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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—January 4, 2014

  • InformationWeek: Minnesota Slams IBM On Health Insurance Exchange Woes. IBM sends additional resources to work on Minnesota's state-run MNsure website after Gov. Mark Dayton blames company for problems processing applications for health insurance. By Doug Henschen. Excerpts: Add Minnesota's state-run MNsure website to the list of troubled health insurance exchanges. The site launched October 1, but it's plagued by problems that Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is pinning largely on software from IBM.

    In a five-page letter sent to IBM CEO Virginia Rometty on December 13 and made public by the governor's office on Friday, Dayton detailed 21 specific problems tied to IBM's Curam software. "Your product has not delivered promised functionality and has seriously hindered Minnesotans' abilities to purchase health insurance or apply for public health care programs through MNsure," Dayton wrote. "I request that you immediately deploy whatever people or resources are needed to correct the defects in your product that are preventing Minnesotans from obtaining health insurance through MNsure." ...

    "IBM is just one of several subcontractors working on this project," said IBM spokesperson Mary Welder in a statement. "The prime contractor, Maximus, Inc., has overall responsibility for the MNsure system including integration and testing of all the components prior to October 1." ...

    IBM has been involved in a number of troubled government projects in recent years, including a welfare administration system overhaul that failed in Indiana in 2009, a health department payroll system project gone bad in Queensland, Australia, in 2010, and an unemployment compensation system abandoned by Pennsylvania in 2013.

  • The Times of India: IBM, ST Microelectronics keen on wafer fabrication unit. By Akanksha Prasad. Excerpts: After failing to attract global chipmakers such as Intel and Samsung for setting up a semiconductor wafer fabrication unit, India is going ahead with the two consortia it approved in-principle — IBM and ST Microelectronics.

    "The (two) consortia are very bullish," a senior industry executive said. They have accepted the terms of support outlined by the government of India, and they will now work on detailed project reports, which could take as much as six months to be ready for submission, the executive said. ...

    Typically, setting up a chip foundry costs around $4-5 billion (Rs 24,800-31,000 crore). "The idea was, with the incentives firmed up, could we push the fence-sitters off the fence, but that didn't happen," the industry executive said. The deadline to submit initial plans in the fab under a separate call for expressions of interest ran out in November, and there have been no new viable plans submitted other than the two the government had already approved in-principle.

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • long-term romance coming to an end”. Advisory IT Architect (Current Employee). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: broad technological background; lots of opportunities along various permeable career paths; company has been in business as a reliable partner for a long time, hence a lot of bigger deals are only in existence due to the company's ability to perform and to living up to the expectations of a trusted long-term client relationship; it is easy to be involved and contribute to as well as personally grow with huge deals, that other companies never would be able to execute.

      Cons: strategically moving away from a technology company to a 'high margin service' (aka consulting) company in favor of shareholder value, despite not being able to cope with the change culturally and not providing a clear vision; laying off highly skilled technological specialists to substitute with lower skill, high margin consulting jobs; at the same time not consequently aiming for top consulting personalities for new hires (the company is literally bleeding out on skilled workers); work-life balance with a strong tendency to working overtime where the salary is not at all high enough to compensate for this lifestyle and no alternative compensation is in place.

      Advice to Senior Management: focus on core competencies; develop a clear strategic vision, communicate and act upon it; be consequent regarding the strategic vision across all hierarchical levels No, I would not recommend this company to a friend.

    • Bait-and-switch” Software Engineer (Former Employee). Pros: You can get inside knowledge about some cool stuff going on at IBM. Working from home sometimes is allowed. IBM looks good on a resume. Cons: I was hired on for one job and immediately got moved to another. 20 meetings per week, mostly as conference calls. Meetings at all hours of the day, way past normal work hours. Advice to Senior Management: Stop buying up boring companies to make a little profit. Build some good stuff from scratch, like you used to do.
    • Great products, great people, frustrating internal systems” Sales Representative (Current Employee), London, England (UK). I have been working at IBM full-time for less than a year.

      Pros: The people at IBM are far and away the best attribute of the company. Knowledgeable and friendly, there is always someone willing to help you which is especially important during your first 6 months with the organisation. The products are solid if not spectacular and, of course, the company has a reputation which is the envy of the industry.

      Cons: The on-boarding process is appalling. IBM is populated with people who have been here for so long that they are unaware of how hard the company is to engage with as a new recruit. Internal systems are not good. The worst example is the customer record management. For a company that has been trading as long as IBM the view of the customer base is almost non existent. This means that a new representative does not have a single place to go to for analysis of his/her customer base. Customer code alignment is a lottery and this plays havoc with getting paid for closed deals. There is very little by way of team meetings and socialisation so it can feel like a very lonely place if you are not based at the head office in the UK.

      Advice to Senior Management: Provide the local management with the tools to do a better job of onboarding new employees. This means focussing on each territory to determine the brand statistics, contact points etc. Encourage team building among the brands and cross brand sales people. Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.

    • Challenging and Complicated” Security Sales (Current Employee). Pros: You have many options to sell. IBM will always be able to find a solution to provide to your customer. You will always be invited to bid on a project or meet with a client to discuss opportunities. Cons: You're expected to "own" all of the past issues and problems with little help. For a technology company many legacy systems are still relied upon which makes it a difficult process to handle for a new hire. Advice to Senior Management: Get more back office support to help with orders. Training should be more focused on actual job duties. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend. I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company.
    • Great company for a junior.” Anonymous Employee (Current Employee), Tel Aviv-Yafo (Israel). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 3 years. Pros: Solid, stable company. Many professional workers. Good location. Cons: A lot of managers. Meetings about meetings. Middle managers are not suited for the job. Advice to Senior Management: Create a direct channel to employees and not managers. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.
    • Out of touch.” Global Process Leader (Current Employee). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 8 years.

      Pros: I worked for 8+ years in IBM's outsourcing business, and I marvel at the fact that the company even makes money at all. Management is so far removed from day-to-day operations that they cannot direct the outcomes the business needs. It is the worst possible choice for young people to develop a career. It is best for the old, out-of-touch people that remain...at least until they retire. It is a disaster for investors.

      Cons: They cut costs at every turn without regard for the consequences. They do not invest in opportunities, but rather convince clients to pay for First Of A Kind (FOAK) products and services; then are surprised when it doesn't work and the clients are not happy. What a joke.

      Advice to Senior Management: Do fewer things better. And stop screwing your top performers—incent them. They might actually stay then. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.

    • A highly technical environment at the cutting edge of semiconductor process development”. Senior Process Development Engineer (Current Employee), Hopewell Junction, NY. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: Doesn't get more cutting edge than this. Very deep technical depth to the team. Very large network of opportunities across a large corporate employee base. Good support for staying connected while mobile/out of the office. Very good opportunities to work with non-IBM business partners in technology development collaboration.

      Cons: You better have a thick skin, arrogance and type A personalities are frequently encountered. Crowded middle/exec management levels make progression to these levels difficult.

      Advice to Senior Management: Need to 'thin the herd' some more at middle management and first level execs to make more opportunities for those stuck just below this 'glass ceiling' level. Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend.

    • IBM would be great if it got out of its own way!” Consultant (Former Employee). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 3 years.

      Pros: Quality of their people and willingness to assist new starters navigate their way around IBM restrictions.

      Cons: They have the worst internal processes of all global companies I have come across. They believe the IBM way is the best way and their procurement, recruitment and other back office functions are woeful. IBM "lifers" and ex-PWC execs play the game of survival and management by cost reductions. They have no concept of how to vary strategy according to local market conditions, and their cost overheads render themselves uncompetitive in all but the largest global deals.

      Advice to Senior Management: Allow professional hires to influence your go-to-market strategies in local markets. Delegate much more responsibility to your front-line management. Adopt Jack Welch's business values. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.

    • I've spent the majority of my career working at IBM and much has changed in the NA GEO in the last decade.” Service Delivery Manager (Current Employee). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: IBM is a great place to pursue educational opportunities and to get a start with a career.

      Cons: It is not the place to end a career. IBM has made several sacrifices to its North American workforce for profitability. It's a short term solution to a long term issue the company will have to deal with eventually.

      Advice to Senior Management: It's time to refocus on innovation and reinvest in employee growth in North America. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend.

    • Old company feel with a very structured and rather bland culture.” Intern - MS Computer Science (Current Employee), Costa Mesa, CA. I have been working at IBM as an intern for less than a year. Pros: Get to work on very large scale projects that make a big impact on the world. Lot of career mobility in both location and category. Not a lot of overtime expected. Cons: The epitome of a bland and often boring corporate environment. Advice to Senior Management: Encourage more innovation and excitement. Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend.
    • Customer service representative-IBM” Customer Service Representative (Former Employee), Dublin (Ireland). I worked at IBM full-time for less than a year. Pros: To work at a multinational IT company. Cons: Bitter atmosphere amongst employees, etc. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend.
    • Excellent” Senior Software Developer (Former Employee), Gatineau, QC (Canada). I worked at IBM as a contractor for more than a year. Pros: Professional, great people, organized and supportive team. Cons: Occasional long hours compensated by allowing remote access. Advice to Senior Management: keep up good work.
    • Efficient teams, good projects, kind bosses” Software Engineer (Current Employee), Tucson, AZ. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than a year. Pros: Efficient teams, good projects, kind bosses. Cons: Refresh people. No free drink. Expensive food at workspace. Advice to Senior Management: Stop excellent employee leaving, stopping moving job opportunities outside USA. Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.
    • Used to be a great place to work...no more” Senior Program Manager (Former Employee), Poughkeepsie, NY. I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: Ability to work from home, good vacation plan, average benefit package.

      Cons: No respect for individuals, extremely long hours required to meet requirements, lack of recognition, excessive layers of management, poor morale, ineffective management.

      Advice to Senior Management: Eliminate three quarters of all executives. Each VP should have 1,000 employees in their span of control. Today many Directors and VPs have no direct reports, and own no mission. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.

    • Technology and Business Consulting” Principal Consultant (Current Employee), New York, NY. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: Great people, great opportunity, great projects. Cons: Demanding environment and work schedule. Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend.
    • Not so bad, not so good...” Member of Technical Staff (Current Employee), Brno (Czech Republic). I have been working at IBM full-time for less than a year. Pros: Good employer for all who doesn't know IT environments very well. Or, if you want to practise your language skills. There are over 72 nationalities in Brno, so almost everything is discussed in English.

      Cons: There is a lot of paperwork. You must collect for instance twelve approvals to do one simple job. Weird structure in team—some people are doing only specific sub jobs. You must do your best because of your personal rating. Even if your rating is top you will get only small bonus or even nothing because of missing money.

      Advice to Senior Management: Do you think that working conditions are the same for each delivery center across the world? I don't think so. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend.

    • It was a great company to work!” Team Leader (Current Employee), Hortolândia (Brazil). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 8 years. Pros: It was a great company to work! Cons: Too many process. Too many managers. Advice to Senior Management: Get simple! Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend.
    • Abusive and Cold” Anonymous Employee (Former Employee). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: Only to start a career. Cons: A big company that constantly shoots itself in the foot and abuses its employees and vendors. Advice to Senior Management: Listen to your people; stop moving your managers around—they don't know anything about the people they are supposed to manage. Keep looking only at your stock price instead of the employees and you won't be around in another 100 years. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.
    • An American Dow 30 icon when I joined. On several 'sell' lists today. A business without beliefs.” Sales Executive (Current Employee), Armonk, NY I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: There are many career path opportunities coupled with the ability to build and develop expertise and skills through internal and client facing activities worldwide. The silo structure offers many career path options and cross silo mobility. That works well if you have the skills and track record of deploying them. Senior management will listen to good ideas but not always responsive. Good place to get the industry tick mark on your CV.

      Cons: An extremely complex client facing sales and division structure with many product and strategy overlaps resulting in conflicts of who does/builds/sells what/when and with whom. This can often leave both the clients and employees confused as minions churn about like piranha circling a goat in the Amazon, all chasing the same dollar.

      The sales compensation structure is too complex. It is overlapping often paying out just for coding a record into someone's domain without ever actually selling anything or even leaving the office. Up to 10 sales people can be paid on the same order. Insane but good money for surfing the order logs.

      Senior management has lost it's sense of what the corporate mission is. They are struggling to redefine the company witness the latest 'cloud' mantra. Much of that is 'me too' versus thought leading. Cloud, mobile and you name it as a service were not invented at IBM. The potential is there to grow but the current hierarchy and competing silo businesses do not promote best practices for optimal corporate development. The cloud business diminishes hardware opportunity; services divisions don't care whose platform they work on; clients are relegated to opportunistic business partners who in turn transfer risk back to IBM whilst taking payment for doing so.

      There are organizational pieces that clearly don't fit. Notably the Finance Company should be spun off thereby helping relieving the balance sheet of debt while in one fell swoop making the insane 2015 profit target which is a piece of financial engineering having nothing to do with sales growth. It's really just a bank and in fact competes with banks directly.

      HR practices have reverted to archaic impersonal controls, meaningless reviews, mandatory poor performer rankings and a cheapskate clipping of costs/benefits all the while exporting jobs to low-wage and low-skill markets. IBM long ago stopped being a people company. It has fallen off the best companies to work for league table. IBM suffers from poor morale and needless productivity loss generated by the constant fear of job loss through 'rebalancing'.

      I pray for them every night. You should too.

      Advice to Senior Management: Lead from the board room not the press room. Forget the marketing hype. Grow organic revenue. Provide job security. Return to a client-centric sales model. Knock down the silos no matter how difficult. Quit buying companies. Build organically with the pieces in place. Take the short term hit required for long-term success. Stop financial engineering. Sell Sell Sell. Get back to Mr. Watson's playbook. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.

    • Be prepared to work like crazy” Marketing Manager (Former Employee). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: Efficient company. Timely paycheck and travel reimbursements. Telecommuting an option for some positions. Lucky if you get knowledgeable supportive manager; and likely to change often. Cons: Frequent layoffs and benefits takeaways to meet financial targets—sad to see talented needed coworkers get laid off. Frustrated customers and low employee morale. Constant fire drills. Expect to work 60 hours/week. Advice to Senior Management: Appreciate and support your customers and employees. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend.
    • I worked for IBM in Korea for 7 years” Financial Analyst (Current Employee), Seoul (South Korea). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 5 years. Pros: Great networking, personal development opportunities, access to global roles, well-defined business processes. Cons: Low salary, international assignments are becoming difficult for all grades, cost cutting, too much time being spent for reporting. Advice to Senior Management: Invest in recruiting top talents and cut some of the unnecessary reporting work Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.
  • Glassdoor IBM Canada reviews
  • US News & World Report: The Downside of Early Retirement. By Tom Sightings. Excerpts: First of all, if you have a choice of when to retire, consider yourself lucky. Many employees, including yours truly, get booted out of the workplace when they’re in their 50s. Suddenly there's no more paycheck, no more benefits and no more contributions to your 401(k) plan. People who take early retirement are typically left to their own devices. ...

    But far too many 50-somethings leave their familiar place of work only to find that they are unemployable at any comparable position. I have one friend working for minimum wage at the checkout counter at the supermarket. Another friend takes tee times at our public golf course for – you guessed it – minimum wage. Still another friend, who thought he could afford to retire, is now trying to sell real estate, which is no easy job in this economy.

    Nevertheless, part of the American dream is taking early retirement and moving to the beach or the mountains, or buying a boat and drifting off to someplace warm and wonderful. It does work for some people. But if you're thinking about taking early retirement sometime in 2014, pause to consider these three reasons you might want to put it off until 2015 or beyond...

  • Washington Post: Corporate pension plans at strongest funding in years. By Michael A. Fletcher. Excerpts: Strong stock market gains and slowly rising interest rates have left corporate pension plans in their healthiest state since the recession hit, a development that analysts say creates an opportunity for many firms to off-load them. ...

    But rather than just assuring the future of the shrunken number of traditional pension plans that make retirees guaranteed payments for life, the improved funding levels also make it more feasible for more firms to shed pension obligations altogether. Firms can do that either by offering lump sums to workers or to transfer the future liabilities — and the money set aside to meet them — to insurance companies that convert them into annuities. ...

    The percentage of private-sector employees who are covered by traditional pensions has decreased by about half since the early 1990s, to just 18 percent last year, according to the Labor Department.

    In recent years, some firms — worried about the long-term financial responsibility of paying for pensions — have moved to get the liabilities off their books. In recent years, Verizon Communications transferred $7.5 billion in pension obligations to Prudential Financial. The move came after General Motors paid Prudential to assume $25 billion of its pension risks. ...

    This year “is looking to be a big year for risk transfer strategies such as annuity buyouts and voluntary cashouts to former employees, as improving conditions make these options much more feasible than before,” said Richard McEvoy, head of the Financial Strategy Group for Mercer Investment Consulting.

  • Washington Post: The Color of Money: Calculating the ‘replacement rate’. By Michelle Singletary. Excerpts: If you resolved to save more for your retirement in 2014, you may be happy to hear about some new research on estimating the income you’ll need.

    To have enough money for when you are no longer working, you have to know your “number.” That is a calculation based on factors such as the rate of inflation, how much you are expecting from Social Security, an estimate of how much your investments might earn and how long you think you might live. The calculation also estimates the percentage of pre-retirement income you’ll need to replace. That percentage is called your “replacement rate.”

    Retirees used to estimate they could make do on 40 percent to 50 percent of what they used to earn a year because they wouldn’t have the same costs they did while working. Their children are grown and on their own. They probably wouldn’t have a mortgage or all the expenses associated with working, such as commuting costs.

    But many of today’s retirees want to live life more abundantly. Their children and grandchildren may not be close by, so they need to budget to travel to see them. And many won’t pay off their mortgages before they retire. Their retirement calculations may suggest they need to replace 70 percent to 80 percent of their yearly pre-retirement income, because their expenses won’t greatly be reduced in retirement.

    Still, the higher assumptions so common now might be too high, leading people to overestimate how much money they will need to fund their retirement, according to David Blanchett, head of retirement research for Morningstar Investment Management, a unit of Morningstar.

    “While a replacement rate between 70 percent and 80 percent may be a reasonable starting place for many households, when we modeled actual spending patterns over a couple’s life expectancy, rather than a fixed 30-year period, the data shows that many retirees may need approximately 20 percent less in savings than the common assumptions would indicate,” Blanchett writes in his research paper.

  • EE Times: HP Lays Off 5,000 More Employees. By Zewde Yeraswork. Excerpts: Hewlett-Packard on Tuesday announced that it would cut 5,000 additional jobs after already having laid off 29,000 workers earlier this year.

    According to a report from Reuters, the latest round of layoffs, announced on New Year’s Eve, will bring the total percentage of the company’s workforce that has been trimmed to 11 percent.

  • Public Citizen: Take This Job and Ship It: White-Collar Service Jobs Now Most Vulnerable to Offshoring. Excerpts: The chart below, which lists the top 100 jobs most likely to be offshored in the next 10-20 years, was taken from the paper "How Many U.S. Jobs Might Be Offshorable?" by Alan S. Blinder. This paper created a sensation when it was published March 2007 thanks to its estimates that 29% of U.S. jobs could be offshored, including high-paying service jobs. Blinder, a professor at Princeton who served on President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors and on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, is a "free trader down to his toes," yet he took a hard look at the data and found that far more jobs are vulnerable to offshoring than anyone had ever imagined. Blinder developed an "Offshorability Index" (OI) which ranks jobs based on their potential for being offshored. We extracted the top 100 most vulnerable occupations and presented them in this summary table. Blinder used occupational categories from the Department of Labor's O*Net database - click the O*Net links below for detailed descriptions each occupation. ...

    Occupation: Computer Programmers; Rank: 1

New on the Alliance@IBM Site

Job Cut Reports

  • Comment 01/01/14: It is truly sad that IBM still screws their retirees and employees. After 30 years with IBM and a retiree, IBM did a great job by taking away my health benefits when we were promised we would have our health benefits for life. So much for respect for the individual. IBM needs a union in 2014. -ANA-
  • Comment 01/03/14: IBMers and ex-IBMers: I hear your outrage about Retiree Health Benefits change (i.e. continued broken promises) loud and clear; but please closely watch your pension (if you have one) in 2014. Towers Watson (once known as Watson Wyatt) who brought you the 1999 IBM pension heist is still influencing lobbying groups and you can be sure IBM executive management wants to try to influence the future of PPAs with Senator Harkin retiring.

    Any change(s) to ERISA or your IBM pension will not be to your benefit!

    A must read is Ellen Schultz's excellent book "Retirement Heist". If you don't find it's contents even mildly disturbing I don't know what you are reading to the contrary.

    LIFE@IBM IS NOT GOOD (and not getting any better UNLESS you try to actively participate in securing your retirement benefits any way you can! Gee, wouldn't a contract with IBM be nice?!) -trexibmer-

  • Comment 01/03/14: IMHO more job cuts can be on the way in 2014 since IBM's CLOUD strategy is FOGGY at best. IBM is not a leader in the CLOUD just a follower-on. IBM is desperate to make it to 2015 EPS Roadmap target and RAs are unfortunately the only way to get there with how IBM is now. -trexibmer-
  • Comment 01/03/14: several thousand us workers retire from IBM, those who opted for the 3 day work program in return for no layoff. Major talent pool eliminated. Lots of highly experienced seasoned professionals MIA. US workforce is reduced further. -elongshore-
  • Comment 01/03/14: @elongshore, I agree. Since last week I have received ten goodbye notes from long timers who were customer facing technical folks. Coupled with that are some surprising job changes announced on LinkedIn, etc. including now former DE's (Distinguished Engineers). This loss of technical skills flies in the face of Ginni's Q1 internal rant about wanting 24-hour customer response. -Anon-
  • Comment 01/03/14: @trexibmer There was an article about a week ago that last years X86 sale to Lenovo is back on the burner. Loughridge said in the Q2 or Q3 call, that "divestitures will take place in 2014". He used the divestiture term in the plural sense indicating more than one sell off. -Anon-
  • Comment 01/03/14: @Anon: It's not just customer facing technical folks. Burlington took a major hit this summer. Now we're bleeding people (leaving by choice.) Some went South (Boston area), some went West (Intel, including a director), and now a Canadian entrepreneur has opened an IP startup right down the road, and about a dozen engineers have left to work for him (DE, STSM, Sr Engineers, some laid off who were back as contractors). -Anonymous-
  • Comment 01/03/14: -elongshore- You are right, a large number of very experienced professionals took the T2R program and left the company recently, I being one of them. However, not all of us went on the program to avoid a layoff. Many of us were planning on retiring anyway by the end of 2013 and being able to walk into a part time job was an attractive option. I think most of us would have happily taken a layoff to get the severance. I know I volunteered to be laid off many times before I went into T2R. I did volunteer to take a poor PBC rating for 2013 hoping it would allow somebody who was staying to avoid having to get a 3. Good luck to all that are still there. -longtimebeemer-
  • Comment 01/03/14: To Anon - It is about time they get rid of some DEs. They can't bill their time since they are way too expensive and frankly I don't even see most of them even be technically good! In SWG services, the ISSx orgs we bill customers over $300 per hour. Customers are fed up and won't be paying these rates much longer. The solution is to lower the rates and get rid of the fat or the people who can't bill. That includes DEs and low level management (level 1 to 3). -Anonymous-
  • Comment 01/04/14: -@elongshore- Although I agree that we lost some good people, I think that it makes good business sense for IBM to offer retirement incentives to the higher-paid older employees. They can't RA all of us, because of the ever present possibility of age discrimination suits. And for older employees, a retirement "sweetener" may offer a desirable alternative. I know I would be interested now. But from what I've heard, HR considered "ease into retirement" as something of a failure. They expected, but did not see, massive enrollment in that program. That's apparently why the program was one and done. I expected it to become an ongoing option, but no. -15yrsandcounting-
  • Comment 01/05/14: Alliance, Please allow this on your Job Cuts board. It's not about IBM specifically but it is about the damage and death that has occurred as a result of NAFTA. This policy allows money/capital to cross the borders of North and South; but not people from the south. This policy has lost 700,000 jobs from the US and diluted workers' rights and destroyed environmental protections for 20 years. NAFTA needs to end, now: NAFTA = Death: Artists Mark NAFTA's 20th Anniversary With Border Protest -EndNAFTA-
  • Comment 01/06/14: On a call this morning with a bunch of GRs who appear to not only work for IBM but do full time childcare - screaming children in the background. It seems every call I'm on these days has screaming children. How many people are actually working on the IBM payroll these days? -Anonymous-
  • Comment 01/06/14: A couple of employees freed up by the back-burnered Blue Harmony project joined a project swapping out existing contractors and sending them on their way. Hope for other BH resources they'll find spots, too, vs ending up in RA by default. Once placed, however, may give management another opportunity at re-balancing. -BlueCacophony-
  • Comment 01/06/14: My theory on the pension given the rumors about forcing everyone who qualifies to take the old pension and leave or stay and get the cash balance is IBM will be able to farm out the pension obligations to an insurance company who provides annuities. IBM will give them enough cash from the pension fund to legally satisfy the remaining obligations and eliminate the obligation from the books. The excess cash will then be used to buy back stock and reach the EPS goal for the 2015 roadmap. -robbed-
  • Comment 01/07/14: @longtimebeemer... I'm looking for a "LIKE" button, because you summarized extremely well the logic many applied in deciding for the T2R program. I just wish they would do it again so that I could sign up!!! -15yrsandcounting-
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • New York Times opinion: The Obamacare We Deserve. By Michael Moore. Excerpts: Today marks the beginning of health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act’s new insurance exchanges, for which two million Americans have signed up. Now that the individual mandate is officially here, let me begin with an admission: Obamacare is awful.

    That is the dirty little secret many liberals have avoided saying out loud for fear of aiding the president’s enemies, at a time when the ideal of universal health care needed all the support it could get. Unfortunately, this meant that instead of blaming companies like Novartis, which charges leukemia patients $90,000 annually for the drug Gleevec, or health insurance chief executives like Stephen Hemsley of UnitedHealth Group, who made nearly $102 million in 2009, for the sky-high price of American health care, the president’s Democratic supporters bought into the myth that it was all those people going to get free colonoscopies and chemotherapy for the fun of it.

    I believe Obamacare’s rocky start — clueless planning, a lousy website, insurance companies raising rates, and the president’s telling people they could keep their coverage when, in fact, not all could — is a result of one fatal flaw: The Affordable Care Act is a pro-insurance-industry plan implemented by a president who knew in his heart that a single-payer, Medicare-for-all model was the true way to go. When right-wing critics “expose” the fact that President Obama endorsed a single-payer system before 2004, they’re actually telling the truth.

    What we now call Obamacare was conceived at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and birthed in Massachusetts by Mitt Romney, then the governor. The president took Romneycare, a program designed to keep the private insurance industry intact, and just improved some of its provisions. In effect, the president was simply trying to put lipstick on the dog in the carrier on top of Mitt Romney’s car. And we knew it.

    By 2017, we will be funneling over $100 billion annually to private insurance companies. You can be sure they’ll use some of that to try to privatize Medicare. ...

    And yet — I would be remiss if I didn’t say this — Obamacare is a godsend. My friend Donna Smith, who was forced to move into her daughter’s spare room at age 52 because health problems bankrupted her and her husband, Larry, now has cancer again. As she undergoes treatment, at least she won’t be in terror of losing coverage and becoming uninsurable. Under Obamacare, her premium has been cut in half, to $456 per month.

    Let’s not take a victory lap yet, but build on what there is to get what we deserve: universal quality health care. ...

    All eyes are on Vermont’s plan for a single-payer system, starting in 2017. If it flies, it will change everything, with many states sure to follow suit by setting up their own versions. That’s why corporate money will soon flood into Vermont to crush it. The legislators who’ll go to the mat for this will need all the support they can get: If you live east of the Mississippi, look up the bus schedule to Montpelier.

    So let’s get started. Obamacare can’t be fixed by its namesake. It’s up to us to make it happen.

  • Washington Post: Stunning new report undermines central GOP Obamacare claim. By Greg Sargent. Excerpts: A crucial GOP line of attack against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that millions of people will supposedly lose coverage thanks to shifting requirements on the health insurance exchanges — a flagrant violation of President Obama’s infamous “if you like your plan, you can keep it” proclamation. The truth has always been more complicated, of course. Republicans are constantly blurring the line between people who lose a plan and people who lose coverage. That is, many people might lose a particular insurance plan but immediately be presented with other options.

    Now, a new report from the minority staff of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce has destroyed the foundation of that particular GOP claim. It projects that only 10,000 people will lose coverage because of the ACA and be unable to regain it — or in other words, 0.2 percent of the oft-cited 5 million cancellations statistic. ...

    Of course, there’s no doubt that for those 10,000 people, the health-care law left them worse off than before. And by no means is the rocky political ride over for Democrats — back-end problems still present a serious threat to implementation. But as is sadly too often the case, the arguments made by Republicans simply lack a firm factual basis — and deserve much more scrutiny that they’ve received in many sectors of the mainstream press.

  • Washington Post: The “wingnut hole” measured: 5 million without insurance thanks to GOP refusal. By Greg Sargent. Excerpts: Because of the decision on Obamacare by the Supreme Court, which left the decision to expand Medicaid (a key part of Obamacare) up to the individual states, most Republican-controlled states refused said expansion, leaving substantial portions of the citizenry in the lurch.

    Ed Kilgore has been calling this the “wingnut hole,” and many have been speculating about its size. How many Americans will go without health insurance simply because the GOP dislikes the president? Well, happy 2014, dear readers: initial estimates are in, and we have 5 million lucky winners!

    About 5 million people will be without health care next year that they would have gotten simply if they lived somewhere else in America. The court effectively left it up to states to decide whether to open Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor and disabled, to more people, primarily poor working adults without children.

    Twenty-five states declined. That leaves 4.8 million people in those states without the health care coverage that their peers elsewhere are getting through the expansion of Medicaid, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation estimate. More than one-fifth of them live in Texas alone, Kaiser’s analysis found. ...

    It’s worth remembering that the federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of the Medicaid expansion through 2016 and 90 percent of the cost afterward. It could very well work out that refusenik states will not even save money because of additional spending on the uninsured in emergency rooms and elsewhere.

    But regardless of the pitiful sums involved, make no mistake: This action is utterly gratuitous. Combined with the probable coming Republican refusal to extend unemployment benefits that George wrote about this morning, this is a particularly stiff kick in the teeth to the United States’ most vulnerable citizens to usher in the new year.

  • The Atlantic: Can Vermont's Single-Payer System Fix What Ails American Healthcare? By Sean McElwee. Excerpts: The Affordable Care Act's turbulent implementation has ruled the news cycle, but across the country states like Vermont are experimenting with their own plans.

    Governor Peter Shumlin signed a revolutionary single-payer plan, Green Mountain Healthcare—the culmination of decades of work by progressive politicians in the state—into law in May 2011. The new system aims to guarantee universal insurance coverage, improve benefits for those who are currently underinsured, include universal dental care and vision care, and increase the Medicaid reimbursement rate to doctors in order to avoid cost-shifting.

    In some ways, the system resembles the ACA, but the the most consequential difference is that Vermont’s law will end employer-provided insurance. "God didn’t create the fact that employers are responsible for healthcare for their employees," says Bernie Sanders, the state’s stalwart socialist senator. ...

    Meanwhile, there are still major question marks about how Vermont will pay for the plan, whether it can achieve the projected savings, and what might happen when an American state tries to import a European-style insurance program. If the ambitious Green Mountain Healthcare is a success, its backers say it will serve as a model for the rest of the nation—especially if the ACA doesn’t achieve full coverage and help bring costs down. Then, they say, statehouses around the nation will look to Montpelier for guidance. But first Vermont has to figure out how the plan is going to work.

    The program was designed by Harvard economist William Hsiao, who detailed the plain in a 2011 Health Affairs article. Hsiao projected the state would save 25.3 percent annually in total healthcare spending, lower household and employer healthcare spending, job growth, and higher economic output for the state. The savings would come from lower administrative expenses, reduced fraud and abuse, eliminating middlemen, malpractice reform, and governance improvements. These savings, about $4.6 billion over the first five years, would be plowed back into paying to cover the uninsured and expanding benefits and services leaving $2.3 billion in residual savings. The law also created the Green Mountain Care Board, an independent group charged with overseeing the law and ensuring quality. What the plan didn’t do is lay out how the state government would pay for its increased spending. ...

    For the plan’s defenders, the best counterexample is to the north. “Canada’s healthcare system began as province-by-province initiative as well,” Lunge notes. “It started at Saskatchewan before becoming a national initiative.”

    And just as the Saskatchewan plan became a model for Canada, many in Vermont, including Sanders, hope the state’s plan will eventually become an example for other states. “Americans want to see a model that works,” the senator says. “If Vermont can be that model it will have a profound impact on discourse in this country.” ...

    A 2012 Institute of Medicine report finds that the U.S. healthcare system wastes $750 billion each year. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found, “Among 34 OECD countries between 1990 and 2010, the U.S. rank for the age-standardized death rate changed from 18th to 27th, for the age-standardized YLL [Years of Potential Life Lost] rate from 23rd to 28th, for the age-standardized years lived with disability rate from 5th to 6th, for life expectancy at birth from 20th to 27th, and for healthy life expectancy from 14th to 26th.” OECD countries pay half of what the U.S. does, in per capita terms, for better outcomes and universal coverage.

  • Washington Post: Beneath health law’s botched rollout is basic benefit for millions of uninsured Americans. By Lena H. Sun and Amy Goldstein. Excerpts: Adam Peterson’s life is about to change. For the first time in years, he is planning to do things he could not have imagined. He intends to have surgery to remove his gallbladder, an operation he needs to avoid another trip to the emergency room. And he’s looking forward to running a marathon in mid-January along the California coast without constant anxiety about what might happen if he gets injured.

    These plans are possible, says Peterson, who turned 50 this year and co-manages a financial services firm in Champaign, Ill., because of a piece of plastic the size of a credit card that arrived in the mail the other day: a health insurance card.

    Peterson is among the millions of uninsured Americans who are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act, the 2010 law that launched far-reaching changes to the U.S. health-care system and is President Obama’s premier domestic achievement.

    These beneficiaries have not been oblivious to the problems of the new insurance exchanges, including a rollout so botched that Obama called it his biggest mistake of the year. Many, including Peterson, had firsthand encounters with the error-prone federal Web site, HealthCare.gov, that tested their patience and resolve. Some called help lines that couldn’t help them. Others drove long distances to meet with trained enrollment workers who couldn’t get them enrolled. Yet they persisted.

    And as New Year’s Day approaches, and with it, health insurance, their frustration is trumped by gratitude. “I get these messages from acquaintances on Facebook saying, ‘Let me keep my doctor,’ ’’ Peterson said. “Well, what about those of us who didn’t have health insurance before? . . . I have been walking a tightrope and have had some twists and falls off of it. To not have to worry about this anymore is a tremendous relief.”

  • National Public Radio (NPR): $1,000 Pill For Hepatitis C Spurs Debate Over Drug Prices. By Richard Knox. Excerpts: Federal regulators this month opened a new era in the treatment of a deadly liver virus that infects three to five times more people than HIV. Now the question is: Who will get access to the new drug for hepatitis C, and when?

    The drug sofosbuvir (brand name Sovaldi) will cost $1,000 per pill. A typical course of treatment will last 12 weeks and run $84,000, plus the cost of necessary companion drugs. Some patients may need treatment for twice as long.

    Hepatitis researchers call the drug a landmark in the treatment of this deadly infection. More than 90 percent of patients who get the new drug can expect to be cured of their hepatitis C infection, with few side effects. ...

    The drug company Gilead Sciences Inc. of Foster City, Calif., manufactures sofosbuvir. And some activists are beginning to complain about the company's decision to charge so much for the drug. "For Gilead, we have outrage, pure and simple," Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation told Business Wire.

    But Gregg Alton, a vice president at Gilead, says the high price is fully justified. "We didn't really say, 'We want to charge $1,000 a pill,' " Alton says. "We're just looking at what we think was a fair price for the value that we're bringing into the health care system and to the patients."

  • Washington Post: The Affordable Care Act is here to stay. By Eugene Robinson. Excerpts: Now that the fight over Obamacare is history, perhaps everyone can finally focus on making the program work the way it was designed. Or, preferably, better.

    The fight is history, you realize. Done. Finito. Yesterday’s news.

    Any existential threat to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ended with the popping of champagne corks as the new year arrived. That was when an estimated 6 million uninsured Americans received coverage through expanded Medicaid eligibility or the federal and state health insurance exchanges. Obamacare is now a fait accompli; nobody is going to take this coverage away. ...

    Now, officials in states that refused to participate in Medicaid expansion will have to explain why so many of their constituents — about 5 million nationwide — remain uninsured when they could have qualified for coverage. More than 1 million of these needlessly uninsured Americans live in Texas, which is targeted by Democrats as ripe for inroads because of its rapidly changing demographics. Will Gov. Rick Perry (R) be forced to reconsider his Obamacare rejectionism? Or will he ultimately be remembered for speeding the state’s transition from red to blue? ...

    Opponents of the law can hardly advocate going back to a system in which those who really need insurance can’t get it. What they can do, and surely will, is make lots of noise by pretending that any problem with anyone’s health insurance is due to the Affordable Care Act. Before Obamacare, millions of Americans had their policies canceled by the insurance companies every year. Millions more had their premiums raised, their coverage reduced or both. Now when these things happen, critics will try to blame the new law.

    Increasingly, though, the GOP will sound foolish and irrelevant if it continues to put all of its eggs in the “repeal and replace” basket. The problem is that the Affordable Care Act is a set of free-market reforms based on ideas developed in conservative think tanks. Republicans who want to repeal Obamacare would have to replace it with something suspiciously similar. ...

    The real problem with the ACA, and let’s be honest, is that it doesn’t go far enough. The decision to work within the existing framework of private, for-profit insurance companies meant building a tremendously complicated new system that still doesn’t quite get the job done: Even if all the states were fully participating, only about 30 million of the 48 million uninsured would be covered.

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

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

  • New York Times: High Rollers in a Buying Mood. By Jacyln Trop. Excerpts: Matt Hlavin, an entrepreneur in Cleveland who owns seven businesses, mostly in manufacturing, bought three Mercedes last year: a $237,000 SLS AMG and a $165,000 S63 AMG for himself, and a $97,000 GL550 sport utility vehicle for his wife.

    “I look at it as, I don’t have a boat,” Mr. Hlavin said. “I feel confident about the economy and about my business.”

    A legion of buyers like Mr. Hlavin, buoyed by a growing economy and a soaring stock market, are shedding whatever reluctance, or self-imposed restraint, they had during the recession by entering showrooms and leaving with trophy cars.

    “Luxury is not a dirty word anymore,” said Robert Ross, an automotive consultant with Robb Report, a lifestyle magazine for wealthy readers. “In 2008, luxury was a dirty word.”

    Maserati is opening dealerships around the United States, Rolls-Royce just finished its most profitable year ever and even mainstream luxury automakers like Mercedes and Jaguar are finding an eager market for their most expensive models, which push past $100,000.

    The sales gains at the highest end of the market are far outstripping those in the auto industry as a whole, which, because of easier credit and pent-up demand, have risen 8.4 percent from January through November. ...

    Among the hungriest consumers for luxury automobiles are entrepreneurs amassing new wealth in industries like technology and energy, and executives in Fortune 500 companies whose stocks have soared along with the broader market, analysts and industry executives say. ...

    Buyers at the top end of the market say the time feels right for a big-ticket purchase. And dealers across the country say that a majority of these purchases, especially for those above $150,000, are made in cash. ...

    Rolls-Royce, which is owned by BMW, has bounced back since 2008, recovering in 2009 with the introduction of the Ghost, a smaller sedan with an average price above $300,000. The Ghost gave those interested in owning a Rolls-Royce an alternative to the Phantom, which has a base price of $402,940 and is designed for use with a chauffeur. ...

    Eric Shepherd, Rolls-Royce’s president for North America, said that for many potential buyers in the six-figure market, the barrier to buying wasn’t an issue of dollars but of cultural sentiment. “Our customers never lost the ability to buy,” he said. “They may have lost the appropriateness to buy.”

  • Bloomberg Businessweek: Why Don't the Jobless Get the Same Tapering Touch as Banks? By Brendan Greeley. Excerpts: In 2008, the Federal Reserve began a series of asset purchases designed as a temporary stimulus. It turned out to be a longer recession than planned, so in spurts the Fed continued its program of quantitative easing. Knowing that easing was unsustainable over the long run, the central bank wondered long and publicly about two things. First, when would conditions warrant stopping the stimulus? Second, what was the least destructive way to get out of it? ...

    Expanded benefits for the jobless likewise started as a temporary program launched in 2008 and extended regularly as the recession continued. Last week Bloomberg Businessweek’s Josh Green made a case for seeing these extensions purely as an effective macroeconomic stimulus. Morality aside, money given to someone who is unemployed is what we used to call “shovel ready.” It gets spent. ...

    It’s awfully hard to take morality out of the question of whether to extend unemployment insurance again. It is a transfer of probable $26 billion this year from all of America’s future taxpayers. A sharp, immediate exit such as the one we’re about to take will be destructive in the way that suddenly ending any subsidy is destructive. Leaving the human cost out of it, sharp changes in fiscal policy have higher multipliers: They cost more, ultimately, than slower, drawn out changes.

    If you’re inclined to moral thinking, though, it’s even harder to understand why—if this subsidy, too, must end—we’re not bothering to extend the same tapering courtesy to the long-term unemployed that we’re offering the financial markets.

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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