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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—February 12, 2011

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: PBC 3 to a 2" by "freemoffat". Full excerpt: The new PBC system (2+) has less to do with contribution and how well you do your job.... it's more to do with controlling people expenses. 2's do not get meaningful raises or bonus. The compensation system is clearly geared to 1's & 2+...quotas or curves ensure the distribution.

    When originally implemented it was a very clever ploy... HR/mgmt tried to keep the people happy (confused) by claiming the 2+ was just to differentiate high performing 2's. When in reality, they moved the pay grids. So for example, people who were 2 under the old system and stayed 2 under the new system were actually now in the 3 pay grid (old system) which is now labeled 2. Most people were oblivious to this change until years of no raises. "just be happy you have a job"...lol

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: PBC 3 to a 2" by Bob Nelson. Full excerpt: In 2001 I was dropped from a one to a two. I had been a one performer for a number of years. I was really angry. I was told by my second line that the office blew their overtime expense numbers. The office had bad results and wasn't allowed to have as many ones. I asked him why HIS failure to control costs should effect me...no answer. There are ones and there are ones and I was not a one. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. As a one, I would try to protect my rating and always put IBM's needs first. My home life suffered. As a two, my life became more balanced and I could tell IBM that I wasn't available.

    A friend of mine was given a PBC goal of reducing overtime expense. He did significantly reduce his overtime. He was dropped from a 2 to a 3 because he didn't work enough overtime.???. Management will decide what your rating will be, based on things that have nothing to do with you, and then invents a reason to make it so.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "PBC 3 to a 2" by "ibmretiree2006". Full excerpt: I am sure NO ONE on this list views PBCs or ratings for the employee's benefit, do they? They keep tweaking it to make it easier to withhold raises, bonuses and to allow for easily releasing you from the business. Most 1st line manager today have NO clue as to the actual performance of their employees. So many work remote or have not seen their manager f-2-f in a long time. My last appraisal I wrote myself since my manager had no clue. I generously made myself a 2+ and I didn't want to brag. IBM gets to do whatever it wants and you can't do anything about it.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Japanese goods" by "thirtyyearibmer". Full excerpt: Paul, yep I have good friends in Germany that lost a lot in their pension changes. The anger comes from them, just like us in the U.S. Even the strong labor laws couldn't save them. There are always loopholes in laws - that is why we used to say, "do what is right, not what is legal."

    In the UK, a good friend had to retire and move half-way around the world on almost 30 days notice. They burned IBM quarter century club certificates there. I believe that this was posted before, but for those that missed it here it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhnceE5gmJk.

    You won't catch me defending many current IBM practices. Now there is a new term circulating - 2-3's and out (kind of like three strikes and you are out). Means in sales, get dropped at mid year to a "3" for not making quota, then get a "3" in January and told to find another job. Saves half the severance package for IBM.

    Anyone that has been in sales understands that this doesn't work. There are always bad years in any territory. Consistency is what matters and year-to-year performance.

    That is the reason I am leaving. There is only so much pain you can watch on a day-to-day basis. So many times you can listen to a good friend talk about family and security and changes being forced on good hard working people that deserve better. Especially when earnings are what they are. Only so many times you can feel guilty for being one of those that "survived" for thirty years.

    I just want to be sure that we keep an eye on the past and how it was handled through a time when there was a worldwide depression. IBM kept hiring (US and Worldwide), IBM formed its beliefs during the worst of times (and applied them on a worldwide basis) that set it up for success when the economy kicked off again. The feeling I get is that as soon as this economy turns this time - IBM will leak its best and strongest people like the Titanic did water or really, really pay dearly to retain them. Why? Because all they offer today is a paycheck and a "take it with you" 401K plan.

    Another Thos. J. Watson quote from the depression, "a good company won't keep a poor man long, neither will a good man stay with a poor company long." How true.... I may not be as good a man as Thos. J. Watson envisioned being an IBMer, but I am getting out now and moving on. I was one of the fortunate ones where qualifying for retirement and making it still means something - a pension. I know that Kathi had a lot to do with that. IBM kept me longer than they should have because of it. They don't have such a hold on anyone anymore with 401K's.

    The early history of IBM should serve as an example for today. They couldn't make a film about that evolution like they did the technology film. The IBM technology 100 years video I can watch and be proud because it was the individuals, some my friends, that pulled that off. Books like "The Romance Division" still capture some of that old drive and innovation.

    The old IBM Sales Branch Office was a wonderful place to work.

    If they tried to produce a different video - one along the same lines about how progressive they have been on the personnel side - then I would have get violently ill if they tried to push it past the mid-1980's because we all know that IBM hit a wall in the late 80's and has been getting progressively worse ever since. Well, I guess I shouldn't speak for "yall"... That is my belief anyway. :)

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Obama Confers With Xerox's Burns, IBM's Palmisano". Full excerpt: ...agree totally. Then when quality takes a crap you've got Apollo 13 and Challenger. Rising productivity is largely is buzz-phrase for lower quality which is rampant at ibm now. Crit-sits are a daily occurrence and the sky no longer darkens when a customer screams. IBM places more resource into measuring customer tolerance then in producing high quality products. There is rarely a mention of producing quality. However, a great amount of resource gets expended on managing and massaging it by the numbers. Makes everyone feel good on the surface, just don't crack the lid. Amazing.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board:
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Obama Confers" by Kathi Cooper. Full excerpt: Yes, we all want to buy product at a cheap price. That extends our purchasing power. But what is being ignored is the fact that our wages are stagnant or going down. That blows away the Chinese bump of purchasing power, doesn't it? And why are our wages doing this? Because we are a global society. Chinese wages will go up and our wages will go down until we settle on a new lower norm.

    I've seen it before. Back in the 60's, an accountant made really good money. But about that time women started graduating from college with degrees in accounting in large numbers. The wages for accountants went down for men and up for women, to the new lower norm for the profession.

    What makes our situation worse than the simple case above is the fact that our jobs are being exchanged for those overseas. Not only are our wages being lowered, but our jobs are being eliminated! We are not even allowed to compete.

    As I watch Obama talk to the Chinese about jobs, but not discuss jobs with our own labor, I feel angry! He is not a liberal! Kathi Cooper.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Obama" by "maxxcurrey". Full excerpt: Yes, I am most definitely stating that Obama "by his actions" is NOT a liberal nor a progressive. One easy example where Obama has conservative (and IMO stupid) policy is Afghanistan. Another more pertinent to this board is the continued corporatist/fascist position on out-sourcing. This, Obama (and others), call 'free trade'. It is not 'free trade' it is price dumping of products and people by exploiting overseas' corporate-controlled markets. This type of corporatism goes back in this country at least to the British East India corporation and is very conservative. Remember, the original Boston Tea Party was against the corporatism of the British East India corporation.

    Americans hear constantly how much we want 'cheap goods' but consistently we vote against such policies when given a chance. The problem is the elites like it when unions are weak and people are poor so that they can live large and more easily control them. ITM, the corporations are reaping their corporate welfare at the expense of the rest of society. The elites control the media so there is no real debate about this. Look at the silence in the media about the real costs of out-sourcing in the U.S. There is no daily 'Labor Report' on public television in the U.S., but there are multiple 'Business' reports. As I said, the Democratic Party is actually to the right of Eisenhower Republicans in policy. Were they not the Democratic Party would be hyping up Labor as the [re]publicans hype up the Tea Baggers.

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) "A company that wants you to make money for them...that is it!" Pros: There is a huge support network and deep resource pool. It is easy to work here with good support systems. Decent benefits. Cons: Pay raises and bonuses are very poor. If joining, make sure you get all the money at your time of hire. You won't get any more! For top performers, the bonus is unbelievably low. No concern about work like balance, even though they profess it. This is just not the case. Advice to Senior Management: Pay attention to the employees who are making money for you. They are steadily leaving the company and going to your direct competitors. Your current evaluation system does not identify these performers. It is a sham.
    • IBM Service Co Coordinator in Bangalore (India): (Past Employee - 2010) "Not a good place to work for freshers." Pros: Shift time, work from home. Shift allowance and infrastructure is good. Good place to work for the guys with more than 4 or 5 yrs experience. Cons: No career growth. No frequent training. No people manager. Not a good option for freshers and guys with below 4 yrs experience. Advice to Senior Management: Instead of Project Manager acting as the People Manager, separate People Manager should be alloted to improve the people management in IBM.
    • IBM Human Resources: (Past Employee - 2011) "Apparently not a place for me." Pros: Good pay. Excellent resources available and cool technological stuff. Career path and training encouraged. Work from home arrangement is excellent. Cons: No time to actually play with or use the cool stuff. Hard to change jobs as advantage goes to those already on the team for which you're applying. Constant reorganization and job elimination. Advice to Senior Management: You say that the employees are your strength and most valuable assets, but you don't treat them that way. We are all dispensable and replaceable, and I get the feeling no one misses me now I'm gone. I doubt they knew I was ever there.
    • IBM Anonymous in Manchester, England (United Kingdom): (Past Employee - 2009) "Big Blue full of red tape." Pros: Instant recognition of brand. Big organisation. Cons: Pay rises only if you are rated as a top performer (10%) and try that every year! Bonuses never achieve target even if you are a top performer. The company trusts no one. Even VP's can't make decisions. You get red alert on the expenses system if you go 1p over your allowance even if it was overseas and you made a small miscalculation of the exchange rate. Communication is terrible with everyone operating in their little fiefdoms Advice to Senior Management: Loosen off the control and become more entrepreneurial.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) "When I started, IBM was a good company to work for. Over the years, it has become a worst and worst place to work." Pros: - Flexible working hours. - engineers are smart and you can learn a lot from them - some projects are interesting to work. Cons: - Bonuses are small - usually 1 - 3k - Long hours 60 - 80 hr / week + weekends sometimes - management only interested in project deadlines - starting salary is below avg - raises are small or zero. Advice to Senior Management: They need to compensate workers better. They need to share awards with the whole team and not just the team leaders. They need to hire more people instead of piling more work on to people.
    • IBM Advisory Software Engineer: (Past Employee - 2009) "This is a company where you can get experience for a few year. After that I would find another company." Pros: Pay is good. Benefits are OK. 10% 401K matching. Cons: Everyone is ranked. If you rank at the bottom, be prepared to be fired. Every year they seems to put more work on you. You are always expandable because they can out source your job anytime. Every quarter there are budget challenge even if the company is making record profit. Advice to Senior Management: Treat your employees like humans. They are not objects which you can jerk around and dispose anytime.
    • IBM Associate Systems Engineer in Bangalore (India): (Current Employee) "It's absolutely insane to work here." Pros: Time flexibility is there only for entering into office. To go back home is only after you complete you and your peer's work. Cons: Compensation is poor and the worst by industry standards. Promotions are based on luck and are random, a lot of politics happen. If you can clean the shoes of your managers, then you can get promotions. Work hard and you will be rewarded with more work. Your colleagues are highly incompetent and the level of their knowledge is very poor. Advice to Senior Management: Hire some good people and compensate them fairly. Don't spoil the lives of youngsters who join the company.
    • IBM Senior Business Analyst in Atlanta, GA: (Past Employee - 2010) "No matter the employee's level of education and high work ethic, IBM has chosen pros who reap benefits of your labor." Pros: I joined IBM as a result of an acquisition. I found the best reason to work for IBM is the option of (in some cases) working from home. This meant for me, that I could work 24/7 without interruptions. The IBM Intra-Net web-site is awesome, in that it offers training for learning IBM's standards, policies, terminology and acceptable methodologies. Each Manager is expected to own its procurement, asset and administrative operations. IBM has an internal Award program where fellow IBMers can reward you for assisting through-out the year with a limit of 3 per year. You can choose awesome gifts/offers from the IBM web-site. (Editor's note: IBM discontinues this "Thanks" program in 2010. Employees may still send each other "thank you e-cards. ".They don't have any monetary value, though.)

      Cons: Legacy IBMers are for the most part professionals at utilizing the newcomer's knowledge for their benefit. At IBM, the intra-net sites are designed for any employee to procure, inquire, and follow through with individual as well as team projects. Well, the legacy IBMer will not train the newcomer, but will wait for the newcomer to learn his or her way and then follow up with that newcomer who is bullied/used to procure their product, help the legacy IBMer to reach their goals (while the newcomer's goals are not met). If the legacy IBMer is not assisted, they will escalate to management until you not just assist them, but take on their project only to resurface at the end of the project to take it off your hands. You are then to account for why your own projects are behind. At this point you work 24/7 to stay abreast of your work.

      I would like to forewarn any IBM acquisitioned company employee/manager/director, no matter how great you are with burning the candle at both ends to get the job done, hard work, due diligence, following processes and procedures, if IBM has someone in line for your job whether out-sourcing to India, China, or Boulder Colorado, you will have to start to look elsewhere for work. IBM can acquisition a whole company simply to acquire what some may deem a small hub and then to dismantle departments until all is gone and the hub to be re-named giving it a new iBM-related Acronym. AS you and your company applications will be sun-setted into the wild BLUE Yonder!!!!

      Advice to Senior Management: IBM Management should stop sugar-coating acquisitioned company employees, which is designed to retain and not scare the acquisitioned company employees until IBM is ready to let them go. Upon acquisitioning a company, IBM can start to learn the culture of that company to avoid bullying there way to obtain information otherwise could have been readily available to them. This way, the employees won't be ready to quit before you obtain necessary information from employees left behind for the clean-up. As a result of this action, IBM is misinformed, due to the last employees and retained to the end-of acquisition work-a-bees who are forced to research internal vendor, financial and asset information. IBM just writes it off as losses in the end.

      In short, management can stand to learn the culture by listening and watching the employee to keep the company steady-state and respect the newly acquistioned company's employees by not treating them in a condescending manner. Be forth-coming an as honest as possible without the bullying. Please.

    • IBM Business Operations Manager in Somers, NY: (Past Employee - 2010) "Extremely cost focused and no longer has respect for the individual as one of it's top goal, now it's all about profit." Pros: Ability to work at home and with professional, smart and talented individuals. However, employees no longer get reimbursed for internet connection, even in states where it's law. Cons: Everyone is overworked and overstressed, there is no respect for life balance although they claim it is one of the goals. In most cases people are expected to be responsive 24X7. People go on vacation with their laptops. Benefits continue to decrease and insurance premiums continue to increase. New employees do not get a pension plan. Performance ratings are based on a bell curve skew despite the actual performance of employees. New employees and employees that move into a new job get rated low despite if they "walk on water". Advice to Senior Management: Go back to respecting people and focusing on the greatest asset which is what made the company what it is. Balance workload, don't just take people out and overload those that are left. Get rid of bureaucratic reporting and unnecessary work.
  • Wall Street Journal MarketWatch: Why Social Security taxes are a good deal. Commentary: Maligned safety net isn't such a stinker. By Jeff Reeves. Excerpts: Staring at my wife's annual tax documents this weekend, I couldn't help getting fired up over what she paid into Social Security last year. When I pointed out the money sunk into the entitlement program — a 6.2% haircut on her modest salary — she simply shrugged. And when I asked whether she thought she would ever see that money again, she just shrugged again.

    I love my wife because she is so temperate. But she's also not much of a planner. What if I get hit by a bus tomorrow? What if we suffer another market meltdown and her 401(k) plan goes up in smoke? Would this so-called social insurance actually provide for her if she had no other option, or would she be better off if the government just stopped taking its 6.2% and left her the heck alone?

    There had to be a point where an individual could better provide for himself or herself than Social Security would. So using my wife's income and payroll taxes as a case study, I set out to find it.

    I did. But where it was surprised me, not only by proving how well Social Security works in its current form, but how it will even work well in a diminished form should our politicians fail to act. ...

    Even though the data show Social Security is a decent "investment," by it's very name we should know that the program was never meant to be a substitute for your 401(k) — it's a safety net, not a retirement plan. That's why the SSA also pays disability payments to younger Americans who are unable to work on top of its flagship payments to seniors that get all the attention.

    In short, as a social safety net for older Americans, the outlook for Social Security is strong. And for Americans like my wife who — knock on wood — will have other sources of cash, the SSA not only makes them whole but has a good chance of delivering more than it took in taxes. To me, that means this program is a success. But then again, I'm only 30. What do I know about retirement?

  • Seattle Times: A 'prescient' warning to Boeing on 787 trouble. Boeing commercial airplanes chief Jim Albaugh had some unusually candid comments about the 787's global outsourcing strategy at a recent Seattle University talk. Excerpts: In a late January appearance at Seattle University, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Jim Albaugh talked about the lessons learned from the disastrous three years of delays on the 787 Dreamliner. One bracing lesson that Albaugh was unusually candid about: the 787's global outsourcing strategy — specifically intended to slash Boeing's costs — backfired completely.

    "We spent a lot more money in trying to recover than we ever would have spent if we'd tried to keep the key technologies closer to home," Albaugh told his large audience of students and faculty. ...

    The 787 outsourcing strategy was put place in 2003 by then-Boeing Chairman Harry Stonecipher, who was ousted in 2005, and Commercial Airplanes Chief Alan Mulally, now chief executive at Ford. "It's easy to look in the rear-view mirror and see things that could have been done differently," Albaugh said. "I wasn't sitting in the room and I don't know what they were facing." And yet, at least one senior technical engineer within Boeing predicted the outcome of the extensive outsourcing strategy with remarkable foresight a decade ago. ...

    Albaugh and other senior leaders within Boeing may be belatedly paying attention to a paper presented at an internal company symposium in 2001 by John Hart-Smith, a world-renowned airplane structures engineer. Hart-Smith, who had worked for Douglas Aircraft and joined Boeing when it merged in 1997 with McDonnell Douglas, was one of the elite engineers designated within the company as Senior Technical Fellows. His paper was a biting critique of excessive outsourcing, a warning to Boeing not to go down the path that had led Douglas Aircraft to virtual obsolescence by the mid-1990s. advertising The paper laid out the extreme risks of outsourcing core technology and predicted it would bring massive additional costs and require Boeing to buy out partners who could not perform. ...

    Albaugh said that part of what had led Boeing astray was the chasing of a financial measure called RONA, for Return on Net Assets. This is essentially a ratio of income to assets and one way to make that ratio bigger is to reduce your assets. The drive to increase RONA thus spurred a push within Boeing to do less work in-house — hence reducing assets in the form of facilities and employees — and have others do the work. Hart-Smith argued that it was wrong to use that financial measure as a gauge of performance and that outsourcing would only slash profits and hollow out the company.

  • Wall Street Journal: Facebook Firing Case Is Settled. By Melanie Trottman. Excerpts: A company that fired a worker after she posted negative remarks about her boss on Facebook has settled a complaint brought by the National Labor Relations Board by agreeing to revamp its rules to ensure they don't restrict workers' rights, the NLRB said. ,,,

    The case had become a test of how much latitude employees may have when posting comments about work matters from their home computers on social media sites such as Facebook. When the National Labor Relations Board issued its complaint about the firing last fall, it alleged the firing was illegal because the online posting constituted "protected concerted activity" under the National Labor Relations Act. That law allows employees to discuss the terms and conditions of their employment with co-workers and others, and the employee involved in the case had posted comments about her supervisor and responded to further comments from her co-workers, the NLRB said.

    The NLRB had also alleged the company maintained and enforced overly broad rules in its employee handbook regarding blogging, Internet posting, and communications between employees.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site
  • 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 2/05/11: Colleague who is a manager told me yesterday that GDP payout ranges this year are down noticeably compared to last year. Not quite sure how IBM can have a record year, grow revenue and profit, surpass the 2010 EPS target, and then pay noticeably less in GDP versus last year. Sounds like our stock grant (at least for U.S. employees) is not "additional compensation" for a job well done but a shift from one bucket (current year bonus) to another bucket (stock in 5 years IF you perform well and remain with the company.) -Anon-
    • Comment 2/07/11: To -Anon- That's exactly what it is. They moved money from one bucket to another and in doing so saved the company millions of dollars. IBM doesn't give anyone something 'extra'. They only 'take away'. -Miss Understanding-
    • Comment 2/05/11: http://clomedia.com/articles/view/4080 IBM partnered with Northeastern University to reduce high-potential attrition in emerging markets. Solving the problem of unacceptably high turnover among high-potential managers in emerging markets is a challenge for many companies. IBM Global Business Process Delivery partnered with Northeastern University College of Business Administration to address this challenge head-on. The solution, an online MBA program tailored for IBM, was launched in India in 2008. The program was so successful that IBM introduced it in China in 2010. The development of this program began in 2006, when Peter Lynt, IBM general manager of global business process delivery, shared that IBM was experiencing an unacceptably high turnover rate in its India operation. As a result, the company was suffering from decreased productivity and employee loyalty in its Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi process delivery centers. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/08/11: I see people make comments on working over a 40 hour week and it just surprises me. Who makes you do that? I participated in the Overtime lawsuit, but I moved into a different position right before the axe fell to chop 15% off of the tech jobs' wages. It was luck that it happened that way because my wages did not get chopped. But one thing I did notice is that my managers stopped saying it was mandatory to work 15% overtime. So, I just stopped working the overtime. I work a straight forty and if the work does not get done, it is not my responsibility because I am NOT a manager. I may be a target but I will go out with dignity and feel good about the work I do. Work-Life-balance is up to the individual, why do people not know this? Sixty to 80 hour weeks, HAHA. Join a Union or at least grow a pair and take a stand. -the-straight-forty-guy-
    • Comment 2/08/11: Well its looking like the GDP payouts this year will be stated as same levels as 2010 however if you stayed same or got a higher PBC expect a lower payout than last year. The new motto of IBM at 100 years More Work Less Money for You more Money for the Execs -GDP-
    • Comment 2/08/11: Indeed your GDP will $uck for 2010 record results. If you get RAed before the payout make sure you get what little GDP you might be entitled to. IBM made more folks PBC 3 and PBC 2 this year and thus less GDP bucket and payouts will be left even for PBC 1 and 2+. I'd guess PBC 1 get 5%, PBC 2+ 3% and PBC 2 about 1%. And yes, your $1000 stock prize was part of your deferred GDP so to speak. IBM plays three card monty with your additional compensation. They always win and without a union you'll always lose. -da-facts-
    • Comment 2/08/11: A Jeopardy question that will stump Watson: Companies for 1000$. What company continues to screw its employees in any way possible. Less pay, more work, less GDP etc. Come on folks wake up and lets unionize!!! -watson was here-
    • Comment 2/09/11: I know this has nothing to do with a job cut or a resource action but in regards to: http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2011/02/04/white-house-launches-new-aba-hotline-labor-dept/ I still think there is a deeper reason IBM did the salary to hourly change and that 15% remix (ahem, pay cut) to tech workers. It was not done solely to screw the employee and save IBM money. It was also done to do damage control due to IBM's manipulation of labor accounting in relation to customer contract servicing. Since IBM is basing it's utilization numbers for contract servicing with OT "built in" and billing the customer for OT that is not actual then isn't IBM in violation of something? Is it accounting law, labor wage law being violated?

      Can it be proven IBM moves utilization numbers (billable hours) around from business units (divisions or LOBs) and from one QTR to the next to make quarterly numbers look better?The USA government should know about this. If enough of us stand together and say IBM is reporting OT as billable that is not actually being worked by us week-to-week, quarter-to-quarter, there has to be a case I'm sure can catch the ear of the US government. Also, the Alliance here is your real voice in dealing with IBM. Listen to them. Support them. We need this union to quell IBM abuses that hurt us employees (and retirees), our customers, and our economy. -anonymous-

    • Comment 2/09/11: To -the-straight-forty-guy- : The "work/life" thing was always a joke just like pbc's. There was no work life balance. I don't miss the days of being up in the middle of the night at home working on some system because that's the only time they would let me do changes, and then be expected to be in the office in the morning after being up all night. The work/life balance was just another farce to cover them. At least I got money from that overtime lawsuit to cover "some" of my OT over the years. If you want real work/life balance, organize and unionize. It is the only way with a company like IBM. -Gone_in_07-
    • Comment 2/09/11: My manager told me I better start recording overtime on my time reporting. He needs this to show that his people are working well beyond 100%. I told him this is bull crap since I get my work done and I only get paid for 40 hrs per week. He said if I don't play the game he will be forced to lower my appraisal. Is this ethical? Could I end up on the RA list if I don't play the game? -confused employee-
    • Comment 2/10/11: -Confused employee-. If your manager told you to clock your time and you refuse he can just plain old fire you. Saves IBM the severance pay. It is only an ethical problem if you are to asked to clock hours you did not work. -still here-
    • Comment 2/10/11: -confused employee- "He said if I don't play the game he will be forced to lower my appraisal". Same here. I am in SWG development and was told some months ago to start "playing the game" or wind up with a "3". Well, I wound up with a "3". Apparently this "play the game" thing is a big thing for managers. Must be the new management buzz phrase. Problem is, no one ever told me what game we were playing!!! -NotPlayingTheirGame- Alliance Reply: The "game" is anything but a game; however it is simply "Do what we tell you, don't THINK for yourself and don't expect us to care about you." As stated in this section many times: You are an 'At Will Employee'. You have no written employment contract or binding agreement that is in your favor. Please tell your co-workers to WAKE UP!
    • Comment 2/09/11: China is seeing a growing amount of illegal, independent labor action now. This site features news about labor actions there, as well as great interactive maps: http://chinastrikes.crowdmap.com/ I thought you might find this of interest. -David- Alliance Reply: Thank you for this information. For those who don't know, China has its own 'state' labor unions; but they are mostly powerless, and under Chinese Communist Party control. This is why it is considered "illegal" for independent actions by labor in China. It would be interesting to know if, and how these actions affect IBM locations in China.
    • Comment 2/10/11: Have heard from manager, that some announcement coming Feb16. He had to sign non-disclosure so couldn't say anything more. Likely will affect headcount in some manner. Anyone else heard anything? -Anon-
    • Comment 2/10/11: >> He said if I don't play the game he will be forced to lower my appraisal. Is this ethical? I am continually amazed that people come here, year after year, with anecdotes of how IBM is treating them shabbily, and asking "Is this legal?" or "Is this ethical?" You have no contract. They can do whatever they like to to you, modulo the restrictions of criminal law. "Ethical"?? How long have you been working for this company, and you ask that? You still expect them to treat you well?? Join a union to try to make it a better employer, or find a better employer elsewhere. It's a pretty simple choice. There's no third alternative you'll like better. -irRational-
    • Comment 2/10/11: Sounds like or better put is, all Operations roles in North America are being reorganized and into 3 groups (lots of VPs & Directors to run these 3 groups). With plans to move any repetitive reporting type of work to offshore locations in either China, Brazil or a yet unnamed location (Cairo). Executives will be told too bad if you need data contact the COEs, the COE will tell them sorry only canned information is available. And once the COEs are trained you know what will happen to the existing staff with a few stragglers left behind to enjoy their new roles. Starts in 2Q to be fully implemented by 2012. -Former Ops Person-
    • Comment 2/11/11: Whenever I was asked by a manager or other 'superior' to fill out a form, record or omit hours worked, or any such action that was essentially entering information that was untrue, my response was simply to ask "Are you asking me to falsify company records?" That always stopped them from pushing the issue. Will it help? Probably not, but we all know that the executives and management hold all the power. -He Who Carries the Pickle-
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • National Public Radio: Republicans Spurn Once-Favored Health Mandate. By Julie Rovner. Excerpts: For Republicans, the idea of requiring every American to have health insurance is one of the most abhorrent provisions of the Democrats' health overhaul bills. "Congress has never crossed the line between regulating what people choose to do and ordering them to do it," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). "The difference between regulating and requiring is liberty."

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

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Obama Care" by Paul Sutera. Full excerpt: Well, facts are difficult things. We sure don't get a lot of healthcare for our money in the USA - in fact the R & D budget for drugs produced by Big Pharma is a tiny part of their overall expenditures, whereas advertising expense dwarfs R&D expenditure. I sure didn't see pharmaceutical ads on Italian TV while in Italy. Or on German TV in Germany. But here it's a non-stop barrage.

    55 countries have some form of universal health care. Canada's system is a patchwork of province-specific plans, different in most every province. The USA is FIFTIETH on the list of longevity, right next to Albania, the poorest country in Europe. That means 50 countries in the world have higher longevity rates. Most of these higher longevity rates are in the countries *with* that universal healthcare. But of course the USA has some issues with lifestyle.

    I heard that Peru was instituting medical coverage for its poorest citizens ... from a Peruvian friend.

    So is Obama Care the signature work of a "socialist liberal"? Most would consider it a huge gift to the private sector. And IMHO, the private sector is the reason why Medical Care is so expensive in this country - profit-mongering run amuck. Please don't tell me we're paying for R&D because we should as the wealthiest country.

    Socialist? Well Germany, Italy, France, Canada - all with universal healthcare and ALL (even Italy) with lower unemployment than the USA. Germany at 7.2%, Canada at 7.4%. Italy at 8.4%.

    Now hiring may be slower in those countries but unions and country laws make mandatory severance packages nice and punitive for corporations. As a result they don't destroy quite so many dreams just to make ever increasing profits. On the other hand they are slower to hire a permanent employee too, so there is a downside, and maybe there is a middle-ground too.

    To those who think more corporate-conservatism is the only answer, I don't know what to tell you. I'm thanking LBJ, FDR and Thomas J Watson for taking care of my parents - otherwise they would be living in my spare bedroom with no medical coverage. When I keep hearing we can't afford our safety net - I say only that democracy needs to apply to corporations as well. Ever-increasing profits mean only one thing. More for the corporate-landed gentry, less for the other 398 million people in the USA. We can't afford our safety net because US firms can outsource not only with impunity but with tax-breaks that favor outsourcing and offshoring. Another hard-right political turn ain't gonna fix it. 36% of all manufacturing jobs went overseas or belly-up during Bush/Cheney. Yah I'm sure ready for more Corporate rule of government!

    Obama socialist? My foot!

  • Politico: House GOP looks at tough health insurance realities. By Marin Cogan. Excerpts: Ask any House Republican about repealing President Barack Obama's health care law, and you'll get the same fiery, self-assured talking points about tearing down what Speaker John Boehner has called a "monstrosity."

    But talk to some of the 16 freshman lawmakers who have declined their government health benefits, and you'll hear a different side of the story — about tough out-of-pocket expenses, pre-existing conditions and support for health reforms that would help those who struggle with their coverage. As they venture into the free market for health insurance, these lawmakers — many of whom swept into office fueled by tea party anger over the health care law — are facing monthly premiums of $1,200 and fears of double-digit rate hikes.

    The experience has caused some of them to think harder about the "replace" part of the "repeal and replace" mantra the GOP has adopted regarding the health care law.

    "I have a niece who has pre-existing conditions, and I worry about her if she was ever to lose her job," said Florida Rep. Richard Nugent, one of the freshman lawmakers who declined federal health insurance benefits. ...

    "I can simply, honestly say that this is going to impact my wife and I to a fairly serious degree, like it would any average American out there," said first-time Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois. Walsh's wife has a pre-existing condition and will need a procedure in the coming months, but because he declined federal benefits, they're paying for it out of pocket. Meanwhile, Walsh is contributing to a health savings account to cover his expenses. "It's a cost we will feel, a cost I will have to pick up. I won't turn down benefits because I have something to fall back on or because I'm independently wealthy," he said.

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.

  • New York Times editorial: Bankers and Their Bonuses. Excerpts: Bankers are done with contrition. Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, paid himself a $12.6 million stock bonus for 2010, 40 percent more than in 2009, despite plummeting profits. Brian Moynihan of Bank of America got $9 million in restricted stock despite the bank's $2.2 billion loss.

    Bankers are done with contrition. Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, paid himself a $12.6 million stock bonus for 2010, 40 percent more than in 2009, despite plummeting profits. Brian Moynihan of Bank of America got $9 million in restricted stock despite the bank's $2.2 billion loss. ...

    Bankers and their banks need to be made more risk averse. That means banks must be made smaller and less profitable. Bankers' eagerness to recapture the lavish paydays suggests how far we still need to go.

  • Wall Street Journal: No Rush to Hire Even as Profits Soar. By John Shipman, Joe Light and Paul Vigna. Excerpt: The lack of significant job gains 18 months after the recession was declared over isn't such a mystery when considering how companies were able to return to strong profit growth in a relatively short period. They mainly relied on aggressive job cuts, and with companies now pleased with their revitalized earnings and demand still choppy, they seem to be in no hurry to add to their payrolls.
  • Washington Post: Business Doesn't Need American Workers. By Robert Kuttner. Excerpts: The U.S. still has a jobs gap of about 14 million jobs, and that number is increasing as the labor force grows. Counting people who've given up, or who are working part time when they want full time jobs, the real unemployment number is around 17 percent. America now has about 25 million people either out of work or underemployed.

    Meanwhile, corporate profits continue to set records. Profits in the third quarter of 2010 were 1.659 trillion, about 28 percent higher than a year before, and the highest year-to-year increase on record.

    What's going on? Very simply, America's corporations no longer need America's workers.

    As Harold Meyerson documents in a brilliant piece for The American Prospect, our most admired corporations -- GE, Apple, Hewlett Packard, Intel -- are creating ever more jobs overseas and relatively fewer at home. This has the double benefit of taking advantage of cheap labor abroad and disciplining workers to accept low wages at home. Along with the high unemployment rates have come declining earnings. ...

    This record contrasts dramatically with that of the right's favorite whipping boy -- Western Europe. Germany is gaining jobs at a rapid clip. Its industrialists are committed to producing at home, and just in case they get ideas of making outsourcing a way of life, they have strong unions who negotiate agreements on where production is located. Germany's labor costs are the highest in the world, but Germany nonetheless runs the world's largest export surplus -- 7 percent of GDP -- while America runs chronic trade deficits. ...

    The Obama administration is not about to take issue with American companies that profit from locating ever more production abroad. The corporate elite is fiercely opposed to any limits on its freedom to relocate, and Obama is on a mission to make peace with big business. The administration continues to promote "free trade" deals on the premise that they will create jobs -- but more and more of those jobs get created offshore.

    Both political parties are in denial about the plain fact that American industry is competing against an industrial system in China radically different from our own. If a company like GE wants to operate in China, the Beijing regime extracts conditions that violate the spirit if not the letter of the World Trade Organization. Companies are made to take on Chinese partners, to transfer sensitive proprietary technology, and to shift their production and R&D to China. In exchange, they get government subsidies and docile workers. Eventually, much of their production is displaced by their Chinese partners, but in the meantime they make a lot of money. ...

    So if you want to know why the Democratic Party did so badly in the 2010 midterms, it's because the administration lacked a plausible story about how to alter these basic dynamics. And it lacked that story because it was unwilling to challenge the corporate business model that disdains American workers. In light of that reality, the latest gestures by the president to show the business elite just what a good fellow he is are not just disappointing, but they are foolish politics.

  • Los Angeles Times: Koch brothers now at heart of GOP power. By Tom Hamburger, Kathleen Hennessey and Neela Banerjee. Excerpts: Koch Industries is the country's second-largest privately run company, a conglomerate of refining, pipeline, chemical and paper businesses. Their products include Lycra and Coolmax fibers, Brawny paper towels and Stainmaster carpets. Last year, Forbes magazine listed the brothers as the nation's fifth-richest people, each worth $21.5 billion. ...

    When the 85 freshman GOP lawmakers marched into the Capitol on Jan. 5 as part of the new Republican House majority, David Koch was there too. The 70-year-old had an appointment with a staff member of the new speaker, Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). At the same time, the head of Americans for Prosperity, Tim Phillips, had an appointment with Upton. They used the opportunity to introduce themselves to some of the new legislators and invited them to a welcome party at the Capitol Hill Club, a favorite wine-and-cheese venue for Republican power players in Washington.

  • The Nation: The Conservative Class War, Continued. By Eric Alterman. Excerpts: It was a terrible tabloid tale. While New York City was buried under a blizzard, widows and orphans freezing and starving in their apartments, union fat cats swigged brewskis and chuckled to themselves as sanitation workers conspired to stage a slowdown to gain leverage in their contract negotiations. "The selfish Sanitation bosses who sabotaged the blizzard cleanup to fire a salvo at City Hall targeted politically connected and well-heeled neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn to get their twisted message across loud and clear," screamed Rupert Murdoch's New York Post. From there, the story ricocheted across the media, to Investor's Business Daily to Fox News (naturally), and even to Saturday Night Live. The Washington Times ran an op-ed that began, "Cross us and people will die."

    Alas, it never happened. The source of all this hysteria was a sketchy story told by Daniel Halloran, a rookie councilman and Tea Party Republican—who is also an adherent of the neo-pagan religion Theodicism. A New York Times investigation weeks later found no evidence to support the allegation, and it turns out that Halloran isn't so sure about what he thought he heard after all. But the damage is done. (Murdoch properties are not exactly famous for correcting their errors; though, to be fair, if they did, there would hardly be time or space for anything else.)

    Can it be mere coincidence that the right-wing media promoted this phony-baloney story at a moment when, as Charles Loveless, legislative director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, points out, conservatives are "readying a massive assault" on the pensions and benefits of these same employees? ...

    The assault on public employee unions is the next phase of a forty-year class war in America by the rich against the rest of us. It is of a piece with the steady dismantling of our progressive taxation system and the explosion of economic inequality. Total income going to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans has risen from about 8 percent in the 1960s to more than 20 percent today. As Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson demonstrate in their recent book, Winner-Take-All Politics, this is the result of deliberate policy choices made by politicians in the service of those who fund their campaigns. Congress has repeatedly cut tax rates on top earners, along with capital gains and estate taxes. And as Robert Lieberman, writing in Foreign Affairs, recalls, during the 1990s the Financial Accounting Standards Board, which regulates accounting practices, attempted to put a stop to the practice of allowing corporate CEOs to compensate themselves with massive stock-option packages, correctly predicting that it would lead to an epidemic of deceptive accounting practices. "But Congress, spurred on by the lobbying efforts of major corporations, stopped the FASB in its tracks." The result? For the past twenty years we've allowed CEOs to enrich themselves at the expense of employees and stockholders "through the mutual back-scratching habits of corporate boards."

  • National Public Radio: As You Get Ready To File, Know That Taxes Are At A 60-Year Low. By Eyder Paralta. Excerpts: That's according to the AP, which also reports that across the board, 2010's taxes will be significantly lower than they were during the Bush years. They report:
    Income tax payments this year will be nearly 13 percent lower than they were in 2008, the last full year of the Bush presidency. Corporate taxes will be lower by a third, according to projections by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
    The poor economy is largely to blame, with corporate profits down and unemployment up. But so is a tax code that grows each year with new deductions, credits and exemptions. The result is that families making as much as $50,000 can avoid paying federal income taxes, if they have at least two dependent children. Low-income families can actually make a profit from the income tax, and the wealthy can significantly cut their payments.
    "The current state of the tax code is simply indefensible," says Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. "It is hemorrhaging revenue."

    Robert Schlesinger, opinion editor at U.S. News and World Report, breaks down the numbers: "...Federal tax receipts this year are expected to be about 14.8 percent of GDP. By contrast that figure was 17.5 percent in tax cut warrior George W. Bush's last full year in office."

  • New York Times op-ed: A Terrible Divide. By Bob Herbert. Excerpts: More and more Americans are being left behind in an economy that is being divided ever more starkly between the haves and the have-nots. Not only are millions of people jobless and millions more underemployed, but more and more of the so-called fringe benefits and public services that help make life livable, or even bearable, in a modern society are being put to the torch.

    Employer-based pensions, paid vacations, health benefits and the like are going the way of phone booths and VCRs. As poverty increases and reliable employment becomes less and less the norm, the dwindling number of workers with any sort of job security or guaranteed pensions (think teachers and other modestly compensated public employees) are being viewed with increasing contempt. How dare they enjoy a modicum of economic comfort? ...

    Standards of living for the people on the wrong side of the economic divide are being ratcheted lower and will remain that way for many years to come. Forget the fairy tales being spun by politicians in both parties — that somehow they can impose service cuts that are drastic enough to bring federal and local budgets into balance while at the same time developing economic growth strong enough to support a robust middle class. It would take a Bernie Madoff to do that. ...

    For a variety of reasons, there are not enough tax revenues being generated to pay for the basic public services that one would expect in an advanced country like the United States. The rich are not shouldering their fair share of the tax burden. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continue to consume an insane amount of revenue. And there are not enough jobs available at decent enough pay to ease some of the demand for public services while at the same time increasing the amount of taxes paid by ordinary workers. ...

    The U.S. cannot cut its way out of this crisis. Instead of trying to figure out how to keep 4-year-olds out of pre-kindergarten classes, or how to withhold life-saving treatments from Medicaid recipients, or how to cheat the elderly out of their Social Security, the nation's leaders should be trying seriously to figure out what to do about the future of the American work force. ...

    Corporate profits and the stock markets are way up. Businesses are sitting atop mountains of cash. Put people back to work? Forget about it. Has anyone bothered to notice that much of those profits are the result of aggressive payroll-cutting — companies making do with fewer, less well-paid and harder-working employees?

    For American corporations, the action is increasingly elsewhere. Their interests are not the same as those of workers, or the country as a whole. As Harold Meyerson put it in The American Prospect: "Our corporations don't need us anymore. Half their revenues come from abroad. Their products, increasingly, come from abroad as well." American workers are in a world of hurt. Anyone who thinks that politicians can improve this sorry state of affairs by hacking away at Social Security, Medicare and the public schools are great candidates for involuntary commitment.

  • thruthOut: Worker Productivity: The French Connection. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: Workers in the United States are more productive, per capita, than workers in European nations, according to 2009 federal government statistics. But does this mean that Europeans are doing something wrong, or do they simply have different priorities than Americans? ...

    I'm going to focus on the data from 2008, not 2009. In 2009, businesses in the United States laid off a lot of workers, while European firms did not. That produced a divergence in productivity that had more to do with short-run business cycle events than with fundamental trends. Data from 2008 allows for a better sense of the underlying differences:

    • G.D.P. per capita: Per person, France produces 73 percent of what the United States produces in a year.
    • G.D.P. per hour worked: A French worker produces about 99 percent of what an American worker produces in one hour.
    • Number of workers: For every 100 workers in the United States, France has about 84 workers.
    • Hours per worker: For every 100 hours an American works, a French person works about 88.

    So French workers are roughly as productive as American workers. But fewer French people have jobs, and when they have jobs, they work fewer hours. So why is it that fewer people in France are employed? During their prime working years, the French are as likely to have jobs as Americans are. ...

    And why do the French work shorter hours? For the most part, probably because government policies mandate that workers take vacation time. The bottom line is that France, which has the same levels of technology and productivity as the United States, has made different choices about retirement and leisure. Vive la difference!

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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