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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—April 30, 2011

  • eWeek: IBM Workers to Organize Global Union. By Darryl K. Taft. Excerpts: The Alliance@IBM has announced that an IBM super-union is in the early stages of being formed, to be known as the IBM Global Union Alliance. In a statement, the Alliance@IBM said a network of IBM unions worldwide, including the Alliance@IBM CWA Local 1701, will meet in Switzerland in May to form the IBM Global Union Alliance.

    The statement released by Lee Conrad, national coordinator of the Alliance@IBM, said: "For many years IBM unions, including the Alliance, have worked together as a network of information and cooperation. The new Global Union Alliance, under the umbrella of the International Metalworkers Federation (IMF) and Union Network International (UNI) takes that network to another level and will include many more IBM unions. This past year new IBM unions have formed in Bulgaria, Chile and Argentina. ...

    Alliance@IBM/CWA Local 1701 is an IBM employee organization that is dedicated to preserving and improving workers' rights and benefits at IBM. "We also strive towards restoring management's respect for the individual and the value we bring to the company as employees," the union's mission statement said. "Our mission is to make our voice heard with IBM management, shareholders, government and the media. While our ultimate goal is collective bargaining rights with IBM, we will build our union now and challenge IBM on the many issues facing employees from off-shoring and job security to working conditions and company policy."

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "IBM Workers in Greenville, SC forced into Manpower" by Lee Conrad. Full excerpt: Are You Next? On April 20th IBM employees of the Annuity Services division at the facility in Greenville, SC were told in a meeting that they would no longer be IBM employees, but contractors for Manpower effective May 1st.

    Needless to say the 120 IBM employees were shocked and angry at this unilateral decision by corporate management. Most are veteran employees of legacy companies that have serviced IBM accounts for many years.

    According to information received by the Alliance the services affected by this move are:

    • Mail/imaging/indexing/records
    • Contact Center
    • Billing and Collection Processing
    • New Business Processing
    • Recon/Treasury/Reinsurance
    • PCR/Support
    • Life and Annuity Claims
    • Policy Administration

    If an IBM employee does not choose to move to Manpower their employment is terminated.

    Employees are not eligible to move to another position in IBM.

    There is no separation pay if you terminate your employment or move to Manpower.

    There is no credit for IBM service.

    There is a "safety net" for transitioned employees for the first 12 months of Manpower employment.

    Employees will no longer be allowed to participate in any IBM club activity.

    Employees will not be eligible for IBM's 2012 GDP bonus.

    Employees will not be eligible for the stock grant.

    Accrued vacation will be paid.

    Employees will not be paid for any personal choice holidays not taken.

    IBM medical benefits end April 30, 2011.

    Coverage of IBM Group Life Insurance ends May31, 2011.

    Salary deductions for IBM Health Care Spending Account ceases on the last IBM pay period.

    This and other changes have turned the IBM employee's lives upside down. Most valued the benefits from IBM and are deeply concerned that Manpower benefits are non-existent.

    What is happening to these employees shows how little corporate management values employees. You are not a person to them; you are a "resource" that can be disposed of at any time.

    This also shows what happens when employees are not covered by a union contract. Everything that just happened to the Greenville employees would have been negotiated with employee input not unilaterally dumped on workers with a take it or leave it outcome.

    So will YOU be next. Will you come to work one day and find yourself sold off with no recourse or voice?

    It doesn't have to be that way.

    Help build the Alliance so that the next group faces IBM corporate management with a strong union and a contract in hand!

    If you are not a member please go to our web site and join today! www.allianceibm.org

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: IBM Workers in Greenville, SC forced into Manpower." by "thirtyyearibmer". Full excerpt: Our prayers are with those being impacted. I dare not write what I think when such things as this happen. This is merely IBM trying to protect its "good name" during a Centennial Celebration year by avoiding massive resource actions. How far we have fallen. No Cheers. Pete
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: IBM Workers in Greenville, SC forced into Manpower." by "workforlife". Full excerpt: IBM has done the exact same thing over and over again. Each time the employees bitched in public and then joined the new company. A year later the contractor salary plan nose dived and the employees again complained and did nothing but make less money or quit. No back-up plan really required. Fishkill management are experts at this and can help SC out.
  • Associated Press courtesy of Forbes: IBM lifts dividend 15 pct, sets $8B stock buyback. Excerpt: IBM's board has also authorized another $8 billion for the company's stock buyback program. This is in addition to approximately $4.7 billion remaining at the end of March from a prior stock repurchase authorization. IBM expects to request additional share repurchase authorization at its board meeting in October.
  • DailyFinance: Why Stock Buybacks Are a Warning Sign for Smart Investors. By Peter Cohan. Excerpts: Why are stock buybacks a problem? Their proponents argue that they return money to shareholders. But as I wrote last October on DailyFinance, many professional money mangers and investors interpret stock buybacks as a sign that company CEO aren't doing their most important job -- finding sources of new growth. If the best idea they can come up with is to funnel money back to shareholders, those company boards should replace the CEOs with people who have better ideas.

    Primarily, stock buybacks are a shell game designed to boost CEO pay. Analysts look at the stock buybacks and realize immediately that they will reduce the number of shares outstanding, thus artificially boosting earnings per share. Since many CEOs get bonuses based on EPS increases, by giving money to the shareholders, they indirectly pave the way to higher bonuses for themselves.

  • Wealth-Finance: Why Most Stock Buybacks Are Bogus (By the Numbers). Excerpts: Companies have gotten stingier with dividends in recent decades, but they've grown more generous with share repurchases. There's just one problem for investors. For the stock market as a whole, repurchases might be largely a mirage. "Most buybacks are phony," wrote Rob Arnott, former editor of Financial Analysts Journal and founder of investment firm Research Affiliates, in a recent email exchange. "If management redeems stock options and the company then buys back the same amount of shares, this is management compensation, not a buyback." ...

    Arnott's finding adds to a growing chorus of skepticism regarding repurchases. Several studies have found a strong link between chief executive bonus plans based on earnings-per-share targets and the use of share repurchases to give earnings per share a boost. A 2009 paper found that accelerated share repurchases, whereby companies retire shares today and enter into a contract to pay for them in the future, are particularly popular among companies whose chief executives are paid according to short-term earnings-per-share performance. Another paper reported that accelerated share repurchases tend to foretell poor stock performance.

  • The Register (United Kingdom): IBM bumps up dividend – again. More financial – not computer – engineering. By Timothy Prickett Morgan. Excerpts: IBM, the original IT darling of the New York Stock Exchange, has once again boosted its cash dividend and piled up billions more cash to run down to the exchange to buy back its own shares. On Tuesday, the company's board of directors approved a 15 per cent increase in IBM's quarterly dividend – a dime per share – to 75 cents. This is the sixteenth year that IBM has increased its dividend, which has quintupled since 2003. The board also said that IBM could set aside another $8bn to do share repurchases, adding to the $4.7bn that it already has authorization to spend to concentrate its shares and boost EPS figures. ...

    "Since 2003, we have returned over $100bn to shareholders in the form of dividends and share repurchases, while continuing to invest in capital expenditures, acquisitions and research and development," Palmisano said in a statement announcing the dividend boost and share repurchase authorization. "Our commitment to delivering value to our shareholders remains as important today, as it has ever been."

    Clearly, what IBM needed to do was spend $100bn on a time machine, or at least something that could communicate across the fabric of spacetime to prevent Big Blue from making the serious blunders it did in the 1980s and 1990s.

    IBM was a genius at electromechanical engineering, so it is no surprise that the company has been able to play Wall Street so well, engineering earnings-per-share growth by buying back shares for nearly two decades. Regardless of the other things that IBM might have done with that $100bn in cash – or the many tens of billions is spend in the decade before that doing the same thing – with executives being compensated largely with stock, and with Wall Street wanting to see IBM's earnings growth continue even if revenues flatline, this is about the only strategy anyone could reasonably expect. You get the results that you set metrics for and reward. ...

    If you want to think about just how powerful IBM used to be on Wall Street, just think about its May 1968 stock split. IBM had 60 million shares on NYSE at the time, and just ahead of the split its shares were trading at $688, more than doubling ahead of the split; IBM's shares traded at 59 times 1967 earnings in those mainframe salad days, and it paid out $4.54 a year in dividends.

    Oh, and it didn't do share buybacks. It invested in technology and was a ruthless monopolist. IBM engineered its machines and its business in those days, not its financials.

  • New York Times: Beyond the Surge in Corporate Profits. By Paul J. Lim. Excerpts: Moreover, many of the tail winds that drove earnings growth in 2010 — like disinflation, low interest rates and aggressive cost-cutting that reduced jobs and bolstered productivity — are either gone or nearing an end. That's why market strategists say investors should look past the still fairly rosy profit expectations and focus instead on several important trends.

    Start with revenue growth. This was a big concern last year, when analysts feared that much profit growth was a result of layoffs and other cost-cutting, instead of robust growth in demand.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Next years Fed tax" by "mel_zimowski". Full excerpt: As an IBM retiree, I no longer judge IBM on how it treats it's employees and on whether it's a good company to work for. Doesn't matter to me anymore. For me Palmisano's primary responsibility is to keep his shareholders happy, and I currently have no complaints on that ground. Is all my investment money tied up in IBM stock? No way. I know better than to put all my eggs in one basket.

    Just as I knew better during my working days at IBM that I couldn't completely rely on IBM's promises to take care of me during my retirement years - the fine print, as I recall, clearly stated that there were no guarantees. And even if I had lost my IBM pension, I would still be able to maintain my modest but comfortable retirement lifestyle. It's all about sound financial planning.

    So, I disagree with your assertion that 'The only reason it worked out for "us" was that we were born a few years earlier than most.' It worked out for me because I worked hard, because many of my accomplishments were deemed valuable by the business, because I have for the most part lived within my means, and because I never let all the nonsense that I endured as a non-management IBM employee get the best of me.

    The nonsense, by the way, spanned my entire 32 year career - not just the Gerstner and Palmisano years. I know that others have not been as "lucky", but let's remember that no one ever forced anyone to work for IBM. Each of us makes choices in life and each of us needs to take responsibility for those choices.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Next years Fed tax" by "thirtyyearibmer". Full excerpt: Mel, "it" worked out for a lot of us. I would say though that "it" worked out a whole lot less for a whole lot more. The only reason it worked out for "us" was that we were born a few years earlier than most. That is a sad way to make a decision on who gets a monthly annuity vs. who as my friends tell me "wake up every morning knowing what they have lost." They lost what I got based on nothing more than a birth date. I too chose to stay in the late 90's and even leveraged the time of the Internet phenomenon for a promotion.

    The loss of a monthly annuity check and the replacement of that with a high risk 401K all sounds good until the "high risk" kicks in - then everyone wants the "low stable returns." Such is human nature, I guess. We are always looking in our rear view mirrors and asking, "what could have been."

    History will be the test on whether a Gerstner - Palmisano run company with no belief system can rival an eighty year run of a Watson - Watson run company. What you and I enjoy today is the result of the Watson - Watson era, not the Gerstner - Palmisano era. Our monthly annuity check that enables us to have a stable cash flow was the result of a team that believed in sharing the wealth.

    The same stockholders that are cheering will be the same one going after Palmisano's successor in a few years when everything comes home to roost: underinvestment in acquisitions products such as Micromuse and Candle, a growth strategy based on acquisitions not internal organic growth, loss of the best people in the business because of poor morale, division between corporate executives and the 100's of thousands that are responsible for that profit and poor investment in tools to make its people productive such as requiring the usage of Lotus Symphony rather than the latest Microsoft tools.

    Someday the stockholders will start asking the following questions:

    • If you are investing so much in R&D why do you need to acquire more than thirty companies in Software Group alone?
    • Why can't you grow revenue faster if all 300,000 people are being productive and engaged in helping you grow?
    • What happens with the cash flow slows down and you can't repurchase stock any longer - where is that basic organic growth?
    • Why do you have such great turnover in the field - isn't sales important to you anymore?

    The danger signs are everywhere as they are with every "bubble" yet Fortune magazine chooses to ignore them in their interviews. It will be John Akers all over again - was he the problem or was it the "100 billion dollar corporation by the '90s CEO" that converted lease to purchase, built factories beyond need and saw our sales force leave in droves because of triple digit quota increases?

    A manager is a person that does things right, a leader does the right things. We haven't seen true leadership at the IBM corporation in a long, long time. The only reason we can't recognize that is our memories and the memories of the press are too short.

    As for stock, I put my IBM money that I sold when I heard our CFO for the first time in IBM history blame the sales for for poor execution and put it in energy. It has performed a lot better with less risk than any individual stock like IBM. Not that I have any particular acumen at stock picking - I just go with a strong mutual fund with strong leadership at a strong company. In my very humble opinion - that does not describe IBM today for the long term investor.

    So some questions to ask before you sink too much of your retirement dollars into IBM - betting on any single stock is a risky proposition and folks tend to talk about their great returns and fail to post how much they lost elsewhere. I know I am not going around telling folks how much I lost when I bet on one country to turn it around - Japan.

    Whew - no more single country bets for me. Cheers, Pete.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Next years Fed tax" by "Kady". Full excerpt: I would suggest you you that you may be missing something in your analysis:
    1. This board discusses, for the most part, discrepancies between the benefits paid to retired IBM employees and their expectations. I would agree with you that those issues (and the frustrations thereof) are not germane to the performance of the company going forward.
    2. What IS germane, however, is something that is generally NOT talked about on this board, and one that I experience firsthand, being an IBM employee of the non-retired variety; that being the discrepancies between the compensation/treatment of CURRENT IBM employees and those which are more typical in the broader job market.
    3. To summarize: Compensation plans have been allowed to drift significantly off the market (in my case, I estimate I am currently about 35% underpaid to the market, a situation which I intend to soon address), job demands are very high (few employees report being able to meet their objectives in less than 50-60 hours per week, quotas are deliberately set high to insure that very few make their numbers/get into the accelerators), and management by "metric" (which has become IBM-speak for "micromanagement" of all things) is now the status quo.

    So, Mel, if you agree with IBM management that all employees are simply replaceable parts, then by all means, bet on the stock; if, however, you believe that quality employees DO matter, and you acknowledge from past history that when morale is low during a recession, the best employees flock out the door as soon as the job market turns, leaving the mediocre behind, then you might consider hedging your position by shorting some IBM stock.

  • DailyFinance: Why Young Workers Want a Good Old-Fashioned Pension. By Charles Wallace. Excerpts: The conventional wisdom is that young people today are inured to the idea that they will change jobs repeatedly over their careers, and that because of that, they don't really think much about pensions. But it turns out that the conventional wisdom is wrong.

    According to a survey by professional services firm Towers Watson (TW), the percentage of young workers who cited their pension plan as a reason for staying with their current employer has jumped from 28% two years ago to 43% now. Those who like their company's 401(k) plans, in contrast, declined from 19% to 17%.

    Alan Glickstein, a Dallas-based senior retirement consultant at Towers Watson, said he was surprised that so many young people cited their defined-benefit pension plan as a main reason for sticking with a job.

    "What they want is security," Glickstein says. "They saw people who were ready to retire after working a large number of years suddenly face a big setback because of the financial downturn. Whether it hit them directly or indirectly, it created fear, and the reaction is 'I don't want that.'" ...

    Glickstein believes that if the job market improves with the economic rebound, some companies may be forced to resume offering traditional pension plans again, or their employees will flee to firms that do. "The fact that younger employees are now saying they value security and it would matter to them if they had a pension plan, could start influencing employer behavior about what they offer,'" he says.

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • IBM Software Engineer in Bangalore (India): (Current Employee) "IBM has lost it." Pros: While being at IBM, I met some of the smartest technical people people to work with. A lot of the folks are pretty smart at what they do, though unfortunately the same set of smart people are also pretty frustrated folks.

      Cons: After being at IBM for about 5 years I realized that things just weren't happening at IBM. And here are some of the reasons I left IBM.

      Lack of basic facilities: By claiming that they were stopping giving tea and coffee to employees just because it will save $6 million to the organization they set a very bad precedent which highlighted complete lack respect towards the employee. For managers, these simple things don't seem to make sense. But then again these are simple things and management should have handled it differently than just killing the basic facilities for employees.

      Quota system: This is a big beast within this organization that is effecting lot of people. Every manager is supposed to maintain a fixed average for the ratings, as a result there are lot of dissatisfied employees.

      Bell curve: At one time bell curve funda was a fashion within IBM <sic>, managers used to put employees under the bell curve and rationalize salary on the bell curve. Not any longer, employees are fed up of hearing of the bell curve and all the other stupid crap that the management has to prove employees didn't work hard enough.

      Lack of transparency: Employee policies such as notice period have been changed without giving much opportunity to employees and such policies have no precedent in the industry

      Growth: Smart hard working people are feeling suffocated as there aren't enough opportunities for people to grow.

      Compensation: If you are smart then your compensation is surely less by about 50% of the current market compensation. And though the management has been promising to cover up the 50% for long, but the sad part is that even though IBM may have great quarters, the gap just keeps on increasing.

      Advice to Senior Management: At the very heart of the problem, IBM is a company for share holders. It cares more about the share price and executive salary than the very well being of the employees who are pillars and the drivers of this foundation. The employees, particularity at the technical level have been ignored for long now. And as a result talented folks are leaving in huge numbers. Management should infuse the confidence back in the employees by putting in good HR practices and keeping things simple, and yet remain aggressive on the product and sales front. The later option though pretty obvious, seems to have been lost with focus on revenue earnings.

    • IBM Senior Program Manager in Markham, ON (Canada): (Past Employee - 2011) "Ensure that your profile holder isn't a clock puncher, otherwise say hi to 1% promotions." Pros: Good opportunities, new projects keep you busy and sharp. Cons: Lack of work life balance. Low pay when compared to the market. Too much emphasis on outsourcing jobs to growth markets. Lack of employee morale these days. Advice to Senior Management: You are starting to see brain and talent drain. I got 3x my salary outside of IBM at an other fortune 500 while IBM could only increase my bands without salary increases.
    • IBM Computer Programmer: (Current Employee) "poorly-paid job." Pros: The landscaped grounds of the Hursley site are nice to walk around during the lunch hour when the weather is nice. Cons: The pay is below the normal market rate, often by quite a large margin, I would say anything up to thirty per-cent less than other companies pay for the same work elsewhere in the UK. Advice to Senior Management: You need to increase the rates of pay you give to employees on the Hursley site by a large amount in order to become competitive.
    • IBM Staff Engineer in Atlanta, GA: (Past Employee - 2009) "After acquired by IBM, it appears that IBM has intention to go off shore mostly." Pros: Benefit package is better than average technology company. Cons: All works contracted out or hired off-shore.
    • IBM Accountant in New York, NY: (Current Employee) "Helped me to understand the effects of mediocrity." Pros: Most likely one of the best reasons to work at IBM would be for that of work life balance good. Cons: No raises for top performing employees, management never meets expectations despite top performances, bonus is not worth working hard for
    • IBM IT Manager: (Past Employee - 2010) "This applies only to IBM Global Services -Not good at all." Pros: To potentially acquire new skills and knowledge. If you are lucky to land in a position that does not get sent overseas Cons: No work life balance, no job security, very hard to maintain company loyalty when is obvious that you may be replaced at any time for someone with a lower salary, even if that means lower skills. At times you may be replaced for someone making less than half your salary, and when this person cannot do your job, you may end up being replaced by 2-3 people, most likely from India or South America. Not very efficient. Advice to Senior Management: We all know that money is the driver for everything we do, but as managers, you should try to treat the employee more as a company resource, rather than a disposable asset. The US is quickly loosing it's place in the world and it does not help when jobs are sent consistently overseas and we do no nothing for the employees at home
    • IBM Human Resources: (Current Employee) "Many growth opportunities." Pros: Flexibility of when needing time off. Cons: Significant discrepancies in compensation between peers. Advice to Senior Management: performance evaluation process leaves many strong performers disappointed with a feeling of not being valued.
    • IBM Senior Systems Engineer in Bangalore (India): (Current Employee) "Working with IBM has been a wrong decision." Pros: Work from home. Flexibility in working hours. Multi location work allowed. Cons: Managerial competency the lowest. HR is nowhere in picture. IBMers don't really know what an HR is! Anything and everything needs a managerial approval.
    • IBM Architect: (Current Employee) "Not your father's IBM (GBS)." Pros: After 15 years or so of working for IBM, the company that was once a delight has now become internally commoditized to the point where it is no longer a compelling place to work. As others have pointed out, when you measure for revenue and profitability and little else, well, you get what you measure, at least for a while. If you emphasize getting ink on paper (signings) and give lip service to competence and ability to deliver what is being sold, eventually that can remake reputations. That also contributes to a work environment that is constant fire fighting and trying to put a good face on various troubles. An emperor's new clothes sort of scenario.

      Reasonably good opportunity to network (but ever increasing targets means this is less so than before since people spend time chasing numbers for their measured targets rather than collaborating, which is not measured.)

      Constantly evolving technology and consulting strategies mean things can stay interesting (but the constant churn also keeps the organization off balance and inhibits the ability to deliver what IBM sells.)

      Pay has seemed pretty good in the past, but it has flattened out. and bonuses pegged to growth mean that two years in a row of great performance only rewards the first year, since the second year did not grow at a higher rate than the first.

      Cons: Red tape is up - increased focus on business conduct guidelines leads to constant flow of emails to take ever more education on new policies, challenges to expense reports, and other requests that absorb an increasing amount of time.

      Competence is down - IBM has become so fond of innovation that there is no longer a stable foundation underlying day to day work. Ever day becomes an experiment. Just in time project staffing means you have no idea who will be on a project and whether or not it will be a training mission for them.

      Targets are up - utilization and sales targets continue to go up. You can take your vacation, but you may have to work back a couple of weeks worth of hours to make up for it in order to meet your target.

      Work life balance is down - it is expected that people will work well over 40 hours per week of billable work to meet utilization targets, then add more hours for the increasing red tape, more hours for long distance travel, and you quickly end up with no time for yourself or family.

      Travel is up - cross country travel is up. One person travels to the east coast for project A and another travels to the west coast for project B. Despite an expressed policy to not "staff to clear the bench", it is clear that that is how projects are staffed today.

      People managers are now working full time in the field, typically on projects where none of their reports are deployed - how much time do you think they spend getting to know their reports? Self-promotion is now a must, and it can be paper thin since who has the time to check out what people say about themselves?

      Advice to Senior Management: The "new" IBM is in the process of commoditizing its consulting services workforce. This puts at risk the ability to deliver what you sell. There is a limit to how long that can go on before customers catch on.

      Churning middle and upper management may lessen the risk of stagnation, but it also means the organization is constantly being pushed down the capability maturity scale by hyper-innovation, led by people who are on a never ending training mission, and will move on (escape?) to a new assignment before they experience the downside of what they are doing - leaving behind a mess for someone else to clean up (and no doubt claim credit for).

      People are in effect encouraged to overlook the second and third words in "Innovation that matters ...", one of IBM's core principles. If you ask "what did you change today" rather than "what did you get right today", what would you expect the results to be over time?

    • IBM Managing Consultant in San Francisco, CA: (Past Employee - 2009) "Great learning experience." Pros: Compete (sic) colleagues. Great knowledge sharing. Good high level interaction with c-level executives. Cons: Different expectation from top manager (high billing) vs project manager (low cost). Advice to Senior Management: When making policy decision make sure there are management level buy in.
New on the Alliance@IBM Site
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  • IBM Global Union being formed! Full excerpt: A network of IBM unions worldwide, including the Alliance@IBM CWA Local 1701, will meet in Switzerland in May to form the IBM Global Union Alliance.

    For many years IBM unions, including the Alliance, have worked together as a network of information and cooperation. The new Global Union Alliance, under the umbrella of the International Metalworkers Federation (IMF) and Union Network International (UNI) takes that network to another level and will include many more IBM unions. This past year new IBM unions have formed in Bulgaria, Chile and Argentina. In a statement from the IMF and UNI about the new Global Union to IBM unions:

    As IBM has set itself up as a truly global company, trade unions also need to set up a truly global alliance cooperating to the maximum extent for the benefit of their members and IBM employees. This meeting creates an IMF/UNI Global Union Alliance at IBM of trade unions with members working for companies owned by IBM or companies in which IBM has a significant interest.

    The purpose is to express the determination/commitment of trade unions at IBM to work together at global level based on shared values and objectives to strengthen communication and cooperation and to implement action coordinated by IMF/UNI global union.

    The objectives are:

    • To engage IBM in dialog at global level.
    • To pursue agreements with IBM at global level to improve working conditions of IBM employees worldwide.
    • To raise levels of trade union membership at IBM.

    The partners of the Alliance will work together with the aim of protecting and furthering the interests of IBM employees throughout the world.

    The partners will take concrete action to enlarge the network by improving contacts with unions in countries where employees are unionized and make every effort to organize unorganized plants/locations.

    The Alliance@IBM looks forward to the forming of this new organization for IBM employees and their unions.

    As many of you know, we have lost many members due to job cuts at IBM US.

    Please help us build the American section of the new IBM Global Union Alliance. If you are not a dues paying member of the Alliance, please consider joining today at: https://afl.salsalabs.com/o/4004/donate_page/alliance-join

  • 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 4/25/11: Our manager told us recently that Liquid Portal will mean the end of employment for all but a few core project members, and their jobs will be to write specs and integrate the disjointed mess of freelance produced components into a deploy-able deliverable. It's always nice when your manager essentially tells you they are looking to shrink the full time workforce, and more RAs are coming. Really motivating, isn't it? Geez, what a horribly depressing, oppressive, demoralizing working environment this has become! -Liquid_Portal_job_killing_machine-
    • Comment 4/26/11: The corporate mindset of today would have applauded the group back in 1981 that developed the IBM PC for saving money by selecting an off the shelf OS for IBM's newest offering. All they would have seen are the dollars saved in development. No foresight into what would become Microsoft. Bravo IBM Corporate Management, your head is still up your ass. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 4/26/11: I was at Big Blow long enough to be in the old retirement plan. When I challenged my 2nd level and told him he was doing a poor job he trumped me with an RA. It was his way of silencing some negative feedback about him. IBM is supposed to have a retaliation policy to protect their employees from management when they speak out. That is a joke .It doesn't work. HR will rule in managements favor to keep the big machine going. I am now collecting my monthly IBM retirement check and working for a competitor. Even my coworkers who I thought I could trust and were friends turned against me when I got RAed. They don't speak to me anymore. What a joke of a company. -Gone from Big Blow-
    • Comment 4/26/11: I have not seen any recent announcements of IBM gaining or retaining new contracts. There was a time where IBM would laud its signings and show off for investors. These days, all that I see are cost cutting measures and lost accounts (or those in trouble due to screw-ups). This does not bode well for the services division. -Spamwich-
    • Comment 4/26/11: What happened to the activity before Easter, all the "closed doors" and "fully booked conf rooms"??? Sounded like axes were falling but haven't heard peeps since, just bc people are on vacation?? And the liquid portal thing - can we say blow up more than offshoring? I mentioned this to an exec of another co; imagine buying software that has been developed like this! He was flabbergasted to say the least. Where is the quality control? Is that going to be offshored? Or are they keeping those people in US??? -Wondering-
    • Comment 4/27/11: To wondering: when resource actions are planned they usual have a lead time of about 2 months. I'm guessing the next batch of firings will be in June. With an exit date of June 30. This is for GBS. -Will be gone in June-
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
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  • The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation: Health Care Spending in the United States and Selected OECD Countries. Abstract: Health spending is rising faster than incomes in most developed countries, which raises questions about how countries will pay for their future health care needs. The issue is particularly acute in the United States, which not only spends much more per capita on health care, but also has had one of the highest spending growth rates. Both public and private health expenditures are growing at rates which outpace comparable countries. Despite this higher level of spending, the United States does not achieve better outcomes on many important health measures. This paper uses information from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to compare the level and growth rate of health care spending in the United States to those of other OECD countries.
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.

  • Washington Post: Lobbying efforts persist long after health-care, financial regulation bills passed. By T.W. Farnam. Excerpts: Two historic pieces of legislation, overhauling the nation's health-care system and rewriting regulations governing financial institutions, passed Congress last year after heated debate and intense lobbying. But even if the bills have departed Capitol Hill, the lobbying on them has not. Companies and their backers are spending millions on lobbying hoping to roll back key provisions of the two laws, according to disclosure reports filed last week with the House and Senate.

    In the first three months of this year, more than 300 companies, trade associations and lobbying firms were targeting provisions of the financial regulation law, records show. And more than 400 were lobbying on the health-care law, the reports show.

  • New York Times op-ed: Let's Take a Hike. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: When I listen to current discussions of the federal budget, the message I hear sounds like this: We're in crisis! We must take drastic action immediately! And we must keep taxes low, if not actually cut them further! You have to wonder: If things are that serious, shouldn't we be raising taxes, not cutting them?

    My description of the budget debate is in no way an exaggeration. Consider the Ryan budget proposal, which all the Very Serious People assured us was courageous and important. That proposal begins by warning that "a major debt crisis is inevitable" unless we confront the deficit. It then calls, not for tax increases, but for tax cuts, with taxes on the wealthy falling to their lowest level since 1931.

    And because of those large tax cuts, the only way the Ryan proposal can even claim to reduce the deficit is through savage cuts in spending, mainly falling on the poor and vulnerable. (A realistic assessment suggests that the proposal would actually increase the deficit.)

    President Obama's proposal is a lot better. At least it calls for raising taxes on high incomes back to Clinton-era levels. But it preserves the rest of the Bush tax cuts — cuts that were originally sold as a way to dispose of a large budget surplus. And, as a result, it still relies heavily on spending cuts, even as it falls short of actually balancing the budget.

    So why isn't someone offering a proposal reflecting the reality that the Bush tax cuts were a huge mistake, and suggesting that increased revenue play a major role in deficit reduction? Actually, someone is — and I'll get to that in a moment. First, though, let's talk about the current state of American taxes.

    From the tone of much budget discussion, you might think that we were groaning under crushing, unprecedented levels of taxation. The reality is that effective federal tax rates at every level of income have fallen significantly over the past 30 years, especially at the top. And, over all, U.S. taxes are much lower as a percentage of national income than taxes in most other wealthy nations.

  • New York Times editorial: Follow the Really Big Money. Excerpts: Things are going well for the wealthy. The top income tax rate is lower than at nearly any time since the 1930s. President Obama, who promised to repeal Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy, agreed to extend them for another two years. And Republicans are pushing to slash trillions in public programs in order to cut the top rate more.

    Amid these bountiful breaks, the Obama administration is at least trying to ensure that the beneficiaries of this largess pay the taxes they owe. The Internal Revenue Service has opened a Global High Wealth Industry office to investigate the tax compliance of monumentally rich Americans. It is following up on its victory against the Swiss bank UBS — which handed over data on 4,450 Americans with secret offshore accounts — by opening investigation offices in Panama, China and elsewhere. ...

    Most estimates put the tax gap — the difference between what should be paid and what is paid — at more than $400 billion. Academics say most of the cheats are in the top tax bracket, so it is good to see the I.R.S. investigators focusing there. The country would be in even better fiscal shape if Congress and the White House stopped giving the rich so many tax breaks.

  • Jim Hightower: Tea Party Rebels Quickly Tamed. Full excerpt: They came they saw, they conquered. This line pretty well sums up a little-reported but important story about the new tea partiers in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    No sooner had they arrived than the corporate lobbying corps came to visit, saw what these supposed rebels were made of, and quickly conquered them without a fight. The forces of big business needed only to lay out some campaign cash – and quicker than you can say "Business as usual," the budding lawmakers snatched up the money and immediately began carrying the lobbyists' corporate agenda.

    Check out the financial services subcommittee, which handles legislation affecting Wall Street bankers. Five tea partiers got coveted slots on this panel, and all five were suddenly showered with big donations from such financial lobbying interests as Goldman Sachs. Now, all five are sponsoring bills to undo parts of the recent reforms to reign-in Wall Street excesses. Steve Stivers of Ohio, for example, hauled in nearly $100,000 in just his first two months in office – 85 percent of it from the special interests his committee oversees. He insists that the cash he took from Goldman Sachs and others has nothing to do with his subsequent support of bills that Goldman is lobbying so strongly for. Stivers claims that his sole legislative focus is on jobs for Ohio's 15th district.

    Really? Among the deform-the-reform bills that Steve is carrying is one to let Wall Street giants avoid disclosing the difference in what the CEO is paid and what average employees make. Another would exempt billionaire private equity hucksters from regulation. I can see that these bills are great job extenders for the barons of Wall Street, but how do either of them create a single job in his district?

    This stuff does nothing but shelter the greedheaded banksters who wrecked our economy. Is that what the tea party rebellion was all about?

  • truthOut: Insincere Republicans, Justified Cynicism. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: Republicans are deeply, sincerely concerned about the budget deficit. That's why, in unveiling their plan last week, they declared themselves willing to give ground on their traditional priorities, signaling a readiness to accept higher taxes on the wealthy and reduced defense spending as part of a deficit-reduction deal.

    Oh, wait.

    You mean they didn't do anything like that?

    You mean that even while warning about an imminent fiscal crisis, they actually tried to cut taxes on the rich to their lowest level since 1931?

    Why, you might actually think that they're not sincerely concerned about the deficit. But that can't be true, since they keep saying that they are.

    O.K., you get the point. It's truly amazing that so many commentators — people who presumably know something about the relationship, or lack thereof, between what politicians say and what they do — are willing to accept at face value claims of deep, sincere concern about the deficit from people whose actual priorities are demonstrated by their absolute unwillingness to sacrifice anything they want in the name of deficit reduction.

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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