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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—February 20, 2010

  • ZD-Net Australia: IBM to offshore 150 jobs, says union. By Colin Ho. Excerpts: The Australian Services Union (ASU) claimed today that IT giant IBM is planning to offshore jobs from a number of its operations centres to China and India. The union had been contacted by a number of employees who informed it of the move, according to the union's branch secretary Sally McManus. The workers had said the changes will affect around 150 jobs from systems operation centres located in Baulkham Hills and Cumberland Forest in Sydney, as well as Clayton in Melbourne. The positions would be moving to offshore centres located in Bangalore, India and Shenzhen, China, McManus said. ...

    ZDNet.com.au contacted IBM on the truth of the allegations. "There have been no announcements in the areas put forward, but IBM continues to rebalance its skills and capabilities to meet the changing needs of our clients," IBM spokesperson Matt Mollet said, but would not comment further on the issue.

    The Baulkham Hills centre the union believed to be affected was involved in strike action just over a year ago, which attempted to obtain better conditions. Workers were now in the midst of negotiating a collective agreement with the company, McManus said. "It's pretty low of [IBM] to make these people redundant after they've been negotiating a collective agreement," she said.

    McManus believed IBM has been using lawyers to delay the hearings in order to finalise deals with the offshore companies. "They employed very expensive legal representatives who have been using technicalities to delay the hearings," she said.

  • Glassdoor: IBM Global Service Reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • IBM Global Services Anonymous: (Past Employee - 2009) “Laid Off”. Pros: Work flexibility; great for the stock holders and for the execs and their stock options; Cons: Tops down edicts to cut headcount regardless of an employee's value to the business or ability; the bean counters are running the business and line management has no input; ruthless in moving experienced, higher paid employees out of the business and hiring overseas in BRIC countries; Advice to Senior Management: You are losing valuable experience in the States and replacing it with inexperienced foreign workers who cannot match the quality of work produced by American workers; clients are complaining and this will eventually bite you in the ass.
    • IBM Global Services Consultant in New York, NY: (Current Employee) “It is easy to get lost in the shuffle at IBM.” Pros: There are some great benefits (health, vision, dental) at IBM. People come from all sorts of backgrounds and it lends to a nice experience in diversity. Cons: Opportunity for growth seems very limited, as the company is so large. This leads to certain managers playing favorites. It is easy to get lost in the shuffle. Advice to Senior Management: On a certain level, there does not seem to be enough layers of management. Someone who had very little detail of my day-to-day activities completed my yearly review, which lead to his/her making vast assumptions. This lead to a poor review. I believe I was given a rating just to fill a quota within the ratings brackets.
    • IBM Global Services Senior Project Manager in Charlotte, NC: (Current Employee) “Used to be a Great Place to Further Your Career”. Pros: Lots of talented people; great networking; competitive salary and benefits package; lots of free education on line; flexible working conditions including work from home Cons: You are only a number; you get pigeonholed in an area and it is very hard to move on; education in a classroom setting is very restricted; penny pinching seems to abound (removal of reimbursement for internet access; reduced expense allowed for phone calls; removal of the Thanks award program); always waiting for the next resource action induces a lot of stress. Advice to Senior Management: Treat your resources as people versus just a number who can be discarded; Before outsourcing work, ensure capable workers are available so that the US people left, do not have to spend most of their time 'cleaning up' the mess left behind by untrained, unqualified workers.
    • IBM Global Services IT Architect: (Current Employee) “Real hands-on talent (people who actually get the job done) are not recognized and properly rewarded” Pros: Brand name recognition - Good benefits - Good opportunity to work with new technology Cons: Too much politic - Incompetent high-level manager - Real hands-on talent (people who actually get the job done) are not recognized and properly rewarded - 'Get-in-line' style promotion - Stupid give-back activities weigh too much in the professional review. Advice to Senior Management: Back to the basic - focus on keeping the real talent in technology.
    • IBM Global Services Senior Managing Consultant in New York, NY: (Current Employee) “IBM review” Pros: Good for internal jobs; benefits still pretty good; lots of opportunities to work from home; easy to coast if you want to - not an up or out mentality. Cons: The pay is terrible if you're a consultant, traveling and working long hours. Too-large overhead staff are subsidized by client-facing consultants, who get no increased compensation or bonus for the additional work they do compared to internal staff. Advice to Senior Management: Focus on building consulting skills and practice vs. AMS. Differentiate between top performers and those who have been band 8's for 20 years.
    • IBM Global Services Commodity Category Manager in Mobile, AL: (Current Employee) “IBM hiring in this area” Pros: Good benefits, pay is good not the best Cons: poor senior management, only interested in bottom line, don't really understand how to manage a BTO operation, ask a lot of questions and get answers in writing before hiring on. Advice to Senior Management: Listen to people and change the way you compensate BTO personnel. No incentive to do this job in BTO.
    • IBM Global Services Anonymous: (Current Employee) “IBM Global Services” Pros: The best reason for working at IBM GS are the fantastic people who do the impossible day in and day out. Cons: IBM in the US is not a "Growth" country so there is not much investment in people here. Wall Street focus on earnings and the need to remain competitive in a Global Market forces a mindset of moving all work to BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China). That is good for those countries, but bad for America. Advice to Senior Management: People are our Company's most important asset. Start looking for ways to stop the job loss in America and quit treating employees as a commodity.
    • IBM Global Services IT Architect in Raleigh, NC: (Past Employee - 2008) “Stepping Stone” Pros: Good place to learn technical basics. Good access to technical tools. Unfortunately there just aren't very good reasons to work for IGS. Cons: Too many management layers. Promotion and raises heavily dependent on how good you are playing office politics. Too many under performers that drag down the good workers. Too many first line and second line managers that simply go through the motions. Very little personal responsibility and accountability. Promotions go to those who avoid responsibility. Common game, is for "senior" technologists to avoid direct work assignments but "assist" lower band workers. Often the senior technologist provides no value, but implicitly is given credit if the project succeeds, and completely avoids accountability if the project fails. Advice to Senior Management: Learn what leadership actually is. If you don't intend to make IBM a career, don't spend more than 6 years as an IBM manager. Many companies toss out resumes that show too much IBM management experience. Knowing how to manage in IBM is just not that valuable outside of IBM.
    • IBM Global Services Senior Consultant: (Current Employee) “Do not work here” Pros: It's a job and a recognizable name on your resume. Cons: No advancement. Pushed into lower and lower roles. Reviews are political not merit based. People receiving good PBCs, compensation increases, bonuses are Partner favorites (personality based, not strength of work). Advice to Senior Management: Start allowing traveling consultants to have a work life balance.
    • IBM Global Services Anonymous: (Past Employee - 2009) “out source” Pros: good start for an IT career. Cons: soon or later jobs will be outsourced to off-shore for cheaper labor. Advice to Senior Management: there should be some kind of 'automated' job matching for those that are being laid off, since there are so many jobs posted on IBM career site - so why not keep the talents you have instead of look else where...
    • IBM Global Services Grads - Best to Quit After A Few Years Experience: (Current Employee) “Graduates really don't get a good deal” Pros: 1) Looks good on CV; 2) Potential to work on different client sites; 3) Meet some really decent people; 4) Can get experience in different areas. Cons: 1) Salary is awful, with 3+ years experience, expect to be getting £500 more than new grads with no experience; 2) PBC reviews encourage backstabbing, no loyalty to other colleagues; 3) If you don't undertake 'giveback' (e.g. free work for IBM) you are penalised in the PBC reviews; 4) If you only have 'average' utilisation and don't work for free, you are penalised in the PBC review. Advice to Senior Management: You spend thousands on the graduate program and want to get the best, yet once in IBM, the consultants don't seem to matter any more. Focus on retaining the employees you have with better development options and salaries that aren't in the lowest 12% of consultancy firms.
    • IBM Global Services IT Specialist: (Current Employee) “Great early years, then bad recent years” Pros: Early years had great education and experience potential. Companies for contract work by Global Services are big names and fascinating customer accounts. Great software and other methodology and processes. Great heath care plans for singles with low cost, but it gets very expensive for family. Cons: This decade saw biggest reduction or elimination of benefits for Americans. No education fund, frozen traditional pension for employees and nothing for new hires, eliminating work from home, massive reduction in force (layoffs) in 2009 (over 10,000 mostly Americans) and announced that 2010 to be about the same. Advice to Senior Management: IBM - you are eating your children. When the economy turns around, who will fill the contracts in the USA? Oh, right. You have already been importing Indians for a long time on the H-1B and the L1 visa (no cap) to take our jobs here. Next will be displacing the project managers. Having trouble staffing Iowa?
    • IBM Global Services Consultant: (Past Employee - 2009) “Mis-Management at its peak” Pros: Excellent exposure to a wide variety of clients and their business needs. Great intranet sites that help you overcome most hurdles. Cons: Poor Management with no concern for good work put in. Lack of pro-active customer oriented initiatives thus losing out on potential customers. Bad paymasters. Advice to Senior Management: Like all previous posts, please relook at the number of managers per resource. The hierarchy is too complex to decipher.
    • IBM Global Services Partner: (Past Employee - 2009) “Incredible capabilities but US career growth is limited” Pros: IBM can accomplish amazing things when it puts its collective shoulder to the wheel - applying consulting insight, real original thought leadership from IBM Research and a sales organization that is focused on customer success. When those capabilities are aligned, some real transformative work can be accomplished and can be a "once in a career" opportunity. Cons: For most situations, IBM has put innovation and business insight off to the side and focused on lowering the cost of service delivery, which means providing more services remotely from India (and where ever else labor arbitrage will lead), less US-based consultants, but more stress on the consultants that remain, increased reliance on sub-contractors and limited opportunities for career growth here in the States. Competing on cost rather than quality increases the risk of "troubled" projects and, with the flat economy, there is no job security at any level. Advice to Senior Management: Tell the truth to your employees - IBM is global business with little concern about the well being and long term career plans of the US employees. So be it.
  • ComputerWorld: Obama says stimulus helps keep IT jobs onshore. By Patrick Thibodeau. Excerpts: The White House claim today that the U.S. has created or saved about 2 million jobs as a result of federal stimulus spending is not evident as far as IT is concerned -- not yet at least. President Barack Obama talked about the impact of the stimulus today to mark the one-year anniversary since signing the Recovery Act, which set aside $787 billion in spending and tax cuts. ...

    Layoffs have left a lot of ground to cover, and nearly all the major tech companies have cut their workforces. One bellwether company, IBM, is due to release its 2009 annual report this month with updated worldwide employment figures, and it may show a U.S. workforce decline of 115,000 to 105,000 for the year, according to testimony by a company official in November before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections.

    An IBM spokesman said today that this U.S. workforce figure is accurate through October.

    IBM employs about 400,000 globally. In 2007, IBM employed 121,000 in the U.S., but has increased at the same time its hiring in India and other overseas markets.

    "You cannot have an economic recovery when good paying information technology jobs are slashed in the US, the workers terminated and the work shifted offshore," said Lee Conrad, national coordinator of the Alliance@IBM/CWA Local 1701, a union that has been trying to organize IBM workers. "These are the jobs workers trained for when the manufacturing jobs were offshored," Conrad said. "Now these jobs are going to low cost countries. You also can not have an economic recovery when these workers see their jobs disappear and their wages vanish."

  • Los Angeles Times: A Roadmap for killing Social Security. By Michael Hiltzik. Excerpts: Like a zombie tromping through a Hollywood gorefest, the idea of privatizing Social Security still walks among us. The last promoter of the idea that people should personally invest their Social Security assets in the stock market was President George W. Bush, in 2001. With the dot-com crash still ringing in people's memories, the idea died in 2005.

    The market hasn't yet recovered from its most recent crash, but the monster unaccountably is back on its feet. This time it comes dressed up as part of the "Roadmap for America’s Future" recently unfurled by Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), the ranking GOP member of the House Budget Committee. The Roadmap is a retort to the charge that the Republican Party contributes no ideas to the national debate on fiscal issues, only "no" votes in Congress. It's a road map to the dismantling of federal social programs under the guise of making them fiscally sound, while cutting taxes for the rich. (The plan eliminates taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends.)

    Social Security comes in for particular abuse. Ryan states that "Social Security's shrinking value and fragile condition pose a serious problem. . . . To maintain the program's significant role as a part of the retirement security safety net, Social Security's mission must be fulfilled . . . without bankrupting future workers."

    One doesn't want to be picky about an elected congressman's words, but with all due respect, these words are pure bilge. They come straight from the talking points of Social Security's historical enemies: conservatives who have never believed that the government should play such an important role in people's retirement planning, and mutual fund and insurance companies that hanker for the business generated by millions of Americans looking for a profitable place to park their retirement assets.

    Social Security's value to the average American isn't "shrinking" -- it’s expanding. In 1962, it accounted for 30% of the income of Americans aged 65 and older; in 2007 that figure was 36%. (These numbers come from the Social Security Administration.) Given what's happened to most families' financial assets since 2007, the percentage probably is even higher today. Its "fragile condition"? Social Security runs an annual surplus and has done so since 1983; no other government program can make that claim. Read more...

New on the Alliance@IBM Site
  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 2/15/10: I was RAed past April and have not been on this site for a few months. Now reading all this, i could not feel happier, that i am out of this whole degenerate ibm 'culture' for good. I work freelance now and make more than i did after 10+ years at ibm.. Don't hold on to your jobs, and take abuse and lies, LEAVE! There will never be any kind of justice, if you have not figured it out yet. -Happy-
    • Comment 2/16/10: IBM will carefully time the next round of RA's to maximize the jump that will happen in the stock price since Wall St. likes to hear of layoffs so investors like the executives will be better able to exercise their stock options for max value. If the RA's don't improve the stock price then the IBM board of directors (they make over $220,000 for about 250 hours of work a year) will allow another stock buyback to boost the stock price to take care of executive stock options. Investing in the employee in IBM is a myth. Investing in greed is a truth in this IBM. -IBMpawn-
    • Comment 2/17/10: Re: IBM has eliminated the Thanks program. Did it without an announcement to employees or management That's actually not true. Granted, there was no e-mail announcement, but it was actually posted on the Thanks Awards website in early 2009 that 2009 would be the last year for it. It's just that nobody reads that kind of stuff. I agree, an email announcement should have been made in 2009, but they did communicate it, just in a half-assed way. -anonymous-
    • Comment 2/19/10: A reminder for all fairly recently RA'ed IBMers in regards to continuing health benefits coverage under IBM: Make sure you allow 2 WEEKS processing TIME if you send your monthly COBRA premium by mail! If you pay by personal check your payment needs to be received before the end of the grace period specified on your invoice to avoid having your coverage dropped. I submitted my invoice payment on 2/4/2010 and my check still hasn't cleared according to my bank statement. I then called the IBM ESC and they do say the check was received and has been processed on 2/18/2010(!). So if I sent the check by mail in at the middle or end of the month I could have run the risk of having my COBRA coverage dropped. -snaked-
    • Comment 2/19/10: There have been many Burlington, Vermont permanent employees recently separated from IBM for receiving a "3" PBC rating for the second consecutive year. If history repeats itself they will be contacted by HR in about 6 months in an attempt to rehire them as Supplemental (LTS, Complimentary) employees. Was also told by Maintenance 1st level manager that IBM Burlington plans to hire college graduates from Vermont Technical College (VTC). You guessed it, they too will be SUPPLEMENTAL positions. Not sure why Vermonters are afraid to join the union, guess they have no balls. I'm starting to regret starting a factory up here....... -Tom Watson Jr. III -
    • Comment 2/21/10: Tom Watson Jr. III: One would logically think that IBM would only rehire back the PBC 2's and higher as supplementals and contractors. For this IBM, which is definitely far from your father's IBM, to rehire back the PBC 3's whom this IBM has branded as "needs improvement, did not make business commitments, of the lowest contributing performers", even though most of these folks objectively did much better for this IBM, would show just how atrocious and pathetic the PBC process is, as an appraisal system. But then again this IBM might be so desperate as a cheap a$$ company that they will rehire anyone as a lowest paid supplemental or contractor.

      This IBM would probably go the junior college hire route in VT this time around if I had to make a guess (I wouldn't be surprised that not even a GED is needed to work for this IBM now if IBM can pay training or minimum wage just to save a few pennies).

      Your father would be appalled seeing how this IBM continually cuts it's employees down and lavishly rewards its middle and upper management, executive, and even the Board of Director ranks. Your father was a leader. Of course your grandfather was. Both were much better men than any of the so-called leaders this IBM has running (or should I say "ruining"?) the company today.

      Sam Palmisano and the rest of his inner circle of executives, cronies, and captains would not be around under your father's watch. Your father and grandfather were at least fair, and valued employee loyalty and commitment. Thus, the cause for employees organizing was not really a consideration since they did what they could to keep the IBM employees content and proud to work in their IBM. Sadly, this IBM doesn't. Tom III: are you in favor of this IBM organizing? I hope your father and grandfather are resting in peace. Again, they were much the better men. -VTBigBlew-

  • General Visitor's Comment page
    • Comment 2/14/10: As posted the number of US jobs are listed from the official IBM reports. 2009: 105,000; 2008: 115,000; 2007: 121,000; 2006: 127,000; 2005: 133,789. What is not telling is the fact that during this same time IBM acquired a significant number of companies and their employees. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mergers_and_acquisitions_by_IBM So the number of long time US employee has been significantly reduced and the new employees now are under the reduced medical and savings plans. -Anonymous- Alliance reply: We have that statement about acquisitions on our list of the employee population drop on the Alliance front page. Thanks for the link to the article.
    • Comment 2/14/10: I've watched the IBM company go from a company employees were proud of to one they are now ashamed of. I remember how proud I was working for IBM when I joined the companies in the 80's. John Opal was CEO at the time. IBM employees wore their badge with pride. We took our kids to the yearly IBM Family Day. You were well respected by your friends and neighbors when they learned that you were an IBMer.

      IBM has gone from a 10 to a zero. From the best to the worst. It all started when Three Fingered Lou took the helm. TFL started screwing the employee for his own personal gain. TFL left IBM will less than 10 years of service with over $500 million in his bank account. TFL started the executive greed culture in IBM. TFL trained Sam Palmisano to take the helm as CEO and Sam is just like TFL. Take as much from the IBM employee for yourself.

      Sam has been filling his bank account with millions with his excessive salary, stock options and bonuses over the last 8 years. How disgusting can it get. Sam just doesn't get it. It is a culture that is deep in Sam's core.

      Folks, things will just continue to go down this lopsided path and the employees will continue to get screwed by layoffs, outsourcing, pay cuts, excessive workload, etc. We really need the Alliance and a Union contract to turn this mess in IBM around. This mind set of TFL and Sam Palmisano has infected the entire country and pulling our whole country's economy down. It can be explained simply as CEO GREED. -Pro Union IBMer-

    • Comment 2/14/10: To -BIG Z- I prefer to think of IBM as a big bus. The driver is blindfolded and the brakes don't work. The bus is coasting down a huge hill and picking up speed. At the bottom of the hill is a brick wall. What will happen when the 'bus' meets that wall is anyone's guess, but no matter how you look at it, it won't be a pretty sight. I guess that will be the time, IBM will bring in more consultants, and ask for another 'paradigm' shift. -dun-4-
    • Comment 2/15/10: Folks, stand up and fight IBM. Support the Alliance. Support a Union. Nurses have a union. Their jobs are well protected and they get good salaries. Engineers never unionized because companies were supposed to treat them like professionals. Like a Doctor. Think again. IBM management considers engineers to be the a$$ wipes for Doctors. Engineers get no respect from the management at companies like IBM. IBM treats engineers like dog crap. Engineers need a Union to protect their jobs at IBM. The same goes for Technicians. Sam Palmisano will continue to screw you, lay you off, outsource your job, etc until you stand up and fight. Get you head out of the sand. -IBM Engineer-
    • Comment 2/15/10: The number of US jobs. What this also doesn't show is the number of Americans who were replaced by 'imported' workers on L1 and H1B visas. I'm sure this number is big. How many Indians were working at your site 5 years ago? How many today? Each one replaced an American. -anon-
    • Comment 2/16/10: Has anyone had experience with the IBM "anonymous" surveys? I recently received one that includes morale questions like how likely I'd be to leave for another position with similar pay/benefits, but I can't help but think these responses are not truly anonymous. I don't trust upper management at all. Can anyone provide insight into this? -onEdge-
    • Comment 2/16/10: Recently heard that our Recreation Center In East Fishkill NY will be closed on March 15th and sold as another piece of real estate. Also, personnel that manned that facility will lose their jobs. This was the last piece of recreational enjoyment that IBM had to offer. Add another one to the list! That see, first health care services, environmental laboratory, emergency control, and now the recreation center. Adding insult to injury that there will be further site head count reduction during the March/April time frame. -Feeling Sick!-

      Alliance reply: IBM will continue the path that they have been on, since before 1999. No one should be surprised when IBM sells yet another piece of its legacy. Whatever it is; IBMers feeling sick about it won't change anything. We've been telling every IBMer that wants to listen, since 1999. Organize your co-workers and focus on what YOU can do to make YOUR situation better. There's too much time spent staring at the "man behind the curtain", and not enough action. Taking action and organizing will help you to lose that sick feeling.

    • Comment 2/17/10: To all who come to this comment section, please see our membership appeal on front page of this web site. We need help people. -Alliance-
    • Comment 2/17/10: -onEdge- ... Want to keep your gig? Tell them what they want to hear on the survey. It's always easier to RA a worker that is unhappy with the company. To those who disagree... it makes no sense to win the battle (tell them they suck), and lose the war (get RA'd and have no income). -Papa-
    • Comment 2/17/10: IBM needs to understand that the majority of the knowledge that they are selling to customers lies within the minds of the employees. I am concerned that they will not understand this until they reach bottom. Then it may be too late to understand what they had in the people that kept them climbing up throughout the late 1990s and 2000s. I support the union for this reason.

      The top-level management is FAR too stupid to understand what it takes to develop, support, and run the day-to-day operations for this company that actually bring in the money. They really don\'t give a $#!+ as long as they get their bonuses and the quarterly reports look good. They have the minds of animals, only living in the present without any awareness of the past or future. The more they throw out the people with the knowledge, the worse they hurt their prospects. The choice is yours: help to change things (unionize), leave now, or sit around and crash & burn. -MuffinMan-

    • Comment 2/18/10: About IBM "anonymous" surveys. If it is so "anonymous" why does IBM send you an invite to the survey with your fully qualified internal Notes e-mail id? Get real. For sure they know exactly who they are sending these e-mails to. IBM doesn't use surveys to improve problem areas. Ever see any action plan coming from a survey actually get any life at all? They don't even use it to gauge anything anymore. Gauge morale, pay, work/life balance, management performance, employee empowerment, etc. ? Not a chance. The question is what do they use them for? I bet those folks taking them that have given lower scores find their way to an RA quicker than those that give IBM flying high scores if anything comes of these surveys. -surveythis-
    • Comment 2/20/10: Agree offshoring of jobs is an issue. But a bigger issue I think, that Obama is not addressing, is the onshoring and importing workers that take our jobs here away. I know several IBM work sites where team leads are all on visas here, working with offshore developers. DIsplacing USA Project Managers here with imported visa workers is next I heard. So Prez Obama, keeping the jobs here is not the full answer. Keeping the jobs here and filled by U.S. workers is what you need to do. -anonymous-
  • Pension Comments page
    • Comment 2/14/10: I was RA'ed last year and my severance is now dry . Can I draw on my cash balance pension without any withdrawal penalties while I am still collecting unemployment? IBM said I can take it when I go so is this really true? -anonymous-
    • Comment 2/18/10: How can my cash balance pension grow with only 1.4% of yearly interest now and with my allocation totally heavily involved in the volatile stock markets? To get a higher interest rate close to what IBM thinks it will be and used for future calculations, 6%, does that mean inflation needs to happen? If so this cash balance thing is a total disaster and how does IBM still have the gall to even call it a pension in the first place? -anonymous-
  • Raise and Salary Comments
    • Comment 2/15/10: Salary = 94000; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; %Raise = 6; Band Level = 8; This Yr-PBC = 1; Job Title = Program Mgr; Years Service = 5; Hours/Week = 65; Message = hi -Jimmy-
    • Comment 2/16/10: Salary = $110,000; #Yrs Since Raise = n/a; %Raise = n/a; Band Level = was 8; This Yr-PBC = was 3 ;Job Title = Out of IBM and loving it... :) Years Service = 8; Hours/Week = was 50 to 60+; Div Name = was STG; Location = was Pok; Message = IBM wants to depend less on widget making (raw engineering prowess + manufacturing costs) and depend more on consultant brain power (because consultant brain power costs less than building a widget, even if the consultant gets paid more), like Booze Allen, Ernst & Young, etc. I think they bought a part of Price Waters Coopers consulting business to get a foot in the door. There's $$$ in that consulting world. -Anon-
    • Comment 2/16/10: Salary = $38,000; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; %Raise = 2; This Yr-PBC = 2010; Job Title = Application Developer; Years Service = 3; Hours/Week = 45; Location = Fairmont, WV; Message = Curious -John Doe-
    • Comment 2/18/10: Salary = 98,000; #Yrs Since Raise = 2; %Raise = 10; Band Level = 8; This Yr-PBC = 2; Job Title = Senior Consultant; Years Service = 6.5; Hours/Week = 50+; Div Name = GBS; Location = Atlanta, (working in NYC past 2+ yrs); Message = Have never broken the 1 PBC barrier. Always received 1+ ratings on PAs, and usually 2-3 memo files per yr from clients...utilization is what "gets" me on PBC. My best year saw excellent PAs , 2 memos to file from client and 102% billable utilization but only resulted in a 2+ because some peers were in the 120+% range.

      Recent reorg moved me from FS - BPM practice to the ERP space. Most of the band 9 and 10 of "old" BPM went to S&C practice mid 2009. Not sure why I went to ERP and not S&C. Guess I don't have "what it takes".

      My "old" PBC goals did not align with "new" practice so once again....utilization kept me down this year to a 2. I have been with same client multi. yrs and active in winning new business (3 extensions and a new proposal for 13 million) but our contracts are capped at 40 hrs per week so there is little chance of exceeding 90-93% utilization. Can't "compete" with other peers in new group who somehow stay consistently in 99-120% range for billable utilization?? Chargeable utilization was not considered in last PBC rating but I still exceeded target range.

      10% raise in 2008 was due to moving from band 7 to band 8. Usually receive 3-4K per year in "service excellent awards"...but nothing in 2009 despite similar performance ratings. My bill rates the past 2 years have been in the 225 to 250 per hour. Next proposal has bill rate of 261 per hour. ( 90% certain this contract will materialize). My Internal cost to IBM seems low in relation to bill rate. I guess I am a "loss leader", in terms of being staffed at this rate.

      New role in ERP practice will require some "retooling" on my part. As of now requests for formal training (i.e. costs IBM $$) have not been going well. My old peers who went to S&C have seen increases in salaries this year. I guess the best example of how IBM treats its employees came 2 weeks ago when I received a "Thank You" award from a project manager on another project for "going above and beyond" in providing assistance with an RFP materials. I went to the IBM site to claim the Award and the program had been cancelled as of Feb 01. I could still claim an Award...so I went to browse the selections and there was a nice note informing that they would not be restocking items. The only thing left to choose from was a pink yoga mat. I understand cutting costs and saving $$..times are hard out there. I just thought it was funny. But it was indicative of how IBM views its people.

      As I try to realign my career goals now that I am in a new practice, I am having some time to think about what a "career" with IBM really means and I find myself coming up short. The past 6 years I have been exposed to many things and added many new skills to my tool-box; both from a business perspective and a technology perspective. However, lately I find myself in the precarious position of being in a "mile wide and an inch deep". I suppose this is partly the result of being on many different projects and the various skills required in those projects. I also think it has to do with the fact that when I am on a particular engagement I focus all attention to satisfying the client...and not so much on my career aspirations. I guess I am old school and believed that hard work and dedication to client satisfaction should be the number one goal for any IBM employee..do these things and IBM will take care of me; I thought.

      As I reviewed the WWGPE model for our last proposal and saw the internal costs offshoring the work and the internal costs of bringing H1-B visa employees to the US to staff the work here I was literally amazed and somewhat shocked. The resources weren't just technology folks they were also business/ functional. IBM embarked on a program a couple of years back to bolster hiring of MBA's in other low cost countries ( mainly India). I always thought this was to support the growing service center presence in those countries. Since I am not a pure technical resource, I suppose I never really paid that much attention to all of the offshoring IBM has been doing over the past several years and how much the US employee count has declined vs how much it has grown offshore.

      The reorg I experienced last year also made a little more sense to me. All the bands 9-10 went to senior positions in S&C and the majority of lesser bands that were not the victims of the RA process last year went...well...elsewhere. I finally realized the direction the company is heading and "my place" in the IBM of the future. The band 9&10 types here in the US will be the "face men" of GBS with our clients here in the US and all other staff needed to support the work they sell will be offshored (internally that is). From an internal cost perspective...why would IBM keep resources that bill at 260 hour and cost 120-13- hour when they can staff with resources that have bill rates of 75-100 hour with internal costs of 20-30 hour (if that).

      Anyway...I guess I am just a little slow. Maybe I should focus less on client satisfaction and spend more time actually observing what is going on around me within IBM. It is too bad an employee can't feel somewhat secure with their employer these days...if they make their clients happy of course. IBM has led the charge in the past decade on the "offshoring" model as a cost cutting and selling tool with its clients. I suppose as an employee involved in delivering those solutions; I should have also realized IBM is no different than the clients we serve...they want to make higher returns as well and to lower our own costs of business. I suppose I have been complicit in my own demise so to speak and will soon become a victim myself as IBM internally offshores more of its cost basis to its "Global Delivery" services. I guess this is what is called reaping what you sow. Anyway, glad I found the site. It is refreshing to find out about other peer salaries and PBC experiences within IBM. --

  • PBC Comments;
    • Comment 2/13/10: Years Service = 25; Prior Yr PBC = 2; This Yr PBC = 3; Message = Having just received my first 3, I would like to know if that pretty much guarantees I am being setup for the next RA. I've talked to a few other 3's and they have already received the option to take a severance check or try an improvement plan. I did not receive either of those, so I'm not sure if that is a somewhat positive sign or not (hard to find anything positive about a 3). Just wondering what my odds are. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/13/10: Just an update here now that our dept's pbc's are done. Out of 15 people, 1 got a 1, 2 got 3's, and the rest were 2's, and 3 were 2+. The 3's were a 45 year old 20 years, and the other was a 5 year 28 year old. -Union Thoughts-
    • Comment 2/14/10: Band Level = 8; Years Service = >10; Prior Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr PBC = 2+; Message = Got really stiffed on PBC this year and, as a result, have changed my complete outlook about my job. Now work less hours and feel much better!! I don't trust IBM anymore and I have divorced myself from them. Sounds barmy but I have had to emotionally detach and stop holding them in high regard. IBM is underhanded, untrustworthy and completely selfish - like a bad lover, so I'm off asap to somewhere where I'll be appreciated. Would actually love to get a job with a competitor just to have the last laugh...how sad that I am at this level of bitterness. -AnonUK-
    • Comment 2/14/10: Band Level = 7; Years Service = 25+; Prior Yr PBC = 2; This Yr PBC = 2; This Yr Bonus = 0; Prior Yr Bonus = 0; Message = SWG ITS: hey, I'm with you. I cut back several years ago in hope of a package and they keep me on. What a trip. There are some weeks I only work 15 minutes. Sweet deal. I feel rewarded by doing less. -SWG_RTP-
    • Comment 2/15/10: "Just wondering what my odds are." Probably not good at all. It could be you were not given a severance package or improvement plan "option" yet since you are getting finalized as a managed out employee soon. It could be you got a sucka$$ manager that is a terrible communicator that gives you the 3 and then tries to ignore you in the hopes you quit, resign, and just go away.. You could be one of the, can I say, token PBC 3's that IBM keeps to try to dispel age discrimination in IBM's resource actions. There are not many of these type of folks but IBM keeps them dangling for IBM's own sake. -anon3-
    • Comment 2/17/10: Band Level = 7; Years Service = 10; Prior Yr PBC = 1; This Yr PBC = 1; Prior Yr Bonus = $8000; Message = I'm happy about my 1 but I can relate to much of the IBM-criticism I'm reading here. In fact I'm going to look for another job, and I hope I can use the PBC figure's on my CV. Guess that wasn't IBM's intention ;-) -Looksgoodsofar-
    • Comment 2/19/10: Prior Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr Bonus = ?; Prior Yr Bonus = 1%; Message = Working for IBM for 3 years, I thought my hard work will pay off. but it did not; working 70~90 hours per week for the last three years. Getting paid to what comes down to 15~20 dollars an hour is frustrating. PBC is just an excuse to not promote. Some people might say 'be happy that you have a job', that does not mean that I have to agree with how they do their 'ratings'. I am sure plenty of people work as hard as I am or even harder and are getting screwed too.They should compare us as individual, what did I do last year or to what ever they consider a band X should be doing. Furthermore if I am not doing a good job... heck fire me. I understand 100% that it is a business, but as much as we need the business, the business needs us and we should be treated better. Firing... sorry RAed someone that has been in the business for 20+ and sacrificed spending time with their family is disgusting. Needless to say I am looking for better opportunities outside the 'big bluid' -escaping_while_still_can-
    • Comment 2/21/10: Band Level = 6; Years Service = 2.5; Prior Yr PBC = 1; This Yr PBC = 1; This Yr Bonus = n/a; Prior Yr Bonus = 4000; Message = I joined IBM right after college from an elite engineering program, I decided to pursue consulting, therefore passing up better salary offers in engineering. This was a mistake. IBM does not train its employees, IBM wants to use you for the skills you have and if you don't have it, they will assign you meaningless work. There's also incredible amount of politics at IBM. I received 1 ratings ever since I've been at IBM yet, my raises have been no higher than 4% a year, this is in addition to the fact that I was well below industry average to begin with. There are people who are band 8/9 who have no real skills, no careers, they just keep on billing and billing and are skilled at writing pdf assessments. Outside of IBM, they are probably entry-level skill sets wise, don't be one of those people, leave. -Jeff Anonymous-
  • International Comments
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • New York Times editorial: Small Ideas Won’t Fix It. Excerpts: When Republican Congressional leaders come to the White House’s health care summit meeting on Feb. 25, don’t expect them to bring any big ideas with them. Instead, they will press President Obama to scrap his ambitious health care reforms and focus on modest proposals. That may make political sense. Americans have certainly been spooked by all of the Republican hype about government takeovers. But the small ideas the Republicans are championing would barely make a dent in the most critical problems threatening the health care system: the huge number of Americans without insurance and the ever-escalating costs of health care. ...

    Instead, the Republicans focus on making insurance more affordable. Their strategies could indeed hold down premiums for the young and the healthy. But they are likely to drive up premiums for the older and the sicker. That may also be good short-term politics — there are a lot more healthy people than chronically ill people — but it shortchanges those who most need help. And until the problem of rising medical costs is addressed, the government will never solve its deficit problem. ...

    Mr. Obama is right to challenge the Republicans to come up with their own health care reform plans. And if real progress can be made at this month’s meeting, the whole country will benefit. What Mr. Obama should not do is give up on his goal of covering as many Americans as possible or his goal of reining in spiraling health care costs. That is what he promised, and it is what the country needs.

  • National Public Radio: Republicans Spurn Once-Favored Health Mandate. By Julie Rovner. Excerpts: For Republicans, the idea of requiring every American to have health insurance is one of the most abhorrent provisions of the Democrats' health overhaul bills. "Congress has never crossed the line between regulating what people choose to do and ordering them to do it," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). "The difference between regulating and requiring is liberty."

    But Hatch's opposition is ironic, or some would say, politically motivated. The last time Congress debated a health overhaul, when Bill Clinton was president, Hatch and several other senators who now oppose the so-called individual mandate actually supported a bill that would have required it. In fact, says Len Nichols of the New America Foundation, the individual mandate was originally a Republican idea. "It was invented by Mark Pauly to give to George Bush Sr. back in the day, as a competition to the employer mandate focus of the Democrats at the time."

  • New York Times: In California, Exhibit A in Debate on Insurance. By Kevin Sack. Excerpts: When Bernhard Punzet opened the dreaded envelope from Anthem Blue Cross one recent Saturday, it ruined his weekend. Although he had no known medical problems, the company was raising the premium on his individual health insurance policy by 34 percent, to $254 a month. The policy for his partner, who is 12 years older, would rise 36 percent, to $369.

    “Ten percent I could have rationalized,” said Mr. Punzet, 34, a financial controller for a Los Angeles recruiting firm. “But a 34 percent increase? I don’t even have any data points for that, nothing to compare it to. I’ve never seen anything go up 34 percent.”

    With health care negotiations stalled in Washington, the Obama administration is seizing on the seething fury felt by Mr. Punzet and nearly 700,000 other Anthem customers in California who have received notices of increases that average 25 percent. About a quarter of them are seeing leaps of 35 percent to 39 percent, the company said, at least four times the rate of medical inflation. At a moment when the health care debate seemed drained of urgency, the rate increases have permitted Mr. Obama to remind Americans of what is at stake, not just for the uninsured but for those whose coverage is threatened by unregulated hyperinflation. ...

    Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius challenged the company to justify its “extraordinary” rate increases and, when it did in a five-page letter, volleyed that she was not satisfied. She expressed indignation that some of Anthem’s increases would be up to 15 times the rate of inflation, and that WellPoint had earned $2.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009. “Too many Americans are at the whim of private, for-profit insurance companies who are raking in billions in profits each year,” Ms. Sebelius wrote on the White House blog. ...

    Mr. Needle, like many of the 13 million Americans who buy insurance individually rather than through employers, cannot shop for a better deal because he has medical conditions like high cholesterol and glaucoma that would probably disqualify him with other carriers. Once accepted by an insurer, consumers cannot be dropped for medical reasons. But in California, where Anthem controls more than half of the individual market, regulators have little power to prevent insurers from raising individual rates as high as the market will bear. That often forces consumers to move to less-generous policies with higher deductibles in order to hold down their costs. ...

    Medical costs have typically risen by 5 percent to 10 percent during each of the last five years. Mr. Poizner said he was starting to see significant increases for individual policies sold by some of Anthem’s competitors, and double-digit increases have been reported in other states. Several insurance analysts said it was possible, but not necessarily likely, that such increases would become common, at least while the economic downturn persists. Insurance brokers in Los Angeles said they had never seen jumps of such magnitude.

  • The Tufts Daily: The news media failed on health care reform. By Michael Shusterman. Excerpts: In the 2009 debate over health care reform, it can be argued that there was one particular factor that contributed to the current situation. It was not conservative opposition to liberal legislation or complex health-policy questions. In any substantive debate those problems would have existed, no matter which way the sides or issues were rotated. Rather, what failed in one of the first significant policy debates of the 21st century was the news media. Between the weblogs, television and newspapers, the amount of disinformation and gossip that was produced swallowed any substantive discussion that could have taken place. ...

    Yet a great deal of the current opposition to the legislation was based upon the premise that the American public categorically rejected the legislation. This is premised on the concept that Americans knew what was in the legislation. But a January 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation poll run prior to the Massachusetts election demonstrated that not only did individuals polled have a poor idea of what was in the legislation, but that when told about 27 separate provisions of the bills, 17 provisions made a majority of individuals more likely to support the legislation and only two provisions less likely.

    Some of the provisions that made the legislation more palatable to opponents of the bill included provisions in the legislation to provide tax credits for businesses to buy insurance, protect current insurance policies, prevent federal funding for abortion services and health care for illegal immigrants, create health insurance exchanges and close the Medicare doughnut hole. Seniors found this last provision especially appealing — except many did not know that it existed in the bills. Interestingly, one of the least known effects of the legislation was the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) prediction that the bills would reduce the federal deficit. Only 15 percent of those polled believed that the legislation would achieve this goal, but 56 percent upon learning that it would, based on CBO estimates, became more supportive of the legislation. ...

    Cost in the legislation is tied to the premise that in order to cover the insurance expansion for most of the uninsured there must be subsidies to pay for the expansion. Here there are no easy answers because the issue is one of ethics and a social contract, rather than the correction of insurance industry abuses or technical issues. What this brings up are social questions: Does American society share the belief that it is a necessity for everyone to have access to health care coverage and insurance? Or, is our society is willing to accept the current, tiered health care system? These are the questions that should have been debated and explored, not the circus of death panels or the by-the-second accounts of the latest outrageous statement. But the news media chose the path of least resistance and did not discuss these issues, or evidently most of the actual provisions of the legislation.

  • New York Times op-ed: Do We Really Want the Status Quo on Health Care? By Nicholas D. Kristof. Excerpts: If you found a suspicious lump in your neck, you’d never put off dealing with it with the excuse: This is the loveliest neck in the world, and I don’t want to tinker with it.

    Sure, hospitals are expensive and serve tasteless food. Yes, surgeons can accidentally leave a clamp behind, and nobody likes blood. But burying one’s head in the sand is what ostriches do — and that’s what we Americans are poised to do if we miss this chance to reform our sick health care system.

    The debate about health care in recent months has focused on the shortcomings of the reform proposals. Critics are right to be disappointed that the legislation doesn’t curb malpractice suits and doesn’t do more to change the basic fee-for-service structure that incubates rising health care costs. But just think for a moment about the far costlier option that now may lie ahead of us: sticking with the status quo. ...

    The United States Public Interest Research Group calculated last year that without reform, insurance premiums for those with employer-provided health care would nearly double by 2016. Also last month, the Urban Institute applied its computer model of health insurance costs to a scenario in which there is no reform, and this is what it found:

    “Over the next decade in every state, the percent of the population that is uninsured will increase, employer-sponsored coverage will continue to erode, spending on public programs will balloon, and individual and family out-of-pocket costs could increase by more than 35 percent,” it said. It added that the number of uninsured Americans could reach as many as 65 million in another decade."

    As The New England Journal of Medicine noted last month, the United States ranks No. 1 only in terms of spending. We rank 39th in infant mortality, 43rd in adult female mortality and 42nd in adult male mortality.

    Skeptics suggest that America’s poor health statistics are a result of social inequities and a large underclass. There’s something to that. But despite these problems, the population over age 65 manages to enjoy above-average health statistics — because it enjoyed health care reform back in 1965 with Medicare.

    The medical journal noted that “comparisons also reveal that the United States is falling farther behind” other countries each year. In 1974, for example, Australian men and boys aged 15 to 60 died at about the same rate as American men and boys in that age group. Today, Australia’s rates for that group are about 40 percent lower than America’s. “U.S. performance not only is poor at any given moment but also is improving much more slowly than that of other countries over time,” the medical journal reported.

  • Urban Institute: Will Health Care Costs Bankrupt Aging Boomers? By Richard W. Johnson and Corina Mommaerts. Abstract: Rising health care costs threaten boomers' retirement security. In 2040, half of adults age 65 and older will spend at least 19 percent of their incomes on health care, up from 10 percent in 2010, if costs grow at the intermediate rate projected by the Medicare trustees. About 7 in 10 older Americans in the bottom two-fifths of the income distribution will spend more than 20 percent of their incomes on health care in 2040. These projections underscore the importance of controlling health care costs and the need for boomers to plan for future health care spending.
  • New York Times op-ed: California Death Spiral. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: Health insurance premiums are surging — and conservatives fear that the spectacle will reinvigorate the push for reform. On the Fox Business Network, a host chided a vice president of WellPoint, which has told California customers to expect huge rate increases: “You handed the politicians red meat at a time when health care is being discussed. You gave it to them!”

    Indeed. Sky-high rate increases make a powerful case for action. And they show, in particular, that we need comprehensive, guaranteed coverage — which is exactly what Democrats are trying to accomplish.

    Here’s the story: About 800,000 people in California who buy insurance on the individual market — as opposed to getting it through their employers — are covered by Anthem Blue Cross, a WellPoint subsidiary. These are the people who were recently told to expect dramatic rate increases, in some cases as high as 39 percent.

    Why the huge increase? It’s not profiteering, says WellPoint, which claims instead (without using the term) that it’s facing a classic insurance death spiral.

    Bear in mind that private health insurance only works if insurers can sell policies to both sick and healthy customers. If too many healthy people decide that they’d rather take their chances and remain uninsured, the risk pool deteriorates, forcing insurers to raise premiums. This, in turn, leads more healthy people to drop coverage, worsening the risk pool even further, and so on.

    Now, what WellPoint claims is that it has been forced to raise premiums because of “challenging economic times”: cash-strapped Californians have been dropping their policies or shifting into less-comprehensive plans. Those retaining coverage tend to be people with high current medical expenses. And the result, says the company, is a drastically worsening risk pool: in effect, a death spiral. ...

    But here’s the thing: suppose that we posit, provisionally, that the insurers aren’t the main villains in this story. Even so, California’s death spiral makes nonsense of all the main arguments against comprehensive health reform. For example, some claim that health costs would fall dramatically if only insurance companies were allowed to sell policies across state lines. But California is already a huge market, with much more insurance competition than in other states; unfortunately, insurers compete mainly by trying to excel in the art of denying coverage to those who need it most. And competition hasn’t averted a death spiral. So why would creating a national market make things better?

    More broadly, conservatives would have you believe that health insurance suffers from too much government interference. In fact, the real point of the push to allow interstate sales is that it would set off a race to the bottom, effectively eliminating state regulation. But California’s individual insurance market is already notable for its lack of regulation, certainly as compared with states like New York — yet the market is collapsing anyway. ...

    But the main point is this: California’s death spiral is a reminder that our health care system is unraveling, and that inaction isn’t an option. Congress and the president need to make reform happen — now.

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.

  • Huffington Post: Frank Luntz Pens Memo To Kill Financial Regulatory Reform. By Sam Stein. Excerpts: Nine months after he penned a memo laying out the arguments for health care legislation's destruction, Republican message guru Frank Luntz has put together a playbook to help derail financial regulatory reform. In a 17-page memo titled, "The Language of Financial Reform," Luntz urged opponents of reform to frame the final product as filled with bank bailouts, lobbyist loopholes, and additional layers of complicated government bureaucracy.

    "If there is one thing we can all agree on, it's that the bad decisions and harmful policies by Washington bureaucrats that in many ways led to the economic crash must never be repeated," Luntz wrote. "This is your critical advantage. Washington's incompetence is the common ground on which you can build support." Luntz continued: "Ordinarily, calling for a new government program 'to protect consumers' would be extraordinary popular. But these are not ordinary times. The American people are not just saying 'no.' They are saying 'hell no' to more government agencies, more bureaucrats, and more legislation crafted by special interests."

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