lose their proverbial edge.

      Someone responsible at the top will have to say what IBM really stands for and to stop taking advantage of people. This means stop congratulating employees on a great quarter and then announce the next set of layoffs in the same meeting. I am a full believer in the concept of workers at will. But IBM needs to stop the over hiring only to fire cycle that is drowning the morale and standing of this once great company.

    • IBMers....I typically refrain from commenting here with the exception when I see there is something I really need to comment on. I was downsized in August 2001 in the beginning of this massive wave of cuts which IBM has engaged in now for eight years. Thousands of highly competent, well-qualified and extremely talented consultants at all levels have lost their jobs; and it is pathetic. The current cuts only show what I observed as a Senior Consultant on my way to being promoted to Principal, concurrently while being cut and losing my job. And that is IBM has taken their eye off of what made them the premier technology company in the world—they have lost sight of the customer. Instead they are pandering to stockholders and an agenda of offshore interest. Friends, IBM will no longer be even a shadow of itself until, or unless it has an epiphany and rights itself focusing before it sinks itself forever. We, as former IBMers who genuinely enjoyed being IBMers, can only hope that soon, Big Blue will wise up….but I am not holding my breath.
    • Back in 1988, I left a multi-million dollar payout at Intel to go to work for the best company in the world. Just as my parents had for IBM before me, I worked hard for the next 21 years, putting the company first over family time, over personal vacations, and over the proverbial work-life balance. I did it out of respect to a company that promised loyalty to its employees. IBM is not that company anymore. Anyone who continues to work in the current environment should understand that you are nothing to them, Their management structure is out of control, the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Decisions are made in one area with little regard to the effect they will have in another. Loyalty to the employee is non-existent, while demand on those same folks grows more and more. Do I support IBM and its policies anymore? No. My goal is now to do whatever I can to ensure and speed up its demise. I'm just a little guy, but in any business decisions I make, IBM will receive no quarter from me, will receive no consideration whatsoever. They have broken my trust and I will not do business with them. As for my friends who are still at IBM, I wish you the best of luck. You were great to work with, and I hope you do well.
  • Evansville Courier & Press: Companies face heat on welfare modernization. Lawmakers, agencies just want it fixed. By Eric Bradner. Excerpts: Southwestern Indiana lawmakers, hospitals and social services agencies ramped up the pressure on the companies hired to modernize Indiana's welfare agency during a closed-door meeting earlier this week. Family and Social Services Administration Secretary Anne Murphy brought officials from IBM Corp. and Affiliated Computer Services Inc., the companies working on a 10-year contract that now tops $1.3 billion, to Tuesday's meeting so they could hear from those who are affected by the problems plaguing the new system. "We wanted them to see the importance of turning this ship around, face to face," said FSSA spokesman Marcus Barlow. "We wanted them to talk to the people who are dealing with these issues every day." ...

    Beyond better serving clients, the state has added motivation to improve. Though it's not clear how much the fine would be, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has threatened a penalty if Indiana does not reduce its error rate. "One of the reasons we've kind of put a lot more pressure on IBM as of late is because of that," Barlow said. Crouch said it was clear at Tuesday's meeting that anger toward IBM and ACS is building, and that the companies "had not been living up to what they said they would be able to deliver."

  • Austin American-Statesman: IBM falling behind on data center work. State agencies complain of delays, poor service under $863 million contract. By Kate Alexander. Excerpts: IBM Corp. appears to have fallen far behind in its massive, $863 million effort to consolidate the data centers of 27 Texas state agencies. A December completion date looms for IBM and its partners to get all the agencies' data center operations into two streamlined and upgraded facilities, a project that is intended to improve security and save money. To reach that goal, a total of 619 computer servers were supposed to have been moved to the consolidated centers between January and July, according to the Department of Information Resources. But only 75 servers had made that move as of July, the department reported.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Raises?" by "this_dog_dont_hunt66". Full excerpt: I hear that IBM has notified it's contract companies that it is cutting rates by 10% effective immediately. Must need a little more fuel to make that $9.70 / share this year. Doesn't matter who they need to hurt in order to get there.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Raises?" by "Michael". Full excerpt: What hasn't been mentioned here is market based compensation. At least a couple of years back IBM started paying increases to bring employees closer to what that job skill was worth in the market. So people with salaries at the top of their band or outdated skills stopped receiving raises and those lower down in the heap and with more marketable skills started getting larger raises. This could explain why some 2+ and above folks got no raises.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Raises?" by "sby_willie". Full excerpt: IBM did away with the market based adjustments (MBA) this year. I doubt you'll see it come back in 2010 or beyond. I think the MBA was a one shot deal: a retention carrot so to speak just to keep some folks around and on board until their offshoring staffing plans came in to better focus. As for PBC 2+ folks getting no raise this year then if that is the case then PBC 1 folks next year will probably not get any raise in 2010. IBM would definitely do this if the almighty EPS is not what they want it to be. IBM says their employees are their most valued investment but they are making less and less investments in their employees. The recent raise pool proves this out.
  • Feminist Peace Network: Excellent Court Victory For Abused Immigrant Domestic Workers. Two women brought to the United States to work as nannies won a moral and financial victory in court last Friday when a jury awarded them $125,000 in back wages and other damages. The couple that hired them lost on five counts, including violations of federal labor and trafficking laws.

    Alejandra Ramos and Maria Onelia Maco Castro were recruited in Peru by Javier Hoyle, an IBM executive, and his wife, Patricia Perales. The couple hired them to care for children. Once they were brought to the United States, the promised $7 per hour for 8 hours a day of work and benefits did not materialize. Not only were the women paid less than minimum wage, but their duties so substantially expanded that they were cooking and cleaning in addition to childcare. They ended up working at the employers’ beck and call from 15 to 19 hours a day, six or seven days per week.

    The Hoyles had the women sleep in a converted closet next to a smelly trash chute in the Key Biscayne residence. They withheld the women’s passports and visas and constantly threatened each with deportation, denunciation and arrest if they tried to escape. Ms. Ramos, who has diabetes, was not paid for five months before she left, sick and distraught, never having received the medical insurance the Hoyles had promised. The jury found that the couple engaged in trafficking, acting with “malice or reckless indifference.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: IBM executive loses case" by "ibmretiree2006". Full excerpt: In an error in 2004, a file containing salaries within IGS of a particular group was sent to me (nickname mistype). The GM of a group within ITS (about 500 employees) was making $248K a year. And again, that was 2004....
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: IBM executive loses case" by "lastdino1". Full excerpt: There is a large overlap in the upper bands. A band 9 will run from $100-$175 with a band 10 range in the $150 - $220 range. Directors and E levels take off from there. Also stock options and a different bonus grids comes to play. VP usually get contracts with various perks and salary incentives. 1st lines under a band 9 usually cap out at $80-$100 unless they are high fliers. If you want salary growth then you need to sell your soul to the man. Simple as that.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: IBM executive loses case. Full excerpt: Randy said that this was a test case to see if IBM could in fact treat regular employees in a similar manner. He said the consultants and attorneys are still reviewing options to see if there is a way for IBM to retain US workers without having to pay for benefits, salaries and other things that impact the bottom line. He further stated that all appropriate steps will be taken to maximize executive compensation regardless of what the workers or courts say.
  • The News (Portsmouth, UK): IBM staff wait for a 'kick in the teeth'. By Adam Kula. Excerpts: IBM, which employs around 5,000 people in North Harbour, is seeking to make changes which look set to cut the amount of cash retired workers can claim. More than 250 staff have flocked to enlist in the Unite trade union in response to the plans, which have whipped previously placid workers into a state of anger. Ian Woodland, 48, regional organiser for the Unite union, said: 'In about two weeks the membership has about quintupled. 'We're well into three figures, where we used to have only a handful of members. 'We've got a workforce which has been very loyal to IBM, and they feel that they're being discarded. ...

    'The mood is very much they want to persuade IBM to change its mind. Many of them were key to assisting the company out of its own difficulties a few years ago. 'It feels like a kick in the teeth. 'A lot of companies are looking at this, but what sets IBM out is it's not a struggling company. 'It announced a couple of weeks back its latest results, which were the best for this quarter its ever had.' The company said in a statement that it was making the changes to 'maintain competitiveness in the market-place and introduce greater predictability to long-term pension provision costs'.

  • The Register (United Kingdom): IBM UK facing 'backlash' over pension snuffing. By Cade Metz. Excerpts: Unite - Britain's largest union - has warned IBM UK of a coming "backlash" from thousands of employees over its decision pull a prime pension plan out from under 28 per cent of its workforce. In early July, the company shelved its Defined Benefit or "final salary" pension scheme, which would have guaranteed retired employees a predefined portion of their final salary.

    "IBM is facing a backlash against its pensions proposals," reads a statement from Peter Skyte, Unite national officer for IT and communications. "Hundreds of workers are joining the union determined to stand up to this unacceptable attack on their pensions. These highly skilled and experienced staff were key to the company’s survival and they view the company's proposals as a kick in the teeth. "IBM is a highly profitable company with substantial revenues and cash reserves. But it is using the recession as a cloak to close its pension schemes to existing members and further line the pockets of its shareholders and senior executives at the expense of its loyal workforce." ...

    Unite estimates that IBM employees in their mid-50s could lose up to £200,000 thanks to the change in pension schemes and that it will push between 700 and 1000 employees into early retirement before April 2010. Fujitsu recently made a similar announcement and it's now facing an industrial-action ballot by Unite. An IBM UK spokesman declined to discuss the matter. "IBM is in a process of consultation as required by law during which time employees will have the opportunity to ask questions and send feedback on the proposals," he said. "It would be inappropriate to discuss further during this consultation period."

  • ZD-Net Asia: Tech Jobs Now! AIX Voice support. 17,951 Tech Jobs in India. Excerpt: Remote Technical Support Skills Profile for AIX The candidates are expected to work effectively in providing post sale remote technical Support for the AIX operating system and technical consultation for US customers. Good Understanding of the AIX OS and its commands. Sound AIX troubleshooting and problem determination skills Experience Architecting & Administering AIX systems Managing clustering for high availability using HACMP Configuring AIX systems using LVM, LPAR's incl profile admin for dynamic re-allocation of resources Fine tuning of AIX OS for optimal performances Incorporating new systems into existing environment during hardware scaling/expansions Managing OS commands, utilities, kernels, patch applications, paging, swaps, inter-process communications, updating device drivers File systems administration Familiar with the AIX Printing Subsystem Capacity/performance monitoring/analysis/planning at AIX level Good skills in TCP/IP protocol, network applications and IP Configuration
  • Huffington Post: No One's Minding the Store. By former Senator Fritz Hollings. Excerpts: Henry Ford developed the middle class in America by doubling the minimum wage, providing health care and retirement benefits for his employees. We in public service trusted business to look out for the economy. After all, business knew how best to protect its investment and the nation's economy. As General Motors' Charlie Wilson said: "What's good for General Motors is good for the country." That's when business depended on the nation's economy.

    Globalization changed all that. Now business doesn't necessarily depend on the economy of the country where it is headquartered. Globalization is nothing more than a trade war with production looking for a country cheaper to produce. Business now looks to the economy of the cheaper country, with GM, Intel, and Microsoft not only locating research and production but awarding community grants in China. The problem with the economy is that Congress has yet to cope with this change. We in Congress got so used to relying on Corporate America to tell us their needs; to tell us the needs of the nation's economy, that we forgot that the economy was -- not the responsibility of business -- but of the Congress.

    Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution calls on Congress to regulate trade. Any hint of this responsibility is avoided by Congress doing what Corporate America counsels -- free trade, avoid protecting the economy. As Henry Clay said of free trade: "It never existed ... it never will." But all in Congress go along with the charade. We Democrats, particularly in the Senate, can repair a major flaw in our political armor by becoming pro-business, chanting "free trade," and doing nothing to have the nation compete in globalization. Investment, research, development, jobs, trade -- literally the economy -- follows production offshore. Congress has no idea how to do anything to stop the job loss from offshored production and strengthening the economy unless the president calls for it. ...

    Serving in the state legislature in Illinois and just two years in the United States Senate before running for the presidency, President Obama hardly ever debated trade or voted on trade. In the presidential race the nearest they got to a debate on trade was that NAFTA was a flawed agreement. But there was never any understanding or debate about the cause of offshoring. Everybody was for jobs, but no debate of the loss of jobs to offshoring, the real loss of the nation's economy. With Larry Summers in charge of the economy for President Obama, "mum" is the word on offshoring. Summers has just completed an appearance on Meet the Press to discuss the economy and jobs. Not a word about offshoring. Yet the Princeton economist, Alan Blinder, warned in February 2007 that in the next ten years the United States would lose thirty to forty million jobs to offshoring. When Summers was questioned on Meet the Press about a stimulus that was "supposed to create three to four million jobs when all is said and done," Summers never suggested anything to slow or stop an average loss of three to four million jobs to offshoring each year for the next seven years. ...

    As Adlai Stevenson said, it is time to talk sense to the American people. We already have government health care and are rationing health care in the United States. The government provides Medicare for the senior citizens; Medicaid for the poor. The government subsidizes health care for business. The government provides health care for the veterans. And the "free market" rations health care from children and working America that can't afford it. The debate should be on how government can better provide and ration. Once and for all, let's do away with outmoded ideas about "protectionism" and "free trade." The fundamental of government is to protect. Our nation was founded on protectionism. And enough of this trade charade of entrepreneurship and innovation -- windmills and diploma mills -- educate, educate. We're producing a BMW in Spartanburg, South Carolina, of equal quality as one produced in Munich, Germany. In fact, Intel used South Carolina's technical training program to get its Dublin, Ireland, plant up and running. The educated and skilled in the United States are without jobs. It's the president and Congress who need to be educated.

  • Selected reader comments concerning Senator Hollings column follow:
    • Great article by Senator Fritz Hollings. I am a libertarian conservative, however, this is something that all people who call themselves Americans hyphenated or otherwise need to organize around. Politicians in both political parties (especially Republicans) have literally sold our country down the drain. Free trade and globalization has been at the core of the economic crisis. Real household wages have declined 25 percent since 1973. Factoring in the fact that an increasing number of households have more than 2 people working, the As incomes have declined, people have been forced to buy imported goods and eventually, borrow huge sums of money to maintain their standard of living. As a result, many people have been caught in an never ending cycle of borrow and spend. It is clear that Republican ideas such as tax cuts only provide temporary relief. If they were the solution, we wouldn't have been through 4 recessions since 1981, right? Let's get together and demand that our representatives pass the TRADE ACT (HR 3012) that will force the government to report and then renegotiate NAFTA, the WTO and other trade agreements we find ourselves in. It won't solve our problems, but it is a first step. Hollings is 100% correct. protectionism is not a dirty word and it is what we should be doing.
    • Senator Hollings: what's good for IBM is good for ... India.
    • Well said. Thank you for your post, Sen. Hollings. "It took me years in public service to learn of Corporate America's greed -- its lack of patriotism." That was the bit that got me. We always hear about how "unpatriotic" it is to oppose free trade and to be in favor of appropriate regulation. In a curious reversal of the old "biting the hands that feed you" adage, we now see people so willing to lick the hands that choke them.
    • Senator Fritz... you are brilliant. You took a rather complex subject and spelled it out eloquently and compellingly. We should also make sure that companies that materially and massively offshore - particularly in the current economic crisis - do not receive any stimulus or Federal government work.

      For example, at IBM in 2002 there were 240,000 US employees = 80% of it's Global workforce. Offshore jobs have reached 283,000, or 71% of IBM's 398,000 total. The US workforce has shifted from 80% to a mere 29%. And IBM isn't done offshoring - per yesterday's article in ComputerWorld, IBM has laid off 10,000 US workers this year, estimated to grow to 16,000. A recent Wall Street Journal article titled "As Slowdown Drags On, IBM Looks to Governments for New Growth " - the article does a great job of spelling out why un-patriotic, profit-hungry companies like IBM should be banned from Government work and rewards.

      Now all you need to do is get your speech out to main street press, then into the Big House of Congress. URL's to those articles: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124891414229992099.html www.computerworld.com/s/article/9136360/IBM_union_Layoffs_could_hit_16_000_by_year_s_end

  • The Nation: The Establishment Rethinks Globalization. By William Grieder. Excerpts: The church of global free trade, which rules American politics with infallible pretensions, may have finally met its Martin Luther. An unlikely dissenter has come forward with a revised understanding of globalization that argues for thorough reformation. This man knows the global trading system from the inside because he is a respected veteran of multinational business. His ideas contain an explosive message: that what established authorities teach Americans about global trade is simply wrong--disastrously wrong for the United States.

    Martin Luther was a rebellious priest challenging the dictates of a corrupt church hierarchy. Ralph Gomory, on the other hand, is a gentle-spoken technologist, trained as a mathematician and largely apolitical. He does not set out to overthrow the establishment but to correct its deeper fallacies. For many years Gomory was a senior vice president at IBM. He helped manage IBM's expanding global presence as jobs and high-tech production were being dispersed around the world.

    The experience still haunts him. He decided, in retirement, that he would dig deeper into the contradictions. Now president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, he knew something was missing in the "pure trade theory" taught by economists. If free trade is a win-win proposition, Gomory asked himself, then why did America keep losing? The explanations he has developed sound like pure heresy to devout free traders. But oddly enough, Gomory's analysis is a good fit with what many ordinary workers and uncredentialed critics (myself included) have been arguing for some years. An important difference is that Gomory's critique is thoroughly grounded in the orthodox terms and logic of conventional economics. That makes it much harder to dismiss. Given his career at IBM, nobody is going to call Ralph Gomory a "protectionist."...

    Now Gomory is attempting to re-educate the politicians in Congress. He has gained greater visibility lately because he has been joined by a group of similarly concerned corporate executives called the Horizon Project. Its leader, Leo Hindery, former CEO of the largest US cable company and a player in Democratic politics, shares Gomory's foreboding about the destructive impact of globalization on American prosperity. Huge losses are ahead--10 million jobs or more--and Hindery fears time is running out on reform. ...

    The Gomory-Baumol book describes this as "a divergence of interests" between multinational firms and their home country. "This overseas investment decision may then prove to be very good for that multinational firm," they write. "But there remains the question: Is the decision good for its own country?" In many cases, yes. If the firm is locating low-skilled industrial production in a very poor country, Americans get cheaper goods, trade expands for both sides and the result is "mutual gain." But the trading partners enter a "zone of conflict" if the poor nation develops greater capabilities and assumes the production of more advanced goods. Then, the authors explain, "the newly developing partner becomes harmful to the more industrialized country." The firm's self-interested success "can constitute an actual loss of national income for the company's home country." ...

    As this shift of productive assets progresses, the downward pressure on US wages will thus continue and intensify. Free-trade believers insist US workers can defend themselves by getting better educated, but Gomory suggests these believers simply don't understand the economics. "Better education can only help," he explains. "The question is where do you put your technology and knowledge and investment? These other countries understand that. They have understood the following divergence: What countries want and what companies want are different." The implication is this: If nothing changes in how globalization currently works, Americans will be increasingly exposed to downward pressure on incomes and living standards. "Yes," says Gomory. "There are many ways to look at it, all of which reach the same conclusion." ...

    Essentially, Gomory proposes to alter the profit incentives of US multinationals. If the government adds rules of behavior and enforces them through the tax code, companies will be compelled to seek profit in a different way--by adhering to the national interest and terms set by the US government. Other nations do this in various ways. Only the United States imagines the national interest doesn't require it. ...

    Gomory's vision of reformation actually goes beyond the trading system and America's economic deterioration. He wants to re-create an understanding of the corporation's obligations to society, the social perspective that flourished for a time in the last century but is now nearly extinct. The old idea was that the corporation is a trust, not only for shareholders but for the benefit of the country, the employees and the people who use the product. "That attitude was the attitude I grew up on in IBM," Gomory explains. "That's the way we thought--good for the country, good for the people, good for the shareholders--and I hope we will get back to it.... We should measure corporations by their impact on all their constituencies.

  • Topeka Examiner: IBM's first personal computer. By Patricia Hysell. Excerpts: The IBM personal computer is released. IBM model 5150 ran IBM BASIC/ PC-DOS 1.0 as the operating system. Other microcomputers were already on the market. IBM's major competitors were Commodore, Atari, Apple, and Tandy. IBM came out with a desktop computer, the 5100, in 1975. It was an all-in-one machine with the computer, monitor, keyboard, and data storage in one piece for ≈ $20,000 ($87,000 in 2009 USD). The 5100 was designed for professionals and scientific "problem-solvers" and not for business or personal use. Trying to break into the home market, IBM assembled a specific team to quickly design a personal computer. The Project Chess group was based in Boca Raton, Florida with Don Estridge directing the twelve member team. They designed their computer in a year by using "off the shelf" parts from a variety of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The team chose to use an already developed IBM monitor and an existing Epson printer. They used an open architecture, allowing for other companies to produce peripheral components.
  • ZD-Net: Use H-1B or L-1 workers? Prepare for a Federal audit! By Brian Sommer. Excerpt: Well, looks like the Feds are going to get around to auditing the firms that use L-1 and H-1B visas. Specifically, they’ll be verifying that the people who applied for these permits are who they purport themselves to be, that they are working where they said they would be and that their employers are paying them correctly (i.e., prevailing market wages). If the applicants and their sponsors did things by the book, there should be no surprises or problems.

    However, these audits are occurring because there has been fraud in the visa process at some firms. If some frauds have been found without audits, I’ll bet more will be discovered now. According to an InfoWorld piece 21% of visa petitions violate regulations/program rules.

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    • Comment 08/08/09: W3 News: Published on 05 August 2009 Making bench expectations clear. Announcing the new bench management approach.

      Our GBS "3D" strategy continues to resonate with clients, and the depth of our expertise and offerings positions IBM as a clear choice in today’s market environment. However, to remain competitive, we must continue to provide clients with compelling solutions for their business; focus on execution; stay informed of the changing market environment; seek out new client relationships at every level, and finally, make every hour count. What each of us does every day translates directly into overall business results and drives our collective success. Utilization is one of the key drivers of business results in any services organization - the deployment of the right skills, at the right time to support client needs and our ability to efficiently use our capacity to drive continuous productivity across our practice. Extended bench time negatively impacts our ability to remain competitive in the marketplace and directly impacts a practitioner's personal utilization – a key PBC measure.

      Therefore, GBS U.S. is announcing a new approach to the management of practitioners on the bench who are underutilized for an extended period of time. The new approach is based on individual time on the bench and utilization as a performance measure. Referred to as the Bench Management Process (BMP), this process will provide practitioners with low productive time and no planned full-time assignments with a consistent and clear set of expectations and deployment activities. For the very small percentage of our population whose productive time falls below established threshold levels and continues to remain there for an extended period as specified by the process, one of the outcomes could be separation from IBM.

      The Bench Management Process is a collaborative effort which will require attention and clear communication involving the employee, the RDM, the manager, and the HR Partner to be successful. Managers will personally contact employees who meet the BMP criteria to discuss the process in more detail. Qualifying BMP criteria: Band 1 through 9 practitioners with annual utilization targets, currently on the bench with less than 50% productive time in the most recent 8 weeks, and no full-time assignments confirmed in the next 30 days

      Exceptions: All university hires (undergrads & MBAs) for first 6 months and all experienced professional hires for first 8 weeks

      Bench is defined by an availability date in the past. Productive time is comprised of productive utilization (funded B&P and internal projects), cost recovery, billable and/or chargeable utilization as well as any vacation, leave-of-absence, short-term disability, and manager-approved education hours. Productive time is comprised of productive utilization (funded B&P and internal projects), cost recovery, billable and/or chargeable utilization as well as any vacation, leave-of-absence, short-term disability, and manager-approved education hours. -IGS Slave-

    • Comment 08/09/09: fellow Dallas call center Reps, "Soon to be resourced IBM call center rep's" There is no 'Hoping to Stay". The deal is done on the move to Co. OPT in the Class action overtime law suit. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 08/09/09: Well guys, I am now shot of IBM and I can say things are better on the outside. Less neurotic and people can focus on doing their job as they are not permanently harassed by management. I increased my base pay 40% and have a proper bonus structure now. IBM was keen to keep me and tried to fix my pay/bonus to keep me on board- of course this was nothing to do with PBCs or my age, just that I had $25m of business lined up for which they'd have struggled to replace me. It Greenbacks or Rupees that speak now I am afraid. If you are good my advice is get out. -Big Z-
    • Comment 08/09/09: Well great example, moved to new position in may but paperwork did not sign before june 1st so they put me in for layoff. I worked my butt off in june as it was quarter close. Resource board extended me 30 days. I applied for another role in a different group interviewed got the job and they said resource board had to approve. They rejected it saying I was not from their dept. so they could not take me. It even says in the paper work you are given to go look for another job somewhere else in the company you do that and you still don't stay@!!! so needless to say my extra 30 days are now up and out looking for a job. Pretty sad to look and see EVERYONE has jobs available in different countries but not to many here in the USA....... -Anonymous-
    • Comment 08/09/09: Re: RA's getting another job in IBM but "rejected" by Resource Board. Same happened to me. My friend keeps insisting there is a law suit in this practice, he can't believe this is legal. We are essentially discriminated against because we've been labeled "RA". If nothing else, couldn't this (encouraging employees to find another job knowing they won't be hired) abusive, or intentionally inflicting emotional harm? The hiring managers should KNOW BEFORE they post the job what the Resource Board will and won't allow. That they are doing this AFTER the person is selected reeks of discrimination, slander, or libel. Someone should get a lawyer to look into this. There is a strategic reason why IBM tries to make us think there is a chance, hope, etc. when there is less than a 1% chance of getting kept, if that. -Silly Willy-

      Alliance reply: Read my lips: YOU ARE AN AT WILL EMPLOYEE. IBM can do anything it wants to do. IBM can break its own rules or suborn its own policy. There is NOTHING illegal about how the "Resource Board" executes IBM policy. There are NO LABOR LAWS that cover this. Wake up! Sorry to be so harsh. Organize your co-workers and work toward a union contract. It will not be easy. IBM will fight you at every step and turn; but if you are organized as a collective voice, you can fight back as a collective voice and NOT BE ALONE! It's YOUR call.

    • Comment 08/10/09: Congrats on the awesome publicity with the Computerworld article! Just a suggestion - for all here who are no longer employed by IBM- if you're on Facebook, post a link to that article on your profile with a short personal note about how layoffs have affected your life. Again - look at the power of numbers -FB is a great way to broadcast information widely by working the multipliers. Lee - is it permissible for the Alliance to start a FB group? Current employees wouldn't join publicly but its just one more (free) way to get the word out that employees do have a way to fight back by unionizing. -Gal Friday-
    • Comment 08/11/09: IBM to offshore all AIX call center positions. All AIX Support soon to be answered by India. Call center support employees not notified by management of new job postings in india. I wonder how the multi-million dollar contracts with companies like Wells Fargo and various others are going to feel when they are left out in the cold. http://www.zdnetasia.com/techjobs/jobs/0,3800009332,44952863p,00.htm -anonymous-
    • Comment 08/11/09: IBM is blatantly discriminating against older and skilled US workers. Now that IBM laid me off, I keep getting emails from recruiters for IBM who are finding my resume on the Internet. They are calling me because my qualifications match MULTIPLE jobs that IBM is hiring for. Every time I respond back to the headhunters and inform them that I used to work at IBM, I never hear from them again. Since my certifications and skills are obviously among those that IBM is recruiting for, this is pure discrimination. -LaidOFFUSWorker-
    • Comment 08/11/09: Anonymous re: AIX Support .. a little bird told me there are 18 thousand people about to be affected by those jobs reqs. The little birdie works in AIX support stateside & has been advised of same. Luckily he's not yet affected. Sad state of affairs. -BlueBlows-
    • Comment 08/11/09: I am shocked they would outsource the AIX support jobs, because those people have a unique skill set. How can they find those skills? I am in shock and amazement that these highly technical skills that took years to acquire are available on the street for hire in India. -anonymous-
    • Comment 08/11/09: Gal Friday, et al....LinkedIn is another tool for us, many current IBMers use Linked in and not FaceBook. There is a reference to the ComputerWorld Post in one of the IBM groups that is receiving a lot of interest and comments. The specific group name is " The Greater IBM Connection: IBM's alumni program for past and present IBM employees", then look under NEWS tab. Currently there are 19 comments. -anonymous-
    • Comment 08/12/09: Another HR Policy deemed toward cutting expenses and/or encouraging people to look elsewhere. O/T pay for Band 6/7 has been reduced to nothing in most of Canada as of Feb. 6th, 2010. Mass email went out end of day. -west coast canada-
    • Comment 08/12/09: I was asked to cancel my conference calling numbers, which I did, and my tie-lines which I did. Now I am being asked to meet so I can get my checks and hand over the separation agreement. In addition, I am being told, there are other documents to sign. I asked these documents be sent to me, so I got them faxed. These are a statement of understanding (IBM confidentiality), and another one which is more financial, states balances owed etc, where all my numbers are 0. Couple questions folks, Do I have to sign these extra documents - other than the separation agreement to receive my checks ? Do I have the option of not signing the "Statement of Understanding" ? Do I have to meet with my manager ? Why can't I just ship him their assets - and after that they send me my checks in the mail ? Why the insistence on meeting ? Logical answers please. -MN-
    • Comment 08/12/09: To LaidOFFUSWorker, remember that just because IBM has US job postings, it does not necessarily mean they will consider filling it with a US worker. They use these postings to 'prove' to the gubmint that they considered US workers and could not find anyone qualified. Shamefully, your job application becomes their legal 'proof' that a US worker was considered -- and of course they don't even read your application. That qualifies IBM to hire an H1B visa holder on the cheap. This video of a law firm explaining the H1-B program exploitation game to execs is eye opening. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCbFEgFajGU -Discarded '09-
    • Comment 08/12/09: MN: Are you remote? I had the choice between having a meeting with a local manager I had never met or doing it all by phone. The latter was my choice of course! If you are local, I believe the managers are being asked to evaluate if you are going to a) sue them, b) rant to the news or c) be a good IBM employee and take your severance like a good little boy. My manager thanked me multiple times for being "professional" about it the whole time. I suggest being calm and positive when you're talking with your manager. That will reassure him that you're not going to be one of those angry RA'd HR needs to be worry about. Believe me, the sooner you get away from IBM's red tape, the better. If you don't owe anything it won't kill you to sign the statement of understanding and yes, you need to sign the extra documents to get your severance check. I got them sent by UPS two day and sent them back the same way. Once I signed the documents and my manager got confirmation that my computer was due to arrive, my checks arrived the next day by UPS. --
    • Comment 08/12/09: >>Do I have to meet with my manager ? Why can't I just ship him their assets - and after that they send me my checks in the mail ? Logical answer -- no. It depends on your manager. However, since my manager FIRED me over the phone, read from a script whilst FIRING me, couldn't deviate from the script and had to start over when interrupted (I kid you not), sent me a box to ship back my computer only after an uproar was raised about the FIRED employees having to supply their own boxes, and sent me my checks in the mail, and otherwise did everything in the most demeaning, bloodless, disrespectful, -MN-, you can consider it a mark of humanity that your manager is meeting with you over your FIRING. My manager had no humanity.
    • Comment 08/12/09: "Do I have the option of not signing the "Statement of Understanding" ? Do I have to meet with my manager ? Why can't I just ship him their assets - and after that they send me my checks in the mail ? Why the insistence on meeting ? Logical answers please. -MN-" You don't have to meet your manager in person. When I left IBM, the day I was suppose to drive 3 hours to meet my manager, I called in sick as that was my last day at work. I was instructed to send in all IBM assets paid by IBM postage by next day delivery. 2 weeks later I received my checks. I didn't have to sign any sort of paperwork though. -LeftAtMyOwnWill-
    • Comment 08/12/09: Remember all the IBMers sold off like slave to ATT about 2 years ago? What is ATT doing to them? Well, ATT will let around 700 of the 1200 go by 2/1/10! These former IBM employees will train their replacements. The new low cost ATT offshore employees of choice, Czechoslovakia! IBM and ATT worked well together to betray American workers, with the IBM/ATT deal! Time for Americans to take stand against job offshoring! We all can't be congressmen teachers or nurses! -IBMslaveSold2 ATT-
    • Comment 08/12/09: IBM replacing US Finance and Reporting with resources in India. Staffing reps based in RTP were laid off around May 09 timeframe. Team now supporting US recruitment are based in India. -RTP-
    • Comment 08/12/09: TO MN -- I don't know about having to sign the other forms but I do know you don't have to go in for the exit. Ask them to overnight the forms. Sign and overnight back. Then they overnight checks. I refused to be humiliated any further. And I know others who refused to go in because of long commutes for a 3 minute meeting. -annonymous-
    • Comment 08/12/09: The practice of phony job postings when they already have an Indian lined up for the position is nothing new. Six years ago when looking for a job, twice I was told by the managers that they already had someone for the position who was just waiting for his visa and the job posting was just a 'formality' (their exact word both times). -not missing ibm at all-
    • Comment 08/12/09: RE: AIX support offshored I think the original post/link referred to the AIX Support that handles the phones on the other side of 1-800-IBM-SERV. I don't believe it was in regards to US employees currently supporting IBM clients using AIX. So when you need call IBM support to find out why some AIX command bombed out, you'll spend 2 hours just trying to communicate the problem to the person on the other end. I wonder what levels of support they're offshoring - I know whoever takes the initial information has limited English. But when I get to level 3, it's obvious they are US based. -anonymous-
    • Comment 08/12/09: MN--there is no simple reason for a face to face meeting with a manager to receive your severance pay. I was RA'd earlier this year and they flew in someone from Arizona over 2000 miles to give me my checks and to top things off he was Indian. -ANON-
    • Comment 08/12/09: The reason they are outsourcing AIX jobs is because a lot of the people in India are being trained heavily in Smitty. While Smitty is a good tool, that's all it is... a tool. The Indians will be able to operate with Smitty knowledge for a while, but it will become evident very quickly that they have no deeper knowledge of AIX or even UNIX in general when the complex situations arise that require understanding above and beyond Smitty administration. It's a house of cards. So glad I'm out! -OuttaThere-
    • Comment 08/12/09: MN...Everything in my RA was done remotely - I mailed in my signed forms, returned my laptop a few days before and the guy receiving it sent my manager an email. Then my manager overnighted my checks to me. I even OFFERED to come see him in person, look him in the eye,make it as personal as possible - maybe get some inside scoop (after 5 years of accolades) on WHY ME - but he said that wasn't necessary. Would have been a 2 hour drive one way so the mail route was OK. -silly willy-
    • Comment 08/12/09: I deal with IBM's own Indian and South American admins, I have never felt better about myself and my skills in AIX, but that won't stop the bean counters from replacing me -Aix support-
  • General Visitor's Comment page
  • Pension Comments page
    • Comment 08/09/09: Actually if you are lucky to just make the Quarter Century Club IBM might as well give you a "bullseye" shirt to wear so to speak as your anniversary gift! IBM doesn't want you to make 30 years or work till your 55 years old. They want to do everything to stop you from getting the FHA and any enhanced pension annuities. By doing so they make more profits and more profits means more stock option value for Sam and the Armonk posse. I believe their are a lot of folks RA'ed that made the Quarter Century Club only to be be RA'ed soon thereafter. -30years?-
  • 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 08/09/09: Band Level = 7; This Yr-PBC = 2+; Years Service = 10; Hours/Week = 50+; Location = Canada; Message = I heard a rumour that IBM Canada is going to eliminate overtime pay for band 6 and 7's. Also, band 8 pager pay is out the window. So its work for free now boys and girls. Give up your weekends and family time to work for free for IBM. Gotta make those CEO bonuses even higher. Well, I for one am not going to do my bit. If they think I will work for free they are dreaming. -Anonymous- Alliance reply: That has already taken place, a long time ago, here in the states. IBM must be just getting around to it in Canada. Please contact our partners in Canada at http://www.cwa-scacanada.ca/index_EN.shtml
    • Comment 08/09/09: Salary = $139000 USD; #Yrs Since Raise = 1+; %Raise = 0; Band Level = 10; This Yr-PBC = 2; Job Title = IT Architect; Years Service = 10+; Hours/Week = 70+; Div Name = S&D; Location = USA; Message = I am told by my manager that I am a "top contributor" in my business unit. I bust my butt working most evenings and weekends to do my "regular" job plus other projects plus many types of giveback. My reward is getting a 2 PBC for last year, no raise this year, and about 60% of my incentive pay YTD. I shudder to think what the non-"top contributors" are getting.

      I am slipping more into debt each year because my compensation has decreased over 15% in base pay, in real dollars, in the past five years and my overall compensation over 30%. Yet I am contributing more than ever to the success of my team and IBM overall. My incentive pay is now based on profit, which I have almost no direct control over. But profit for my BU, IMT, IOT, and brand has been strong this year. The contempt IBM executives hold for its employees is unbelievable. They set team members in competition with each other for the few dollars in our incentive pay pool. Rather than being incented for teaming for the benefit of clients and IBM, it's everyone for himself/herself. All I need is a decent offer from a decent company and I am gone. Morale on my team is low; I expect many others would leave today if they could find jobs. -GoingBrokeFast-

    • Comment 08/11/09: Salary = 58K; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; %Raise = 1; Band Level = 6; This Yr-PBC = 2; Job Title = Consultant; Years Service = 3; Hours/Week = 50+; Div Name = 16; Location = Washington, DC Message = Sick of the endless politics, boot licking, lack of real work/life balance and well below market pay. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 08/13/09: I quit IBM over a year ago without another job. Just got sick of everything about the company. I was the "go to" person in my department because I was one of the only people that could figure out how to do some things, but as always when it came time for PBCs and raises, there was never anything left. The only raise I got in 4 years was a 3% band promotion for the great job I did. I mean 3%?? For a promotion? The final straw was when we had to start tracking every minute of the day through some stupid time tracking software. I remember my boss telling me "now, if you get up and get a cup of coffee, you need to set your time category to "break". I thought to myself, "crap, 25 years of working as a professional (CPA) and now I have to keep track of my time when I want to take a dump". What a joke! I took about a year off completely from work and will start a new "career" soon. Obviously, I'm not saying that people should just quit if they can't afford to, but for God's sake get out of that hell hole and find something else. You'll be happy you did. -FormerIBMer-
  • PBC Comments
    • Comment 08/14/09: I got called by my manager and manager informed me I need to "work more productively and generate more earnings for the business". The tone of the meeting was like I wasn't doing my job well anymore and needed marked improvement ASAP. I was a PBC 2 last year after working harder and signing more contracts than the years before when I always got a 2+. So now I'm tempted to not complete my PBC this year since it sure sounds like the BEST I can do and it might be a stretch miracle to get is a 2 but it sounds like I'm solidly pegged for a 3 . Why bother with the PBC now? I doubt the variable pay pool will amount to little if anything next year based on what I heard this years raises were for those who got anything.Why waste my time and get myself berated? I'm tired of this stupid process. -Anonymous-
  • International Comments
    • Comment 08/10/09: Country = Canada; Union Affiliate = CWA; Canada Job Title = IT Specialist; IBM Division = Doesn't matter; Message = I posted this on another board on this site. IBM Canada will be moving to eliminate overtime pay for band 6 and band 7 employees in January 2010. Also, band 8 employees will no longer be paid for carrying a pager. It feels great to be a valued asset of IBM doesn't it? -Anonymous-
    • Comment 08/12/09: Country = Canada Union Affiliate = none Job Title = I/T Specialist IBM Division = Global Services Message = Previous comment regarding eliminating overtime was confirmed in an announcement last night. Effective February 2010.

      Subject: Changes to the Additional Compensation (AddComp) Policy and Hours of Work

      Over the past several years, there have been a number of changes, both within the marketplace and provincial labour legislation, specifically with respect to overtime compensation. Our market research shows that more and more companies are aligning to provincial overtime exemptions and more than half of our competitors do not pay overtime to equivalent IBM roles in the marketplace. As a result, IBM’s current policies place us at a disadvantage when competing for new business. The changes we are announcing will improve our competitive position and contribute to the long-term health of our business – something which will benefit all IBM employees and shareholders.

      To better align to provincial legislation regarding overtime eligibility, IBM has reviewed job roles and determined that additional Band 6 and 7 roles are classified as exempt and therefore are not eligible for overtime compensation. Additionally, we are changing Band 8 eligibility for Standby pay and are updating the Hours of Work policy to reflect the current environment and IBM's pay-for-performance culture.

      Effective February 6, 2010, the following changes will be made in regards to overtime eligibility and standby pay. Overtime Eligibility The following roles have been classified as exempt and will no longer be eligible for overtime compensation:

      • All Band 7 roles in Saskatchewan
      • All Band 6 and 7 roles in Quebec, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland
      • All Band 6 and 7 technical roles in Ontario, Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Alberta
      • All Band 7 non-technical roles in Ontario, Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Alberta

    • Comment 08/13/09: Country = UK; Union Affiliate = No; Job Title = Snr Software Developer; IBM Division = Hursley Lab; Message = Anyone here from UK? I am an unemployed programmer..the only job offer I have had is from IBM for a contract position...don't want to work at IBM but nothing else is available. The hiring manager said he wants me to go permanent in 6 months (but can't guarantee how long the job will last still) Anyone know how much a band 7 software developer pay range is? -Slave-
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
Minimize
  • New York Times op-ed: Is Obama Punking Us? By Frank Rich. Excerpts: Yet there is real reason for longer-term worry in the form of a persistent, anecdotal drift toward disillusionment among some of the president’s supporters. And not merely those on the left. This concern was perhaps best articulated by an Obama voter, a real estate agent in Virginia, featured on the front page of The Washington Post last week. “Nothing’s changed for the common guy,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been punked.” She cited in particular the billions of dollars in bailouts given to banks that still “act like they’re broke.”

    But this mood isn’t just about the banks, Public Enemy No. 1. What the Great Recession has crystallized is a larger syndrome that Obama tapped into during the campaign. It’s the sinking sensation that the American game is rigged — that, as the president typically put it a month after his inauguration, the system is in hock to “the interests of powerful lobbyists or the wealthiest few” who have “run Washington far too long.” He promised to smite them. ...

    As Democrats have pointed out, the angry hecklers disrupting town-hall meetings convened by members of Congress are not always ordinary citizens engaging in spontaneous grass-roots protests or even G.O.P. operatives, but proxies for corporate lobbyists. One group facilitating the screamers is FreedomWorks, which is run by the former Congressman Dick Armey, now a lobbyist at the DLA Piper law firm. Medicines Company, a global pharmaceutical business, has paid DLA Piper more than $6 million in lobbying fees in the five years Armey has worked there.

    But the Democratic members of Congress those hecklers assailed can hardly claim the moral high ground. Their ties to health care interests are merely more discreet and insidious. As Congressional Quarterly reported last week, industry groups contributed almost $1.8 million in the first six months of 2009 alone to the 18 House members of both parties supervising health care reform, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer among them.

    Then there are the 52 conservative Blue Dog Democrats, who have balked at the public option for health insurance. Their cash intake from insurers and drug companies outpaces their Democratic peers by an average of 25 percent, according to The Post. And let’s not forget the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, which has raked in nearly $500,000 from a single doctor-owned hospital in McAllen, Tex. — the very one that Obama has cited as a symbol of runaway medical costs ever since it was profiled in The New Yorker this spring.

    In this maze of powerful moneyed interests, it’s not clear who any American in either party should or could root for. The bipartisan nature of the beast can be encapsulated by the remarkable progress of Billy Tauzin, the former Louisiana congressman. Tauzin was a founding member of the Blue Dog Democrats in 1994. A year later, he bolted to the Republicans. Now he is chief of PhRMA, the biggest pharmaceutical trade group. In the 2008 campaign, Obama ran a television ad pillorying Tauzin for his role in preventing Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices. Last week The Los Angeles Times reported — and The New York Times confirmed — that Tauzin, an active player in White House health care negotiations, had secured a behind-closed-doors flip-flop, enlisting the administration to push for continued protection of drug prices. Now we know why the president has ducked his campaign pledge to broadcast such negotiations on C-Span. ...

    It’s in this context that Obama can’t afford a defeat on health care. A bill will pass in a Democrat-controlled Congress. What matters is what’s in it. The final result will be a CAT scan of those powerful Washington interests he campaigned against, revealing which have been removed from the body politic (or at least reduced) and which continue to metastasize. The Wall Street regulatory reform package Obama pushes through, or doesn’t, may render even more of a verdict on his success in changing the system he sought the White House to reform.

    The best political news for the president remains the Republicans. It’s a measure of how out of touch G.O.P. leaders like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner are that they keep trying to scare voters by calling Obama a socialist. They have it backward. The larger fear is that Obama might be just another corporatist, punking voters much as the Republicans do when they claim to be all for the common guy. If anything, the most unexpected — and challenging — event that could rock the White House this August would be if the opposition actually woke up.

  • New York Times: And You Thought a Prescription Was Private. By Milt Freudenheim. Excerpts: MORE than 10 years after she tried without success to have a baby, Marcy Campbell Krinsk is still receiving painful reminders in her mail. The ads and promotions started after she bought fertility drugs at a pharmacy in San Diego. Marketers got hold of her name, and she found coupons and samples in her mail that shadowed the growth of an imaginary child — at first, for Pampers and baby formula, then for discounts on family photos, and all the way through the years to gifts suitable for an elementary school graduate. ...

    Like many other people, Ms. Krinsk thought that her prescription information was private. But in fact, prescriptions, and all the information on them — including not only the name and dosage of the drug and the name and address of the doctor, but also the patient’s address and Social Security number — are a commodity bought and sold in a murky marketplace, often without the patients’ knowledge or permission.

    That may change if some little-noted protections from the Obama administration are strictly enforced. The federal stimulus law enacted in February prohibits in most cases the sale of personal health information, with a few exceptions for research and public health measures like tracking flu epidemics. It also tightens rules for telling patients when hackers or health care workers have stolen their Social Security numbers or medical information, as happened to Britney Spears, Maria Shriver and Farrah Fawcett before she died in June.

  • New York Times: A Primer on the Details of Health Care Reform. By Rober Pear and David M. Herszenhorn. Excerpts: With the debate over the future of health care now shifted from Capitol Hill to town halls, supporters and critics of the Democrats’ legislative proposals are polishing their sound bites and sharpening their attack lines. Increasingly, the battle looks like a presidential contest, with expensive advertising campaigns and Internet-driven efforts to mobilize local support. It can be difficult to sort fact from fiction, as angry protesters denounce the legislation at raucous public forums. ...

    Many Republicans view fighting the president as a smart political strategy, turning a potentially wonkish debate over Medicare reimbursement rates and subsidies for the uninsured into an ideological battle over the government’s role in health care. Each side hopes to win ground by boiling down one of the most complex policy discussions in history into digestible nuggets. For beachside viewers who might be more interested in iced-tea service than fee-for-service, here is a guide to the main fight points.

  • New York Times: Under Pressure on Health Care, White House Fights Back. By Jim Rutenberg and Jackie Calmes. Excerpt: The White House on Monday started a new Web site to fight questionable but potentially damaging charges that President Obama’s proposed overhaul of the nation’s health care system would inevitably lead to “socialized medicine,” “rationed care” and even forced euthanasia for the elderly. But in introducing the Web site, White House officials were tacitly acknowledging a difficult reality: they are suddenly at risk of losing control of the public debate over a signature issue for Mr. Obama and are now playing defense in a way they have not since last year’s campaign.
  • Huffington Post: Is Health Care Reform About to Go the Way of No Child Left Behind? By Arianna Huffington. Excerpts: The White House is in full scramble mode, trying to walk back last week's reports that the administration had struck a deal with Big Pharma promising to remove from its health care overhaul the ability of Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. But they can't walk back two essential facts: 1) the drug industry has drawn an $80 billion line in the sand -- that's the maximum amount of cost cutting it'll accept before withdrawing its support for health care reform, and 2) during the campaign Obama promised to repeal the ban on negotiating with drug companies, predicting it would result in as much as $310 billion in savings. So even if the White House didn't explicitly promise to take price negotiations off the table, by agreeing to Big Pharma's $80 billion ceiling they've effectively done just that (the $150 million ad campaign the drug industry has promised to run in support of the president's health care plan only adds to the stench). And if the right to negotiate drug prices is dead, so is the chance for meaningful reform.

    The White House has now shown itself willing to cave on the two essential elements of real health care reform -- drug price negotiations and having a public option. Both are crucial to containing costs. The right to negotiate drug prices is how free markets operate -- taking advantage of economies of scale and the bargaining power that comes with bulk purchasing. To give this up should be abhorrent to anyone who believes in a functioning capitalist system, as opposed to what we are increasingly becoming: an oligarchy of powerful interests. In the same way, having a public option is the only meaningful way to provide competition leading to lower insurance costs. Giving us health care reform without those key ingredients is like serving a PBJ sandwich without the peanut butter or the jelly.

  • New York Times op-ed: Gunning for Health Care. By Gail Collins. Excerpt: Thanks to the health care protests over the past week, the nation seems to have come to a fragile consensus on a few critical issues. For instance, government-run death panels — not good. And, Nazis — nobody likes them. Interestingly, we do not have any agreement at all on the question of whether it is a good plan to bring a gun to a gathering of angry and overwrought people. To be honest, I thought we might be able to nail this one down. But no.
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.

  • Here is the City (United Kingdom): Trader Spends $90m On House (Including Personal Golf Course). Excerpts: No matter that around 25,000 traders are thought to have lost their jobs in the current downturn, and that those in a job are worried if they will ever see a decent bonus again, but some financial markets professionals are still rocking. The Wall Street Journal reports that many of the smaller US trading firms, like First New York Securities, have taken on competent traders from investment banks, as the latter have scaled back on risk and found that they have more front office staff on their hands than they know what to do with. First New York, for example, is said to now employ around 225 traders, and over 50 were taken on in the last 12 months from firms like JPMorgan and UBS.

    Another trader the newspaper says is doing well is Steven Schonfeld, the owner of trading firm Schonfeld Group Holdings. Schonfeld has already bagged around 20 traders from bigger rivals in the last year, and is said to be looking for at least a dozen more. And he is doing rather well himself - making around $200m last year. In fact, Schonfeld is said to have recently spent some $90m on a new mansion near Long Island Sound, which has its own 9-hole golf course. And the Journal also says that construction work is underway on the grounds to build 'a poolside cabana designed to look like the Cove Atlantis resort in the Bahamas'. Nice.

    And does Mr Schonfeld let anyone else play on his golf course ? Apparently not. 'It's not a private golf course', he told The Journal. 'It's a personal golf course'.

  • AARP: Don't Let the Myths About Health Care Reform Scare You. Excerpt: There are special interest groups trying to block progress on health care reform by using myths and scare tactics. Like the notion that health care reform would ration your care, hurt Medicare or be a government takeover. Actually, these are false statements. All of the health care reform plans currently being debated in Congress would ensure that you and your doctor are the ones making decisions about your health. The majority of working Americans will continue to receive their health care through their employer. In addition, health care reform will strengthen Medicare by eliminating billions of dollars in waste while lowering prescription drug prices.

    Throughout the debate on how to fix what's broken about our health care system, AARP pledges to help you cut through the noise and find the facts about what health care reform means for you and your family. When we see special interests using scare tactics, we'll make sure you're given the facts so you can make informed decisions about health care reform. The following are some of the most common myths being spread about health care reform and the facts that prove them wrong.

  • New York Times editorial : Health Reform and Small Business. Excerpt: The impact on small businesses has become a flashpoint in the increasingly raucous debate over health care reform. Trade associations are charging that the pending bills — which would require all businesses to provide coverage to their employees or pay a penalty — would place a huge financial burden on their members. Republican leaders are doing their best to inflame the fears and opposition of small business owners. These proprietors would be wise to ignore the rhetoric and take a closer look. A vast majority of small businesses and their workers are likely to benefit greatly. They should be supporting, not opposing, reform.
  • Families USA: Costly Coverage. Premiums Outpace Paychecks. Excerpt: Over the past decade, the cost of health insurance has skyrocketed, while working families’ wages have merely inched upward. As the recession lingers on, this situation continues to worsen. Reduced hours and job losses have left millions of families struggling to afford their share of premiums and millions more with no coverage at all. The combination of stagnant wages and rising health care costs is placing a growing strain on family budgets, and many families have reached a breaking point. Quite simply, America's families are being priced out of health coverage.

    In addition to higher premiums, working families now face higher out-of-pocket health care costs, such as higher deductibles, copayments, and costs for services that are not covered by their insurance plans. As a result, health care costs are consuming an ever-larger portion of family budgets. It is clear why many families feel worse off economically than they did a decade ago. These state reports, which are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, examine what these trends mean for America’s working families.

  • White House: Health Insurance Reform Reality Check.
  • New York Times: Republican Death Trip. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: This opposition cannot be appeased. Some pundits claim that Mr. Obama has polarized the country by following too liberal an agenda. But the truth is that the attacks on the president have no relationship to anything he is actually doing or proposing. Right now, the charge that’s gaining the most traction is the claim that health care reform will create “death panels” (in Sarah Palin’s words) that will shuffle the elderly and others off to an early grave. It’s a complete fabrication, of course. The provision requiring that Medicare pay for voluntary end-of-life counseling was introduced by Senator Johnny Isakson, Republican — yes, Republican — of Georgia, who says that it’s “nuts” to claim that it has anything to do with euthanasia.

    And not long ago, some of the most enthusiastic peddlers of the euthanasia smear, including Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, and Mrs. Palin herself, were all for “advance directives” for medical care in the event that you are incapacitated or comatose. That’s exactly what was being proposed — and has now, in the face of all the hysteria, been dropped from the bill. Yet the smear continues to spread. And as the example of Mr. Gingrich shows, it’s not a fringe phenomenon: Senior G.O.P. figures, including so-called moderates, have endorsed the lie. ...

    So much, then, for Mr. Obama’s dream of moving beyond divisive politics. The truth is that the factors that made politics so ugly in the Clinton years — the paranoia of a significant minority of Americans and the cynical willingness of leading Republicans to cater to that paranoia — are as strong as ever. In fact, the situation may be even worse than it was in the 1990s because the collapse of the Bush administration has left the G.O.P. with no real leaders other than Rush Limbaugh. The question now is how Mr. Obama will deal with the death of his postpartisan dream.

    • Editor's comment: Over 300 reader comments to Mr. Krugman's column are available here. They are better stated and more enlightening than the sound bites you've seen on television from congressmen's town hall meetings.
  • New York Times: False ‘Death Panel’ Rumor Has Some Familiar Roots. By Jim Rutenberg and Jackie Calmes. Excerpt: The stubborn yet false rumor that President Obama’s health care proposals would create government-sponsored “death panels” to decide which patients were worthy of living seemed to arise from nowhere in recent weeks. ...

    But the rumor — which has come up at Congressional town-hall-style meetings this week in spite of an avalanche of reports laying out why it was false — was not born of anonymous e-mailers, partisan bloggers or stealthy cyberconspiracy theorists. Rather, it has a far more mainstream provenance, openly emanating months ago from many of the same pundits and conservative media outlets that were central in defeating President Bill Clinton’s health care proposals 16 years ago, including the editorial board of The Washington Times, the American Spectator magazine and Betsy McCaughey, whose 1994 health care critique made her a star of the conservative movement (and ultimately, New York’s lieutenant governor).

  • New York Times: Thousands Line Up for Promise of Free Health Care. By Jennifer Steinhauer. Excerpts: They came for new teeth mostly, but also for blood pressure checks, mammograms, immunizations and acupuncture for pain. Neighboring South Los Angeles is a place where health care is scarce, and so when it was offered nearby, word got around. For the second day in a row, thousands of people lined up on Wednesday — starting after midnight and snaking into the early hours — for free dental, medical and vision services, courtesy of a nonprofit group that more typically provides mobile health care for the rural poor. ...

    The enormous response to the free care was a stark corollary to the hundreds of Americans who have filled town-hall-style meetings throughout the country, angrily expressing their fear of the Obama administration’s proposed changes to the nation’s health care system. The bleachers of patients also reflected the state’s high unemployment, recent reduction in its Medicaid services for the poor and high deductibles and co-payments that have come to define many employer-sponsored insurance programs. Many of those here said they lacked insurance, but many others said they had coverage but not enough to meet all their needs — or that they could afford. Some said they were well aware of the larger national health care debate, and were eager for changes. “I am on point with the news,” said Elizabeth Harraway, 50, who is unemployed and came for dental care. “I think the president’s ideas are awesome, and I believe opening up health care is going to work." ...

    Ana Maria Garcia, who works for Orange County, has health insurance that covers her husband and 3 ½-year-old daughter, but her dental deductibles are too high for them all to get care, she said. Ms. Garcia’s husband, Jorge, who was laid off from his custodial job last October, arrived from their home — a 90-minute drive away — at 4 p.m. on Tuesday to get the family’s spot in line. But the Garcias’ number never came up, so they slept in their car for a few hours and lined up again early Wednesday morning, awaiting a chance to get root canals and cleanings that Ms. Garcia figured were worth thousands of dollars. They made a friend in the bleachers outside, who gave the family some coffee and hot biscuits for breakfast. ...

    For those willing to endure the long waits, the arena was like a magical medical kingdom, where everything was possible once a person got through the door. Mike Bettis, who runs security for a nightclub in Hollywood, and his fiancée, Lourie Alexander, who cleans homes, said they usually went on Craigslist, exchanging a home cleaning for a dermatology appointment. By Wednesday, the couple had gotten between them dentures (him); a breast exam, Pap smear and general physical (her); and acupuncture (both). “What I liked about it was that everyone was so sweet,” Ms. Alexander said. “You know when you haven’t seen a doctor in so many years you have a lot of questions.”

  • Newsweek: Medical Tourism Appeals to 60 Percent of Americans. Are You One of Them? By Johannah Cornblatt. Excerpts: This February, a 26-year-old Californian woman and her mother boarded a Continental flight for Costa Rica. When they arrived at the Sán Jose International Airport, a driver in a white van picked them up and took them to the five-star Intercontinental hotel. But the woman (who asked only to be identified by her first name, Jessica) hadn’t traveled to the city known as the Big Pineapple only to relax by the pool. She had flown more than 2,500 miles to undergo a weight-loss surgery—for a fraction of the price back at home. Including airfare and accommodations (for her and her mom), Jessica saved $7,500 by choosing to go under the knife in Sán Jose instead of San Diego. “I thought it was such a good deal,” says Jessica, who needed to lose weight for medical reasons. ...

    More than 20 percent of Americans surveyed by Your Surgery Abroad had no medical insurance. But Karen Timmons, president and CEO of Joint Commission International, a nonprofit that has accredited more than 250 hospitals in 36 countries, says that Americans who are underinsured are more likely to go abroad for surgery than those who are not insured at all. That’s because insurance companies will typically cover some portion of the cost for underinsured patients while uninsured patients, who also tend to make less money, have a harder time coming up with enough cash to cover the procedure, the flights, and a hotel room on their own, Timmons says.

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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