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Highlights—April 26, 2014

  • Bloomberg:

    IBM End to Buyback Splurge Pressures CEO to Boost Revenue. By Alex Barinka. Excerpts: International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) is reducing stock buybacks after an $8.2 billion first-quarter splurge, putting more pressure on Chief Executive Officer Ginni Rometty to reignite sales growth or cut costs to hit her profit targets.

    IBM said last week it won’t sustain its rate of share repurchases in the first quarter, when buybacks more than tripled from a year earlier to the most since 2007. The company plans to spend less than $5.8 billion total in the final nine months of this year. ...

    “You’ve got a bleak picture ahead if you continue to stick with this EPS guidance,” Nicole Black, a fixed-income analyst at Wells Fargo & Co., said in a phone interview. She has the equivalent of a sell rating on IBM bonds. “You’re not delivering organic internal revenue growth. There is not a lot of fat to be cut.” ...

    Rometty’s first-quarter buyback bonanza was 41 percent higher than the $5.8 billion estimated by Barclays Plc. The repurchases made up “a stunning” 14 percent of all stock traded in the quarter, Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., said in a report last week. He said that helped support IBM shares, which rose 2.6 percent in the period, compared with a 1.9 percent gain in technology stocks in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. ...

    IBM’s sales have fallen from a year earlier for eight straight quarters. Technology customers are relying more on cloud-computing services instead of storing data on site, damping the demand for servers and other hardware. ...

    Broken Model? “Many investors have asked whether IBM’s financial model is ‘broken,’” Sacconaghi said in last week’s report. “Ultimately we believe it is not, but that the model is increasingly strained, and that IBM risks being tethered to its road map to the detriment to its longer-term financial health.” ...

    The repurchases, meanwhile, have taken a toll on IBM’s balance sheet. Total debt climbed to $44 billion in the first quarter, up from $33.4 billion a year ago. IBM had a cash balance of $9.7 billion at the end of the period, down $1.4 billion from December.

    Selected reader comments follow:

    • Regardless of what slash-and-burn investors like Icahn might sing praises about share buyback, it remains one of the most wasteful and ultimately unsustainable ways to prop up share price of a company when it's on a downhill decline. To rub salt into the wound, while cutting into the free cash flow, company oftentimes use borrowings to do share buybacks. If the company has done well in new revenue (which is what a company's health should have been measured by), the share price would have taken care of itself.

      "Declining sales and rising buybacks have squeezed IBM’s free cash flow, which fell 65 percent from a year earlier to $600 million last quarter..."

      Considering how far IBM has fallen, with no clear path of how to break out from woods, simply putting lipstick on a pig to make it look pretty, simply won't do.

      On a more fundamental level, a technology needs to preserve its fat to do R&D which is where its bread-and-butter should be. If organic growth is not to be had, it has to reserve the capacity to do M&A to acquire promising upstarts to break into new markets.

      Unfortunately, Executive compensation is all twisted these days, when performance bonus is oftentimes tied to share price and how it compares to peer groups in the market, resulting in more twisted incentive for CEO to prop up share price at all costs, to the detriment of the long term health and even viability of a company.

      It's sad to see such a great American icon as IBM to have fallen so low.

    • The 2015 Roadmap, which Palmisano put in place, will be the downfall of IBM. They've instituted short term prop up measures that are sacrificing the long term viability of what was once both an American and international institution worthy of respect and praise. Investors will be more than a little wary, if ninth and tenth consecutive quarters of declining revenues are reported.
    • These massive share buybacks WILL PROVE to have been a very significant mis-allocation of capital at EXACTLY the time when they will have needed this capital to INVEST in the business instead of working to attain a bogus profit target.
    • This is the only game most of the companies playing to beat EPS by buy back shares to cover up big problem with topline grown.
  • Seeking Alpha:

    Why IBM Continues To Lose Its Luster. Excerpts: We estimate IBM's shares are worth $180 each at the time of this writing. When the company announced that it had bought back a staggering $8.2 billion worth of shares during the first quarter in its quarterly report, we were shocked. IBM's management is doing more to destroy shareholder capital than it is doing to generate economic value at this juncture. We don't think Warren Buffett will stick around much longer with his 6% stake if fundamental operations continue to deteriorate and especially if management continues to pursue value-destroying activities in order to achieve self-enforced, near-term earnings-per-share goals. Warren Buffett likes economic moats, but he also focuses very much on incremental returns on capital and the uses of a firm's excess cash. IBM is failing miserably in the latter two considerations.

    Big Blue's first-quarter results revealed a 1% adjusted decline in revenue, and a whopping 22% decline in operating (non-GAAP) income. The buybacks slowed the decline to 15% on a diluted earnings per share basis, but clearly the results weren't up to expectations. Perhaps the only bright spot in the quarter was that services backlog of $138 billion advanced modestly, but only after adjusting for currency and excluding its divested customer care outsourcing business. More startling was that revenues from the company's growth markets decreased 11% (down 5%, adjusting for currency), with aggregate declines in Brazil, Russia, India, and China falling at a similar pace.

  • Alliance@IBM:

    IBM Global Union Alliance Calls for a reorientation of IBM. Excerpts: Since the announcement of the Roadmaps 2010 and 2015, IBM has mutated into a company dedicated to financial management. The most important asset of IBM, the IBM employee, has degenerated as a means to an end. Earnings per share (EPS) have become the corporation’s most important goal. Lack of appreciation of its own employees threatens to undermine the corporation from the inside out. The employees who have made the IT giant a driver for innovation and the world-record-holder in patent applications has already begun to lose faith in their own employer. The fact that IBM has not published the results of the recent staff survey for six months is a strong indicator of poor morale and motivation of the workforce. ...

    Innovations, inventions and patents used to be and and should be the basis for the success of IBM. Innovations, inventions and patents require a dedicated and motivated workforce that brings it to the customers of IBM. But IBM has played down the importance of its own employees since the beginning of the roadmap policy further and further. Instead of investment for the motivation of the workforce, in 2013 and 2014 IBM has launched so-called “workforce rebalancing “programs to reduce employees. This measure unsettled the employees of IBM. Since a few years ago IBM started to engage in expanding of cloud working and crowd sourcing. This is a strong shift to employment uncertainty for IBMers. The global workforce policy of IBM is increasingly focusing on reduction. An increasing lack of motivation is the result.

  • David Stockman's Contra Corner:

    Big Blue: Stock Buyback Machine On Steroids. Excerpts: The Fed’s financial repression policies destroy price discovery and honest capital markets. In the process these deformations turn financial markets into casinos and corporate executives into prevaricating gamblers. To be specific, most CEOs of the Fortune 500 are no longer running commercial businesses; they are in the stock-rigging game, harvesting a mother lode of stock option winnings as the go along.

    Those munificently rising stock prices and options cash-outs owe much to the Fed’s campaign to suppress interest rates and fuel stock market based “wealth effects”, but the CEOs are doing their part, too. They have become full-time financial engineers who use the Fed’s flood of liquidity, cheap debt and soaring stock prices to perform a giant strip-mining operation on their own companies. That is, through endless stock buybacks and M&A maneuvers they create the appearance of “growth” while actually liquidating the balance sheet equity and future asset base on which legitimate earnings growth depends.

    The poster boy for this deformation is IBM which for all intents and purposes has become a stock buyback machine on steroids. It had a bad hair day yesterday, reporting still another year/year decline in sales, but that goes right to the heart of the matter. During the last seven years IBM has been a stock traders dream, climbing an almost picture perfect chart from $94 per share in March 2007 to a recent peak of $212.

    But as shown below, those gains had nothing to do with what has been a historic ingredient of stock appreciation—-namely, expansion of its asset base and revenues. In fact, sales revenues in Q1 2014 clocked in at virtually the same number as Q1 2007...

    So how has IBM and its ilk achieved revenue-less earnings growth? After all, reported EPS has gone from about $7 per share to $15 during the period. The short answer is that its executives and board have utilized every accounting and financial engineering short-cut in the book to disguise an equity liquidation campaign as a splendid strategy for “growth”.

    During the 7-years ending in 2013 IBM booked about $100 billion in net income, and spent virtually every single penny on share buy backs. So the once and former king of the global high-tech industry had nothing better to do with its cash than shrink it equity base. Accordingly, its share count dropped by 20% over the period, thereby accounting for about 45% of its EPS growth. ...

    Coughing up rivers of cash was only one arrow in the quiver of IBM’s shareholder value enhancement strategy, however. Its lawyers and accountants weighed in smartly, too. During fiscal 2007 Big Blue’s tax rate was already low at 28%, but by dint of the best tax maneuvers money can buy, IBM’s tax provision dropped to just 15.5% last year. So if you hold constant IBM’s tax rate and share count at the 2007 level, EPS would have been about $9.50/share in 2013, not the $15 reported.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension, Employee Issues, Retirement, & Health Insurance message board:

    Re: IBM 1st QTR 2014 earnings? By "alwaysontheroad4bigblue". Full excerpt: "I remember it happened when the meeting was in Cleveland when Gerstner heard a question he didn't want to answer."

    Actually, it was the meeting in Tulsa in 2006. See http://www.ibmemployee.com/Highlights060429.shtml for coverage of the meeting.

    I was the person that asked the question that infuriated Mr. Palmisano to the point where he shut down the meeting. To IBM's credit, I remained an employee for six more years when I was RAretired in 2012. I was quoted in the Wall Street Journal's coverage of the meeting. After returning to work later in the week, I was delighted to have received dozens of e-mails and SameTime messages thanking me for what I had said.

    Here's my write-up from the link above that describes what happened:

    The question I asked Sam at the stockholder's meeting has received a lot of press. I thought it might be useful to post the full question here as the articles in the press have focused only on the "punch line."

    The following is not verbatim...I formulated the question during the meeting, making scribbled notes on the agenda that was handed out at the start of the meeting. I did not write my question completely out...and, in fact, during the initial portion of my question there was quite a bit of friendly banter between Mr. Palmisano and myself. As you can imagine, the banter ended as I neared the end of my question. So...here it goes, to the best of my recollection.

    Hello Mr. Palmisano. Actually, may I call you Sam? (Mr. Palmisano replies that he's been called worse things). I feel that I can call you Sam because I feel like you're one of us, unlike that "last guy that occupied the podium where you're standing."

    I started with IBM at about the same time you did, but haven't done quite as well as you have. (Spoken in a self-deprecating tone). But then I know you've worked much harder than I have, and I feel you deserve the position you've attained. And, besides that you were a salesman and I started as an engineer, and we both know that sales guys always do better at IBM. (said with a smile).

    Nevertheless, I've had a great career at IBM, and I truly love this company. I also must state that I am very impressed with the generosity of the new enhanced 401k plan, and feel that it is very competitive compared with what other companies offer. Unfortunately, for people like me who are late in their IBM careers, the new plan won't do us much, if any good...

    You and I both attended many meetings in the 70's and 80's with our managers where we were told that our lifetime medical and pension benefits were a form of deferred compensation. I trusted IBM to keep its promises. In fact, I made lifestyle choices based on IBM's promises, including the decision my wife and I made for her to be a stay-at-home mom. I counted on the retirement medical and pension promises IBM had made through all my years as an employee.

    As we know, IBM has not kept its promises to its long-term employees. I've run the numbers. I wasn't affected by the cash balance changes in 1999, but have been affected to the tune of 40% to 50% of my pension benefit from the changes made in 1991 and 1995. I'll be happy to share the specifics with you, the board, or the press. And, this cut doesn't include the cut in my retiree medical benefit, which is even larger than the pension cut.

    On the other hand, with the introduction of the SERP under Lou Gerstner, you and other senior executives have done *very* well, to the tune of $10,000 to $22,000 a day (and that's 7 days a week) for your pension. This is according to the proxy materials we have in front of us, and a recent article on MS-NBC.

    My question for you, Sam, is "is $10,000 a day enough for you to live on, or will further cuts to employee benefits be required?"

    There was brief applause...the only applause of the meeting that wasn't what I'd call "courtesy applause." Mr. Palmisano fumbled for a while, then stated that he felt the "gist of my question" concerned the SERP. He went on to explain that the SERP has now been discontinued, but that Lou introduced it in 1999 because IBM executives were leaving in droves, and something needed to be done to retain them. He said more than this...but I don't recall very well what exactly he did say.

    He abruptly ended the meeting at this point, twenty minutes early, and after having taken only three questions from the floor, one of which was from a "plant."

    Janet Krueger had a microphone in hand at position 2, but Sam avoided calling on that position knowing that Janet would ask a tough question. Sam didn't know me, so when he looked at the left side of the room for a question, he called on position 4...which was me holding that microphone.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension, Employee Issues, Retirement, & Health Insurance message board:

    Re: My Party By "MBI Enterprises". Full excerpt: From reading various disgruntled posts on this board, which I take to be primarily from the Eastern contingent, I consider myself fortunate for having not started up the management career ladder that would have led me to and through one of IBM's East Coast locations. 26 years in 'the field' as a senior salesperson in the Midwest was probably one of the best positions in IBM during the 60's and 70's.

    A highlight (among many) was gathering with 25 of my IBM colleague/friends at Domaine Chandon in Napa, CA for my QCC celebration. IBM footed the entire bill for all who attended, which included our failed attempt to consume that year's Champagne production. My manager had a Gold bezel added to the traditional Rolex to signify and commemorate the 18 Golden Circles I achieved in my sales career. In addition, I got the $1K check, plus 2 fat binders of letters and pictures from those who had shared my IBM adventures, successes and failures over those 25 years. A truly great party.

    The 1986 early-out offer (immediate full pension plus 2 years of salary) gave me the opportunity, at 48 years of age, to pursue other opportunities. I have nothing but fond memories of my IBM career.

    Now, with IBM giving me $4,400, and my IBM retiree wife $3,000, each year to pay our medical expenses, there's still nothing to complain about there. We live, travel extensively and support a number of charities, all on our monthly pensions, but, thanks to the investment opportunities IBM provided through out our careers, we could survive quite well without those pensions.

    A fortuitous execution of a covered call I had written on my IBM stock portfolio, liquidated my entire position in August of 1987, which I then reinvested in Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway in October, after the 1987 stock debacle. The stock has done quite well. So if IBM needs our pension $$ to keep up the good fight, they are welcome to it.

    I relate all of this to let other readers know that not all IBM retirees are old, bitter curmudgeons, damning everything management did and does, and begrudging any benefits for all who tried and try to lead. Thanks to IBM, there are many, like myself, who have done well and cherish our IBM memories. Enough with all this gnashing and bashing.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension, Employee Issues, Retirement, & Health Insurance message board:

    Re: My Party By "ibm4mrbeamer". Full excerpt: "So if IBM needs our pension $$ to keep up the good fight, they are welcome to it."

    Good fight? What fight? Are you crazy? You are the ultimate corporate apologist. Are you IBM or ex-IBM senior management incarnate? Are you a union buster (is that the GOOD FIGHT you mean?). You earned your pension, entitled to it all, and obviously you must be a millionaire or something to not need it. You took it didn't you? Hey, great for you! I bow down to you and can I worship you?

    Do you have any caring for those that now have or will have $0 in retiree IBM health benefits? Got shafted with the age discriminatory IBM cash balance pension conversion? Got resourced action and escorted out the door in less than an hour after 20+ years of IBM loyal employment service?

    All of you "GOT YOURS and flaunt it". Oh, so if it retirement and life is fine (i.e. lastdino1 LIG) for you then consider yourself lucky; you were born at the right place at the right time! Some former IBMers: not so lucky. If you can't accept differing views that IBM is not like it was in decades past then why flaunt it? Just accept your life's luck and enjoy. You were in the great IBM at the time. You're old and entitled; I get it. So just enjoy and don't waste your time here and rub salt in to some recent ex-IBMers wounds. Those not so lucky as you.

    Why don't you accept IBM IS BROKEN NOW for the current and recently retired and it is probably too late to fix it! Look at the last two years of quarterly results!

    The QCC process described that that pathetic poster added shows that IBM is a moral basket case when got totally shafted!

    Is this just a feel good IBM "good times club" forum? Then it is a waste of time. I guess you might have plenty of spare time or all the time in the world to spend typing in your post being 'happily ever after'.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension, Employee Issues, Retirement, & Health Insurance message board:

    Re: My Party By "hankharty". Full excerpt: MBI wrote: "The 1986 early-out offer (immediate full pension plus 2 years of salary) gave me the opportunity, at 48 years of age, to pursue other opportunities. I have nothing but fond memories of my IBM career. Now, with IBM giving me $4,400, and my IBM retiree wife $3,000, each year to pay our medical expenses, there's still nothing to complain about there."

    So you are the one the ruined if for all the rest of us!

    Seriously, things are not the same as they were prior to 1986. Congrats on getting out while the getting was good.

  • Wall Street Journal:

    As Mainframes Turn 50, IBM Takes a Big Computing Gamble. By Tom Gara. It’s Shakespeare’s 450th birthday this week, and it turns out the Bard of Avon is only 400 years older than another famous April baby: The mainframe computer, as announced by IBM on April 7, 1964, celebrated its 50th birthday earlier this month. ...

    But while the mainframe is still around, the market for high-end computing has changed dramatically with the rise of a new generation of low-cost server farms and cloud computing services. Whether you’re an Internet giant or an upstart photo-sharing app, a big machine from IBM is now far from the only way to get the heavy computing work done, and certainly not the cheapest.

    Sales plunged in 2013 — mainframes fell 37% and high-end Power servers fell 31% — and the revenue drops were bad enough that CEO Ginni Rometty and her senior executive team chose to forgo their annual bonuses.

  • Wall Street Journal:

    IBM Unveils Servers With Its New Chips. Move Part of Effort to Revive Company's Hardware Business, Take Sales from Intel. By Don Clarke and Spencer E. Ante. Excerpts: International Business Machines Corp. on Wednesday is unveiling the first computers based on its latest microprocessor chips, the technology behind a high-stakes effort to help revive IBM's sagging hardware business and take sales from Intel Corp.

    The company and a variety of partners, including Google Inc., are also discussing plans for products stemming from IBM's decision to license its new Power8 chip technology so other companies can make their own microprocessors and related products.

    IBM announced that strategy shift last year to help reverse a sharp sales decline of its high-end server systems. By bringing a big performance boost at an attractive price—and encouraging others to make compatible machines—IBM hopes to court Web services that use Intel chip technology almost exclusively. ...

    Some of the greatest interest in the Power8 efforts may come from China, Mr. Moorhead said, given the country's preference for technology that can be locally modified. The first company to indicate interest in making chips based on Power8 is Suzhou PowerCore Technology Co., a company recently created as part of development initiative by China's Jiangsu province.

  • EE Times:

    IBM Power 8 Gains User, Skeptic. By Jessica Lipsky. Excerpts: A veteran server analyst expressed skepticism that IBM will find new markets for its Power 8 processors and motherboards as open hardware products. With the exception of one Chinese company, it was not clear at an event here to launch the initiative who will license the IBM technology.

    IBM announced 26 partners for its OpenPower Foundation (OPF) at the event. A Google engineering manager chairs the effort, signaling the search company's interest, but he made no specific commitment to using Power 8.

    "Google gets in bed with everybody… they'll be in all these different activities, but it's never really a strategic thing for them," Nathan Brookwood, principal of the market watcher Insight64, told EE Times. IBM's open hardware move is "driven by desperation more than hope."

    Despite its high performance, IBM's Power 8 lacks the volume to compete in a very expensive processor battle with the massively popular Intel and ARM architectures, Brookwood said. In addition, the open development model may not be successful in the server market, where a few players retain tight control. ...

    Taking the opposite position, Suzhou PowerCore said it plans to license the Power architecture and chip design tools to develop and market processors for servers in China. Seeking more opportunities in Asia, IBM executives are travelling to China this week to hold another OPF event. ...

    Despite earlier layoffs and rumors that it might leave the semiconductor business, the company says it is on the forefront of design trends. Richard Talbot, director and project executive for IBM Power Systems, told us an inclination toward openness in software and application development is now creeping into all layers of hardware.

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • “All the opportunities you can handle without the pay.”

      IT Architect (Current Employee), San Francisco, CA. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 3 years. Pros: Work from home. Lots of job options. Leading technology. Cons: Benefits are expensive. Salaries don't keep up with market. Raises are practically nonexistent. Forced fit ranking system. Advice to Senior Management: Stop setting unrealistic goals to appease the share holders. Take care of your employees and the employees will take this company far. It's not all about the share price that pumps your executive options.
    • “Being Acquired By IBM”

      Software Sales Representative (Former Employee), Atlanta, GA. I worked at IBM full-time for more than a year. Pros: There is nothing good about being in a company that is acquired by IBM. Cons: Being in a software company that was acquired by IBM was the worst job experience of my career. The IBM Management Team was absolutely clueless as to what our company did and as to why we were successful. Sales dropped by 50% in the first year after the acquisition. Advice to Senior Management: Understand the culture of the company that you are acquiring. It's a major part of the success of the company.
    • “Good internship for students who want to work during their school year”

      Intern (Former Employee), Prague (Czech Republic). I worked at IBM as an intern for less than a year. Pros: I liked the friendly culture in the office and colleagues willing to help. Also, outings organized for interns by interns were very good. We went through a lot of trainings which were very well structured and helpful. Work-life balance was without any problems. No one cared how much time you work the only thing is to get the job done. Paid internships were offered for selected interns at the end of the unpaid internship. Cons: Internships are unpaid. On the other hand IBM is a strong one and attracts motivated crowd of students with various backgrounds.
    • “Bait and switch salary information from the recruiters. Get the salary offer in writing.”

      Anonymous Employee (Current Employee). Pros: Some middle management still remember what IBM was like at its peak and seem to respect workers. Cons: Scary atmosphere with constant layoffs of workers from North America. Used to think IBM was a stable employer but constant worry about layoffs (resource actions) undermines that. Advice to Senior Management: Give employees you are planning to lay off a chance to engage in activities specifically targeted at rebuilding their careers within newly emerging parts of the company. Don't hire outside talent while a single IBM employee is being laid off. Retrain, Recycle, Reuse. Loyalty is a two way street.
    • “They Don't Care About Any of Their Workers, Especially Contractors”

      Anonymous Employee (Current Employee). I have been working at IBM as a contractor for more than a year.

      Pros: Beats the unemployment line...beats the unemployment line (there's a 20 word minimum)...beats the unemployment line.

      Cons: Too numerous to mention. They don't give a hoot about anyone. They only care about billable hours. Endless procedures. Their "trainings" are a joke. The managers are clueless and know nothing about technology. The equipment they give us stinks. Horrible company. They place employees in jobs they are not qualified for just to keep them on billing. No longer the great company they were when they were Big Blue.

      Advice to Senior Management: Resign. The workers would be better off without you.

    • “Rather like an air craft carrier...can be slow moving but has much technical and other ability.”

      Anonymous Employee (Current Employee). Pros: Name recognition in the industry, company values of integrity, depth and breadth of internal skills to leverage, good experience of working for a large company to understand how they work. Cons: Communication of strategy, pay and recognition, benefits. Advice to Senior Management: Not good form to say we take no bonuses so no bonuses for others when much of your "bonus" pay is in stock options and other mechanisms that you still received; value your workforce.
    • “Working at IBM—The Big Blue Machine”

      Managing Consultant (Former Employee), Sydney (Australia). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 3 years. Pros: Well-designed processes with a large number of very competent employees. Cons: It is a machine; all they care is how much profit they are making; not much consideration for employees. Advice to Senior Management: Look after your employees more and support them.
    • “Fantastic technology and people, questionable strategy”

      Engineer (Current Employee), Hopewell, NY. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: Access to leading technology, world class talent, many people have decades of experience. Great place to build a resume, write patents and learn. Great work/life balance, lots of responsibility given to engineers. Huge company with many opportunities if you can find them.

      Cons: Change in business strategy to software and services has severely impacted the hardware group and its ability to execute with questionable financial results. Challenging growth environment given hardware sales decline. Ancient buildings and offices.

      Advice to Senior Management: IBM needs a growth strategy beyond 2015 EPS and a way to take advantage of the fantastic people in the company. Talented people leave IBM because they don't see a growth path that aligns with the company. Many are skeptical that software and services will stand on their own without differentiated hardware.

    • “Not the old IBM”

      Software Engineer (Current Employee), Markham, ON (Canada). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: Laid back. Good work life balance. Competitive pay. Cons: Company is in severe cost cutting mode. Yearly RIFs/layoffs. PBC (rating system) broken. C level (and higher) execs mostly clueless. No trust in tech people. Non-stop off shoring (India, China). Advice to Senior Management: Company is legacy. Adapt or die.
    • “Horrible. Just Horrible.”

      Senior Network Administrator (Current Employee), Keyser, WV. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 5 years.

      Pros: Money. If you are out to do nothing but make money this is the job for you, otherwise go somewhere else. If you are looking to make a difference or do something epic, this is not for you.

      Cons: Long Hours. Unfair review process. Poor career growth. Short on staff. Horrible business practice. Employees are required to work a 44-hour work week; coincidentally works out so that you only wind up with 1 day off a year IF you are able to take vacation.

      Advice to Senior Management: Give a little, gain a lot. There are no incentives to be a good employee. Practice what you preach—everything I heard was fluff from management; nothing ever comes to fruition when it comes to taking care of employees.

    • “Good opportunities for top performers, women & minorities”

      Anonymous Employee (Former Employee). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 8 years.

      Pros: Lots of opportunities given if you are one of the selected few for grooming; great support for women and minorities; easy to move around and try out different jobs/careers within the company; many established processes; had great educational benefits and training programs.

      Cons: Treat people as just a number, really don't value the workforce—feels like everyone is replaceable with a counterpart in an offshore cheaper country even with the company is doing well; it doesn't feel like people are rewarded for it.

      Advice to Senior Management: Treat people with more value than if there are just a number, as if you realize that they are your greatest assess.

    • “Vice President, IBM GTS”

      Anonymous Employee (Former Employee). Pros: One of the best companies in the industry to get professionally trained as an executive within the Fortune 500. Cons: If you don't like global matrix environments, IBM is not for you. Advice to Senior Management: None.
    • “Mediocre at best”

      Anonymous Employee (Current Employee. Pros: Good name and recognition...BIG projects (usually). Cons: Internal inefficiency is incredible...too big of an organization. My projects could be "IBM" or "Joes Consulting". IBM is only a name that helps us sell and is a pain in the but once sold. Pay is awful...performance review is meaningless. Advice to Senior Management: Break up the company
    • “Working in the Marketing and Communications Lab in NYC was a wonderful experience.”

      Marketing Intern (Current Employee), New York, NY, I have been working at IBM as an intern for more than a year.

      Pros: -managers interested in your development; -have contact with higher ups in the company; -open office environment; -casual dress except for presentation days.

      Cons: -interviewing for next steps after internship; -hard to navigate the intranet system IBM has in place.

    • “Mixed”

      Senior Engineer (Former Employee), Austin, TX. I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: Technical power house in computer hardware/software. Have a big research organization which involved in cutting-edge development. Cons: No respects and cares for individual. Too slow for fast-changing business environments. Business strategy emphasizes only high-margin unit.
    • “Avoid IBM at all costs. I wish I did.”

      Technical Specialist (Former Employee), Armonk, NY. I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: It's a big company so it gives you a lot of options a smaller company can't offer.


      • You are treated like dirt because IBM knows they can get your services for 5 cents an hour from India and they are constantly letting you know this and constantly trying to find someone from other countries to take your place.
      • They make it a point to pay less than the "going rate" for your labor, given your education, skills and experience.
      • Every year IBM lowers its total compensation for U.S. employees because in reality they want us all to leave so they can fill our positions with Indians and people from other third world countries.
      • IBM is so big you can't make any changes that would improve things. It's like trying to move the Titanic. They are a huge dinosaur that can't be changed no matter how hard you try.
      • When you leave the company IBM hangs you out to dry. No pension, a small 401K and health insurance that (this year) costs my wife and I $1293 per month!
      • IBM treats you like an ATM machine, trying to get every penny they can out of you and if they don't get what they want they "kick" the machine to try to squeeze more out of it.
      • Even if you get great reviews (I got top reviews for many years, including the most recent years) they will still lay you off once they have found an Indian who will do your work for less.
      • IBM is in existence for only one reason, to make their top executives billionaires. That is all they care about. Employees are just the dirt they walk on.

      Advice to Senior Management: You are promoted to management because you had the right skin color and/or the right gender. You don't have the talent to do your job. You hold down the really talented people because they don't fit your "affirmative action" goals.

    • “A great company to work”

      Senior Managing Consultant (Current Employee), New York, NY. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: Excellent opportunities to grow skills. Cons: Bureaucracy that exist in any large organization such as IBM. Advice to Senior Management: Attract young talent, re brand the image in such a way can attract and retain top young talent providing not only opportunities but growth that comes along with them.
    • “Not what it once was”

      Project Manager (Former Employee), Sydney (Australia). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: Work/life balance. Company values are on the surface, good, and were to me, however, whispers were that not all people treated the same way. Cons: Cost-cutting environment and ongoing redundancies mean morale is through the floor. Poor wages compared to market rates. Process-bound. Advice to Senior Management: Time for a new strategy, the current one has been failing for too long, so surely someone at the top has some new ideas?
    • “This is not THE IBM anymore”

      Manager (Former Employee), Taipei (Taiwan). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: You'll be able to work with talents from various countries, a lot of training resources, a lot of good colleagues to work with. Salary is high compared with local companies (w/o counting the bonus). Good quality of first line, second line level of management.

      Cons: Now the company sees things in a very short-term way. They sacrifice the long-term durability for short-term $$ on the book.

      Advice to Senior Management: Wake up! The 2015 goal will ruin this company.

    • “Large company issues, but solid people and pay”

      Client Executive (Former Employee). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 3 years.

      Pros: Pay, lifestyle, people. IBM is great if you are looking for a conservative environment with minimal change year in and year out. Most of the people are fantastic, but middle management can be very political.

      Cons: Pay is OK, but not top tier in the industry. Very process oriented...so much so that it impacts sales and customer relationships. Lost the ability to react which is hurting market share. Current company strategy is built on M&A because innovation is not taking off.

      Advice to Senior Management: Let your talent do what you hired them to do. Some of the managers realize this and excel, others are too worried about unnecessary details/processes that hold both their people and opportunities back. Get out of your own way. And you should feel threatened by the little guys, because they are winning.

    • “It's been OK on the whole people get treated fairly and there are opportunities if you want to take them”

      Business Development Executive (Current Employee), London, England (UK). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: On whole IBM is a meritocracy. You will be treated and rewarded based on your contribution. This is not universal there’s a lot of hype about values and trust. These don't bear up to much investigation. IBM is also very politically correct if this is problem or you can't handle it go somewhere else. Lastly is very complex and Bureaucratic But if you can make your face fit and more importantly learn how to play the game you’ll be OK.

      Cons: Very bureaucratic. constant reviews and pay and rewards aren't great.

      Advice to Senior Management: Spend less time on conference calls. go and meet customers and your folks at the coalface.

    • “IBM Brasil”

      Senior IT Specialist (Current Employee), São Paulo (Brazil). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 3 years.

      Pros: Dealing with biggest customers in country; Good salary if a proper negotiation is done during recruiting time; Many learning stuff available

      Cons: Total lack of people cara from 1st and 2nd line manager, a total shame; Training is all based on employees self-effort — no company money spent even on IBM technologies; a *LOT* of bullying happening by people being manager but not ready for that.

      Advice to Senior Management: Pay more attention to talents and monitor low level managers doing a complete mess within support teams.

  • Glassdoor IBM Canada reviews
  • Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert. This week's topics include:
    • Another Survey Suggests U.S. Middle Class is Falling Behind
    • California City Tries to Skip Legally Required Pension System Payments
    • Social Security to Bring Back Paper Benefits Statements
    • America’s Fastest-Growing Retirement Places
    • Fiesta Addresses Connecticut Alliance
    • Ryan Budget or another Topic on Your Mind? Write a Letter to the Editor, Win a Pen!
  • Salon:

    Wall Street’s secret pension swindle. A lack of transparency is allowing financial firms to make high-risk investments with your retirement funds. By David Sirota. Excerpts: In the national debate over what to do about public pension shortfalls, here’s something you may not know: The texts of the agreements signed between those pension funds and financial firms are almost always secret. Yes, that’s right. Although they are public pensions that taxpayers contribute to and that public officials oversee, the exact terms of the financial deals being engineered in the public’s name and with public money are typically not available to you, the taxpayer.

    To understand why that should be cause for concern, ponder some possibilities as they relate to pension deals with hedge funds, private equity partnerships and other so-called “alternative investments.” For example, it is possible that the secret terms of such agreements could allow other private individuals in the same investments to negotiate preferential terms for themselves, meaning public employees’ pension money enriches those private investors. It is also possible that the secret terms of the agreements create the heads-Wall-Street-wins, tails-pensions-lose effect — the one whereby retirees’ money is subjected to huge risks, yet financial firms’ profits are guaranteed regardless of returns. ...

    So what is happening to retirees’ money? As Siedle documents, more and more of it is going to pay the exorbitant fees charged by the Wall Street firms managing the pension money.

    “Fees have skyrocketed over 1,000 percent since 2000 and have almost doubled since (2008) from $217 million to $416 million,” he writes, adding that “annual fees and expenses will amount to approximately $1 billion in the near future.”

  • Computerworld:

    H-1B loophole may help California utility offshore IT jobs. It is the second major utility in a year to announce IT outsourcing. By Patrick Thibodeau. Excerpts: Southern California Edison is outsourcing part of its IT operations, and the jobs may be going overseas.

    Edison (SCE) is working with Infosys, which is based in India, and iGate, a New Jersey-based company with major offshore centers, as it prepares to lay off workers, according to U.S. government records. ...

    Northeast Utilities, last fall, announced it was outsourcing part of its IT operations to Infosys and another Indian-based IT services giant, Tata Consultancy Services, and cut about 200 jobs. SCE isn't disclosing how many jobs may be cut, but the Los Angeles Times reports the number is in the hundreds. ...

    The evidence pointing to offshore outsourcing, and to Infosys and iGate as at least two of the vendors, is based on government records. Edison runs some of its IT operations in Irwindale, Calif. As part of the hiring process for H-1B visa-holding workers, outsourcing vendors file a Labor Condition Application (LCA), a U.S. document with salary information and the address of the visa workers' worksite. There were as many as 130 LCAs filed by Infosys alone in the past year for the Irwindale address associated with SCE's offices, according to a large sampling of those filings collected by visa data analysis firm MyVisaJobs.

    H-1B rules make it relatively easy for offshore outsourcing companies to replace U.S. workers, despite a rule to curb it. ...

    H-1B-dependent employers are exempted from U.S. worker protection rules if the H-1B worker is paid at least $60,000 or has a master's degree.

    An annual salary of $60,000 is low for an IT professional, especially in the high-wage region of Southern California. The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported this month that the average starting salary for new college graduates -- nationally -- in computer science was $61,741.

    The offshore companies, iGate and Infosys, both pay wages of more than $60,000 a year and therefore aren't obligated to meet the H-1B dependent rules. ...

    Hira said there has been no effort by the government to enforce the dependency rules. "This is remarkable given the hundreds of thousands of visas that have been granted to H-1B dependent firms since the regulations took effect," he said.

  • Washington Post opinion:

    ‘The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap’ by Matt Taibbi. By Hedrick Smith. Excerpts: In a speech last year that chilled Wall Street, New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley said he feared that the tax dodging, money laundering, mortgage fraud and trampling on homeowners by America’s big banks might reflect not just a few bad actors but ethical flaws deep in the fabric of Wall Street.

    In 2010, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. warned that “mortgage-fraud crimes have reached crisis proportions.” He vowed bravely to fight back, but the Justice Department’s inspector general recently reported that, in fact, Holder’s department has made Wall Street crime its lowest priority and that, since 2009, the FBI has closed 747 mortgage-fraud cases with little or no investigation.

    No wonder, writes Matt Taibbi, a reporter known for exposés in Rolling Stone on the banks’ rigging of financial markets. In “The Divide,” Taibbi offers the searing indictment that America’s wealth gap has corrupted the nation’s system of justice, fostering a “legal schizophrenia” that harshly prosecutes the poor but practices selective leniency on Wall Street. After “the greatest crime wave in a generation,” the Obama administration’s failure to jail top bankers, Taibbi contends, shows that the United States now lives by a hypocritical double standard — “letting major systemic offenders walk, bypassing the opportunity for important symbolic prosecutions and instead . . . putting the smallest of small fry on the rack for negligible offenses.”

    Taibbi is a relentless investigative reporter. He takes readers inside not only investment banks, hedge funds and the blood sport of short-sellers, but into the lives of the needy, minorities, street drifters and illegal immigrants, to juxtapose justice for the poor and the powerful. How can it be, he asks, that a street drifter such as Tory Marone serves 40 days in jail after cops find half a reefer in his pocket, but not a single executive of HSBC faces criminal charges after the bank “admitted to laundering billions of dollars for drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia, washing money for terrorist-connected organizations in the Middle East, allowing rogue states under formal sanctions by the U.S. government to move money freely by the tens of billions through its American subsidiary, [and] letting Russian mobsters wash money on a grand scale”?

  • The Fiscal Times:

    In American Politics, the Wealthy Get What They Want. By Rob Garver. Excerpts: French economist and author Thomas Piketty has been running around the public policy community, warning everyone that the increasing income inequality in the United States has the country on the road to oligarchy. Piketty’s bestselling book, Capital in the 21st Century has garnered a lot of attention, but a new study by professors at Princeton and Northwestern Universities suggest that his warning comes too late – the U.S. is already an oligarchy, and has been for decades.

    Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin I. Page of Northwestern conducted an extensive study of how major questions of public policy were decided over the course of the 20 years between 1981 and 2002. Their conclusions, scheduled for publication in the Fall issue of the journal Perspectives on Policy, were not happy ones for people who believe that the United States is a majoritarian democracy.

    “When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy,” they write. ...

    “In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule — at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes,” the study finds. “When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.” ...

    Gilens and Page end the paper with a warning. “Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise,” they write. “But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.”

  • New York Times:

    The American Middle Class Is No Longer the World’s Richest. By David Leonhardt and Kevin Quealy. Excerpts: The American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction.

    While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades.

    After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans. ...

    The findings are striking because the most commonly cited economic statistics — such as per capita gross domestic product — continue to show that the United States has maintained its lead as the world’s richest large country. But those numbers are averages, which do not capture the distribution of income. With a big share of recent income gains in this country flowing to a relatively small slice of high-earning households, most Americans are not keeping pace with their counterparts around the world.

    “The idea that the median American has so much more income than the middle class in all other parts of the world is not true these days,” said Lawrence Katz, a Harvard economist who is not associated with LIS. “In 1960, we were massively richer than anyone else. In 1980, we were richer. In the 1990s, we were still richer.”

    That is no longer the case, Professor Katz added.

  • Los Angeles Times:

    Healthcare costs in U.S. far exceed costs in other countries, report says. By Stuart Pfeifer. Excerpts: An average one-day hospital stay in the United States cost $4,293 last year, six times more than it did in Argentina and nearly 10 times the cost in Spain, an industry group reported Thursday.

    Medical procedures, tests, scans and prescription medicine cost far more in the United States than in eight other countries, the International Federation of Health Plans said Thursday in its annual report.

    “The price variations bear no relation to health outcomes; they merely demonstrate the relative ability of providers to profiteer at the expense of patients, and in some cases reflect a damaging degree of market failure,” said Tom Sackville, the group’s chief executive. ...

    Here are some of the group’s findings:

    • Heart bypass surgery cost an average of $75,345 in the United States, compared with $15,742 in the Netherlands and $16,492 in Argentina.
    • The average cost of an MRI ranged from $138 in Switzerland to $1,145 in the United States.
    • Knee replacement surgery cost an average of $25,398 in the United States, more than three times as much as the $8,100 cost in Spain. ...
    • The commonly prescribed pain drug Celebrex cost an average of $225 in the United States, twice as much as it did in Britain ($112) and more than four times as much as it did in Canada ($51).
    • Gleevec, a cancer drug, cost an average of $6,214 in the United States and $989 in New Zealand.
    • Not only did it cost more to get sick in the United States, it was far more expensive to have babies. A normal childbirth cost $10,002 in the United States, compared with $2,237 in Argentina and $2,251 in Spain. Birth by C-section ranged from $2,844 in Spain to $15,240 in the United States.
New on the Alliance@IBM Site

Job Cut Reports

  • Comment 04/20/14:

    12/31/2013 was to the 20-year death anniversary of the death of the legendary IBM CEO and son of the founder and father of the s/360 mainframe — TJ Watson Jr. Not a single word from this management. Any comparison to him would put the current management to shame; so naturally his passing would go unnoticed. -anon-
  • Comment 04/20/14:

    Employee salary rip off or 'creative rounding'? Looking at the sheet for my MBA/TCR salary increase. It has been nagging me where it shows monthly and annual salary that doesn't match actual gross pay. Looking at last weeks pay stub it is apparent that IBM is basing the percentage on (24) payroll periods = 48 weeks, not (26) = 52 weeks. 1 PBC performers is your 6% GDP based on full salary or less? -Anon-
  • Comment 04/20/14:

    To -anon-: Of course there is no mention of the anniversary of the death of TJ Watson Jr. There is no longer respect for the individual, which was one of IBMs CORE values until it was quietly removed by Sam? or Lou? We know that Lou got rid of full employment, another CORE value from Watson Sr. -RAtirement-
  • Comment 04/21/14:

    -anon- This IBM executive regime thinks the only WATSON to notice now is a hunk of iron that "liked" to mentally beat up humans on Jeopardy! It is sad this present IBM "Executive ME first" regime forgets its true leaders and forebearors just like it forgets it's retirees and present employees. I heard that TJ Watson Sr. begged Gerstner to "save his company" when TFL took over as CEO. I guess after that Lou took it that it was HIS (not the Watson's) company to save...what an insult to TJ Jr. and even Sr. IMO.

    This IBM executive regime also "celebrated" the wrong anniversary of IBM's 100th year. The celebration was cafeteria hot dogs and hamburgers at IBM site parking lots. As a union we can fix history and also correctly remember and commemorate it. -IBMUnionNow-

  • Comment 04/21/14:

    I was a manager for 10 years and was RA'd last summer. I've laid people off and can tell you this: It doesn't matter what you do or how well you do it; you are an expense to IBM and RAs are about $$. IBM will continue to lower delivery standards until they reach the point where customers scream; they will improve just enough to make the screaming stop. The hope is that over time the customers will get tired of screaming and simply expect less.

    Jobs will continue to either be shipped to lower cost countries or eliminated all together until the screaming starts again and the process will be repeated.

    Your PBC is simply a tool and, like a hammer; it can be used to create or destroy. When it comes to RAs, your assessment has very little to do with whether your name makes the list or not. The real deciding factor is whether eliminating or having lesser skilled (aka cheaper) workers perform the work will generate an unacceptable level of screaming from the customer. -Mike-

  • Comment 04/21/14:

    I wonder if it is any coincidence that Connections and Developer Works is unable to stay up for more than 10 minutes. We just don't have the staff these days. It is an utter and total embarrassment at the moment. -Anon-
  • Comment 04/22/14:

    The trouble with this new IBM management is that they could not care less about IBMers. All they care about is their bonus at the end of the year and how many stock options they can cash in to make millions, while RAs continue, PBCs are a shame, benefits are lost, wages decline, raises no longer are available. Mr TJ Watson Sr and Mr TJ Watson Jr would be rolling over in their graves if they would see today how Lou, Sam, and Ginny have treated the IBM employee. To these three people it is all about greed. IBM needs a union contract for their employees to stop this unjust behavior and for the employees to be protected. Join the Union -ANA-
  • Comment 04/22/14:

    ANA: They all got their "bonuses" on Jan 31/Feb 1. Not sure what all those $0 cost shares were...part of their employment contract or some kind of "performance" payout. At any rate, it doesn't look good, even if legal, because 4 weeks after, IBM laid off thousands of IBMers. How many jobs could have been saved, by NOT giving out those shares? -RAtirement-
  • Comment 04/24/14:

    Just a quick summary of what is now left in IBM storage sales (John Polly is the VP, a part of division 12) in the US. Started January 2014 with 28 in management and 196 employees. RA'd 2 managers and 40 employees in March. This is the entire direct sales force for IBM in the US. 156 employees remain to cover all of this geography. Plus, about 25 of those employees are not even assigned in the field. EMC has that many sales reps in the state of Texas. -Storage Dude-
  • Comment 04/24/14:

    Anyone else noticed IBM blocked this page? I can only access it at home now. It used to work just fine. Today it said "forbidden". Kinda made me laugh though. Glad I am leaving at the end of April. -FewDaysToGo-

    Alliance reply: Sorry to hear of your job loss. IBM has been blocking the Alliance site, off and on for some time, depending on the IBM location, in the U.S. We always remind our members not to access the Alliance web page from inside IBM, because IBM *could* fire anyone if they find out. These are the precautions that we recommend for U.S. IBMers. We aren't aware of the specific rules in IBM locations outside the U.S.; however, that same caution should be taken for the same reasons, in our view. By the way, the Alliance page can be accessed using your mobile device, too. Thank you for the information.

  • Comment 04/24/14:

    I want to sincerely thank both the Alliance@IBM and a former IBMer from CT who posted: "If you reside in CT, under the prior pension plan, taking retirement benefits, and looking for work you can receive unemployment benefits. No reduction based on pension amount. Is because IBM stopped contributing to plan at end 2007. Be sure to print prior plan document on net benefits. -Anon-".

    I had initially been turned down by the CT DOL, as I was collecting a pension. After reading the above blog, I appealed the decision and won. A huge thanks to my CT colleague for taking the time to share this information - and my sincere appreciation to the Alliance@IBM team for this incredibly valuable website. -Thank you!-

  • Comment 04/24/14:

    Please be advised IBM management is ratcheting up their anti-union campaign and also rebutting all anti-IBM sentiments on Yahoo boards since it appears it is going to be a rough period coming up, including the upcoming JAX stockholder meeting. -anonymoussupport-
  • Comment 04/25/14:

    Mike former manager... You assume competence in the RA decision making. I can tell you there is none based on what I have seen and the sales and delivery people who are left with screaming or confused clients when key customer-facing people working on client projects in the "big plays" of mobility, big data and cloud are RA'd while the IBM partners (e.g. parasites) in the offices give themselves big titles like "director of digital strategy" never having delivered a single thing.

    These people are not being replaced with offshore resources, and in many cases these are being RA'd as well. IBM isn't even offering replacements in nearly all cases and this costs us revenue and profit. It's not just GBS but in SWG, GTS and GPS as well. Other companies aren't eating our lunch; we are actively giving it to them. It's like a market exit in ALL lines of business. Maybe Buffet's strategy is to break up IBM and make a mint on the "consultation fees" in this process. -anon-

  • Comment 04/25/14:

    "Unions spell out 'demands' to IBM, plan to step up organizing". This is probably the first time I have seen leadership from Alliance@IBM and their sister organizations across the globe. Continue to increase the pace folks because the more IBM applies focus on "anti-union" campaigns the more worried they become—which shows that you guys are doing the right thing. Any small organization can move faster than IBM; and in my mind there is a glimmer of hope you can achieve some global movement that will create reverberations throughout the industry let alone in IBM. -Anonymous-

IBM Retiree Issues Comments

  • Comment 04/21/14:

    To qualify for the FHA (Future Health Account) you must have at least 15 years of service AND (not OR!) be at least 55 years old (and be 40 years old on 6/30/1999 when the FHA program commenced) when you leave IBM. The Fidelity rep. is right.

    I know it hurts. It stinks; it is unfair. I fought this battle with IBM HR many times saying it was AGE DISCRIMINATORY as was the cash balance pension for the no-choicer.

    Everyone thinks that 30 years of IBM employment service is retirement eligible. Without a UNION CONTRACT, defining retirement, it is not exactly that anymore in IBM management's jaundiced eyes!!

    Sure the FHA (Future Hell Account) is age biased but since there is no actual $$$ in the notional accounts IBM can manipulate the age bias and the conditions any way they so please..and avoid the age discrimination implication(s).

    But IBM can take back your once promised retirement health benefits and say you are retired when you have 30 years of IBM employment service when you are RAed...so go figure. -trexibmer-

  • Comment 04/23/14:

    Going forward I doubt many IBMers will make it to 55 years old employed in this IBM. So the FHA will soon be a historical moot benefit. Maybe if those who are "retirement eligible" and close to 55 years old would join the Alliance NOW their might be a chance for some FHA notional Bennies to be be left. -FHA'ed-
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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