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Highlights—June 6, 2015

  • ABC-17 News (Columbia, Missouri):

    Documents obtained shine new light on IBM. By Jillian Fertig. Excerpts: ABC 17 News is uncovering more information about recent layoffs at IBM in Columbia.

    In a Special Report last month, employees told ABC 17's Jillian Fertig the company was laying off people and replacing them with foreign workers.

    ABC 17 News also reported some of the state tax incentives were suspended because the company only employed 453 people of the promised 800.

    On Wednesday, Fertig obtained the packet that was handed out to employees the day they found out they were losing their jobs. ...

    In part three of the packet, the company states "identified employees may be required to accept a temporary position to another location to assist with the transition of work until their scheduled departure date in order to receive the resource action payment and benefits."

    It goes on to say if they don't, they will be terminated with no pay or benefits. ...

    Since Fertig's special report aired on May 11, some Columbia city council members have questioned why IBM is not being transparent with employment numbers and other information city leaders say taxpayers have a right to know.

    One of those is Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala.

    "We've asked the state for numbers and the state tells us when they get the numbers, they release those numbers to us, but there is really no recourse to really challenge any of these numbers or get into them further," Skala told ABC 17 News.

    According to the Missouri State Department of Economic Development, 453 people work at the Columbia IBM facility.

    But when Fertig counted the cars on a Monday afternoon back in May, she only counted 164 cars in the lot.

    So Fertig counted the cars for a second time Wednesday afternoon at 3:30. This time, there were 160 cars, which is far below the 453 employees IBM said it has working at the Columbia facility.

    Skala said he feels the council was misled about some things back when this project was first brought to the council for approval, as far as who all was on involved in the IBM project and the money incentives. ...

    "I'm sure there are some employees on that list that don't even live in Columbia," he said. "I just have no way to verify that and that's the nature of the beast when you're dealing with the kinds of contracts and provisions that were kept confidential that lots of us weren't privy to and frankly should have been." ...

    Sources said there will be even fewer cars in the lot by the end of the month, as more layoffs are in the works.

  • I, Cringely:

    Autodesk’s John Walker explained HP and IBM in 1991. By Robert X. Cringely. Excerpts: One reader of this column in particular has been urging me to abandon for a moment my obsession with IBM and look, instead, at his employer — Hewlett Packard. HP, he tells me, suffers from all the same problems as IBM while lacking IBM’s depth and resources. ...

    So I’ll turn to the works of Autodesk founder John Walker, specifically his Final Days of Autodesk memo, also called Information Letter 14, written in 1991. You can find this 30 page memo and a whole lot more at Walker’s web site. ...

    What follows is an incredibly stripped-down version of Information Letter 14, nixing most of the Autodesk-specific bits and applying the underlying ideas to lumbering outfits like HP and IBM. I’m just one of many people to be inspired by this memo, by the way. It was the basis of Bill Gates’s The Coming Internet Tidal Wave memo from the mid-1990s that led to Microsoft reforming itself to take on Netscape. ...

    Autodesk is proud of its open door policy, and counts on it to bring the information before senior management that they need to set the course for the company. Such a policy can work only as long as people believe they are listened to, and that decisions are being made on grounds that make sense for the long-term health of the company. Rightly or wrongly, there is a widely-held belief which I’m articulating because I share it, that management isn’t hearing or doesn’t believe what deeply worries people throughout the company, and isn’t communicating to them the reasons for the course it is setting. This is how bad decisions are made…

    NOBODY in the executive suites at either HP nor IBM is listening to the troops. No good ideas are welcome in either company at this point, which is stupid.

    Now Walker takes us to the crux of the corporate problem faced by both HP and IBM, explaining it in terms of Wall Street’s obsession with profit margins. ...

    But high margins aren’t necessarily a good thing, particularly in the long term. One way to post high margins is by neglecting investment in the company’s future. Any profitable company can increase its earnings and margin in the short run by curtailing development of new products and improvements to existing products, by slashing marketing and promotional expenses, and by scaling back the infrastructure that supports further growth. Since there’s a pipeline anywhere from six months to several years between current spending and visible effects in the market, sales aren’t affected right away. So, with sales constant or rising slowly and expenses down, earnings and margin soar and everybody is happy.

    For a while, anyway. Eventually momentum runs out and it’s obvious the company can’t sustain its growth without new products, adequate promotion, and all the other things that constitute investment in the future of the business. It’s at that point the company becomes vulnerable to competitors who took a longer view of the market.

    One of the most difficult and important decisions the management of a company makes is choosing the level of investment in the future of the business. Spend too little, and you’re a hero in the short term but your company doesn’t last long. Spend too much, and the company and its stock falls from favor because it can’t match the earnings of comparable companies…

    This is the pit into which HP and IBM have fallen. They want to maintain margins to keep Wall Street happy, but the easiest way to do that is by cutting costs. Eventually this will be visible in declining sales, which IBM has now experienced for three straight years. Yet with a combination of clever accounting and bad judgment even declining sales can be masked… for awhile. ...

    This explains why IBM is always buying little companies then squeezing them, often to death, for profits. Buying these companies is an investment and therefore not a charge against earnings. But having bought the companies, spending any more money on them is not an investment and hurts earnings. IBM could develop the same products internally but that would appear to cost money. So instead they try to buy new products then deliberately starve to death the companies that created them. In accounting terms this makes perfect sense. To rational humans it is insane. Welcome to IBM.

    Management strives, quarter by quarter, to meet the sales and earnings expectations of the Wall Street analysts and to avoid erosion in the margin which would be seen (rightly) as an early warning, presaging problems in the company. In the absence of other priorities this is foremost, as the consequences of a stumble can be dire…

    But management has a more serious responsibility to the shareholders; to provide for the future of the company and its products. Focusing exclusively on this quarter’s or this year’s margins to the extent that industry averages dictate departmental budgets for our company is confusing the scoreboard with the game…

    The purpose of this discussion is not to complain about the rules of accounting. You have to keep score somehow… Instead, what disturbed me so much about this incident was the way management seemed to be taking their marching orders from the accounting rules rather than the real world. Budgets were actually being prepared on the assumption that marketing and sales efforts would have to be curtailed to offset the increased “cost of sales” from the major account sales anticipated over the year. Think about it: here we were planning for what was anticipated to be and eventually became the best year in Autodesk’s history, and yet were forced to cut our marketing and sales as a direct consequence of its very success. Carried to the absurd, if the major account program astounded us and began to dwarf dealer sales, we would have to lay off the entire marketing and sales department to meet the budget!

    This is another reason why HP and IBM have taken to ruthlessly cutting expenses, which is to say people. These aren’t huge one-time layoffs to lay the groundwork for true corporate re-orgs, they are exactly as John Walker feared: labor reductions driven purely by accounting rules. For the people of HP and IBM they are death by a thousand cuts. ...

    Whether it’s Meg Whitman or Ginni Rometty, the problems these executives face are the same and are almost equally impossible. Neither woman can pull a Steve Jobs turnaround because Steve’s task was easier, his company was already on its knees and vastly smaller than either HP or IBM. So stop comparing these behemoths to Apple circa 1997. A better comparison would be to Dell.

    By taking his company private Michael Dell changed the game, eliminated completely Wall Street pressure and influence, and dramatically increased his chances of saving his company. Why haven’t Meg and Ginni thought of doing the same? Why aren’t they? There’s plenty of hedge fund money to enable the privatization of both companies. But the hedge funds would immediately fire the current CEOs, which is probably why this doesn’t happen.

    Ginni Rometty and Meg Whitman appear to be more interested in keeping their jobs than in saving their companies.

    Selected reader comments follow:

    • This is why things are so askew in the world. Wall Street was supposed to be investment in companies in the long term. This constant short sighted view of “what have you done for me today” is killing off business. Instead of looking at the needed investments to improve products, you get cuts, outsourcing of jobs, lower customer support, etc and still end up going of the bankruptcy cliff. Why won’t business leaders suck it up and tell Wall Street to stick it? Oh, right. They aren’t in it for the company, only themselves. The idea of bringing in a high priced CEO from ‘someplace else’ has also been a disaster. A change is needed.
    • The two of you make some good points – a common misconception of the American business model is that the customers are the people who buy the products – this is wrong, in America the customers are the Wall Street Banks and these are – as you show – the people who American companies must keep happy. Look at the airline industry if you want another example – their basic business plan appears to be to make the majority of the “customers”, the passengers, as miserable as possible offering the chance to “upgrade” their experience slightly by paying more money to something that just slightly not as bad … logically this is crazy but not when you realize the the passengers can simple buckets for Wall Streets money to travel back to the banks. This will not end well for anyone.
  • Wall Street Journal:

    U.S. Firms, Workers Try to Beat H-1B Visa Lottery System. Some firms fill out multiple applications, according to immigration attorneys, while some individuals accept offers from several employers, each of whom files petition. By Miriam Jordon. Excerpts: Such practices, which aren’t illegal, likely have occurred in the past without public notice but appear to be proliferating as the economy rebounds and competition for the coveted visas intensifies, immigration lawyers say. Smaller businesses say such moves disadvantage them because they can’t afford to match them. Lawyers charge $2,000 to $4,000 to prepare each petition. ...

    “It is no surprise that with the system the way it is today, a lottery based on chance rather than a rational system addressing need, companies are using all legal means necessary to fill their business needs,” said Elizabeth Hyman, executive vice president of advocacy for CompTIA, an IT-industry group. “Companies are struggling to fill their open high-skilled positions and the H-1B lottery system isn’t working.” ...

    Critics including Daniel Costa, an immigration expert at the Economic Policy Institute, say that of particular concern are Indian outsourcing companies that provide workers through U.S.-based subsidiaries for entry-level positions in the U.S., such as tech support at retailers and banks. Such outsourcing companies are among the top procurers of H-1B visas, according to U.S. government data.

    Selected reader comments follow:

    • Robert Gualaty: H1B should be ended and immediately. Let the free market work in this country. If there is a shortage, the price will rise for talent until the point where people feel it is worth going to that field and doing the hard work. The H1B system simply encourages Americans to stay out of tech work... why would you do a bunch of hard work just to see your job "insourced" in your own country?

      And why is it that there is no shortage of MBAs who are paid 6 figures, but supposedly this massive shortage of engineers who are paid 1/2 - 3/4 what MBAs make? Why are we not worried about importing more nurses or MDs when they are making more than that? Who are the people who decide who is in "shortage" and needs to be imported and who isn't in a shortage?

    • Bill Kennedy: Employers use H-1B to replace their American tech workers with cheaper, younger H-1Bs who will normally be tied to that company for 6+ years while waiting for a green card to come through. From http://venturebeat.com/2015/01/20/disposable-employees-may-be-tech-industrys-greatest-achievement/

      'Looking broadly at tech, layoff announcements from that sector increased almost 80 percent last year.

      That was seriously bucking a trend during a year in which layoff announcements across all industries in the U.S. fell...

      These companies are making a choice. They’re deciding that it’s faster and cheaper to chuck people overboard and find new ones than it is to retrain them...

      HP’s layoff count has climbed over 120,000 since 2002. It’s an amazing number for a company that remains profitable.

      And how’s all that cutting working out? I don’t think anyone would argue HP is anything but still adrift.

    • JOSEPH BISESI: I have worked in IT for 20 years, and I have never seen the Mythical H-1B High Tech Guru.

      What I have seen is young immigrants with mail order degrees, often with close to zero tech skills, who will work for 1/3rd to 1/2 of what you would pay a skilled American.

      And because being let go would mean deportation - he'll work extra hours and weekends. He is effectively a slave, whose purpose is to drive down wages for his co-workers.

      The H-1B visa should be abolished. Creating an entire Government Program just to hurt tech workers is insane. If you really believe in free markets, then you should not approve of the Gov putting it's thumb on the scales just to screw tech workers. Let tech companies pay the market wage.

    • Hilarious to cite IBM as an example of talented H-1B workers. IBM is famous for incompetent contractors - but with good looking suits. And why are you so anxious to change the subject? H-1B workers do not come here to start new companies, they come here to work a 70 hour week for half pay.

      Our government does not allow dumping of other commodities. Dumping is done only to disrupt the domestic market. So why do we allow it with semi-skilled labor?

      Companies often fear to train their own intro-level staff, fearing they will change jobs when their skills increase. The don't fear that from a guy who is headed back to Punjab if he changes jobs.

      Finally; almost every H1B I've worked with was fanatically racist. Most come from a caste society, where discrimination had been enthusiastically encourage all their lives. In my experience, once a department head is an Indian, there will never again be a white or East Asian hired. It becomes a closed shop.

    • ASHAY AGARWAL: well, you haven't met people from the IBM research labs. I won't blame you. You don't come across as someone who socializes with high intellect types. Most of them are PhDs from good schools, and immigrants from all over the world. Your anger seems to be directed towards Indians specifically, and your vision colored by the typical and outdated stereotypes. Some companies (body shop types ) are gaming the H1B system, and there should be checks and balances for that, but in general getting highly skilled immigrants has been good for the US economy. This is the country of immigrants. Unless you are a native American Indian, your ancestors also came to this, probably on a boat, and they most likely were lot less qualified and educated than some of the current high-tech immigrants.
    • JOSEPH BISESI: @ASHAY AGARWAL Actually, I have years of work experience with IBM. So I would have to suggest that you are the one with no knowledge of the subject. If you are so sure of your intellectual prowess - why do you need to start hurling personal insults? Outside of your imagination; you have no idea if I am angry or anti-social. I was just writing about the economic realities of a government policy. You seem to be the one who gets angry and shuts down his brain when he hears disagreement.

      Your need to personalize arguments and your flight to fantasy clearly shows that you don't believe you can make your case on the merits. You know what you're saying is nonsense so you insult.

      Yes, most Americans are descended from immigrants. That has nothing to do with the issue, because the issue is warping immigration to crush American workers in one particular industry as a favor to a dozen big tech companies that donate a lot of $ to politicians. Dumping is dumping, even in the labor market.

    • D Dykes: A great change to the law - enable the worker who is being brought into the US on the visa to change companies at will. Then the employer would actually have to pay prevailing wages to keep them, rather than being able to treat them as property. Then see how many US companies suddenly "find" US workers who are able to do the job..rather than laying off US citizens in order to replace them with severely underpaid foreign workers.
    • ALAN SEWELL: The immigration authorities can't possibly know whether a foreigner being brought here is because "no American can do the job" or is because the employer wants to put an American working the job on unemployment. In most cases H1-B people are brought here to displace Americans who are currently working the position. Over 60% of H1-B people are Indians working IT jobs. Their average pay is $70,000. $70K is at the low end of the IT pay. The foreigners are being used to dis-employ Americans, with decades of experience, who had worked their way up to $120K. You have absolutely and positively no idea of what you're talking about.
    • Sean Corey: As someone who's worked with H1-B workers let me tell you. These individuals aren't hired because they are "cheaper", they are hired because they are the best candidates for the job. Americans should be proud to know that the top students from around the world want and are willing to work in America, I say let them in.
    • ALAN SEWELL: @Sean Corey I've worked around them too. They're "the best candidates for the job" because they're 20-something single Indian men who'll work 24x7 for 60% of the wages an American would require. So, what we have is middle-aged Americans with decades of productivity and families to support being displaced by foreigners who work for less money.

      Once the Americans are out of work, a number of anti-social consequences occur. They no longer pay taxes to support the ballooning Social Security and military operations that we've obligated ourselves to pay. The Indians acquire knowledge of American business processes, then take it back home with them to continue the offshoring of American work. The families of the dis-employed Americans suffer. Instead of having Mom and Dad pay for college, the kids have to take on the debt themselves. The H1-B program has negative consequences for everybody but IT houses and large corporations.

    • Steve W. Bell: Sean Corey appears with ONE post lifetime-to-date to make the ridiculous claim that H-1B's are more qualified than American citizen workers.

      Like Alan, I have vast experience H-1B's and I have yet to meet one with the so-called "special expertise" or qualifications. They are just cheap workers from India that fill middle management jobs at a lower wage. They will work any hours, under any conditions in order to avoid being sent back out of the country. All they do is displace American workers, in order to milk profits for their employers.

      Here in the Bay Area, there are whole CITIES of them. A decent reporter should mull around Starbucks in San Ramon, Pleasanton, or Dublin CA and start asking questions about what their "special qualifications" are. There are none, it's a lie perpetuated by big employers.

    • ALAN SEWELL: You only need to know ONE THING about the H1-B visa program: The companies that apply for the largest numbers of H1-B visas are Hewlett Packard, IBM, and Accenture. These are the very same companies that announce LAYOFFS OF AMERICAN WORKERS by the tens of thousands every year. That's all you need to know about why the H1-B program exists.
  • New York Times:

    Pink Slips at Disney. But First, Training Foreign Replacements. By Julia Preston. Excerpts: The employees who kept the data systems humming in the vast Walt Disney fantasy fief did not suspect trouble when they were suddenly summoned to meetings with their boss.

    While families rode the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and searched for Nemo on clamobiles in the theme parks, these workers monitored computers in industrial buildings nearby, making sure millions of Walt Disney World ticket sales, store purchases and hotel reservations went through without a hitch. Some were performing so well that they thought they had been called in for bonuses.

    Instead, about 250 Disney employees were told in late October that they would be laid off. Many of their jobs were transferred to immigrants on temporary visas for highly skilled technical workers, who were brought in by an outsourcing firm based in India. Over the next three months, some Disney employees were required to train their replacements to do the jobs they had lost.

    “I just couldn’t believe they could fly people in to sit at our desks and take over our jobs exactly,” said one former worker, an American in his 40s who remains unemployed since his last day at Disney on Jan. 30. “It was so humiliating to train somebody else to take over your job. I still can’t grasp it.” ...

    But the layoffs at Disney and at other companies, including the Southern California Edison power utility, are raising new questions about how businesses and outsourcing companies are using the temporary visas, known as H-1B, to place immigrants in technology jobs in the United States. These visas are at the center of a fierce debate in Congress over whether they complement American workers or displace them. ...

    According to federal guidelines, the visas are intended for foreigners with advanced science or computer skills to fill discrete positions when American workers with those skills cannot be found. Their use, the guidelines say, should not “adversely affect the wages and working conditions” of Americans. Because of legal loopholes, however, in practice, companies do not have to recruit American workers first or guarantee that Americans will not be displaced.

    Too often, critics say, the visas are being used to bring in immigrants to do the work of Americans for less money, with laid-off American workers having to train their replacements.

    “The program has created a highly lucrative business model of bringing in cheaper H-1B workers to substitute for Americans,” said Ronil Hira, a professor of public policy at Howard University who studies visa programs and has testified before Congress about H-1B visas. ...

    Disney “made the difficult decision to eliminate certain positions, including yours,” as a result of “the transition of your work to a managed service provider,” said a contract presented to employees on the day the layoffs were announced. It offered a “stay bonus” of 10 percent of severance pay if they remained for 90 days. But the bonus was contingent on “the continued satisfactory performance of your job duties.” For many, that involved training a replacement. Young immigrants from India took the seats at their computer stations.

    “The first 30 days was all capturing what I did,” said the American in his 40s, who worked 10 years at Disney. “The next 30 days, they worked side by side with me, and the last 30 days, they took over my job completely.” To receive his severance bonus, he said, “I had to make sure they were doing my job correctly.”

    In late November, this former employee received his annual performance review, which he provided to The New York Times. His supervisor, who was not aware the man was scheduled for layoff, wrote that because of his superior skills and “outstanding” work, he had saved the company thousands of dollars. The supervisor added that he was looking forward to another highly productive year of having the employee on the team. ...

    The former Disney employee who is 57 worked in project management and software development. His résumé lists a top-level skill certification and command of seven operating systems, 15 program languages and more than two dozen other applications and media. ...

    Former employees said many immigrants who arrived were younger technicians with limited data skills who did not speak English fluently and had to be instructed in the basics of the work.

  • New York Times:

    Disney Layoffs and Immigrant Replacements Draw Deluge of Comments. By Lela Moore. Excerpts: An article in The Times, about American employees of Disney who said they lost their jobs to immigrants from an Indian outsourcing firm and had to train their replacements attracted a torrent of online reaction. The singer and actress Bette Midler reposted the article on Twitter and exhorted her followers, “But be sure to read the comments. Whew.”

    Readers posted nearly 2,800 comments in response to the article, many expressing deep suspicion of the H-1B visa program, which aims to place immigrants in high-skill jobs that cannot be filled by Americans. ...

    Many readers questioned the reliance on foreign workers at the expense of Americans. Cyndy of Los Angeles, who identified as a former Disney employee who was laid off in 2013, said “What is disheartening is that the stock and earnings are at a record high. Disney is an example of profits over people.” ...

    Corporate America came under fire from many readers. “Layoffs, outsourcing, offshoring and automation are passed off as ways for companies to be nimbler and advanced. … But let’s call it what it is: being too cheap to invest in workers, value their skills or pay them a living wage,” said AD of New York.

  • Computerworld:

    IBM to shutter dataviz pioneer Many Eyes. By Sharon Machlis. Excerpts: IBM will close its Many Eyes collaborative data visualization service on June 12, according to a notice posted on the Many Eyes website. No further details were offered, besides an apology for "any inconvenience this may cause."

    I just put in a call to IBM and await more details on why the service is closing. Until then, some speculation...it's possible that IBM would like to consolidate cloud-based visualizations to its new Watson Analytics offering. Or, perhaps IBM has determined there's no longer much value in supporting a community service like Many Eyes in a world where there are numerous Web-based dataviz options.

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • “I'm By Myself”

      Former Employee — Managing Consultant in Washington, DC. I worked at IBM full-time (more than a year). Pros: Internal processes and infrastructure were well established. Easy to manage your health and dental benefits. If your need was to work from home/less demanding, it could be accomplished with one's manager. If the right relationship was in place. Cons: No one cared what I was working on for entire time. No knowledge about individual skills or interests. No communication from leadership. Proactive staff, not appreciated. Billable hours, the only metric that mattered. Advice to Management: Innovation isn't a by-product of addressing the same issues in the same manner.
    • “Great Company”

      Former Employee — Anonymous Employee. Pros: No complaints, great time working here. Good pay and flexible hours. Cons: No complaints. Stating (sic) job out of high school, treated me well. Advice to Management: Keep doing what youre (sic) doing. No complaints.
    • “Vast and Varying Company”

      Current Employee — Software Engineer in Belfast, Northern Ireland (UK). Pros: Prestigious reputation. Spans most major cities in the world. Despite its size it is increasingly an amalgamation of acquisitions so you will find plenty of sites and departments that have the feel of a small company or start up. Cons: There are endless protocols and red tape when doing things and any small company or start up feel is only temporary in an acquisition as the 'Bluewash' rolls in. It does feel like an acquisition machine focusing on shareholder happiness rather than innovation. Advice to Management: Reduce buzzword usage. Don't be so tight with money when it comes to basic equipment. The internal method of assessing performance (PBC) lacks respect from managers and juniors alike.
    • “Account Manager”

      Former Employee — Sales Specialist in São Paulo (Brazil). I worked at IBM full-time (more than a year). Pros: It is a good place to work, the people are very friendly, the benefits are OK. Most of the bosses are very well prepared to deal with their employees. Cons: Everything is too slow, too many process and if you want to sell, first you need to move mountains to get any kind of specialist and the back office is very slow. Most of them are interns. Advice to Management: Sales people like to make business and the customers expect quickly answers, like proposal, estimated prices and etc.
    • “Good Company Because of the People”

      Former Employee — Sales Specialist in Dallas, TX. I worked at IBM full-time (more than 10 years). Pros: Great training and resources that allow employees to grow their skills over the short and long term. Cons: Lost their focus on basic people management and development. Slow to weed out poor managers for lack of people management skills has a negative impact on employees and eventually customers. Advice to Management: Be innovative in the search for new products and services but get back to the basics on people management and development. If you lose the loyalty of your people, your service offerings won't matter. Your people are your brand.
    • “Scott Adams source material”

      Current Employee — Anonymous Employee. Pros: Benefits weren't awful. Massages were covered, so I guess that was a plus. Cons: Everything else; it's a real-life Dilbert cartoon. Advice to Management: Dissolve the company into smaller businesses that focus on something instead of general being good at nothing.
    • “IT Consultant”

      Former Employee — IT Consultant in Arlington, VA. Pros: Competitive compensation, benefits, and career opportunities. Access to a plethora of training opportunities. Surrounded by extremely intelligent and experienced consultants. Cons: Disconnected management, under staffing on projects is common; risk of being pigeon-holed into a service area that does not match your career goals.
    • “GBS Consultant”

      Former Employee — Advisory IT Specialist in Sydney (Australia). I worked at IBM full-time (more than 8 years). Pros: Good people to work with, great processes. Cons: Hard to progress; career based on the artificial and unnecessary 'hoops' that are required such as the CareerSmart framework in GBS that requires you to heavily document your achievements. Advice to Management: Review the performance evaluation system.
    • “Good Potential”

      Current Employee — Staff Engineer. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 8 years).

      Pros:

      • Great work/life balance, flexible work schedule
      • Very smart technical community
      • Ability to attain new skills via training
      • Seems to be better than most in regards to diversity

      Cons:

      • Salary Increases are pretty small to non-existent
      • Lack of top down clear and frank outlook
      • Huge company which makes changes slow and painful
      • Last round of layoffs has diminished talent pool
      • Bloated executive structure

      Advice to Management: There needs to be open dialogue on business outlook, and they need to embrace the new IT world with all its complexity and opportunities

    • “Good people and benefits, zero work life balance”

      Current Employee — Senior Project Manager. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 3 years). Pros: Good Benefits and pay. Smart and nice co-workers Cons: Poor management, dissension amongst departments. Excessive hours and unrealistic expectations
    • “IT Project Manager”

      Former Employee — IT Development Manager in Huntsville, A/L I worked at IBM full-time (more than a year). Pros: Very organized and methodical in all approaches. Cons: Extremely impersonal with very high expectations for performance and little reward for achievement. Advice to Management: Up and coming career seekers — good choice. Long term professionals — negotiate well before being hired in. Internal process lock down opportunities. Great for conformists...not so great for idealists.
    • “Great place to work, depending on your manager”

      Former Employee — Web Middleware Enablement in Columbia, MO. I worked at IBM full-time (more than a year.) Pros: Fantastic work environment. My manager was very flexible, allowing telecommuting and a great deal of independent direction. Cons: Experience changes drastically based upon who you report to, and the person that you report to can and will change frequently. Lowest pay in the industry, far below average.
    • “GTS Strategic Outsourcing”

      Former Employee — Anonymous Employee. Pros: Lots of different opportunities, ability to work with a number of cultures and perspectives. Cons: Constant downward pressure as revenue is declining, customers unhappy with skills provided
  • AARP Bulletin:

    Everything You Need to Know About Medicare Changes for 2015. Millions face increases to their existing premium for prescription drugs. By Patricia Barry . Excerpts: Millions of Medicare recipients could be hit with rising prescription drug premium costs in 2015. Nearly 10 million people now enrolled in six of the 10 largest Part D drug plans face premium increases ranging from 11 to 52 percent if they don't switch to a different plan. Three other large plans, with nearly 3.5 million members, will drop their premiums by 13 to 31 percent.

    The numbers — from Avalere Health, a company that tracks health care trends — come as a sharp reminder that all of Medicare's private plans can change their costs and benefits every year. Open enrollment, which runs from Oct. 5 to Dec. 7, gives Medicare beneficiaries the chance to find the best deals for next year by comparing coverage and out-of-pocket costs in their current plans — whether Part D drug plans or Medicare Advantage HMOs and PPOs — with what other plans offer. The Medicare Part B premium, which covers doctor visits and outpatient services and is currently $104.90 a month for most beneficiaries, will remain the same in 2015. ...

    Copays differ enormously among Part D plans, even for the same drug —and can vary by more than $100 for a month's supply, according to an AARP Bulletin analysis. For example, among 31 plans in California, the insulin drug Lantus SoloSTAR will cost between $24 and $170 for a 30-day supply in 2015 — with 14 plans charging under $45 a month and eight plans charging over $80. ...

    Still, there are signs that some Medicare Advantage plans are shifting other costs to enrollees, sometimes in novel ways. For example, plans charging annual deductibles for health services have been rare in the past but now seem to be on the rise. Of the 39 benefit-rich plans offered in one competitive area of Miami in 2014, none charged a health deductible; of the 35 plans available there in 2015, six will charge deductibles of between $500 and $975. In this same area, 30 plans offered extra help in the prescription drug coverage gap, known as the doughnut hole, in 2014; next year, none will.

  • Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert. This week's topics include:
    • Medicare Turns 50: A Special New Website Marks a Half-Century of Health Care for Seniors
    • Opposition to Trans Pacific Partnership Continues to be High Priority for Activists
    • Half of Older Households Have No Retirement Savings
    • Medicare Turns 50: LBJ Answered His Own Questions with its Implementation
New on the Alliance@IBM Site

Job Cut Reports

  • Comment 06/04/15:

    Some IBM employees are training their offshore replacement right now. There are members of congress finally looking at IBM's destruction of US jobs. If you are training your offshore replacement or are being replaced by an offshore worker please furnish us with the following information:
    • What is your job title?
    • Where are you located?
    • What customer account are you on?
    • What division or business unit?
    • What product line?

    Send information to ibmunionalliance@gmail.com Help us break the secrecy of IBM's destruction of US jobs -Alliance-

  • Comment 06/05/15:

    The article just posted was interesting, because in the"permanent layoff" package there was some language that I don't remember hearing about before. Has anyone that received an RA package in the past remembered seeing these clauses, or are they a new bag of dirty tricks to use against workers? They are:
    "identified employees may be required to accept a temporary position to another location to assist with the transition of work until their scheduled departure date in order to receive the resource action payment and benefits."

    If not you can be terminated with no package pay or benefits. How is one to do that when we have families and responsibilities at home, and need to find a new job locally?

    In part two of the information packet it talks about opportunities for laid off employees to pursue other openings in the company. It said "an identified employee who receives an offer of a comparable job will not receive the payments and benefits of the resource action regardless of whether the employee accepts the comparable job." So if you even try to find an internal position, you lose your package?

    Another section of the packet said if they leave before the departure date determined by management, they will get no pay or benefits. -LowMorale-

     

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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