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Highlights—June 11, 2011

  • Binghamton, NY Press & Sun-Bulletin: IBM 100th Anniversary-Endicott view. By Rick White. Excerpts: When someone celebrates a 100th anniversary of anything; especially the founding of a company, there is almost a sense that it can never equal the joy of celebrating the people that have lived long and prospered.

    For one hundred years, a company that started out as a maker of machines; such as clocks, and even meat & cheese slicers (Bundy Manufacturing Company) in their formative years, has been a quiet but powerful reminder of what our country has called successful business.

    And rightly so.

    International Business Machines or IBM, as we all know it, began in Endicott, NY; incorporated (June 16th 1911) and led by a man that had a vision few could see. ...

    History and my father's recollections, as an IBMer, has taught me that IBM never "laid-off" people en mass, when times were tough. They kept a full employment policy for over eighty years.

    During a World War, IBM stored and kept inventory as it piled up in the warehouses; and still required that their employees continue to build that inventory. No one was 'laid-off'.

    Thomas Watson was a smart man and a very smart businessman. He was a genuine believer in working people.

    He didn't coddle his employees; but he did reward them for their dedication and hard work during hard times and rising unemployment, elsewhere. He valued each and every worker.

    My father told me of his personal experience with TJ Watson, when he worked for IBM during the 1940's and 1950's. Dad said that TJ Watson would walk into his department, unannounced, and have someone get a skid (wooden platform) for him to stand on; just enough to see over the heads of the hastily gathered employees of my father's department. Work stopped for 10 minutes or so.

    Watson would then tell the employees that they had achieved another great month of productivity. Watson remarked that, "managers and supervisors are a dime a dozen. The workers are who are valuable to IBM's success.

    Watson never said things like, "the needs of the business require..." for any reason. ...

    Now here we are; those of us that have survived the aftermath of IBM's continual "layoff" policies, environmental destruction of IBM's birthplace, and the sale of a once great company; wondering how IBM plans to celebrate at its "birthplace" and it's birthday.

    IBM has sent tens of thousands of jobs off the US shores to countries all over the world. Their strategy has been transparent, since they began that policy in 1994. IBM decided that they would no longer value their employees, ever again. IBM decided that enormous wealth for its executives and top hierarchy was more important than the TJ Watson employee policies. ...

    A few weeks before my father passed away in 1999, as a nursing home resident, I showed him a newspaper clipping of a group of people that had formed a union within IBM.

    I was in the group picture. My Dad asked "What are you doing in the newspaper?"

    I told him I was part of a union that was forming in IBM. He said "Why do you want a union in IBM?"

    I told him that IBM had taken away defined pension plans for people with less than 25 years service, free medical coverage, and fired thousands of employees; all while the company was still profitable.

    He said incredulously, "They can't do that, Rick!!" I told him, "They already have." He then remarked quite defiantly, "Well then, you need a union in there!!"

    It hasn't been for 100 years; but I've been celebrating his approval of a union in IBM, ever since.

    That's because my father had worked for IBM for 33 years (from 1942 to 1975), was anti-union for all of that time, and always told me to "stand up for what you believe in".

    I think that's a better reason to celebrate, than it is to celebrate a company that stopped believing in its employees after 83 years of believing in "workers who are valuable to IBM's success."

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Day of Action June 14" by Lee Conrad, Alliance@IBM. Full excerpt: On June 14, IBM unions worldwide will hold a "day of action" to recognize the contributions of IBM employees to the success of the company on the centennial celebration and to call attention to declining working conditions.

    The Alliance@IBM web site www.allianceibm.org will have a press release, a video and flyers from the IBM Global Union Alliance. The member unions will have various activities and actions. We will update the web site as the activities progress.

    Here in the USA we are encouraging members and employees to wear black and blue on the 14th to signify the pain of constant job cuts and deteriorating wages and working conditions.

    We are also asking those who have not yet joined the Alliance as a voting member or associate member to please do so. It is with your financial help and membership strength that we can work for the interests of IBM employees. Help us build the USA section of the IBM Global Union Alliance: https://afl.salsalabs.com/o/4004/donate_page/alliance-join. You can also pay dues by check. Your membership is confidential. IBM will not see it.

    Be sure to visit the Alliance web site beginning Friday June 10th for news and information from the Global Unions on the day of action activities.

    Flyers will be available for printing on the Alliance web site for distribution in break rooms and lunch areas. Please encourage your co-workers to visit the web site.

    Thank you for support! The Alliance@IBM; CWA Local 1701; Officers and staff.

  • WRAL (RTP, NC): New global union calls for IBM to 'respect' workers' rights. By Rick Smith. Excerpts: As IBM prepares to launch numerous events in commemoration of the company's 100th anniversary, a new group of various labor unions is taking Big Blue to task for "systematically denying employees' their basic rights."

    The Global Union Alliance at IBM, which took shape in May, unveiled a video on YouTube on June 10 that includes employees and union representatives from around the world offering a "happy birthday video." (Watch the video here.) ...

    The world's largest technology company with 430,000 employees recently cut an undisclosed numbers across the US, including in RTP and North Carolina, while opening a new data center in the Midwest and expanding operations in India. India reportedly now has the largest number of IBM workers. (Read more about the layoffs here and IBM's growth in India here.)

    "In the US, job cuts are constant," said Tom Midgley, president of Alliance@IBM in the US. "IBM hides that fact, as well as the number of jobs cut, from other employees, communities, elected officials and the media. IBM is off-shoring work at a record pace and sending loyal IBMers to the unemployment line.

    "The more than 15,000 ex-employees terminated in the past few years and the thousands more fearing future job loss and declining working conditions will not have the spirit of celebration IBM executives are hoping for."

    IBM no longer says how many employees it has in the US, citing competitive reasons.

    Based on data previously provided by IBM, its workforce in the US has declined substantially since 2005. No data was made available in 2010.

    • 2009: 105,000
    • 2008: 115,000
    • 2007: 121,000
    • 2006: 127,000
    • 2005: 133,789
  • IBM Global Union Alliance: Spirit of celebration missing for many as IBM gears up for 100th anniversary. Excerpts: As IBM prepares a massive public relations campaign around the founding of IBM 100 years ago, employee morale in the US is rock bottom. Job cuts and mass terminations continue as IBM abandons the US workforce for cheaper overseas locations. It seems to most US employees that the 'churn and burn' in IBM just never stops.

    For those employees targeted for the recent resource action and for the over 15,000 who lost their jobs the past few years, a celebration of IBM's founding will ring hollow. In Endicott, NY where IBM was founded, the company is almost non-existent. Abandoned by executives who have no loyalty to the community where it started.

    As the celebration gears up, the media and the country are seeing IBM presented through the eyes of the corporate executives, not the rank and file IBMer.

    While IBM ranks high in international rankings for business, the days of IBM being at the top for being one of the best places to work are long gone. IBM employees are forced to train their offshore replacement and then are terminated as the work moves out of the US. Fear of job loss rules the day for many employees. Pay raises have become a thing of the past while executives receive huge stock bonuses and options. Benefits have been shrinking. Respect for the employees who have made IBM great has disappeared and employees are treated as liabilities instead of assets. Retirees find that promises made became promises broken.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Raises?" by "lastdino1". Excerpt: As I mentioned there will be no raises to anyone with a 2 PBC. Only the 1's and some of the 2+ people will get one and the ranges will be based on management judgement and the amount of money they have in the bucket. I agree that no raise is a loss to inflation. No argument there.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Raises?" by "Paul S". Full excerpt: Managers are not supposed to discuss such things...but it's not a far stretch to imagine that there will be no raises for the vast majority of us. In my area there are few 2+s. Most are 2s. Almost no-one is a 1. Leaks are a subtle way of getting back at those above us. They say: You can't totally brainwash me into compliance. Some job families get no raises for 2 performers, others get small raises. They want us to get certified as I/T Architects but then you get reclassified into the job family with the lower grid and fewer (no) raises for "mere" 2 performance. There's a special place for Sam and his cronies; those fires aren't for roasting marshmallows. :-).
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Raises?" by "teamb562". Full excerpt: I don't think it's a "far stretch" at all to think raises will be nonexistent this year. Given the economic conditions (or perceived economic conditions), they have proven it's of no embarrassment to them to use whatever means possible to save a nickel.

    The coming 100 year anniversary, yes 100 years (a big deal) and the treat for employees is a free hot dog. Yes, a hot dog. I'm surprised they didn't say bring your own bun. Oh yeah, and they want you to volunteer your time to a cause in ibm's name.

    No one in this company is treated fairly. The company has no measurement nor cares about fairness. Some areas and divisions will get better raises then others. It's a fact that some divisions still get free coffee. Free coffee was completely stopped in other divisions 2 years ago. Some divisions are told no more work at home and have made 5 days in the office mandatory, irregardless of the "green" effect or ozone action days. Their game is to piss off US employees. LET ME REPEAT, THEY DON'T CARE.

  • eWeek: IBM at 100: 20 Technologies That Soared and 10 That Failed. By Darryl K. Taft. Excerpt: s IBM celebrates its 100th anniversary in June, eWeek decided to take a look at the products and technologies that were perhaps the best the systems giant could muster, as well as come up with a group of technologies that did not fare so well for the company. With its rich heritage in research and development—IBM touts an annual R&D budget of $6 billion—Big Blue turns out a lot of innovative technology. In fact, in January, IBM announced that its inventors received a record 5,896 U.S. patents in 2010, marking the 18th consecutive year it has topped the list of the world's most inventive companies. IBM became the first company to be granted as many as 5,000 U.S. patents in a single year. It took IBM's inventors more than 50 years to receive their first 5,000 patents after the company was established in 1911. As such, IBM has had more than its share of hits—from its delivery of a fine-tuned punched card and the debut of the mainframe computer, to magnetic tape storage, the PC and the new Watson computer. But the company has also seen some failures. Yet, even IBM technologies that did not make it commercially were not simply misguided technologies or just plain duds. Many were either before their time, too far-reaching, not sufficiently supported or marketed, or ran into stiff competition. eWeek identifies 20 IBM technologies that clearly took off and shone. And with the help of noted industry analysts Judith Hurwitz, Rob Enderle, Amy Wohl and Al Hilwa, eWeek identifies 10 other IBM technologies that, while innovative, did not gain the commercial success IBM had hoped for.
  • New York Times: Revealing Excessive 401(k) Fees. By Ron Lieber. Excerpts: You may not realize this, but your 401(k) or other workplace retirement plan is not free. Sure, you may have looked at the expenses on the mutual funds you own. But there are other costs as well for record-keeping and assorted other administrative costs. And because they generally don't show up on your quarterly statement, you probably don't know they are there.

    But they are there, and they are large enough to have attracted the attention of both the Labor Department and plaintiffs' lawyers. The Labor Department, in fact, has approved new rules for fee disclosure for retirement plans that are supposed to go into effect starting sometime next year.

    Why fees matter. How much might an improvement be worth to someone who can persuade an employer to make one? Here's how the Labor Department puts it. Let's say you have 35 years until retirement and a balance of $25,000. You put no more money in and earn a 7 percent return annually. If fees and plan expenses reduce those returns by 0.5 percent a year, your balance will grow to $227,000 in those 35 years. If those fees total 1.5 percent, however, you'll end up with just $163,000, 28 percent less.

    An annual total of 0.5 percent isn't reality for most workers, alas. According to BrightScope, a company that gathers data about retirement plans and gives some of that data to individuals while selling more information to employers, the all-in fees, including those mutual fund investments you may already know about, average 1.08 percent for plans with balances of more than $100 million, 1.36 percent for those with $10 million to $100 million and a whopping 1.90 percent for plans with under $10 million. ...

    Until your new and improved account statement arrives, you can check to see if BrightScope has graded your 401(k) or 403(b) plan. If its total plan cost is among the highest in its peer group, you ought to ask for an explanation. Ditto if you run one of BrightScope's personal fee reports on the funds you've selected yourself in your retirement plan and find that you're paying well over 1 percent in total costs.

  • The Register (United Kingdom): Union warns of strike action against HP. Plans to offshore 200 jobs meet stiff opposition. By Kelly Fiveash. Excerpts: Around 200 Hewlett-Packard workers who provide IT services support to the Department for Work and Pensions in the North of England could see their jobs move overseas before the year is out. That's the claim being made by the Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents 2,000 HP staff in the UK. Proposals to offshore the work to India are said to be at an "advanced stage", but await approval from the Cabinet Office, said the PCS.

    The union added that work on transferring knowledge to Bangalore could be underway as soon as August this year. The PCS said jobs could shift to India by November 2011. It argued that such a move was "a false economy" as it offered only "limited savings on IT" that "would be overshadowed by the costs to the taxpayer". The PCS claimed that tax revenues would be lost and that increased benefit payments would need to be met to help those HP workers laid off as a result of the offshoring process.

    "The government must not allow low-paid jobs to be offshored. It will be a disaster for UK workers and the taxpayer and will only ensure that Hewlett Packard's shareholders reap the benefits," said the union's general secretary Mark Serwotka, who added that the PCS was yet to outrule strike action against HP.

  • Linked In's Greater IBM Connection: Having left IBM about 2 years ago I seem to be reminded from employees who are still working that IBM is not the same IBM I had joined. Full excerpt: OK, this is not all bad. However, businesses do have to change to be successful and grow but some values need to remain. I think of all the pride I had in being an IBMer especially when there was a crisis and how IBM would jump in with all their resources to help the community. We did things like "paint the town" in Detroit where we updated, painted and fixed up homes for people in the inner city who couldn't afford to. We responded to communities who were experiencing disasters.

    So, I must ask, where are in in helping the people in Joplin? Where is IBM in the helping Detroit to rebuild? Why isn't IBM leading and helping in the communities in the South devastated by tornados and flooding of the Mississippi? Where are the trucks we used to fill with clothing, with canned foods, with shelters?

    Sure, its great to help those people in need in foreign countries, but charity begins at home. Lets bring back the lustre! Lets get Randy to stop running the Company and let Sam take the charge. I was very proud to be an IBMer! Come on you guys...get back in the game and win back the hearts of your employees.

    Selected comments to this post follow:

    • I was in IBM when "IBM Means Service" motto. (1979 - 2004). - Probably IBM will have to re-hire us to go back to those levels of commitment.
    • I wonder which company today most closely exhibits those early traits of IBM in the 70s & 80s? During my tenure at IBM from 1977 - 1993, the company's 7 basic beliefs were very prominent and made everyone proud to be part of IBM.
    • The latest values were designed to be more in line with current vernacular, but I remember a meeting that had been held with Gerstner when he took over. Watson Jr. said he could change anything but to ensure whatever he did would use the Basic Beliefs as a bedrock. When Sam became CEO, and more importantly, when Randy MacDonald became the HR Sr. VP, he seemed to have trashed those beliefs. In fact I remember, as a Sr. HR Professional, we were told to stop any reference to the Basic Beliefs and reinforce "the new direction" Randy wanted to go. We even had to destroy materials, such as the IBM fight song, that someone brought into a meeting.

      It really rubbed me wrong...IT WAS OUR HISTORY!!!! Anyway, there are vestiges of the old IBM which clearly need to be retained and reinforced. The new strategy seems to be leaning toward a totally contracted global workforce. Its a great idea to be profitable...no benefits to worry about, no insurance, no vacation planning, no performance issues and the kicker is...you can have incompetent managers and leaders to run it all. They won't need any people skills.... Its sad...the people are the company. I will always be a proud IBMer based on my past history with IBM. I am not so sure the new gens will be able to feel the same.

    • I imagine many "old school" IBMers will read Peter's comments above and feel rather sad, but they will also know they ring 100% true. Yes things need to be updated and revised as times changes but the clue is in the title BASIC Beliefs if they are good then they do not warrant wholesale change. Well that is unless the senior exec team's focus gets so distorted by huge bonuses etc then of course nothing is sacred any more, especially not the people. So like Peter I am an immensely proud ex IBMer, some parts of the Corporation today fill me with other emotions.
    • Our people and our customers were the most important assets. Then we had people that became surplus. Perhaps times created a situation in which the company executives thought they had to change the beliefs. We were trained to take care of the company and the company would take care of you. It worked for a long time. But now I think it is - take care of yourself and then move on. The idea of lifetime employment is not a factor - so why even try to take care of the company. The ideal is broken and it is probably wishful thinking to think you can ever put it back together at big blue.
    • IBM... what can I say? Used to be a good company to work for. The 90's brought in a new wave of management that still exists today. That management is self serving pompous and more. The new employees can now work for a year with IBM and then travel to a foreign country to teach someone else to do their job and lose their job when they are done . Demeaning isn't it? Good Old IBM. Ship those jobs overseas and take jobs away from Americans. With millions out of work IBM decided that their bottom line was the most important thing... not people. So IBM in it's infinite wisdom decides to hire people overseas for 70cents or so an hour and put us out of work and take jobs away from the USA. What a company.
    • The problem for the new IBM and all the new 'people free' organisations is that globalisation will only deliver for at best another generation, By then the children of today's professionals in the second world will be able to demand first world salaries. After the Far East and South America where next? The only large population left is Africa which seems to be consistently too unstable. If you were building an enduring successful international company you would have to think of another way. But then our execs are not, just like everyone else in the company they are chasing their next bonus.
  • Forbes: Let's Hear It For The Companies With The Most Older Workers. By Kerry Hannon. Excerpts: It never hurts to applaud companies that take a kind view towards older workers. Last week, Waltham, Mass.-based RetirementJobs.com, a web site for job-seekers age 50+, announced its rankings of Fortune 500 employers by their percentage of workers over age 50.

    The findings, pulled from public records and surveys of employers and employees, show the airline industry as having the highest percentage of employees over age 50. American Airlines held the top slot with 39 percent of its staff over age 50. Google ranked among the lowest on the list, with just 13 percent topping that age threshold. ...

    One explanation for a company having a sizeable chunk of older workers on board: It can be a sign of a unionized work force. Unions tend to shelter workers with lengthy job tenure from layoffs.

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • IBM Software Engineer: (Current Employee) "Suffocating bureaucracy." Pros: Relatively good benefit package, and if you are into it, unlimited numbers to participate in communities, committees, and work groups. Cons: The bureaucracy is suffocating me, and after a while at the company, I've lost passion for work. Workplace security policies require you to remove everything from your desk including design notes and drawings, and as a result of that, I no longer produce any. Lotus Notes is the standard for email and calendar and is so slow and bad, it is a source of constant frustration. All in all, small things but enough to make me feel miserable. Because of these, I rarely go to the office and work from home, spending most of my day on endless conference calls. I could probably retire at my position with doing very little, but I feel after 3 years at the company, I have lost some edge. I am out of here before I lose it all. Advice to Senior Management: Fire half of your staff. Everyone I know at IBM could work at least two times more efficiently. Kill Lotus Notes.
    • IBM Anonymous in Rochester, MN: (Current Employee) "Collecting a paycheck, not much more." Pros: Paychecks don't bounce. Company is doing quite well financially. Cons: Small raises. Best performers are treated to very little over those who just "get by." Advice to Senior Management: Stop divesting in your people in the name of +1% EPS.
    • IBM Managing Consultant: (Current Employee) "Great for workaholics and travelers, tough on families." Pros: Ability to work for a variety of clients on large, complex systems integration projects. Can work with other talented employees from around the world. Cons: If you happen to get staffed out of sector, forget getting a good rating, despite your performance. Projects assume only 40 hours per week and force you to charge only those hours. Complete lack of support for certifications.
    • IBM Advisory Software Engineer in Research Triangle Park, NC: (Current Employee) "A ride down hill." Pros: Working with incredibly bright individuals. Cons: Loss of investment in the employees in the US. Advice to Senior Management: You can only ride on the legacy of the name IBM for so long. Eventually it will catch up to you. IBM was successful for the first 100 years because of the investment the Watsons made in people. A focus on EPS and bean counting is required but not at the expense of everything else.
    • IBM Desktop Support in Research Triangle Park, NC: (Past Employee - 2009) "It's who you know, not what you know." Pros: If you're connected to the "good ole boy (GOB)" system, you're golden. Cons: Be outside the "GOB" loop and your career, raises and bonuses are stagnate. Advice to Senior Management: Take a second look at your mid-level mgt teams. Everything is not as they present it and employees fear losing their jobs if they tell the truth.
    • IBM Anonymous in Portland, OR: (Current Employee) "Disheartening." Pros: Good job opportunities. IBM is a good place to work if you are good with politics. Cons: It's one big marketing ploy. It's like working for the government. You have people more concerned with collecting a pay check than doing a good job. And most of the senior management really doesn't know what they are doing. Arbitrary rules, roadblocks and red tape. Advice to Senior Management: Be aware of the people on your team. Recognize performance and initiative. Be open and communicate with your employees.
    • IBM Staff Software Engineer in Research Triangle Park, NC: (Current Employee) "not a good place." Pros: Good for leaders, and if you are good at office politics. Cons: Layoffs whether the economy is good or bad. Offshoring most development. No free drinks, no budget for anything. No budget even to print business cards. Most employees are highly demotivated. 2% raises even if you are a top performer.
    • IBM ITD Supervisor: (Current Employee) "It's all about the Executives." Pros: Work remotely. Time off when needed. Good benefits. People who work hard to accomplish insane deadlines. Cons: 1% annual pay raises and minimal bonuses are a disincentive to produce at a high level. There is no skills development or real training. You are just expected to know how to do everything and projects are assigned as such. Most of the Project Executives have no patience and rarely communicate praise, only expectations. The few job title or band promotions that exist come with no or minimal salary adjustments. Seems like Sam is only interested in his stock price because it is toed to his compensation. The rest of us get nothing. Thanks Sam. Really appreciate it. Advice to Senior Management: Stop pretending the company is broke when it is one of the most profitable in the world. Stop telling us we need to compete globally. We already know that and work very hard to keep this place afloat. You can certainly afford to reward those who perform if you really wanted to do so.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) "IBM services declining in USA." Pros: Leading edge technologies and practices. Opportunities for international work. Cons: Strictly run by the numbers and accountants. Management is incompetent.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) "Good company to work with for experience but does not pay well." Pros: Work and life balance. Opportunity to move internally. Good training facilities. Cons: Pay does not match with market value. This is usually the case for employee who stay with the company for longer period. Usually external hire get lot more than if it is hire internally. This bring the moral down to the employees. Advice to Senior Management: Empower employee. Treat internal candidate same as external. Try to give pay raise annually at least to catch up the inflation.
    • IBM Anonymous in Schaumburg, IL: (Past Employee - 2010) "IBM was a solid company financially and good benefits." Pros: IBM salary structure was at or above industry pay scale. They provided good employee education. Their products are widely accepted and well known and was easy to get appointments at most levels of large organizations. Cons: IBM has a total focus on the bottom line. The support for sales is less than average. The internal politics are difficult to accept and make it very difficult to do business. Advice to Senior Management: Work with your employees. Understand the WHY IBM is in business. Provide support where needed. Gain a better understanding of employee needs to have them succeed.
    • IBM Hardware Sales Representative in Smyrna, GA: (Current Employee) "Very poor. No real sales leadership, just manager's with no real sales experience managing spreadsheets." Pros: It's a resume builder. You might get some education, if you're lucky. Cons: A friend of mine left in March, they didn't get the commission check for January or February cut until June. They also tried to shortchange on vacation time and severance pay. Very poor ethics. I'll remember that when I leave and won't give them the chance to do me wrong. Shows you the true colors of the management team and what you're thought of as an employee. Advice to Senior Management: They wouldn't listen, so why waste the time.
    • IBM Software Developer in Bangalore (India): (Current Employee) "Good place to start." Pros: Open culture. Free time to work on pet projects. Great people with whom you can interact. Cons: Pay and hikes are meagre. Promotions are slow. Business is more important than innovation. No freebies. 3 months notice period while leaving the company. Advice to Senior Management: Hire appropriate people, and give freedom to innovate.
    • IBM Project Manager: (Current Employee) "Good Performance Does Not Matter." Pros: Great benefits in terms of healthcare and 401k. Flexible work hours. Amount of vacation and sick time allowed. Cons: Top performance rating might get you a 3% raise and a 4% bonus so it really doesn't matter if you perform well. Pay overall is horrible. Slim to no chances for career advancement or career changes, mgmt does not help at all even if you are a top performing employee. Getting an interview for a job internally is like winning the lottery. Advice to Senior Management: Foster an environment where employees are able to advance their careers if they perform well, not just saying you can then not acting. Improve pay/careers for top performing employees, there is no incentive to work hard because even if you do, you still may get laid off (RA'd) Overall, IBM pays its leadership as if money grows on trees, but the communication from leadership down through mgmt is that we are always broke and can never make our numbers.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) "If you're located in the US, your days are numbered." Pros: Good name recognition, industry wide respect. Looks good on a resume. Most employees are allowed to work remotely from home. Cons: If you are located in the US geographically, chances are, unless you're a 2nd line manager or above, you're future is doomed. IBM is constantly offshoring every 6 months and every function they can offshore, they WILL. Eventually, the US employee population will be non-existent.
New on the Alliance@IBM Site
Minimize
  • Worldwide Day of Action: June 14, 2011. US IBM workers wear black and blue to call attention to job cuts and declining work conditions. Press Release-Day Of Action (PDF). Download Flyers:
  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 6/07/11: All the teams I interface with from Argentina are being/have been replaced with teams from China. Is Argentina getting the shaft like the US now? -anonymous- Alliance reply: Yes.
    • Comment 6/07/11: Soon, IBMers in China will also get the shaft as IBM attempts to replace a large number of full time employees with freelancers and contractors via Liquid Portal. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 6/07/11: Re: Jobs in Columbia, MO. On the contrary, I think a vast majority of the US GDF staff are US citizens. The downside is they're primarily staffed with young pups with little to no experience so IBM can pay them low wages. If they can read a script and spell "IBM" they are a candidate for hire. -anonymous-
    • Comment 6/07/11: Re: "All the teams I interface with from Argentina are being/have been replaced with teams from China. Is Argentina getting the shaft like the US now? -anonymous-". Many of the folks in Argentina and Brazil have quit IBM for better paying jobs. One team I work with; half of them left in December. The remaining ones had a huge backlog of work for a few months. Eventually by April that mission was moved to China. You can look at this as Argentina getting the shaft, but it's a result of Argentina folks giving IBM the shaft, too. I've been told that companies in South America love hiring IBMers due to the training IBM gives them. I say good for those workers that they are looking out for themselves! -CJ-Roc-
    • Comment 6/09/11: I received my IBM 100th year anniversary book today. My house garbage was too good for it. It made a great addition to my fire pit. -Still Working - Waiting for the next ax-
    • Comment 6/09/11: Two weeks ago, 60 hard working people for Rogers account got fired at GDF Toronto Canada. US IBM auditors think we are pricey and want to move more jobs to India. Today, the customer CEO suddenly announced to replace CIO, and new CIO will bring IT back in-house 100%. What a shock to the big blue. Rogers-IBM had a 7-year-deal signed in 2009. Just less two years, Rogers decided to walk away. IBM let experienced FTEs go and is hiring fresh contractors in Toronto and India. The services delivered to the customer are so bad that GDF is the worst disaster IT place we ever worked. TD bank and Sunlife started to bring IT back in-house already. -LOL-
    • Comment 6/11/11: More than half of present IBMers have less than 5 years of employment in IBM. They get the anniversary book. IBMers RAed after 10-15-20-25-30 years of former employment or retired (some forced retired) don't get one? Did retirees get a book? Now what does this say about how IBM values former employees who significantly helped over many years of loyal, dedicated employment service to get IBM to their century anniversary? -NoThanks-
    • Comment 6/11/11: Hey -NoThanks-, you can have my stinkin book, it's not even good for toilet paper. -crappaper-
    • Comment 6/12/11: I got my book too and I'm equally offended that they could spend money on their propaganda but not their people. I'm trading mine in at amazon for $6 and some change. -Sellyourbookandlaugh-
    • Comment 6/12/11: IBM celebrates its centennial this week. Let all of us contribute to this celebration by writing reviews in glassdoor.com, commenting on online articles, etc. If many of us speak with one voice and tell their stories this might get some public attention that IBM fears so much. -HillBilly- Alliance reply: Be sure to go the the main page of this web site for news and flyers on the Day of Action. IBM is hoping that the 'positive' image comments in the Press, regarding their 100th, will convince the world to be happy for IBM and celebrate. If you want to adjust that image to reality, we're all for it. Any press articles or internet articles that 'spin' the celebration ALL positive; are your invitation too set the record straight, if they offer a comment section. Just 'keep it real'.
    • Comment 6/12/11: "More than half of present IBMers have less than 5 years of employment in IBM. They get the anniversary book. IBMers RAed after 10-15-20-25-30 years of former employment or retired (some forced retired) don't get one? Did retirees get a book? Now what does this say about how IBM values former employees who significantly helped over many years of loyal, dedicated employment service to get IBM to their century anniversary?" Wow, good point. I had 20 years with IBM and retired. I wasn't even aware of the 100th year anniversary book. You would think they could have sent out a mailing to all retirees and at least offered to let us buy one. I am proud of my contributions to the IBM company. The fact that they didn't even bother to notify me, makes me mad. It tells you a lot about the management there now. -Sammy Sucks-
    • Comment 6/12/11: So all you beamers that have come here for years about the latest rumor; will you be wearing black and blue Tuesday to show your disgust with Sam? -had it with Sam-
    • Comment 6/12/11: GFG planning meetings in Somers this week. This can only mean more cuts. -Still Working - Waiting for the next ax-
  • IBM Global Union Alliance Comments:
    • Comment 6/11/11: Country = Brazil; Union Affiliate = Brazil; Job Title = GTS; IBM Division = GTS; Message = Do you think that only in the US the IBM employees are suffering, you have to take a look at the morale levels in IBM Brazil, it's rock bottom.

      Our salaries are frozen, the management is clueless of what is really going on, the GDF implementation is a joke, and the we cant attract the brightest anymore since our salaries are way below market standards.

      It's very sad to see such a company with ever increasing EPS treat the people who deliver the results so badly. Every week we get a farewell note from a top performer colleague leaving for a competitor, sometimes I feel we are in a place that is about to implode, management and HR are a complete joke, and never saw so many short time decisions to make the quarter numbers for SAM and the GMU. signed -Sad Brick IBMER-

      Alliance reply: We realize conditions are bad in many countries. That is why we formed the IBM Global Union Alliance. We need IBM Brazil workers to organize as well. Join us!

News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
Minimize
  • New York Times op-ed: Vouchercare Is Not Medicare. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: What's in a name? A lot, the National Republican Congressional Committee obviously believes. Last week, the committee sent a letter demanding that a TV station stop running an ad declaring that the House Republican budget plan would "end Medicare." This, the letter insisted, was a false claim: the plan would simply install a "new, sustainable version of Medicare."

    But Comcast, the station's owner, rejected the demand — and rightly so. For Republicans are indeed seeking to dismantle Medicare as we know it, replacing it with a much worse program. ...

    Medicare is a government-run insurance system that directly pays health-care providers. Vouchercare would cut checks to insurance companies instead. Specifically, the program would pay a fixed amount toward private health insurance — higher for the poor, lower for the rich, but not varying at all with the actual level of premiums. If you couldn't afford a policy adequate for your needs, even with the voucher, that would be your problem.

    And most seniors wouldn't be able to afford adequate coverage. A Congressional Budget Office analysis found that to get coverage equivalent to what they have now, older Americans would have to pay vastly more out of pocket under the Paul Ryan plan than they would if Medicare as we know it was preserved. Based on the budget office estimates, the typical senior would end up paying around $6,000 more out of pocket in the plan's first year of operation. ...

    So let me make two points. First, Obamacare was very much a second-best plan, conditioned by perceived political realities. Most of the health reformers I know would have greatly preferred simply expanding Medicare to cover all Americans. Second, the Affordable Care Act is all about making health care, well, affordable, offering subsidies whose size is determined by the need to limit the share of their income that families spend on medical costs. Vouchercare, by contrast, would simply hand out vouchers of a fixed size, regardless of the actual cost of insurance. And these vouchers would be grossly inadequate. ...

    Yes, Medicare has to get serious about cost control; it has to start saying no to expensive procedures with little or no medical benefits, it has to change the way it pays doctors and hospitals, and so on. And a number of reforms of that kind are, in fact, included in the Affordable Care Act. But with these changes it should be entirely possible to maintain a system that provides all older Americans with guaranteed essential health care.

  • Wall Street Journal: Senators Request Probe of Surgeons. By John Carreyrou. Excerpts: Five U.S. senators asked the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services to open an investigation into physician-owned distributorships, middleman entities that allow surgeons to profit from the medical devices they use on their patients, to determine whether they are legal. The senators' request was accompanied by the release of a Senate Finance Committee report compiled by the office of Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the top Republican on the committee, on the proliferation of such entities in spine and orthopedic surgery.

    Physician-owned distributorships, or PODs, now exist in at least 20 states, with more than 40 operating in California alone, according to the report. By creating "financial incentives for physician investors to use those devices that give them the greatest financial return," they may violate an anti-kickback statute and other federal fraud and abuse laws, the report warns. ...

    Dr. Makker's case illustrates a major concern cited by the Senate report—that "physician investors in PODs may perform more procedures than are medically necessary" because they can earn extra income each time they implant a device in a patient. Dr. Makker, who operated on some of his patients' spines as many as seven times, denied performing unnecessary surgeries and said he acted in the best interests of his patients.

  • Forbes: The Coming Crash Of The American Health Care System. By Rick Ungar. Excerpts: The American health care system, as we currently know it, is well into its final days. Don't get too excited, conservatives. It's not Obama's fault. Likewise, the final death throes of the status quo will not be the doing of Paul Ryan Medicare plan. ...

    It's about the end of a business model that really hasn't worked very well for at least a decade coupled with government's responsibility-for better or for worse- to step in and provide essential services when nobody else can do so.

    With all the complaining about Obamacare, social entitlements, etc., the truth is that government and private health insurers have played a cooperative role in how health care has been delivered to most Americans for nearly half a century.

    In the process, they have learned how to regulate one another.

    Private health insurers have kept government in check by spreading around huge sums of cash to fund political campaigns in order to get elected officials to do their bidding. When, from time to time, the public outcry against private health insurance's abuses overwhelmed a politician's ability to turn a blind eye, government imposed the occasional regulation to keep insurers from their most offensive practices.

    But let's not kid ourselves. The insurance companies have always been in the driver's seat.

    That's about to end – not because public sentiment is deeply in favor of turning all health care over to the government, but because the private insurance companies no longer really care. ...

    With the requirement that insurers be required to take on customers with previous medical problems – and the higher risk that comes from the same – plus the requirement that insurers spend 80% of every dollar they take in from their customers on actual health care benefits- the insurers are now freaked out over how they will earn enough profit to support their share prices – – and they are right to worry. ...

    If you follow health care insurance as closely as some of us do, you are all too aware of what the insurers were forced to get into in order to maintain profitability in the face of dramatically rising costs.

    They found themselves having to play a very dirty game of hard ball. They would take a customer's money, with pleasure, right up until the moment the customer had to call upon the insurer to pay off when the customer fell seriously ill. At that point in time, the health insurer would shift its focus to finding ways not to pay for the care the customer had always believed she would get each and every time she sent in a large premium check.

    It was ugly – but the only way the health insurers figured they could keep their profits where they needed to be. ...

    hat brings us to pre-existing conditions. Should the government have continued to turn it's back on the growing number of people who cannot get insurance at any price because the insurers business model cannot handle the risk in their business models?

    Again, if you don't think you're ever going to be sick, maybe you aren't concerned. If you are on a corporate policy, you can't be denied your coverage so it's all good. But, as noted, jobs disappear and if you believe that nobody in your family can ever fall seriously and expensively ill and lose the opportunity to be insured in the future, I have some junk real estate I'd like to discuss with you.

    Further, that whole meme that suggests that if people don't take care of themselves they should be forced to suffer the consequences, is complete nonsense. Serious and expensive illness is every bit as likely to be the result of genetic pre-disposition as it is likely to result from poor eating and exercising habits. ...

    The government had to impose this requirement on the health insurers to forestall a genuine crisis. The end result is that these items will prove to be the final straw in a failing private health insurance model that can no longer afford to be in the business – and it isn't going to be long until the insurers bail out entirely leaving us all exposed and in trouble.

  • Washington Post: The hard truth about health care: Government works. By Ezra Klien. Excerpts: Everyone in Washington claims to want the same thing lately: a "serious conversation" about health-care costs. So let's have one.

    Republicans have a plan that has been tried repeatedly but that has never worked. Democrats have a plan that might work in theory, but it is untested at the scale they'll need for it to work in practice. And both parties are too scared to talk about the only plan that has worked.

    But before we get to that plan, I want to tell you about a graph.

    I found it buried inside a Kaiser Family Foundation brief entitled "Health Care Spending in the United States and Selected OECD Countries." Inauspicious, maybe. But it should change the way we think about health-care costs. Because what it shows is that we've failed. Failed to control costs. Failed to restrain the growth of government.

    And it shows something else, too: Where we've failed, others have succeeded.

    Everyone knows — or should know — that the United States spends much more than any other country on health care. But the Kaiser Family Foundation broke that spending down into two parts, the government's share and the private sector's share (both measured as a percentage of total gross domestic product), then compared the results with figures from 12 other countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. And here's the shocker: Our government spends more on health care than the governments of Japan, Australia, Norway, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Canada or Switzerland.

    Think about that for a minute. Canada has a single-payer health-care system. The government is the only insurer of any note. The United Kingdom has a socialized system, in which the government is not only the sole insurer of note but also employs most of the doctors and nurses and runs most of the hospitals. And yet, measured as a share of the economy, our government health-care system is the largest of the bunch.

    And it's worse than that: Atop our giant government health-care sector, we have an even more giant private health-care sector. Altogether, we're spending about 16 percent of the GDP on health care. No other country even tops 12 percent. Which means we've got the worst of both worlds: huge government and high costs. ...

    ...this isn't the first time we've tried to let private insurers into Medicare to work their magic. The Medicare Advantage program, which invited private insurers to offer managed-care options to Medicare beneficiaries, was expected to save money, but it ended up costing about 120 percent of what Medicare costs.

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.

  • Investment News Daily: Wealthy Americans in line for $1.4M average tax cut under Pawlenty plan. Independent analysis shows bulk of tax savings to go to wealthiest Americans; 'much less progressive'. Excerpts: The top 0.1 percent of U.S. taxpayers would save an average of $1.4 million in taxes under the economic plan of Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, according to an independent analysis. Pawlenty's $11.6 trillion tax-cut plan, which reduces rates on income, capital gains, interest, estates and dividends, is almost three times larger than the proposals endorsed by House Republicans.
  • AlterNet: Why Americans Have to Work Longer Hours and Borrow to the Hilt Just to Keep Afloat. The fundamental economic challenge ahead is to restore the vast American middle class. By Robert Reich. Excerpts: How did we go from the Great Depression to 30 years of Great Prosperity? And from there, to 30 years of stagnant incomes and widening inequality, culminating in the Great Recession? And from the Great Recession into such an anemic recovery? ...

    During three decades from 1947 to 1977, the nation implemented what might be called a basic bargain with American workers. Employers paid them enough to buy what they produced. Mass production and mass consumption proved perfect complements. Almost everyone who wanted a job could find one with good wages, or at least wages that were trending upward. During these three decades everyone's wages grew — not just those at or near the top.

    Government enforced the basic bargain in several ways. It used Keynesian policy to achieve nearly full employment. It gave ordinary workers more bargaining power. It provided social insurance. And it expanded public investment. Consequently, the portion of total income that went to the middle class grew while the portion going to the top declined. But this was no zero-sum game. As the economy grew almost everyone came out ahead, including those at the top.

    The pay of workers in the bottom fifth grew 116 percent over these years — faster than the pay of those in the top fifth (which rose 99 percent), and in the top 5 percent (86 percent). Productivity also grew quickly. Labor productivity — average output per hour worked — doubled. So did median incomes. Expressed in 2007 dollars, the typical family's income rose from about $25,000 to $55,000. The basic bargain was cinched. The middle class had the means to buy, and their buying created new jobs. As the economy grew, the national debt shrank as a percentage of it. ...

    Government paid for all of this with tax revenues from an expanding middle class with rising incomes. Revenues were also boosted by those at the top of the income ladder whose marginal taxes were far higher. The top marginal income tax rate during World War II was over 68 percent. In the 1950s, under Dwight Eisenhower, whom few would call a radical, it rose to 91 percent. In the 1960s and 1970s the highest marginal rate was around 70 percent. Even after exploiting all possible deductions and credits, the typical high-income taxpayer paid a marginal federal tax of over 50 percent. But contrary to what conservative commentators had predicted, the high tax rates did not reduce economic growth. To the contrary, they enabled the nation to expand middle-class prosperity and fuel growth. ...

    Coping mechanism No. 2: Everyone works longer hours. By the mid 2000s it was not uncommon for men to work more than 60 hours a week and women to work more than 50. A growing number of people took on two or three jobs. All told, by the 2000s, the typical American worker worked more than 2,200 hours a year — 350 hours more than the average European worked, more hours even than the typically industrious Japanese put in. It was many more hours than the typical American middle-class family had worked in 1979 — 500 hours longer, a full 12 weeks more.

  • New York Times op-ed: When a Nobel Prize Isn't Enough. By Peter A. Diamond. Excerpts: Last October, I won the Nobel Prize in economics for my work on unemployment and the labor market. But I am unqualified to serve on the board of the Federal Reserve — at least according to the Republican senators who have blocked my nomination. How can this be?

    The easy answer is to point to shortcomings in our confirmation process and to partisan polarization in Washington. The more troubling answer, though, points to a fundamental misunderstanding: a failure to recognize that analysis of unemployment is crucial to conducting monetary policy.

    In April 2010, President Obama nominated me to be one of the seven governors of the Fed. He renominated me in September, and again in January, after Senate Republicans blocked a floor vote on my confirmation. When the Senate Banking Committee took up my nomination in July and again in November, three Republican senators voted for me each time. But the third time around, the Republicans on the committee voted in lockstep against my appointment, making it extremely unlikely that the opposition to a full Senate vote can be overcome. It is time for me to withdraw, as I plan to inform the White House. ...

    But we should all worry about how distorted the confirmation process has become, and how little understanding of monetary policy there is among some of those responsible for its Congressional oversight. We need to preserve the independence of the Fed from efforts to politicize monetary policy and to limit the Fed's ability to regulate financial firms.

    Concern about the (seemingly low) current risk of future inflation should not erase concern about the large costs of continuing high unemployment. Concern about the distant risk of a genuine inability to handle our national debt should not erase concern about the risk to the economy from too much short-run fiscal tightening.

    To the public, the Washington debate is often about more versus less — in both spending and regulation. There is too little public awareness of the real consequences of some of these decisions. In reality, we need more spending on some programs and less spending on others, and we need more good regulations and fewer bad ones.

    Analytical expertise is needed to accomplish this, to make government more effective and efficient. Skilled analytical thinking should not be drowned out by mistaken, ideologically driven views that more is always better or less is always better. I had hoped to bring some of my own expertise and experience to the Fed. Now I hope someone else can.

  • The Washington Post with Bloomberg: Running in the red: Among GOP, anti-tax orthodoxy runs deep. By Lori Montgomery. Excerpts: The Republican Party once had a home for the thinking of Tom Coburn, Mike Crapo and Saxby Chambliss. But that party is long gone. The three U.S. senators banded together a few months ago in support of higher tax revenue as a means of balancing the federal budget. Even with drastic spending cuts, they concluded, Washington could not vanquish its soaring $14.3 trillion debt without additional income.

    Such reasoning was common in the GOP circa 1963, when Republicans denounced tax cuts proposed by President John F. Kennedy as a road to red ink and rampant inflation. But today's GOP adheres to a "no new taxes" orthodoxy that has proved far more powerful than the desire to balance the budget. As House Speaker John A. Boehner has said: Raising taxes is "unacceptable and a non-starter."

    This orthodoxy is now woven so deeply into the party's identity that all but 13 of 288 GOP lawmakers in Congress have signed a formal pledge not to raise taxes. The strategist who invented the pledge, Grover G. Norquist, compares it to a brand, like Coca-Cola, built on "quality control" so that Republican voters know they will get "the same thing every time."

    Loyalty to the brand is so strong that no Republican has voted for a major federal tax increase since 1991, Norquist says. It is so widespread that more than a dozen governors and hundreds of state legislators now count themselves as adherents. And it is so well defended that its followers are constantly patrolling at both the state and federal levels for new forms of trespass. ...

    The GOP's three-decade-old campaign against taxes has clearly had a significant impact. Neither major party would advocate a return to the 1970s, when people earning more than $200,000 a year faced a top rate of 70 percent. But the top rate is now half that and, partly because of the recent recession, tax collections have fallen to their lowest level as a share of the economy in 60 years. Major tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 also contributed to the decline in revenue — and helped drive up budget deficits. Today, the spiraling debt ranks well ahead of too-high taxes on the list of economic concerns. And the GOP's hard line on the issue stands, alongside Democratic resistance to cutting federal retirement benefits, as the biggest obstacle to a bipartisan agreement to tackle that problem. ...

    In recent weeks, prominent Republicans have urged a more flexible approach to taxes. Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan joined the chorus Friday, dropping his support for the 2001 George W. Bush tax cuts. Greenspan told CNBC he's so "scared" by the debt that he now favors a return to the higher rates of the Clinton administration.

    Martin Feldstein, a Harvard economist who served as chief economic adviser in the Reagan White House, supports the commission's approach to raising money by ending tax breaks. ...

    At the time, Richard M. Nixon had just been elected president, and Republicans had a reputation as the party of fiscal responsibility: Dwight Eisenhower maintained wartime tax rates throughout his eight-year presidency, dramatically reducing the national debt. Congressional Republicans objected to Kennedy's tax cut, arguing that any reduction in revenue should be pared with spending cuts to avoid ballooning deficits. Nixon supported extending a surtax to pay for the Vietnam War. And his successor, Gerald R. Ford, opposed a permanent tax cut in 1974, fearing budget deficits, according to historian Bruce Bartlett, a "lapsed Republican" who has written extensively about GOP fiscal policy. ...

    In his race to succeed Reagan, George H.W. Bush famously embraced the pledge, saying "read my lips, no new taxes." But as president, he raised tax rates as part of a balanced-budget deal with Democrats. Bush's loss to Bill Clinton in 1992 "proved for all time, that even though tax increases may be justified economically, they are never justified politically if you're a Republican," Bartlett said.

    "Since then it's been Republican dogma that deficits don't matter and the only thing that matters for the economy is cutting taxes," he said. "And Grover Norquist has become the enforcer of this dogma."

  • New Deal 2.0: Some Millionaires Who Want to be Taxed! by Bryce Covert. Excerpts: A group of millionaires have gotten together to create a video about a "mistake" made ten years ago: the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. While they got more money (which has gone to dance floors and yachts), local, state, and federal budgets are facing shortfalls that mean cuts to vital investments. Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Rob Johnson and ND20 contributor Dan Berger joined other wealthy Americans with one simple call: "Tax me."

    "You decided our country needed less money," Berger points out. This has lead to less money for "science research, education," as Johnson says, among other things. But "rich people are the cause of a robust economy, they're the result of a robust economy," says David Watson, a Google Software Engineer. So they should be taxed their fair share to ensure we have the revenues to keep the country strong.

  • Slate: Happy 10th Birthday, Bush Tax Cuts! You've been a failure in every conceivable way. By Annie Lowrey. Excerpts: The massive Bush tax cuts mark their 10th birthday this week. Sadly, despite my best efforts to find something redeeming about them—honest!—there is little to celebrate. By nearly all of the metrics set out by President Bush himself, the cuts were a colossal failure.

    In 2001, the Bush administration inherited a few years' worth of budget surpluses, so it decided to cut income tax rates, double the child-care credit, and sharply reduce the levies on investment income. The economy then slowed, even entering a brief recession. As a form of stimulus, the administration doubled down, expanding and hastening the 2001 changes. Bush promised that the tax cuts would do a whole lot more than put money in people's pockets—which, in fact, they did. He said they would "starve the beast," forcing Congress to reduce the size and scope of government. He promised they would increase the prosperity of all Americans. He also vowed: "Tax relief will create new jobs. Tax relief will generate new wealth. And tax relief will open new opportunities."

    OK, a pitter-patter of applause for what the tax cuts did do effectively: Cut taxes and reduce overall payments to Uncle Sam. Low-income families benefited from the child-care credit jumping from $500 to $1,000. High-income families benefited from the top marginal rate falling. Billionaires benefited from lightly taxed dividend income. And government receipts, in turn, dropped.

    The think tank reports that between 2001 and 2008, the bottom 80 percent of filers received about 35 percent of the cuts. The top 20 percent received about 65 percent—and the top 1 percent alone claimed 38 percent.

    What about the president's claims? Take his pledge that the cuts would spur job growth. To be fair, we'll ignore employment changes during 2008, the year the Great Recession seized the economy. During the 2001 to 2007 business cycle, America's economy enjoyed 52 straight months of job growth. But it was sluggish—in fact, the slowest rate of jobs growth on record since World War II, and just one-fifth the pace of the 1990s.

    Then there's wealth. Put simply, the aughts were a decade of income stagnation: The tax cuts failed to bolster most taxpayers' earnings, even before the recession hit. Median real wages actually dropped from 2003 to 2007. Household income from business-cycle peak to business-cycle peak declined for the first time since tracking started in 1967. As documented by my colleague Timothy Noah in his series "The United States of Inequality," this did not hold true for the nation's billionaires and millionaires. Garden-variety high-wage earners saw their income go up. And incomes for the top 1 percent skyrocketed. For some people, obviously, the cuts "generated new wealth," in the president's phrase. But overall, inequality got worse. ...

    Unfortunately, the tax cuts never translated into robust economic growth, either. Indeed, the aughts saw the worst growth since World War II. From 2001 to 2007, annual GDP growth averaged just 2.4 percent per year, lower than in any other postwar business cycle. The contrast is starker still when judging against the previous decade. In real terms, GDP grew half as much from 2001 to 2010 as from 1991 to 2000.

  • New York Times: For the Executive With Everything, a $230,000 Dog to Protect It. By John Tierney. Excerpts: Don't call her a guard dog. When she costs $230,000, as Julia did, the preferred title is "executive protection dog." This 3-year-old German shepherd, who commutes by private jet between a Minnesota estate and a home in Arizona, belongs to a canine caste that combines exalted pedigree, child-friendly cuddliness and arm-lacerating ferocity. ...

    He and others in the high-end dog training business say prices have shot up thanks to the growing number of wealthy people around the world who like the security — and status — provided by a dog with the right credentials. Moguls and celebrities now routinely pay $40,000 to $60,000 for a well-bred German shepherd that is certified as an expert in the sport of Schutzhund, which means "protection dog." The price can go much higher if a dog does well at an international championship, as Julia did. ...

    To clients who can afford the $50,000 price for a typical well-credentialed dog, there are lots of ways to rationalize the price.

    "When you compare the costs of a full-time bodyguard versus a dog, the dog makes a lot of sense," Mr. Curry said. "And the dog, unlike the bodyguard, can't be bought off."

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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