Welcome to IBM Employee News and Links

“News and links for IBM employees, retirees, ex-employees, and persons interested in pension, retirement, off-shoring and corporate governance issues”—The news you won't see on W3!

Our Friends:

Watching IBM Watching IBM Facebook

Quick Links:

Get involved! Insider trading After IBM Lenovo Employee Discount

Previous highlights:

April 2, 2016 March 26, 2016 March 12, 2016 March 5, 2016 February 27, 2016 February 20, 2016 February 13, 2016 February 6, 2016 January 30, 2016 January 16, 2016 December 26, 2015 December 19, 2015 December 12, 2015 December 5, 2015 November 28, 2015 November 21, 2015 November 14, 2015 November 7, 2015 October 31, 2015 October 24, 2015 October 17, 2015 October 10, 2015 October 3, 2015 September 26, 2015 September 19, 2015 September 12, 2015 August 29, 2015 August 22, 2015 August 15, 2015 August 8, 2015 July 25, 2015 July 25, 2015 July 18, 2015 July 4, 2015 June 27, 2015 June 20, 2015 June 13, 2015 June 6, 2015 May 30, 2015 May 23, 2015 May 16, 2015 May 9, 2015 May 2, 2015 April 25, 2015 April 18, 2015 April 11, 2015 April 4, 2015 March 28, 2015 March 21, 2015 March 14, 2015 March 7, 2015 February 28, 2015 February 21, 2015 February 14, 2015 February 7, 2015 January 31, 2015 January 24, 2015 January 17, 2015 January 10, 2015 January 3, 2015 December 27, 2014 December 20, 2014 December 13, 2014 December 6, 2014 November 29, 2014 November 22, 2014 November 15, 2014 November 8, 2014 November 1, 2014 October 25, 2014 October 18, 2014 October 11, 2014 October 4, 2014 September 27, 2014 September 13, 2014 September 6, 2014 August 30, 2014 August 23, 2014 August 16, 2014 August 9, 2014 August 2, 2014 July 26, 2014 July 19, 2014 July 12, 2014 July 5, 2014 June 28, 2014 June 21, 2014 June 14, 2014 June 7, 2014 May 31, 2014 May 24, 2014 May 17, 2014 May 10, 2014 May 3, 2014 April 26, 2014 April 19, 2014 April 12, 2014 April 5, 2014 March 29, 2014 March 22, 2014 March 15, 2014 March 8, 2014 March 1, 2014 February 22, 2014 February 15, 2014 February 8, 2014 February 1, 2014 January 25, 2014 January 18, 2014 January 11, 2014 January 4, 2014 December 28, 2013 December 21, 2013 December 14, 2013 December 7, 2013 November 30, 2013 November 23, 2013 November 16, 2013 November 9, 2013 November 2, 2013 October 26, 2013 October 19, 2013 October 12, 2013 October 5, 2013 September 28, 2013 September 21, 2013 September 14, 2013 September 7, 2013 August 31, 2013 August 24, 2013 August 17, 2013 August 10, 2013 August 3, 2013 July 27, 2013 July 20, 2013 July 13, 2013 July 6, 2013 June 29, 2013 June 22, 2013 June 15, 2013 June 8, 2013 June 1, 2013 May 25, 2013 May 18, 2013 May 11, 2013 May 4, 2013 April 27, 2013 April 20, 2013 April 13, 2013 April 6, 2013 March 30, 2013 March 23, 2013 March 16, 2013 March 9, 2013 March 2, 2013 February 23, 2013 February 16, 2013 February 9, 2013 February 2, 2013 January 26, 2013 January 19, 2013 January 12, 2013 January 5, 2013 December 29, 2012 December 22, 2012 December 15, 2012 December 8, 2012 December 1, 2012 November 24, 2012 November 17, 2012 November 10, 2012 November 3, 2012 October 27, 2012 October 20, 2012 October 13, 2012 October 6, 2012 September 29, 2012 September 22, 2012 September 15, 2012 September 8, 2012 September 1, 2012 August 25, 2012 August 18, 2012 August 11, 2012 August 4, 2012 July 28, 2012 July 21, 2012 July 14, 2012 July 7, 2012 June 30, 2012 June 23, 2012 June 16, 2012 June 9, 2012 June 2, 2012 May 26, 2012 May 19, 2012 May 12, 2012 May 5, 2012 April 28, 2012 April 21, 2012 April 14, 2012 April 7, 2012 March 31, 2012 March 24, 2012 March 17, 2012 March 10, 2012 March 3, 2012 February 25, 2012 February 18, 2012 February 11, 2012 February 4, 2012 January 28, 2012 January 21, 2012 January 14, 2012 January 7, 2012 December 31, 2011 December 24, 2011 December 17, 2011 December 10, 2011 December 3, 2011 November 26, 2011 November 19, 2011 November 12, 2011 November 5, 2011 October 29, 2011 October 22, 2011 October 15, 2011 October 8, 2011 October 1, 2011 September 24, 2011 September 17, 2011 September 10, 2011 September 3, 2011 August 27, 2011 August 20, 2011 August 13, 2011 August 6, 2011 July 30, 2011 July 23, 2011 July 16, 2011 July 9, 2011 July 2, 2011 June 25, 2011 June 18, 2011 June 11, 2011 June 4, 2011 May 28, 2011 May 21, 2011 May 14, 2011 May 7, 2011 April 30, 2011 April 23, 2011 April 16, 2011 April 9, 2011 April 2, 2011 March 26, 2011 March 19, 2011 March 12, 2011 March 5, 2011 February 26, 2011 February 19, 2011 February 12, 2011 February 5, 2011 January 29, 2011 January 22, 2011 January 15, 2011 January 8, 2011 January 1, 2011 December 25, 2010 December 18, 2010 December 11, 2010 December 4, 2010 November 27, 2010 November 20, 2010 November 13, 2010 November 6, 2010 October 30, 2010 October 23, 2010 October 16, 2010 October 9, 2010 October 2, 2010 September 25, 2010 September 18, 2010 September 11, 2010 September 4, 2010 August 28, 2010 August 21, 2010 August 14, 2010 August 7, 2010 July 31, 2010 July 24, 2010 July 17, 2010 July 10, 2010 July 3, 2010 June 26, 2010 June 19, 2010 June 12, 2010 June 5, 2010 May 29, 2010 May 22, 2010 May 15, 2010 May 8, 2010 May 1, 2010 April 24, 2010 April 17, 2010 April 10, 2010 April 3, 2010 March 27, 2010 March 20, 2010 March 13, 2010 March 6, 2010 February 27, 2010 February 20, 2010 February 13, 2010 February 6, 2010 January 30, 2010 January 23, 2010 January 16, 2010 January 9, 2010 January 2, 2010 December 26, 2009 December 19, 2009 December 12, 2009 December 5, 2009 November 28, 2009 November 21, 2009 November 14, 2009 November 7, 2009 October 31, 2009 October 24, 2009 October 17, 2009 October 10, 2009 October 3, 2009 September 26, 2009 September 19, 2009 September 12, 2009 September 5, 2009 August 29, 2009 August 22, 2009 August 15, 2009 August 8, 2009 August 1, 2009 July 25, 2009 July 18, 2009 July 11, 2009 July 4, 2009 June 27, 2009 June 20, 2009 June 13, 2009 June 6, 2009 May 30, 2009 May 23, 2009 May 16, 2009 May 9, 2009 May 2, 2009 April 25, 2009 April 18, 2009 April 11, 2009 April 4, 2009 March 28, 2009 March 21, 2009 March 14, 2009 March 7, 2009 February 28, 2009 February 21, 2009 February 14, 2009 February 7, 2009 January 31, 2009 January 24, 2009 January 17, 2009 January 10, 2009 January 03, 2009 December 27, 2008 December 20, 2008 December 13, 2008 December 6, 2008 November 29, 2008 November 22, 2008 November 15, 2008 November 8, 2008 November 1, 2008 October 25, 2008 October 18, 2008 October 11, 2008 October 4, 2008 September 27, 2008 September 20, 2008 September 13, 2008 September 6, 2008 August 30, 2008 August 23, 2008 August 16, 2008 August 9, 2008 August 2, 2008 July 26, 2008 July 19, 2008 July 12, 2008 July 5, 2008 June 28, 2008 June 21, 2008 June 14, 2008 June 7, 2008 May 31, 2008 May 24, 2008 May 17, 2008 May 10, 2008 2008 Stock Meeting April 26, 2008 April 19, 2008 April 12, 2008 April 5, 2008 March 29, 2008 March 22, 2008 March 15, 2008 March 8, 2008 March 1, 2008 February 16, 2008 February 9, 2008 February 2, 2008 January 26, 2008 January 19, 2008 January 12, 2008 January 5, 2008 December 29, 2007 December 22, 2007 December 15, 2007 December 8, 2007 December 1, 2007 November 24, 2007 November 17, 2007 November 10, 2007 November 3, 2007 October 27, 2007 October 20, 2007 October 13, 2007 October 6, 2007 September 29, 2007 September 22, 2007 September 15, 2007 September 8, 2007 September 1, 2007 August 25, 2007 August 18, 2007 August 11, 2007 August 4, 2007 July 28, 2007 July 21, 2007 July 14, 2007 July 7, 2007 June 30, 2007 June 23, 2007 June 16, 2007 June 9, 2007 June 2, 2007 May 26, 2007 May 19, 2007 May 12, 2007 May 5, 2007 2007 Stock Meeting April 21, 2007 April 14, 2007 April 7, 2007 March 31, 2007 March 24, 2007 March 17, 2007 March 10, 2007 March 3, 2007 February 24, 2007 February 17, 2007 February 10, 2007 February 3, 2007 January 27, 2007 January 20, 2007 January 13, 2007 January 6, 2007 December 30, 2006 December 23, 2006 December 16, 2006 December 9, 2006 December 2, 2006 November 25, 2006 November 18, 2006 November 11, 2006 November 4, 2006 October 28, 2006 October 21, 2006 October 14, 2006 October 7, 2006 September 30, 2006 September 23, 2006 September 16, 2006 September 9, 2006 September 2, 2006 August 26, 2006 August 19, 2006 August 12, 2006 August 5, 2006 July 29, 2006 July 22, 2006 July 15, 2006 July 8, 2006 July 1, 2006 June 24, 2006 June 17, 2006 June 10, 2006 June 3, 2006 May 27, 2006 May 20, 2006 May 13, 2006 May 6, 2006 2006 Stock Meeting April 22, 2006 April 15, 2006 April 8, 2006 April 1, 2006 March 25, 2006 March 18, 2006 March 11, 2006 March 4, 2006 February 25, 2006 February 18, 2006 February 11, 2006 February 4, 2006 January 28, 2006 January 21, 2006 January 14, 2006 January 7, 2006 December 31, 2005 December 24, 2005 December 17, 2005 December 10, 2005 December 03, 2005 November 26, 2005 November 19, 2005 November 12, 2005 November 5, 2005 October 29, 2005 October 22, 2005 October 15, 2005 October 8, 2005 October 1, 2005 September 24, 2005 September 17, 2005 September 10, 2005 September 3, 2005 August 27, 2005 August 20, 2005 August 13, 2005 August 6, 2005 July 30, 2005 July 23, 2005 July 16, 2005 July 9, 2005 July 2, 2005 June 25, 2005 June 18, 2005 June 11, 2005 June 4, 2005 May 28, 2005 May 21, 2005 May 14, 2005 May 7, 2005 April 30, 2005 April 23, 2005 April 16, 2005 April 9, 2005 April 2, 2005 March 26, 2005 March 19, 2005 March 12, 2005 March 5, 2005 February 26, 2005 February 19, 2005 February 12, 2005 February 5, 2005 January 29, 2005 January 22, 2005 January 15, 2005 January 8, 2005 January 1, 2005 December 25, 2004 December 18, 2004 December 11, 2004 December 4, 2004 November 27, 2004 November 20, 2004 November 13, 2004 November 6, 2004 October 30, 2004 October 23, 2004 October 16, 2004 October 9, 2004 October 2, 2004 September 25, 2004 September 18, 2004 September 11, 2004 September 4, 2004 August 28, 2004 August 21, 2004 August 14, 2004 August 7, 2004 July 31, 2004 July 24, 2004 July 17, 2004 July 10, 2004 July 3, 2004 June 26, 2004 June 19, 2004 June 5, 2004 May 29, 2004 May 22, 2004 May 15, 2004 May 8, 2004 2004 Stock Meeting April 24, 2004 April 10, 2004 April 3, 2004 March 27, 2004 March 20, 2004 March 13, 2004 March 6, 2004 February 28, 2004 February 21, 2004 February 14, 2004 February 7, 2004 February 1, 2004 January 18, 2004 December 27, 2003 December 20, 2003 December 13, 2003 December 6, 2003 November 29, 2003 November 22, 2003 November 15, 2003 November 8, 2003 November 1, 2003 October 25, 2003 October 18, 2003 October 11, 2003 October 4, 2003 September 27, 2003 September 20, 2003 September 13, 2003 September 6, 2003 August 30, 2003 August 23, 2003 August 16, 2003 August 9, 2003 Pension Lawsuit Win July 26, 2003 July 19, 2003 July 12, 2003 July 5, 2003 June 28, 2003 June 21, 2003 June 14, 2003 June 7, 2003 May 31, 2003 May 24, 2003 May 17, 2003 May 10, 2003 2003 Stock Meeting April 26, 2003 April 19, 2003 April 12, 2003 April 5, 2003 March 29, 2003 March 22, 2003 March 15, 2003 March 8, 2003 March 1, 2003 February 22, 2003 February 15, 2003 February 8, 2003 February 1, 2003 January 25, 2003 January 18, 2003 January 11, 2003 January 4, 2003 December 28, 2002 December 21, 2002 December 14, 2002 December 7, 2002 November 30, 2002 November 23, 2002 November 16, 2002 November 9, 2002 November 2, 2002 October 26, 2002 October 19, 2002 October 12, 2002 October 5, 2002 September 28, 2002 September 21, 2002 September 14, 2002 September 7, 2002 August 31, 2002 August 24, 2002 August 17, 2002 August 10, 2002 August 3, 2002 July 27, 2002 July 20, 2002 July 13, 2002 July 6, 2002 June 29, 2002 June 22, 2002 June 15, 2002 June 8, 2002 June 1, 2002 May 25, 2002 May 18, 2002 May 11, 2002 2002 Stock Meeting April 27, 2002 April 20, 2002 April 13, 2002 April 6, 2002 March 30, 2002 March 23, 2002 March 16, 2002 March 9, 2002 March 2, 2002 February 23, 2002 February 16, 2002 February 9, 2002 February 2, 2002 January 26, 2002 January 19, 2002 January 12, 2002 January 5, 2002 December 29, 2001 December 22, 2001 December 15, 2001 December 8, 2001 December 1, 2001 November 24, 2001 November 17, 2001 November 10, 2001 November 3, 2001 October 27, 2001 October 20, 2001 October 13, 2001 October 6, 2001 September 29, 2001 September 22, 2001 September 15, 2001 September 8, 2001 September 1, 2001 August 25, 2001 August 18, 2001 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—May 18, 2013

  • Burlington Free-Press: Shumlin: State ready to respond if IBM cuts workers. Employee group says layoffs are coming to Essex plant. By Mike Donoghue and Adam Silverman. Excerpts: Vermont state government is preparing for the possibility of layoffs at IBM’s plant in Essex, despite hearing no official word from the Armonk, N.Y.-based company regarding job cuts, Gov. Peter Shumlin said Wednesday. “My Department of Labor is ready to rock to deploy the Rapid Response Team, should there be any layoffs, to be there to help,” the governor told the Burlington Free Press Editorial Board on Wednesday afternoon. ...

    Meanwhile, the employee group Alliance@IBM says workers are girding for a reduction in force at the Essex facility following the technology giant’s unexpectedly low quarterly earnings report — and some cuts reportedly already have been made.

    The timing of the cuts and the number of employees IBM might lay off remains unknown, said Lee Conrad of Alliance@IBM, which describes itself as an employee organization under the Communications Workers of America union. Conrad said IBM often tries to keep the number of job cuts under 500, which allows the company to avoid certain legal requirements regarding notification of state and federal governments. ...

    IBM was silent on any plans to reduce its workforce, citing company policy in declining to reveal information to the Free Press and to Shumlin.

    “The company does not comment on rumor and/or speculation,” said Doug Shelton, IBM’s director of corporate communications. He added that the company, which he said employs 434,246 individuals worldwide, no longer provides a count of employees at individual plants.

    Shelton said the company determined after 2009 that “headcount by location was competitively sensitive.”

    The Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce’s description of the local IBM plant says it has 5,400 employees.

    Conrad placed the number of employees at the chip design and manufacturing facility closer to 3,600 — down from a record high of 8,500 in 2001.

    Conrad said IBM has eliminated an unknown number of temporary employees hired through a South Burlington employment agency. “We do know that IBM contractors have been cut at Burlington both this week and last week. We do not know how many,” Conrad said. ...

    Conrad said it is the Alliance’s understanding that the IBM human resources has been provided information regarding the layoffs and is working with the legal division to ensure all proper steps are taken. The names of those being laid off eventually will be passed down to management to begin the mass cuts, Conrad said.

    “It is coming. We do know that,” Conrad said. “The past practice is to start on the night shift and continue into the day shift.”

    Selected reader comments follow:

    • Mark Renkert · Chairman, Enterprise Creation at SMARTvt.org: IBM Layoffs always yield a powerful negative trickle-down economic impact. That is hi-wage jobs in Vermont are scarce - and almost all workers who get laid off will need re-training for re-employment. Vermont's DOL rapid response team can not begin to meet the real needs of its constituents at this time. What is needed are jobs - a business friendly environment - stronger entrepreneurial incentives -- Business Startup Grants - Loan Forgiveness, more risk taking from VEDA and VCET, DOL Accountability / Measurement and increased DOL Staff and DOL Staff Training and more DOL Face time instead of ineffective automated DOL Job Finding Systems.
    • Glenn Thompson, Green Valley, Arizona. Mark Renkert, you head the nail on the head! The response from the Shumlin administration was laughable!!! Does anyone really believe there is such a thing as a 'Rapid Response Team"? I recall a previous IBM layoff where numerous employees were laid off and retrained in fields which upon graduation failed to materialize. The question becomes...have economic conditions changed since that period not that long ago? The answer is...NO! If that 500 figure is accurate, then those laid off better realize in an instant the state is not going to be able to pull 'rabbits out of a hat'. Shame on Shumlin for making such a ridiculous statement...and I completely agree with Mr. Renkert, the statement was disrespectful in a way that creates the false impression that those who will be effected can go right out and find a similar paying job in an instant or re-trained in field where there are no jobs!
    • me (signed in using yahoo). Right on, Mark! I was laid off from a high wage job several years ago and I can tell you first hand the prospects of finding a similar paying job here in Vermont are slim and none. My three oldest children all had to leave Vermont to find good paying jobs after graduating from college. The Department of Labor may be ready to rock and deploy the Rapid Response Team, but as you stated the jobs are not there and haven't been for a long time. John McCarthy Shelburne Vermont.
    • Heidi Clark, Essex Junction, Vermont. Are they kidding? IBM has been laying off in trickles for months now. Just never enough to have to report to the state. I work in a convenience store near IBM. Lots of people have come in and said "IBM just laid me off today."
  • Platformonomics: IBM: How Much Longer Do the Good Times Last? Excerpts: I have not written about IBM for a while (or really anything , but one of my recurring themes is IBM’s wholesale transition from what was once the world’s premier technology company (admittedly this was decades ago, but their relative and inflation-adjusted historical dominance is clear) into a financial engineering company. For students of the technology company lifecycle, they offer a fascinating career option for once-dominant companies.

    This recent quote from a “former IBM exec who spoke on the condition of anonymity” prompted revisiting the company and again asking some questions about their business model and future prospects:

    “Realizing this, IBM’s become a holding company of sorts, buying assets, integrating them and reselling them as an IBM brand.”

    “IBM does not want to fund its own development because past history shows we’re not very good at it.” ...

    IBM’s strong bottom line growth has come from cost cutting and financial engineering, not growth in the business. The strategy they laid out in 2007 has worked quite well in terms of profit growth. Like most technology companies, IBM has a “roadmap” of what they’re going to do, but uniquely, it is a financial roadmap. Amid the roadmap’s blizzard of numbers, revenue growth only merits some hand-waving platitudes. They skillfully focus on profit growth for each segment, obscuring the lack of overall revenue growth. And the billions of dollars in euphemistically described “enterprise productivity” savings have come from squeezing employees, curbing retirement benefits (e.g. shifting from monthly to annual 401k contributions) and moving offshore aggressively (IBM arguably now stands for Indian Business Model). Cringley has chronicled how IBM has become the poster child for cutting your way to prosperity at the expense of customers and employees. ...

    So while IBM’s financial engineering strategy has worked brilliantly to date, there are questions about how much longer this strategy will work, much less provide superior returns. ...

    Some will argue there will always be room for integration between and on top of software services, but cloud leaders are ruthlessly removing humans from the nuts and bolts of IT operations. IBM lacks meaningful or competitive cloud technology assets and per the IBM executive above, they don’t seem particularly confident in their ability to develop new technology. The other option is to “move up the stack” and offer business consulting, which is certainly the way IBM positions the company. But contrary to the story, IBM remains extremely exposed to menial IT functions that are disappearing in the cloud era. And their intense focus on cost reduction through off-shoring doesn’t add to their business consulting skills. The rise of the cloud brings IBM’s inability to innovate to the fore and poses a real threat to their current business model. ...

    Wall Street may love IBM (which is an indictment unto itself…) but mean reversion looks inexorable. IBM has put itself in thrall to Wall Street and achieved superior earnings growth through non-sustainable cost cutting and financial measures. What is good for Wall Street in this case isn’t good for customers or the long term success of the company. Historically low interest rates have also been part of the IBM story (borrowing at a rate below your dividend rate to buy back stock is cash flow accretive) and that too will mean revert one of these days.

    IBM is a technology company that doesn’t really innovate. Cost cutting only takes you so far; eventually it cuts muscle as opposed to fat. Real technology companies do actual (non-financial) engineering, but IBM has committed its cash to growing EPS. IBM doesn’t even bother trying to tell a growth story (they should at least be able to grow with global GDP). ...

    The big industry trends are against IBM. Not just cloud, but also outsourcing swinging back to in-sourcing and the consumerization of IT. IBM is fighting these trends, not setting an alternative agenda.

  • ZD-Net: Goodbye, Lotus 1-2-3. IBM is shutting the doors on Lotus 1-2-3, the software program that made the IBM PC and Microsoft household names. By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols. Excerpt: The first killer app was VisiCalc. This early spreadsheet turned the Apple II from a hobbyist toy to a business computer. VisiCalc came with room for improvement, though. In addition, a new architecture and operating system, the Intel-based IBM PC and MS-DOS, also needed a spreadsheet to be taken seriously. That spreadsheet, released in early 1983, would be Lotus 1-2-3, and it would change the world. It became the PC's killer app, and the world would never be the same.

    On May 14, IBM quietly announced the end of the road for 1-2-3, along with Lotus Organizer and the Lotus SmartSuite office suite. Lotus 1-2-3's day is done.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Nostalgia: Lotus 1-2-3 Is Gone" by "sby_willie". Full excerpt: Lotus SmartSuite will be gone as well. Just like OS/2. Soon, I'm afraid, IBM will be gone in our lifetime too: IBM just doesn't deliver when it comes to innovation now. I see no actions by IBM to become innovative. It's all old news: they can only make a mainframe and that's all folks.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Nostalgia: Lotus 1-2-3 Is Gone" by "teamb562". Full excerpt: Agree, it's rather hard for employees to innovate and be motivated with the ax always swinging and Ginni yelling at you. Not exactly the type of work environment that breeds creativity. For some reason IBM apparently believes that threats and intimidation would generate that innovative spark. Come on now really, are they really that stupid? If this act of desperation is true, it probably shows the company is closer to it's end then many think.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Nostalgia: Lotus 1-2-3 Is Gone" by "dogbreath127k". Full excerpt: IBM is no longer about making "stuff". The model can be compared the local Gentleman building contractor, who bids on building that addition to your home and then sub contracts out the work to illegal aliens at a super low price, raking in the profit for themselves with doing very little of the actual work.
  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • Plenty of opportunity, but overwork is a necessity” Marketing Manager, Austin, TX. Current Employee – been working at IBM full-time. Pros: A lot of opportunity to try new things, learn new skills and take on new projects. In marketing you can always find a way to work on a project (or 5) that interest you. And in the right department travel is easy to come by. Cons: You are expected to work on multiple projects at one time and not just the original job you were hired for. 40 hours is a joke, but to get the ratings for promotions and salary bumps 55+ is very realistic. Advice to Senior Management: Understand that not everyone wants to be working on 10 projects at one time. It is distracting and leads to lower productivity.
    • One good experience” Customer Service Representative Calcutta (India). Former Employee – worked at IBM full-time for more than a year. Pros: Good atmosphere to work with. Cons: Places of all workaholics and mentally retarded people. Advice to Senior Management: Please look after the agents. Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company
    • Giant with small heart” Instructional Designer. Current Employee – been working at IBM full-time for more than 7 years. Pros: Employee benefits, work from home. Cons: Focus on maximizing billable hours; pushes employees to work 50-hour week as the norm, then put in more hours to meet overtime targets. Employee performance rating system embodies unfair treatment of quality employees and devalues employee sacrifices. Managers reinforce the message that employees are dispensable puppets that should do what they're told in the best interest of the company. Advice to Senior Management: IBM will continue to lose valuable knowledge capital as experienced professionals re-prioritize their lives over IBM's profit margin. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend.
    • It's OK” Anonymous Employee. Current Employee – been working at IBM. Pros: Salary is decent, benefits are fairly good. Cons: Long hours, instability, downsizing with expectation that remaining employees will pick up the work. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend.
    • Company politics” Anonymous Employee. Former Employee – worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: Big company with lots of groups. Cons: Too much politics and no credit to hard working employees. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.
    • Fantastic experience at a great company” Engineer. Former Employee – worked at IBM full-time for more than a year. Pros: Big company and talented and helpful people. There are so many thing to do, so many thing to learn in this company. But your effort will be paid. Cons: It is a very big company. Sometimes it takes time to have your ideas approved. Advice to Senior Management: Should be good. Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company
    • Not what it use to be” SSR Atlanta, GA. Current Employee – been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: My job is flexible do to being a field tech. Cons: With the changing of the company internally tech are on the bottom of the pole and are not respected here. Advice to Senior Management: Everything isn't on paper, the job is to take care of your customers and your employee will take care of you! No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company
    • Giant company - depends which section you are in and who you work with” Senior Consultant, Former Employee – worked at IBM full-time for more than a year. Pros: Big name on CV, large clients, training opportunities, travel opportunities, ability to build an excellent network. Cons: As a consultant there is no social activity to speak of. Office environment is not good as is geared towards drop-in consultants. Lots of seemingly pointless bureaucracy to wade through on a daily basis. Experience of this company depends greatly on what department you work in—mine was extremely shambolic and I would not recommend it. Advice to Senior Management: I believe that encouraging employees to socialise in person (and not just remotely) would be very valuable in building morale. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend
    • Transformational and leading edge technology based” Customer Service Representative, Atlanta, GA. Current Employee – been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: Leading edge technology, great advancement opportunities for career-starters. Cons: Limited advancement opportunities for long-time employees. Advice to Senior Management: Stop hoarding the best opportunities and cash rewards for your 'favorites' Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend.
    • Dissatisfied Employees” Senior Software Engineer, Poughkeepsie, NY. Current Employee – been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: 4 consecutive years of record earnings, record profits, and record cash on hand. Ability to work remotely can be very helpful. Cons: Recent management actions show a lack of concern for employees. In spite of 4 years of record profits, layoffs continue, 50% of employees get no raise at all, health care benefits continue to decrease, retirement plan in place at time of hire was completely taken away, with 61% profit in our business sector in 2012 no bonus was paid because "we didn't meet the target". Employee morale is the lowest I've seen in my 31 years with the company. I literally have to buy my own pens and paper. Advice to Senior Management: Be fair and pay what was promised for a job well done. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company
    • Great company for innovators” Anonymous Employee. Current Employee – been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: Hi tech company who excels at being the leader and the innovator for hi end computer related technology such as servers. Cons: Can not compete when something becomes a commodity. So you always need to be in a developing part of the business, not in what becomes a commodity. Advice to Senior Management: Lead more from your strategy and less from wall street's response each quarter Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend
    • Misaligned Management” Business Development Manager Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago). Current Employee – been working at IBM full-time for less than a year. Pros: From a global point of view there are some wonderful aspects to working for IBM. Some of the smartest people are drawn to IBM, with incredibly deep knowledge. You find yourself working with team members from all over the world. IBM invests in incredible training and supports your work. In the larger centers in developed countries you tend to work with highly driven and exceptional people.

      Cons: I think one of the most defeatist elements of the company is that due to its very complex matrix structure many of its divisions are in conflict or in direct competition with each other. This produces a situation where goals are disparate and misaligned and an enormous wastage of both energy and initiative.

      In the most severe circumstances, one division will plan and begin to execute a new initiative and even gain some traction (including employing staff) only to be circumvented by another division with alternate goals. Unfortunately this can lead to terrible human resource management where staff is brought on, on a permanent basis, only to be released within 6 months when the initiative is stopped. This results in a negative return in investment on the human capital as they have not yet had time to contribute to the business but have cost the company a great deal to recruit and train.

      Advice to Senior Management: Throughout your divisions (both geographic and business) ensure that your leaders are aligned and engaged with one another so that decisions, once made are of higher quality and have the support of all the necessary players.

      No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Time to leave big blue” Senior IT Specialist Toronto, ON (Canada) Current Employee – been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: Huge company, therefore there's opportunity to move around and try different roles Cons: Too big, lost sight of what IBM is and where they came from. It's no longer a company that values its people, it simply values the $ and share price. Advice to Senior Management: I think Thomas Watson would turn in his grave if he could see and hear what IBM had become over the past decade. He was a man of honor, integrity, foresight and innovation. I genuinely cannot remember the last time I felt that any of these attributes were being applied to the job that we do or the way in which we treat people. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company
    • Rocky road ahead?” IT Architect Chicago, IL Current Employee – been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: Still relatively secure place to work with lots of opportunities especially if you want to live in a growth country. Opportunity to work with some of the industries brightest people and some leading edge technology. Cons: Continued downsizing of North American workforce. Constant threat of layoffs. Unfair treatment of older employees. Benefits eroding. Corporate strategy forcing huge changes inside the company in order to stay competitive. Remote workforce...hardly anyone works face to face anymore. Doesn't feel like a company that values the people who are doing most of the work but continues to reward and promote executives across the board. Advice to Senior Management: Focus on what made IBM a great company to begin with...innovative company with great products where workers were valued assets.... and don't forget about your customers, they are not happy with you much anymore. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend
    • Used to be a special company. Now it is sadly just another place to work.” Senior Software Engineer Austin, TX Current Employee – been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: Variety of technologies and career path within a company. Still has a bit of prestige left. Cons: Declining morale, due to continuing and excessive offshoring. Low pay relative to competitors. Advice to Senior Management: Senior management has many skillful bureaucrats and tacticians, but lacks bold vision or courage. Too many "managers" and not enough "leaders." Still has very strong core technologies and great engineers, but whopping 10 layers of management is suffocating any creativity, and promotes too much cover-your-behind-first culture. Some recent business and HR decisions have been contradictory head-scratches. It is really sad to see a once special company become another run-of-the-mill place to work. It's still a decent place to work, but no longer an inspiring and exciting company. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company
    • Start here, but move on” Anonymous Employee Brno (Czech Republic) Current Employee – been working at IBM full-time for more than 3 years. Pros: Great place to start. If you will be talented you have the real chance to advance fast. Good career opportunity. Managers help you in your career development. Cons: The career opportunity is real, unless you are in the wrong team, in which case you might be a talented individual who stays on the same position for 3 years. Escalation is encouraged, rather then communication and feedback. Watch out for empty promises. Advice to Senior Management: Please respect your employees by keeping your promises. Communicate more openly and ask for feedback without fearing the replies. Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend
    • Work at IBM” Anonymous Employee Current Employee – been working at IBM full-time. Pros: IBM has a lot of complex projects which allows you to gain a lot of Business Perspective. Cons: Lot of IBM departments work like individual companies and therefore, it is very exhausting to get job done across various units. Advice to Senior Management: More interaction with employees and profit sharing.
  • Alliance for Retired Americans: Friday Alert. This week's articles include:
    • Join Sen. Harkin for a Tele-Town Hall about Social Security Legislation on Monday
    • Affordable Care Act Repeal Votes Have Cost More than $52 Million
    • Obituary: Washington State’s Will Parry, a Giant in the Seniors Political Movement
    • Fees for Medical Procedures Vary Inexplicably from Hospital to Hospital
    • Alliance Activists Lobby in Connecticut, Illinois, California
  • US News & World Report: Why Medicare Won’t Cover You Overseas. By Kathleen Peddicord. Excerpts: If you're an American considering the idea of retiring overseas, your Medicare won’t travel with you. The United States generally prohibits Medicare from paying for medical services for retirees outside the country and its territories. The more than half a million retired Americans living overseas and the millions more who travel extensively abroad must either go without care until they return to the United States or pay out-of-pocket for the care they need.

    Many retired Americans who have paid into Medicare their entire working lives and then choose to move overseas find this situation to be unfair. This restriction on Medicare coverage also ignores the potential cost savings to Medicare offered by lower-cost health care options abroad. ...

    As policy-makers grapple with this financial crisis, many people believe that more of the cost of health care will be shifted to Medicare beneficiaries in a mix of higher deductibles, co-pays and reduced benefits. While allowing seniors to receive Medicare coverage abroad is not a cure-all to this fiscal crisis, the potential savings could be significant. Health care costs for a procedure overseas can be less than half of the cost of the exact same procedure performed in the United States, saving both Medicare and the retiree money.

  • New York Times: Older Workers Say Age Bias Is Common. By Ann Carrns. Excerpts: About two-thirds of older workers say they have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace, and most of them say it’s common, a new survey from AARP finds. Of those who say they have seen or experienced age discrimination, many (58 percent) say they believe it begins in the 50s. ...

    Other data supports workers’ perceptions about age discrimination, Ms. Setzfand said. The average duration of unemployment, for instance, is significantly longer for older workers. As of April, it was 50.2 weeks for workers 55 and older against 36.9 weeks for those under 55. “That’s a hard data point showing something working against older workers,” she said. ...

    The AARP puts out a list each year of the employers that are especially friendly to older workers.

  • Workforce: Beware Bans on Pay Discussions Among Employees. Excerpts: Pop quiz. What's wrong with the following paragraph, which appeared in the April 17, 2013, Wall Street Journal article entitled, Workers Share Their Salary Secrets?

    At Brian Bader's orientation for a tech-support job with Apple three years ago, he says, human-resources managers ran down the list of guidelines workers were expected to follow. Don't use explicit language on calls with customers. Treat other employees with respect. And, he says, they told the assembled recruits, don't discuss your pay with co-workers. ...

    If you answered, "An employer can't legally prohibit employees from discussing how much they make," give yourself a prize. ...

    Does your handbook have a policy that prohibits employees from discussing how much you pay them? If so, get rid of it.

    Do your managers and supervisor know that they cannot terminate or discipline employees for discussing how much they make? If not, train them on these rules.

  • Forbes: Five Retirement Myths Worth Changing. By John Wasik. Excerpts: It’s no secret that Baby Boomers aren’t saving enough for retirement. Parents of the post-war generation are probably going to be fine, having social safety nets like defined-benefit pensions, Social Security and Medicare. And it also helps that they were prodigious savers.

    But with only 7% of workers possessing a guaranteed pension, Dychtwald estimates that some one-third of Baby Boomers will end up in poverty.

    “If you’re the most successful one in your family, you’ll be the bank [for your less well-off siblings],” Dychtwald said at the Chicago conference. “There’s going to be a lot of have-nots.” As a result, many of us will have to re-invent ourselves and scrap the conventional notion of a do-nothing retirement at 65. Here are some myths we need to conquer...

  • Washington Post: Senators protect fragile compromise on H-1B visas, fend off immigration bill amendments. By J.D. Harrison. Excerpts: In that final section, a portion dealing with skilled labor, the most controversial measure is a proposal to expand the visa program for highly trained workers, known as the H-1B program. The provision would raise the annual cap on H-1B visas from 65,000 to 110,000, with room to expand to 180,000 depending on visa demand and unemployment.

    On Monday, lawmakers pitched several amendments to further expand the program, including one from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) to increase the limit five-fold to 300,000. Cruz described the original legislation as a “a step in the right direction, I think it’s a positive step, but I don’t think it goes nearly far enough,” calling the 180,000 cap still “arbitrarily low.” ...

    The discussions are part of an ongoing tug-of-war between technology firms that say the country cannot supply enough skilled workers, whose demands have been championed largely by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and labor groups who say those firms are simply trying to avoid hiring more Americans. The labor groups have backing on the Judiciary Committee from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). ...

    Schumer argued that the bill expands the program to the meet demands from business leaders but takes plenty of new precautions to protect against misuse of the H-1Bs, which he hopes will appease the labor groups.

    Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who has long criticized the program, pushed back against the latter assertion, warning that the bill does not go far enough to stop employers from passing over talented Americans.

    On Tuesday, he introduced an amendment requiring employers to make a more concerted effort to hire American employees before seeking foreign labor. In a separate measure, he urged lawmakers to require federal officials to audit at least one of every hundred employers who hire H-1B workers, citing a study from the Department of Homeland Security that found 20.7 percent of H-1B holders were associated with some of type of fraud or program violation.

  • Center for Immigration Studies: Gang of Eight's Comprehensive Immigration Fraud. By John Miano. Excerpts: While reading a section on H-1B visas, I came across a provision that epitomizes the fraud a disconnected Washington elite is perpetrating on the American people with so-called "comprehensive immigration reform".

    Let me give a little background first. H-1B visas are the mechanism employers use to replace Americans in occupations that require a college degree with cheap foreign workers; primarily in the computer industry.

    To get an H-1B visa, employers are required to certify a number of things about the nature of employment.

    Examples include certifying that they are paying the prevailing wage (which, as defined by the H-1B category, is significantly less than the actual prevailing wage) and, for employers with more than 15 percent of their workforce on H-1B visas, certifying that they have recruited U.S. workers in good faith. The first step in applying for an H-1B visa is to submit a Labor Condition Application (LCA) making these declarations.

    You can find a copy of an LCA here. Notice that to comply with the requirement to recruit Americans (for those employers to whom it applies), the employer merely checks a box (p. 4). In fact, other than the wage information, all the certifications are made by checking a box.

    The entire LCA process is a meaningless paper-shuffling exercise.

    The H-1B statutes include this notorious provision, illustrating the problem of having lobbyists write our laws:

    The Secretary of Labor shall review such an application only for completeness and evidence of fraud or misrepresentation of material fact and obvious inaccuracies. Unless the Secretary finds that the application is incomplete or presents evidence of fraud or misrepresentation of material fact, or is obviously inaccurate, the Secretary shall provide the certification described in section 1101(a)(15)(H)(i)(b) of this title within 7 days of the date of the filing of the application.

    The problem is that fraud and misrepresentation are higher standards than complete or obviously inaccurate. Those standards require not only a misstatement but also intent to make that misstatement. The Gang of Eight is demonstrating that they know where the problems in H-1B are; that they are going out of their way to not fix the problems; but that they want to make it appear that they are reforming the system. ...

    This is not comprehensive reform. It is comprehensive fraud on the part of our legislators.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: The Gang Rape by 8--Labor Gets Screwed (What else is new?)" by "netmouser". Full excerpt: I very much admire Miano's work over the years. He has been brilliant on these issues. Note, in addition to this Dr. Norm Matloff points out that the primary problem will be the automatic unlimited green cards to be given to foreign STEM graduates. That the H-1B will go into the background. Foreigners are young males typically, and that will greatly exasperate the ageism issue. (and note IBM's key use of L1 visa holders, perhaps more an issue than the H-1B).
  • New York Times editorial: Pension Predators. Excerpt: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has done retirees and military veterans a great service by ordering New York’s top banking regulator to investigate “pension advance” firms that persuade customers to sign over all or part of their monthly pensions in exchange for immediate cash payments. The payments, advertised as advances, are, in fact, cleverly disguised loans that can carry ruinously high interest rates and eventually strip older citizens of their meager assets.

    By insisting that they are making advances, not loans, these firms elude state supervision, including usury laws, licensing regulations and the federal Truth in Lending Act, which requires lenders to disclose borrowing costs. These and other subterfuges have enabled the companies to ambush pensioners with “advance” loans that carry interest charges ranging, according to a review by The Times, from 27 percent to 106 percent.

  • Washington Post: Future retirees at risk of downward mobility, Pew finds. By Michael A. Fletcher. Excerpts: The retirement prospects of Americans are slipping for the first time in generations, according to a report released Thursday, adding a new voice to those warning that future retirees face the risk of downward mobility when they leave the workforce. ...

    The report estimates that, at the median, Americans born between 1966 and 1975 — so-called Gen-Xers — will be able to replace just half their pre-retirement income once they stop working, well below the minimum 70 percent replacement rates recommended by most financial planners. Late baby boomers — which the report defines as those born between 1956 and 1965 -- will be able to replace 60 percent of their working incomes in retirement, the report estimates. Both replacement rates are below what financial experts say is necessary for a secure retirement. ...

    The report found that the country is on the verge of a pronounced shift in retirement security. Buoyed by the run-up in housing values over the past two decades and ballooning stock prices caused by the dot-com boom, Americans born between 1946 and 1955, are approaching retirement well prepared. They have more financial assets and greater home equity, on average, than people born between 1926 and 1935 or those born between 1936 and 1945, the so-called war babies.

    But the report said neither late boomers nor Gen-Xers are on track to build on that progress, largely because they are carrying more debt, often in the form of student loans, higher mortgages and credit card balances. Those trends were only magnified by the Great Recession, which cost Gen-Xers nearly half their wealth — far more than other age cohorts, according to the report.

  • Associated Press, courtesy of Yahoo! Finance: Bloomberg appoints ex-IBM CEO as privacy advisor. Excerpt: Bloomberg LP, the financial news and information service, says it's appointing Samuel Palmisano, the former CEO of IBM, as an independent adviser on its privacy and data standards.
New on the Alliance@IBM Site
  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 05/13/13: IBM Management, these coming RAs are entirely the result of your FAILURE and INCOMPETENCE. It's YOU pathetic cowards who should be resigning -Anonymous-
    • Comment 05/13/13: -jj fishkill- So returning from Memorial Day weekend will be the time. So I guess folks can enjoy a cookout and then go on the 30 day march and a 'memorial' to their IBM employment. Typical Big Blew/Blow. -fishfooled-
    • Comment 05/13/13: -Good riddance- I hear ya. I bet they will only layoff no more than 499 in the first wave at Essex Jct. VT. Otherwise, IBM has to report the RA under the WARN Act. IBM has made thousands upon thousands of RA and "drive by" firings to avoid WARN. At least VT has Bernie Sanders who will make any layoff IBM does national news. I wish I had a US Senator like him in my state! -da_facts-
    • Comment 05/13/13: jj fishkill, 6/1 is a Saturday. The RA will be this week or next week. In the meantime, I hope management realizes what a morale killer this is, waking up every day, waiting for the phone call. Every damn day, I wonder if I will have a job the next day. I can't even begin to describe how entirely sick of this I am. It's taking a toll on my health - both physical and mental. -Sick of it.-
    • Comment 05/13/13: Is it even legal in countries like Canada and the USA to have utilization targets that can only be met if we work significant overtime? -curious- Alliance reply: In the US, yes, if you are exempt. Will check on Canada. You have less rights than you think. More rights if you have a union contract.
    • Comment 05/14/13: Regarding flex time. I know of young employees who did the unofficial comp time for overtime to be the boss's pet. It worked well, for the boss that is. He had the lowest overtime in the office. Then when he moved on and the young fella tried to take some of his comp time the new boss said "What comp time? You're not exempt. You can't have comp time!" My reasons for never taking the flex time is as follows. 1. If the boss fails to properly document it you will never get it. 2. It takes away the additional money your family can use. 3. It lowers your 401k contribution by not claiming the overtime. 4. It reduces your Social Security because that's based on your top earnings. The family flexibility act is supposed to offer you the "opportunity" to get more time off with your family. Always opt for the overtime is my opinion. -Exodus2007-
    • Comment 05/14/13: 1st off I'm generally anti-union and I don't want to be under a collective bargaining agreement or have other union influence controlling my job, but I do want to point out that I don't agree with what IBM is doing.

      I am a first line manager in storage development.

      Large layoff going on called "Project Mercury" it affects 1/2 of my dept (8 out of 16) and 14 under my 2nd line. I have heard that the bogey for my VP was 100+. I have heard from other 1st lines that HW development, and support are being hit too.

      The standard 1 year retirement bridge is being offered along with the usual 2 weeks for every year of service up to 26 weeks, etc. Well that\'s what I am being told, the formal packets are not out yet.

      Supposedly managers will be impacted in this cut.

      All PBC 3 employees are automatically on the list to go, no negotiation.

      I have an open external req for an experienced hire and I was told that I had to keep that open and could not close it and keep another person, nor could I transfer a person on the list into my open req position.

      I don't yet have any info on when the announcement date is.

      Early on (4/30 is when my manager first talked to us about it) we were told July. But it wasn't clear if that meant notification in July or everyone would be gone by July.

      Formal lists were submitted on Friday 5/10 and are currently undergoing legal and HR review.

    • Comment 05/15/13: I was under contract with IBM for 2 years. I (along with more than a dozen others in my area) got a call at 5:00pm on Wed 5/8 letting us know that Thur 5/9 would be our last day. I know contractors do not expect long term employment but we all expected some kind of notice. 24 hours for people supporting families is insulting. IBM is scum, especially considering they just renewed my contract 4 weeks ago. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 05/15/13: SICK OF IT...layoff will not happen this week or next week. This is coming from 2 managers ,one a relative the other a friend...5-31-13...stay on payroll 3 months, then 2 weeks pay every year of service max 26 weeks. Appraisal rating determines who stays, who goes. If a 1 or 2 plus should be OK. 2 and you're in the layoff pool...flip a coin. - jj in fishkill-
    • Comment 05/15/13: @jj Three months paid from July to Sept, and then out the door really means that the 401K match is for nine months, but because the employee will not be on the books by Dec. 15th, you will not get it. Based on 7k average per person, and 7k RA's that's 49 million they keep from you. It's good to be king...or queen. Good luck all. -Ich Bin Muede-
    • Comment 05/15/13: Had a 2 hour F2F "mandatory" training session with our HR folks this week (Mon. 13 May); preceded by a short notice "Manager Briefing" by our ANZ GBS Managing Partner (Steve Bingham) on Fri. 10 May. Here's the script we had to give/read to our "Rebalanced Team" members who had been selected. Fri. 14 Jun 2013 is their last day.
      "[Name], the reason for this meeting is to tell you about some changes in our team that will affect you. For us to remain competitive, and continue to meet client needs, we need to continually align our workforce skills and resources to business requirements. We have recently reviewed what services we deliver locally and what we deliver through our Global Delivery model. As a result of this review process, we are moving a number of roles to international locations.

      I need to tell you today that your role is impacted by this and will no longer be performed from Australia. This means you are being given formal notice of redeployment and have been allocated four weeks to find another position within IBM. If you are unable to find another role by Fri. 14 June 2013 you will be given formal notice of the termination of employment on the grounds of redundancy.

      It is important that you understand that it is your position that has become redundant. This is not a reflection on the way you have done your job."

      What's crazy - while we have a semi high bench (240) on the East Coast (Melbourne/Sydney) - we are "screaming" for people on the West Coast (Perth). We have been told in town halls that we have over 200+ new openings in Perth - but no one wants to move to Perth (despite the "Go West" program being re-started (offering cash bonuses, promotions to those who move West).

      We are even offering 2 year FTH contracts to folks in Europe to come to Australia! And - in the same breath - letting go over 150+ experienced IBMer's in Wave 1B. There was a Wave 1A last week (but I don't have those numbers). AND -- we've been warned there WILL be more waves this year (until Q4 2013.) Frustrated - and working 45-50 hours a week! -Australia GBS Manager-

    • Comment 05/15/13: There was a big reorg announcement in server systems ops today. shuffling the tech teams around like pawns. i do not even know who my first line is or will be at this point. combined many teams from what i can glean from the PPT. i can only guess they are positioning for the impending resource action. -kill-9-
    • Comment 05/15/13: Let's make a big statement on Memorial Day weekend to IBM management: All IBMers on call that weekend REFUSE to take or work on a call! It is USA Memorial Day weekend and out of respect for our fallen war heroes it is a solemn weekend of rest, relaxation, and most importantly appreciation and reflection. Many IBMers will lose their jobs after Memorial Day. Will you do anything to mourn their career and job termination? -solidarity_n_respect-
    • Comment 05/15/13: Why doesn't the Board of Directors oust Ginny? Why are WE the one's to lose our jobs? We did nothing wrong. The greedy will continue to rape this company and the folks who actually do the "work" for the customers will be out of a precious job. Will Ginny enjoy her summer? I can guarantee she will. We will NOT. Either we will make it through this RA and be dumped on with tons of extra work, or we will NOT make it through...and spend the summer worried about how we are going to pay the mortgage and feed our children. -Not_Fair-

      Alliance Reply: There is an alternative to the continual firing and abuse of IBM US workers: Organize. Join together in an organization and gather your co-workers together and fight back, before the next "Resource Action". Nothing is "fair" until you bargain collectively for a Fair written agreement with IBM management. Join Alliance@IBM. Take actions that are legal and your right to take. Organize now.

    • Comment 05/15/13: I don't work any weekends. Never have never will. Weekend time is for my family period. IBM gets what they give. Prefer to keep it that way and hope you do the same. -to_solidarity_n_respect-
    • Comment 05/16/13: Remember 1993. STG to be whacked Memorial Day week. -Bored-
    • Comment 05/16/13: IBM will get to pay for the next RA with your 401(k)- holdback match since 1/1/2013 if you are RAed soon. Respect for the Individual? NOT! Respect for the EPS? SURE! Nice and ethical IBM, huh? -GoneB4Summer-
    • Comment 05/16/13: "Why doesn't the Board of Directors oust Ginny?" LOL! LOL! R U kidding me??? WHO do you think gets to pick who is on the IBM Board of Directors? The CEO or course! -anon2013-
    • Comment 05/17/13: Well after reading the posts of the last few days looks like Friday the 31st. One comment really made me angry because it is SO TRUE! IBM is holding our f'ing 401 matches to pay for the RA. They should be reported and investigated by the the SEC for accounting fraud and disclosure. -Sneaky_Not_Smarter_Planet-
    • Comment 05/17/13: Latest from Rochester...cuts to happen May 30th. That means the 30 days for people to find another job ends June 30th, perfect quarter ending news. -Macklemore-
    • Comment 05/17/13: To -huggie- : I was invited to participate in the Transition to Retirement program last year (I declined, and left IBM on my own terms recently), and one of the conditions was that if you are in the program, IBM would not include you in RAs before you retire. That was spelled out very clearly, in writing. If IBM reneged on that promise now, it would be a gross violation of IBM's BCGs (i.e. IBM executives lying to IBM employees) and also could trigger a class action suit. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 05/17/13: I'm probably going to survive this RA, though it is with mixed emotion as a six month buffer would make for an excellent sabbatical. What is wrong in all of this in my opinion is the persistent culture of fear and short term thinking which is damningly endemic in STG in particular and IBM in general. -staying alive-
    • Comment 05/17/13: I was a 'lucky' one selected for a RA in 2009 from the Hudson Valley. In NY, they have the WARN Act, whereas a company having more than a certain amount of layoffs, must give NY state a 90-day notice, so they can prepare for the release of a sizable amount of former employees of the company. By giving the people '90-days' to find a job, is actually a work around that IBM has found, that covers themselves, whereas they do not have to let anyone know a layoff is coming, or the amount of people being laid off. Not sure what the stipends are in other states but the 3-month rumor is likely, if not certainly due to that. As for looking for a job within that 3-month timeframe, forget it, any future internal prospects you might get know you were RA'd and you will not even be given a chance to stay in the company !!!! -RA'd in 2009-
    • Comment 05/17/13: I want to leave IBM with severance package. Will your manager help if you tell him? -Want to be RA'd-
    • Comment 05/18/13: To Want to be RA'd: i wouldn't say anything to your manager no matter how much you trusted him. It will only get you no raises, no promotions, more work and they wont RA you knowing you want to leave anyway. Trust me, i thought i could trust my manager, but learned a valuable lesson. -think twice-
    • Comment 05/18/13: Re. wanting to be RA'd. My approach is simply to work on my own terms: taking time for a proper lunch, leaving at a reasonable time, not working nights/weekends, using all vacation, and taking sick time when sick, etc. I work hard within these limits and don't worry about the work that doesn't get done because of an unreasonable workload. (only IBMers can relate to how radical such a reasonable approach seems). It makes the job more tolerable and has lowered my PBC from 2+ to 2. -OnTheWayOut-
    • Comment 05/18/13: No raise, no promotions, more work.... this sound like right now. There is no "fat" to be RA'd. Even if you get to stay, you would be working longer than ever trying to cover for those who lost their job w/o any incentives. My thinking is why stay - at some point, you have to jump out of sinking ship. Severance package would make things sweet - 6mo paid vacation w/ med paid. -Want to be RA'd-
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • The Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation: Subsidy Calculator. Premium Assistance for Coverage in Exchanges. About This Tool: This tool illustrates health insurance premiums and subsidies for people purchasing insurance on their own in new health insurance exchanges (or “Marketplaces”) created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Beginning in October 2013, middle-income people under age 65, who are not eligible for coverage through their employer, Medicaid, or Medicare, can apply for tax credit subsidies available through state-based exchanges.

    Additionally, states have the option to expand their Medicaid programs to cover all people making up to 138% of the federal poverty level (which is about $33,000 for a family of four). In states that opt out of expanding Medicaid, some people making below this amount will still be eligible for Medicaid, some will be eligible for subsidized coverage through Marketplaces, and others will not be eligible for subsidies.

    With this calculator, you can enter different income levels, ages, and family sizes to get an estimate of your eligibility for subsidies and how much you could spend on health insurance. As premiums and eligibility requirements may vary, contact your state’s Medicaid office or exchange with enrollment questions.

  • Kaiser Health News: Competition Spurs 2 Oregon Insurers To Lower Proposed Rates. By Phil Galewitz. Excerpts: Maybe competition among health insurance plans can lead to lower rates. As soon as Oregon this week became the fourth state to publicly list health insurers’ proposed 2014 rates for individual and small group coverage, two plans moved to cut their suggested prices, the Oregonian reported Friday. Providence Health Plan and Family Care Health Plans sought to lower their rates when they noticed they were out of whack compared to competitors — five months before the health law’s new online marketplaces even open for enrollment.

    What is also clear from the filings is that there’s little sign in Oregon of the major premium hikes that the industry has been warning about for months. “I don’t see sticker shock in the rates,” said Jim Perucca, executive vice president of Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of Oregon. ...

    In Oregon, the filings show that consumers will likely see a wide variation of prices for the same benefits. For example, the premium for a “bronze” style plan for a 40-year-old non-smoker living in Portland ranged from $195 a month at Pacificare Health Plans to $401 at Trillium Community Health Plan. The two most popular companies—Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield and Kaiser Permanente —proposed prices for a person in the same category of $268 and $222 respectively, according to the state’s website. Those premiums are not that much higher than those on policies the companies sell now, according to prices on http://www.healthcare.gov/. ...

    All plans, whether bronze, silver, gold or platinum, will cover certain essential health benefits such as doctors’ visits, emergency care, maternity care and prescription drugs. Some major insurers have warned those benefits — along with rules that prohibit charging people higher premiums due to their health status — will result in much higher premiums.

  • Physicians for a National Health Program: Private insurers' Medicare Advantage plans cost Medicare an extra $34.1 billion in 2012. Instead of being more efficient, private insurers have cost Medicare almost $300 billion more over the life of the program. Excerpts: A study (PDF) published online today finds that the private insurance companies that participate in Medicare under the Medicare Advantage program and its predecessors have cost the publicly funded program for the elderly and disabled an extra $282.6 billion since 1985, most of it over the past eight years. In 2012 alone, private insurers were overpaid $34.1 billion.

    That's wasted money that should have been spent on improving patient care, shoring up Medicare's trust fund or reducing the federal deficit, the researchers say.

    The findings appear in an article published in the International Journal of Health Services by Drs. Ida Hellander, Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein titled "Medicare overpayments to private plans, 1985-2012: Shifting seniors to private plans has already cost Medicare US$282.6 billion."

  • Los Angeles Times: Patient is out of network, out of luck. After Kaiser advised him to enter hospice, Jalal Afshar sought out-of-network treatment that he says saved his life. Now he's suing for the $2-million cost of care. By Chad Terhune. Excerpts: A worrisome abdominal pain drove Jalal Afshar to seek treatment last year at healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente.

    The Pasadena resident and Kaiser member had lived for years with a rare condition known as Castleman's disease, which affects the lymph nodes and the body's immune system. But this was the first time he experienced such severe symptoms.

    Kaiser granted his request to see a specialist in Arkansas. But it ultimately declined to pay for his treatment there. By June, Afshar said, Kaiser was arranging for hospice care so that he could die at home.

    Afshar, 58, refused to accept that. Despite Kaiser's stance, he went back to Arkansas for six months of stem-cell transplants, chemotherapy and other treatments that he says saved his life. Now he owes $2 million for his care and is suing the company in state court for breach of contract and unfair business practices.

    "There are other people like me with expensive diseases," he said, "and Kaiser is just giving up on us." ...

    Afshar's fight with Kaiser highlights the growing tension in healthcare over how to eliminate wasteful spending without compromising the care of the sickest, most expensive patients. Under pressure to curb ballooning medical costs and hold down premiums in advance of a massive expansion of health coverage, insurers are increasingly forming smaller networks of physicians and hospitals.

    But some experts worry these cost-control measures could go too far. ...

    "The whole premise of managed care is that you're accepting a restricted network, but only on the condition the network is adequate," said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, a consumer advocacy group. "At Kaiser, some feel restricted in getting the care they need."

  • Health Care Cost Institute: New Study Tracks Impact of Aging on Health Costs. Society of Actuaries-Sponsored Study Using HCCI Data Estimates Early Retirees Need $226,000 More to Cover Health Care Costs. Excerpts: A new study evaluating the impact of aging on health care costs from birth until very old age determines that the average 55-year-old retiree will spend $226,000 more on health care than a person retiring at age 65, assuming they both live to age 85. The research, sponsored by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) using data from the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI), estimates that retiree health care costs will be $146,400 for someone age 65 who lives 20 more years, while individuals retiring at age 55 will need $372,400 to cover their health care costs to age 85. ...

    In assessing retiree health care costs, the report evaluates the impact of increasing the eligibility age of Medicare. Raising eligibility from age 65 to 70 changes who is covered by Medicare and would exclude younger and possibly healthier people. Yamamoto found that raising the eligibility age would reduce overall Medicare costs by about 19 percent but will increase the per person costs by 12.5 percent for those over age 70.

  • National Public Radio (NPR): Even After Overhaul, Gaps In Coverage For Young, Pregnant Women. By Michelle Andrews. Excerpt: But young women who get pregnant may encounter unexpected gaps in coverage. Although the law requires most individual and small group plans to provide maternity and newborn care, large group plans aren't subject to those rules.

    Now, that's not a problem for most women because the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 requires that companies with 15 or more workers that provide health insurance include maternity coverage for employees and their spouses. (Maternity coverage generally refers to prenatal care, labor and delivery, and some postpartum care.)

    However, the law doesn't require maternity coverage for dependent children and, according to Dan Priga, who heads the performance audit group at human resources consultant Mercer, roughly 70 percent of large self-funded employers that pay their workers' claims directly don't provide it.

  • Huffington Post, courtesy of Physicians for a National Health Program: Can we talk about the ACA train wreck? GOP Candidates' Top Campaign Issue Will Be Obamacare 'Train Wreck'. By Wendell Potter. Excerpts: Will the implementation of some of the most important provisions of ObamaCare this fall and next year result in the "train wreck" Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) predicted a few days ago?

    No. But you can be certain that there will be no shortage of political candidates and high-powered political spin doctors who will be working relentlessly between now and the 2014 midterms to convince us that it will be. If the Democrats and consumer advocates who support ObamaCare are not at work developing their own strategies to counter the coming barrage of misleading spin, the GOP will have an excellent chance of controlling Capitol Hill after the next elections.

    Comment by Don McCanne, M.D. Of those who are serious about health care reform, some want to abandon the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and immediately enact single payer, and others want to abandon the single payer cause and move full steam ahead with implementation of the ACA. But should we really abandon either approach?

    It is clear that ACA alone will be grossly deficient. Thirty million people will remain uninsured, inadequate low actuarial value plans will become the new standard, and wasteful spending will continue because of the highly flawed, administratively complex model of ACA. So single payer should not be abandoned since it is an imperative if we want to have affordable health care for everyone.

    Why shouldn't we abandon ACA? Because, quite simply, it is all that we have right now, and it will provide some limited relief for millions of people. If we were to abandon ACA now, mobilizing a social movement and then enacting and implementing single payer would still take many years - too long for those who would receive some benefit from ACA now. ...

    So where is the train wreck? There isn't any. But Wendell Potter is right. The opponents of reform will latch onto every ACA implementation glitch, real or imagined, and onto the criticisms which will inevitably follow. They will attempt to frame the implementation as a debacle, and run with that in their effort to use election politics to advance their anti-government agenda.

  • Health Affairs: Washington State Cancer Patients Found To Be At Greater Risk For Bankruptcy Than People Without A Cancer Diagnosis. By Scott Ramsey, David Blough, Anne Kirchhoff, Karma Kreizenbeck, Catherine Fedorenko, Kyle Snell, Polly Newcomb, William Hollingworth and Karen Overstreet. Abstract: Much has been written about the relationship between high medical expenses and the likelihood of filing for bankruptcy, but the relationship between receiving a cancer diagnosis and filing for bankruptcy is less well understood. We estimated the incidence and relative risk of bankruptcy for people age twenty-one or older diagnosed with cancer compared to people the same age without cancer by conducting a retrospective cohort analysis that used a variety of medical, personal, legal, and bankruptcy sources covering the Western District of Washington State in US Bankruptcy Court for the period 1995–2009. We found that cancer patients were 2.65 times more likely to go bankrupt than people without cancer. Younger cancer patients had 2–5 times higher rates of bankruptcy than cancer patients age sixty-five or older, which indicates that Medicare and Social Security may mitigate bankruptcy risk for the older group. The findings suggest that employers and governments may have a policy role to play in creating programs and incentives that could help people cover expenses in the first year following a cancer diagnosis.
  • Employee Benefit News: Projected retirement health care costs drop. By Tristan Lejeune. Excerpts: For only the second time since it’s been estimating the totals, Fidelity Investments reported Wednesday that the average projected cost of health care expenses for retirees has gone down. A 65-year-old couple exiting the workforce in 2013 is estimated to need $220,000 to cover health care costs throughout their retirement, an 8% decrease from last year’s $240,000.

    Fidelity Benefits Consulting, which has calculated the estimates since 2002, does not include nursing home costs in its projections, which apply to retirees with traditional Medicare insurance coverage. For many, health care will be the largest expense during retirement and Sunit Patel, senior vice president at Fidelity, tells EBN that unlike food or shelter, “which you can dial up or down,” health expenses associated with aging are relatively fixed, regardless of income bracket or savings.

    “While this is great news for retirees in general, I think the expectations should be that trends … are going to go up,” Patel says. “I think if you asked a year or two ago, people would have been surprised.”

  • BusinessWeek: How the Insurance Industry Funded Small Business's Anti-Obamacare Message. By John Tozzi. Excerpts: The National Federation of Independent Business, a small-business lobby that opposes the Affordable Care Act, quietly cashed an $850,000 check from a health insurance industry lobby two years ago, National Journal reported on Tuesday. Advocacy groups can legally move their money in secret, but reporter Chris Frates found an expense by the insurers’ group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, on 2011 tax records that neatly matched a donation to the NFIB the same year. The NFIB has been lobbying to repeal an Obamacare tax on health insurance plans that the Congressional Budget Office has said would largely be passed on to consumers and businesses. From National Journal:
    The back-channel spending shows how insurers were able to fund a key—and much more politically popular—ally in their fight against the premium tax. After all, helping small businesses is a political no-brainer while aiding big insurers is a political nonstarter.

    NFIB officials say they are fighting the tax because it will disproportionately affect small businesses whose owners and employees will end up footing the bill. They expect insurance companies will simply pass along the cost of the new taxes to their customers, which, according to one congressional estimate, could cost a family as much as $400 in 2016. Meanwhile, big corporations that self-fund their insurance plans are exempt from the tax.

    The look behind the curtain is sure to fuel the already-intense partisan warfare over the Affordable Care Act. Republicans have vowed to run against the law in 2014 and are almost sure to point to provisions like the premium tax as reasons why the law should be repealed and its supporters replaced. Democrats, meanwhile, are likely to point to the insurance industry’s shadowy spending as more proof of why reform is needed. ...

    The NFIB, which fought the failed Clinton-era health reform and led the Supreme Court challenge to the Affordable Care Act, has taken money from outside groups before, including $3.7 million from Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS. And the NFIB’s positions on other issues, such as tax rates for the wealthy, often echo the Republican Party line. There are also now small business groups on the political left, such as the Small Business Majority and Main Street Alliance, that generally reflect liberal positions.

    It’s legal for the money to flow anonymously from the insurance lobby to the NFIB. (Insurers sent tens of millions more to the U.S. Chamber to lobby on health reform as well.) But it’s something that the public—and Congress—should keep in mind when evaluating the NFIB’s claims.

News and Opinion Concerning the "War on the Middle Class"
Minimize "It is a restatement of laissez-faire-let things take their natural course without government interference. If people manage to become prosperous, good. If they starve, or have no place to live, or no money to pay medical bills, they have only themselves to blame; it is not the responsibility of society. We mustn't make people dependent on government- it is bad for them, the argument goes. Better hunger than dependency, better sickness than dependency."

"But dependency on government has never been bad for the rich. The pretense of the laissez-faire people is that only the poor are dependent on government, while the rich take care of themselves. This argument manages to ignore all of modern history, which shows a consistent record of laissez-faire for the poor, but enormous government intervention for the rich." From Economic Justice: The American Class System, from the book Declarations of Independence by Howard Zinn.

  • New York Times: About That Debt Crisis? Never Mind. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: OK, another toe dipped in reality. The new CBO numbers are out, and they scream “debt crisis? What debt crisis? ...

    Yes, debt rose substantially in the face of economic crisis — which is what is supposed to happen. But runaway deficits? Not a hint.

    Yes, there are longer-term issues of health costs and demographics. As always, however, these have no relevance to what we should be doing now — and it’s far from clear why they should even be a priority for discussion. As I’ve written before, the VSP consensus seems to be that to avoid the possibility of future benefit cuts, we must commit ourselves now now now to … future cuts in benefits.

    Why, it’s almost as if the real goal was to make sure that benefits get cut even if the fiscal outlook improves.

    Meanwhile, our policy discourse has been dominated for years by what turns out to be a false alarm. To the millions of Americans who are out of work and may never get another job thanks to premature fiscal austerity, the VSPs would like to say, “oopsies!”

  • Smirking Chimp: Austerity Is Dead, So Drop the Chained CPI and Increase Social Security. By Richard Eskow. Excerpts: Deficit projections have already decreased by $200 billion for this year alone, so why do Republicans keep lunging for ever-more radical spending cuts like they were corn dogs at a barbecue? That's more in deficit reduction than President Obama's proposed cut to Social Security would "save" in 10. So why hasn't he withdrawn the proposal?

    It would make more sense to dial back on the sequester, which is the biggest driver of these revised deficit figures, and work on the fundamental weaknesses in our economy that are prolonging the recession. In the long run this approach would do more to reduce deficits, too.

    Instead of cutting Social Security, they should be strengthening the country's social safety net. A good start would be the passage of Sen. Tom Harkin's bill to increase Social Security's benefits. (If I were you I'd contact our senators and representative and demand that they support it. I already have, by signing this petition.)

    The Mother of All Crises. You wouldn't know it from listening to most politicians, but there's a crisis going on. In fact, there are a few of them going on -- including the crisis of un- and under-employment, the crisis of wage stagnation, and the crisis caused by lost social mobility.

    Each of these unaddressed problems feed into the Mother of All Economic Crises, the one that our mothers and fathers are facing and we'll all confront ourselves someday: the retirement crisis. Sen. Tom Harkin has a bill that starts to address that crisis, in a bill that should be passed immediately. ...

    And yet some politicians are still obsessing instead about the phony crisis over government deficits, which has been ginned up by the corporate interests and billionaires, especially deficit-increasing corporations like defense contractors and deficit-increasing individuals like undertaxed hedge fund billionaires. ...

    Economists have always spoken of retirement security as a "three-legged stool" made up of savings (including assets like a home), pensions, and Social Security. But Wall Street's greed and criminality shattered the balance sheet of middle-class America, causing Americans to lose trillions in real estate assets and much of their hard-earned savings.

    Corporations have also improved their bottom line at their employees' expense by shifting from defined-benefit pension plans to 401(k) programs and other plans that over very little security to retired Americans.

    In other words, corporate profits have kicked two legs off that three-legged stool. The third -- Social Security -- is splintered and cracked, thanks to Wall Street. Banks convinced Americans to sink their fortunes and their destinies into real estate in order to fuel a bubble that made bankers rich and left Americans bereft.

  • Smirking Chimp: Deficit Fixed. Now Fix The Job Gap, Wage Gap And Trade Gap. By Dave Johnson. Excerpts: The deficit is now down 60 percent as a percent of gross domestic product. It is down more than the deficit hawks Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles asked for. This rapid reduction is seriously hurting the economy and jobs, but demands for cuts continue. It is time for Congress and the President to “pivot” to focusing on our real problems: the jobs gap, the wage gap and the trade gap.

    The “deficit problem” is man-made. When Bill Clinton was president we were paying off the debt. George W. Bush turned Clinton’s budget surpluses right around, calling deficits “extremely positive news” because they would later force cuts in government. Ronald Reagan’s “strategic deficits” began a strategy to make the borrowing appear so bad that the public would be panicked into allowing cuts in the things government does to make our lives better – so the wealthy few could have even more wealth and power. (Reagan tripled the national debt, Bush doubled it again.)

    So after Bush we had a problem. When ‘W’ left office the budget deficit was $1.4 trillion. Then after Obama took office Wall Street and the right started terrifying the public about deficits and outlining their “solutions”: Cut government, cut regulation of the giant corporations, cut entitlements, cut investment in infrastructure, privatize public assets, cut the safety net, etc… Cut the things that government does to make our lives better (government spending) and cut the things government does to protect us from the immense power of the insanely wealthy and their giant corporations.

    But something got in their way. The deficit started coming down before all of the “solutions” could be forced on us. The deficit is now down 60 percent as a percent of GDP from the level Bush left behind (see the chart in this post). ...

    The deficit is not a problem. The Simpson-Bowles target has been reached and passed. The austerity is harming the economy and hurting people. Congress and the President should pivot to jobs. They need to fix the jobs gap, the wage gap and the trade gap, and if they continue to ignore these real problems it is up to We, the People to apply the necessary pressure to make them do it.

  • New York Times opinion: Who Can Take Republicans Seriously? Excerpts: It is time for President Obama to abandon his hopes of reaching a grand budget bargain with Republicans.

    At every opportunity since they took over the House in 2011, Republicans have made it clear that they have no interest in reaching a compromise with the White House. For two years, they held sham negotiations with Democrats that only dragged down the economy with cuts; this year, they are refusing even to sit down at the table.

    Mr. Obama hasn’t given up inviting the Republicans to join him in making the hard choices of governing, but he has been rebuffed each time. This year, in hopes of getting some support for modest tax increases on the rich, he even proposed a reduction in the cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients. The events of the last few weeks should make it clear to him why that offer should be pulled from the table immediately. Consider...

    Republican lawmakers have become reflexive in rejecting every extended hand from the administration, even if the ideas were ones that they themselves once welcomed. Under the circumstances, Mr. Obama would be best advised to stop making peace offerings. Only when the Republican Party feels public pressure to become a serious partner can the real work of governing begin.

  • New York Times opinion: Student Debt and the Crushing of the American Dream. By Joseph E. Stiglitz. Excerpts: A certain drama has become familiar in the United States (and some other advanced industrialized countries): Bankers encourage people to borrow beyond their means, preying especially on those who are financially unsophisticated. They use their political influence to get favorable treatment of one form or another. Debts mount. Journalists record the human toll. Then comes bewilderment: How could we let this happen again? Officials promise to fix things. Something is done about the most egregious abuses. People move on, reassured that the crisis has abated, but suspecting that it will recur soon.

    The crisis that is about to break out involves student debt and how we finance higher education. Like the housing crisis that preceded it, this crisis is intimately connected to America’s soaring inequality, and how, as Americans on the bottom rungs of the ladder strive to climb up, they are inevitably pulled down — some to a point even lower than where they began.

    This new crisis is emerging even before the last one has been resolved, and the two are becoming intertwined. In the decades after World War II, homeownership and higher education became signs of success in America. ...

    Everyone recognizes that education is the only way up, but as a college degree becomes increasingly essential to making one’s way in a 21st-century economy, education for those not to the manner born is increasingly unaffordable. Student debt for seniors graduating with loans now exceeds $26,000, about a 40 percent increase (not adjusted for inflation) in just seven years. But an “average” like this masks huge variations. ...

    America is distinctive among advanced industrialized countries in the burden it places on students and their parents for financing higher education. America is also exceptional among comparable countries for the high cost of a college degree, including at public universities. Average tuition, and room and board, at four-year colleges is just short of $22,000 a year, up from under $9,000 (adjusted for inflation) in 1980-81. ...

    America — home of the land-grant university, the G.I. Bill and world-class public universities from California to Michigan to Texas — has fallen from the top in terms of university education. With strangling student debt, we are likely to fall further. What economists call “human capital” — investing in people — is a key to long-term growth. To be competitive in the 21st century is to have a highly educated labor force, one with college and advanced degrees. Instead, we are foreclosing on our future as a nation. ...

    As bad as things are, they may get worse. With budgetary pressures mounting — along with demands for cutbacks in “discretionary domestic programs” (read: K-12 education subsidies, Pell Grants for poor kids to attend college, research money) — students and families are left to fend for themselves. College costs will continue to rise far faster than incomes. As has been repeatedly observed, all of the economic gains since the Great Recession have gone to the top 1 percent. ...

    The combination of predatory for-profit schools and predatory lenders is a leech on America’s poor. These schools have even gone after young veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are heart-rending stories of parents who co-signed student loans — only to see their child killed in an accident or die of cancer or another disease — and, like students, can’t easily discharge these debts.

  • New York Times op-ed: How Austerity Kills. By David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu. Excerpts: Early last month, a triple suicide was reported in the seaside town of Civitanova Marche, Italy. A married couple, Anna Maria Sopranzi, 68, and Romeo Dionisi, 62, had been struggling to live on her monthly pension of around 500 euros (about $650), and had fallen behind on rent.

    Because the Italian government’s austerity budget had raised the retirement age, Mr. Dionisi, a former construction worker, became one of Italy’s esodati (exiled ones) — older workers plunged into poverty without a safety net. On April 5, he and his wife left a note on a neighbor’s car asking for forgiveness, then hanged themselves in a storage closet at home. When Ms. Sopranzi’s brother, Giuseppe Sopranzi, 73, heard the news, he drowned himself in the Adriatic.

    The correlation between unemployment and suicide has been observed since the 19th century. People looking for work are about twice as likely to end their lives as those who have jobs.

    In the United States, the suicide rate, which had slowly risen since 2000, jumped during and after the 2007-9 recession. In a new book, we estimate that 4,750 “excess” suicides — that is, deaths above what pre-existing trends would predict — occurred from 2007 to 2010. Rates of such suicides were significantly greater in the states that experienced the greatest job losses. Deaths from suicide overtook deaths from car crashes in 2009.

    If suicides were an unavoidable consequence of economic downturns, this would just be another story about the human toll of the Great Recession. But it isn’t so. Countries that slashed health and social protection budgets, like Greece, Italy and Spain, have seen starkly worse health outcomes than nations like Germany, Iceland and Sweden, which maintained their social safety nets and opted for stimulus over austerity. (Germany preaches the virtues of austerity — for others.) ...

    Somewhere between these extremes is the United States. Initially, the 2009 stimulus package shored up the safety net. But there are warning signs — beyond the higher suicide rate — that health trends are worsening. Prescriptions for antidepressants have soared. Three-quarters of a million people (particularly out-of-work young men) have turned to binge drinking. Over five million Americans lost access to health care in the recession because they lost their jobs (and either could not afford to extend their insurance under the Cobra law or exhausted their eligibility). Preventive medical visits dropped as people delayed medical care and ended up in emergency rooms. (President Obama’s health care law expands coverage, but only gradually.)

    The $85 billion “sequester” that began on March 1 will cut nutrition subsidies for approximately 600,000 pregnant women, newborns and infants by year’s end. Public housing budgets will be cut by nearly $2 billion this year, even while 1.4 million homes are in foreclosure. Even the budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation’s main defense against epidemics like last year’s fungal meningitis outbreak, is being cut, by at least $18 million. ...

    One need not be an economic ideologue — we certainly aren’t — to recognize that the price of austerity can be calculated in human lives. We are not exonerating poor policy decisions of the past or calling for universal debt forgiveness. It’s up to policy makers in America and Europe to figure out the right mix of fiscal and monetary policy. What we have found is that austerity — severe, immediate, indiscriminate cuts to social and health spending — is not only self-defeating, but fatal.

  • AlterNet: The Rich Have Gained $5.6 Trillion in the 'Recovery,' While the Rest of Us Have Lost $669 Billion. It's no accident. By Les Leopold. Excerpts: Oh, are we getting ripped off. And now we've got the data to prove it. From 2009 to 2011, the richest 8 million families (the top 7%) on average saw their wealth rise from $1.7 million to $2.5 million each. Meanwhile the rest of us -- the bottom 93% (that's 111 million families) -- suffered on average a decline of $6,000 each.

    Do the math and you'll discover that the top 7% gained a whopping $5.6 trillion in net worth (assets minus liabilities) while the rest of lost $669 billion. Their wealth went up by 28% while ours went down by 4 percent.

    It's as if the entire economic recovery is going into the pockets of the rich. And that's no accident. Here's why...

  • Huffington Post: Cutting Social Security and Not Taxing Wall Street. By Dean Baker. Excerpts: As we move toward the fifth anniversary of the great financial crisis of 2008, people should be outraged that cutting Social Security is now on the national agenda, while taxing Wall Street is not. After all, if we take at face value the claims made back in 2008 by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and former Treasury Secretaries Henry Paulson and Timothy Geithner, Wall Street excesses brought the economy to the brink of collapse.

    But now the Wall Street behemoths are bigger than ever and President Obama is looking to cut the Social Security benefits of retirees. That will teach the Wall Street boys to be more responsible in the future. ...

    While President Obama is willing to make seniors pay a price for the economic crisis, his administration is unwilling to impose any burdens on Wall Street. Specifically, it has consistently opposed a Wall Street speculation tax: effectively a sales tax on trades of stock and derivatives. The Obama administration has even used its power to try to block efforts by European countries to impose their own taxes on financial speculation.

    If the idea of taxing stock trades sounds strange, it shouldn't. The United States used to impose a tax of 0.04 percent until Wall Street lobbied to eliminate it in the mid-1960s. Many countries, including the United Kingdom, Switzerland, China, and India already impose taxes on stock trades.

    The tax in the UK is 0.5 percent on stock trades (0.25 percent for both the buyer and the seller). It dates back more than three centuries. The country raises more than 0.2 percent of GDP ($32 billion in the United States) from the tax each year. The tax has not prevented the London stock exchange from being one of the largest in the world. ...

    There are currently two bills in Congress for a similar tax in the United States. A bill by Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison would impose the same tax as the UK on stock trades and would apply a scaled rate to options, futures, credit default swaps and other derivative instruments. It could raise more than $150 billion annually or more than $2 trillion over the ten year budget window. ...

    Unfortunately the administration has consistently opposed both bills. It claims that it is concerned about the incidence of these taxes -- that ordinary investors would see large burdens from the tax. It also claims to be worried that the taxes will disrupt financial markets by making trading more costly.

    Neither of these stories passes the laugh test. Ordinary investors don't trade much, and therefore are not going to feel much impact from the tax. If someone with $100,000 in a 401(k) (this is much larger than the typical 401(k)) turns it over at the rate of 50 percent annually, they would pay $15.00 each year as a result of the Harkin-DeFazio tax. ...

    So the Obama administration wants us to believe that it is willing to cut the Social Security benefits of retiree living on $15,000 a year in Social Security by $450 but it opposes a Wall Street speculation tax because it is concerned that investors with $100,000 in a 401(k) may pay a few dollars a year in additional trading costs. Only a reporter with the Washington Post would believe a story like that. ...

    The basic story is very simple. Wall Street bankers have a lot more political power than old and disabled people who depend on Social Security. That is why President Obama is working to protect the former and cut benefits for the latter.

  • New York Times op-ed: The Real I.R.S. Scandal. By Sheila Krumholz and Robert Weinberger. Excerpts: News that employees at the Internal Revenue Service targeted groups with “Tea Party” or “patriot” in their name for special scrutiny has raised pious alarms among some lawmakers and editorial writers.

    Yes, the I.R.S. may have been worse than clumsy in considering an avalanche of applications for nonprofit status under the tax code, and that deserves scrutiny whether or not the agency’s employees were spurred by partisan motives. After all, some of these “tea party” groups are most likely not innocent nonprofit organizations devoted to the cultural significance of hot beverages — or to other, more civic, virtues. Rather, they and others are groups that may be illegally spending a majority of their resources on political activity while manipulating the tax code to hide their donors and evade taxes (the unwritten rule being that no more than 49 percent of a group’s resources can be used for political purposes).

    The near vertical ascent in political spending by these “dark money” groups was prompted by the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in the Citizens United case, among others, freeing them to be more active in this realm.

    And it’s a bipartisan scandal, though it’s hard to tell that judging by the names some groups have adopted — as the I.R.S. should know. Can you tell which of these lean left and which ones right? Patriot Majority USA, Crossroads GPS, American Future Fund and the Citizens for Strength and Security Fund. (Nos. 1 and 4 are liberal, 2 and 3 are conservative.) ...

    But even more regrettable is the long-term damage to the credibility of the I.R.S. as an impartial arbiter of whether organizations merit tax-exempt status. This will be difficult to undo, particularly because of the secrecy required for the agency to effectively examine organizations without generating doubts about them, as well as to prevent other organizations from coming up with strategies to evade scrutiny in the future. ...

    Indeed, the latest revelations are not the first to cause pushback by Congressional conservatives. In 2011, tax authorities considered applying the gift tax to large contributions to 501(c)(4) groups, and they sent letters to a handful of big donors informing them they may be taxed. The agency received a swift and forceful response from the Republican senators Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, John Kyl of Arizona and others demanding to know whether the I.R.S. was acting on the basis of partisanship.

    The agency folded like wet cardboard: the deputy commissioner took the extraordinary step of ending the audits in progress. (That official, who has been the acting head of the agency, was fired yesterday by the president.)

  • Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT): What Can We Learn from Denmark? Excerpts: Today in the United States, unemployment is too high, wages and income are too low, people are struggling to find affordable health care and the wealth and income gap is growing wider. Millions of working families are finding it hard to make ends meet and maintain a dignified standard of living.

    In Denmark, social policy in areas like health care, child care, education and protecting the unemployed are part of a “solidarity system” that provides strong opportunity and security for all citizens. Danes pay high taxes, but in return enjoy a quality of life that many Americans would envy.

    Denmark is a small, homogenous nation of about 5.5 million people. The United States is a melting pot of more than 315 million people. No question about it, Denmark and the United States are very different countries.

    But are there lessons we can learn from the social model in Denmark? If you’re interested in the answer, please attend one of a series of town meetings that I am holding throughout Vermont this weekend with Danish Ambassador Peter Taksoe-Jensen. On Saturday, the ambassador will join me for town meetings at 1 p.m. at Burlington City Hall and at 7 p.m. at the Brattleboro Museum in Brattleboro. On Sunday, join us at 10:30 a.m. at Montpelier High School in Montpelier. Admission is free, questions and comments are encouraged.

    Health care in Denmark is universal, free of charge and high in quality. Everybody is covered as a right of citizenship. The Danish health care system is popular, with patient satisfaction much higher than in the United States. In Denmark, every citizen can choose a doctor in their area. Prescription drugs are inexpensive.

    They’re free for those under 18 years of age. Interestingly, despite their universal coverage, the Danish health care system is far more cost-effective than ours. They spend about 11 percent of their GDP on health care. We spend almost 18 percent.

    When it comes to raising families, Danes understand that the first few years of a person’s life are the most important in terms of intellectual and emotional development. In order to give strong support to expecting parents, mothers get four weeks of paid leave before giving birth.

    They get another 14 weeks afterward. Expecting fathers get two paid weeks off, and both parents have the right to 32 more weeks of leave during the first nine years of a child’s life. The state covers three-quarters of the cost of child care, more for low-income workers.

    At a time when college education in the United States is becoming increasingly unaffordable and the average Vermont college graduate leaves school more than $28,000 in debt, virtually all higher education in Denmark is free. That includes not just college but graduate schools as well, including medical school.

    In a volatile global economy, the Danish government recognizes that it must invest heavily in training programs so workers can learn new skills to meet changing workforce demands. It also understands that when people lose their jobs they must have adequate income while they search for new jobs. If a worker loses his or her job in Denmark, unemployment insurance covers up to 90 percent of earnings for as long as two years. Here benefits can be cut off after as few as 26 weeks.

    It is no secret that in our country many people are living under great stress.

  • BusinessWeek: The IRS Scandal: Tempest and the Tea Party. By Paul M. Barrett. Excerpts: On May 14 the IRS released the inspector general’s report on the alleged targeting of Tea Party groups. It blamed ineffective management, not a political vendetta, and concluded that no one outside the IRS had ordered the improper actions. Obviously, that’s not going to be the last word. Having crudely overreached, the IRS deserves an unsparing investigation, followed by systemic changes. On May 15, Obama announced that Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller had been asked to resign. On the Hill, the House Ways and Means Committee will hold the first round of hearings, commencing on May 17, and Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered a criminal probe by the FBI.

    Lost amid the inevitable leaks, innuendo, and grandstanding is the bigger scandal—one in which both parties are complicit. While it was politically profiling local antitax groups, the IRS seems to have been largely inert in response to complaints that organizations founded by former top aides of both Obama and George W. Bush have violated their tax-exempt status. In 2012 large tax-exempt groups, including Republican operative Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the Obama-affiliated Priorities USA Action, spent hundreds of millions of political-advertising dollars, much of it harvested from secret donors.

    “The irony here is that the IRS is going to get punished, justifiably, for its heavy-handed tactics with the Tea Party committees,” says Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). “But the larger problem is that the IRS does nothing to enforce the law against the groups that are abusing a broken system on a much bigger scale.” ...

    Sadly, in the radioactive environment in Washington, it’s difficult to envision a remedy even this elementary emerging from Congress. Instead, Republicans will scramble to link the scandal to someone—anyone!—with White House credentials. Democrats will try to protect the president by competing to devise the most draconian possible penalties for low-level, tin-eared IRS bureaucrats. The truth? Both parties exploit and profit from the farcical campaign-finance system as it now exists, and no one has the political will to change it.

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.

This site is designed to allow IBM Employees to communicate and share methods of protecting their rights through the establishment of an IBM Employees Labor Union. Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act states it is a violation for Employers to spy on union gatherings, or pretend to spy. For the purpose of the National Labor Relations Act, notice is given that this site and all of its content, messages, communications, or other content is considered to be a union gathering.