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Highlights—July 17, 2010

  • Austin Statesman: IBM gets final warning on troubled data center contract. By Kate Alexander. Excerpts: IBM Corp.'s $863 million data center consolidation contract with Texas is teetering on collapse. The state on Friday gave IBM 30 days to fix the myriad problems that have vexed the effort to merge the data centers of 28 state agencies into two upgraded and secure facilities. The project has been plagued by delays, equipment failures, data losses and deep frustration among the state agencies. If IBM fails to meet the state's demands, the seven-year contract, signed in 2006, could be terminated.

    "The accumulated effect of under-investment by IBM, poor performance, and continual disregard for the protective obligations of the (contract), has resulted in harm to state agencies, exposure to unnecessary risks, and failure to achieve the objectives set and agreed to by IBM," Karen Robinson, executive director of the Department of Information Resources, wrote to the company. ...

    "IBM promised an investment in people, processes and technology to bring the benefits of data center consolidation to the State of Texas," Robinson said in a news release. "We have had continual problems with basic service delivery and IBM has failed to deliver on their promises."

    Jeff Tieszen, a spokesman for IBM, said the company "has fulfilled its obligations under the contract and today's action by DIR was unnecessary and unjustified." "IBM very much regrets the state's action and will aggressively protect its interest going forward," Tieszen added.

    Selected reader comments follow:

    • I work for the State and have seen firsthand that IBM has no idea what they are doing. I have worked with them on numerous occasions regarding our servers and have had them ask me, "What is the password we need to login to the server." My answer, "IBM you manage the server, how in the world would I know your password." They are completely worthless and have terrible customer service to add. It is time for the State to cut their losses and move on. Next time you want to complain about things and be taken seriously, put your real name and stop hiding behind the cartoons you watch that ultimately led to your idiotic comments and points of view.
    • Hopefully this is a turning point which can lead to the termination of the contract by 2012, I'm not joking. The state is locked into it for 3 years, they re-uped in May of 2009 and it is a 3 year hitch. So maybe they are laying the groundwork to get out earlier than 2012 OR just grandstanding to get some kind of concessions out of IBM i.e. money back before then...either way I can't believe that the Democratic Party hasn't locked on to this whole sad outsourcing saga and pummeled Perry with it. This is a case of insiders and friends making lots of money off the government while at the exact same time degrading/destroying the technical capabilities of these Agencies. Beautiful stuff! As Col. Kilgore said in Apocalypse Now: " Someday this war's gonna end…"
    • ...Like any business, we have our less-than-perfect staff… but the majority of the state employees I know and work with are hard working, conscientious, intelligent and caring people, who not only care for their jobs and have a strong work ethic, but care for the people of the state of Texas, whom we serve – including ones like you who don't deserve that type of respect. I have also worked daily with IBM since the DCS contract went into effect, and like us, they have good employees and not-so-good employees. But they are bound, like us, to a failing contract that I blame mostly on IBM upper management and their focus on putting profit above service, regardless of the cost to their customers. ...

      The point is, this contract is not working the way it was intended. That is no secret and I'm not risking anything by saying that. We (the state agencies) have worked tirelessly to try to make it work and to partner with IBM for a successful outcome. However, as DIR notes, there have been lack-luster results from IBM consistently. And yes – when the state employees took care of their own equipment, we did a MUCH better job. We took pride in that. I know. I work for IT. So don't you dare sit in your ivory towers and look down your noses at state employees and the work we do. You have NO idea. IBM needs to get their priorities straight and start working toward meeting their obligations.

    • So let's review, another outsourcing opportunity falls flat on its face. How many of these have we seen pushed forward by state agencies or the legislature? Can anyone name one outsourcing action that actually delivered what was promised by the company who sold it to the state? Heck, we're only talking about 100's of millions of our tax dollars; no big deal. When will people learn that whenever a slick salesman opens his mouth; the news is not always in your best interest and politicians will always line their pockets with $$$ if it benefits themselves.
    • The news concentrates on the State threatening to cancel the contract, but what isn't being said is that IBM is on the verge of letting the contract go away because it isn't making money. Attempts to keep it profitable by decreasing subcontractor overtime and limiting headcount are barely doing the job. The agencies keep pushing for dedicated staff which contradicts the money-saving goal of the contract to centralize, pool and decrease the overall IT staff size. IBM is basically continuing this contract for prestige now. Prestige has no immediate value but can be used to make future contracts more likely with other customers. But even that has a limit. Remember that what the State says is only half the picture.
    • The underlying dynamics that led to the contract are good. IBM can do this type of thing more efficiently then a state agency could. However IBM's failing is that it has been firing thousands of employees and shifting their jobs to India. If IBM had kept more jobs in the United States they might have the people to implement this contract. As it stands IBM's narrow mindedness means they don't have the people to do this job.
  • Associated Press, courtesy of Forbes: W. Va. state workers oppose privatizing tech jobs. Excerpts: With Gov. Joe Manchin labeling their stance as misinformed, a group representing West Virginia state workers alleged Wednesday that his administration is poised to privatize some computer-related government services. The state Public Workers Union Local 170 contends that administration officials want to seek outside contractors to develop the computer programs relied upon by state agencies. ...

    "We always have a responsibility to look at the best practices anywhere," Manchin said. That has union members invoking the example of Texas, which recently awarded an $863 million contract to unite the data center for more than two-dozen state agencies. But IBM's handling of the work earned it poor marks from nearly all the agencies involved, according to press accounts. IBM has been consulting West Virginia officials on ways to reduce its information technology costs.

  • The Register (United Kingdom): IBM employee sparks massive bank outage. By Rik Myslewski. Excerpts: Last Monday, one of Singapore's largest banks suffered a seven-hour IT outage that took down everything from back-office services to ATMs. This Tuesday, the flawed component was identified: an IBM employee. "We take full responsibility for this incident," wrote DBS Group Holdings CEO Piyush Gupta in a statement. A laudably mature response, to be sure, but his communiqué went on to explain that the blame for the outage, which lasted from 3am to 10am on Monday July 5, is to be borne by IBM. Specifically, an IBM employee who made "a procedural error in what was to have been a routine maintenance operation [that] subsequently caused a complete system outage."

    Selected reader comments follow:

    • The IBM field circus. Well, this what happens when you give an important support contract to a company who's CEO only aim is to boost his own earning by increasing the company share price, when sales are falling, by buying your own stock and sacking trained and experienced personnel. I too have seen the IBM field circus fuck up and bend a pin on a chip after 'servicing' the mainframe and as a result the machine could not do simple maths.
    • I've seen this happen a few times. The IBM method is get rid of anyone who has any skills (IE expensive) and replace them with trained monkeys that just blindly follow scripts. The monkeys are not able to tell if the processes in the scripts are valid or correct as they have never had the training to even have a basic understanding of what they are attempting to do. I suggest to any company looking at outsourcing their IT support to IBM, DON"T DO IT! Ask Air New Zealand about what IBM IT Support did to them. I think IBM had them such down for about a day.
    • And with every large company on the face of the Earth sucking out all the cash for executive bonuses in the multi-millions instead of on training we'll see a lot more of this. The last of the folks who know what they are doing, had sufficient training to work on complex systems, are starting/have started to retire. Fun times ahead, wonder if companies will be able to sue retired executives for bad business practices after they've retired or moved on. You know, once it becomes apparent to everyone that they have ruined the companies that paid them.

  • Charlotte Observer: 600 IBM jobs come with an 'if.' Firm reneged on Charlotte jobs; latest plan puts them in Research Triangle Park. By David Ranii. Excerpts: Last week's announcement that IBM plans to hire 600 workers for its new mortgage processing center in Research Triangle Park had a familiar ring to it. The back story is that the technology giant unveiled similar plans in April 2008 - for Charlotte. However, the 600 jobs the company announced it would add in Charlotte never materialized - and IBM never collected a dime of the $9.78 million in state incentives it once hoped to reap. IBM formally abandoned its plans for Charlotte in a letter it sent to state Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco in March.
  • Bloomberg BusinessWeek: Ten signs you work in a fear-based workplace. Tyrannical, brown-nosers rising again — and it could hurt your company. By Liz Ryan. Excerpts: Here are 10 signs of a fear-based workplace. If you're the person in charge of a shop, pay attention:
    • 4. Numbers rule. Sensible performance goals help people understand what's important. An obsession with metrics, daily, weekly, and hourly, and a world view that says an employee is the sum of his numeric goals, are signs of a fear-based culture. Why? A healthy organization builds performance goals into its leadership framework, but the metrics don't equal the framework. When management views people as complex, creative, multifaceted value producers and considers metrics as just one element of a well-rounded leadership program, you can beat the fear back to a tolerable level.
    • 5. And rules number in the thousands. Maybe the most stereotypical yet valid sign of a fear-based workplace is an overdependence on policies in place of smart hiring and common sense. These organizations fear their own employees' instinctive reactions to everyday circumstances (the need to book a business trip, order a stapler, or schedule a vacation day), so they install lengthy, tedious policies to keep employees from thinking independently. A need to tout the trust and openness in the organization constantly can be another red flag. As my friend Marla says, "The more an employer drones on and on in the handbook and other employee materials about trust, the less trusting they are."
    • 7. Information is hoarded. Closely related to the question "Can employees in my company chat freely?" is the question "How do people find out how things work around here?" If the sole answer is, "Ask your manager," you've got some creepy-crawly fear bugs on your hands. Cultures that allow people to hoard what they know to consolidate their power are cultures where fear has smashed trust under its heel. Likewise, if employees learn about a company layoff through the grapevine or in the newspaper vs. a frank sitdown with their managers and their teams, something is rotten in Denmark, and fear is a silent partner in your management roster.
    • 8. Brown-nosers rule. When the people who get rewarded and promoted are the least-knowledgeable but most-fawning ones in the org chart, fear has come to town. Fear-based senior leaders surround themselves with yes-men and yes-women because it's more pleasant to hear the "right" answer than the truth.
    • 9. 'The Office' evokes sad chuckles, rather than laughs. My friend Amelia writes, "As hard as the writers for 'The Office' try to make Steve Carell's character look like the world's most bumbling, officious egotist, my actual boss is worse." When cartoonish fiction looks more appealing than everyday existence to your employees, fear may play a major part. Fear shuts down our ability to think creatively, collaborate, and bring passion to the job. When getting through the day requires a focus on keeping one's head down, taking no risks, and sucking up to anyone in management, your organization's soul has left the picture.
    • 10. Management leads by fear. When senior leaders make virtually all decisions in secret, dole out information in unhelpful drips, and base hiring on sheeplike compliance rather than energy and talent, and the PA system all but blares "Be glad to have a job, stop whining, and get back to work," your company's fear problem is off the charts. I saw an example of this myself the other day when I stopped at a national retailer to look at earrings. A sales associate mentioned to his co-worker, "Crazy thing, I broke something in my car's engine, and my mechanic says it'll be $1,400 to get it fixed." In a flash, the supervisor of the department swooped into the conversation with the message, "Lucky you've got a job, aren't you then! A lot of people are unemployed, and we've got a list of people who'd love to have your job. That's your thought for the afternoon: Lucky Me!" and off she went. When leadership is based on keeping people in the dark and keeping them off-balance, no one benefits except the tier of managers near the top who justify their existence by devising ways to solidify their stature.
  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • IBM Technical Solutions Manager in Dallas, TX: (Past Employee - 2008) "IBM - Empire in Decline." Pros: Working remote/home for many positions (just be aware that this is a prelude to EVENTUALLY outsourcing your job to a cheaper 3rd world locale). You have access to some strong co-workers for support and to learn from. In general, there are also many opportunities to get involved with different technologies (although that comes with a caveat, see my comments in the "cons" section). And across the industry, for resume purposes, IBM still has a good name so take advantage of it while it lasts.

      IBM is now a good company for any fresh-out-of-school newbie that wants to gain some standard 21st corporate world experience. Plus the pay is not bad for newbies. For more experienced workers however, IBM is very limited. Executive management's not-so-secret agenda is to layoff as many "high priced" USA-based employees (and in other developed countries) and outsource everything possible to the 3rd world. Any gaps are theoretically back-filled with the "layoffees" as contractors, assuming they can't find work elsewhere.

      Cons: At this point in IBM's history, it's a lot like life during the decline of the Roman Empire. There were worse places to live during the decline of the empire but the Visigoths were coming. When considering the eradication of IBM's developed-world workforce (and compensation packages) throughout a never-ending quest to transfer the payrolls to cheaper 3rd world countries, there is a lot of risk involved with working at IBM long term. In the short term, it's a decent place to pay your dues for a few years and then leave for greener pastures with 'IBM' on your resume.

      You'll have lots of exposure to different technologies at IBM. Unfortunately, a lot of what's forced on you is either proprietary, obscure, or rapidly vanishing outside the world of IBM (think Lotus Word Pro, Lotus Notes, Domino, etc). Many US-based jobs at IBM are "tenuous", so the workplace feels a lot like dining under the Sword of Damocles. Since your co-workers know that the end could come at any moment, and their survival depends upon how well they rank compared to you, the result is reduced information flow/share, cooperation, participation, and general workplace camaraderie among your co-workers.

      On the subject of "how you rank", the PBC system (performance reviews) at IBM is a TOTAL FARCE. It's basically a random system of ranking by the managers. Worse yet, you usually already have a performance number assigned before the evaluations ever begin -- based on who the manager's favorite employees are, how many people in the dept the execs said will need to be laid off in the next year, etc.

      Specific to a bonus/commission/performance-based role at IBM like the TSM position, another rub is that you don't pick your assignments - they're given to you. So, if a manager needs to get rid of someone, it's far easier to assign the "DOA" and "tire-kicking" deals (which are almost certain to go nowhere and therefore result in lower performance) to anyone targeted for layoff than it is to deal with concocting other reasons to get rid of them and thereby meet executive management's employee attrition goals.

      Advice to Senior Management: Keep an eye on employee morale and don't delude yourselves into believing that the workforce thinks the mere opportunity to work at IBM is a reward in itself... those days are long gone. The bad economy is a double-edged sword. Yes, it helps IBM hold onto employees until they can be laid off & outsourced but if the economy ever turns around (admittedly a BIG "if") and better employment options emerge, employee retention is going to be the most difficult job of ANY at IBM. Finally, consider the cliche "our people are the company's most important asset." Then ponder if those are truly "important assets", why are they regularly tossed out like used Kleenex?

    • IBM Senior I/T Specialist: (Current Employee) "If only the economy were better I would be gone long ago." Pros: Work at home, flex time, pay (at least in smaller markets), vacation time, resume builder. Cons: Constant fear of layoffs due to offshoring, zero budget for education, no real management support of career plans (often you take what you are given just to avoid layoff/resource action), raises have been very low for the past 5 years or so (many have not gotten any). Advice to Senior Management: IBM used to be about it's greatest asset (employees) and had long term goals, now it's short sighted stock price that matters and off shoring is a great way to reduce costs in the short term, but is already coming back to bite them and will do so in the long run. In theory removing the poor performers in layoffs leaves the best employees, but the smart ones are leaving on their own and all will do so in droves when the economy improves.
    • IBM Alliance Manager in Bangalore (India): (Current Employee) "You need a godfather to survive here." Pros: Amazing technology with focus on innovation. Plenty of scope to do things your way. Growth opportunities are high. Internal learning is good. Cons: Too many people doing the same job can be frustrating. Commitments to customers and partners at times dodgy. Too much of politics. Consistent good performance, not necessarily a means to promotion; need a godfather or you need to suck up to managers. IBM believes in giving employees as low as compensation as possible compared to the marketplace, prompting good performing employees to leave. Advice to Senior Management: Employees are not fools, they know their market worth, can share in company's misfortunes in a downturn, but if negative policies are not revised post downturn you will lose your best employees.
    • IBM Senior Development Engineer in East Fishkill, NY: (Current Employee) "IBM will squeeze you and starve you until you quit or they downsize you." Pros: They haven't gotten rid of all benefits, yet. Cons: You will worry all the time@IBM. Worry about being downsized or outsourced or offshored. Worry about having benefits cut and cost increased. Worry about managing your retirement funds. Worry about funding your retirement. Worry about managing your career by yourself. Worry about promotions being frozen. Worry about your salary failing to keep up with even tame inflation. Worry about mgmt failing to pay out full bonus plan even with record profits. Advice to Senior Management: You have decimated all loyalty and incentive throughout the ranks, The only dedicated employees are the execs with the golden leash of stock options. What are you going to do with all high paid chiefs and no Indians?
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) "Not your father's IBM." Pros: Flexible work-time, Good Facilities (office etc.) Cons: process-bound off-shoring like crazy and cutting IS work-force. low employee morale (in the US); good people are leaving. Advice to Senior Management: Too many layers of executives. What happened to "respect for the individual?"
    • IBM Distinguished Engineer in Somers, NY: (Current Employee) "Think General Motors 4 years ago when SUV's were still selling." Pros: Large, WW company Large network of people who used to work for IBM Still has enough cash to buy itself into new businesses. Cons: Having them on your resume has become a minus the past couple of years. Exiting the US market in favor of growth and BRIC countries. All work not required to by a US contract will be moved offshore within 2 years. Advice to Senior Management: Accelerate your retirement.
    • IBM Advisory Software Engineer: (Current Employee) "Still Trying to Find My Place (part of a recent acquisition)." Pros: IBM employees I have met so far are very helpful and reasonably enthusiastic. I have reasons for hope. The acquisition process was not smooth. IBM didn't focus enough of presenting a clear plan and didn't step in to fill the void left by lack of care about employees by the senior management of the company that was acquired. Cons: Way too much bureaucracy. I worked for another fortune 500 tech company in the past. There were 4-5 levels of management. IBM seems to have an endless supply of executives, most of them from acquisitions. Advice to Senior Management: Decide whether technical staff is your most valuable possession and act like it is. Too many executives are hindering innovation.
    • IBM IT Specialist: (Past Employee - 2009) "Software Group was supposed to be NOT LIKE Global Services." Pros: Worked with a very good Team lead who was helpful and smart. IBM paid well and benefits, expense reporting and travel were hassle free. Set my own hours a lot of the time. Cons: The software group is in consulting, the global services group, hardware group, group, group. I ended up on projects scoped by one group, but implemented by another. Very embarrassing to be at a client and not show a common front. Lots of outsourcing to India, and had to train off shore people and do my job. Had to work on multiple clients with, multiple project managers who would not keep their nose out of the technical stuff. Training was hard to come by, a lot of self-study pushed. Advice to Senior Management: Get together and show a common front to the customers. Don't bad mouth other parts of IBM to the line employees. That is your job to pull it together. Be up front well ahead of time what is going to India, should US employee think there still is a technical career at IBM??
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) "IBM Australia." Pros: Innovation, being able to work anywhere in the world, flexibility to a degree, lots of IT people, internal communities are good, overseas residencies can be great experiences. Cons: Home internet used for work is not reimbursed, no internal coffee, pay in some sections is below average, training budgets can be tight, international travel is not as good as it used to be. Advice to Senior Management: Invest more to allow employees to promote innovation and employee development. Offer more long term incentives rather than small short term carrots and false promises.
    • IBM IT Specialist in Austin, TX: (Current Employee) "Wrong direction." Pros: Flexible work hours. Work from home. Good benefits. Incredible array of technical resources: redbooks, web sites, wikis, forums, other publications. Cons: Senior management is focused only on short term business results at the expense of everything else. Most gains have come from acquisitions. Offshoring and relentless focus on the bottom line is eroding quality in existing products and services. IBM is trading off its brand recognition, but how long can this continue? There is a frightening lack of coordination and communication from one part of the company to another. It can be very frustrating to get simple things done. Upper management inaccessible, doesn't care. Most management is non technical and doesn't understand the work they oversee. Advice to Senior Management: Be honest. Respect your employees. More frequent and candid communication. What's going on and why? Don't dance around the subject of offshoring.
    • IBM Associate Systems Engineer: (Current Employee) "Work in IBM." Pros: Few. Best things about IBM is work culture and work flexibility. Cons: Work flexibility can be enjoyed only if you are joined has higher management. specially never join IBM as fresher. Salary hikes are very low. No inputs/ appreciation from Higher management. IBM has lost the Innovation trend. Advice to Senior Management: Guide freshers, more initiatives needs to be taken in Innovations. People managers should be assigned with less number of employees so that he can concentrate on individual growth of employees specially for freshers.
    • IBM Staff Software Engineer: "Great to work for until I was laid off." Pros: Pay, benefits, opportunity all decent. Cons: 2009 layoffs were heavily weighted to older workers (40's & 50's). Secret rankings by management of employees supposedly used to do faster workforce reductions. Advice to Senior Management: In this day and age it would be humane to let folks know in a timely manner if they are a potential candidate to be let go should there be an economic need.
New on the Alliance@IBM Site
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  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 7/12/10: To -trexibmer- - you say that Meat Up should just figure out how to give a damn. Problem is, and this is from many of my friends still in IBM, is that they see what's going on, wondering why THEY did not get RAed, asking themselves how these good people DID get RAed, knowing that in many cases, THEY should have gotten it if it were project, or total contribution based, wondering why many other no-ops are still there while the good ones got RAed, and it is only human nature to get despondent, and just wonder why care, look what it gets you.

      You're right, they *should* try to give a damn, but reality says it gets you nowhere, so why bother, because damned if you do, damned if you don't, and THAT is leading to IBM's continued decline in quality, innovativeness, customer service, etc... It's more of (if I may paraphrase those friends), not so much of a "don't give a damn" but more of a why bother, caring (the way we used to) gets you no further, so why invest emotionally knowing it will change nothing? -RAed Jan 09-

    • Comment 7/12/10: To trexibmer. The point was, those of us still here are not shaking in our boots as so many people write on this board. We still work hard and do the best we can. Some of us just don't give a damn about IBM any more but that does not mean I don't do the best job I can all the time. I am just not shaking in my boots, -BeatUp-
    • Comment 7/12/10: Technicians at IBM East Fishkill NY that are a Band 5 or less are now having there mid term review and being told what they have to do to improve their rating by the end of the Year! Then are being told that there is no salary plan this year for technicians and will be getting nothing for their yearly efforts. Meanwhile Band 6 and above will be getting an adjusted annual increase from 1 to 5 %. With IBM making in excess of 200 billion profits and the CEO giving himself another 20 million pension increase. I don't know about you but my mother always told me that what you do for one you do for another. As we well know IBM no longer has any common etiquette when the Watson philosophy was that you take care of your employees and they will take care of you! Now the rich get richer and the poor gets poorer with the main interest the shareholder! -Expendable Technician-
    • Comment 7/13/10: I've seen a lot of discussion on here about who makes the decision to lay someone off, 1st line managers or higher. From experience it's usually someone higher up that decides the cuts will be made and then they force the first lines to decide who. Frankly it would be more courageous if the 2nd/3rd line managers would decide who but most are too cowardly or disconnected to make those kinds of decisions. However, this isn't unique to IBM. It's the same in most large corporations. What's unique to IBM is the fact it keeps occurring every 3 to 6 months like clockwork and yet the employees don't feel a need to unionize. -4merBeamer-
    • Comment 7/13/10: Fighting to keep a job that has some benefits and pays the bills is NEVER a fools game. Fighting to improve ones lot in life through pay raises or better jobs is a good thing also. Improving your lot in life with an employment contract is a very good thing. IBM's CEO thinks so. Having your raises and performance bonus and vacation and retirement and seniority and layoffs defined by a contract will certainly help morale.

      Sam Palmisano's morale has never been higher then when he got his contract. When IBMers have employment contracts like their CEO has then they will be able to concentrate on competing against their competitors instead of each other. They will be able to do their jobs without worrying about who is screwing them to get ahead for their 1 percent raise. They can go back to being friends and true team members with their coworkers which will make their work environment nicer. If bad things come their way they will know by their contract how things will be handled.

      How severance, retraining, job search assistance can all be defined in a contract. Going it alone is not a good thing anymore. If you think things are pretty bad at IBM right now then you understand what life without a contract is like. Try life with a contract. Ask yourself if it could really be worse. Remember that contracts are very good for you and the company you work for. It allows both you and the company to be able to budget resources defined by the contract. That's why company executives in ALL the companies have contracts. That's why you need one also. -Doyathink?-

    • Comment 7/13/10: To: -4merBeamer- I know for a fact that firs line managers decide WHO go. They are told from above "how many". I was targeted because I was not an a** kisser. I refused to be the managers puppet after others left and I was asked to pick up the slack of many. I know a first line personally that had several favorites. Those people have been there for over 10 years now and remain there today. Some of them have changed jobs many many times in IBM and are thriving today because this first line protects them. You have 2 choices in IBM.... you can suck up to the first line, or organize and get a Union in that place. Those are your only options to be safe and treated fairly. -not_a_butt_kisser-
    • Comment 7/13/10: Surely the government has created a precedent we can leverage on. BP, through their management decisions, impacted the earnings ability of many in the Gulf and therefore must pay compensation for lost earnings for the foreseeable future(as long as their decision impacts revenue). IBM, who gets significant revenue from the government, decided to offshore jobs and RA'd many US employees to enrich their profits. No difference in impact, surely they should be required to compensate for lost earnings going forward?? Want to raise this with your elected officials??? -Logical-
    • Comment 7/13/10: First, I'm a dues paying Alliance member. For those interested,, managers are currently going through mid-year reviews and having to designate the top 10% AND bottom10% of their employees. This is in GBS. I don't know what other divisions are doing. The HR directive is still on the track of a "High Performance Culture" which means EVERY year a new set of "bottom/low" performers are targeted. Once an RA is in the works, the low performers are dead ducks (although I have seen 2+ performers get on an RA list). But generally, it's the low performers targeted.

      But here's the rub, GBS employees are leaving in droves! They can't staff projects and hardly anyone responds to external job postings. So, that begs the question, why continue with this high performance crap which continues to demoralize employee with unfair performance rating. My manager actually said at a department meeting that he has a team of Olympic Gold Medal winners and it's up to us to convince him how we stand out against our peers.

      Oh brotha! All employees see through this sh** and managers look like fool spewing this crap. The Bench Management Process has been discontinued but not before it caused horrible damage to morale amongst the rank and file. We, the average employee, will NEVER change how things are. The best we can do is join the union and have a collective voice. -darwin's radio-

    • Comment 7/14/10: Anyone who was RA'd should check out the benefits provided by the government Trade Act. Several petitions already open and all you need to do is apply with your state. Here is the one for email and collaboration. http://www.doleta.gov/tradeact/taa/taadecisions/taadecision.cfm?taw=73218 Good luck, there are better companies out there. -IBgone-
    • Comment 7/16/10: I lost my job in ITD at the Boulder campus last month. Despite a lot of sensible resistance by employees against the GDF mess, the company simply doesn't care about employee mistreatment. They're hell bent on destroying services entirely, losing their few remaining customers, and turning the company into little more than a 3rd world body shop.

      I can't tell you how many idiots in Brazil, India and Argentina I had to 'hand-hold', and deal with over the years. The big difference between the American worker and them is that American's generally get up to speed and are able to do their job. Employees in places like Brazil, India and Argentina never get to that point...they just continue to perform terribly, and try to get the few Americans that are left to do their work for them.

      I don't know about the other GDF locations, but IBM Boulder continues to get rid of full-time technical people on a quarterly basis. The company then plugs IBM Bangalore resources into these same positions...right here, on our US own soil. The company is beyond a disgrace at this point, and I'm happy to be out of there.

      It's still a shame that the Obama administration handed over $30 billion to Palmisano under the guise of 'creating jobs'. If that isn't high-crime and fraud, I don't know what is. I agree fully with the comments that have been made on here on how people that kiss ass get to keep their jobs indefinitely. Those 'types' also tend to be the least skilled US employees. I suppose kissing ass is the logical course of action for those that are completely talentless. The sociopathic first lines do the same thing with their management, and don't really understand the business, nor how to manage people properly. -ibm_spiral-

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: Why the Idiocy About Unemployment? By Les Leopold. Excerpts: My wife, a labor economist, is upset with NPR's "The Take Away" (and many other news programs) for reinforcing the myth that somehow the unemployed are to blame for not having a job. We all should be angry as well because the jobs just aren't there. In fact, the latest unemployment statistics show that there are five unemployed workers available for every vacant job. Why blame workers when it's so clear that Wall Street's reckless gambling caused the jobs crisis?

    By now, you'd think we'd have buried this issue. But like Dracula it refuses to die. And so, I return to the subject with the hope of driving a stake through its heart and giving it a proper burial. Among the claims we need to put to rest: ...

    If the public knew that the top ten hedge fund managers were averaging $900,000 an hour (not a typo) during the worst economic year since the Depression--and paying lower income tax rates than the rest of us--the American public would be outraged. Of course, to push this plan the politicians would need to have the guts to upset billionaires. (Meanwhile, Timothy Geithner is signaling that the Administration will hold down capital gains taxes on the super-rich.) ...

    Despite all the perks we've been giving to corporate America, it's not at all clear that the private sector will ever again create enough decent jobs to support a middle class society in this country. Right now the economy is supposedly growing, but employment isn't. So what is growing? Well, the obscene bonuses and pay packages of corporate America and Wall Street --- the only growth that counts for our financial elites.

    We're at a critical point in the jobs crisis. Nearly 30 million of us don't have jobs or have been forced into part-time jobs. It's not like there's no work to do. We have millions and millions of kids to educate. We desperately need to slash our energy use--and with an army of workers, we could weatherize every home and business in the country. Our bridges and roads will take decades to repair. We need to build an entire national system of efficient public transit.

    When Wall Street is in trouble, we come to the rescue with trillions in bailouts. We've poured hundreds of billions more into two wars. But when it comes to investing in our people to get needed work done, we can't seem to summon the will or find the cash.

    There's a one-sided war going on between financial elites and the rest of us. They've engineered the economy to enrich themselves at our expense, with Wall Street taking the lead. The numbers don't lie: In 1970 the top 100 CEOs earned approximately $45 for every dollar earned by the average worker. By last year, it was $1,081 to one. (See The Looting of America.)

  • Huffington Post: The Root of Economic Fragility and Political Anger. By Robert Reich. Excerpts: Missing from almost all discussion of America's dizzying rate of unemployment is the brute fact that hourly wages of people with jobs have been dropping, adjusted for inflation. Average weekly earnings rose a bit this spring only because the typical worker put in more hours, but June's decline in average hours pushed weekly paychecks down at an annualized rate of 4.5 percent. In other words, Americans are keeping their jobs or finding new ones only by accepting lower wages.

    Meanwhile, a much smaller group of Americans' earnings are back in the stratosphere: Wall Street traders and executives, hedge-fund and private-equity fund managers, and top corporate executives. As hiring has picked up on the Street, fat salaries are reappearing. Richard Stein, president of Global Sage, an executive search firm, tells the New York Times corporate clients have offered compensation packages of more than $1 million annually to a dozen candidates in just the last few weeks.

    We're back to the same ominous trend as before the Great Recession: a larger and larger share of total income going to the very top while the vast middle class continues to lose ground. And as long as this trend continues, we can't get out of the shadow of the Great Recession. When most of the gains from economic growth go to a small sliver of Americans at the top, the rest don't have enough purchasing power to buy what the economy is capable of producing. ...

    Each of America's two biggest economic downturns over the last century has followed the same pattern. Consider: in 1928 the richest 1 percent of Americans received 23.9 percent of the nation's total income. After that, the share going to the richest 1 percent steadily declined. New Deal reforms, followed by World War II, the GI Bill and the Great Society expanded the circle of prosperity. By the late 1970s the top 1 percent raked in only 8 to 9 percent of America's total annual income. But after that, inequality began to widen again, and income reconcentrated at the top. By 2007 the richest 1 percent were back to where they were in 1928--with 23.5 percent of the total. ...

    Companies were allowed to slash jobs and wages, cut benefits and shift risks to employees (from you-can-count-on-it pensions to do-it-yourself 401(k)s, from good health coverage to soaring premiums and deductibles). They busted unions and threatened employees who tried to organize. The biggest companies went global with no more loyalty or connection to the United States than a GPS device. Washington deregulated Wall Street while insuring it against major losses, turning finance--which until recently had been the servant of American industry--into its master, demanding short-term profits over long-term growth and raking in an ever larger portion of the nation's profits. And nothing was done to impede CEO salaries from skyrocketing to more than 300 times that of the typical worker (from thirty times during the Great Prosperity of the 1950s and '60s), while the pay of financial executives and traders rose into the stratosphere. ...

    What we get from widening inequality is not only a more fragile economy but also an angrier politics. When virtually all the gains from growth go to a small minority at the top -- and the broad middle class can no longer pretend it's richer than it is by using homes as collateral for deepening indebtedness -- the result is deep-seated anxiety and frustration. This is an open invitation to demagogues who misconnect the dots and direct the anger toward immigrants, the poor, foreign nations, big government, "socialists," "intellectual elites," or even big business and Wall Street. The major fault line in American politics is no longer between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, but between the "establishment" and an increasingly mad-as-hell populace determined to "take back America" from it. When they understand where this is heading, powerful interests that have so far resisted fundamental reform may come to see that the alternative is far worse.

  • Washington Post editorial: GOP has no problem extending tax cuts for the rich. Excerpts: Senate Republicans, committed as they are to preventing the debt from mounting further, can't approve an extension of unemployment benefits because it would cost $35 billion. But they are untroubled by the notion of digging the hole $678 billion deeper by extending President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Republican Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) about this contradiction. Mr. Kyl's response is worth examining because of what it says about the GOP's refusal to practice the fiscal responsibility it preaches.

    Mr. Kyl's first line of defense was to dismiss Mr. Wallace's query as "a loaded question" because "the Bush tax cuts applied to every single American." Mr. Wallace pointed out that he was only referring to the top tax brackets, but Mr. Kyl persisted in his refusal to answer. "So let's, first of all, start with those that don't apply to the wealthy. Shouldn't those be extended?" Never mind that no one in a policymaking position -- not President Obama, not Democrats in Congress -- is arguing against extending those tax cuts, at least temporarily. So when Mr. Kyl contends that "all of that goes away," he is just blowing smoke. ...

    Huh? No one's talking about cutting taxes on the wealthy to stimulate the economy. The issue is whether the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans should be extended, adding another $678 billion to the deficit over the next decade. The tax cuts, it's worth remembering, passed originally in 2001 with the argument that the surplus was so large that rates could be cut with budgetary room to spare. Now that the fiscal picture has deteriorated so badly, the questions remains: How are you going to pay the $678 billion? And if you don't, how are you going to justify the added damage to an already grim fiscal outlook?

  • Jim Hightower: Spending On the Rich, Cutting Back On the Rest of Us. Excerpts: Deficit hawks are on the fly in Washington, madly screeching that America can no longer afford... well, the American people. Having slashed taxes for the wealthiest one-percent of our society, having lavished gabillions of dollars on unnecessary wars that enrich politically-connected government contractors, having laid out trillions of dollars to bail out Wall Street's casino banksters who crashed our real economy – Washington's brave fighters for extending more of our nation's wealth to the already-rich have suddenly turned into born-again budget whackers.

    Are they cutting back on any of the above elites, you ask? What a joker you are! No, no – it's regular folks who must pay the price for the decade of excess that these politicos lavished on the rich.

    In recent weeks, for example, Republican senators have repeatedly blocked an extension of jobless benefits for America's hardest-hit families. They've also denied aid that would keep states and cities from firing hundreds of thousands of teachers, police officers, and other essential public employees, "Can't afford it," bellow these newly-minted spendthrifts, even as their failure to act is intentionally increasing unemployment and economic-pain across our land.

    Governors are also running the same sort of budget scams on their people. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, for example, recently dealt with his state's deficit by slashing spending for public health, higher education, the elderly and the disabled. He then vetoed an income tax on Minnesota's richest people, declaring that this effort to balance the budget and share the pain was "nonsensical." Likewise, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is terminating state workers while vetoing a tax hike on millionaires, calling the wealth tax "irresponsible."

    So, students, the lesson here is that public spending is only sensible if it goes to the moneyed elites, and budget cuts are only good when applied to the rest of us.

  • Jim Hightower: The Corporate Reality of Carly and Meg. Excerpts: Big news in California politics: The Golden State's GOP has nominated a pair of golden gals to try to take the state's top two political offices. Meg Whitman, running for governor, and Carly Fiorina, running for U.S. senate, are both former CEOs and multimillionaires who spent truckloads of their corporate loot to win the Republican nominations. Whitman, for example, dumped a breath-taking and record-breaking $73 million of her own money into the primary race.

    On election night, the two free-spenders issued a joint statement of triumph: "Career politicians in Sacramento and Washington, DC, be warned – you now face your worst nightmare: two businesswomen from the real world."

    The real world? Only a pampered CEO could think that the luxurious confines of the executive suite come anywhere near other people's reality. Aside from private jets and other platinum-level perks, they pocket absolutely unreal paychecks. When she departed Hewlett-Packard, Fiorina was handed a $21-million fare-thee-well gift, and Whitman hauled off more than a billion bucks during her tenure at eBay.

    And let's get real about the worthiness of their CEO experience. Fiorina was such an executive disaster that Hewlett-Packard's board dumped her in 2005. "Nobody liked Carly's leadership all that much," said a market analyst at the time, adding that "anyone will be better." Likewise, costly management missteps by Whitman caused eBay's board to conclude that the corporation was simply too big for her to run.

    If they can't run a big company, why should voters think they can run a state that is bigger than most countries? Besides, a corporate CEO is head of an autocratic, secretive, top-down, self-serving, single-purpose organization – not exactly ideal qualities for leading a democratic government.

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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