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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—November 6, 2010

  • IBM case study: IBM GEMCAP Uses data mining to hold down company travel expenses. Excerpts: Business need: At IBM, ensuring compliance with company travel and expense policies is the job of the Global Expense Monitoring, Compliance and Analysis Program (GEMCAP). Over the years, IBM had automated many tasks related to expense reporting and reimbursement, but with a growing number of employees traveling at any given time, GEMCAP needed a more efficient way to provide consistent, global oversight.

    Solution: GEMCAP deployed a centralized risk and compliance analysis solution designed to identify and detect patterns of behavior. The solution accesses the IBM World Wide Expense Reimbursement (WWER) database and monitors all expenses submitted through the online WWER application. The architecture combines the analytical power of algorithmic and visual data mining to identify risk indicators for noncompliance.

    Benefits: · Rapidly scans quarterly expense data, using sophisticated analysis to reveal patterns of error or abuse. Saves money by enabling IBM to stop losses through early detection. · Captures data from expense reports and online tools to calculate risk scores for IBM groups or processes, and flags units for additional training. · Links GEMCAP with more than 43,000 IBM expense approvers worldwide to continuously improve travel and expense management.

  • Forbes: America's Happiest Companies. By Jenna Goudreau. Excerpts: Do you work for one of America's happiest companies? Studies show that positive employees outperform negative employees in terms of productivity, sales, energy levels, turnover rates and healthcare costs. According to Shawn Achor, Harvard researcher and author of "The Happiness Advantage," optimistic sales people outperform their pessimistic counterparts by up to 37%. In fact, the benefits can be seen across industries and job functions. Doctors with a positive mindset are 50% more accurate when making diagnoses than those that are negative. Today, a few forward-thinking companies are investing in the happiness of their employees to drive innovation and boost productivity.

    "If you infuse fun into the work environment, you will have more engaged employees, greater job satisfaction, increased productivity and a brighter place to be," says Stacy Sullivan, the chief culture officer of Google, who has a telling and rare title at a company often celebrated for its campus and perks. The tech giant offers its 23,000 employees perks like onsite daycare, dry-cleaning, oil changes and free breakfast, lunch and dinner. Google also hosts "TGIF" weekly staff meetings in which staffers can ask questions of the CEO. Perhaps most creative, Google's encouragement of the "20% project" -- employees use 20% of their work time on a project outside the scope of their jobs -- led to the creation of Gmail and Google Talk.

    Other companies are also finding creative ways to increase workplace happiness. Financial firm UBS offers employees a nap room and a Friday beer cart. Beverage company PepsiCo encourages associates to get outside by offering them plots of land to start organic gardens.

    Here's a look at some of the happiest companies in the U.S.: ...

    According to happiness expert Shawn Achor, MIT researchers studied thousands of IBM employees for a year and found the more social they were the better they performed. Each additional e-mail contact added $948 in revenue. IBM since launched a program to facilitate employee introductions to increase overall happiness.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Program to facilitate employee introductions?" by "bits_bytes_and_bugs". Full excerpt: Nothing like this that I've seen or heard of. Closest thing I'm aware of is attempting to connect new hires with more senior people early in their career to reduce early career escapees. But it you read the article closely, it doesn't say that IBM is a "happy company" - it reports the research and the program, but doesn't say anything more. Probably another IBM propaganda piece.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Program to facilitate employee introductions?" by "Tony". Full excerpt: They do have a ' Social Blue ' website - people played with it for a while its kind of dead now. They keep trying to do that stuff but I think people are generally too busy to do a lot of that garbage. The people I work with are definitely not happy - especially the ones with more than 20 years with the company that knew the 'good old days ' ... if you have enough free time for all those ' Jams ' and social events you better be looking over your shoulder.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Program to facilitate employee introductions?" by Carol Ziemba. Full excerpt: Question 1: Will the happiest IBM employee please stand up? Question 2: Now that you're standing, are you sure you are getting enough oxygen??
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "I have run out of medical insurance" by "SEA". Full excerpt: Hello, I am 51 years old....I was laid off and had IBM insurance for 1 year...that was extended under Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. I now find that I am still unemployed and my medical insurance has also run out. I was wondering if anyone can recommend a good insurance company that is reasonable ... I definitely need coverage as I have some chronic health issues and take prescription drugs every day. Thank you
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: I have run out of medical insurance" by "netmouser". Full excerpt: I was in a similar situation. In my case, I am eligible for the early retiree FHA IBM plans. But access only - no money - because I have less than 15 years service. So I pay the full premium, like we did for Cobra. Note that FHA premiums are so much higher than Cobra.

    First, for those like me. My research found I could not find less costly medical insurance on the open market unless I got far less coverage. Anything less will often have no annual out-of-pocket limit. That type of coverage is why those even with health insurance end up in bankruptcy court should a surprise medical event happen. Because I have had great health, and just had my annual physical, I chose the IBM High Deductible PPO. The difference between this and the low deductible is: With low deductible you pay up front (with a far higher premium). With high deductible and the lower premium, you really pay only if you get ill. They kind of even out in cost if you have a real medical problem..You are basically self-insuring. Both have a similar annual out-of-pocket limit. If I had poor health, I'd get the low deductible. One other difference. Low deductible has no limits on prescription. High deductible is up to a cap of $1000, then you are on your own. Only joining a prescription discount plan like AARP has (that are not insurance) can help out if prescription costs go above $1000. For the ordinary folk, this is adequate coverage.

    For those without FHA access and not an early retiree - you are under age 55 - that need to go to the open market to buy health insurance, it seems to get tricky. IBM did send us a letter about some timeframe to transition to a new plan that ignores preexisting conditions. Again, you have a time limit to use this. If I can find that letter, I'll post that info. Unfortunately the health reform exchanges for buying good coverage at competitive prices are not available until 2014. I can speak for New Jersey today - if you have a preexisting condition and have had no insurance for 6 months, you can apply to the state high risk pool program.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: I have run out of medical insurance" by "madinpok". Full excerpt: If you are just now running out of IBM's subsidized coverage at the 1 year mark, you should still have 6 months more of COBRA coverage available. That may be your least expensive option for the short term. I think you also have the option to change to a less expensive COBRA plan now that you have to pay the full cost. Since you are over 50, you can join AARP and access their health insurance offerings. I believe they offer plans for those not yet on Medicare.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: I have run out of medical insurance" by "C C". Full excerpt: My COBRA ran out as of Oct 31 after 18 months. I live in Pennsylvania and belonged to a Healthamerica HMO. 30 days prior to the COBRA expiration I was offered a continuity plan by Healthamerica. It was very similar to the plan I had except that it excluded most prescription drug coverage except for diabetes. The cost to enroll an individual per month was about $350.00 while a husband and wife together cost about $970.00. I checked with Healthamerica and they recommended getting two individual,policies at $350.00 each rather than the husband and wife coverage at $970.00.

    I investigated the cost of buying my prescription drugs on my own and found that it wound be cheaper in conjunction with the continuity plan than any other coverage I could find. Just carefully investigate the cost of the prescription drugs as they vary greatly from source to source. I have one drug which ranged from $200.00 to $1200.00 for the same prescription. Check with your current provider to see if the offer any sort of continuity program.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: I have run out of medical insurance" by "netmouser". Full excerpt: Like you, my Cobra ran out last month. The Healthamerica plans are available only in PA and OH. I have access-only (no money) to IBM's FHA early retiree plans (the not eligible for Medicare ones). I chose the high deductible PPO because I am healthy today and take no drugs. A concern is that the prescription part is limited to $1000 a year, but unless I get suddenly really sick, I may never buy drugs. I may have to re-think this during open enrollment next month for 2011 when the time span is longer and I am now in my early 60's.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: I have run out of medical insurance" by "bk2006pc". Full excerpt: The best health care plan is the current GOP offered plan which majority Americans love, cost nothing and you are on your own!
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: I have run out of medical insurance" by "mr_quarkwrench". Full excerpt: I assume that majority isn't actually sick. -- Don
  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • IBM Anonymous: (Past Employee - 2008) “Not my father's IBM.” Pros: Fairly good at maintaining some worklife balance...you can work from home. Cons: Worklife balance...the silent expectation that even when on vacation or attending personal events you should be able to access your workload remotely...anytime, anywhere. Benefits and salaries have diminished as workloads have increased. Pervasive sense that you are only as good as that day's work...people are no longer IBM's most valued asset. Don't invest in training employees anymore...need to come fully trained/educated. Advice to Senior Management: Execs should read the Glassdoor site and be the trendsetter corporation that takes a lead on re-investing in ways to show employees how important they are to IBM's bottomline...not just the stock value or the Sr. Execs bonuses.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) “IBM.” Pros: Lots of opportunities at IBM for different fields - hardware, software, services. Cons: Slow moving elephant makes it hard to get things done with the bureacracy Also hard to make a difference in such a large company. Advice to Senior Management: Listen more to employees. Morale is low as younger generation head to smaller companies or startups.
    • IBM Solution Architect/Principal Engineer in Bangalore (India): (Current Employee) “IBM Software Labs India - good work environment, not much money.” Pros: 1. Very wide product portfolio. Can learn almost everything in software world if you wish 2. Good work life balance 3. Friendly environment 4. Switching between roles is relatively easy.

      Cons: 1. Over last few years IBM/ISL has gone down in pay ladder. Below market salary. 2. Company prefers lateral hiring in senior positions rather than promoting internal people. 3. Over the years management is losing transparency and fairness. Still better than market but it's deteriorating rapidly - primarily owning to lateral recruitment in management cadre from other companies. These people mostly don't know IBM values. 4. Do not expect great salary hike. IBM thinks the flexibility they are giving you must be compensated by low salary. HR simply doesn't care about high attrition.

      Advice to Senior Management: Retain good folks - if needed by giving high salary. HR can't always put same rule for everyone - if you equate an expert with a novice, no reason why the expert will stay - unless, of course, you haven't spoiled him by your super lazy work environment.

    • IBM Partner: (Current Employee) “Services are dying at IBM.” Pros: Excellent breadth of opportunities, clients and services. Excellent brand and image. Cons: IBM is exiting traditional services business - they are focusing on outsourcing and software group. If you desire to be an industry leader in advisory and technical services - I would suggest you consider other companies. Advice to Senior Management: One IBM does not exist - selling to companies in a piece-meal fashion is going to further erode the IBM image. I have not heard 'no one gets fired for hiring IBM' in many years.. a lesson for IBM.
    • IBM IT Specialist in Atlanta, GA: (Current Employee) “After 7 years at IBM, not satisfied.” Pros: Challenging projects, flexible work environment. Cons: No Career Advancement, No Pay raises, Inefficient offshore teams. Advice to Senior Management: Should respect technical resources rather than just project managers
    • IBM Financial Analyst in New York, NY: (Current Employee) “Not industry competitive.” Pros: Smart, hardworking and friendly colleagues. Cons: Pay is not industry competitive. Skills learned are hard to apply else where in a more traditional financial setting. Advice to Senior Management: More growth opportunities for younger employees; better pay for younger employees.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) “Not what it seems to be.” Pros: Large company means they can bargain for good benefits and some additional perks you don't see in a small company. There is some potential for movement to other positions, but I didn't see a lot of that happening. Cons: Major drawback is the company thinks that hiring offshore workers is the way to go. Cheaper cost of labor and a younger work force has them hiring workers in China, Brazil, Vietnam and many other countries, while those of us here in the United States who are well trained and well versed in the job are let go. Advice to Senior Management: The company should be taking care of the strong work force they had in this country instead of making the current unemployment situation even worse. They have laid off thousands of people - highly skilled who are now trying to find a way to get re-employed.
    • IBM Equipment Manager in Tucson, AZ: (Current Employee) “Good place to start.” Pros: Very well recognized company and leader in it's industry. Flexible working conditions as well as ability for mobile office and movement with in the company. Cons: Too many managers for and top heavy on the executive level. Hard to advance with moving around a lot and or leaving the company and coming back. Advice to Senior Management: Vet your managers better and make sure they are up to and know the job they will be performing. Too much overlap in responsibilities.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) “many IBMer are quitting IBM after realizing they won't have a chance to get a package :-)” Pros: Some projects allow you to work from home, many outsiders still trust IBM (it won't last very long) Cons: Long working hours, don't be surprised if you end up working more than 80 hrs/week no compensation for that, close to zero bonus, poor management. Advice to Senior Management. Keep doing the good work, so other companies can take IBM's market share
    • IBM Software Engineer in San Jose, CA: (Current Employee) “Progress for new hires in DB2 LUW in SVL Lab.” Pros: Diverse opportunities to work on different technologies. Cons: Very slow pace of career and compensation progress. Advice to Senior Management: Need to find out ways for compensation improvement.
    • IBM Senior Consultant: (Current Employee) “Decline and Fall ...” Pros: The only advantage that IBM has is that it is the inheritor of an enviable technological heritage. However, this often leads to complacency and so, it could be a disadvantage. Perhaps companies too, like civilizations, have a finite life span. They are born, they grow, they attain glory, and then they decline and fall to dust.

      Cons: IBM, in late 2010, is a company at precisely the same point in its history as the Roman Empire was in early 410. While the stock appreciates and the patrician elite makes its millions, there is mutiny and desertion in the legions, and barbarian incompetents are fast filling up the ranks. It is a company that hopes that it can cash in on past glory. There is no vision, the leadership coterie is totally uninspiring, and all that poppycock about smart planets, on demand, and globally integrated enterprise is just another gimmick to dupe customers, shareholders and employees alike with inane buzzwords.

      If you are at all competent, you'll soon find out that work/life balance means nothing. Like in every other company these days, you'll end up having to do the work of 10 other incompetent colleagues. If you're clever, you'll adjust the level of your competence to match your salary and the general competence of everyone around you, thus effectively lowering the average competence of the group. Eventually, the bad will drive out the good and the barbarians will have all but sacked the city.

      Advice to Senior Management: Start treating your employees like human beings first. Listen to them. Then go and learn how Google and Netflix treat their employees. If you do not change soon, you will go the way of Rome and the dinosaurs and the dodo. And oh, by the way, I'm not staying to find out if you will change, so, good luck !

    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) “Support Rep.” Pros: Work with a good group of people. Cons: No Raises, no chance for advancement, poor pay and benefits. No respect for employees. Advice to Senior Management: Try giving a little back to the people that make this company and stop lining your own pockets. This was once a great company now it is just a sweat shop. We need to bring quality back and respect for the individual.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) “Not especially inspiring or motivating.” Pros: Great executive leadership. Strong vision. Good processes at the corporate and brand level. Cons: Slow to react to employee non-professionalism. Incompetence is an issue that is slow to be addressed. Often times ineffective middle management. Advice to Senior Management: Encourage. Enthuse. Inspire employees at every level. Reward real technical talent, competent, and intelligent employees. Introduce peer review and take away hierarchical structure of review. One person should not determine the fate of your career.
  • eWeek: HP Layoffs Not Taken in Stride by U.K. Union. By Don E. Sears. Excerpts: Hewlett-Packard employees in the United Kingdom are railing from recent layoffs that eliminated 1,300 employees. The latest workforce reduction announcement comes on top of 900 HP worker job cuts in the region. The union representing U.K.-based workers, Unite, had disparaging remarks for the recent spat of downsizing in the region.

    "Despite significant profits, HP appears hell-bent on continuing to butcher its highly skilled U.K. workforce,” said Unite official Peter Skyte in an Oct. 11 statement. "It is increasingly difficult for HP employees in the U.K. to plan for their futures when the threat of redundancy is continually hanging over their heads. Morale is at an all-time low.” ...

    The union--which represents more than 1.5 million workers in Britain and Ireland--is complaining these job cuts are in direct opposition of the U.K. government’s contention that high technology jobs will fuel the job growth in the near future. The union claims there have been nearly 9,000 job cuts from HP in the U.K. in the last two years.

    “On the evidence of these cuts, the U.K. government’s belief that the high tech private sector will be the motor for growth and new jobs is largely a mirage,” said Skyte. "Lax employment protection in the U.K. compared to other European countries means that the U.K. is bearing the brunt of cuts, as it's quicker and cheaper to sack U.K. people and export their jobs abroad.”

    The union is also citing that many jobs for HP have moved to Asia and other developing countries and that the work stress has increased dramatically for workers inheriting HP work from the U.K. "Our sister union in India, Unites, is reporting that IT employees in India are complaining about the stress caused by tremendous pressure to live up to unreasonable targets and deadlines,” said Skyte.

  • Times of India: Big IT moves more work, jobs to China. By Pankaj Mishra & Srividya Iyer. Excerpt: As the Chinese pitter-patter into IT services turns into a loud clatter, Indian majors are pushing hard to grab a bigger slice of that market. TCS, Infosys and Wipro plan to shift at least 10% of their new outsourcing projects to Chinese cities of Dalian and Chengdu, for the first time since India's software exports industry took note of the Chinese threat a decade ago. Top customers like GE and General Motors are demanding that Indian vendors deliver some services from locations outside India because of geo-political risks and location redundancy. India's tech behemoths are also realising that by creating local jobs in China, they can gain a bigger share of the Dragonland's $10-billion-plus outsourcing market.
  • BBC News: India IT firms say US rejecting business visas. Excerpts: The US is rejecting a growing number of Indian visa applications and interviews border on interrogations, Indian information technology firms say. Nasscom, an umbrella organisation of IT firms, said it had written to the US ambassador to convey its concern. India's government has also been informed, it said. There was no immediate response from the US embassy. ...

    India and the US have forged close trade ties in recent years. In 2008, the two countries signed a deal for civil nuclear co-operation. But, there has been growing concern in Washington that outsourcing to cities such as Bangalore - the IT hub in southern India - is worsening unemployment in the US. President Obama recently spoke out against outsourcing of American jobs to countries like India and offered tax breaks for those creating jobs in the US. ...

    The issues of outsourcing and visa fees are expected to come up in talks during President Obama's visit. But analysts say the president's drubbing in mid-term elections this week is expected to tie his hands when it comes to bold policy moves on India.

  • New York Times: Unions Fear Rollback of Rights Under Republicans. By Steven Greenhouse. Excerpts: A Republican-led House or Senate is expected to be more eager than a Democratic-controlled one to approve free trade agreements that unions oppose, and to be more reluctant to enact stimulus plans that unions have supported, like the recent bill that gave states $26 billion to help save the jobs of teachers, police officers and other government employees. A Republican-controlled House or Senate would probably block a labor-backed bill that would give firefighters and police officers in every state the right to unionize. ...

    Mr. Samuel predicted that labor could stop any Republican legislative offensive. “When Republicans won control of the House in 1994, they tried to roll back 60 years of labor protections for workers, but we fought them to a stalemate,” he said. “If the Republicans attempt that again, I think this story will repeat itself.”

  • Forbes: Winning Over The Customer At 35,000 Feet. By Louis Saint-Cy. Excerpts: A company's customer service strategy is without a doubt its most important--but often its most overlooked--strategy. Like letter writing or dressing up for dinner, it has become a dying art. This isn't to say that companies don't invest heavily in customer service through insightful customer relationship management (CRM) technologies or other gadgetry. But I find that the best companies out there tend to be those that give their customer-facing staff the most tools to work with and carte blanche to use them. ...

    Through my years in management, I've found four tools that have allowed our employees to improve their ability to interact better with customers: We (1) trust our employees, (2) communicate with them, (3) listen to them and (4) explain rather than convince. ...

    Bottom line: Give your customer-facing staff the latitude and trust to do their jobs at the highest level. Executives at a lot of companies stifle their employees because they--not those employees--are change averse and afraid of two-way feedback. However, giving your staff ample tools and the opportunity to use them in the service of customers will not only foster an entrepreneurial spirit in the work they do but also keep the customer satisfied. And that is the essence of business.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site
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  • To Alliance@IBM supporters: The Alliance is the only organization that advocates and supports IBM employees and ex-employees. In fact, there are few like it in the Information Technology field. It is always difficult to keep an organization like this alive, but as a supporter you know how important it is that we exist. We are calling on you today to help keep us alive another year by joining as a member or associate member. See our online forms below. As our membership has dropped, it is imperative that we gain new members or this organization and web site will cease to exist. Help us keep our organizing and advocacy work alive!
  • General Visitor Comments: Due to a lack of membership growth the comment sections will be closed until we see sufficient growth in full membership, associate membership or donations. Many of you that visit our site have not yet joined, but seem to value its existence. The only comment section that will remain open will be Job Cuts Reports. If you have information that you want the Alliance to know about please send to ibmunionalliance@gmail.com. Information of importance will be put on the front page of this web site. To join go here: Join The Alliance! or here: Join The Alliance!
  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 10/29/10: Let's see if Sam leave when he turns 60. If he does then we'll know the company is about to totally implode. His inside knowledge of things to come will have told him to take the booty and run to the rich pastures. If he stays on then he is going to go for ever more stock buybacks, more bonuses and stock options for his execs and himself, ,more cost cutting and RAs to boost the EPS and boost his own wealth which is not still good enough for him. -anonymous-
    • Comment 10/29/10: Working with a number of clients, I am starting to see the development, management, and 2nd lines being assigned to visa resources. Actually, I've started to see this on multiple engagements (60%+ onshore) I have been on. Unfortunately not only is this happening within IBM but outside. -anonymous-
    • Comment 10/31/10: IBM Canada (MKM) is hiring back IBMers who left the company for other opportunity due to bad management for huge salaries and high band levels, reason is customers are ready to work due to the lower skills IBM employees IBM is sending to replace the ones that left, -IBM Canadian-
    • Comment 10/31/10: To "da-facts": you also forgot to mention that being selected for an RA largely depends on how well you get along with your 1st line and maybe your 2nd line. Kissing ass is key here. My last manager before I was RA'd in 09' managed to trash my reputation in 6 months. So, it was easy for her to make a decision to ax me. You know what they say about Karma, and I completely believe in it. I wouldn't kiss her ass, so.... -Glad2BGone-
    • Comment 11/01/10: I said this years ago; Somebody in management had told me the plan was to cut 80% of the American work force. It looks like they are still hard at work at that goal. You all need to join Alliance now and stop asking when the next RA is. I'm long gone, and have not been woken up in the middle of the night by a pager in over 3 years now and I don't mind that at all. I'm out of there, but the rest of you need to stop asking if there is gonna be another RA. There is, until you are all gone, so get on it and join Alliance and do something about it. -Gone_in_07-
    • Comment 11/02/10: Just got hit today. 17 years with SWG. Always a 2 or 2+ review. Told this year my job is being off-shored. I don't know if it is IBM's fault or America's. All I know is iBM's bottom line seems to be better than America's, but IBM doesn't seem to give a damn about its roots. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/02/10: In response to "doyathink?" - the decision has already been made to offshore HQ to China. Yes there will be another RA on 12/1 and yes prior to being downsized I did join the alliance and although I believe in the cause, it will take many, many, many more to join before any real and vivid leverage will come from it. -anonymous-
    • Comment 11/02/10: to "doyathink?", the quality factor is not there when existing service is moved to global resources, especially as IBM jumps from one country to another now, constantly trying to lower their costs. For one service, they moved resources from India to Eastern Europe back to India to China to Argentina to Brazil to Manila in two years!!!!.

      Frankly, my theory is that IBM does not care if they lose the contract after the first year. They make a big junk of transition dollars up front, hold back as much US resource expenditure in the first year as they can, and then hand-off contract services to cheapest global labor they can get without proper education, job coaching, contract knowledge exchange, etc. Then quality and service completely break down. For customer that have explicitly demanded US resources, IBM has the US resources in place but delegate as many activities and administrative stuff to GRs while appearing to be responsible for the whole job, maintaining appearances. IBM doesn't care about the customer - it's all about bait and switch to get that down payment. This has caught up with them. Also, yes, IBM is a business, and its employees cannot expect any relationship, trust or honesty, but on the whole what they are doing is unethical and larcenous. -Whoopee-

      "Job Takeover Shadowing" - new illicit KGB practice to ensure services fulfilled by global resources. Has anyone noticed that there are GR resources in monitoring roles who seem to have no purpose except to supervise their Western co-workers and report back to management whether the job, service, or new service can be moved to a GR country? Seem to be appearing on meetings and have nothing to contribute - silently doing the underhanded job of taking business and jobs away from US/Canada long time employees. Also, seem very ignorant as unable to answer questions - just note takers who can't even speak intelligently, probably reporting to some backroom group. Even executives are unaware of the purpose of these people, blind sided by the resulting decisions, and have no authority, influence or to overrule. Why aren't our managers and executives speaking up??? Who, who, who is responsible for peddling GR, forcing it down executives, employees' and customers' throats. WHO????? -Whoopee-

      Alliance Reply: Your question "Who?" is a bit misguided. You lump employees and customers in the same group with executives. Executives ARE responsible for "forcing it down the throats" of employees and customers. Executives are NOT "unaware of the purpose...". If you believe they are, then you have been severely misinformed. Translation: Lied to. Your only choice is to organize and fight back. Join Alliance@IBM and work toward an employment contract. There is NO OTHER CHOICE, besides leaving the company.

    • Comment 11/04/10: TO>>>-ibmsuks->> Where have you been ? The OLD PLAN is already FROZEN. How you will be able to access it, is where the next step hits. You won't have to wait past JULY 2011 to find out what will happen; probably sooner. Only 20% of USA resources left in 2012 and over 50% of that will be HDQ of IBM HOLDING COMPANY. You would already know now, if IBM LEGAL didn't throw a wrench into the works. -no_ky-
    • Comment 11/04/10: Yes, the old pension plan is frozen and not being added to any longer. However, nothing is stopping IBM from converting that to a cash balance plan with value or time based credits rather than the lifetime annuity. THAT is where y'all on the old plan need to worry. That is exactly where those who got shoved into cash balance got hammered. It's there, and it won't disappear, but it may well change (and don't think there's not a batch of IBM compensation lawyers working on it) to a cash balance. And you may not even get a "retire in 30 days or we convert you" - you may just get told that it is now converted; tough. Nothing is guaranteed here.

      Me? When I got my RA, I took my cash balance and 401K and rolled it into other qualified plans (no penalties) because who knows when, where or how IBM would figure out a way to scam me out of it. After all, you're retirement health account? What do you think they used to pay our severance with? IBM is nothing more than a financial manipulation center now. Not products; not services; just a money churn, from customers, skimming off a little for lower paid country employees, and the rest to the execs. See the stock price lately? That's because Sam is cutting costs - you. Oh yeah, do what I failed to do before I "got it". Join the union... -RAed Jan 09-

    • Comment 11/04/10: To RAed Jan 09, here in Canada / Ontario IBM has tried to do the following recently, convert the cash balance plans (DB) to a value or time based plan (DC) or retire in X number of days in order to keep the cash balance plan. IBM was turned down by various government agencies but I bet they were told they could do it if certain conditions were met. So they will try again for sure, we also heard they were going to do this in the US soon. Join the union asap please. -Still Hanging On-
    • Comment 11/05/10: I was at a meeting this week where Global Services Canada just announced a call to arms to raise their Q4 numbers. All employees must work Remembrance Day (a national holiday in Canada where we honor those that have lost their lives in war) AND they must work an additional 2-4 hours per week. Here's the best part - if you cannot work the holiday you must explain why. Just when you think this company has gone the lowest it can go they drill beyond the depth at which the Chilean miners were trapped. -Roboto-
    • Comment 11/05/10: IBM will offshore 8K-10K more US based Software and Support jobs to three locations in China and India by March, 2011. IBM will hire 2400 pure sales jobs in the US by June of 2011. Sales and pre-sales jobs will be 80% of all jobs left after 2013 at IBM with a majority in low cost locations. Do forget that IBM's calculations are as follows - US Job = 145K fully loaded. India = 59K fully loaded, China is 42K fully loaded. Its simple math -Bob-
    • Comment 11/06/10: Notice that IBM is no longer in the top 100 companies to work for as per Money Magazine. Also notice that several companies that contract IBM to provide support services *ARE* in the top 100. http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/bestcompanies/2010/full_list/ Netapp at #7 Cisco at #16 Amongst others I'm sure. IBM is selling their soul to servicing other companies while at the same time ignoring their loyal and core business customers. There was a time when IBM was in the top 5 and surely #1. -Habib-
    • Comment 11/06/10: Sammy and all of the other greedy CEOs should be put on trial and sent to jail for running the US economy into the ground. How did they do it? By offshoring our manufacturing jobs. The root cause of our economic crisis is due to the fact that there are no more manufacturing jobs left in the US. These idiot CEOs have run this country in the ground for their own personal gain and wealth. Does Sammy care? Hell no. He has his millions. I say make him pay for the damage he has done to the US economy. Will there be more job cuts? Of course. Job cuts will continue until the employees band together with a union and stand up and fight these greedy bastard CEOs like Sammy. -RAed in 10-
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
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  • Wall Street Journal: Drug Makers See Benefits in GOP Gains. By Alicia Mundy. Excerpts: The pharmaceutical industry hopes to hold on to concessions it won from Democrats during their recent brief reign in Congress, while benefiting from antiregulatory sentiment among Republicans who captured the House, industry lobbyists said. During negotiations over the health-care bill enacted in March, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the main drug-industry lobby, offered $80 billion in future cost savings and won a promise from the White House not to pursue certain cost-cutting steps sometimes sought by liberal Democrats. Among other things, the White House agreed not to push for importation of cheaper drugs from Canada or direct federal negotiation of Medicare drug prices with manufacturers. About half of the savings offered by the drug industry was intended to close a gap, or "doughnut hole," in Medicare drug coverage that many seniors face. ...

    A shift in the Senate may also help the pharmaceutical industry. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), long an industry scourge as the top Republican on the Finance Committee, will take the ranking spot on the Judiciary Committee, which has less oversight of health care. His likely replacement on Finance is Orrin Hatch (R., Utah), who has often supported the drug industry.

  • New York Times editorial: Medicare and the Republicans. Excerpts: An overwhelming majority of older voters chose Republican Congressional candidates in Tuesday’s election. They were propelled in large part, we suspect, by distorted and inflammatory attack ads claiming that President Obama’s health care reforms would “gut” their Medicare coverage and implying that a Republican-controlled Congress would somehow rescue them.

    Exit polls showed that in House races, voters aged 65 or older supported Republicans over Democrats by 59 percent to 38 percent, the biggest margin in any age group. A fifth of those voters rated health care their most important issue, and more than half said that Congress should repeal the whole health care reform law. Those ads may have worked, but they were also misleading or dead wrong on several counts. ...

    Now that the campaign is over, Americans should demand that Mr. Boehner explain his plan for Medicare. Specifically: What will he do to “rescue” Medicare, without driving up the deficit or weakening the trust fund?

News and Opinion Concerning the "War on the Middle Class"
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.

  • The Hill: Report: Social Security benefits would be cut under Republican proposals. By Vicki Needham. Excerpt: A new report shows that seniors could lose up to 50 percent of their Social Security benefits under several different Republican proposals designed to reduce the cost of the mandatory program. Social Security's chief actuary analyzed several proposals, including those by House Budget Committee ranking member Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), according to the details of the report released Wednesday by House Ways and Means Committee Democrats.
  • New York Times: How the Banks Put the Economy Underwater. By Yves Smith. Excerpts: This chapter of the financial crisis is a self-inflicted wound. The major banks and their agents have for years taken shortcuts with their mortgage securitization documents — and not due to a momentary lack of attention, but as part of a systematic approach to save money and increase profits. The result can be seen in the stream of reports of colossal foreclosure mistakes: multiple banks foreclosing on the same borrower; banks trying to seize the homes of people who never had a mortgage or who had already entered into a refinancing program.

    Banks are claiming that these are just accidents. But suppose that while absent-mindedly paying a bill, you wrote a check from a bank account that you had already closed. No one would have much sympathy with excuses that you were in a hurry and didn’t mean to do it, and it really was just a technicality.

    The most visible symptoms of cutting corners have come up in the foreclosure process, but the roots lie much deeper. As has been widely documented in recent weeks, to speed up foreclosures, some banks hired low-level workers, including hair stylists and teenagers, to sign or simply stamp documents like affidavits — a job known as being a “robo-signer.” Such documents were improper, since the person signing an affidavit is attesting that he has personal knowledge of the matters at issue, which was clearly impossible for people simply stamping hundreds of documents a day. As a result, several major financial firms froze foreclosures in many states, and attorneys general in all 50 states started an investigation. ...

    When mortgage securitization took off in the 1980s, the contracts to govern these transactions were written carefully to satisfy not just well-settled, state-based real estate law, but other state and federal considerations. These included each state’s Uniform Commercial Code, which governed “secured” transactions that involve property with loans against them, and state trust law, since the packaged loans are put into a trust to protect investors. On the federal side, these deals needed to satisfy securities agencies and the Internal Revenue Service.

    This process worked well enough until roughly 2004, when the volume of transactions exploded. Fee-hungry bankers broke the origination end of the machine. One problem is well known: many lenders ceased to be concerned about the quality of the loans they were creating, since if they turned bad, someone else (the investors in the securities) would suffer.

  • New York Times editorial: Drowning in Campaign Cash. Excerpts: Shrill political attacks have saturated the airwaves for months, but behind them is the real problem of this demoralizing election: the dark flow of dollars, often secretly provided by donors with very special interests. The amount is staggering: Nearly $4 billion is likely to be spent once the final figures are in, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, far more than in the 2006 midterms, which cost $2.85 billion. It could even eclipse the $4.14 billion spent in the 2004 presidential campaign.

    Much of this is a direct creation of the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., which has cut away nearly all campaign finance restrictions. The court’s 2007 decision in Wisconsin Right-to-Life gave corporations and unions the right to run advocacy ads in the last 60 days of a campaign — as long as they did not expressly advocate the election or defeat of a specific candidate. This year’s Citizens United decision effectively ended even that last restriction, and pulled away all limits on corporate spending in campaigns. ...

    What is clear is that the new world of unlimited spending, both open and secret, confers huge benefits on wealthy individuals, corporations and unions. In a striking example, reported by ABC News last week, Terry Forcht, a prominent Kentucky banker and nursing home executive, helped pay for a series of attack ads against Attorney General Jack Conway, the Democratic Senate candidate. Mr. Conway is prosecuting one of Mr. Forcht’s nursing homes for allegedly covering up sexual abuse.

    Mr. Forcht has directly raised at least $21,000 for Mr. Conway’s Republican opponent, Rand Paul. He serves as the banker for American Crossroads, the shadowy group of nonprofits organized by Karl Rove that has spent nearly $30 million to defeat Democrats and more than $1 million to defeat Mr. Conway.

  • truthout book review: "Free Trade Doesn’t Work: What Should Replace It and Why". Book by Ian Fletcher. Review by Thom Hartmann. Excerpts: Ian Fletcher writes: “Over the last 20 years, Americans have bought over $6 trillion more from the world than we have sold back to it. That's over $20,000 per American. Ironically, if the US were a developing country, our deficits would reach the 5% level that the international monetary fund takes as a benchmark of financial crisis.”

    This is not the budget deficit that everybody is so hysterical about in the press, and which would go to zero over the next six years if the Obama administration simply let the Bush tax cuts expire in their entirety. Instead, Fletcher is talking about the trade deficit, the difference between what we buy from the world and what we sell to the world. ...

    “The US economy has ceased generating any net new jobs in internationally traded sectors in either manufacturing or services,” he notes. “The comforting myth persists that America is shifting from low-tech to high-tech employment, but we are not. We are losing jobs in both in shifting to non-tradable services–which are mostly low value–added, and thus ill–paid jobs. According to the Commerce Department, all our net new jobs are in categories such as security guards, waitresses, and the like. The vaunted 'new economy' has not contributed a single net new job to America in this century. Not one.” ...

    Fletcher also points out that “free trade” isn’t, in most cases, making the rest of the world richer or better off. “Working conditions,” he points out, “are the flip side of low pay in developing countries. Production methods long ago abandoned in the developed world – many of them dangerous and environmentally unsound – are still widely in use. In India, for example, foundry workers often don't wear socks, shoes, protective headgear, earplugs, or even eye protection. Often wearing no more than boxer shorts, they squat on the floor next to the roaring furnaces. Charles Dickens has moved to Asia.” ...

    “Even Europe seems to handle these matters better than we do: Germanic and Scandinavian Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland) usually run healthy surpluses, and the euro zone as a whole has had its trade within pocket change of balance since the euro was created in 1999. Thirteen European countries now pay their factory workers better than we do, and Germany (not China!) Was the world's largest exporter as late as 2008. Do all these countries know something we don't?” ...

    The answer is really quite simple. Transnational corporations and their shills –from think tanks to congressmen to presidents – have worked aggressively for two generations to get us into the situation we’re now in. In the process, they have made trillions of dollars, built personal and corporate empires, and through front groups like the US Chamber of Commerce now are even selecting our politicians for us by overwhelming the political process with money.

  • truthout: There's No Place Like Europe: Steven Hill on Medical House Calls, Multiparty Politics, and Other American Fantasies. By Alissa Bohling. Excerpts: AB: One of the thing's that's refreshing about "Europe's Promise" is that it's so positive. Do you worry that the book will be perceived as being too starry eyed about Europe's successes or too critical of America's shortcomings?

    SH: Oh sure, I knew that was going to come. In fact, I have a part in the book where I go through these headlines that appeared in the American media between 2003 and 2006 and even through the nineties, where the American media is clearly ideological in how it reports Europe. And so I list these headlines showing, you know, "Europe's economy is going downhill; it's a basket case," when in actual fact, Europe was in the process of passing the United Stated in terms of economic output, job creation, productivity, all these sorts of things. In Newsweek International, a cover story appeared in October 2006 - the headline was something like "Europe's Great Jobs Machine" - about how Europe was surpassing the US. That article never appeared in Newsweek domestic.

    So, I knew going into it that I was going to face these sorts of headwinds. American media has this major response to discount Europe because they see Europe as this socialist enterprise. My book goes out of its way to show it's not socialist at all; it's capitalist. Europe has more Fortune 500 companies than the US and China combined, has more small businesses than we have in the US creating, two-thirds of the jobs, compared to not even half the jobs in the US. Up until the stock market crashed in 2008, if you invested your money in European stock markets, you made more on average than you did in the American stock market. But theirs is a different type of capitalism, which I call in my book social capitalism. Social capitalism creates a more broadly shared prosperity, whereas Wall Street capitalism is much more of a trickle-down type of capitalism in which more money goes into the pockets of wealthy people.

    AB: What was it like to come back to the US after going on these research trips to Europe to document the ways in which they are ahead of America and then to return to this country that's so far behind in many ways?

    SH: I did my research over a period of ten years, but there was one moment that really struck me. I was standing on a corner in Paris, this was probably midway through my research, and I realized, everyone who's walking around me, they all have health care; they all have some sort of retirement waiting for them; they have more vacation; they all have access to all these supports Americans don't have - what other difference does that make in people's mentalities to realize you have all that? An American friend of mine who's been living near Toulouse, France, for about 15 years, she got a hornet sting when I was visiting her. She calls up her doctor and, 20 minutes later, there's the French doctor with his little, black bag. What does that feel like to a person, to know that you have that kind of access to the support that you need? ...

    AB: Is there anything else you'd like to mention?

    SH: You'll see American critics say that Europeans have all these things, but they pay a lot more in taxes in order to get it. That's a myth. If you're an American paying escalating health care premiums, if you're paying higher co-payments and deductibles, if you're an American student graduating from college with a lot of debt, if you're an American paying more than $12,000 a year for childcare, you're paying more out of pocket for your own retirement, more out of pocket for senior care; what you see is that Americans actually pay a lot more out of pocket for the things that Europeans get in exchange for their taxes. So, when you look at things like the Forbes Tax Misery Index - Forbes is obviously an ideologically biased magazine, yet this Tax Misery Index is cited as an authoritative source on who pays more taxes - but all they're looking at is income tax, Social Security tax and a few other minor taxes like sales tax. When you do that kind of analysis, you see Europeans at the highest end of taxes, and here's America, down there, happy as a clam, around the Philippines and Indonesia and Malaysia. But what they're not telling you is that Americans are paying a lot more out of pocket. So, in order to square that circle that Americans are still paying more, you have to then advance the argument that, well, at least it's discretionary. But is it really the case that having things like health care, retirement, university education, are these really discretionary today, or are these things you need to support yourself and your family in this increasingly insecure age?

  • Reuters: Tech execs tell White House IT can curb deficit. By Alister Bull. Excerpt: The Technology CEO Council said six chief executives led by IBM Corp's Samuel Palmisano would suggest ways to boost government worker productivity and save taxpayer money. "America's growing national debt is undermining our global competitiveness," the council said. "How we choose to confront and address this challenge will determine our future environment for growth and innovation."
  • truthout: The New York Times Gets Women Voters Wrong. By Rose Aguilar. Excerpts: New York Times Los Angeles bureau chief Adam Nagourney can't seem to figure out why the latest polls in California show that Republicans Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, a "new breed of tough female corporate executives looking to shift into public office," have failed to gain the support of women voters. "At one point, it appeared that 2010 might be the year of the female Republican chief executive in California," he writes in an October 29 piece. "But less than a week before Election Day, both Ms. Whitman and Ms. Fiorina find themselves struggling." ...

    Maureen O'Connor agrees, saying gender is not a decision maker in the voting booth. "These women are poster subjects for everything that is wrong with corporate America today," she says. "Just the amount of job outsourcing these two did during their CEO days is enough to stop anyone in their tracks." ...

    Madoshi says she's also tired of the media assuming that voters will choose candidates simply because they have a background in business. "Haven't they learned anything from George W. Bush?" "Making money in business doesn't mean they are qualified to run a state or write legislation," she says. "What have Whitman and Fiorina done for working women? What have they done for working moms? Where do they stand on equal pay? Where do they stand on affordable housing?"

    It's hard to say because they haven't discussed those issues. They've spent most of their time focusing on tax breaks for corporations, spending cuts and "jobs, jobs, jobs." "For God's sakes, that's all we've heard. They're saying the same message over and over," says Tracey Faulkner, founder of the Family Resource Center, an organization that supports parents attending City College of San Francisco. "Cut spending, but give tax breaks to the rich? They're not talking to us moms at all. They're talking to business people. Moms want to know if they'll have childcare. Will there be after school programs? Will there be summer programs? People are concerned about whether their kids will be ok."

  • alterNet: Class War Spurs Violent Clashes in Europe -- Why Are Americans Just Letting the Super Rich Win? It is time for Americans to reclaim the concept of class war, to actively combat the great squeeze ruining the lives of untold millions of Americans. By David Rosen. Excerpts: The great unspoken two words of American political discourse are class war. The moral and political premise of the modern, post-World War II “American Century” is that the U.S. had overcome class divisions and struggle. Everyone, or nearly everyone save the very poor and the very, very rich, was absorbed into a vast, undifferentiated middle class.

    The fiction that America is a nation without class, a lie since its inception a half-century ago, gets more and more untenable as actual class struggle daily intensifies. It’s time to accept the simple yet profound fact that America is in the midst of class war – and the super-rich, the American sector of the global oligarchy, is winning. ...

    Today’s robber barons know that the media matters and have effectively bought-off the popular opinion makers. Stylishly groomed corporate executives and financiers, who are morally no better then slick thieves, have become celebrities. They are flattered on reality TV shows, praised on business programs and voyeuristically celebrated by the popular media. The American media knows better then bite the hand that feeds it. ...

    According to NYU economist Edward Wolff, wealth is becoming increasingly concentrated. In the 15 years between 1983 and 2007, the share of wealth owned by the nation’s top 1 percent households grew to 34.6 percent from 33.8 percent; and the top 20 percent of U.S. households in 2007 controlled 85 percent of the nation’s wealth, up from 81.3 percent in ’83. The fate of America’s vast “middle class,” the remaining 80 percent, has only gotten more dire: in 2007, it controlled 15 percent, down from 18.7 percent in 1983.

    It is time for Americans to reclaim the concept of class war. This needs to be done for two reasons: first, to actively combat the great squeeze ruining the lives of untold millions of Americans faced with financial catastrophe; and, second, to end the campaign by the super-rich (in league with government tax policies, subsidies and other give-aways) and the media to keep alive the fiction of America is a classless society free of class war.

  • Wall Street Journal: Higher Bonuses for Wall Street. By Aaron Lucchetti. Excerpts: Wall Street bonuses are set to rise about 5% this year, fueled by increases to compensation for employees in hedge funds, retail banking and private equity that offset declines for those in stock and bond trading, according to a survey by compensation consultants Johnson Associates Inc. The survey results, set to be released Thursday, demonstrate Wall Street's knack for finding a way to churn out profits and prop up pay levels despite uneasy markets, mounting regulation and mistrust by many Americans. ...

    A separate analysis by The Wall Street Journal concluded that large, publicly traded financial-services firms were on pace to increase total compensation and benefits by about 6% in 2010 compared with last year. Some of the largest increases, 10% or more, are likely to come from asset-management firms., the Journal's calculations show. Goldman Sachs Group Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley are on track to increase compensation by less than 10% each.

  • AOL Daily Finance: Top U.S. Incomes Grew Five-Fold in 2009, to a $519 Million Average. By Sam Gustin. Excerpts: During the depths of the recession in 2009, as millions of Americans lost their jobs, homes and life savings, the highest-paid earners in the United States saw their average incomes increase more than five-fold from 2008, according to new data from the federal government. The 74 people who earned more than $50 million last year -- the highest income category measured by the Social Security Administration -- saw their average incomes skyrocket from $91.8 million in 2008 to a mind-boggling $518.8 million in 2009. These 74 people earned an average of $10 million -- per week. Meanwhile, half of all American wage-earners, or about 75 million people, earned less than $505 per week. ...

    The names of the top 74 earners were not disclosed, but they were "most likely Wall Street traders who earned bonuses or corporate executives cashing in deferred compensation that accumulated over the years, or even highly paid athletes," Bloomberg said, citing Johnston. In an email, Johnston told DailyFinance that the top 74 earners also does not include most hedge fund managers because much of their "investment" income is not counted as wages. ...

    "This orgy of money exhibitionism has created a society in which commas - it takes three to be a billionaire - count more than character," Johnston continued. "We have gone so far down this path that we bailed out bankers, allowing them to keep the untaxed wealth in their deferral accounts and, with a few exceptions, retaining shareholder value, while wiping out investors in General Motors and Chrysler as a condition of their bailouts. And while autoworkers had to take severe pay cuts, bonus time on Wall Street is at new record levels."

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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