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Highlights—March 13, 2010

  • ComputerWorld: IBM stops disclosing U.S. headcount data. Despite U.S. layoffs last year, IBM global headcount grows slightly. By Patrick Thibodeau. Excerpts: IBM says it is the No. 1 technology employer in the U.S. and the world, but as time moves on, it may be harder to tell just what is happening to its domestic workforce. IBM has stopped providing breakouts of the number of employees it has in the U.S., and in doing so is closing a door to data that provided insights into this bellwether company's employment shift. Over the years, IBM workforce data showed accelerating overseas hiring, especially in India, and a steadily declining U.S. workforce. ...

    Asked about the change in the way it provides employment numbers in its annual report, an IBM spokesman said in a note that "our competitors report headcount globally. Going forward we will report it globally." ...

    Ron Hira, an associate professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, said the workforce data is critical to helping policymakers understand the dynamics of offshoring. "By hiding its offshoring, IBM is doing a disservice to America -- through omission the company is providing misleading labor market signals and information to policymakers," Hira said.

    IBM is trying to convince the government to allocate funds and establish policies that would help increase the number of STEM (or science, technology, engineering and math) graduates in the U.S., and it's also calling on Washington to raise the cap on H-1B visas, said Hira. "Yet at the same time," he added, "IBM is actually decreasing its demand of that same labor." ...

    Hira also argues that the shift overseas makes clear how critical the tax deferral on foreign profits is to IBM's bottom line and why the company is opposing President Barack Obama's "proposal to end the tax breaks that encourage firms to move American jobs overseas," he said. IBM was one of a long list of companies opposing changes in the tax deferral rules in a letter to congressional leaders last year. The letter argued that repeal of the deferral "will result in a loss of jobs for Americans and serious negative impacts on the U.S. economy."

  • Wall Street Journal: IBM CEO's Compensation Slips. By Paul Glader. Excerpts: International Business Machines Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Samuel Palmisano received $24.3 million in total compensation for 2009, down slightly from the prior year. Mr. Palmisano's base salary remained at $1.8 million for the third consecutive year, but was supplemented by a bonus of $4.75 million and $13.5 million in stock awards linked to the company's performance, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He received $24.5 million in compensation in 2008. The CEO's bonus fell 14% from 2008, but his stock awards rose 11%. ..

    Besides the salary, bonus and stock awards, Mr. Palmisano received $1.1 million in "other" compensation including $320,065 worth of personal travel on company aircraft. Additional covered personal expenses included financial planning, security, family attendance at company-related events and the use of company autos. His compensation in the "other" category was up 10% from 2008 and 75% from 2007.

  • Associated Press, courtesy of Forbes: IBM CEO's pay ticked higher to $21.2M in 2009. By Jordan Robertson. Excerpt: Calculations by The Associated Press show the pay package for IBM's CEO notched slightly higher in 2009. Sam Palmisano got a pay package that the company valued at $21.2 million, which was up from $21.0 million a year earlier, according to AP's calculations based on pay data in IBM's proxy document filed Monday with regulators.
  • Local Tech Wire (RTP, NC): IBM CEO’s $21.2M pay is ‘outrageous,’ Alliance@IBM says. Excerpts: Alliance@IBM, the Communications Worker of America chapter that is seeking to represent IBM workers, blasted IBM and Chairman/Chief Executive Officer Sam Palmisano on Tuesday after news emerged about the executive’s compensation package. ...

    “IBM CEO Palmisano's pay and compensation of $21 million is outrageous given the firing of over 10,000 employees in 2009 and the recent firing of 2600 more this year,” said Lee Conrad, one of Alliance@IBM’s executives and a retired 26-year IBM veteran. “Those ex-employees and their families are struggling in an economic recession where companies like IBM increase profits on the backs of working families,” Conrad added.

    “Where is the humanity and remorse of executives like Palmisano? It is clear they do not see or care what happens to employees and former employees who through their labor and expertise help him and other executives become richer.”

    Conrad also said many IBM workers who keep their jobs are facing wage pressure. “Current IBMers face a falling standard of living as pay raises promised become pay raises denied,” Conrad said.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re:+IBMers+not+laid+off+after+all" by "yogibayer". Full excerpt: The firings have been going on since 1993, but they have not always had the policy/tactic of not allowing people to be hired off of a resource action list. I can personally attest as a person who has been hired off of a resource action list as well as a manager who has hired a person who was on a resource action list that this was no always the case. This was all prior to around 2004 when there was an unwritten rule not allowing us to hire off of resource lists. That was until a manager got caught by a sametime transcript mentioning the unwritten rule in writing. Since that time they have ensured there are no job openings available in impacted organizations at resource action time, which I consider a tactic, not a rule.

    I am on the latest resource list and have no illusions about remaining an IBMer. I also have no anger or depression as this has been how I have expected my IBM career to end since around 2000 when things really began changing at IBM. I am thankful for the exit package, which, while not the best out there it is better than the nothing most people receive when laid off.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: IBMers not laid off after all" by "teamb562". Excerpts: ...and the ironic part of this, there are many people willing to accept an RA and many of these people have asked for one. IBM talks about Win/Win, I say BS. Letting people go who want to go would be a Win/Win. IBM knows nothing about Win/Win. IBM is all about they win, employees lose. Hey Big Fat Sammy, why not a voluntary program like is current being offered in the UK? Get rid of the old deadwood, (still lots around) and leave some of younger folks alone to raise and support their families.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re:+IBMers+not+laid+off+after+all" by "finitewisdom". Full excerpt: Here's how I look at it: Why would IBM admit publicly that those who lost their jobs are ineligible for transfer when they have yet to admit they've conducted layoffs?

    The so-called stealth layoffs, which avoid the legal requirements for disclosure, have been going on for quite some time (NYT article from a year ago here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/06/business/06layoffs.html)

    It's common knowledge that hiring (and transfer) freezes seem to coincide with IBM's RAs, and that people somehow find themselves "ineligible" to apply for those few positions left open. Or the jobs left open are in a faraway place and come with significant pay cuts. Once in a great while, those who are well-connected seem to find another decent IBM job ... but this is the exception, not the rule.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: laid off workers mostly from unprotected sites" by Bob Rodriguez. Excerpts: I was RA'd last Monday after a 27-year run with IBM, mostly IGS/ITD, starting at Kingston, NY and then getting moved to Poughkeepsie in 1994 when the Kingston plant closed. While I'm continuing to look internally, I'm consistently getting rejected on jobs outside of ITD, and the only things I've been able to find are GDF jobs at Fishkill, Boulder, and Dubuque, Iowa, all at a lower band. While Fishkill might be doable, one difficulty I would have with taking any of these is that I'm legally blind and unable to drive, so would have difficulty getting around there and getting to work unless I could find a reliable ride.

    While POK. is not all that great in terms of public transit, at least the side is within walking distance, and I have help from friends in previous jobs, which I would lose at a new site. Can IBM legally refuse severance pay if I'm offered one of these GDF jobs and I'm unable to take it because of transportation or other disability-related issues? I think in the end, I might have better luck trying to find a job in a major city with public transit, but I'm not ready to leave IBM just yet, at least not without the 6 months to look around.

  • LinkedIn: The Greater IBM Connection. Would you fight? How hard would you fight to keep the job you have? Selected comments follow:
    • In a "Job Seekers" group meeting on Monday, the speaker made reference to Management Ethics. The response from the group was: "Management HAS NO Ethics. Their only Ethics are 'COSTS must be CUT' and 'PROFITS must be Maximized (at LEAST COST)' [to HELL with Risk Management, Sustainability, Scalability, Fair Play, Competition, Equal Rights, The Good of the TEAM, Sportsmanship, the Environment, "the Economy", etc.]. The WORK ETHIC of the American Working Class is FAR greater than the sum total of ANY ETHICS the "GREEDY Capitalists" might have." How else could they vote to give themselves obscene "million-dollar bonuses" after "crashing the economy". They REALLY need to "work on" their IMAGE. (not to mention "common sense" -- all too uncommon these days). Y.O.G.
    • The IBM I joined in 1967 has been gone for quite a while now. Then, there was a sense of us versus them. A company which didn't allow alcohol to mix with business at any level. Where you had the job for life if your performance matched what you earned. That went away with some major strategic errors and a changed computer business. I was sold off as an asset with the rest to Lexmark in violation of a number of specific promises made to me. I decided to remain with Lexmark until I reached retirement age as the only other option given was to leave (I was NOT granted a buyout as management deemed I was needed.)

      "Please leave" is tough for employees who are over 50 years old unless they have very marketable skills. The answer is to constantly be upgrading your skills and be networking both inside and outside your company to maintain a list of people who would love to have you work for them.

      For some people, leaving will FORCE THEM to start their own business as a consultant or to follow their dream of being independent. It is not for everyone, but sometimes it really works out.

    • Well that is certainly interesting. My job is being sent overseas and my last day is 3/31 so while they say my job is going away they are going to let someone from another country do it....I have been thinking about fighting as well! They let me go knowing that I have cancer and need the medical! This is not the company my father worked for or the one I started with 29 years 11months ago!
    • Would people be amazed of how many people got seriously sick while working at IBM only be to be dismissed after pouring their collective heart and soul out? IBM wants to disengage from these folks as they represent liability.

      I still remember a career building conference not more than 4 or 5 years ago that stated 50% of IBM's personnel had 5 years or less experience which in my mind was preparing me for the eventuality that pensioned or not once I was near 50 years of age I would be a marked man (and I was).

      Even though we are employees at will, I believe in corporate liability for people who have gotten ill while working for the company like environmental liability for materials put in the ground is lifelong. There is no telling who may or may not get sick exposed to metal pastes, powdered ceramics, cleaning solvents and semiconductor materials or for my office mates the sheer pressure to perform for IBM on the job. But your odds of illness are higher if exposed to chemicals or stress than not being exposed.

      So that being said I think a more reasonable fight is for the sick people of a once proud IBM to band together and make IBM compensate those they have discarded in lieu of better economics and profits.

    • I should just let this go, but like John Wayne said in the 70's (dating myself) movie, Chisholm, "...I'm not going to hit you... I'm not going to hit you... to hell I'm not going to hit you..."

      I was part of the SWG RA of Feb last year. The reason was given as "Job Elimination". WPLC decided to slash investment in a technology from an acquisition from 10 years before, a business that had exceeded its revenue commitment in 2008 by 140%. I believe that the mother ship wanted the core programmers to work on core products...

      I was unlucky enough to have a round with the big C (cancer) 10 years back and lucky to have a manager at the time who held to the principles of the "old' IBM. He stuck by me and I repaid the company with an additional 10 years of drive and dedication. So 2 months after my 25th anniversary, I was handed my hat. I bridged to retirement because I was lucky enough to be on the "old" plan. Needless to say, looking for work as a "seasoned" employee has not been a pleasant experience in these "interesting' time we find ourselves in.

      Now, to add insult to injury, my wife, who is also an IBM’er of 13 years, was told last week that she will not be needed as of March 31'st. It’s going to sound like sour grapes on my part - but she was set up.

      So – it’s now bittersweet, I hate what the company has done, but need it to stay successful so that I can continue to collect my Pension. We would be dead without it.

      On that note - I have serious concerns with respect to the current strategy that the company is on. HR and Finance seem to have control of a lot of the decisions and are making them based on a "'parts is parts" mentality where employee retention does not matter and moving headcount off shore is completely acceptable. Not to belittle the countries where the investment is being focused, but I have been part of a number of projects that were moved off shore and all of them failed miserably. I hope the HQ Executive team know something that I do not. Good old Yankee ingenuity (integrity and loyalty) cannot be bought at any price (admittedly my perspective) and I have very serious concerns about the long term viability of this approach. Too bad that Sam will not be around when it comes time to pay the piper.

      If and when the economy does kick back into gear, I suspect a lot of the folks in IBM US will be looking for greener pasture rather than try and fix what may be in the process of being irrevocably broken. It’s pretty clear that its every man for himself and it gets really, really stale worrying if you are the next one to be pointed to the door.

    • ALL: YES many of us have left and moved on, but I have three (3) colleagues that were let go in recent history, all in their mid 50s ALL with over 30 years tenure and ALL with cancer diagnosed prior........also over 20 others let go, well over 50, just prior to getting full retirement, coincidence I THINK NOT........ reminds me of the plaque I proudly (no longer) kept on all my desks for 30 + years (Think)......I also have removed my plaque for Manager of the Year awarded to me back in the early 1980s........To all others, I suggest you ........ THINK for yourselves !!!
    • Kind of a moot point. I was let go after 40 years, I received many exceptional performance evaluations, including a 1 rating as a manager. I also got a number of awards and recognition. I was highly skilled, qualified and experienced. The point to all this is simply that you have no real control over your job. I have seen IBM let go Senior Technical Staff, Distinguished Engineers and IBM Fellows. All in all it is about numbers (money). When they target you there is little you can do to save your job. You are basically an 'at will' employee, meaning IBM gives you no guarantee and can do pretty much what they please.

      My advice is to have a stellar resume, network aggressively and make your move before they move you. And knowing people in IBM will not help, I knew VP's and directors and the relationship I had with them disappeared when I went looking for a job. Another point, I tend to agree with some of the other comments about the state of the 'mature' employee. I could never prove it but statistically in my group of 7, the 2 that were laid off (me and another guy) were the oldest. We were also the most experienced and skilled in the group. One could never prove it but I really believe age is included in their formula for deciding who to let go.My best wishes to all of you who have been 'downsized'. There is life after IBM, Do not give up, keep a positive attitude and persevere. This may sound trite but one companies trash is another companies treasure.

    • Mr. Bisanz, you have many good suggestions, most I agree with. The point I intended to make was that of letting go those senior employees just in time to deny them full retirement benefits is bush league, not even close to the league of the IBM I knew. Just for the record, prior to the very late 1980s, we as IBM Senior Site Managers still practiced and "preached" FULL EMPLOYMENT at the direction and training from ARMONK..... while I do not suggest that policy was or is sustainable, letting go employees just months from full retirement seems odd at best......Glad I left when I did.
    • Kevin, I love your statement "I work in Information Technology, and am approached by recruiters on a regular basis. If my company did not fight to keep me, I would do the honorable thing and move on... There is no honor forcing yourself on others. There is a perfect employer out there. Someone that appreciates you. Why waste your time and talents working somewhere they do not value you."

      That was my attitude when I was in my 20's 30's even 40's it was easy then. I was valued, I was appreciated, I was awarded for my performance and I had the recruiters still calling me for y2k when I was close to 50. I didn't even become an IBM employee until I was 44. I still believe in not staying where I am not wanted and I did not fight when I got my walking papers from IBM in June 2009.

      Here's what bothered me though, I went from being a top performer in 2003 to being disposable in 2009. It was extremely difficult to accept that after a 30 year career having worked for some of the biggest and best companies in America and always getting promotions, monetary awards and glowing reviews: NOW I am not valued, appreciated, or wanted. that hurts.

      IBM said it did not look at age or salary or performance when they did cuts last year. I don't believe them, I can't prove anything. I am reinventing myself again and I will get that perfect position with the perfect employer but it still bothers me that employers get away with this behavior. We are not individuals to them we are just numbers.

    • There is nothing to fight and no way to fight. The rating system is mostly a sham and you can't argue that if that is used as a reason to RA you. Skills rebalancing is also a sham since we all know that is simply a euphemism for offshoring.

      Neither of these things have any legal recourse and IBM is smart enough to not simply rid themselves of any one class of employee (over 40, over 50, women, men, whatever) to prevent any kind of action.

      The only option that would allow any kind of 'fight' would be to unionize. A full on collective bargaining unit that will protect the workforce. As it stands now we are all 'at will' employees and can be released for any reason or no reason. Severance is just IBM being polite.

    • Well, after being let go last April 29th along with several thousand others, and being told that my position was being sent off-shore. I was ready to fight until I read the provisions of the settlement offer which IBM had me sign. That "agreement" said that if I decided to fight, I would not get the 1 months pay for every year I was employed by IBM. So that made my decision very easy. Now after 7 months of looking for a job, I am employed by an Indian consulting company doing the very thing which IBM sent off-shore. IBM may learn that the universities in India are not training architects very well, which is what my current company has admitted when they hired me.
    • Bill, that was exactly my point in my earlier post. Where is the savings in sending work off shore if it takes 3x the resource and time to complete a project. Has anyone out there been involved in an off shore project that was successful without a whole lot of US based management? The number one rule for outsourcing is "Outsource for skills - never for cost". I think Sam either does not understand that or does not care.
    • Fred, I'm not sure where you heard that rule for offshoring but it is certainly not the IBM way in my experience. Exactly the opposite is true. Training, work and project may take 3x as long and double or triple costs but the cost savings of not paying US workers, not paying US payroll tax and not paying an employee's insurance is a 10x saving. So even with the increased life span of any project or day to day client coverage and the penalties paid for not having enough well trained resources in place and missing SLA/SLO, it's still cheaper for IBM to divest itself of US works. That is a sad truth.
    • I got RAed after 12+ years. I tried "fighting" by looking for a new position within the company, but after the job I almost had vaporized after it went up the approval chain, I gave up the fight. I knew going in that it would be difficult to impossible to find a new position because of all the hurdles that are put into place since IBM really wants you off their books.

      Even though I am still looking for a new job after 2+ years, I am happy not to be with IBM any longer based on the comments I get from my colleagues who are still with IBM. It's gotten worse since I've been gone.. <sigh> re the off-shoring comments.... I had heard that even though work may be redone five times, and customer satisfaction is in the basement, IBM could care less since they are still making money because they are saving over 80 percent by offshoring.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site
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  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 3/07/10: I am one of those who got affected by RA last week. IBM HR is making it difficult (impossible) for the RA'ed employees to find jobs with IBM. Most of the positions that were available in Feb are now put on hold. I also learned that the hiring managers have to get a GM level approval in case they want to hire anybody. Given that the affected employees have only 30 days to find a job, IBM is making it impossible to find jobs internally. -WillNotBe@IBM_soon-
    • Comment 3/07/10: I was laid off from the S&D Sales Operations. I work at home in CT; Manager in NY. I'm 50 yrs. old with 28.9 yrs with IBM, with cash balance plan. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 3/07/10: To 28 yrs 8 months... Take 12 week Family Medical Leave... tell them you have to leave today... that will get you to 29 years and the one year bridge. -Tricky Dick-
    • Comment 3/07/10: Kudos to the Alliance for providing this great service! I've been RAed and I'm out of IBM so I really don't need to join. For those of you sitting on the fence, I suggest that you join and support the Alliance. The Alliance is looking out for your back. I can assure you that IBM isn't. Some day you will wind up on the RA list and go through what I went through. Believe me, it is not fun and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. Do yourself a favor and join the Alliance while you are still employed by IBM. The Alliance is looking out for YOU!!! -RAed- Alliance reply: Thank you. The Alliance is also looking out for IT workers in general. We are one of just a few organizations that does. Ex-IBMers still in the IT industry are free to join and help us advocate not just for IBM employees but other IT employees as well.
    • Comment 3/07/10: About 60-75 SSR's in the NYC, NJ area. The propaganda machine is running wild and telling the poor fools left that the Bank of America contract is the reason they are still employed. What a joke. Can you say "carrot +stick"... Managers are clueless and are trying to sell but they have not the skills nor the training to do so. It's a complete joke. -Quimby-
    • Comment 3/08/10: @new2rchland is spot-on. 2nd & 3rd lines came up with names and notified FLMs the day before the RA. -blue-
    • Comment 3/08/10: To -WillNotBe@IBM_soon- And anybody else looking for a job within that 30 days.... You are marked for termination. There are very few examples of somebody finding a job within 30 days. Other managers don't want you. Unless you have friends high up, forget about it. I applied for 8 positions posted and got 1 rejection. The rest didn't even bother to reply. My manager did not even answer my emails for help for the 30 days that remained. When I asked the moron, why didn't you reply to my emails the past 30 days, the answer I got was, I don't know. If I didn't have severance to lose, that manager would have been put through the wall right then and there. You are marked. Move on and get your life back. -Gone_in_07-
    • Comment 3/08/10: -WillNotBe@IBM_soon- The only IBM jobs available will require you to go to either India, China, Brazil, Argentina, Russia, etc. NO USA jobs for those RAed are likely available. That's why IBM said no one was laid off since employees were selected and asked to participate in the resource action and find, secure, and transfer to a job somewhere else in IBM in the 30 days or so. Now isn't that nice to know? -anonymous-
    • Comment 3/08/10: I have a question about layoffs for folks who are at or near retirement age - I am 63, and was spared this time but feel very (very!) vulnerable for the next round. If they do cut me, and declare me to be retired - do I still get the severance package? COBRA? Or do I just "involuntarily" decide to retire, so I go straight to the retirement benefits (such as they are... )? Thanks for any pointers -Anonymous-
    • Comment 3/08/10: My job has ben cut, I received my termination letter, despite the fact I was rated a 2+ the last 2 years. I am based in Canada, but worked in a global marketing role for IBM USA, STG Global Market -Anonymous-
    • Comment 3/08/10: CIO Enterprise Integration - 6 jobs -Anonymous-
    • Comment 3/08/10: SWG Information Management 300 plus -anonymous-
    • Comment 3/08/10: IBM Retail got hit hard last Monday- 40% of direct facing sales reps and support personnel. -A fired ibm retail employee-
    • Comment 3/08/10: I heard that 3000 + or - people took part in "Danieli -vs- IBM". I see that this first round is up to 2600 +/-. If you were "RA'ed" and took part in "Danieli -vs- IBM". Contact the attorneys. They might like another class action. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 3/08/10: Anyone RA'd gets the severance package and benefits. I had to sign a second document that bridged me to retirement. In some if not all states, if you get social security, this does not reduce unemployment compensation. If anyone is eligible for medicare I have no idea how that plays into COBRA. -anonymous-
    • Comment 3/09/10: Palmisano made $21 mil in 2009. Did Palmisano do as much work as 210 employees, each making $100K/year? Is Palmisano or any CEO truly as valuable as 210 employees who make $100K? I don't see how anyone could be. Maybe 10 to 20 employees....but 210 employees?! Something is wrong with this picture of executive greed and gluttony, especially when the only reason the stock did well is because expenses were cut (e.g., Americans were replaced with cheap, offshore labor). How innovative....not!! -Executive_greed_watchdog-
    • Comment 3/09/10: Edmonton, Canada ITD - at least 10 -Anonymous-
    • Comment 3/09/10: Even with this history, I was cut. # IBM Chairman's Recognition Award; # IBM President's Award; # IBM Europe, President's Exceptional Achievement Award; # IBM Director's Award; # IBM Global Services Excellence Award; # IBM Internet Division Excellence Award; # IBM Location Manager's Award; # Two U.S. Software Patents; # IBM Suggestion Award of $78,000; # IBM Means Service Award. -anonymous-
    • Comment 3/09/10: IBM lies. I got a PBC 3 and then got RAed. No justification for the 3 despite the customer telling me I had done great work. They even changed a PBC 2 to a 3 just before I got RAed. Judgment day will come for IBM management team someday and all the money in world won't change it -RAed in July 2009-
    • Comment 3/09/10: On 3/1 I was also RA'd, but am quite happy to leave all the stress behind. I am in Div 53 - Integrated Supply Chain. Per pkg there were 66 of us RA's. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 3/09/10: Software Group WPLC Austin cut by half. -Anom-
    • Comment 3/09/10: Used to be that a good day at IBM was when we did something good for IBM and/or our customers. Now a good day is measured simply by the fact that your manager did not call and tell you that you have been "resourced" (aka fired). -Ben R Ayed-
    • Comment 3/09/10: ok... in my RA package on page 4 of 31, they give the email of your Resource Action Project Office. Send an email to that "email address" and tell them you disagree with the decision to RA you. They have 48 hours to get back to you. If you were a pbc 3, go out to that link and request a Review Board. Do not sign the Severance Letter or cash any check you may receive. This could take some time to get resolved, so it will depend on your personal situation. And yes, I am damn proud to be a member of alliance! -Fighter-
    • Comment 3/09/10: Here is the age discrimination data for SWG AIM. You had a 50% chance of getting fired if you were over 50:
      Age % Fired
      21-25 12.5
      26-30 8.0
      31-35 4.6
      36-40 5.3
      41-45 5.3
      46-50 5.6
      51-55 7.6
      56-60 5.7
      61-65 14.0
      66-70 22.2
      71-75 0.0
    • Comment 3/10/10: IBM job fair today in VT IBM job fair today If you're looking for work, try Big Blue. IBM in Essex Junction has several openings for maintenance technicians to repair and maintain semiconductor processing equipment. The company will hold a job fair this morning from 9:00 to noon at the Vermont Department of Labor offices in Burlington. Source: http://www.wcax.com/Global/story.asp?S=12114607-ibmjobs-
    • Comment 3/10/10: To Fighter: Don't. As someone who was RA's last year, the best advice I can give to those newly RA'd is to just sign the document and move on. IBMers and IBM have been doing this for years. Take the severance and unused vacation checks, sign-up for COBRA if that makes sense, sign up for unemployment, do something nice for yourself the first days like a little vacation or nice dinner out.

      Fighting internally is just delaying the inevitable unless you really have a case to prove you are not a "3". Fighting with an attorney will only waste your money. You are not alone. You do go through the phases of grief, and fighting is an initial reaction. You will eventually reach acceptance (which is not agreement that you are being treated fairly). The sooner you accept and move on, the stress will reduce and you can use positive energy deciding what you want for the next phase of your life. The severance benefits for most will tide you over to year end, and the economy is projected by many to start with jobs by then. There are lots of temp contract jobs til then, so shoot for them via a recruiter to get some income, if need be. -anonymous-

    • Comment 3/10/10: Don't rush to take your retirement benefits if you do not need the money right now. Let it grow leaving it where it is, as the economy and interest rates improve. The reason is that, at least some states, unemployment benefits are reduced if you get any pension/401K. income. In my state benefits are not reduced for social security income. -anonymous-
    • Comment 3/10/10: I was RA'd in 1995 and I just joined the Union, because I STILL feel connected to the IBMers left behind. I really thought it was going to change with the departure of 5-finger Louie, but it has only gotten worse. -Gone in 96- Alliance reply: Thank you for joining. We still have a lot of people still sitting on the fence. This past week, with all the job cuts and interest in the Alliance, only 11 people joined. The web site had 68,000 visits in 7 days. This organization and web site is the only advocate for IBM employees and ex-employees. We need people to support it.
    • Comment 3/10/10: To newly RAed. They whacked me last year, so welcome to the Alumni club. If you are still on the old pension plan that was frozen, you should know that (in most states), you can collect that pension AND collect unemployment insurance. This is due to the fact that IBM did not contribute to the pension during your UI base period. Take the UI, you earned it. More info here... http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RAed2009/files/ See "How UI works.txt " -Ben Dover-
    • Comment 3/10/10: TO: "I assume if you are RA'd, and under 55, you lose! Correct? That's quite a chunk of change to lose" You always forfeit the FHA money at any age if you leave before 15 years service. -anonymous-
    • Comment 3/10/10: Re: Severance deductions - No. They do not deduct from your severance other than taxes. Your last contribution to GLI, 401K, insurance etc is your last regular paycheck. After that, you're not an employee, so insurance would be COBRA if you opt for it, no 401k since you're not an employee... etc.. BTW, remember to apply for unemployment on your FIRST day after the exit interview. You were still working on that exit date, so don't take a chance on getting denied for a silly error. You're done on 3/31? Apply on 4/1... Remember to do it and get it moving asap... -RAed last Jan-
    • Comment 3/10/10: Think2, everyone's aware (and the data show) that age discrimination is a factor in IBM's layoffs. Trouble is, the documents each of us signed to get our severance includes a covenant not to sue for personal gain. Nothing keeps anyone from filing a discrimination claim....but most people realize there's nothing in it for them so they don't bother. That's really too bad; it allows IBM to continue its discriminatory practices without Federal investigation. -Think-
    • Comment 3/10/10: Finding an internal job after being RA'd does happen. It happened for me. But it helped that I knew a high level project manager for the div that I was getting RA'd from and knew the VP of a div I was hoping to go to… and they both knew each other. I accepted the offer, and made the move. Job was "ok", but not what I was passionate about. Also, at the time, it seemed like IBM was de-emphasizing the type of work I was good at. So I thanked them for the opportunity they provided me and eventually parted ways with IBM for greener pastures.

      That was a couple years back. The key in all of this is passion. don't just scramble for a job, for having a job sake. Else, you might probably end up getting RA'd again. If you're not passionate about the work (…and at IBM, it's real easy to get pigeon-holed into a job you don't like)... it may not seem like it now, but you will find what you're looking for outside the Big Blue walls. Hope these words are received as encouragement either way. -Anon-

    • Comment 3/10/10: ITo question on benefits from severance check: the severance check does not have ANY reductions, in fact your last paycheck will not have the deductions for 401K in it either. IBM doesn't match those last 2 weeks. And I was RA'D 6 mos. short of qualifying for the retirement health plan. In NC, your unemployment is reduced by your retirement, i.e. avg max payout $200/wk. if you are retired. $500 if not retired. -Raleigh ex ibmer-
    • Comment 3/10/10: I am part of the GBS Application Services Americas Resource Action (ASAA). From the employee notification document they gave me, it looks like there are 202 people affected by the ASAA. Personally, I am located in Seattle, WA, and part of the AS Learning Development group (based in Atlanta, GA). -Anonymous-
    • Comment 3/10/10: I got a 3 on the last PBC - have been offered the option of accepting a separation package or being placed on a performance improvement plan. What's the difference in accepting the separation package versus being layed off? -acquired-
    • Comment 3/10/10: GBS AIS - Cambridge , MA office let go 1 person that I know of. She is a Business Analyst and is 8 months pregnant. She was so upset she had to be driven home. Shame on IBM and her direct manager, a woman, who did not fight for her! -anonymous-
    • Comment 3/10/10: Repeat of what was posted below, with a name to reference if someone would graciously reply. This is about the Future Health Account. It says "If you leave IBM before age 55 or with less than 15 years of service, you will forfeit your account and will not be eligible to receive any benefits from the Future Health Account." Is this true even if you are RA’d? -Wondering-
    • Comment 3/10/10: Hi, Just me. I have applied for quite a few of the jobs listed in the GOM -- for all of which I am easily qualified. I have received a handful of rejections, but I have not received a response from any of the others. I can easily believe that the hiring managers have been overwhelmed with applications, but I have a couple of informal observations concerning the whole process:
      • the number of listings for offshore jobs is about an order of magnitude greater than the number of listings for American jobs. I have applied for both types, but so far I have not gotten past the initial screening process
      • the qualifications seem to be less than they used to be. Many of the programming jobs, for example, require only an associate degree. It seems as though IBM is replacing older, more experienced, better educated employees with employees that just meet the minimum requirements of a specific job. Why not? IBM can just fire them when it is finished with them. These are the employees that are going to be building a smarter planet. :) IBM has about as much chance of building a smarter planet as Sam has of fitting through a hula hoop, but I digress.
      • many of the new jobs associated with the smarter planet initiative seem to be going to offshore sites. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 3/10/10: After several years, I am finally getting a severance package! I asked them to put me on the RA list years ago, and I'm finally free! (Well, in 90 days when they finally release me!) Cheers to any others who are HAPPY to be on the RA list! -Finally RAed!-
    • Comment 3/10/10: I heard from a reliable source, that they have tighten and completely cut the ability of a mgr to move people even in the same org. That even in situations where they need to move the HC for approved business alignment, that it is blocked. Therefore, there is no movement of HC. Per my mgr. he thinks it is possible to move within the same org, but from other source they said no HC movement possible.

      I have applied for jobs and from one was rejected. Have not heard any word from the others. So, they will open up all the jobs in April. Look at your package paper real good... find that project email address and send them an email to say. I do not accept this package, because 30 days is not enough time to find a job. I find it hard to believe that with all this RA only 6 people joined the union. What is wrong with you people? Next we will age to 70, and they will give us sleep forever shots and all of you will be agreeable to wait in line for your turn for the shot? Well, I will be camping in the woods with my shot gun, because I am not going down so easy. I am not mad with a single person and feel confident and happy. -Annon-

    • Comment 3/10/10: To Lee Conrad: Kudos for the article, "IBM CEO's $21.2M pay is Outrageous" article. MY GOD, doesn't this greedy pig idiot Palmisano get it? Has he NO SHAME??? Screwing so many loyal employees by laying them off, outsourcing their jobs, RAing them , destroying their families, destroying their jobs, and then taking this kind of OUTRAGEOUS pay make any sense at all? HELL NO!!!!! I am MAD AS HELL!!!! The United States is going to HELL in a hand basket and it is CEO's like SAM PALMISANO taking us there. I hope the PALMISANO GOES STRAIGHT TO HELL!!!!! -IBMer-
    • Comment 3/10/10: I think most of know by now, that finding another job in IBM after you've been RA'd, is impossible. You probably have a better chance of winning your state lottery. Rumors circulating in my area/division (AS GBS) is that there will major cuts in June. I'm not trying to panic anyone or start dumb rumors, but I've heard it from more than one person. 30% of my department was RA this go around, with India picking up the slack. The employees left, are training their replacements. Of course management won't tell us that but the writing is on the wall, my job role (operations) is no longer considered worthy of being a U.S. position. Anyone trying calling the ESC (Employee Service Center) lately? Or dealing with an off shore person handling U.S. operations. It's pretty much a disaster. **Please join the union** -Alliance member-
    • Comment 3/10/10: 2 comments on those below: First for the FHA, I was RAed just shy of 22 years and age 46 (they hit me ON my birthday - fun). I got ZERO from the FHA. I was not 55. For the one there who was RAed and found another job before, last year and this are wayyyy different. I was RAed a few years ago, and found a great gig in another IBM area, with a great team and a really good manager. Then when I got it again in Jan 09, it became readily apparent that no one was finding jobs inside any more. I had several extraordinarily high placed friends (as in Palmisano direct reports, or where Sam was their skip level) who told me to not bother, and even they could not help me. I kept looking till my exit because I'd have kicked myself if I didn't, but gang, try to get your heads around moving on sooner rather than later... -RAed in Jan-
    • Comment 3/10/10: I must admit I am Dazed, Baffled and Confused. I understand someone holding on hoping to reach 30 years or age 55. I do not understand someone waiting years to be FIRED??? The severance pay is certainly not worth years of being miserable. Why would someone not job hunt and leave for a better job when they find it and that way have no need for severance?? Am I missing something ? Are people really that unable to make a decision and take action on it to improve themselves or their lot in life?? Could this be why only 11 used and abused IBMers have signed up to protect themselves?. Do IBMers really have a masochist streak that gives them pleasure to be abused and great joy to be fired?? The older I get the less I understand I guess. To all who were fired, happy about it or not, Good luck to you all. -Exodus2007-
    • Comment 3/10/10: -Annon- Yes, it is utterly pathetic that only a handful of people have joined since this latest RA. Careful. You are an "at will" employee and have no union to file a grievance for you. Hate to say it but IBM could just fire you without severance. With a union then we would all have some power to fight this! Without a union your just a lamb amidst the wolves but I reckon you know this. -anonymous-
    • Comment 3/11/10: "What's the difference in accepting the separation package versus being layed off?" -acquired-: Mainly if you are a PBC 3 it's 1 week pay per year of service compared to 2 weeks pay per year of service. -da_facts-
    • Comment 3/11/10: To Anonymous, I have put the file that explains how you can collect unemployment AND your pension (old plan) at this web link (NO google id required). Good luck. http://groups.google.com/group/ppbiz-group/files file = "How UI works.txt" Ben Dover-
    • Comment 3/11/10: To: anon 2+ and RA'd:"2+, WFH. and RAed. So maybe there is a pattern here. -anonymous- " Are you new to this site? Have you not been reading the postings here for years? Are you a member of Alliance? If you are posting you must know that PBC ratings have NOTHING to do with your RA. I continue to be amazed at all the surprised people that got RA'd and have a 2 or 2+ PBC. To think that really matters? It should be called a PBS for performance Bull Sh** review. Wake up! Don't cry about your job loss. The only way is to step up and Unionize. -Gone_in_07-
    • Comment 3/11/10: Just the facts: Forget applying for internal jobs, unless you want to move to BRIC countries with local wages. I have a relative who is an IBM exec and she says that they freeze internal hires (but do not announce it, natch) because the whole purpose of these RAs is to move more jobs offshore. -Joe Friday-
    • Comment 3/11/10: Where did IBM come up with the term RA(Resource Action)? In the 70's to 80's employees were considered an ASSET. Beginning in the 90's I was told many times by various managers that I was now an EXPENSE . And we must either reduce or eliminate expenses. Revenue minus Expense equals PROFIT. Nothing has changed today. The term Resource must be a joke. -Former Expense-
    • Comment 3/11/10: last year I was a 2, and my GDP was over 4 grand .. this year I was a 2, and my GDP was 665 dollars. because of "hard times" .. yeah WHAT A CROCK. I suppose there's nothing I can do? Other than be glad it's over. -disgusted more-
    • Comment 3/11/10: I was recently R/A as part of IBM's H/R Team. you are right 99% of H/R positions are off shore: Egypt, China, Etc. -Ana-
    • Comment 3/11/10: In Lexington, MA Cut from the Rational User Technologies group. I am an Instructional Designer -Anonymous-
    • Comment 3/11/10: Discovered on Monday morning the ITD SSO mainframe Linux on Z series IGA account is migrating all work out of the US to Brazil by the end of May 2010. You know what the black outlook is for the former team mates now. Being North American is definitely third world now, no one wants you or your skills. -Survivor for another day or two-
    • Comment 3/11/10: Alliance, I realize you may not wish to publish this comment as it isn't directly related to an RA w/ statistics. However, I will say that in my experience, 'protected classes', aren't protected. In my department of ten, at least four were RAed. Two women, two men. One of the men gay, one not gay. Three of the four had health issues in the past one or two years. At least one would have passed the fed guidelines for disability, but didn't claim it to IBM. I missed NO days @ IBM in five years. I worked ON MY VACATION, to help my ignorant manager to create her budget for (the next year - won't tell you the year, as this might identify ME).

      I had four or five distinct, but related, careers in over 20 years at IBM. I chose my job progression.

      I had over twenty managers in my career. As I said, I chose four career avenues. And, I saw managers churn over, whether every four months (one year) or every 18 months (IBM's personal best, I imagine. I made a big mistake in pursuing my last job role. The role itself - very engaging; allowed me to use my past experience to the benefit of both my organization AND me. The mistake: Not trusting my instincts when I interviewed with the hiring manager. She was arrogant, didn't understand our brand, and (later) claimed that 'I'm the very best _____ that our organization has', disregarding the negative comments from our target audience. Sample comment: '(Insert manager name here) has NO CLUE as to what we need. She presented on a topic which she clearly did not understand.'

      Good luck to those who remain in IBM or in that organization. If they read this post, they may recognize the manager. -RAed already- Alliance reply: Permission granted. Please consider joining or making a donation to Alliance@IBM, to show your support for this board.

    • Comment 3/11/10: Did anyone read the latest annual report? It just hit the presses. This is the first time in at least 5 years that BigBlue did not break out the US workforce. Sneaky huh? Now we will never know the US workforce going forward. -hi-
    • Comment 3/11/10: If you're an IBM employee, and you don't think the employees need the protections a contract negotiated by a union offers, then ask yourself the following question; Why do execs like Palmisano think they need an employment contract with IBM? They make damn sure if something bad happens that could have a negative impact on them, that impact is more than offset by the protections built into their contract. Consider the case of Glen Tilton, CEO of United Airlines. His employment contract stipulated that should United go into bankruptcy (which it did after he was hired) he would receive an annual multi-million dollar pension, even if United's pension fund was to be entirely liquidated. (Which it was.) All of United's retiree's and future retiree's (United's active employee's) lost their pensions because all of the money in United's pension fund was used to pay their creditors. Glen's OK though. Nice, huh? -Anonymous-
    • Comment 3/11/10: To the employees still at IBM: If you haven't joined the Alliance and support a Union then you just get what you deserve. As Sam Palmisano collects his $20 million plus per year and makes your life miserable you have no one but yourself to blame. You people need to stand up to this bully. He will continue to bully you and fire you until you have a Union to back you up. Do yourself a favor and fork out a few bucks and join the Alliance. They are on your side and watching your back to protect your job. -IBMer-
    • Comment 3/12/10: To acquired: you're better off taking the separation package. The performance improvement plan will only extend you another 30 days or so at which time the manager will more than likely determine that you did not make "sustained measurable improvement" and then you can be laid off without a package. I am an ex-manager who was RAed in 09 (along with my entire department due to work being moved abroad), so I know what I'm talking about. -pawn-
    • Comment 3/12/10: According to http:www.stimuluswatch.org, IBM has received over $64M in stimulus money, while continuing to offshore American jobs. This is unbelievable! -Stimulus Money-

    Editor's note: Many more job cut comments are available in last week's highlights.

News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • Wall Street Journal: Obama Makes Health-Care Pitch. By Peter Loftus and Henry J. Pulizzi. Excerpt: President Barack Obama took his health-care push on the road Monday, putting denunciations of insurance companies at the center of his stump speech. "How much higher do premiums have to rise until we do something about it?" Mr. Obama said in his speech at Arcadia University here.
  • New York Times op-ed: Health Reform Myths. By Paul Krugman. Excerpt: Health reform is back from the dead. Many Democrats have realized that their electoral prospects will be better if they can point to a real accomplishment. Polling on reform — which was never as negative as portrayed — shows signs of improving. And I’ve been really impressed by the passion and energy of this guy Barack Obama. Where was he last year? But reform still has to run a gantlet of misinformation and outright lies. So let me address three big myths about the proposed reform, myths that are believed by many people who consider themselves well-informed, but who have actually fallen for deceptive spin. Read more...
News and Opinion Concerning the U.S. Financial Crisis
Minimize "It is a restatement of laissez-faire-let things take their natural course without government interference. If people manage to become prosperous, good. If they starve, or have no place to live, or no money to pay medical bills, they have only themselves to blame; it is not the responsibility of society. We mustn't make people dependent on government- it is bad for them, the argument goes. Better hunger than dependency, better sickness than dependency."

"But dependency on government has never been bad for the rich. The pretense of the laissez-faire people is that only the poor are dependent on government, while the rich take care of themselves. This argument manages to ignore all of modern history, which shows a consistent record of laissez-faire for the poor, but enormous government intervention for the rich." From Economic Justice: The American Class System, from the book Declarations of Independence by Howard Zinn.

  • New York Times op-ed: The Source of Obama’s Trouble. By Bob Herbert. Excerpts: The Obama administration and Democrats in general are in trouble because they are not urgently and effectively addressing the issue that most Americans want them to: the frightening economic insecurity that has put a chokehold on millions of American families. The economy shed 36,000 jobs last month, and that was trumpeted in the press as good news. Well, after your house has burned down I suppose it’s good news that the flames may finally be flickering out. But once you realize that it will take 11 million or more new jobs to get us back to where we were when the recession began, you begin to understand that we’re not really making any headway at all. ...

    People are upset because they are mired in economic distress and are losing faith that their elected representatives are looking out for their best interests. They’ve watched with increasing anger as their government has been hijacked by the economic elite. They know that the big banks that were bailed out by taxpayers can borrow money at an interest rate of near zero while at the same time charging credit-card holders usurious rates of 20 to 30 percent.

    They know that the financial fat cats are fighting the creation of a truly independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency. They know that while ordinary Americans are kept out of the corridors of power, the elites with their lobbyists and lawyers and campaign contributions have a voice in every important decision that is made.

    It’s not the message that’s a problem for Mr. Obama and the Democrats, it’s the all-too-clear reality. People know that the government that is supposed to be looking out for ordinary people — for working people and the poor — is not doing nearly enough about an employment crisis that is lowering standards of living and hollowing out the American dream.

  • Jim Hightower: What Does Wall Street Actually Produce? Excerpts: Goldman Sachs recently announced that the work of its investment bankers in the past year was so fabulous that they were being given bonuses totaling more than $16 billion. This caused many workaday Americans to shake their heads in disbelief – not merely at the absurd sum, but also at the notion that these soft-hand financiers are engaged in productive "work."

    What do Wall Street's narcissistic casino dealers actually do? What do they produce for the good of society? Well, for one sterling example, check out a product they manufactured last year, called the iTraxx SovX. No home should be without one!

    No, it's not a slick new smart phone. The iTraxx SovX – created by a consortium of Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and a dozen other Wall Street powers – is a "sovereign credit derivative index." A what? It's a computerized trading scheme that allows wealthy speculators to buy "credit default swaps" on troubled European economies. Huh?

    Okay, in plain language, the iTraxx is a tip sheet for global gamblers. In particular, it lets banks and hedge funds lay down big money on a wager that the Greek economy is going to collapse. In other words, if the Greek people suffer, champagne corks will pop on Wall Street, for high-rolling speculators there will have won their bet. What a terrific product!

    By the way, the Greek economy is now teetering on the brink of broke because Goldman Sachs' financial fabricators invented another profiteering scheme a decade ago that allowed Greek leaders to hide the true depth of their country's financial trouble. Goldman pocketed $300 million on that sorry deal, and now it'll rake in more by betting against the economy it helped dynamite. So, while honest work might be virtuous, Goldman's financial flimflammery pays better.

  • Jim Hightower: A Good Banking Reform Gone Bad. They roll into Washington from the West, the North, the South – good ideas to make our national policies better, to make our economy fairer, to improve our nation. And these good ideas – still sparkling with freshness and common sense – are delivered into the welcoming arms of our members of Congress, who with great fanfare and promise, carry them into the majestic Capitol building, the sanctuary of our democracy.

    But then, lobbyists appear from out of the shadows to whisper to lawmakers and slip checks into their pockets. Time passes, and the fresh ideas show signs of wilting. Next, they moved into closed committee rooms where they get dissected by members representing special interests. Then – with Republicans sourly opposing anything fresh and good, and with Democrats timorously trying to appease sour Republicans – the ideas are taken down into a dark, secret chamber for "negotiations."

    From there, the good idea emerges as a bill. Only – Ohmygod, don't look! – it's been turned inside out, stuffed, and twisted into a bad idea. Republicans, who forced this grotesque gut job, spit on their own creation and walk away, but Democrats say they need to pass something, so they pass the bad idea, and call it progress.

    This has been the sad journey of a bill to create a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, a good idea that surfaced a year ago to stop Wall Street and other banking hucksters from ripping off consumers. That idea is now being "negotiated" in the senate, where it is expected to be perverted from an independent watchdog with real teeth into a puppy kept by the Federal Reserve System, where it will be taught not to bark at bankers, much less bite.

    The hope for us consumers is that the house will reject this fraud. For more information, contact Consumer Federation of America: www.consumerfed.org.

  • Jim Hightower: Buying America– With Our Dollars. Excerpt: Who owns America? Wall Street, you say? The corporate powers?

    Well, yes. But who owns them? The carefully contrived myth is that they are owned by you and me – the millions of mom & pop investors, pension-fund retirees, and people with savings in mutual funds. This Norman Rockwell portrait of widespread financial democracy is heartwarming, but a lie. Controlling ownership is securely in the hands of financial elites.

    Indeed, buckle-up for a xenophobic jolt: Increasingly, America is owned by superwealthy foreign interests. Take a peek, for example, at a sovereign wealth fund known as CIC, the China Investment Corporation. This $300-billion pile of money has become the Chinese government's chief tool for spreading its global ownership, including stakes in dozens of major U.S. companies. Since it was created in 2007, CIC has invested more than $9 billion in such iconic American brands as Aetna, Apple, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Eli Lilly, Goodyear, Johnson & Johnson, MetLife, Visa, and Wells Fargo.

    Most of CIC's stock purchases are not huge, but its ownership can be expected to expand steadily, for CIC is funded from China's almost bottomless stash of foreign cash. Ironically, much of the $2.4 trillion it holds in foreign reserves comes from us – American consumers, businesses, and even governments that keep buying products imported from China. So, CIC is using our exported dollars to buy our domestic corporations and banks.

    We the People rarely hear about these transactions. For example, last year, when Morgan Stanley boasted that it was repaying the Wall Street bailout money it got from us taxpayers, it didn't mention that nearly $2 billion of the payback came from selling a chunk of itself to CIC. China says it is merely a passive investor, with no political agenda. For now.

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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