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August 11, 2001 August 4, 2001 July 28, 2001 July 21, 2001 July 14, 2001 July 7, 2001 June 30, 2001 June 23, 2001 June 16, 2001 June 9, 2001 June 2, 2001 May 26, 2001 May 19, 2001 May 12, 2001 May 5, 2001 2001 Stock Meeting April 21, 2001 April 14, 2001 April 7, 2001 March 31, 2001 March 24, 2001 March 17, 2001 March 10, 2001 March 3, 2001 February 24, 2001 February 17, 2001 February 10, 2001 February 3, 2001 January 27, 2001 January 20, 2001 January 13, 2001 January 6, 2001 December 30, 2000 December 23, 2000 December 16, 2000 December 9, 2000 December 2, 2000 November 24, 2000 November 17, 2000 November 10, 2000 November 4, 2000 October 28, 2000 October 21, 2000 October 14, 2000 October 7, 2000 September 30, 2000 September 23, 2000 September 16, 2000 September 9, 2000 September 2, 2000 August 26, 2000 August 19, 2000 August 12, 2000 July 29, 2000 July 22, 2000 July 15, 2000 July 1, 2000 June 24, 2000 June 17, 2000 June 10, 2000 June 3, 2000 May 27, 2000 May 20, 2000 May 13, 2000 May 6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—July 2, 2011

  • Regina, Saskatchewan (Canada) Leader-Post: CEP ratifies contract with ISM. Excerpts: Workers at ISM Canada in Regina voted 95 per cent in favour of accepting a new contract that will provide a 9.75 per cent wage increase over the next three years, the Communications, Energy and Paper workers Union of Canada said in a press release on Tuesday. ...

    ISM Canada is a subsidiary of IBM Canada, which provides outsourcing information technology solutions to clients. CEP members provide a number of services to ISM, including applications analysts, mid-range operators, mainframe operators and programmer analysts.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Raises- Got it?" by "In Focus". Full excerpt: 2%. Last raise 2008.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Raises- Got it?" by "fred fred". Full excerpt: I happen to be rate a 1 and just got $0 for a raise.
  • Associated Press, courtesy of Forbes: IBM spends $1.2M on 1Q lobbying. Excerpts: IBM Corp. spent $1.2 million on government lobbying in the first quarter, seeking to influence issues such as the effect of President Obama's health care legislation on IBM and its employees, tax loopholes, and the standard mix among technology companies of patent, international trade and defense spending issues. ...

    The Armonk, N.Y.-based company's workforce has been expanding rapidly in emerging markets while its U.S.-based workforce has shrunk. IBM's lobbying included international issues such as income tax arrangements with China, India, Brazil and Korea; trade issues with China concerning rare-earth minerals; and import/export issues surrounding certain sensitive products such as encryption technologies.

    The company lobbied Congress, the Department of Commerce, the Department of State, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the National Security Council, among other agencies.

  • The Register (United Kingdom): Big Blue offers staff Apples. Hey, You! It's Macs not ThinkPads. Excerpts: An email sent to the Reg reveals that IBM is considering offering staff discounts on Apple Macs. As part of Big Blue's "You" benefits package the company is considering offering discounted Mac hardware. Staff are currently voting on whether this is a good idea or not.

    Even more shocking for the reputation of that most staid of hardware giants - IBM isn't just considering letting its staff muck about with the machines at home. As part of the tax rules regarding the purchase the machines must be used for two years as the recipient's primary business machine.

    Editor's note: Selected reader comments concerning this article follow:

    • Can you run the awful, awful Lotus Notes and Sametime on a Mac? As part of the soul destroying process that is working for IBM you have to use these "productivity" tools so this could be a show stopper. Then again, it would be wonderful to have a laptop that worked and wasn't subject to all of the IBM crapware you get on a standard corporate Lenovo. Not that it makes a lot of difference, IBM are still evil fuckers and working for them is beyond awful so a nice laptop won't make things better.
    • Not much of a 'benefit'. You buy a computer from your pre-tax salary and are supposed to use it as your business machine? I presume that's a completely unenforceable tax rule that's completely ignored. Do they want you to buy your own stationary as well?
    • Yes, they do (want you to buy your own stationary), at least in the US.
    • Cool...so IBMers will be able to pay for their work machine instead of having their employer pay for it? Awesome. (IBM's HR department seemed quite upset when I turned down a job offer from them some years ago. There were things in the employment contract I really disliked.)
    • This is just IBM's first step to making employees pay for their own laptops. They'll start with shiny pretty Mac's and then make the employees pay for ThinkPads and later their chairs...
    • Oh, we've had the "opportunity" to help out our beloved employer by paying for our own business machine for quite some time. Aren't the benefits generous? We also get to pay for our own broadband if we work form home, or connect from an airport or somewhere while travelling. And if we buy a blackberry and are prepared to get our work emails forwarded to it, we are allowed to pay the company £10 a month for the privilege. Mustn't grumble though.
    • It didn't start with shiny Mac's but with shiny phones. If you want a decent company mobile phone then it's self funded already. This is not the first step and certainly won't be the last. Next thing will be I have to pay IBM to work for them!...
    • I am glad to know I'm not the only former employee to hold them in a low regard.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "IBM asking employees to be strikebreakers" by Lee Conrad, Alliance@IBM. Full excerpt: We have just learned that IBM is asking select GDF workers to go to Chile to work in case there is a strike in the next few weeks. The IBM Chile union presented its 23 points for negotiation of a union contract to IBM a few weeks ago. IBM refused all 23 points. It appears the IBM Chile union will strike by July 14th. We will be putting a notice on the Alliance web site: That we stand with the IBM Chile Union. That we oppose the use of US employees as strikebreakers, and for US employees to refuse to be used as strike breakers. Other actions being discussed. Lee.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: IBM asking employees to be strikebreakers" by "sby_willie". Full excerpt: Let's say you go to Chile for a month and they don't really miss you when your gone. Then does that mean your a candidate for the next RA? I don't think IBM management is going to remember or care who goes to Chile. It is the typical case of IBM throwing bodies at a crisis situation. At this stage they are asked to put out a fire and might start another one here in the USA. Imagine the customers supported by USA IT personnel see their service suffer since USA IT support is expected to pick up the slack for those that went to Chile. Then what?
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: IBM asking employees to be strikebreakers" by Paul Sutera. Full excerpt: Also can you imagine the wage and benefits scale in a country like Chile, and how little IBM compensates these people relative to their contribution. Now think about how little IBM cares about its customers that such a tiny amount of money means more to them than satisfied customers...and that they'd be willing to sacrifice US customers satisfaction to send US I/T personnel to Chile. Helping IBM against the Chilean employees certainly won't help a US employee since we lose jobs to very under-compensated geographies. It's in our own self-interest to help these workers receive better compensation and benefits. Going to Chile to help bust a strike is helping IBM speed up its long-term and unsustainable race to the bottom.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: IBM asking employees to be strikebreakers" by "bits_bytes_and_bugs". Full excerpt: Was asked to go to Chile and declined. I'm not going to be a strikebreaker. The e-mail sent out was misleading and stated the help was for a large mining company that needed IBM US help due to a strike - the implication that the mining company was at strike, not IBM. More proof that you can't trust IBM management.
  • Poughkeepsie Journal, letter to the editor: IBM management needs return to past. By Thor A. Larsen. Full excerpt: Congratulations IBM on your 100th anniversary! In the spirit of IBM of the past with its focus on their employees, I have some suggestions:
    1. Bring back the jobs shipped overseas, as the costs and ineffectiveness of those employees is far greater than the committed employees you have had in the USA during these past 100 years.
    2. Cut the salaries and the perks of the very top and use that money to hire more people at the entry-level here in the US. The ratio of salaries of the top executives to entry-level employees far exceeds the ratio of the same back in the boom years of the 1950s to the early 1980s.

    Although currently you are doing well as a business, you are much more vulnerable than you think because you no longer treat your employees the way they were treated during the rapid growth years. The most productive and innovative employees always felt that they had a safe job if they always worked hard, maintained and enhanced their skills, and worked effectively with colleagues. This is no longer the case since today your skilled and effective employees may find themselves having to train someone in another country who will be assuming their job or hear of another executive getting a big bonus for improving 'efficiency' while they get a 2 percent raise.

  • Newser: Gay Couples May Have to Marry...to Keep Benefits. By Tim Karan. Excerpts: Now that gay marriage is legal in New York, some couples might have no choice but to take the plunge—at least if they want to keep their health insurance. Two major companies—Raytheon and IBM—say employees in same-sex relationships must get married if they want to keep the benefits they now get as "domestic partners," reports the Wall Street Journal.

    Employees at both companies will have a grace period of several months to decide. Neither offers domestic partner benefits to non-married hetero couples, and now that gay weddings are legal, the exception will no longer be available to same-sex workers. Most companies in states where gay marriage is legal continue to offer the option to gay couples, according to a 2011 study cited by the Journal. Click to read a critic who thinks President Obama is failing to lead on gay marriage.)

    Unless the current leadership re-examines and learns the management techniques of earlier IBM executives, the earnings growth and stock appreciation in recent years are only a temporary "bubble".

  • The Atlantic (comment): Why IT Workers Should Unionize. By Llewellyn Hinkes-Jones. Excerpts: In other professions, issues like pay, career trajectory and job security were addressed by forming unions, but those drawn to the IT sector have been resistant to this approach. Unions are often seen as emblematic of the bureaucracies of the past. The idea that some complex process could stand in the way of independent accomplishment is anathema to the fundamentals of the libertarian, self-made, DIY, hacker culture.

    However, technology and engineering unions do exist. WashTech represents a portion of Microsoft employees. Alliance@IBM, possibly one of the oldest computer technology unions, represents IBM employees. Then there's IEEE for electrical engineers, which has some union-like characteristics, the Programmer's Guild aimed at bettering the programmer profession and the Freelancer's Union for those technical workers who operate on their own. But these groups represent a tiny fraction of the total workforce. Out of the approximate 3,000,000 tech workers in the United States, maybe 5,000 in total are union members. Compare this to coverage of other highly-skilled trade unions, like the Screen Actor's Guild or the American Federation of Teachers, both of which currently represent the majority of employees in those occupations. ...

    In a way, it's a very selfless worldview where rational accomplishment is a goal in and of itself, there's no need for power, and all anybody needs in life is access to information. But at a certain point, freedom of information can only go so far. Improving peoples' lives requires access to power, even if the bureaucratic processes involved in achieving that power are completely abhorrent to the independent computer programmer lifestyle.

    In the world of labor relations, organized unions have been the best option towards progress for workers. So far, nobody has been able to develop an app that can replace them.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Help documenting some information" by "thirtyyearibmer". Full excerpt: When the IBM retirement plan was announced and then changed in May - July 1999 there was a paper written by Mary Maury and Victoria Shoaf that said that there was "1.7 million hits" on this Yahoo! Group site. I have been unsuccessful in contacting Mary/Victoria to get their permission to use this information in my book. I only just recently e-mailed them. (it only became urgent as the editor has requested that I pull the introduction from my second book into the first one due August 1st - that caught me by surprise.)

    Can anyone on this board certify this information (1.7 million hits/views) that would assist me in this section of my book? Here is the context:

    The IBM culture had strayed but it was not broken.
    Mr. Gerstner's book and similar articles that examine IBM all culminate in 1999; it is as if with IBM's financial recovery, the story ended. It did not. The story had just begun for most IBM employees. History needs more perspectives before it closes the book on IBM's centennial celebration. History should demand the telling of the employee perspective.
    IBMers continue to endure the effects of what many consider the watershed event of Lou Gerstner's tenure. On July 1st, 1999, IBM eliminated its pension and health care plans.
    In the 90 days following the announcement, IBM's U.S. employees inundated a Yahoo! website with almost 1.7 million views. Congressional leaders called hearings. In September, the Treasury Department issued a moratorium on conversions from defined benefit plans to cash balance plans. Finally, because of the outcry, IBM modified its original plans—extending its defined benefit pension plans to employees over 40 years of age with more than 10 years of service.
    Yet, even after this modification, the changes affected more than fifty percent of the IBM U.S. population. These employees, even twelve years later, shake their heads and remark of this one event, "I awaken each and every day reminded of what I and my family have lost. We will never forget who is to blame."
    Lou Gerstner wrote of this change that "it created a great furor among a small group of IBM employees." It was, rather, a great furor among a great number of IBM employees. And IBM continues down this same financial path. Employees and their families continue to fund IBM's on-going record earnings. There is no win-win relationship. The furor continues worldwide.

    Thanks for your help. Pete

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: Help documenting some information" by "hankharty". Full excerpt: Here are three additional possible sources for the "1.7 million hits" from the references for the Mary Maury and Victoria Shoaf paper:
    • Ellen E. Schultz, Jon G. Auerbach, and Glenn Burkins, "Controversy Besetting New Pension Plan Rises with IBM's Retreat," Wall Street Journal, September 20, 1999, p. A1. View PDF of this article.
    • Ellen E. Schultz and Glenn Burkins, "Critics of Cash-Balance Pension Plans Will Testify Before Senate Panel Today," Wall Street Journal; September 21, 1999, p. A3.
    • Ellen E. Schultz and Rhonda L. Rundle, "Utility's Pension Plan Allowing Choice Offers Contrast to the Bitterness at IBM," Wall Street Journal, September 23, 1999, p. C1.
  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • IBM Anonymous: (Past Employee - 2009) “Chews people up and spits them out.” Pros: Amazing diversity of business yields great opportunities to work on cool things. Cons: No respect for employees at all - they believe we should be grateful to work for IBM, and don't recognize that we can and do make a stronger contribution elsewhere. Advice to Senior Management: You are going to run out of people to chew up eventually.
    • IBM Senior Managing Consultant in Denver, CO: (Current Employee) “Get it all in writing.” Pros: Potential for very dynamic job assignments, always learning something new and exciting. There is a great feeling of just being associated with IBM, but over time, that fades. Management can often be really good, but its not always the case. People generally are highly motivated both personally and corporately.

      Cons: Management - be careful of your leadership. That can be your biggest hero or your worst enemy. Due to political nature, if things don't go well on an assignment, management will find someone to blame - it could be you. Beware of undocumented promises from management. At IBM, if it isn't in writing, it was never said. Oh, and by a huge measure, raises suck or are non-existent. Lots of raises go through lengthy 'dry spells'

      Advice to Senior Management: Support your people above all else. Give them what they need to be successful, and if they need more tools, training, etc - cough it up. Don't make promises that you are unwilling to backup - it destroys your credibility

    • IBM Consultant in Amsterdam (Netherlands): (Current Employee) “Not a focus country or business unit” 0 of 0 people found this helpful Pros: Within GBS Team members are of good quality. Work life balance. Opportunity to work internationally. Learning on the job challenges. Some of the projects are really nice, you just have to fight for them.

      Cons: No training other than silly online training of low quality. Too many management changes with no real effect. Partners/AP not performing. Absence of people management skills from Partners and AP. No transparency with performance appraisals. Few promotions. No pay increase. Over the last years many key consultants left GBS and nothing was done about it. The quality overall is decreasing. Older consultants end up staying because they have very good benefits package and no pressure to perform.

      Advice to Senior Management: Change and do it fast. Invest in people. People are the asset of the consulting business not processes and products. Lower the age and band levels average

    • IBM Strategy Consultant: (Current Employee) “Good start to a career” Pros: Very nice people and team, good atmosphere, lots of training and leaning for graduates, excellent graduate scheme, good possibilities to influence career paths. Cons: Below average salary, only incremental salary increases over time, intransparent salary levels for different experience levels, very difficult to get approval for basic things like travel, communication tools (such as 3G card), poor IT support. Advice to Senior Management: Keeping costs down is a good idea but doing it at much higher overall cost to the organization is not.
    • IBM Advisory Engineer in Burlington, VT: (Current Employee) “Dead end dab senior management.” Pros: People are good. Some good problems to work on. Cons: Managers are clueless. Place is cheap. Advice to Senior Management: MD management has no clue
    • IBM Software Engineer in Costa Mesa, CA: (Current Employee) “Big disappointment since takeover.” Pros: Cutting edge technology. Enormous depth of resources. Lots of really brilliant people. Cons: No respect for the worker. Before we were bought out, we had free coffee, basic paper supplies (spoons, forks plates), sodas, offices with doors. After, moved into cubicles or doubled up in offices, no raises except for 1 or 2 in the department, no coffee, paper supplies, and most recently no working-from -home. Advice to Senior Management: Treat workers with a little more respect if you want them to stay. Otherwise, come right out and make it clear you want everyone to quit.
    • IBM Architect in Armonk, NY: (Current Employee) “Excellent for networking, average for compensation and work environment.” Pros: Networking and quality of people. Cons: Long hours, stressful work environment, difficult senior management. Advice to Senior Management: Motivate your employees, they're the only force behind your success
    • IBM IT Security Manager: (Current Employee) “Currently dissatisfied in Germany, bad mood amongst employees, cost reductions everywhere.” Pros: Good networking possible, even outside of current team Cons: Recognition of good work is not given, payment below average in Germany. Advice to Senior Management: Get motivation of employees higher, give more recognition to employees after good work
    • IBM Advisory Software Engineer in Raleigh, NC: (Current Employee) “If getting rich is your goal, IBM is not the place to be.” Pros: Lots of smart people to work with, top notch in their technical skills. Working on latest technologies makes getting up in the morning to go to work a worthwhile endeavor. Cons: Overall treatment of employees needs to be improved. We are certainly not "interchangeable parts." Lack of pay raises because one has reached "50%" of market penetration is a joke - one wonders who they survey to reach that conclusion. Advice to Senior Management: Forced bell curve for appraisals is a quick way to kill enthusiasm for working at the company. When it becomes "just a job" you will have high turnover - because people can be treated the same way for more $$ elsewhere.
    • IBM Engineering Manager in Hopewell Junction, NY: (Current Employee) “Great unique experience but work environment is disappointing.” Pros: There is an amazing breadth of experience you can gain working at IBM. 300mm semiconductor fab is leading edge technology which provides endless amount of personal and technical challenges. There exists a lot of flexibility in work schedules without effort to balance your personal life. Cons: Part time employment , while available, is extremely limited in career growth despite hype. Extremely unnecessarily stressful environment due to inappropriate distribution of resources as well as poor top down middle management techniques. Advice to Senior Management: Manage the managers with same level of accountability that exists for employees.
    • IBM Senior Engineer in Chennai (India): (Current Employee) “Good culture but bad package.” Pros: Fantastic work culture. If you get a good manager you get 1. Flexible Timings; 2. Work from Home options bcoz these are supported by the IBM management. Cons: If you don't get a good package while joining be one of the lowest paid in the market make sure you get a good band before joining. shud be 6B or above for better results some managers who join from other companies wudn;t understand the IBM culture and demand strict work timings and micro management. It's a big ocean and you will get lost in it soon if you don't continue to make noise. Advice to Senior Management: Train managers on the IBM flexible work culture and work life balance. Some ignorant managers make a mess of the employees' life by being a proper Indian Manager and not an IBM manager.
    • IBM Member of Technical Staff in Essex Junction, VT: (Past Employee - 2009) “Awful place to work.” Pros: Very good co-workers, nice facility. Good place to learn about semiconductor manufacturing and test. Beautiful area of the country in Vermont. Management was good at giving people time off when needed.

      Cons: The extremely negative atmosphere made it a very hard place to work. Everybody was stressed out about coming to work and wondering when, not if, the next layoff would occur and who was next on the chopping block. There is and was little to no upper progression for most. The supposed mentoring program was a joke. IBM Burlington is just about the only game in town with decent wages and they know it. Little to no acknowledgement of a job well done. Lack of communication. The type of business is very cyclical with many ups and downs. When the business is down, the first thing they do is get rid of people and equipment.

      Advice to Senior Management: IBM needs to remember that people are its number one asset and to treat them accordingly. Structure the company to weather the ups and downs and to think more long term instead of short term.

    • IBM Managing Consultant in New York, NY: (Current Employee) “Gotta be at the right place at the right time...” Pros: IBM is highly respected and I have had some great opportunities for growth and development here (that I was lucky enough to fall into). Great benefits package and I've worked with some really phenomenal people, both professionally and otherwise. I've been privileged to work with great project teams and have great management but that is not the case for everyone.

      Cons: I've seen many really good people not rewarded for their hard work with compensation or career advancement; others have been rather incompetent and still manage to work there way up pretty quickly. Starting salaries are always competitive but raises are pitiful from that point on (this is standard in the industry) with new hires coming in at higher rates than the one year experienced hires make. Similar things happen to experienced hires -- once you're hired don't expect to watch your salary grow! Too much bureaucratic nonsense to complete, and management puts way too much emphasis on "utilization" whereas I know many other firms that give comp time for working more than 40-45 hrs/week.

      Advice to Senior Management: Reward your people! Keep your good people happy so they don't leave and don't make us fill out so much paperwork. Invest in team building.

  • CNN/Money: Early retirement a scary health care option. By Parija Kavilanz. Excerpts: Employers are getting out of the retirement insurance business. This could be worrisome for American workers who want to retire, before hitting the Medicare-eligible age of 65. A majority of large employers today offer some form of retiree insurance -- both to early retirees and to retired workers who are Medicare eligible.

    But a new survey of 250 large companies by Towers Watson shows that many of them have pared back on their retiree insurance plans and others are planning to discontinue them permanently. Stuart Alden, Towers Watson's senior health care consultant, said these changes are "significant" ...

    When asked what alternatives to early retiree plans employers were considering, 42% said they're considering terminating early retiree plans and will encourage workers to consider buying health insurance through "health exchanges" instead.

  • Yahoo! IBM Retiree Information Exchange message board: "HBO documentary on how Corporations have taken control of courts" by "Tom Jones". Full excerpt: Many people, including the Kathi Cooper vs IBM case and others, who took on Corporations during the late 90's to present might have their eyes opened up to how Corporations took over with money, to suppress the average American to sue employers, doctors, and Corporations for "Tort - being harmed by someone" in our judicial system.

    The deck is stacked against the average person. This HBO documentary begins with the "hot coffee" lawsuit that awarded $3 million to an 81 year old woman and how "Corporations and Politicians" spun the tale.

    The pictures are pretty graphic of what "really happened" along with other stories of how the Judicial System has been gamed by Corporations and front groups of the deep pockets of Corporations like the US Chamber of Commerce to elect "Corporate Friendly Judges".

    HBO is presently airing the program: "Hot Coffee".

New on the Alliance@IBM Site
  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 6/27/11: I guess the reason they are forcing all employees back to the office is that they don't have enough left in the US to show up at IBM sites! It looks bad to have row after row of empty desks and offices. Sam needs to keep up the appearances until he shoots some more! I hear estimates of the US population are about 65K by year end in the US out of 427K worldwide. Anyone have any other estimates? -Active Measures Guy-
    • Comment 6/27/11: -Active Measures Guy-: Go to Somers (NY) they closed building 3 the end of May. That's 1/4 of the site - A headquarters location. Look at your parking lots, look at your cafeterias see how empty they are. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 6/28/11: Wasn't there a rumor back in 2008 or so (posted on this website) that IBM was planning to layoff the entire US workforce, or close to it? I would say at the rate they are going, it looks very much like this is exactly what the powers that be are planning to do. -anonymous- Alliance Reply: Browse the archives: http://tinyurl.com/63jltg3 or http://tinyurl.com/6kq2whq Actually, since 1999, Alliance@IBM has been proposing the possibility that, IBM would decimate its US workforce to a bare minimum, based on internal information that "trickled" in to us; and/or by IBM's obvious transfer of intellectual property to India, China, etc. Rumor is a weak description, at this point.
    • Comment 6/29/11: By my calculations from IBM annual reports and then scattered news reports+alliance reports, IBM has gone from 152,000 U.S. employees in 2002 to roughly 84,000 now. About a 45% reduction in 9 years. If that rate continues, it should be around 76,000 before Sam retires. So he can retire happy knowing he reduced the U.S. work force by half and (if things continue) there was no large increase in union membership on his watch. -4merBmer-
    • Comment 6/29/11: I know this might be slightly off topic but I find most IBMers have absolutely no clue about the FHA (Future Health Account). of course they are not totally to blame since IBM buries the info provisions of this plan since it's inception in 1999 (along with the great pension heist). If you are RAed and are not 55 years old at the time of departure you probably get NO IBM retirement medical benefits! Don't believe me? OK, THINK TWICE then. Check with IBM HR. -FutureHellAccount- Alliance Reply: This is a topic that has been covered previously in this and other comment sections. No more comments regarding this topic will be posted. Please refer to the archived comments and search for FHA, there.
    • Comment 6/30/11: 3 percent raise for a 2+. Wonder if the anniversary "Quotes from Chairman Sam" book was part of my benefits? After five years working remote now have to come into office which negates the raise. -unHappy- Alliance Reply: Organize and fight back. You are not the only IBMer affected by this IBM policy change.
    • Comment 6/30/11: Salary Raise time. Every one please behave like nice kids in the classroom. Oh never mind, you will be disappointed. Guaranteed. -Oh_My_God-
    • Comment 7/01/11: unHappy - try 1% increase for a 2+ after 5 years of no increases.. IBM Sucks! -Canadian-
    • Comment 7/01/11: 3% raise for 2+?? Wow, impressive...mine was 1.2% for the same. 3% was probably one of the top raises. -Salary stagnation-
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • Tucson Sentinel: Health savings accounts lucrative for insurers, costly for consumers. Insurers aim to push consumers into high-deductible plans like HSAs, phase out low-deductible plans. By Wendell Potter. Excerpts: In its ongoing attempt to weaken a key provision of the health care reform law—the one that requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on medical care—the insurance industry is predicting dire consequences for people enrolled in health savings accounts if lawmakers don’t act soon.

    America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the insurance lobbying group, warned in a recent report that the rapid growth of HSAs will be hurt unless Congress exempts them from the 80 percent requirement – or abolishes the threshold altogether. ...

    Having spent nearly 20 years in the health insurance industry, I knew it was just a matter of time before AHIP would mount a big campaign to ensure a bright future for HSA plans.

    One of the reasons I left my job in the insurance industry was because I could not in good faith continue to promote HSA plans as the best thing since sliced bread, as I was expected to do. I knew from my own research that these plans were not good options for most Americans. I came to realize that ever-increasing numbers of people who were enrolling in them were actually joining the ranks of the underinsured because they had to spend far more out of their own pockets for care than they ever had before. ...

    What Ignagni did not say was that only the wealthiest Americans can afford to sock any money away in their HSAs and to use more of their own resources to pay for care. She also didn’t acknowledge that the real reason for the rapid growth of HSAs is that her industry is well on its way to eliminating all health plans that don’t feature high deductibles. Insurers don’t want anything to stand in their way.

    Insurers spend less on care for people enrolled in HSAs, which is why they are so profitable. The requirement to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on medical care would put a crimp in those profits. Hence, the real reason for the AHIP report. ...

    Last year, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI), the average balance in an HSA was just $1,355—almost 5 percent less than in 2009—and very little of that money was contributed by employees. The problem is that the majority of people enrolled in these plans, often against their will, simply do not have the disposable income to contribute any significant amounts of money to their HSAs.

    As I noted earlier this week, the median household income in this country is actually 5 percent lower today than it was in 1999, after adjusting for inflation. Most of that decline occurred during the George W. Bush administration, which joined the health insurance industry in persuading Congress to pass legislation making HSAs more attractive by converting them to tax shelters.

    That tax exemption has turned out to be a terrific new way for wealthy Americans to avoid sending money to the IRS. The problem, of course, is that the tax shelter is of virtually no value to people who don’t have the money to put into an HSA.

    People who are enrolled in these plans are the first to tell you that. Most participants in the GAO survey said they would not recommend HSAs to anyone who might not have the funds to meet the high deductibles. Not only that, they said they would not recommend them to anyone on maintenance medication, to anyone who has a chronic condition, and to anyone with children. ...

    HSAs and similar high deductible plans are a central part of the industry’s strategy to shift more and more of the cost of care from them to us. To get the job done, they are encouraging employers to go “full-replacement.” That’s the insurance industry’s euphemistic term for eliminating all benefit plans except those with high deductibles.

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.

  • Yes! Magazine: How the Bailout Killed Local Lending—And How Some States Hope to Bring It Back. With the big banks speculating instead of lending to small businesses, states are looking for new ways to keep credit flowing. By Ellen Brown. Excerpts: “Wall Street banks have cut back on small business lending… [by] more than double the cutback in overall lending.… [Small business] options just keep disappearing.” -Elizabeth Warren, Chair of the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel, quoted in Judd and McGhee, “Banking on America

    The Wall Street bailout of 2008 has radically altered the banking business. The bailout was supposed to keep credit flowing to Main Street, but it has wound up having the opposite effect. Small and medium-sized businesses have traditionally been the main engines for increasing employment, and they need bank credit for their working capital; but today credit to local businesses has collapsed nearly everywhere. That’s why so many states—the total is now fourteen—are considering turning to state-owned banks to get local credit flowing again.

    The credit collapse of September 2008 was triggered by the speculative activities of giant Wall Street banks. These profligate banks, which would have gone bankrupt without federal support, have emerged from the crisis bigger and more powerful than before. The federal government has supported and subsidized bank consolidation, resulting in the elimination of more than a thousand community banks by takeover or failure.

    The five largest banks now hold 40 percent of all deposits and 48 percent of all bank assets. These banks—Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and PNC—currently control more deposits than the next largest 45 banks combined.

    They are big, they are powerful, and they have lost interest in local lending. In the past three years, the four largest banks have cut back on small business lending by a full 53 percent. The two banks that were the largest recipients of TARP funds, Bank of America and Citigroup, have cut back on local lending by 94 percent and 64 percent, respectively.

    Why? In 2010, the six largest bank holding companies made a combined $75 billion; and of this, $56 billion was in trading revenues—income from speculating in derivatives, futures, commodities, and currencies. If the too-big-to-fail banks win on these bets, they win big and can pocket the proceeds. If they lose, the federal government can be relied on to bail them out. In those comfortable circumstances, why lend to risky local businesses that might go bankrupt, or to homeowners who might default?

  • The Smirking Chimp: 25 People. By R.J. Eskow. Excerpts: Republicans are perpetrating a fraud. They say they're concerned about reducing government deficits. But you don't need to look at how they treat all of the country's biggest corporations (which is extremely well) or even how they kowtow to its richest 400 families, who now have 6900 times as much income as the average household.

    You only need to look at the way they treat 25 people.

    The top 25 hedge fund managers in the United States collectively earned $22 billion last year, and yet they have their own cushy set of tax rules. If they operated under the same rules that apply to other people -- police officers, for example, or teachers -- the country could cut its national deficit by as much as $44 billion in the next ten years.

    We're not talking about "raising taxes on the rich," either -- although that's an excellent idea. (There's an automated petition here that will encourage your representative to do just that.) This money could be raised simply by removing a tax loophole that protects hedge fund managers. And that's not counting all the other people who run hedge funds. We'd get that $44 billion from just 25 people. They can certainly afford it, and at least one of them (George Soros, #2 on the list) undoubtedly would approve.

    But they won't do it. Instead of taking a simple step that could net as much as $4.4 billion per year, House Republicans have passed a budget that cuts $30 million for flood control and emergency funds that would help people avoid being hurt or killed in storms like the ones we've seen in New Orleans, Birmingham, the Midwest, and all across the country. They voted to cut $336 million from the National Oceanographic and Aeronautical Administration to track and predict violent storms. ...

    Now the Republicans are going after Social Security and Medicare. Their new budget eliminates Medicare (yes, it does) and replaces it with vouchers that will only cover a fraction of their medical costs. The Congressional Budget Office reports that people who reach Medicare age in 2030 will have to pay twenty thousand dollars more per person as a result. Know how many of those people could get the old Medicare coverage if you taxed those 25 hedge fund managers the same way everybody else is taxed?

    All of them. ...

    If you took away this tax loophole for hedge fund managers, you could actually increase Social Security benefits by more than $1,000 per year for every baby boomer. In 2010 dollars, that comes to an average benefit increase of nearly 10 percent. And that's just from 25 people. ...

    But wait, the Republicans will say. That would kill jobs, they'll say. These people are "job creators" and "wealth creators," they'll say. No, they're not. More often than not, in fact, they're job destroyers. They make their money by betting for or against certain events -- literally "hedging their bets" -- and on more than one occasion they've been accused of creating the negative event they're betting against. Even if they don't do anything unscrupulous, these negative bets make it harder for certain ventures to succeed. ...

    So does the closing of this "billionaire's loophole." If the loophole was closed and the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy were finally ended, in fact, we could cut the deficit by another $8.8 billion over the next ten years -- just from these 25 people.

  • The Smirking Chimp: How Greed Destroys America. By Robert Parry. Excerpts: If the "free-market" theories of Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman were correct, the United States of the last three decades should have experienced a golden age in which the lavish rewards flowing to the titans of industry would have transformed the society into a vibrant force for beneficial progress.

    After all, it has been faith in "free-market economics" as a kind of secular religion that has driven U.S. government policies - from the emergence of Ronald Reagan through the neo-liberalism of Bill Clinton into the brave new world of House Republican budget chairman Paul Ryan.

    By slashing income tax rates to historically low levels - and only slightly boosting them under President Clinton before dropping them again under George W. Bush - the U.S. government essentially incentivized greed or what Ayn Rand liked to call "the virtue of selfishness."

    Further, by encouraging global "free trade" and removing regulations like the New Deal's Glass-Steagall separation of commercial and investment banks, the government also got out of the way of "progress," even if that "progress" has had crushing results for many middle-class Americans. ...

    The old notion was that a relatively affluent middle class would contribute to the creation of profitable businesses because average people could afford to buy consumer goods, own their own homes and take an annual vacation with the kids. That "middle-class system," however, required intervention by the government as the representative of the everyman. Beyond building a strong infrastructure for growth - highways, airports, schools, research programs, a safe banking system, a common defense, etc. - the government imposed a progressive tax structure that helped pay for these priorities and also discouraged the accumulation of massive wealth. After all, the threat to a healthy democracy from concentrated wealth had been known to American leaders for generations. ...

    In his first inaugural address, Reagan declared that "government is the problem" - and many middle-class whites cheered. However, what Reagan's policies meant in practice was a sustained assault on the middle class: the busting of unions, the export of millions of decent-paying jobs, and the transfer of enormous wealth to the already rich. The tax rates for the wealthiest were slashed about in half. Greed was incentivized. ...

    Ironically, the Reagan era came just as technology - much of it created by government-funded research - was on the cusp of creating extraordinary wealth that could have been shared with average Americans. Those benefits instead accrued to the top one or two percent. The rich also benefited from the off-shoring of jobs, exploiting cheap foreign labor and maximizing profits. The only viable way for the super-profits of "free trade" to be shared with the broader U.S. population was through taxes on the rich. However, Reagan and his anti-government true-believers made sure that those taxes were kept at historically low levels. ...

    The consequences of several decades of Reaganism and its related ideas are now apparent. Wealth has been concentrated at the top with billionaires living extravagant lives that not even monarchs could have envisioned, while the middle class shrinks and struggles, with one everyman after another being shoved down into the lower classes and into poverty.

    Millions of Americans forego needed medical care because they can't afford health insurance; millions of young people, burdened by college loans, crowd back in with their parents; millions of trained workers settle for low-paying jobs; millions of families skip vacations and other simple pleasures of life. ...

    With Americans unable to afford the new car or the new refrigerator, American corporations see their domestic profit margins squeezed. So they are compensating for the struggling U.S. economy by expanding their businesses abroad in developing markets, but they also keep their profits there. ...

    When a majority of Americans voted for Republicans in Election 2010 - and with early polls pointing toward a likely GOP victory in the presidential race of 2012 - it's obvious that large swaths of the population have no sense of what's in store for them as they position their own necks under the boots of corporate masters. The only answer to this American crisis would seem to be a reenergized and democratized federal government fighting for average citizens and against the greedy elites. But - after several decades of Reaganism, with the "free market" religion the new gospel of the political/media classes - that seems a difficult outcome to achieve.

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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