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Highlights—June 29, 2013

  • Poughkeepsie Journal: IBM layoffs accelerate Dutchess County's economic plan. Development-group alliance to aid affected 697. By Craig Wolf. Excerpts: When Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro came forth in January with his big idea to revamp economic development, he didn’t know the county was about to get smacked with a small-scale replay of its biggest economic disaster.

    His plans, not yet fully fledged, are getting an early trial by fire.

    IBM did it again. On June 12, the company cut 697 people from the payrolls of its two Dutchess sites. It was a fraction of the thousands slashed in the early 1990s, but it was a big hit. ...

    The big layoffs from Big Blue spurred him to accelerate the as-yet-unfinished project. The first task of the new alliance will turn out to be helping the people who have just been told their jobs end Sept. 10 and whose loss of payroll has been estimated to put a $55 million dent in Dutchess’ economy.

    On Monday, the state Department of Labor’s “rapid response” team expects to hear from IBM about whether they can go into IBM’s plants in Poughkeepsie and East Fishkill to brief the workers, Hicks said.

    “IBM has not permitted that yet,” he said. The agency staff will advise on topics like unemployment insurance, health insurance and retraining. ...

    One rapid action came from the state Department of Labor, which filed an application June 20 for federal aid to individuals under the Trade Adjustment Assistance program. The program is for workers hurt by foreign trade. It can include income support, retraining aid, job-search help and relocation aid.

    But that petition contains a troubling story about what IBM is doing. The petition, filed by labor official Susan Serviss, is based on a worker from IBM Poughkeepsie who reported the product engineering and serving planning are being outsourced to foreign countries. A contract worker for Pomeroy, a company IBM uses to get labor for developing hardware and software for mainframe computers, said he had been training workers in China to take over his job. That worker said most operations at the Poughkeepsie site are going to Brazil, India and China.

    This clearly has Hicks and other county officials worried. IBM is the largest private-sector employer in Dutchess by far. It has been shrinking in recent years. ...

    That company’s (IBM's) Poughkeepsie site was checked out by Microsoft as a candidate for a large data center, Hicks said. But it didn’t work out because IBM did not want to split off the southern part of the site.

    The facilities of IBM, which have vacant space, remain key, though.

    “Our economic development strategy has to address those campuses,” Hicks said. “They could be our steel mills.”

    That is a reference to America’s loss of huge steel plants to foreign competition. Already, IBM’s former West Campus, once the state of the art in chip development, sits empty and in the ownership of a Chinese company, Linuo Solar Group. It recently let a broker advertise two buildings for lease, but the site must have a sewage solution first.

  • IT Jungle: IBM Cuts Systems And Software Jobs, Hopes To Boost Profits. By Dan Burger. Excerpts: Like night follows day, darkness is descending on nearly 3,000 IBM employees who are being dishonorably discharged--the company prefers the term "workforce rebalanced"--from the payroll of the IT giant in the United States and Canada. On a global basis, the number is expected to exceed 5,000 and possibly as many as 8,000 could be without jobs by the end of the year. Earnings per share, which guides IBM's decision making, should benefit, while families and communities get the dirty end of the stick.

    Don't let that first paragraph fool you. I despise the influence of stock prices over corporate citizenship in these decisions more than I let on. IBM, of course, recognizes this kind of news is not very flattering. But it is also aware that it is just the kind of behavior Wall Street admires.

    Very little would be reported on the topic of workforce rebalancing if IBM had its way. It is mostly through the efforts of the Alliance@IBM that it comes to light. The Alliance is a workers' group not recognized as having bargaining power with IBM, but its members feed information through it that then gets wider dissemination through the media. IBM tips its hand just slightly in its financial reporting to alert investors that is making changes that will have a positive effect on earnings. It doesn't want to publicly appear happy that people are losing jobs, but it is well-received news at the highest executive levels.

    The job loss number provided by Alliance@IBM is validated through documents IBM delivers to the severed workers, who then share that information with the union. The documents provide details according to work groups and indicate which job titles are being eliminated, how many individuals with that title are being eliminated, and the age of the employees who have been eliminated. ...

    Lee Conrad, the national director of Alliance@IBM, told IT Jungle that IBM previously reported job cuts by location, but stopped providing that information a few years ago. He argues the cuts should be transparent because IBM--and other companies--receive tax breaks and tax incentives from many different states based, in part, on employment numbers.

    "Beyond the issue of tax breaks and tax incentives, this is about being a good corporate citizen," Conrad says. "Tell people the truth. Why keep it all a secret? It makes the company look bad. It makes them look aloof and uncaring."

    The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) was put into place in the United States to protect workers, their families, and communities by requiring employers with 100 or more employees to provide notification 60 calendar days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs. There is no indication IBM has disregarded this. Conrad, however, claims IBM manipulates the timing of the employee notifications to sidestep the intent of WARN.

    "IBM likes to play games with the WARN notifications by keeping just under the threshold for reporting at the big IBM sites," he says. "They give employees 30 to 90 days before they technically have to be out of the building, which allows them to report a number at the end of a 30-day period that is part of the larger group of job cuts and stay under the threshold. It's a matrix with people in various locations reporting to a department that consolidates those employees at possibly a location where there are no job losses." ...

    "When we see IBM continue to fire U.S. workers year after year and then keep H-1B workers, or even L-1B workers, we find that unconscionable," Conrad says. "I think that when companies say the foreign workers brought to the U.S. have skills and qualifications that cannot be found in the U.S. labor market, it's a lie. When you look at the job titles of people who have been cut, they are skilled and knowledgeable. Many have been with IBM for many years. They are seeing a change inside IBM and are wondering how is that impacting the business? What is the future of IBM when earnings per share are manipulated by cutting long-time employees? That's a story in itself." ...

    The U.S. worker population at IBM is steadily dropping. Before the job cuts, Alliance@IBM estimated it at 91,000. The latest cut brings it to fewer than 90,000. It was 160,000 just 10 years ago.

  • Australian IT: IBM cost cuts drive up 457 visa hires. By Fran Foo. Excerpts: IBM Australia is on a cost-slashing drive, including ramping up on 457 visas, sending local jobs offshore and downsizing offices as 1400 workers are retrenched.

    IBM has confirmed it is assessing how best to use its real estate although there were no present plans to close offices.

    IBM sources say the job cuts, which are occurring across the board and in phases, are required because IBM has been "doing it tough" financially and not growing in line with expectations of its US parent company, which has ordered thousands of jobs to be cut globally.

    The Australian can reveal that IBM has been relying on employee services firm Manpower to hire workers from India on 457 visas to be based in Australia, replacing IBM employees locally with the same skills.

    The 457 visa category should be used in cases where skills are unavailable locally, but sources within IBM say that in some cases Indian workers with commodity IT skills such as with Microsoft Windows and Citrix systems are being hired.

    An IBM spokeswoman declined to comment on Manpower's involvement, saying: "IBM fully complies with the 457 visa laws in Australia."

    In some cases the 457 workers are about 40 per cent cheaper than Australian hires, according to internal IBM calculations.

    Australian Services Union NSW secretary Sally McManus said IBM's actions were "disgraceful". "It's absolutely disgraceful if IBM is using these visas, as we've heard from our members, to train up workers from overseas to take jobs here," Ms McManus said. "It's an abuse of 457 visas." ...

    The spokeswoman said IBM would not publicly discuss the details of staffing plans because of the competitive nature of the IT industry. She provided the same response to The Australian in May: "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."

    Sources within IBM said some roles would be moved to lower-cost centres in Asia, such as Malaysia, while others would be assigned to India. ...

    It is understood the cuts were beginning to affect customer service levels, but the spokeswoman said IBM's focus "continues to be (on) delivering the most value for our clients by leveraging our entire portfolio to create a seamless, high-value client experience".

  • Australian IT: IBM roasted over use of 457 workers. By Fran Foo. Excerpt: IBM has adopted an arsenal of weapons to reduce and control costs, including ramping up on 457 visas, sending local jobs offshore and downsizing offices. ...

    Sources within IBM say the job cuts, which were occurring across the board and in phases, were required because IBM had been "having it tough" financially. It was also not growing in line with expectations of its US parent company, which has ordered thousands of jobs to be cut globally. ...

    China's ongoing urbanization process represents a massive opportunity for IBM in the post-PC era, according to Ernie Hu, a director of the software group at IBM Greater China.

    The company is busy installing next-generation information collection and analysis systems for various local governments.

  • Arabian Business: Tech giant IBM silent on Middle East redundancies. By Shane McGinley. Excerpts: IBM, the world’s largest computer-services provider, has refused to reveal how many staff in the Middle East will lose their jobs as part of its $1bn plan to cut its global workforce by up to 8,000, with the bulk of redundancies taking place outside the US. ...

    Analysts, such as Laurence Balter from Oracle Investment Research in Washington, predicted staff cuts could be as high as up to 8,000, or around two percent of IBM’s global workforce of 434,246.

    IBM Middle East, which has its headquarters in Dubai, refused to reveal how many staff at its operations in the region would be made redundant as part of the global cost cutting process.

    “Given the competitive nature of our industry, we do not publicly discuss the details of staffing plans,” a spokesperson told Arabian Business.

  • People's Daily Online (China): IBM to make Chinese job cuts. By Gao Yuan. Excerpts: International Business Machines Corp, the US technology giant, is cutting jobs in China after a disappointing decline in earnings.

    The world's biggest computer service provider said in an e-mailed reply to China Daily on Wednesday, from its China office, that "change is constant" in the technology industry and that "transformation is an essential feature of our business model".

    It added: "Consequently, some level of workforce remix is a constant requirement for our business."

    Although the company avoided giving any actual numbers of potential losses, a report on local Chinese news site tech.qq.com suggested the New York-based multinational is expected to axe at least 500 staff on the Chinese mainland.

    The report added that affected staff can expect 14,000 yuan ($2,270) for every year of service as compensation. The US company did not refute the report.

  • Forbes: The New #4 Most Shorted Dow Component: International Business Machines. Excerpts: In our new rank based on the most recent short interest data from NASDAQ, International Business Machines Corp. has taken over the position of #4 most shorted Dow component, from Johnson & Johnson which is now in the #3 spot.

    The “days to cover” at 06/14/2013 was 5.33 for IBM, and 5.51 for JNJ; this compares to the average across all Dow components of 3.18. The chart below shows the movement over time of the “days to cover” values of both IBM and JNJ, versus the average Dow component. ...

    A stock with a high “days to cover” value compared to its peers would be considered to have a higher level of short interest as compared to those peers. This could mean short sellers are using the stock to hedge a long bet elsewhere, or could also mean that short sellers believe the price of the stock will decline. When short sellers eventually cover their positions, by definition there must be buying activity because a share that is currently sold short must be purchased to be covered. So investors tend to keep an eye on that “days to cover” metric, because a high value could predict a sharper price increase should the company put out some unexpectedly good news — short sellers might rush to cover positions, and if the “days to cover” number is high, it is more difficult to close those positions without sending the stock higher until the higher price produces enough sellers to generate the necessary volume.

  • New York Times: A Bill Allowing More Foreign Workers Stirs a Tech Debate. By Somini Sengupta. Excerpts: As the Senate voted on a landmark immigration bill that would let Silicon Valley companies import more foreign engineers, some Americans remain locked in a deeply emotional argument over whether outsiders are taking jobs away from people like Joey Doernberg.

    Mr. Doernberg worked in chip design, before that industry shrank, and then for a solar energy company, before that industry shrank, and has been unemployed since the middle of last year. By his own account, his skills are not ideal for the current job market. Nor does it help, he says, that at 53, he looks older than he is; youth is at a premium in his industry. So, too, is optimism.

    “It’s a question of convincing someone that with these skills, I can do this job, even though I haven’t done it before,” he said. “I’m very optimistic. I know I will find a job.”

    The questions of skills, jobs and nationality are a combustible mix these days.

    Silicon Valley companies, warning of an acute labor shortage, say it is too costly to retrain older workers like Mr. Doernberg, and that the country is not producing enough younger Americans with the precise skills the industry needs. Their arguments have persuaded a majority of senators to give them what they want: a provision in the immigration bill to let in many more foreign professionals.

    But Americans like Mr. Doernberg and the powerful labor lobby say that what the tech industry really wants is to depress wages and bring in more pliant, less costly temporary workers from overseas. If there is such a talent shortage, they ask, why are wages for most engineers not rising faster? Labor groups have pushed for a requirement to offer jobs to equally qualified Americans before hiring foreigners, a provision that the industry has fiercely resisted. ...

    At the same time, though, the industry’s claims of a labor shortage may be somewhat overblown. Most H-1B workers hold entry-level positions. Economists say that bringing in more of these workers would serve to keep wages down. It also saves employers the trouble of having to retrain workers.

    Selected reader comments follow:

    • The industry's claim that it's difficult and expensive to retrain older engineers is not credible. Experience generally helps, not hurts. What they really want is young, cheap labor.
    • I worked in IT for over 35 years and had to learn new languages and technology throughout. I retired at 55. Older workers can learn just as younger workers can and they make up in experience what they may lack in the latest 'thing', which they can learn. Try giving young workers 10-15 years of experience fast. It can't be done.

      This bill is nothing more than a ruse allowing tech companies to hire cheap foreign labor which they can constantly replace and transferring the 'savings' up the ladder to billionaires like Zuckerman and Gates.

    • I worked in Silicon Valley in technology marketing for more than 25 years. None of my peers in their fifties are employed there any more nor am I. That goes for many of my engineer friends as well. The issue is not that our skills are out of date. Believe me we are very au courant. The industry vastly prefers to spend less money on guest workers who are cheaper than our American workforce. One of the jobs I used to do - project management for a large bank - is now done mostly by Indian women here.

      Tech companies should be made to support the local workforce. I don't see that retraining is the real issue. My skills are top notch and so are my credentials as are those of my peers - who have to hide the depth of their experience on their resumes so as not to intimidate the younger people doing the hiring. Most of us are highly skilled. It's about age discrimination coupled with cheaper, foreign options.

    • Here's a voice those in Congress should be hearing, not selfish, privately-held Silicon Valley companies whose bottom line is how cheaply they can pay their foreign employees while raking in tax benefits. They should be forced to open their books and prove they can't hire skilled Americans regardless of their age and retraining "entry-level" jobs for citizens seems cheaper than getting people from halfway around the world unless you plan on paying them much less. Yes, that's it - it's simply a matter of cheap labor.
    • From my experience working in Silicon Valley, I know that many just graduated US-side software developers have a bleak view about their future of the industry. Everyone sees that the large companies want disposable highly specialized highly skilled workers to satisfy a need for a certain narrow task (e.g. the men in their 50's in the above article who focussed on chip design) and they don't want to spend money on training anyone for that task. Once that task become technologically redundant and you are over 30ish, 'good bye!'. Yes, you might be a 24 year old hot shot Hadoop developer but your wages are going to stagnant once the Indians/Russians get wind that Hadoop is hot. So you'll tread water until something else replaces Hadoop and then find yourself redundant and companies unwilling to retrain. Fortunately for the large companies, there is no shortage of Indian engineers willing to be disposable for a visa.
    • The massive excess of STEM workers in the US has destabilized the STEM job markets.

      This destabilization makes US students avoid these fields and it also injects all sorts of biases in to the picture - including age bias.

      This crushes real innovation, thus lowers our standard of living for the long haul. This foolishness makes the US poorer.

      I must add that I'm very disappointed with the NY Times' one-sided reporting against US STEM workers in this and other articles. The ramifications of these poor policies have an impact far larger than destroying careers of nerds and geeks.

      I bet some of the anecdotal articles mentioned here are from the same departments who completely missed the great recession coming.

    • The H-1B is a scam meant to depress wages for American engineers and high-tech workers for the sake of corporate profits and lavish executive pay.

      If the H-1B workers are truly needed for their rare and valuable skills, they should be paid more than than their American counterparts.

      A good way to control the abuse of the H-1B is to issue them to immigrants who: have a 4-year degree from an accredited US university, passed a test to show that he has English proficiency, and is willing to work in economically depressed areas of the US such as rust belt cities. Also, US companies could be given tax incentives for hiring US citizens (and possibly training them) over foreigners and could be penalized for hiring too many foreigners or firing too many US citizens to replace them with foreigners.

    • from the article: "There is little empirical evidence to suggest that foreign engineers displace American engineers as a whole. If anything, one recent study suggests, the growth of immigrant workers in American companies helps younger American technical workers — more of them are hired and at higher-paying jobs — but has no noticeable consequences, good or bad, on older workers." That has to be one of the most dishonest things I have ever read in a major newspaper. The abuse of the H1B Visa issue and the massive offshoring it has enabled has at a minimum cost the jobs of many hundreds of thousands of American tech workers and engineers, over the past 10 - 15 years. In fact, the real number of lost jobs in tech for U.S. citizens may actually be in the low millions. The empirical evidence of this is actually pretty overwhelming and it's beyond farce to claim otherwise
    • Talking about Silicon Valley and chip design dodges the main issue.

      The bulk of H1Bs are in banks and brokerage houses. They often work for Indian 'consulting' companies who are little more than cheap outsourcers. A lot of the work they do is basically grunt IT work, grinding out cookie-cutter code, preparing test data, applying routine patches to the servers.

      The body shops do not necessarily obey all law. They can give the appearance of paying a fair wage, but get the money back in various ways. They can charge 'placement fees', or 'legal fees', or not pay guys while they are on the beach.

      I won't even go into the kind of deal where if you hire my contractors, I will deposit twenty lakh in your dad's account in Mumbai.

    • I feel like a foreigner in my own company - I work in IT for a large company - When I'm told "We cant find anyone so we need to insource" I laugh. I know lots of IT folks looking for jobs that can do what we need. Our company would prefer to import foreign workers, and not have to pay benefits. The fact that these workers are hard to understand, can barely handle tier 1 duties (even though they're supposedly tier 3) and require constant hand holding annoys me. It gets me angry when 30% of my cafeteria are workers imported from a foreign country. H1B is so anti-American and pro-foreigner.
    • Eight years ago I had a friend who worked for Sun on Network Software. He was the head of the group that developed this software and had a Master's degree in Computer Science from MIT. One day they brought in a group of engineers from Mumbai and had him teach them the system his group had developed. They were there for around 6 months and then went back to Mumbai. One month later Sun laid off all of the engineers in that group in the US and moved the operation to Mumbai.

      This story had been repeated a thousand times over until, for a while it was extremely hard to find a software job in the US. Consequently, students at American colleges stopped majoring in computer science because job prospects were poor. Now we have a shortage and Silicon Valley is blaming the US educational system for the problem they themselves caused.

    • Having two sons working as computer engineers on the west coast has provided me a bit of a window on the H-1B program. Both have excellent jobs, pay, and benefits; yet, they both vociferously criticize the H-1B program via their experiences. It's simply another way to depress wages in the tech sector and exploit foreign workers at the expense of U.S. workers. The idea that U.S. tech workers don't have sufficient skills is simply a sham in order to hire the cheaper H1-B worker and a worker who can easily be deported back to their country of origin.

      The idea that H-1B workers are more skilled is mostly bull. All workers, even the most well educated computer engineers here or abroad, require a period of on-the-job training for their particular position within the company. To hear Facebook or other companies state they can't afford to train U.S. workers is a falsehood given the enormous profits of those same companies.

      At the same time the tech industry continues to pour a vast amount of cash into the campaign funds of several key Senators and Congressmen. Those campaign donations are certainly not for the greater good, but in an effort to increase the profit margins of the various donors.

    • Economists, professors and think-tankers can opine all they want about the benefits of these visas. Those of us who work (or are trying to find work) know what's going on. We see Americans being pushed aside to hire cheap foreign labor. First corporations sent our jobs overseas and now they're telling us that importing cheap labor to the US is actually good for us. Don't vote for anyone who agrees.
    • They would sing a different tune if thousands of Indian economists, professors and pundits were flooding the labor market. "Hey, I can get you a full professor of economics with good English for $300 a day! No long-term contracts either, you can have him by the month. And if you don't like the guy I send, just say the word and I'll get you another one. What a deal!"
    • I work for a company that has lobbied incessantly for increasing the cap on H1-B's. During the last five years, this company has gone for a three year period with no merit raises, slashed paid time off, low-balled salary offers to new hires they knew were currently unemployed, and forced employees to take multiple week-long periods of Mandatory Unpaid Time Off (MUTO), sometimes during quarters that produced very strong financial results.

      Does this sound like a company that is struggling to attract and retain excellent technical talent, or one that is gaming a recession to reduce labor costs?

    • Efficient markets respond to supply and demand. We can't rationally or honestly invoke supply and demand theories only when it's convenient, though many in Washington and their industry supporters seem bent on just that course. They know that if they repeat an untruth / wishful thinking often enough, some will believe it.
    • I've worked on Wall Street for just over a decade. In many firms - JP Morgan, Citi - there is a near unwritten, unspoken prohibition against hiring US workers for several reasons:
      • Foreigners, typically Indians, are brought in as "perma-temps" by external vendors. These vendors specialize in migrating low wage Indians into the US, dressing up their credentials, and selling their services to US banks. No benefits, no bonus, no holiday pay, no sick pay.
      • The Braham male Indians themselves, who now dominate much of IT, risk analytics and even consulting, are like white American guys from the '50s. They like to work among their own people. Simply put, there will be 1 or 2 token Caucasian Americans, and everyone else will be Indian. At Booz and Co., now an Indian firm, the consulting firm, they will actually go through e-mail addresses of incommoding applicant CVs, and selectively pick out only the Indian names to interview.
    • This is an advocacy piece masquerading as journalism. It is no surprise when you look at the information about the advocate (I mean reporter). She is an Indian born individual who has spent many years covering India for the NY Times. Take a look at her past articles, mostly articles about India and Indian issues. Take a look at the content of the article. She argues that all of the claims that H1-B's depress wages are false, based upon one, count 'em one, study.

      She uses as an example an unemployed worker who admits his skill set is lacking (as if she couldn't find a single unemployed, older worker who is well qualified by these entry level jobs). She quotes an employer who blames older unemployed workers for not keeping their skills up and an Indian worker who basically states that Indians are smarter and harder workers than Americans (such modesty is impressive). I could care less if this writer wishes to advocate for H1-B workers, but it should be on the Opinion Pages where it belongs.

    • It is worthwhile pointing out that the original bill included some safeguards, requiring employers to search for Americans before hiring foreign workers. Those safeguards were stripped out. Mr. Shumer's words was that they were "onerous".
    • "Onerous" in Schumer-speak means "a mild hit to the wallet" to his corporate ventriloquists. When he parties with them in the Hamptons this summer, I hope they give him a well deserved pat on the head.
    • I have advanced degrees in Math and Computer Science and have worked in the tech industry for 20 years. I was the last American in my department when I left Bell Labs in NJ over a decade ago, and most American software engineers that I began my career with have been forced out of the industry.

      The "skills shortage" is about one thing: corporations want inexpensive labor. The article correctly states "Most H-1B workers hold entry-level positions". These are not "high-skilled" workers; this is cheap labor.

      Schumer is especially concerned with the opinions of the tech industry CEOs while most IT and software shops that I am aware of have already transitioned to an Indian workforce. This bill will deal another major blow to American tech workers, and the real pain will be felt during the next economic downturn when I expect many more will be displaced by cheaper foreign labor.

      I find it disingenuous that the lawyers representing us in DC are advocating that more Americans pursue STEM careers while following the advice of the tech industry lobbyists to increase the supply of foreign workers, which will further suppress wages and opportunities. Unfortunately, due to this bill and past and current trends, I advise young Americans to avoid the technology field.

    • So, as this story reports, most H-1Bs only take entry level jobs. Unemployment for college graduates from 2010 and 2011 in select fields as reported by a Georgetown University study early June 2013:
      • Information Systems 14.7%
      • Computer Science 8.7%
      • Theater arts 6.4%
      • Hospitality Management 6.0%
      • Physical fitness and recreation 5.2%

      Interesting value order. You don't think American students have taken notice and now avoid CS and IS? We are killing our pipeline. Expect real economic damage. So, "Let them eat cake!"

    • FINALLY this scandal is getting attention. Where I work (govt. agency), there is an army of Indian-born programmers (99.9% of the staff of a very prominent consulting company that has been hired by the state for IT projects).

      They are NOT from IITs ; recruited en-masse from 2nd, 3rd, 4th rate engineering colleges in India; lowly paid, no benefits and here comes the WORST part - of

      Very poor caliber. I know because I get to oversee their work (any protest is shot down at the upper management level - the consulting company has direct access to the highest state govt. authorities).

      Hoards of these H1B guys are being used as cheap, entry level programmers (they are NOT Software Engineers/Developers - there is a difference). The State is stuck with very poor quality work that barely passes the minimum requirements for quality.

    • >there is little empirical evidence to suggest that foreign engineers displace American engineers as a whole. Just look at Dun & Bradstreet in NJ where about 10 years ago all 400 of their American programmers were replaced by Indians on H-1B visas. The Americans showed up for work one day and found the them sitting at their desks .

      If there is such a shortage of technical people the foreigners on visas should train Americans in the skills that are allegedly in demand.

      I thought American businesses believed in the Law of Supply & Demand. They claim to when they calculate CEO compensation. Before the Y2K bug when hiring foreign software engineers was rare, Americans were flocking to those jobs by going to night school and changing careers so they could go back to college. They knew they would earn enough to pay back the loans.

      The table of contents in Computerworld back then tells the story. People were wondering why students stopped wanting to be software engineers. Another article showed how software companies were lobbying for more H-1B visas. Apparently the students knew the handwriting was on the wall, they weren't wanted anymore and the salaries would never compensate for all the expense, effort, and time they put in to be trained.

      The software industry, a major driver of the so-called "New Economy", and the only major industry dominated by America, was basically given away to our competitors. Nobody cared even though the drain on the economy was predicted.

    • After my 2008 lay off, I went to work as a contractor for a corporation that was once highly respected for it's corporate credo and it's commitment to the town and community it had founded. I was hired to replace one of many middle aged engineers who had been laid off. My boss was a newly recruited 26 year old H1 B engineer who was useless. Like many corporations in 2008, this company used the financial crisis to lay off most of it's full time employees, replace them with and H1 B supervisory staff, and replace former workers with contractors. As an older seasoned employee I was disgusted.

      I watched as many good engineers were let go and replaced with these younger, mostly Indian, workers. Some were adequate, but many were incompetent and lacked the experience necessary to do their job. The product quality suffered and as a result several of their factories were shut down by the FDA and they received a substantial fine.

      The company absorbed this as the cost of doing business, their CEO retired with a hefty bonus and all this is considered the cost of doing business. This is merely the Walmartization of America. We'll all work for minimum wage and weigh 400 pounds because we can't afford anything but high fructose corn sugar. Corporate America has turned this country into a cheap knock off and congress is in their pocket. It's hard to believe how quickly this has happened.

    • The people saying that immigration doesn't harm older tech workers' chances of employment are out of touch. I have been a CIO for more than a decade, and have not only hired hundreds, but know other tech execs who have in total hired tens of thousands. The idea that a company hires an H-1B only when there are not American citizens for the job is ludicrous. They identify someone they want, post the perfunctory job ad in a tech publications, ignore the hundreds of applications that come in from relatively qualified Americans, and hire the immigrant anyhow.

      As for the Intel exec who says that Americans haven't kept their skills current, this may be true in a small number of instances, but technology people are well aware of the need to constantly be training oneself. The problem is that high-tech companies want people with the exact skill set -- the "purple squirrel" in recruiting parlance -- instead of someone who fills the bill to the 90% level. As a tech worker is more than the sum of his programming languages, they simply ignore the soft aspects of the candidate that would be as or more important and use the job description in a highly literal fashion.

      Finally, while many H-1Bs are lower level workers, in technology, these are still good paying jobs. Lots of older Americans wouldn't object to moving down the career rung in order to get involved in the next hot technology. Also, H-1Bs eventually become citizens who later on take the high-paying, high-level jobs.

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • “IBM was one of the best, now it's one of the worst companies in America to work for.” Advisory Software Engineer (Former Employee), Tucson, AZ. I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: I cant think of any pros. Medical benefits are good now, but were much better previously. Cons: Too numerous to mention. Just read the news concerning the latest job cuts. Advice to Senior Management: Quit. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.
    • Bewildering, enlightening, frustrating, interesting” Sales (Current Employee), Sydney (Australia). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 3 years. Pros: Collegial atmosphere. Looks good on your CV. Great systems and access to knowledge. Access to large, strategic projects. Easy to meet key decision makers. Opportunities to progress. "Work/life balance" (work remotely or in office as you choose). Genuine commitment to equality and fairness.

      Cons: Old-school sales culture (think "selling is telling","death by PowerPoint"). Unmotivated and recalcitrant sales support staff ("I can't do a client meeting on Wednesdays, I'm picking my kids up..."). Inward looking culture (too many lifetime IBMers with stale ideas). Unrealistic growth targets. Outdated hierarchical and macho management culture. Constant internal conflict where another part of IBM frequently costs you business. Process, forms, more forms, approvals, red tape. Pay below market rates.

      Advice to Senior Management: Culture is stale. Get in more leaders from more dynamic parts of the industry, or send leaders outside as part of their development. Deals only get focus when they are forecast to close immediately; take a longer term view of business development and your customers.

      Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.

    • High salary but you need to endure a profit at all cost culture” Solutions Architect (Current Employee), , Dublin (Ireland). I have been working at IBM for more than 7 years. Pros: High base salary, take on as much as you want so could be a good springboard. Cons: No training in five years. Don't pay for health care or education. Move staff around locations constantly. People manager will see you once a year and has little idea of what you do. Advice to Senior Management: You can only squeeze so much before clients and staff are negatively impacted No, I would not recommend this company to a friend.
    • Decent jobs available, but they keep taking benefits away” Anonymous Employee (Current Employee). I have been working at IBM for more than 10 years. Pros: Highly respectable company that handles many top products in their fields. IBM Software Group has a diverse product line so its possible to gain many skills which are in demand at other companies. Cons: Can be a tough work environment, depending on the area. The hours are usually longer than expected. The ability to move up (at least in the US) can be limited.
    • Low morale everywhere, but interesting areas of technology” Advisory Software Engineer (Former Employee). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 8 years. Pros: Strong focus on patents (con?). Small areas of interesting technologies. Freedom to innovate. Compensation. Cons: Very low quality in software products. The senior people who could help train/mentor other sites around the world are leaving to greener pastures. Low morale; have not met one person who seemed happy to work there. Big push to off/rightshore. Making more money feels like a target is painted on your back. Advice to Senior Management: You can have quality without sacrificing quarterly numbers. Retain key people to drive quality back into organizations. Organic growth of talent only works if there's no competition, Amazon, Google, Netflix and others are fighting to steal talented people away. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend.
    • Employee Friendly and Flexible Work Hours” Websphere I T Specialist (Former Employee), Mumbai (India). I worked at IBM full-time for more than a year. Pros: Clear definition of Roles and Responsibilities, Decent Work-life Balance. Many teams across the globe to support on technical issues. Offers very good career path. Lots of programmes and initiatives taken in-house. Cons: There was no decent hike. CTC in India is a very confusing one. You have to pay for your coffee in India. Too many managers to handle the job. Advice to Senior Management: Take good care of employees and not get into Cost cutting mode year on year. Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend
    • Stick 'em up!” Anonymous Employee (Current Employee). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 8 years. Pros: Improves vision (if you are blind). Sharpens perspective (if you are downright dumb). Pays you on time (even if you are historically unlucky). Cons: You have to keep reminding yourself while at work that you did not join the Indian bureaucracy, because at every corner of the aisle you get this feeling back. Advice to Senior Management: Trust and personal responsibility are not chemistry terms, it is part of the three values of IBM. Time to live it? Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.
    • Long career gone in 2 seconds” Senior Manager (Current Employee), Rochester, MN. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: IBM was a great company to work for. Worked 32 years. Many different positions/opportunities in the past that you could do. Cons: Middle manager laid off after 32 years. Too much focus on earnings/share vs. long term viability. Company had gone down hill since 2015 road map announced. It is all the executives care about. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.
    • There's always a fear you will be in the next set of layoffs.” Quality Assurance Analyst (Former Employee), Waltham, MA. I worked at IBM full-time for more than 7 years. Pros: Competitive salary and outstanding benefits. Cons: Some groups are protective of sharing information within their team in order to help secure their jobs. There is much overhead when it comes to being 'IBM compliant' as an employee. Don't expect to get even the simplest things done quickly. Also hard to find good managers that back up and advance their people. Advice to Senior Management: Not enough contact with lower management to identify the impacts that certain decisions have on the business and their people. Too much is done from the '30,000 foot' level. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend.
    • Great and laid back.” Test Engineer (Current Employee), Essex Junction, VT. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than a year. Pros: Great people and very laid back. Flexible time. Cons: Mobility takes forever. Don't expect any raise above 1% a year unless you get promoted which takes over 5 years depending on performance. Education assistance always get frozen, as it is now. Advice to Senior Management: Promote and invest on the employee. Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend
    • mind numbing work!” Manufacturing Specialist (Former Employee), Essex Junction, VT. I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: decent pay and benefits, although the cost of benefits goes higher and higher every year, despite the fact that they have thousands of employees Cons: difficult work schedules, promotions and opportunities are seniority based, then it's all who you know! Advice to Senior Management: Retire already, and let people who really care about building the business take over, because you are only taking up space and contribute little to the products being built. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.
  • Alliance for Retired Americans: Friday Alert. This week's articles include:
    • July 2 Human Chain Events now Just Around the Corner
    • Supreme Court’s “Defense of Marriage Act” Decision to Affect Gay Seniors Greatly
    • Voting Rights Decision a Major Blow to Civil Rights of Minorities
    • Alliance Members Join Leader Pelosi, Secretary Sebelius at Capitol Hill Press Event
    • Chained CPI or another Topic on Your Mind? Write a Letter to the Editor, Win a Pen!
  • TPM Media: North Carolina Becomes First State To Eliminate Unemployment Benefits. By Emery P. Dalesio. Excerpts: With changes to its unemployment law taking effect this weekend, North Carolina not only is cutting benefits for those who file new claims, it will become the first state disqualified from a federal compensation program for the long-term jobless.

    State officials adopted the package of benefit cuts and increased taxes for businesses in February, a plan designed to accelerate repayment of a $2.5 billion federal debt. Like many states, North Carolina had racked up the debt by borrowing from Washington after its unemployment fund was drained by jobless benefits during the Great Recession.

    The changes go into effect Sunday for North Carolina, which has the country’s fifth-worst jobless rate. The cuts on those who make unemployment claims on or after that day will disqualify the state from receiving federally funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation. That money kicks in after the state’s period of unemployment compensation — now shortened from up to six months to no more than five — runs out. The EUC program is available to long-term jobless in all states. But keeping the money flowing includes a requirement that states can’t cut average weekly benefits.

    Because North Carolina leaders cut average weekly benefits for new claims, about 170,000 workers whose state benefits expire this year will lose more than $700 million in EUC payments, the U.S. Labor Department said.

    Lee Creighton, 45, of Cary, said he’s been unemployed since October, and this is the last week for which he’ll get nearly $500 in unemployment aid. He said he was laid off from a position managing statisticians and writers amid the recession’s worst days in 2009 and has landed and lost a series of government and teaching jobs since then — work that paid less half as much. His parents help him buy groceries to get by. ...

    The state’s top business lobby, the North Carolina Chamber, primarily assembled the package of proposals that lawmakers adopted. ...

    Wayne Bostick, 58, of Raleigh, said he lost his job in April 2011 and will lose extended federal benefits immediately. He said he earned about $700 a week in take-home pay, often working double shifts at a ConAgra Foods plant until it shut down after a fatal explosion. Since then, he said, the only jobs he’s found matching his skills pay less than $10 an hour and are outside Raleigh. Now he’ll have to revisit those or start a handyman business.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site
  • Job cuts have begun. So Far in North America:
    • STG Storage Systems Development: 121
    • STG lab Services and Tech Training: 52
    • STG Test Site Design: 59
    • STG SSE Intellectual Property: 64
    • BT/IT CIO Enterprise Transformation: 4
    • Corporate Marketing and Communication: 83
    • Software Group Tivoli: 98
    • Software group WW Services and Education: 22
    • STG Semiconductor Research and Dev: 165
    • SO Delivery Integrated Competencies: 46
    • GPS Solutions and Delivery: 116
    • Software Group Marketing: 222
    • Research: 65
    • GBS AMS IBM Global Account: 123
    • STG Operations and Transformation: 34
    • Software Group NA Software Sales: 63
    • SO sectors (GSSR): 31
    • Software Group Information Management: 137
    • Software group Industry Solutions: 126
    • STG High Speed links, Cores and Memory: 67
    • SO Delivery HQ Cloud Development and Delivery: 40
    • GBS AMS Commercial Delivery: 27
    • STG Power Software Development: 64
    • GBS PS Business Analytics: 39
    • STG Pureflex & System X Software Development: 32
    • STG Advanced Microelectronics Solutions: 114
    • STG Worldwide Client Care: 30
    • STG IBM I Development: 60
    • STG System Z Software Development: 45
    • Software Group Security: 22
    • STG ISV Global Support: 35
    • IBM S&D Communications Sector: 3
    • Software Group Rational: 59
    • ISC Sales Transaction Support OIST: 70
    • STG Systems Technology Development: 24
    • SWG Application and Integration Middleware: 86
    • STG Systems Solutions Dev: 56
    • GBS CS Industrial Sector: 32
    • STG Electronic Design Automation: 106
    • STG Competitive lab and Technical Sales Centers: 35
    • Software Group Collaboration: 115
    • STG Storage (ISSA): 41
    • STG Server & Storage Engineering System Test: 97
    • S&D Global Techline and Channel Technical Sales: 9
    • ISC Engineering: 75
    • Total cut so far: 3014
  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 06/23/13: If Ginni can deliver a video message to chastise us all for poor Q1 results, surely she can deliver one to acknowledge what we've just been through (continue to go through) and tell us where we go now? At Cognos, we've lost several execs and many key players, and no one has any idea what happens next. In Ottawa, many are speculating that the reason raises were put off until October is that there is another round of layoffs planned for September (following the eGA date for several releases, same as this layoff immediately followed the BI release.) Morale is in the toilet. -anxious Cognoid-
    • Comment 06/23/13: Congrats to the recently RA'd! It's been 2.5 years since I was RA'd. Today, I made a donation to Alliance@IBM. Even though I am no longer an IBeeMer, the Alliance Job Cut Reports board helped me prepare emotionally and practically for my RA day, years in advance. RAd IBMers, deploy your skills at competitors or clients' businesses. There are plenty of jobs--to fill the void and chaos IBM is creating in the IT world. IBM did not value you but working there you developed true value--beyond your expertise and qualifications. As for those of you like me, sneaking peeks here, donate something to this group to show your appreciation, to keep this site going for those left behind. -Anon-
    • Comment 06/23/13: Gerstner saw this coming. Palmisano saw this coming. Ginny saw this coming. Wrong on all counts. They orchestrated this. The union saw this coming when the organization movement started in 1999. They have been sounding the drums calling IBMers to battle stations to fight for their jobs ever since. It's you the RA'd or next to be RA'd IBMers who claim to not know this was coming.

      Yet, you have been warned repeatedly that performance means nothing. Years of service mean nothing and so on. All who didn't join had their reasons I am sure. How did that work out for you now? Not very well. You probably eat Tums like candy or Prilosec or prescription stuff trying to quell the acid eating your guts from the stress and worry of working in IBM's toxic environment.

      You can't even relax on vacation because its so hard to get a signal for your laptop on the beach. Like a blindfolded prisoner with his hands tied behind him on a chair you wait to the blow to the face of a 3 rating or the bullet to the head of an RA and you never know which is coming. You can end this madness. Why don't you? -Exodus2007-

    • Comment 06/23/13: Colleagues, consider how the last 10 years at IBM has been to you. Sky-High Health/Dental/Vision benefits premiums to mostly self-insured IBM are the most costly in the industry (family). RISK & exposure to $24K max out of pockets expenses. Pensions cut, 401k match held ransom, bonuses reduced (while the company makes more money/profit than ever), pay raises next to 0. Not to mention the facilities are not being cleaned as often as before. What are you looking forward to? More cuts? How much do you trust IBM? -2013 ex-IBMer by choice-
    • Comment 06/24/13: @GlobalDeliveryFarce -- Re: your comments on Maximo -- After BlueWash, IBM's focus has been on churning out add-ons as cheaply and quickly as possible. The Maximo framework supports the automation you are asking for. Either it was not implemented or training was lacking. Don't blame Maximo, blame the quick and dirty approach to implementation. -FormerMaximoDeveloper-
    • Comment 06/24/13: To -FormerMaximoDeveloper- Then why did Daniels retire? Ginni must have called him out or something.. Why can't Maximo and TSRM be integrate into ONE problem and change management system?-GlobalDeliveryFarce-
    • Comment 06/24/13: Re: "They are treating execs that are not Sr. VPs just like the rest of us now." These people made huge salaries, and I'm pretty sure they get huge severance packages compared to the average employee as well (in terms of weeks/year). We are still too top heavy and multi-layered. Three layers of management in my department before we even get to the VP level. Too many chiefs, and now way fewer Indians to manage. Maybe some of these managers and directors will make the move to individual contributors but past experience shows that in my department they are given first choice of the highest visibility projects, and if the latest RA is any indication, are still protected by the not so secret "managers looking after themselves and other managers" code. -anon-
    • Comment 06/24/13: Several SWG pre-sales have been removed from Australia. One of them is a brilliant technically and creative individual. Some scene down here in Australia with managers with little to no IQ or experience making the decisions. Upper management of IBM Australia seem to lack educational attributes to perform their roles. Such a shame that a great company can be overrun by managers with low intellect. -The Word-
    • Comment 06/24/13: First, let me offer my sincere condolences to those who were affected by the recent mass firing. I’m sure you must be angry and frustrated, not sure of what your next move will be, and furious that your years of hard work and dedication mean nothing to incompetent, greed-driven management intent on milking every bit of wealth out of a once great company that took over a century to create. However, my intent in writing this post is to let those who were affected know that, like the lame “Workforce Remix” excuse offered by IBM Communications, the "30 Days to Find a New Job" is a complete fabrication

      Your inclusion in the Mass-Firing was initiated by HR, and then approved by Finance, Legal, and Senior Management in your own organization before you were even told about it. Finance has already included not having to pay your salary and benefits in their earnings projections for next quarter. Consequently, the shameful secret that nobody will tell you is that you have essentially been “black listed” and no manager can hire you because that would cause Finance to miss their plan.

      Yes, it’s true; firing you is just another cost reduction that has already been baked into the earnings plan. Sure, you may hear about a few people who were actually able to find another job, but that’s because they had some very high level help, and an extraordinary effort was put forth on their behalf. Once you are on the mass-firing black list, finding a new job within IBM only occurs on a very rare and exceptional basis.

      So, why am I telling you this? Because I really despise how IBM Management is sending employees on a fool’s errand just because management has neither the honor nor decency to let people know what’s really going on. I’m afraid the sad reality is that finding a new job within IBM just isn’t going to happen. Instead of wasting time looking for a job in IBM, take a look at the Alliance@IBM Job Cut Survival Kit which has a lot of good ideas. -30 Days is a Sham-

    • Comment 06/25/13: Unfortunately "-30 Days is a Sham-" is right. The final approval has to come from group level (GTS, GBS, SWG) CFO. And a substitute RA target has to been identified. -EPS victim #199-
    • Comment 06/25/13: I was part of the most recent RA in Somers. I am (was) part of the Global Administration (GA) team, and an employee for 15 years. Including 4 managers, there were 99 from the area GA team affected this round. They used the excuse that our positions were restructured to provide better support to IBM overall...laughable since some of it is coming from overseas. -Anonymous Admin-
    • Comment 06/25/13: I have been a reader for about a year. Today I took the step of joining as an associate member for $5/month. I encourage all active employees who use the alliance resources to join -- it is fair to pay for something that we use. I have never appreciated unions much in the past. But the greed of the IBM management is an eye opener; it tells me that unions have a role even in an individualistic organization that IBM is. -IBM WebSphere Toronto Lab-
    • Comment 06/26/13: After reading these comments I am surprised. It seems that most of you think that only the poor performers were cut in past RAs. Did you think that all of us were losers? Did you think that all of us were worthless? Well, unfortunately some of you have just woken up. The only way to protect yourself is to band together. Not as a group of individuals but as a group with one voice. Managers don't care about you but a union can and will. If a union sells you out, they will be gone. When your manager sells you out, he gets a raise and a promotion. Wake up, while there is still time. -GoodByeJim-
    • Comment 06/26/13: With the ongoing wave of RAs, I can't help but wonder, once the first lines are done firing, will they be the next waves of firings? Wouldn't be the first time I witnessed a first line get fired after firing many others. -Think Twice-
    • Comment 06/26/13: In the quake of losing several good people and two managers as a result of the recent layoff. IBM East Fishkill NY Facilities is having an all hands-on meeting tomorrow regarding reorganization of management,departments and personnel. No thought was giving regarding off shift coverage,nor emergency response. Now the question is who's left to pick up the pieces -Survivor from Hell!- Alliance reply: Let us know the result of the meeting. Send info to IBMunionalliance@gmail.com
    • Comment 06/27/13: Another round of RAs in Australia. So far staff last days on 14th, 21st and 28th June. Another round in last week of July now. Another is expected in September..... change logo from IBM to ibm......all up somewhere between 1500 and 2000 gone. Also IBM here is transferring / sending all network staff to a Telco here. Choice is go across to the Telco or resign... -Anon-
    • Comment 06/27/13: Regarding your latest mass-firings, Ms. Rometty, you have breached your fiduciary responsibility to the IBM Corporation by taking actions that are clearly adverse to IBM’s best interests. Taking these actions with the intent of meeting a contrived earnings per share target (i.e. $20 per share in 2015) so as to drive up the per share price of IBM stock, while at the same time personally holding options on several hundred thousand shares of IBM stock, presents a clear conflict of interest on your part.

      Firing employees who have irreplaceable institutional and product technical knowledge with the intent of personally enriching yourself is immoral and unethical, as well as damaging to the long term well-being and stability of the IBM Corporation. IBM employees call upon you to either (a) revoke all IBM stock options held by IBM management, including those held by you personally, or failing that, to (b) cease and desist taking any further actions that are adverse and damaging to the IBM Corporation. -A Concerned IBM Employee-

    • Comment 06/28/13: Please stop placing blame for layoffs on HR: decision are made at the top based on bean counter input...and move down the chain. HR only executes the cockamamie plans formulated by others. -Think-
    • Comment 06/28/13: "We're an innovation company". Really, Ginni? Are we really? Or have we become a company that just buys and buries innovative products from other companies? I can think of a few innovative ways for you to spend your $21.9M salary. http://www.forbes.com/profile/virginia-rometty/ -anon-
    • Comment 06/28/13: IBM offered me about 50% of the money I'm entitled to under Canadian labour common law. Legal fees for severance claims are tax deductible in Canada. Let's help spend Mark Loughridge's $1B severance contingency by filing a wrongful dismissal claim. Let's make sure our friends in finance are on track with the profit forecast. -laid off in torolab-
    • Comment 06/28/13: I just made a donation to the Alliance. This is the only forum to find out what is going on. These job cuts are not going to stop as Ginni will have to chase the Roadcrash 2015 EPS target to appease Wall Street (when did they ever ask for this?) every single quarter. Count on it. -sadIBMer- Alliance reply: Thank you and thanks to all who have donated.
    • Comment 06/28/13: I was laid off in the most recent round after 14 years at IBM. My Independence Day will be July 12th, 2013. I am very positive about my future. IBM is just a company. It is not the end of the world getting laid off by this big bloated pimple on the ass of society. I really got angry after reading a email I received today. I'm sure many have received the same fodder. It starts out "Following a very memorable 30 year career with IBM, Blah Blah Blah, Certified IT Specialist, will be retiring effective July 12, 2013". With the fireworks going off in the header.

      It goes on to say all the wonderful things the employee had done throughout their career. I am missing something here? That's the same day I retire from IBM! What a coincidence! Does management really think by putting lip stick on the pig, they can fool us naïve and slow witted employees. I guess so! This is what your management thinks of you! Dumb as a bag of rocks, they won't notice all the people retiring on the same day. Join the union and get your rights back, otherwise get the hell out and let management go down with the ship. Good luck to those searching. Life beyond IBM is a reality! Go for it. -FUBAR-

    • Comment 06/29/13: Has anyone RA-ed in Ottawa and Toronto on 06/12 decided firmly to take on IBM and start legal proceedings to enhance the termination package? Talked with lawyers, they are referencing Common Law, reviewed the employment offer, termination package - hoping to get 40 - 50% better than the offer from the company. Still undecided. What are your thoughts? -AcquiredByIBM-
    • 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
  • Washington Post: Part D was less popular than Obamacare when it launched. By Sarah Kliff. Excerpts: Health and Human Services is in the opening throes of attempting to enroll millions of Americans in a brand new, and relatively unpopular, health insurance program. It’s a massive task only made more difficult by widespread opposition and political divisions.

    But it is, as Sabrina Corlette puts it, “not the federal government’s first time at the rodeo.”

    Eight years ago, the federal government rolled out Medicare Part D, a prescription drug benefit. For the first time ever, Medicare was launching a benefit administered exclusively through private health insurance plans. The benefit was not popular: In the spring of 2005, when enrollment efforts ramped up, polls showed Medicare Part D to be less popular than the Affordable Care Act. Fewer Americans felt they understood how it worked, too. ...

    “A few months ago, when we were out at forums and talking to reporters and policy experts, we kept hearing over and over again comparisons to Part D,” Corlette says. “The concerns about whether the federal government would be ready, whether plans would participate and will people know about it.”

    They did not have to dig too deep to find similarities between the two, especially when it comes to concerns about participation in the new program and the cost of premiums. To start, neither was especially popular in the months prior to their launch. Part D was even less liked: 21 percent of the public had a favorable opinion of the program in April 2005 compared to 35 percent in April 2013 for the Affordable Care Act.

  • Bangor Daily News: Canadians pay taxes for universal health care, and now they’re richer than us. By Dr. Philip Caper. Excerpts: Proponents of expansion of MaineCare make their argument on both moral and economic grounds. Such expansion would provide health care coverage for almost 70,000 low-income Mainers who will otherwise receive no assistance from the ACA. More coverage would result in better management of our burgeoning level of chronic illness as our population ages. That will drive down the use of expensive crisis-oriented emergency services as well as the illness-inducing stress produced by out-of-control health care bills in low-income patients already afflicted by poor health.

    Since 100 percent of the costs of the proposed expansion would be borne by the federal government for at least the first three years of the program (gradually reduced to 90 percent by 2020), MaineCare expansion under the ACA would also provide significant economic benefits to Maine in the form of federal dollars and the jobs they will create in every county in the state. According to a new study released last week by the Maine Center for Economic Policy and Maine Equal Justice Partners, if MaineCare were expanded under the terms of the ACA it would stimulate more than $350 million in economic activity, lead to the creation of 3,100 new jobs, and result in the generation of up to $18 million in state and local taxes.

    Since the Legislature has now refused to override the governor’s veto of the expansion, those federal dollars (including those originating from Maine taxpayers) and their associated benefits will go to other states that accept the deal. ...

    This fight could be avoided, and is just a symptom of a more fundamental underlying disease — the way we pay for health care in the U.S. Our insurance-based system requires that we slice and dice our population into “risk categories. ...

    Many conservatives still characterize Medicaid as “welfare,” and many think of it as such. Presumably other types of health care coverage have been “earned” (think veterans and the military, highly paid executives, union members and congressional staff). We resent our tax dollars going to “freeloaders.” Until the slicing and dicing is ended, the finger pointing, blame shifting and their attendant political wars will continue.

    In sharp contrast, our Canadian neighbors feel much differently. Asked if they resent their tax dollars being spent to provide health care to those who can’t afford it on their own, they say they can’t think of a better way to spend them. “Isn’t that what democracy is all about?” I’ve heard Canadian physicians say, “Our universal health care is the highest expression of Canadians caring for each other.” ...

    If everybody was in the same health care system in the U.S., as is the norm in most wealthy nations, we would be having a much different and more civil conversation than what we are now witnessing in Augusta. No other wealthy country relies on the exorbitantly expensive and divisive practice of insurance underwriting to finance their health care system. They finance their publicly administered systems through broad-based taxes or a simplified system of tax-like, highly regulated premiums. Participation is mandatory and universal.

    Taxation gets a bad rap in the U.S. and consequently is politically radioactive. Yet it is the most efficient, most enforceable and fairest way to finance a universal health care system. ...

    Canada’s tax-financed health care system covers everybody, gets better results, costs about two-thirds of what ours does and is far more popular than ours with both their public and their politicians. There is no opposition to it in the Canadian Parliament.

    What’s not to like about that?

    Oh yes, and the average Canadian is now wealthier than the average American. Their far more efficient and effective tax-based health care system is part of the reason.

  • Winston-Salem Journal: ‘Blue Map’ designed for navigation of health care changes. By Richard Craver. Excerpts: Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina has unveiled an online tool, called Blue Map, to help North Carolinians navigate through potential changes to their health care coverage. The tool is available at www.bcbsnc.com/BlueMap. The insurer said about 1.2 million residents could benefit from the tool as the October open-enrollment period for insurance plans nears. ...

    The map is aimed at people who may be purchasing health insurance for the first time. One recent trend has been more employers, particularly small businesses, opting not to provide health-insurance coverage for employees to reduce expenses.

    Another key factor: Families USA said in April that 869,000 North Carolinians, including about 176,000 in the Triad and Northwest North Carolina, would be eligible for tax credits as part of participating in federal insurance exchanges created through the Affordable Care Act.

    The tax credits will be available to uninsured individuals and families who have incomes between 138 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level standards. For individuals, the current income range is $15,860 to $45,960; for a family of four, the current range is $32,500 to $94,200. ...

    What makes the insurance marketplace and tax credits a political football is that the federal law was created with the expectation that individuals and families below 138 percent of poverty level would be covered by Medicaid through state expansions of that program, and thus not eligible for the tax credit.

    Gov. Pat McCrory and the General Assembly have decided against expanding North Carolina's Medicaid program because of their concerns about its operation and efficiency.

    Families USA said that “states that refuse to expand Medicaid, despite the generous federal support offered, will be condemning their most vulnerable residents to remain in the ranks of the uninsured.”

  • Kaiser Health News: Blue Cross-Blue Shield Bets Big On Obamacare Exchanges. By Jay Hancock. Excerpts: At a closed White House meeting in April, President Barack Obama told corporate insurance bosses “we’re all in this together” on implementing his signature health law. But some insurance companies seem to be more in than others.

    At least five Blue Cross and Blue Shield executives sat at the table of about a dozen CEOs with the president, according to those knowledgeable about the session, first reported by the New York Times. Just as significant is who wasn’t there: chiefs of the country’s biggest and third-biggest health insurers, UnitedHealth Group and Aetna

    Those two and most other non-Blue insurers “seem to be proceeding cautiously” in the online marketplaces expected to cover to millions, said David Windley, who follows the industry for Jefferies & Co., an investment firm. “They are evaluating markets state by state and in some cases region by region within the state to assess the viability of all the different pieces.”

    Not the Blues. They’re expected to offer health-exchange plans nearly everywhere, ensuring at least a minimum choice for individuals seeking subsidized coverage when the marketplaces open Oct. 1. It also makes them an undeclared Obama ally in implementing the health law.

  • The Fiscal Times: Health Care CEO’s $159 M Pension Is a Bitter Pill. By Jacqueline Leo. Excerpts: Every time you take an aspirin you may be paying a tiny fraction of John Hammergren’s pension.

    John Hammergren, the CEO of McKesson Corp., has the distinction of looking forward to one of the wealthiest retirements in corporate history--a record-breaking $159 million pension, according to the Wall Street Journal. Not only that, the 54 year old is one of the highest paid execs, earning more than—wait for it--$50 million a year from a health care business services company that’s ranked 14 on the Fortune 500 list. ...

    In April of 2012, McKesson settled a suit filed by the Department of Justice for inflating drug prices. McKesson “agreed to pay the United States more than $190 million to resolve claims that it violated the False Claims Act by reporting inflated pricing information for a large number of prescription drugs, causing Medicaid to overpay for those drugs,” according to the DOJ.

    One thing is certain: Hammergren had one sharp lawyer in 1996 when he made the deal to join McKesson. Forbes reported that if he were let go because of a change in control of the company, Hammergren would waltz away with $469 million. And if he dies or becomes disabled, he or his heirs get a cool $260 million.

    Better keep taking your overpriced meds, John…and be nice to your wife.

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.

  • AlterNet: Bill Moyers: The American Legislative Exchange Council Is Hard at Work Privatizing America, One Statehouse at a Time. In state legislatures around the country, boilerplate ALEC legislation that dilutes collective bargaining rights, blocks Americans from voting, and limits corporate liability is passing without the public knowing who’s behind it. By Bill Moyers. Excerpts: A national consortium of state politicians and powerful corporations, ALEC — the American Legislative Exchange Council — presents itself as a “nonpartisan public-private partnership”. But behind that mantra lies a vast network of corporate lobbying and political action aimed to increase corporate profits at public expense without public knowledge.

    In state houses around the country, hundreds of pieces of boilerplate ALEC legislation are proposed or enacted that would, among other things, dilute collective bargaining rights, make it harder for some Americans to vote, and limit corporate liability for harm caused to consumers — each accomplished without the public ever knowing who’s behind it. Using interviews, documents, and field reporting, “United States of ALEC — A Follow-Up” explores ALEC’s self-serving machine at work, acting in a way one Wisconsin politician describes as “a corporate dating service for lonely legislators and corporate special interests.”

    Former health care industry executive Wendell Potter says, “Even though I’d known of [ALEC] for a long time, I was astonished. Just about everything that I knew that the health insurance industry wanted out of any state lawmaker was included in that package of bills.”

  • Washington Post opinion: As the deficit shrinks, jobs not cuts should be the priority. By Neera Tanden and Michael Linden. Excerpts: Washington has spent the past three years obsessing about debt. While there were good reasons to worry about deficits and debt three years ago, many of those reasons have dissipated. Three years ago, the Congressional Budget Office projected that deficits would exceed 8 percent of gross domestic product by 2023. Today, deficits are projected to average around 3 percent of GDP without the automatic “sequester” spending cuts; with them, deficits will be even lower.

    At the same time that the budget picture has been improving, we have been missing the mark on the broader economy. Unemployment is a full percentage point higher this year than the CBO predicted it would be by now, while total economic output is 5 percent lower.

    Washington’s relentless focus on deficit reduction has made it harder, not easier, to create good middle-class jobs and boost economic growth. In a rational world, Washington would be able to work simultaneously on bringing down the long-term debt and creating good jobs now. But the past three years have proven that lawmakers are not very good at walking and chewing gum at the same time. We’ve enacted nearly $4 trillion worth of deficit reduction since 2010 — when the sequester is included — but few policies to help the economy grow. ...

    Despite having no viable partners for compromise, deficit hawks insist that liberals must continue to pursue entitlement reform because, they say, without it health-care and retirement costs will crowd out progressive priorities. But the relentless pursuit of deficit reduction is already crowding out progressive priorities. Federal funding for education, science and technology, infrastructure and a broad swath of other basic public services is on track to decline to just 2.7 percent of GDP by 2022 — lower than at any point in the past 50 years. And that path is the direct result of repeated spending cuts to so-called discretionary programs that were made possible only by the perceived imperative of deficit reduction. Indeed, the sequester is the product of an attempt to force a grand bargain.

    Furthermore, there is no inherent tension between safeguarding a dignified retirement for seniors and investing in young people and future prosperity, as CAP’s deficit reduction plans have repeatedly shown. That stark tradeoff exists only because conservatives have refused to consider any serious revenue enhancements. ...

    Yes, the nation still has a long-term deficit challenge. And yes, entitlement reform will have to be part of the solution. But rebuilding a strong economy with a vibrant middle class is an urgent problem today, not 10 years from now. Washington has been focused on deficits, not growth. It’s time to shift that focus.

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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