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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—June 8, 2013 (Extended to June 12th Due to RA)

  • Bloomberg: IBM Said to Start U.S. Job Cuts Today Amid Global Reduction. By Sarah Frier. Excerpts: The reduction targets employees with a range of seniority, from rank-and-file staff to executives, said the person, who asked not to be named because the information is private. Some U.S. workers began to receive notifications of the cuts last night, according to Lee Conrad, a coordinator for Alliance@IBM, an employee group. The restructuring will cost $1 billion worldwide, including severance expenses. ...

    The company is probably cutting 6,000 to 8,000 jobs globally, based on the $1 billion cost figure, said Laurence Balter, an analyst at Oracle Investment Research in Fox Island, Washington. ...

    “Change is constant in the technology industry and transformation is an essential feature of our business model,” IBM said today in a statement, without giving specifics on the job cuts. “Consequently, some level of workforce remix is a constant requirement for our business. Given the competitive nature of our industry, we do not publicly discuss the details of staffing plans.” ...

    IBM also has been cutting hours of its contract employees. CDI Corp. (CDI), a Philadelphia-based provider of staffing and outsourcing services, told its staff working for IBM to limit their hours in May, according to a memo obtained by Bloomberg. IBM at the time said that the company relies on contractors to manage labor costs on information-technology projects for clients.

    Selected reader comments follow:

    • The IBM top dogs (no pun intended) can spin it however they want: 'remix', 're-balance', just pick your slogan. But the truth is that IBM is in major decline all because of executive (and Wall St.) greed. The leadership has gutted the company, destroyed morale, offshored to the cheapest labor (skill or not) and sent a once-great company swirling around the toilet all for short-term 'maximizing share holder value.' Will make a great 'do not attempt this' business class someday.
    • For those who are long only, you may want to understand how manufactured (through layoffs) the earnings are of the companies you own? The "layoff effect" is driving profits, and eventually there's a boomerang effect. Lay off everyone, then there are no buyers left for your G&S.
    • IBM has job cuts all year long, every year. But this one is not a typical resource action. It's very large and very impactful. It will overburden an already severely-shorthanded staff. Nevermind the morale, stress, etc. for employees -- it will be bad for IBM customers too. IBM customers are already finding degraded quality in IBM software and incapacitated support centers. This ain't gonna help!
    • IBM's treatment of its employees has been in decline for over a decade. Some of their offices are so poor, the roofs leak in to 50 gallon drums in the hall ways. The lights are so dim you would think the buildings are shut down. Toilet stall doors hanging off broken hinges with locks that don't lock. Morale has been low for a long time. The only thing keeping the employees working is fear. They are getting close to the breaking point, I'm sure there will be backlash from those that are left. Its like a ghetto in there and I am not exaggerating. A far cry from the 60's and 70's when 'human capital' was the most important resource of the company. Now it is just another expenditure. All in the name of profits so the executives can get their latest toys.
    • It's a post-apocalyptic feeling here at IBM. Looks like they laid off 20% of the people. People walking around in a daze. Some who were affected walked out the door. IBM is a sad company. The misery of the employees there today is worse than ever. Some were given 30-90 days (depending) to find another job in the company but most will find they are blacklisted. IBM has fired it's way to record profitability but the last few rounds of firings started to hit bone and blood. Revenues dropped, deals fell on the floor... the reputation of IBM has suffered as top notch people were either fired or left the company. The only answer is more of the same. Of course some people are getting over the shock and feel pretty happy.
  • WRAL-TV (Raleigh): Source: 'Hundreds' of IBMers in NC hit with layoff notices. By Rick Smith. Excerpts: While no formal announcement has been made outside the company and no notice has yet been filed with the state of North Carolina through a so-called WARN notice, a source who is very familiar with the restructuring tells WRALTechWire that IBM's Tar Heel State workforce is taking a heavy hit. ...

    Workers are reporting that they have received "resource action" packages from their supervisors across various groups, according to information received by Alliance at IBM, the union seeking to represent IBM workers. Among the first groups to report an "RA" – IBM speak for layoffs – was the Storage and Technology Group's Storage Systems Development Group in RTP. ...

    In a statement provided to WRALTechWire, spokesman Doug Shelton confirmed the restructuring but did not provide any details.

    "Change is constant in the technology industry, and transformation is an essential feature of our business model. Consequently, some level of workforce remix is a constant requirement for our business," Shelton said

    "Given the competitive nature of our industry, we do not publicly discuss the details of staffing plans. IBM is investing in growth areas for the future: Big Data, cloud computing, social business and the growing mobile computing opportunity.

    "The company has always invested in transformational areas, and as a result, we need to remix our skills so IBM can lead in these higher-value segments in both emerging markets and in more mature economies."

    Based on RA documents and other information, IBM laid off an estimated 2,000 U.S. employees alone last year – at least.

    Selected reader comments follow:

    • The 'Internationalization of IBM continues. Regardless of whether you go with IBM, Tata, or Infosys to get your project created, deployed, or supported, it's the same people who'll actually be doing the work. As an American, we now need have no guilt spec'ing the lowest cost vendor. The race to the bottom continues.
    • The same thing happened (although on a smaller scale) at the other "Big Blue" in Durham in December 2011. BCBSNC outsourced their entire IT infrastructure group (around 180 people) to a 3rd party global IT services organization. Employees were given approximately 20 days to take the "offer" from Fujitsu (which included lower medical benefits, higher premiums and loss of other benefits) or else they resigned with no possibility of a severance package. BCBSNC spun it as "offering every employee a job at the outsourcer company" and that there were no actual layoffs. Funny how the truth never came out to the news media.
    • Corporate greed. They slash people's jobs while they stuff their pockets with millions of dollars. Offshoring of jobs might seem a good idea up front but significantly reduced product development expertise, lower levels of technical support capabilities and sustainability will come back to haunt IBM.
    • As a fellow stock holder I could not hope for better news. Capitalism in action.
    • I'd love to see their employee numbers charted across the years because they are constantly laying off.
    • This is NOTHING new with IBM. Almost every year they do this.
    • "As a fellow stock holder I could not hope for better news. Capitalism in action. downtowner" 17 layers of management and the vast majority of them don't even know what the company does to make money. When your focus is solely on cutting cost without consideration of customer service, you will fail as a business. I'll rejoice in the collapse of your house of cards investment. With the choices they are making, it is inevitable. They don't know how to tell the truth to investors, customers, and especially not to employees.
    • I'm not a stockholder but I don't ever support a company choosing to switch to making inferior products, as is the case every time something is "outsourced". These Indians are no better educated than Americans, they're CHEAPER.
    • @Downtowner, you are truly a tool. I hope you find yourself handed a pink slip sometime soon, or having your business dry-up unexpectedly. I worked for IBM for 8+ years; it is a terrible company to work for. Shareholder value is valued above all other tenets, and ultimately that will be the demise of Big Blue as they run out of unprofitable business units to sell. US jobs are being outsourced to China at a relentless pace. System x will be next on the chopping block.
    • My former colleague just got the news today. 7+ years of hard work, with IBM piling on job requirements & expanding his scope with no increase in band or salary, then 'bye-bye'. I told him to get out years ago. Hopefully they gave him a decent package. My heart goes out to these folks; IBM is a ruthless company that only serves it's shareholders.
    • I grew up in an IBM family in Poughkeepsie. This as back when IBM meant something and were innovators. I too went to work for IBM after college and saw the PC Company going downhill because of the inability to be nimble. IBM has a culture of non-innovators who still wear suits to work. Another MBA case study of how a one great company with clout has become just a blip. RIP IBM.
    • "A robust publicly traded company making money rewards a far greater number of people than just the investors." So companies that put shareholder value at the top of their drivers, doing anything to achieve that goal above all else is admirable and beneficial? Rubbish. That is a small-minded paradigm. When System x is sold off, and thousands of US jobs are shed, I hope you choke on your equity return. Eventually IBM will run out of business units to sell, and as a services-only company GTS leaves much to be desired.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "eblast sent to members, IBM employees and the media" by Lee Conrad, President, Alliance@IBM. Full excerpt: On April 18th IBM's CFO stated that IBM would take a $1billion charge for job cuts in the 2nd quarter. This resource action, IBM code name Project Mercury (a more fitting name would be Project Walk the Plank), has already begun in some of IBM's international operations. But in the case of IBM's international units, the workers are involved in consultations and negotiations through their unions and works councils. Already there have been demonstrations and strikes at some locations because the IBM employees are angry that they, and we, are being sacrificed in order to keep the shareholders happy.

    Here in the US the rumor mill has been working overtime. The rumor dates of the job cuts come and go. Employee stress is through the roof because IBM management has refused to keep employees updated or informed.

    This disrespect by corporate management is shameful. It is clear that the IBM management team simply does not care how you feel or what you are going through.

    The Alliance will continue to do what we can to inform and aid employees.

    When the job cuts happen please do the following:

    • email the Alliance your RA pack so we can count and validate the amount of jobs cut and business units impacted
    • let us know if you lose your job and an offshore worker remains, or if your job goes offshore.
    • notify your state Governor and representatives asking them to demand that IBM notify the public of the number of workers fired.
    • go to the Alliance web site and report the job cut www.endicottalliance.org/jobcutsreports.php
    • check out the job cut survival kit at www.endicottalliance.org/news/survival.htm

    Let us be clear. These latest job cuts are an extension of CEO Rometty's drive to increase shareholder value and the goals of Roadmap/Roadkill 2015. The punishment for the poor 1st quarter will be taken out on you. It remains to be seen how many executives lose their jobs.

    We have said it before: only a strong employee organization can push back against a corporate management team that will sacrifice you in their drive towards enriching themselves and the large shareholders.

    The question remains, will it be the employees who will ultimately save IBM from short sighted greed driven management or will it be "business as usual"?

    Good luck to all. The Alliance@IBM team

  • Poughkeepsie Journal: Despite speculation, no sign yet of IBM job cuts. By Craig Wolf. Excerpts: Friday came and went amid much speculation in the IBM community about whether the job-cutting ax would swing again, but without any clear sign of it happening in the United States.

    Nothing was announced, but IBM Corp. stopped announcing its job cuts years ago. ...

    But the worry is not over. IBM could have alternate plans. And the end of the quarter is not until June 30. ...

    Todd Tancredi, supervisor of the Town of Poughkeepsie, where IBM’s plant employs thousands, said he had heard nothing. “IBM doesn’t share a lot of that type of information with with us,” he said.

  • The Jerusalem Post: IBM Israel to fire 100 employees. By Globes/Shmulik Shelach. Excerpts: IBM Israel Ltd. is firing 100 of its 2,000 employees, it announced. The employees who were informed that they are losing their jobs work in sales and marketing. The extent of the layoffs is not large in terms of IBM Corporation’s size, but it is unusual and is part of the company’s effort to rebalance its workforce, as its CFO described it in a conference call in late April.

    IBM Israel, run by general manager Ricky Kaplan, has been outsourcing overseas many administrative activities, resulting in a slow but steady loss of jobs. IBM Corporation, which focuses on profits because of its lack of growth, is constantly streamlining. The layoffs in Israel are apparently tied to these developments.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: RA?" by "metoolikeyou". Full excerpt: Seems the layoff this year focuses on employees outside the US. Sent from my iPad.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: RA?" by "trexibmer". Full excerpt: If you think the announcement of 100 Israeli IBMers being RAed is going to be the trend, wanna bet your iPad there will be an RA in the USA before too long?

    IBM always goes to the path of least resistance when it comes to labor actions such as permanent layoffs and firings. Workers in other countries than the USA actually have labor rights. Try to get a job as an American in India or China or Brazil? Good luck. European work councils fight for and get employee rights and layoff and firing are tougher to accomplish even in IBM.

    Here in the USA ("at will" employment) you have no labor rights unless you have a union contract where you get some enforceable labor rights.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Israeli firing of IBMers" by "dakra137". Full excerpt: In Israel, employers are obliged to provide a contract stating the terms of employment. Terms cannot be less favorable than statutory minima.

    For employees employed over 1 year, severance is 4 weeks per year and termination requires one month notice or at least pay for the month following notice. [Compare that to my IBMUS 26 week severance for 33 years which equated to .79 weeks per year.]

    Employers must provide transportation to/from work or pay for a monthly public transit card. (Most IBMers get a leased car through IBM. My daughter is a midwife in a hospital and gets door-to-door multipassenger car service like a minivan school bus)

    Corporate employers generally participate in a program where they n-times match employee contributions into a fund that pays out every 6 years or at termination. I'm told that is often used for home improvements or 2nd car purchases.\There is no COBRA, but the health system in Israel is sort of like Massachusetts: you MUST get insurance from and MUST be accepted without limitations due to existing conditions any of the country's insurers. Rates are reasonable. Prescriptions are reasonable. However, dental care is pay as you go.

    See:

  • Australian IT: Profit up but IBM ready to axe jobs. By Frank Foo. Excerpts: IBM Australia has embarked on a redundancy program, dubbed Project Mercury, which employees fear will see about 200 workers lose their positions.

    An IBM Australia spokeswoman said: "Change is constant in the technology industry and transformation is an essential feature of our business model.

    "Consequently, some level of workforce remix is a constant requirement for our business. Given the competitive nature of our industry, we do not publicly discuss the details of staffing plans." ...

    According to a report in The Wall Street Journal in April, IBM said it expected to ramp up job cuts this quarter after sales of some software and mainframe computers fell short of expectations. IBM said it would reduce its workforce in some areas to meet its per-share earnings target for the year. ...More than 80,000 current and former Health staff members were not paid, underpaid or overpaid since March 2010.

    The Queensland Health payroll debacle has had a negative effect on its brand although the state Auditor-General found serious problems with the project's overall governance structure instead of singling out IBM for sole responsibility.

    In June 2010, then Queensland premier Anna Bligh said: "We have sought crown law advice in relation to options for terminating the payroll contract with IBM and it's only fair that we seek to reserve our legal rights. The government has issued IBM a show-cause notice as to why the contract should not be terminated."

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "RA?" by "trexibmer". Full excerpt: How can anyone expect IBM employees and contractors and even some managers to seriously give it their all and work hard when the threats of resource actions are hanging over their heads every day? Threats only work so long before apathy takes over.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: RA?" by "thefielder". Full excerpt: You are correct. IBM keeps their employees in "quiet desperation " wondering if they will have a job, whether they will have the ability to support their families,and in most cases there is nothing that they can do. They could be in a unit that has failed, a product no longer supported, or the real evil, having their job move overseas at 20% of the cost.

    The senior management are inhuman, immoral and are a disgrace. To claim resource actions in the 2nd Qtr, to publicly set aside $1B, then do nothing or tell the people what is happening is S I C K.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: RA?" by "covinher". Full excerpt: For every person that panics, there's probably two that step things up. Aside from not letting it impact your work, wouldn't that be the rational thing to do?
    • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: RA?" by Paul Sutera. Full excerpt: You're killing me. :-) Many of us are smart enough to realize that an R/A doesn't care how hard you were working or how many great PBC appraisals you've gotten. We've all seen fine engineers and I/T architects at the top of their game get cut down with a mindless R/A.

      The headcount for IBM USA is probably down by a 1/3 since 2005. Anyone who thinks they can work their way out of a dangerous situation is misguided, or perhaps living in a fantasy-land.

      Profits dropped 1%. That amount is not very much - the equivalent of several VPs salaries and benefits.

      Thousands will lose their livelihoods but the failing senior management will get their raises, right on time. Yeah let's all work really hard! I'd rather not shovel my own grave, but to each their own.

    • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: RA?" by "celticht32". Full excerpt: I am living proof of what you say Paul. I had PBC's of 2+'s for my whole carrier within IBM (10+ years). I was on the 100% utilization list for several years as well. I was let go even though up to the level of the product VP told HR not to. When you're on HR's hit list for an RA it doesn't matter what you did/do how hard you worked, who you know; you're gone.

      A lot less stress and a lot better life balance outside of IBM/ISSW. And, from what I hear now, they are completely ripped to shreds and morale is low as well for those left.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: RA?" by "trexibmer". Excerpt: Probably the best thing would be to find another company to work for. While many wish to say that IBM is just another company, I can tell you from personal experience that is not true. There are many companies with better salary, better benefits, management who cares about their people, promotion opportunities, and so much more.

    Many of us, myself included, deluded ourselves into thinking we couldn't move out. Believe it or not, most IBMers have tremendous skills and experience that would be highly valued elsewhere. The economy is improving, take advantage of it.

  • Associated Press, courtesy of Yahoo! Finance: IBM Is Trying To Squash Amazon's $600 Million Cloud Deal With The CIA. By Julie Bort. Excerpts: IBM is trying to block the massive 10-year, $600 million cloud computing deal Amazon won from the CIA in January. Big Blue had also bid on the CIA cloud but didn't win. Now it has filed a protest, reports Federal Computer Week's Frank Konkel.

    It's actually pretty common for the losing bidders to file protests when huge government contracts are at stake. For instance, last year IBM won a protest over a $543 million contract for wireless tracking sensors awarded to HP. But after a review of the bids, the government decided to stick with HP.

    Since this is the CIA we're talking about, most of the protest papers, like the bid itself, is confidential. So, we still don't know exactly what the CIA is hiring Amazon to do.

  • Bloomberg: IBM Wins Protest of $600 Million CIA Contract With Amazon. By Danielle Ivory. Excerpts: The U.S. Government Accountability Office yesterday sided with IBM, agreeing that the spy agency failed to properly evaluate prices and waived a contract requirement only for Seattle-based Amazon. The arbitrator of federal contract disputes recommended that the CIA reopen negotiations with the companies. The ruling means Armonk, New York-based IBM may get another chance to win.

    The protest is “potentially preventing a new competitor, like Amazon, in getting more government work,” said Amit Daryanani, an RBC Capital Markets equity analyst in San Francisco.

    IBM is a longtime federal contractor, amassing about $1.5 billion in awards in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2012. Amazon is much newer to the market, with no dedicated government sales division until several years ago. More than 300 U.S. agencies use the company’s computing services, Teresa Carlson, an Amazon vice president, said in May.

  • Washington Post: IBM buying Dallas-based SoftLayer in major cloud-computing deal. By Max Ehrenfreund. Excerpts: IBM is buying an international cloud-computing company in order to offer customers more options for remote software delivery. The Associated Press reports that IBM’s acquisition, SoftLayer Technologies of Dallas, has 13 data centers in the United States, Europe and Asia, and that the deal will close later this year. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times report that IBM is paying around $2 billion for SoftLayer.
  • The Register (United Kingdom): Why SoftLayer can't lift IBM into the clouds. Big Blue has a Big Problem that SoftLayer won't solve. By Jack Clark. Excerpts: There are only three major cloud companies, and try as it might, IBM isn't going to change that in the near-term with its acquisition of SoftLayer. This is because the three major public clouds – Amazon Web Services, Windows Azure, and Google Compute Engine – are each supported by a consumer internet giant.

    These internet titans have all built their own planet-spanning networks of data centers and edge locations to serve massive (and growing) consumer markets like gaming (Microsoft), advertising (Google), and retail (Amazon), along with a host of other secondary – but still significant – businesses and services.

    Unlike SoftLayer, each of these clouds is supported by a vast amount of guaranteed internal IT utilization, along with a customer-first attitude which sees the providers consume their own infrastructure. Each of these cloud companies has a demonstrable internal desire to lower the cost of provisioning and deploying IT resources as much as possible.

    Compare this with IBM: Big Blue comes from a world in which the goal is to build highly specialized IT gear for other businesses, then make a ton of money from servicing the gear, such as mainframes in the past, and systems like Jeopardy-beating Watson in the future.

    At no point does it become sensible for IBM to indulge in businesses which involve minimizing the cost to the customer, maximizing volume, and giving the punter maximum flexibility for both increasing and decreasing spend. ...

    The SoftLayer acquisition adds another asset to IBM's war chest, but unless it can turn this bunch of IT gear into a common resource through standardization, it's unlikely IBM can become a major force in the public cloud. But then again, if you'd promised Wall Street $7bn in cloud revenues by 2015, and could buy a company with 21,000 paying "cloud" customers, what would you do?

  • GigaOM: Why IBM desperately needed to buy SoftLayer. By Barb Darrow. Excerpts: IBM’s acquisition of SoftLayer is a bid to make the IT giant relevant in a world where Amazon Web Services has come in from left field to snarf up workloads that IBM would very much like to own. That’s a big problem for Big Blue.

    Increasingly, IBM is not just competing with age-old hardware and software rivals like Oracle and HP, but also with Amazon. And, going forward, IBM will butt heads more with Google and Microsoft, which have staked big claims in public cloud infrastructure.

    Armonk, we have a problem. IBM’s issue: It says it has a public cloud presence in SmartCloud but most of the world doesn’t know about it. Granted, IBM can sell SmartCloud to its existing (and large) customer base of Fortune 500 companies, but if it wants to be relevant at all to newer, nimbler and more innovative customer accounts, it needed to do something. And, despite IBM’s claims to the contrary, many of those big existing enterprise customers are also either thinking about or actually putting more of their work on AWS. As a recent Morgan Stanley report put it, AWS is a very real threat to IBM and the rest of the legacy IT superstars. ...

    No question, IBM had to move to shore up SmartCloud. A former IBM executive, who did not want to be named, told me that the underlying SmartCloud code is a nightmare mish mash of aging technology from IBM’s past. It could not compete with what Amazon’s AWS offers. As a result, he said, IBM started looking seriously at cloud acquisitions to remedy that situation. Both SoftLayer and Rackspace were on the list of potential targets.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Rebadged IBM - Worked 9 years - IBM Lost Contract - No Severance" by "maxxcurrey". Excerpts: Fact is, IBM's travel 'policy' is bull$hit. I ignored it for 13+ years when it was unreasonable, e.g. I was told to share a rental car and I just said that I do not share a car at home so if you want me to travel provide a car. That was the end of that. I also flew business when it was over eight hours, I do not care what the 'policy' is now, when I hired on it was eight hours plus and you fly business, you want me to fly eight plus hours then pay or it is not that important is it and I do not travel. They got someone else or flew me, simple as.

    Part of the problem is that I was often the only one who ever said anything. E.g. I would only work weekends if I received a comp day. One manager tried to tell me no comp day so I told him I was sick. He asked what was my sickness, I told him that I was sick of work. If he was going to be a dickhead I simply returned the favor. That cleared the comp day 'problem'.

    These are not "unreasonable" demands for those not making 26 million/year. If I made the really big bucks, flew the company planes, had drivers etc. I would be 24x7x365, too.

    I left IBM and can only say that it is MUCH better for me elsewhere. My boss insists that I NOT work extra hours nor weekends for health reasons and he maintains that it is less effective to overwork. There are normal corporations/companies, unfortunately IBM is no longer one of them. Only a union contract would force IBM to act responsibly.

    The boneheads who tell you to adapt to stupid policies are shills IMO or just plain stupid. Flexibility works both ways and IBM grants flexibility for those at the top, but not so much for others.

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • They do not care about employees” Hardware Engineer (Current Employee), Shanghai, Shanghai (China). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 3 years, Pros: A lot of good guy, and there are indeed experts in this huge company. Cons: If you are really a geek or technical guru, you would be mostly exploited. They would prefer not to promote you as they could not find any replacement. A lot of useless meetings, which morons like a lot.

      No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.

    • Not a Company for a Seasoned Professional” Principal Consultant (Former Employee), Toronto, ON (Canada). I worked at IBM full-time for less than a year. Pros: Flexible work environment. Good if you are starting a career. Cons: Impersonal. Overrated. Bureaucratic. Not for someone who has any ambition. Information is all over the place.

      No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • IBM is a company that uses contractor companies to get employees.” Testing and Test Coordinator (Former Employee), El Salto, Jalisco (Mexico). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 3 years. Pros: Direct access to the state-of-the-art technologies, even you have the opportunity to contribute. Salary and benefits are good. You can have home office. Cons: Discrimination among contractors and IBMers. USA employees don't like contractors from other countries and tend to do discrimination. IBM still uses contractor approach to hire new employees. IBM managers don't have respect for employees time and the can request to attend to office even on holidays.

      No, I would not recommend this company to a friend.

    • I am an IBMer” Anonymous Employee (Former Employee). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: IBM has some of the smartest people you will ever work with, who overwhelmingly embrace a common value system. Cons: Relentless cost cutting presents challenges and opportunities in traditional markets (North America and Western Europe) are limited. Advice to Senior Management: While employees are a cost to be managed, they are also an asset to invest in. Try to strike the balance more on the investment side.

      Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend.

    • Part of an acquisition - big culture change” Procurement (Former Employee). I worked at IBM full-time for more than a year. Pros: Decent pay, some flexibility to work from home, well known company to put on resume. Some great coworkers and had a lot of vacation days. Department had two managers, one was great. Cons: Management was often disconnected from employees and out of touch. Long hours were the norm. Far more meetings than I was used to—many employees seemed to believe they were unnecessary and detracted from work time. Morale was pretty low throughout my department.

      No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.

    • Too much politics” Software Developer (Current Employee), Markham, ON (Canada). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: Some very smart people. Lots of job flexibility. Wide range of areas to work in. Easy to transfer. Cons: A lot of managers and layers of management. A lot of project politics. Processes/policies get in the way of doing real work. Incompetents Become Movers (IBM). Advice to Senior Management: Most processes and procedures seem to be rubber stamps or CYA's for IBM instead of actually helping work get done efficiently or reasonably. High power distance and the constant threat of off-shoring is not conducive to a productive environment.
    • No, I would not recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company
    • Young, open, dynamic.” Treasury Analyst (Former Employee). I worked at IBM full-time for more than a year. Pros: Motivating working environment, learning opportunities, established working processes. Very friendly and open atmosphere, inspiring leaders, great working premises and good office location. Cons: After some time I was lacking good growth opportunities so that is why I left, but that was the reason resulting that this was a services center related business model. Due to the same reason after couple of years people often leave the company.

      Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend. I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company.

    • Verification Engineer” Verification Engineer (Current Employee), Poughkeepsie, NY. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 7 years. Pros: - Good starting pay; - Relaxed work environment; - Smart coworkers; - Very interesting and challenging projects. Cons: - Infrequent and small raises. Rigid bonuses; - Uninspiring management styles; - Slow to change; - Top-heavy organization. Advice to Senior Management: Don't be afraid to make bold changes. Just because it's IBM doesn't mean it is impervious failing just like any other tech company.
    • No, I would not recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company
    • Everything is either mandatory or forbidden” Software Engineer (Current Employee). Lenexa, KS. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: IBM is stable and has good benefits and salary. Cons: Too much bureaucracy. Too short-sighted in the sense of sacrificing long-term benefits for short term achievements. Penny wise and pound foolish.

      Advice to Senior Management: Why pretend my opinion matters? Don't offer me courses on how to be a better parent at the same time you are telling me that nights and weekends are mandatory for months on end. Don't tell people they can still have their Friday vacation day, but they are expected to work that Saturday and Sunday.

      No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Red tape...” Anonymous Employee (Current Employee). Pros: Big company, lot of resources, skills, references. Cons: No clear direction where the company is going other than cost cutting and increasing EPS. Seams to me that the company is not able to really transform itself and move into new areas. Very hard to attract new clients and markets. Culture and values of the company are deteriorating the last couple of years. – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.
    • IBM a company or a machine”. Senior Consultant (Current Employee), Manchester, England (UK). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 8 years. Pros: big company, secure (somewhat), flexible benefits and good work life balance if you can manage it. Cons: No promotions or have to play major politics. It's all about the money and never about the personal development which is a shame as I have seen some good people leave. Advice to Senior Management: Treat employees like people and do not blame downstream when you have not signed a deal or made a strategic mistake in your interpretation of what the client wants.

      No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.

    • Low Wages - Work hard” Anonymous Employee (Current Employee). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 3 years. Pros: Stability in the job as the company is so huge. Cons: Salaries are below the average in the market and you will always be expected to accumulate more and more work. Advice to Senior Management: Pay more attention to your employees and recognizing their efforts.

      No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company.

  • Alliance for Retired Americans: Friday Alert. This week's articles include:
    • States That Reject Medicaid Expansion Will Spend Billions More To Cover Fewer
    • Human Chain Events against the Chained CPI Take Shape for July 2
    • Alliance Takes over LCAO Stewardship
    • North Carolina, Florida, and Indiana Alliance Chapters Hold Their Conventions
    • Alliance Remembers Senator Frank Lautenberg
New on the Alliance@IBM Site
  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 06/02/13: I see people here saying IBM is lying.. that there were going to be layoffs on 5/30+5/31 and they never happened. Did anyone ever think ibm changed their strategy? Just because they gave employees 30 days notice in the past does not mean that will continue that same policy in the future. If the rumors are true regarding notification of the police in the 'ibm towns' maybe ibm will lay people off and tell them to get out on the same day. That certainly would be something that would cause the need for the police.

      Many years ago when ibm first started these layoffs, this is exactly what they did. Management told the people who were affected. They had 15 minutes to clean out their desks. Management watched to see what they took out of their desks. Once they were done, Mgmt walked them to the door and made sure the door was locked behind them so they couldn't get back in.

      Don't under-estimate the cruelness of IBM when it comes to people. You're not a person remember? You're a resource to be used up and tossed away when it suits them. Stay awake, and don't get lulled into a false sense of security that ibm became 'compassionate' and changed their minds. -miss_understanding-

    • Comment 06/02/13: My Opinion : The RA was originally scheduled for May 28th but pushed forward to June 4th. IBM lawyers needed more time to go over it and make sure it did not age discriminate. I think this RA is going to be big. IBM doesn't even send a troll spokesman out anymore with the usual cliches. Maybe the spokesman got RA'd last time around. In recent years IBM has been doing small firings of a few here and a few there to not attract bad publicity. This one must be over the top. IBM may be selling another piece of the company to the Chinese (Lenovo). In a few years IBM will probably have a Chinese CEO. China won't have to cyber attack us anymore for intellectual property, they are buying the store. -Ex-IBMer-
    • Comment 06/03/13: Accounting wise, the $1B "resource adjustment" write off can be taken now for future actions. Don't be hung up on 30 days till end of 2nd qtr. If there is spare cash flow to cover it so as not to impact bad future quarters, they will take it now. IBM expected to take in $5-6B from the sale to Lenovo. "SIP" = Salary Incentive Plan. We should be hearing soon about what increase we're not getting in July. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 06/03/13: To Lee: I received your email about the new salary program and wanted to let you know that my management announced this change to us last week. It is pure financial engineering. -anonymous-
    • Comment 06/03/13: Well, Loughridge also said that the majority of the layoffs would be outside the US. And here have been reports about "Project Mercury" from France, Netherlands and Israel. So, maybe these numbers add up to the $1 billion and the US is getting away without a big impact this time. But that would only mean the RAs here will come a little later ... -anonymous-
    • Comment 06/04/13: Just confirmed to me (Canada )- salary discussions Aug/Sept to be effective Oct 1. IBM = greed and mismanagement these days. -canuck-
    • Comment 06/04/13: It looks like retention payments are being planned for chosen people in Systems Storage Dev in the UK. Management aren't discussing this with staff. Overheard a discussion between managers. They appear to be worried about the loss of experienced people and the increasing reliance in graduates. -anonymous uk-
    • Comment 06/04/13: Just had the meeting with the newly acquired softlayer.com company. Their president was speaking. He addressed his employees telling them that everyone who is here today, will be here in a few years as well. The deal also included plans that IBM will not infiltrate their goals or plans. This sounds like IBM bought the company in order to assimilate their own cloud offerings into this new company. Softlayer has 21,000 employees. If our current offerings get merged into this existing company, there is now no need for thousands of IBMers. Can you see their plan now? -dun-4-
    • Comment 06/04/13: My IBM friend in MEXICO told me IBM Mexico had RA on May 30/2013. Employees were escorted out in the same day they were given notice. -IBM Austin-
    • Comment 06/04/13: Email sent to employees from the Alliance:

      On April 18th IBM's CFO stated that IBM would take a $1billion charge for job cuts in the 2nd quarter. This resource action, IBM code name Project Mercury (a more fitting name would be Project Walk the Plank), has already begun in some of IBM's international operations. But in the case of IBM's international units, the workers are involved in consultations and negotiations through their unions and works councils. Already there have been demonstrations and strikes at some locations because the IBM employees are angry that they, and we, are being sacrificed in order to keep the shareholders happy.

      Here in the US the rumor mill has been working overtime.

      The rumor dates of the job cuts come and go. Employee stress is through the roof because IBM management has refused to keep employees updated or informed.

      This disrespect by corporate management is shameful. It is clear that the IBM management team simply does not care how you feel or what you are going through.

      The Alliance will continue to do what we can to inform and aid employees.

      When the job cuts happen please do the following:

      • Email the Alliance your RA pack so we can count and validate the amount of jobs cut and business units impacted
      • Let us know if you lose your job and an offshore worker remains, or if your job goes offshore.
      • Notify your state Governor and representatives asking them to demand that IBM notify the public of the number of workers fired.
      • Go to the Alliance web site and report the job cut www.endicottalliance.org/jobcutsreports.php
      • Check out the job cut survival kit at http://www.endicottalliance.org/news/survival.htm

      Let us be clear. These latest job cuts are an extension of CEO Rometty's drive to increase shareholder value and the goals of Roadmap/Roadkill 2015.

      The punishment for the poor 1st quarter will be taken out on you. It remains to be seen how many executives lose their jobs.

      We have said it before: only a strong employee organization can push back against a corporate management team that will sacrifice you in their drive towards enriching themselves and the large shareholders.

      The question remains, will it be the employees who will ultimately save IBM from short sighted greed driven management or will it be"business as usual"?

      Good luck to all. The Alliance@IBM team -member-

    • Comment 06/04/13: job cuts are under way - between 14 - 15% of UK will be leaving in July - last round was September last year when approx 5% left - so 20% in less than a year worrying! -Had enough-
    • Comment 06/04/13: So here's my story... I was a 2+/1 performer, given an account to manage for my development... had a full year to work with them and received rave reviews. My manager, a Sr. PE gave me a negative review and admitted she never reached out to my clients for their feedback. Some development plan huh? lol. I was then thrown into the dumpers; all the while excelling in the eyes of the client and my peers in AT&T and IBM. While my management continued to give me negative reviews.

      Fast forward to mid-2012 when I was RA'd w/ 6 month's severance and such. I was happy I was gone and with a package. It have me perspective on what continues to be right. On the last interview with my manager she told me I shouldn't change a thing. (you just cannot make this stuff up)

      It took me 9 months to get a job; contractor with IBM. I swallowed my pride for my family. Crazy enough, they all loved me on the IBM transition team and the client had no beefs either. Some people I spoke with were shocked I was a contractor. (even more validation)

      I left that position last week for a job with a future. My current salary is forecasted to be 50% more than what I made as an IBM'er. Albeit as a contractor the agreement is contract to hire; which is typical for the role I have.

      The company is a competitor of IBM. Already, after 2 days on the job I am being told I carry myself very well. I am sure I will do well as fate along with my persistence has always paid off in the long run. Like others have said there is a future outside of IBM. -Anonymous-

    • Comment 06/04/13: I am so tired of hearing GR say "improve the client experience" and "focus on the client ". I say focus on the employee and will take care of the client! -Out-of-focus-
    • Comment 06/06/13: The comment below was originally sent to IBM Global Union. Country = India; Union Affiliate = No; Job Title = Staff R&D Engineer; IBM Division = STG; Message = Things here in IBM India outwardly seem better off than in US (and in many ways they indeed are), but it is not all rosy by any stretch of imagination. As of now, there are no layoffs (though I really doubt that statement, given the hypocrites that top management is).

      For a start, there are no working hours, which essentially means you have to work all the time. A couple of years back, my manager asked me why I wasn't putting in enough effort in the weekends! Then we had a long weekend (site holiday on Friday), and my manager assigned me a 3-day task, because (her words) "you are unmarried and don't have anything to do on the weekend". There have been times when I have had to work 14 hours a day (including weekends) for months together.

      Once, my so-called team lead "escalated" to second line manager, because I left office at 5pm one day to attend a family function (regardless of the fact that I came to office at 7.30am that day, and had lunch at my desk, while I was working). It was even more disappointing that the second line manager agreed with him, and asked me to (his words) "have less casual attitude to your job".

      If you are wondering why I did not quit IBM, here's why: work done at IBM has NO value in the industry. I did attend interviews with a few other companies, but they all refused to acknowledge my work experience, because IBM works on their own "methodology" (which is outdated by 2 decades, but they think it is state-of-the-art anyway).

      Inflation in India is rising fast (groceries and the daily use stuff now costs almost twice that it used to cost 2 years ago), but IBM management has no regard to it. Now they have come across a new plan to give salary hikes, wherein this year's hike will be given in October instead of July (because "we are in transition to the new plan), and next year's hike will be in December. Hence, we would have waited 15 months for this year's hike, and then wait another 14 months for the next one.

      What's more, the reason for the new plan is given as "this new plan will allow employees to have streamlined discussion with managers on their career growth". That is total nonsense, any donkey can tell you from a million miles away.

      I just can't believe how stupid and hypocritical they are! Why don't they just tell the truth for once? Especially when they ask to go through the hour long BCG certification, wherein you have to promise to never misrepresent data, blah blah. Why don't you practice what you preach?

      That reminds me of another example. Back in 2008-9, when we had the huge recession, they took away the free tea/coffee vending machines. Everyone knew that it was a cost cutting measure, but here's what IBM management had to say, "since consumption of tea & coffee has known health concerns we are taking them off, and will replace them with healthier options, like soya milk, etc. which the employees can buy at a minimal cost." Couple of months later, new vending machines were installed, which dispensed ... wait for it ... tea & coffee, but now you had to pay! All those "healthier options" were nowhere to be seen! Is there any limit to their shamelessness?

      Al right, this rant has been too long (but hardly does justice to my frustrations - maybe I will post some more next time), but I will leave with one last point: hiring freeze. Now based on Ginny's 1Q2013 results speech, the India management arrived at an idiotic decision that no more people would be hired to save costs and show better results in Q2. However, this also means that if someone leaves the company, they cannot hire anyone to replace them! My team had 4 members, of which one went "absconding" since 6 months (and was recently fired for that reason), another will soon leave to pursue higher studies, and the third one will soon be fired for poor performance, and I cannot ask for even ONE person to replace THREE!! -Anonymous-

      Alliance Reply: Please do continue to send your comments here. We welcome the information and revelations of what IBM India is really like on the inside. Also, feel free to send comments to the US comments section: Job Cuts Reports. US IBM workers need to know the truth about the way IBM treats its workers in countries other than the USA. Thank you.

    • Comment 06/06/13: -Anonymous in India- Wow! I had no idea it was THAT bad overseas. I wish more folks overseas would post and let us know about their working conditions. -dun-4-
    • Comment 06/06/13: IBM employees are like abused children in the corner. They have their hands up and their heads down...shielding from more smacks. This latest RA rumor has them ducking and yet looking up, waiting... and the mean abusive "caretaker" just stands there fist clenched with a smirk. This atmosphere is totally toxic and unproductive. Those that visit this board probably have been doing as little as possible at work until their fate is known. I know that my coworkers and I feel this way. Empty, powerless. A few short years ago we all felt powerful, needed, energetic. That passion for the job was the stuff that our customers raved about. Not so much anymore. We have no incentive. They have taken just about everything away from us. All for corporate GREED. And where has it gotten them? On the downward spiral. Good job team. -Nobody_cares_anymore-

      Alliance Reply: It doesn't have to be this way. You mentioned that "those that visit this board probably have been doing as little as possible at work until their fate is known." What about an alternative? What about stepping up and organizing? What about standing up for your rights in the workplace? It can still happen, if you want it. What better incentive than a contract that protects your rights in the workplace? IBM can only take away your rights, if you let them. You can MAKE it happen. Alliance@IBM is here to help you. Join The Alliance!

    • Comment 06/06/13: If IBM spent as much time and effort selling products and services as they do skirting the laws and screwing employees they would be hiring people. If IBM employees spent as much time organizing as they do whining and trying to get out of as much work as possible because IBM doesn't love them anymore we would be holding these discussions in our union halls. -Exodus2007-
    • Comment 06/06/13: Thanks for the comments from India. I am in STG (US) and work with several teams in India. We never have discussions like this during conference calls, so it is good to have them here. I have never heard any complaints and the comments help to understand the working conditions in India for those that I work with every day/night. -Anonymous in USA-
    • Comment 06/06/13: To Anonymous from India: In your post you got it all right! I couldn't say it better! I agree with your honest assessment of IBM and I am from the USA! They are playing ALL GLOBAL IBMers as fools. But we are not. But they want us to behave all like fools though. For IBM to say tea or Coffee is not healthy so IBM will not even subsidize it? The WHOLE WORLD knows the health benefits and work benefits of consuming fresh tea and coffee (antioxidants are bad IBM?)! You don't have to be Indian, Chinese, American, or British to know this! IBM is like you say it. Smarter Planet IBM? We think not, right?! -GlobalIBMsolidairty-
    • Comment 06/08/13: Strong rumors in Canada that managers received their "scripts & lists" yesterday. -ProbablyLeavingNextWeek-
    • Comment 06/09/13: Australia's first wave was 14th May. Not sure about the other groups but a couple hundred+ GBS were axed. Including myself, I am taking the money and running. Place is a hell hole. -John Smith-
    • Comment 06/10/13: I agree with the comments by -Gone_in_07-. In '03 my department was dissolved at the same time that a large RA was under way. I WAS NOT covered by the RA and was not given a package but I was told that I needed to find a new job. In every case whenever I spoke with a manager about a job that they had open the 1st question out of their mouth was "Are part of the RA?" When I told them no, that I was not part of the RA I would typically hear an exhale of relief from them, followed by "OK then, lets talk about the job..."

      It did not take me long to realize that there was an implied rule that managers could not fill open positions from any persons who had been selected for the RA. If you had been selected it did not matter who you were, who you knew or how perfectly your skills matched the open position, you would not be selected for the job. Heck, you would not even be interviewed for the job. Many managers never even returned my phone calls or e-mails (probably assuming that I was part of the RA due to the timing and my chain of command).

      The ones that did return my calls started out sounding very apologetic until they learned I was not part of the RA. Once we had cleared the air on the RA question they were happy to talk to me. I did find myself a new job in IBM but I also learned that the "30 days to find a new position.." for folks covered by the RA was BOGUS. The reality was that if you were part of the RA you WOULD NOT be considered for any position that was open. -BlueFluLou-

    • Comment 06/10/13: IBM Lies constantly. When we were hired we were all told, that if we got laid off we could apply for other jobs and had 30 days. Now despite that agreement at hire, IBM has once again gone back on its own word. The company has been in decline since the month to month management style put in place by Palmisano. Now we have Auntie Ginny, who will be in text books as an example of POOR leadership. She represents everything a real leader is not. -IBMer-
    • Comment 06/10/13: RESPECT FOR THE INDIVIDUAL has been totally and completely replaced with RESPECT FOR PROFITS AT ANY COST (RA, cost cutting, EPS, etc.) Not a core value as an IBMer I am not any bit proud of now. -bummedBeamer-
    • Comment 06/10/13: STG global mgrs were educated today and given packets. RA likely this week. Seems 30 days notice is in the plan. No idea about other brands/IMTs. -times-up-
    • Comment 06/10/13: Got the call from my manager for 1:1 on Wednesday as did 2 other co-workers here in North America, SWG. I think this is it. My best guess is 2 weeks notice instead of 30 days..but will we get the same package... will post when I find out. -think this is it-
    • Comment 06/10/13: Have heard that Managers were send packages and that Wednesday is the day for RA's in the US. After four weeks coming to work wondering if the day had come, I want to know for my sanity. I have heard it will be big, but don't yet see a WARN notice. Hoping that notice will be appropriate to allow those affected to find a job externally as I know internal jobs will be shut down. Good Luck to everyone! -Bluemanongreenmile-
    • Comment 06/10/13: Anonymous. In the last RA, managers that did hire a person on the RA list had to give up two hiring chits. Thus, dis incentivizing managers from hiring those on the list. This will be an escort you out the door RA.... As they have no intent to hire anyone on the RA list. I just don't know if or how they will get away with a 30 day notice in NY if they exceed 250 people on a site. Does anyone know how the WARN act works? -Bluemanongreenmile-
    • Comment 06/10/13: In response to Mark : I have to disagree with your comment that IBM is struggling at the moment. IBM made 3 BILLION dollars last quarter. Poor IBM management did not meet the 4 Billion dollars they promised. So, for short sighted quarter to quarter gain the solution is to cut jobs. What happened to the IBM that took the long view and was a well respected company. A layoff was always the very last resort, even if the company was losing money. Watson must be rolling over in his grave. Once a company that everybody wanted to work for. It is now your average hire and fire and no longer getting the best employees. Google, Microsoft and Apple are getting the best people to work for them. They will squash IBM like an ant. Unionize or else! -Ex-IBMer-
    • Comment 06/10/13: Regarding job search by people affected by the RA: jobs inside IBM will be extremely hard to get. A more productive strategy is to prepare for a job outside IBM right away. Don't waste energy on trying to find another IBM job unless you have top performance record and executive sponsor in a hiring organization who will fight for you. Finance gets to approve all jobs offered to RA people, and they approve very few. Good luck to all who are affected. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 06/10/13: IBM'er in Toronto Lab, Canada. Me and a colleague (working for same manager) in WebSphere team both got invites for 1:1 with our manager very early Wednesday morning. Almost certain we are going to RA'ed. Looking forward to leaving the absolute hell-hole that IBM has become. Employees are treated as tobacco. Use, exploit, chew and throw out. Sincerely hope Sam Palmisano and Ginni Rometty's children (if they have any) are treated similarly one day. -ibmerincanada-
    • Comment 06/11/13: ISC 2nd line mgr in ROCH doing everything he can to move as much as possible to POK as quickly as possible. -Macklemore-
    • Comment 06/11/13: 76 to go in UK SWG by 1st July as voluntary. Also announced an involuntary structure for separation in august. But IBM have not yet indicated figures or confirmed if this is over an above the original 76 volunteers. IBM UK also has big plans to restructure in 2H, all managers have been briefed under NDA -deathnail_for_moral-
    • Comment 06/11/13: Q. How come IBM doesn't have to report layoffs and RAs to the state governments as per the WARN Act? A. Since IBM has plenty of labor legal advice available they always finds ways to skirt the WARN Act. The next RA will also fly under the WARN radar. -da_facts-
    • Comment 06/11/13: Two folks in my Raleigh group called to our manager Wednesday for individual meetings. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 06/11/13: This afternoon around 1pm CT I received a meeting notice for a 1:1 with my manager. Having just had my latest biweekly 1:1 with him last Thursday, I'm assuming this is the end. -dave-
    • Comment 06/11/13: STG 2nd lines sending out invites for tomorrow in storage at RTP. -insider-
    • Comment 06/11/13: Just received my 1:1 notice for early tomorrow morning. Work in CIO organization out of San Jose, CA. Glad the time has come. Sick of stress...maybe I can get on with my life now. -WorkingInAS***Hole-
    • Comment 06/11/13: Working at IBM is not the best, the crazy utilization targets, no work/life balance, no training unless in our own time, no flexible transfers on assignments between divisions, etc. BUT - is it different in other companies? Are people really happy after leaving or is it just going from one bad place to another because all public companies are essentially controlled by the same stockholder greed? -greener.grass-
    • Comment 06/11/13: i have scheduled a meeting with my manager at 10am, i can't believe they are doing this, our team is fully founded for 2 years, and we have an incredible amount of work. -disappointed-
    • Comment 06/11/13: Well, for the second time in 3 years, I'm cut. So frustrating. The good news is that I have some leads and the economy is much better now than it was in 2009. Anyone have advice on how to get severance pay all the way back to my original hire date instead of my most recent one? -2timecut-
    • Comment 06/11/13: SWG Mass Lab here. Got a 1:1 meeting notice. Thinking about it, as long as I get a severance package I don't mind to get the f' outta that place. -SWG dev-
    • Comment 06/11/13: Lot of cuts in Canada SWG today (Tues.) and even more for tomorrow. Don't take it personally, your relationship with IBM should purely be of mutual benefit. If you don't like your side of the deal then get out of there, because IBM sure as hell won't hesitate to drop you if they think you've outlived your usefulness. If it's not you this time around, it will be you eventually. -Tired-
    • Comment 06/11/13: Most/All managers have to be at a mandated onshore/offshore ratio (usually 10-20% US, 80% offshore). Not every group, but most. It has nothing to do with PBC ratings, tenure, skill set or you personally. Its all about the "globalization ratio". Don't take it personally as it's IBM's true business model. Those affected will eventually land on your feet. It's a shame there is not a governing union. When companies (such as IBM) need to make numbers, it's man overboard. Stay strong to those affected. -BeenThere-
    • Comment 06/11/13: RAs will start tomorrow in Canada, many have received 1-1 meeting invites and had few managers confirming it as well. Heard that it will big - 100+ At the same time there are lots of foreign workers in Canada working for IBM. Almost anyone working in an AMS account is from India. -Still Here-
    • Comment 06/11/13: Had a 1:1 today, no mention of it, however was told that annual raises will be delayed until October. For 2014, they're supposed to have annual bonus and pay raise at PBC review time, however. I hope I'm not still around then. Would gladly take a package to leave today, and laugh all the way to the bank. It's sad...I used to be so loyal and ambitious here. But, the longer I stay here, the more I give up, and the less I have to show for myself. The conditions encourage people to quit, but most are stuck here with few skills that apply outside of IBM, so the best people who they'd prefer to keep are the only ones who quit. -LayMeOff-
    • Comment 06/11/13: For those in Canada, it's important to know what's considered fair severance. I found this link helpful: http://www.heydary.com/blog/how-do-i-know-if-my-severance-package-is-good-enough. Wish everyone all the best! -CanadianIBMer-
    • Comment 06/12/13: Today is the day. Expect over 1000 impacted across US mostly STG. ASIC and ISC hit hard. Managers and execs included. -Anon-
    • Comment 06/12/13: News announces layoffs at IBM Essex Jct. Vermont so far 120, more to happen today. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 06/12/13: Just got RAed, after ten years. I was not at all shocked, knew it would happen sooner or later. I will survive and will be happier. Good bye IBM!!!!!! -RAed_Somers- Alliance reply: Sorry for your job loss. Please send us the RA pack so we can count the numbers.
    • Comment 06/12/13: I work in STG in 3D Edram Development and was informed of permanent layoff today. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 06/12/13: I am baffled on why IBM is not offering deals to more senior employees - no risk of age discrimination suits if departures are voluntary. The "ease into retirement" program in 2012 was a step in the right direction, but did not go far enough. I know that I would take a good offer right now.... and a program like that would lead to departure of more of the highly paid fossils like me. State governments do this.. just make it worth the employees while to leave voluntarily. -15yearsandcounting-
    • Comment 06/12/13: Atlanta POS Group hit hard. Storage and other groups hit too. Typical package -RAD-
    • Comment 06/12/13: RA meetings are starting. GTS NA is being hit hard. Just met with my manager and was told I was not "affected", but he shared that in my Global Process Management Services (part of the GTS Global Quality team), 10 out the 34 regular employees will be informed today that they have been RAd. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 06/12/13: I was an IBMer who was laid off in 3rd quarter 2009 but was lucky enough to be hired back as contractor. Several contractors (I heard 50 and I know two of them) at Rochester were let go about 4 weeks ago. I keep checking but I don't have 1:1 yet so I guess I am employed for now. This uncertainty makes for a lot of anxiety among the work force. - just_hanging_on-
    • Comment 06/12/13: I am one of 83 Marketing & Communications employees being permanently laid of today. Separation date is 7/12. I work from home. -Goodbye_IBM-
    • Comment 06/12/13: Rumors true!! I am in IS&TG Austin and was in the Resource Action. My manager had given me a heads-up 4 weeks ago so I was not surprised. I have been with IBM for almost 45 yeas and I agree with anyone who says IBM has gone downhill in the last 15-20 years. Used to be consistently ranked as one of the best companies to work for. Not any more. Good luck to all remaining IBMers. -Good-bye IBM-
    • Comment 06/12/13: At least four confirmed in software group in Littleton so far. RAs are in progress. -AtivanIsMyFriend-
    • Comment 06/12/13: STG Vermont affected today. Standard 30 day notice, 1 week pay per 6 months up to 6 months pay... Haven't read the packages just sent. -Hit Today-
    • Comment 06/12/13: I was notified that I'm part of the "extensive restructuring" in the ASIC organization. I'm a remote employee in the Boston area, working out of the BTV site. Glad I'm not up in VT these days. -GreenerPastures-
    • Comment 06/12/13: Ottawa folks being told right now, I'm a goner, 15 years of service. -GoneInOttawa-
    • Comment 06/12/13: My last day by choice after 7 years in GBS was May 15. Fueled by rumors of an impending RA and told by my manager that he was trying to "shield me", I jumped ship and landed in a better place, with more salary and benefits and a culture that values it's team members. There is life, a better one without craZy utilization targets and ineffective management, after IBM. Good luck to all and if not RA'd this round, get out before all the good external opportunities dry up. -Leftbychoice-
    • Comment 06/12/13: 14 year employee, SWG (work at home), RA'd. Happy this has finally happened, no more stress and anxiety waiting for the inevitable -Anonymous-
    • Comment 06/12/13: I was RA'd from IBM Cognos today. Apparently more SWG employees affected there. -ANON-
    • Comment 06/12/13: Hearing from a friend who works in the Essex Jct. VT, plant that dozens of engineers have been told they no longer have jobs. -Anon-Essex VT -
    • Comment 06/12/13: RA's in RTP (definitely in GTS, not sure about other units). Impromptu meeting by Second line manager said System X would be minimally impacted, Storage and other brands to be hit harder. (in the mean while positions hit by budget cuts late last year and earlier this year largely replaced by overseas workers + lots of early retirements over the last six months) Our direct team said to be unaffected (so far)... not sure if that goes for contractors too since that isn't part of the RA. Morale is below the floor. -Just a Contractor-
    • Comment 06/12/13: STG, SRDC, EFK, at least 3 out of 20 gone so far from my department. Two first line managers as well. Folks getting 90 days, so I'm guessing a WARN ACT was triggered. -FriendsRGone-
    • Comment 06/12/13: I was RA'd today from STG Burlington with 31 years of service. -Vermonter-
    • Comment 06/12/13: Poughkeepsie site. ISC. I was RA'D today after 29 years. My department lost at least 10 to 12. -El Dude-
    • Comment 06/12/13: RA'd this am @ BTV. 34 years, nothing but 2 and 2+ appraisals. Mixed emotions - relief, humiliation, anger...wanted to leave on my own terms but I guess I'll take their blood money. Company is F'd any way. Heard this am that Amazon spanked them on some defense dept. cloud contract and they whined and got a 're-look'. If this is the way they compete, they're doomed. Re-evaluating my IBM stock holdings. Good luck and good riddance! -Anonymous-
    • Comment 06/12/13: Almost 20 years here in Fishkill.. According to RA package list, 165 employees including myself part of "Project Mercury" just in the SRDC community alone! Looking for positives here, sure I will find some! -EFK RA'ed-
    • Comment 06/12/13: Invited to leave this morning. 28 yrs engineer at IBM. And now for something completely different... -anonBTV-
    • Comment 06/12/13: RA'ed in BTV. New hire Engineer with less than 2 years..Dunno what to do.. -Me-
    • Comment 06/12/13: To Me, Although this may seem like the worst case scenario, take the RA as a gift. You are too young with too many good and productive years ahead of you to have the IBM ball and chain wrapped around your neck. Put this behind you. Take a deep breath, dust IBM off of you and get out there and take control of your own destiny. Best of luck to you. -too-many-wasted-IBMyears-
    • Comment 06/12/13: I was cut from STG Austin, TX today. Last day is July 12th. No outsourcing. I was at least the 3rd person cut in my department. -Leni-
    • Comment 06/12/13: STG hardware design group RA'd in Littleton & Cambridge MA. 8 affected including 1 first line. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 06/12/13: first time in a long time...ISV and Developer Relations hit in NA part of SWG. GM retired last week...had to hit us at some point. unsubstantiated rumor was 10% out of 167 employees. 30 days + 1/wk/6 months up to 6months...same package as everyone else -bye-
    • Comment 06/12/13: Lots of long term R&D for IBM Cognos gone -anonymous-
    • Comment 06/12/13: Just RA'd after 10 great yrs told not perf based. Marketing cuts broad and deep WW, NA all marketing roles. 7/12/13 last day :-( - S&D NA M&C 10yrs-
    • Comment 06/12/13: North America Sales and Distribution - marketing positions eliminated -anon-
    • Comment 06/12/13: STG- ALL Server development in RTP was cut. 2 second lines right down. You'll be happier on the outside, where ever it is. -C-Dog-
    • Comment 06/12/13: Job cuts in GBS today. No numbers, but was just told I'm not on the list. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 06/12/13: My husband just phoned me to say he got RA'd (Software Group, Tivoli Division, Littleton, MA). He's a Java developer. We will send whatever info they give him re: your requests for RA packages. -Anon-
    • Comment 06/12/13: I was just cut from SWG in VA (remote position). My last day is July12th. -Jen-
    • Comment 06/12/13: Just got RA'd in Chicago..Software Group, Business Analytics. Anyone else? -Anonymous-
    • Comment 06/12/13: SWG Group in Dublin Ohio RA has begun. 4 people in our group so far. All in their 50's and 60's and all senior people. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 06/12/13: Manager just informed me I've been RA'd after 26 years with IBM. STG division, software engineer. Sad. -Anon in Rochester-
    • Send the RA pack to ibmunionalliance@gmail.com so we can validate and count the number of workers fired. Names are confidential.
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
Minimize
  • New York Times: The $2.7 Trillion Medical Bill. Colonoscopies Explain Why U.S. Leads the World in Health Expenditures. By Elisabeth Rosenthal. Excerpts: That is fairly typical: in Keene, N.H., Matt Meyer’s colonoscopy was billed at $7,563.56. Maggie Christ of Chappaqua, N.Y., received $9,142.84 in bills for the procedure. In Durham, N.C., the charges for Curtiss Devereux came to $19,438, which included a polyp removal. While their insurers negotiated down the price, the final tab for each test was more than $3,500. ...

    In many other developed countries, a basic colonoscopy costs just a few hundred dollars and certainly well under $1,000. That chasm in price helps explain why the United States is far and away the world leader in medical spending, even though numerous studies have concluded that Americans do not get better care.

    Whether directly from their wallets or through insurance policies, Americans pay more for almost every interaction with the medical system. They are typically prescribed more expensive procedures and tests than people in other countries, no matter if those nations operate a private or national health system. A list of drug, scan and procedure prices compiled by the International Federation of Health Plans, a global network of health insurers, found that the United States came out the most costly in all 21 categories — and often by a huge margin. ...

    While the United States medical system is famous for drugs costing hundreds of thousands of dollars and heroic care at the end of life, it turns out that a more significant factor in the nation’s $2.7 trillion annual health care bill may not be the use of extraordinary services, but the high price tag of ordinary ones. “The U.S. just pays providers of health care much more for everything,” said Tom Sackville, chief executive of the health plans federation and a former British health minister. ...

    The high price paid for colonoscopies mostly results not from top-notch patient care, according to interviews with health care experts and economists, but from business plans seeking to maximize revenue; haggling between hospitals and insurers that have no relation to the actual costs of performing the procedure; and lobbying, marketing and turf battles among specialists that increase patient fees.

    While several cheaper and less invasive tests to screen for colon cancer are recommended as equally effective by the federal government’s expert panel on preventive care — and are commonly used in other countries — colonoscopy has become the go-to procedure in the United States. “We’ve defaulted to by far the most expensive option, without much if any data to support it,” said Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, a professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

  • New York Times editorial: Reagan for Health Care Reform. By Juliet Lapidos. Excerpts: With many right-wing politicians dead set against expanding Medicaid, the Republican governor of Ohio, John Kasich, needed cover for going along. Facts and figures and kindness surely weren’t enough, what with his colleagues comparing health care reform to a “hostage” situation. But in an op-ed for USA Today he settled on a great excuse: It’s what Ronald Reagan would have done.

    Reagan, Mr. Kasich asserts, was “fiscally responsible, but he was also pragmatic and compassionate.”

    The patron saint of the Republican party, who approved tax increases in 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1987, also signed the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, which requires hospitals to provide emergency health care to anyone who needs it, regardless of citizenship or ability to pay. And Reagan broadened Medicaid’s reach. As Mr. Kasich notes, in 1986 he let states add poor children and pregnant women to the program.

    So Reagan would surely have approved of Mr. Kasich pushing to extend “health care coverage to 275,000 low-income Ohioans,” a move that would spare “hospitals the effects of looming cuts in federal funding for uninsured care” and prevent “additional projected increases in health insurance costs.”

  • Physicians for a National Health Program: Medical Debt: A Curable Affliction Health Reform Won’t Fix. By David U. Himmelstein, M.D., and Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H. Excerpts: Millions of Americans are deep in medical debt. Unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will throw a lifeline to very few. According to the Congressional Budget Office, even after health reform is fully implemented in 2014, 30 million to 36 million people will remain uninsured. And tens of millions who do have insurance will have coverage that is too limited to ensure financial protection against an expensive illness. Many families will remain just one serious illness away from bankruptcy.

    In 2001, we began studying medical bankruptcy along with our colleagues Elizabeth Warren and Deborah Thorne. We directly surveyed debtors soon after they’d filed for personal bankruptcy. Back then, illness and medical bills contributed to about 50 percent of all personal bankruptcies and involved about 2.2 million debtors and their dependents.

    By 2007, when we repeated our study nationwide, medical bankruptcies had risen to 62 percent. Significantly, most medical debtors were middle class. They had owned homes, had attended college, and had held responsible jobs. Seventy-eight percent even had health insurance, mostly private coverage — at least when they first got sick.

    Why are so many middle-class, privately insured Americans swamped by medical costs? The reason is that private coverage has holes — unaffordable deductibles and copayments, as well as brief or nonexistent coverage of medical services like physical therapy. Moreover, since illness often reduces work-related income, families may experience a double whammy, as medical bills arrive just when the paychecks stop.

  • New York Times editorial: The Split Between the States. Excerpts: Wisconsin and Minnesota are neighboring states with long traditions of caring for the least fortunate, but, at the moment, only one of them is concerned about the health of the poor and uninsured.

    In February, more than 130,000 Minnesota residents who lack health insurance became eligible for coverage when the state expanded its Medicaid program under the health care reform law. That will save the state $129 million in the first two years alone.

    Wisconsin, however, has chosen to take the path of indifference. On Tuesday, the Republicans who control the State Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee voted to reject the expansion of Medicaid, even though it would have covered 85,000 people at less cost to the state. The committee was marching in lock step behind the governor, Scott Walker, who claims to be worried that federal financing will run out. What’s really going on, of course, is that state Republicans have made poor people the victims of their ideological resistance to President Obama and his health care law.

    That infection has spread to 25 states, mostly with Republican leaders, that have said no to the Medicaid expansion or are resisting it. As Robert Pear of The Times recently reported, more than half of all people without health insurance live in states that are not planning to expand coverage. Many of those states already do a terrible job of covering the poor and have no interest in changing their ways, no matter the financial incentive.

    On Medicaid, education and many other issues, the map of the United States is becoming a patchwork of conscience and callousness. People on one side of a state line have access to health care, strong public schools and colleges, and good transportation systems, while those on the other side do not. The breakdown of a sense of national unity in Washington is now reflected across the country, as more than two dozen states begin to abandon traditions of responsible government.

  • Washington Post: Will young adults want Obamacare? Let’s ask a young person who’d know. By Ezra Klein. Excerpts: There’s been an interesting conversation over the last week about how young people will fare under health reform. Aaron Smith, executive director of Young Invincibles (and a bona fide young adult) has spent the past few years of his life worrying and working on exactly that question. So I asked him to weigh in. A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.

    How many of them are uninsured now? About 19 million young adults 18 to 34 lack health insurance. Our polling shows that less than 5 percent of young people choose not to have it. The number one reason they don’t have it is the cost. Most young people don’t qualify for Medicaid right now even if they have very low incomes because most states just don’t give childless adults Medicaid. That’s one of the biggest changes under Obamacare. If every state expanded Medicaid, about 8 million would qualify for Medicaid. Another 9 million would qualify for subsidies because they make less than 400 percent of poverty.

    So then 17 of the 19 million uninsured young people are, in theory, eligible for either subsidies or Medicaid under Obamacare? That’s right. It’s a pretty phenomenal percentage. So if we do our jobs right, young people will be one of the biggest winners in the health-care law. ...

    But the cost does matter. So is Obamacare actually going to make insurance affordable for this group? Or will it make insurance more expensive for young, healthy people by making it easier for sicker, older people to buy insurance without getting discriminated against? The first important point is the huge percentage of unemployed young people who get access to either subsidies or Medicaid. So you saw in California that many young people will end up having insurance options that cost them less than $100 or less than $50 simply because their income is low enough to qualify for subsidies. For someone making $20,000 a year, they’re going to have to pay $40 a month for health insurance. That’s a very good deal. And in a state like California, there are also millions of young people who qualify for Medicaid.

    Now we’ve identified a population between 300 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level that’s going to have more problems. The subsidies aren’t that rich for them, and so whether to buy is a tougher question. They’ll have financial strain. They have financial strain now. That’s why they’re uninsured. If you’re just getting by, then $200 a month can be a lot. That’s where education can be key. It can still make good financial sense to be covered because there are real risks. But I think, in general, it will be a good enough deal to sign up. We saw that in Massachusetts where youth uninsurance dropped in half in the first year.

  • Health Affairs Blog: Evidence Supports Medicare For All. By Ida Hellander. Excerpts: Dana Goldman and Adam Leive’s effort to discredit the single payer, Medicare-for-All model of financing health care — or as they put it, make “any conclusion decidedly more nuanced” — is sorely lacking in nuance, defined by Merriam-Webster as “made or done with extreme care or accuracy.”

    Acknowledging Medicare’s greater success at controlling costs than private insurance plans, Goldman and Leive raise the specter of “under provision of services” and doctors leaving the system if Medicare were universal. But Medicare patients are significantly less likely to have problems with access to care and medical bills than non-elderly adults with private insurance, according to a recent study by The Commonwealth Fund. The same study found that Medicare beneficiaries are also more satisfied with their coverage than people with private insurance. Only 6 percent of beneficiaries in traditional Medicare rated their coverage as fair or poor in 2010, compared with 20 percent with employer-sponsored private insurance.

    Among physicians who treat Medicare patients, 90 percent of all physicians and 96 percent of specialists are accepting new Medicare patients according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. In contrast to the limited networks of doctors available to the privately insured, and the appalling “under provision of services” to those left uninsured and underinsured by today’s for-profit, market driven system, a Medicare-for-All system would expand choice and access.

  • McClatchy Washington Bureau: Report: Medicare’s finances improve, Social Security holding steady. By Tony Pugh. Excerpts: Medicare’s troubled finances got a boost Friday when the annual trustees report showed that the program’s hospital insurance trust fund will remain solvent until 2026, two years longer than was projected last year. Social Security has enough cash to cover benefits until 2033, which is unchanged from last year’s projection.

    The Obama administration credited Medicare’s improved outlook to lower spending for hospital and skilled nursing care and lower projected program costs for Medicare Advantage plans, the private plans that provide Medicare benefits.

    Certain provisions of the controversial health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also were credited with improving the fiscal outlook of Medicare, the national health insurance program for older people and those with disabilities.

    The new law instituted a number of money-saving initiatives, such as cutting payments to hospitals that have high readmission rates for Medicare patients. From 2011 to 2012, 70,000 fewer Medicare beneficiaries were readmitted because of complications from previous ailments.

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.

  • Reuters, courtesy of The Fiscal Times: Corporations "Check the Box" to Save Billions in Taxes. Excerpts: As the U.S. economy crumbled in early 2009, President Barack Obama offered a plan that he said would save American jobs: a crackdown on corporate tax loopholes that encourage companies to send profits abroad to avoid paying billions of dollars in U.S. taxes each year.

    Tax lobbyist Ken Kies was not worried. A decade earlier, he had led a fight to preserve a key loophole - known in Treasury Department shorthand as the "check the box" rule - when another Democratic president, Bill Clinton, had tried to kill it.

    "I told my clients, 'Don't sweat this. This is never going to happen,'" recalled Kies, who has advised corporate giants Microsoft and General Electric on the issue. Kies was right.

    Business groups rose up against Obama's plan, arguing that it could damage U.S. businesses already threatened by the weak economy. Democrats in Congress balked, Obama dropped the idea and the loophole survived.

    The story of the "check the box" loophole, which allows U.S. companies to choose for themselves how to classify their subsidiaries for tax purposes, and a companion policy known as the "look-through" rule, shows how Washington bureaucrats, lobbyists and politicians have worked together, sometimes wittingly, to save money for American corporations and deprive the federal government of billions in tax revenue each year. ...

    The "check the box" loophole, which costs the U.S. about $10 billion per year, according to the White House, also has been a reflection of Washington's "revolving door" culture of policy-making and lobbying. Some of the bureaucrats who helped to write the rule went on to work for corporations that used it to lower their tax bills.

  • New York Times op-ed: The Geezers Are All Right. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: Last month the Congressional Budget Office released its much-anticipated projections for debt and deficits, and there were cries of lamentation from the deficit scolds who have had so much influence on our policy discourse. The problem, you see, was that the budget office numbers looked, well, O.K.: deficits are falling fast, and the ratio of debt to gross domestic product is projected to remain roughly stable over the next decade. Obviously it would be nice, eventually, to actually reduce debt. But if you’ve built your career around proclamations of imminent fiscal doom, this definitely wasn’t the report you wanted to see.

    Still, we can always count on the baby boomers to deliver disaster, can’t we? Doesn’t the rising tide of retirees mean that Social Security and Medicare are doomed unless we radically change those programs now now now?

    Maybe not. ...

    So what are we looking at here? The latest projections show the combined cost of Social Security and Medicare rising by a bit more than 3 percent of G.D.P. between now and 2035, and that number could easily come down with more effort on the health care front. Now, 3 percent of G.D.P. is a big number, but it’s not an economy-crushing number. The United States could, for example, close that gap entirely through tax increases, with no reduction in benefits at all, and still have one of the lowest overall tax rates in the advanced world.

    But haven’t all the great and the good been telling us that Social Security and Medicare as we know them are unsustainable, that they must be totally revamped — and made much less generous? Why yes, they have; they’ve also been telling us that we must slash spending right away or we’ll face a Greek-style fiscal crisis. They were wrong about that, and they’re wrong about the longer run, too.

    The truth is that the long-term outlook for Social Security and Medicare, while not great, actually isn’t all that bad. It’s time to stop obsessing about how we’ll pay benefits to retirees in 2035 and focus instead on how we’re going to provide jobs to unemployed Americans in the here and now.

  • New York Times opinion: Welfare for the Wealthy. By Mark Bittman. Excerpts: The critically important Farm Bill is impenetrably arcane, yet as it worms its way through Congress, Americans who care about justice, health or the environment can parse enough of it to become outraged. ...

    The current versions of the Farm Bill in the Senate (as usual, not as horrible as the House) and the House (as usual, terrifying) could hardly be more frustrating. The House is proposing $20 billion in cuts to SNAP — equivalent, says Beckmann, to “almost half of all the charitable food assistance that food banks and food charities provide to people in need.”

    Deficit reduction is the sacred excuse for such cruelty, but the first could be achieved without the second. Two of the most expensive programs are food stamps, the cost of which has justifiably soared since the beginning of the Great Recession, and direct subsidy payments.

    This pits the ability of poor people to eat — not well, but sort of enough — against the production of agricultural commodities. That would be a difficult choice if the subsidies were going to farmers who could be crushed by failure, but in reality most direct payments go to those who need them least.

    Among them is Congressman Stephen Fincher, Republican of Tennessee, who justifies SNAP cuts by quoting 2 Thessalonians 3:10: “For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.”

    Even if this quote were not taken out of context — whoever wrote 2 Thessalonians was chastising not the poor but those who’d stopped working in anticipation of the second coming — Fincher ignores the fact that Congress is a secular body that supposedly doesn’t base policy on an ancient religious text that contradicts itself more often than not. Not that one needs to break a sweat countering his “argument,” but 45 percent of food stamp recipients are children, and in 2010, the U.S.D.A. reported that as many as 41 percent are working poor.

    This would be just another amusing/depressing example of an elected official ignoring a huge part of his constituency (about one in seven Americans rely on food stamps, though it’s one in five in Tennessee, the second highest rate in the South), were not Fincher himself a hypocrite.

    For the God-fearing Fincher is one of the largest recipients of U.S.D.A. farm subsidies in Tennessee history; he raked in $3.48 million in taxpayer cash from 1999 to 2012, $70,574 last year alone. The average SNAP recipient in Tennessee gets $132.20 in food aid a month; Fincher received $193 a day. (You can eat pretty well on that.)

  • The Fiscal Times: America’s Wealth-Making Machine Is Upside Down. By Bruce Bartley. Excerpts: Many well-meaning people mistakenly believe that the ultra-wealthy are the source of American prosperity. They do the saving and investment that creates jobs; they are the entrepreneurs who start new businesses and implement economic innovations; and the well-being of everyone in the working and middle classes is ultimately dependent on the health and prosperity of the ultra-rich, it is widely thought.

    This belief is largely bipartisan, although obviously more widely shared among Republicans. Since at least the Clinton administration, Democrats have also worked to implement wealth-friendly policies, often called the “neoliberal consensus,” such as free trade, low taxes on capital income, low inflation and deficit reduction.

    The fact that Republicans want these things even more should not obscure the fact that both parties generally share the same economic philosophy, differing only in degree. Thus, despite high unemployment, the federal government has done virtually nothing to create jobs; despite the obvious failure of “austerity” programs in Europe, both parties believe that deficit reduction is the principal fiscal priority; and the obsession with minuscule levels of inflation continues to constrain Federal Reserve policy.

    There are, however, a few creative thinkers out there saying that our national priorities are all wrong and that the basic premise of where growth comes from is upside down. One of these is Nick Hanauer, an entrepreneur from Seattle, Washington, who argues that strengthening the middle class is the key to wealth creation. And the key to middle class prosperity is good-paying jobs. ...

    If growth is essentially demand-driven, the wealthy cannot be the drivers of growth because they simply don’t consume enough and raise their spending very little in response to increases in income. How could they? The number of rich people is small and they can already afford whatever they want.

    It’s not only the income of the middle class that is ultimately essential for growth. It’s the wealth of that class, which has been decimated by the fall in home prices and increasing indebtedness, as middle class families struggle to maintain living standards, put their children through college and cope with downward income mobility. ...

    It should be obvious by now that further governmental austerity measures will only make matters worse, but there appears to be no support for an expansionary fiscal policy, a federal jobs program, or a more stimulative monetary policy. Sadly, this means there is no end in sight to middle class malaise, which means that economic growth likely will be stuck where it is for the foreseeable future.

  • Forbes: How Retirees Pay Zero Taxes. By William Baldwin. Excerpts: Don’t let this out to anyone on the Senate Finance Committee, but rich old people who set up their portfolios a certain way get away with murder on their tax returns.

    No, the portfolio does not have to be tucked away in the Cayman Islands. It can be invested through a U.S. brokerage account in mainstream funds like Vanguard Total Stock Market, familiar blue chips like Microsoft and very liquid energy partnerships like Kinder Morgan Energy Partners.

    To illustrate, let’s invent a retired couple who live outside Boston. They own a $2 million home, have $7 million stashed away at their broker and haul in $200,000 a year in dividends, interest, Social Security and distributions from publicly traded partnerships. They have $30,000 in deductions, including $20,000 for property tax and $5,000 for a donation.

    Type this example into Intuit’s TurboTax program and the federal income tax bill that comes out is $17.

    How is that possible? The main reason is the government’s gentle treatment of most stock dividends. The usual rate is 15%, but a couple enjoys a 0% rate up to the point where their taxable income hits $70,700.

    Another reason is that, in our hypothetical case, three-fourths of the couple’s $3 million bond portfolio is invested in municipal bonds. Also contributing: a foreign tax credit, untaxed distributions from energy partnerships and a $3,000 capital loss writeoff.

  • Los Angeles Times: Social Security should be expanded, not cut. Social Security is still the best retirement program we have. Benefits should be increased, paid for by raising or eliminating the payroll tax cap. By Michael Hiltzik. Excerpts: Fear-mongers and other critics of Social Security were silenced — momentarily — by the release last week of the annual trustees' report for the programs. The report showed not only that it's looking pretty good in the near term, but in the long term it's more important to the sustenance of millions of Americans than ever before.

    But policymakers and pundits have taken the wrong lesson from these findings. The argument they most often put forward is that Social Security is so important it must be "saved," typically by cutting benefits to bring its outflow in line with its income.

    But the right conclusion is that it should be expanded. This is the proper moment to do so, because the shortcomings of the rest of our retirement system have never been so obvious.

    Social Security is still recording a surplus of income over expenses, and even looking ahead 75 years, its projected actuarial deficit is manageable within a growing economy. In fact, its trustees say the program's share of national wealth will stabilize as the baby boom generation moves into and — what's a polite way of saying this? — out of retirement. ...

    So there was a notable dearth of declarations from Capitol Hill and media pundits after the reports' release that our social insurance structure is going "bankrupt" or that the rise in costs is "unsustainable."

    Chalk that up to the triumph — rare enough these days — of facts over flapdoodle. What the latest figures show is that Social Security is still the best retirement program we have. It's the safest, the most dependable and by far the most important source of income to the vast majority of retired Americans: Two-thirds of them get more than half their income from Social Security.

    The biggest problem is that most retirement funds outside Social Security are at risk in the financial markets. Among workers with any employer-provided retirement plans, the fraction covered solely by a defined-benefit plan — the traditional kind, where your retirement check was based on your longevity and salary history with your company — declined by more than 80% between 1980 and 2003, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Even firms that still offer these plans typically exclude new employees. ...

    There's no trick to making Social Security more relevant to more Americans. Benefits should be increased, especially for those whose lifetime annual earnings have averaged $50,000 or so (roughly two-thirds of all beneficiaries). The benefits for women who have spent most of their working-age lives as caregivers by raising a family or tending to aged parents should be augmented through a "caregiver credit" that recognizes their contribution. You know all those politicians who go on the stump or on TV to praise family and motherhood? This is a chance to put their votes where their mouths are.

    How to pay for that? No trick to that, either: Raise the payroll tax cap, or even better, scrap it. The most common objection to this solution to Social Security's fiscal issues is that it would raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans to, well, "unsustainable" levels. ...

    The alternative to eliminating the cap is weakening benefits. Congress and the Obama administration seem all too willing to do this, whether by cutting cost-of-living increases for retirees through the "chained CPI" or raising the retirement age. ...

    Experience shows that nothing has worked better to shore up the average American's retirement prospects than Social Security, and nothing has kept the elderly healthy better than Medicare. With the trustees suggesting that the dire projections of the recent past may not be so dire, truly fresh thinking would say that the moment has come to invest more in these programs, not less. Why are we still talking about cuts?

  • AARP: Ronald Reagan’s 9 Wisest Words About Social Security. By David Certner. Excerpts: The last time we made significant changes to Social Security — including adjustments to benefits — was the 1983 Social Security amendments. At the time, Social Security had less than a year’s worth of solvency, and a bipartisan agreement to put Social Security on sound financial footing was essential.

    That legislation, negotiated by President Reagan and Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill, focused on what was needed protect Social Security for the long term. Reagan understood that Social Security is a separately funded program unrelated to problems in the rest of the budget, and he clearly stated that: “Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit.” ...

    Since the 1983 amendments, and despite the numerous deficit reduction debates over that time period, Social Security cuts have never been part of any deficit reduction agreement. Congress has always understood — as Reagan observed — that Social Security has nothing to do with the federal budget deficit. Unfortunately, many policymakers today have forgotten that basic truth and have suggested cuts to Social Security as part of the end of year “fiscal cliff” budget package. The proposal — the so-called chained CPI — would change the formula for calculating the Social Security cost of living adjustment (COLA). This COLA cut would reduce benefits by over $100 billion dollars over the next 10 years and would result in thousands of dollars of lost benefits for current (and future) retirees.

    Social Security has a long-term shortfall, but any changes to Social Security should be done — as President Reagan and Tip O’Neil achieved in 1983 — in a balanced and separate measure for the purpose of securing Social Security for the long term. Social Security should not be cut as part of a budget package to pay for a shortfall in the rest of the federal budget.

  • New York Times: Many Rival Nations Surge Past the U.S. in Adding New Jobs. By Nelson D. Schwartz. Excerpts: The American economy may be the world’s biggest, but when it comes to job creation since the recession hit at the end of 2007, it is far from a leader.

    Indeed, contrary to the widespread view that the United States is an island of relative prosperity in a global sea of economic torpor, employment in several other nations has bounced back more quickly, according to a new analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. ...

    But overall employment in the United States remained 2.1 percent below where it was at the end of 2007, according to the statistics bureau. By comparison, over the same period, between December 2007 and March 2013, the number of jobs was up 8.1 percent in Australia; Germany, the biggest economy in the troubled euro zone, has managed a 5.8 percent gain in employment. ...

    While several European countries have fared worse, Canada, Sweden and even Britain, which is trapped in yet another recession, have enjoyed healthier job gains than the United States. In fact, of the nine countries surveyed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only perennially-troubled Italy and Japan performed worse. ...

    The German government also went to great lengths to discourage outright layoffs, instead encouraging employers to keep workers in a part-time capacity. At the same time, letting workers go in Europe is a much more costly proposition for big employers than it is in the United States. ...

    Mr. Ball noted that the weak trajectory of the labor market in the United States mirrored the pattern for overall economic output. While the Australian economy was 13 percent larger in terms of output than it was in 2007, and Canada had expanded by 6 percent, the American economy had grown by only 3 percent over the same period. ...

    Still, at 7.6 percent in May, unemployment in the United States is half a percentage point higher than in neighboring Canada. The United States population is nearly 10 times that of Canada, yet the Canadian economy added 95,000 jobs in May compared with 175,000 in the United States.

If you hire good people and treat them well, they will try to do a good job. They will stimulate one another by their vigor and example. They will set a fast pace for themselves. Then if they are well led and occasionally inspired, if they understand what the company is trying to do and know they will share in its sucess, they will contribute in a major way. The customer will get the superior service he is looking for. The result is profit to customers, employees, and to stcckholders. —Thomas J. Watson, Jr., from A Business and Its Beliefs: The Ideas That Helped Build IBM.

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