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Highlights—October 18, 2014

  • The Washington Post:

    IBM sees Watson as moneymaker, but only in the long term. By Mohana Ravindranath. Excerpts: About 10 months after creating an independent business unit for Watson, IBM is still figuring out how to derive significant revenue from the computing system in which it plans to invest at least $1 billion.

    What gained fame in 2011 as a “Jeopardy!”-winning supercomputer is now analytic software that the company is aggressively marketing in a variety of industries: health care, retail, financial advising and even cooking, among others. Last week, the company formally opened Watson’s headquarters in New York City’s so-called Silicon Alley, the start-up-dense neighborhood that will serve as a base for several hundred employees. Their mission is to refine a system that mines large volumes of information, processes natural speech and answers queries. ...

    IBM chose to place Watson’s headquarters in downtown Manhattan, blocks from the New York offices of Google, Twitter and Facebook, to establish itself among entrepreneurs, Rhodin said.

    “We wanted to be where the start-ups were, so by having the physical presence, we can have Thursday night cocktail hours or tech discussions or hackathons. And doing that right there in that building [makes] it easily accessible to the . . . guys that have an idea,” he said.

  • Fortune:

    IBM's Rometty: 'Growth and comfort don't coexist'. Ginni Rometty, IBM’s CEO, talks transformation at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif. By Andrew Nusca. Excerpts: Ginni Rometty wasn’t afraid to get a little introspective in front of her high-powered peers. “Growth and comfort don’t coexist,” she said, smiling. “That’s true for people, for companies, for nations.”

    Speaking at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif. on Tuesday, IBM’s chief executive clearly had transformation on her mind. Earlier this year, her smile was plastered all over newsstands with the cover line, “Can IBM Ever Be Cool?” (That would be the Oct. 6 issue of Fortune, of course.) Later this month, she and her team will release the company’s latest financial results with the hope that the figures will demonstrate a continued turnaround for the 113-year-old technology company, one in which it turns its back on businesses that served it well for decades and toward new ones focused around so-called cloud computing. ...

    But how to instill a culture of transformation in one of the largest technology companies on the planet—one, at last count, with more than 430,000 employees? Education. Rometty, outlining a list (of three, naturally) of cyber security concerns she raises with clients, seemed to be sharing a list of corporate culture lessons, too.

    “First off, internal is your biggest issue. Whatever you do, you’ve got to raise the I.Q. of your workforce. The key is, you train ‘em, you test ‘em, you keep trying to trick ‘em,” she said. “Second, you have to have a fast response team. Everyone will have a problem. Third, you have to protect your data. Don’t think of it as a home with alarms on all the windows. Assume bad things are inside.”

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • “Promotions are rare.”

      Current Employee — Anonymous Employee. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 8 years). Pros: If you are over 50, this is a very good company—you will not feel out of place. Cons: Getting a promotion is as difficult as getting a Ph.D. The process is cumbersome and almost impossible to go through. The company is unethical and asks its employees to bill client as many hours as they can, but does not compensate its employees either in bonus or raise. Advice: Cut the fat in middle and upper management and try promoting performing employees automatically.
    • “IBM no longer cares about its employees in the United States”

      Former Employee — Software Engineer in Boulder, CO. I worked at IBM full-time (more than 3 years). Pros: IBM looks good on your resume. Cons: The lack of employee resources. Poor management. Firing US employees and hiring employees in India. Advice: I don't have any.
    • “Fast-paced and efficient work environment but not exciting.”

      Current Employee — Advisory Software Engineer in Kirkland, WA. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros: The employees are all smart and dependable. The company is efficiently run (at least in my department) and I learn a lot about efficiently managing and working in large software projects.

      Cons: The workplace is very competitive and not very rewarding. You complete against your peers for paltry raises. The amount of cost cutting is very concerning and many people are worried about layoffs. Everyone I work with has been been working on the same pieces of the same software project for over a decade.

      Advice: Need greater flexibility in job roles. Everyone works hard and applies themselves to their job. Raises should be larger and shared throughout the company and not just to the top 15% (this is from someone who regularly achieves top contributor status).

    • “Good Old Boy Network with Discriminatory Pay and Delusional Perspective”

      Current Employee — Senior Engineering Manager in Hopewell, NY I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros: Excellent training ground if you are willing to work hard and learn. Multitude of opportunities to contribute, across many different skill sets. I was able to voluntarily leave, take my skill sets, and leverage them for more than twice the salary at another large company. You will never hear me complain about what I learned there, and some of the unsung heroes that I worked with and learned from.

      Cons: Do not expect to receive recognition for your contributions. Managing up, including misrepresentation of contributions and facts, are the best way to advance. This contributes not only to unfairness, but to the downfall of the enterprise. Discrimination was outrageous in the chip division.

      Advice: Telling yourself and those you report to that you are talented and wonderful does not make it so. Most of the more talented leaders left for greener pastures some time ago. Things will only improve when the leaders are examples of true talent, versus aggressive predators that put personal gain way ahead of the success of the firm.

    • “Good company, but no such thing as 'security'”

      Former Employee — Manager, Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs in Los Angeles, CA . I worked at IBM full-time (more than 5 years).

      Pros: IBM is flexible and rewards innovation (for those high enough or allowed to introduce it). Great people work there that want to do good.

      Fantastic volunteer programs through "On Demand Community," where one can earn cash rewards for the nonprofit or school they serve with 40 or more hours a year.

      Good leadership development programs.

      Cons: There is NO loyalty to you or job security. You can have friends at IBM, but unless you are a very strong performer, NO ONE will stick their neck out for you. No one.

      It's also never a good idea to have opinions contrary to the company line.

      Advice: Develop your people and be more protective of the terrific talent you already have in your workforce, and less worried about the "2015 plan" and the earnings per share numbers that drive unfortunate layoffs (they call "resource actions.")

    • “Great way to start my career, limited prospects for growth”

      Former Employee — Software Engineer in Rochester, MN. I worked at IBM full-time (more than 5 years).

      Pros: I started working at IBM as an intern in 2005 and left in 2010, at the time (and I imagine it is still this way), the company was in a transition with a lot of long time employees and a transition to workers overseas.

      My favorite part about working at IBM was the people. While I was the only employee in my group under 30, that did mean that everyone I had worked with was very experienced and took me under their wing. I can't imagine where I would be without my former colleagues. We still meet for a monthly dinner to keep in touch.

      Another benefit was that since so much was in transition, I took on a lot of responsibility for my young age. While some may not like that, it's a great opportunity to get your feet wet and try a bunch of different things.

      Cons: What I didn't like and the reason I ultimately left was seeing a lot of people let go and budgets cut for projects I worked on. I worked in Manufacturing Support, so as you could imagine a lot of that work got marginalized as more moved overseas. I wish those who had served IBM for their entire lives were held with regard and treated with more dignity on their way out.

      There was also an apprehension to embrace new technologies (even IBM software!). My skills began to atrophy when compared to my friends from college. I eventually left. IBM seems to be moving more away from that. We were still using CMVC, software that hasn't been maintained since 2000 when I left.

      Too much process! We had 3rd line managers responsible for 'deploying' our application who I had never even meet.

    • “Good company to start your IT career”

      Current Employee — Engineer in Dublin, Dublin (Ireland). I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 3 years).

      Pros:

      • Good name for CV
      • Good opportunities for self-development
      • Flexible work timetable
      • A lot of parking around
      • Good people — family guys mainly.

      Cons:

      • Salaries below market
      • Hard to grow career and salary when you are on board
      • Stiff management for many departments
      • No external training opportunities
      • No free coffee and tea!
      • Expensive and mediocre food in canteen.
      • Some items are more expensive than in Dublin town.
      • IT professionals are valued less than sales people.

      Advice: Care for your employees more on a daily basis. Unfreeze promotions and pay increases!

    • “Does not aspire to be special company anymore, just wants to treat employees average.”

      Current Employee — Advisory Engineer in Essex, VT. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 10 years). Pros: Money is competitive but average. Cons: No training, very low morale. Advice: Respect for the individual is one aspect you shouldn't have let fall apart.
    • “IBM is not what it use to be pertaining to family values”

      Former Employee — Anonymous Employee in Boulder, CO. I worked at IBM as a contractor (more than 10 years).

      Pros: Over 30 years ago, IBM was a great family oriented business; it was all about family doing activities with their families when IBM had events. Retirement plan was great for my parents when they retired.

      Cons: All about the bottom dollar, and no one really cares now about being a family oriented company.

      Advice: Be more personable, not so cold and stuck up. Get to know your coworkers; don't act like you are better then your fellow coworkers.

    • “Intern”

      Current Employee — Intern in Markham, ON (Canada). I have been working at IBM as an intern (more than an year). Pros: I learned a lot from my team and my boss. There was a lot of opportunity and a lot of insight. Cons: It was very boring, not much can be innovated upon. Stuck in the 80s. Advice: I feel that IBM needs to adapt to the times. They are trying to leverage their patent portfolio, but are failing to do so in execution.
    • “Overall a good place to work”

      Current Employee — Sales Specialist in Kansas City, MO. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 3 years).

      Pros: The best reasons to work for IBM are the flexibility and ability to move around within the company. Most reps that you work with are great to team with and more often than not, management is pretty generous with allowing you to be flexible with your time.

      Cons: Pay is barely average for the industry. Senior management is still under the impression that being IBM is worth more than it really is. It takes a lot more than having the name to get in the door to our customers. The company has become too maniacally focused on metrics, and very meaningless metrics, rather than results. You can hit your quota and still get hammered for several menial tasks that have nothing to do with doing your job well. Sometimes being a large company can mean things take 3 times as long as they should.

      Advice: There needs to be a path for employees who came in at a low salary to get a bump up to their market value without leaving the company and coming back. It is widely known that the best way to get a raise is to go work somewhere else for a year then come back and make what you are worth. Typically the person they hire to backfill you will end up making more than you requested to begin with.

    • “Correct but don't spend your whole career there...”

      Current Employee — Presales Consultant. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 3 years).

      Pros: I have good colleagues and can work from home. Global footprint and easy access to key decision makers while dealing with customers.

      Cons: Lots of companies have been acquired recently but product integration and development is poor. Technology doesn't drive strategy anymore. Earning per share does. It takes months to years to really understand the way to be successful within that huge machinery.

      Advice: Flatten the organization structure. Decrease the number of cumbersome online trainings which are a pure waste of time. Better retain technical skills

    • “Was great now sucks!!”

      Current Employee — IT Specialist in Markham, ON (Canada) I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros: Cutting edge technology and some good managers.

      Cons: No pay increases, no bonuses, no work location flexibility any more. The CEO present and former killing the company with an earning per share target of $20 by end of 2015 (was a 5 year plan). Jobs off shored for anyone in North America. (The US has lost 50K jobs that were moved to BRIC countries.) Very low morale and endless job cuts.

      Advice: Stop the greed and start investing in people (IP capital) as happy people are better employees. 42 billion in share buy backs using borrowed money is not a good idea...but I guess by screwing the workers you will get those bonuses (greed greed greed).

    • “Not what it use to be.”

      Current Employee — Software Engineer in Durham, NC I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 8 years). Pros: Flexibility to work from any where. Cons: No incentives, no raises, no team work, everyone on your team is your competition. Advice: Personal growth, promotions, hire more people because we are swamped.
    • “What started out 34 years ago was too good to be true, and what it has become is embarrassing.”

      Former Employee — Anonymous Employee I worked at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros: The best reason to work here now is to gain experience, learn what you can, and use that experience, knowledge and reference on a resume, in seeking bigger and better opportunities. Unless you are one of the few to make it to the top.

      Cons: Having to do more with less can only go so far. Persons are loaded with work until they fail by not being able to do it all in a quality manner. Then you are evaluated in not getting your job done and not contributing as much as expected. All for earnings per share and executive compensation.

      Advice: Try to go back a little in time and do what is right with and for people, who are your employees and means to getting everything done and the company truly profitable.

    • “Don't protect the past…which seems to include many of the reasons to work there”

      Former Employee — Senior IT Specialist in Houston, TX. I worked at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros: You have an opportunity to work with some very smart and seasoned people. Benefits are generally good. Depending on your management, you may have an opportunity to move around and manage your career.

      Cons: Training other than self-study/off-hours is pretty much non-existent due to spending budget restrictions. The internal education site "free classes" are mundane and out-of-date.

      Morale overall was pretty downtrodden. Every cycle a couple of people would disappear from immediate or matrices teams in the next resource action, even where no low/mid-performers in revenue-generating roles. No longer a long-term career for most outside of management.

      Benefits decreasing or disappearing. Managers can limit your mobility within company by identifying you as a "critical" resource based on job role, but have no means to justify keeping the headcount when the cuts are mandated.

      Advice: Culture and values are spiraling downward. May be great if you make it to the other side of Roadmap 2015, but negatively impacting a large number of quality, performing U.S. workers along the way. Quality and time to delivery is suffering.

    • “Dying company, but great interviewers”

      Current Employee — Anonymous Employee I have been working at IBM full-time.

      Pros: Had three 30-minute interviews back to back. All of them were great, wanted to know what my goals were and how the knowledge culture at IBM is so powerful. I actually felt like they cared about me as a candidate.

      NOTE - YOUR EXPERIENCE MAY DIFFER.

      Cons: Go read the 36+ pages of one-star Glassdoor company reviews. From what I've read:

      • 75% of employees don't get raises, regardless of performance (normal distribution model).
      • They're cutting 65% of the US workforce from 2010 to 2015.
      • US senior management is scavenging the carcass.
      • 60 hour workweeks, 40 hour pay.

      Advice: Go read the 36+ pages of 1-star Glassdoor company reviews.

    • “Great Company to start with hard to move up ranks”

      Current Employee — Software Engineer in Houston, TX. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 5 years). Pros: Starting compensation — coming out of college the salary is much more than most companies offer. Having the IBM name on your resume. Flexibility with working from home. Cons: Tough to move up the ladder. Management out of touch. Hardly any perks. Over the years IBM has gradually ripped the employee benefits one by one. To the point where there are little to no incentives outside of your salary. Extremely tough to get a raise
    • “This company is living off of its past glory.”

      Former Employee — Staff Software Engineer in Ottawa, ON (Canada). I worked at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros:

      • Fellow employees (for the most part) were great.
      • Work was interesting.
      • The Ottawa office was nice and had a good gym.

      Cons:

      • Senior management is killing the company.
      • Poor salary, no pay raises, minuscule bonuses considering the amount of overtime worked. even those rated a "1" got minimal raises and bonuses.
      • Poor morale, people are fearful of the next 'Resource Action' (aka layoffs)

      Advice:

      • Treat employees like people, not as expendables.
      • Listen to employee feedback.
      • Stop blaming the economy and be accountable.
    • “It used to be fun”

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

      Pros: Stable, long term business that is recognized world wide as a leader in the IT segment. Work life balance for the most part is good. Always something new to learn, lots of really really smart people you get exposed to in a given day, just really great people.

      Cons: Raises and promotions are few and far between, when they are they're really pitiful. In sales it used to be FUN, lots of celebration lots of talking about our successes and really feeling like a market leader. Nowadays it's not a fun place to be at all. Lots a pressure, kind of gloomy frankly. Not a lot of confidence in the new CEO. Benefits increasingly expensive every year (>10% annual increase) with something new taken away every time.

      Advice: Articulate Watson in such a way that my mother (55+) and my grandmother (90+) understand the value and the potential to change the world; I really think this is a great opportunity. This is a great company, with a solid future. It shouldn't be such a grind to work here.

    • “Deep internal renewal required”

      Current Employee — Senior Consultant in Madrid (Spain). I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 3 years).

      Cons: Although it's making lots of developments, it's not applying any to itself, therefore workers tend to implement new solutions for clients but it happens that internally things don't work out that well.

      All main business developments happen mainly within the US area, and although the rest of the world forms part of the same company, it's generally not possible or very difficult to take part in any innovative project until years later.

      Business values tend to be more client focused as time goes by, reducing each year workers benefits and asking people to work more hours each time without giving anything in return.

      I personally like being an IBMer, but disagree with many of the actual managers view in an era where workers personal values cannot be forgotten, something which had always been a company's differentiator.

    • “System Administrator”

      Former Employee — Systems Administrator in Research Triangle Park, NC. I worked at IBM full-time (more than 10 years). Pros: Flexible hours, great people to work with. Cons: You never knew from one quarter to the next if you were the next to be laid off. No stability. High stress. No raises or bonuses for over 10 years. Very greedy company.
    • “Another brilliant in-house IT team outsourced to IBM. Less than 25% still there after 12 months.”

      Current Employee — Project Manager in London, England (UK). I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 3 years).

      Pros: Job security, challenge, opportunities, variety, travel, big name employer, reputation, looks good on a CV.

      Cons: Virtually non-existent management of its people and what there is comes from a 'must-do-it' process. I spend about 30 minutes per year with my manager (because he has to). All IBM cares about is selling more services and profiting from pimping out its highly-skilled employees to any big business with more money than sense and paying its employees as little as it can get away with.

      Like a great number of IBMers (horrible horrible horrible phrase) I was TUPE'd in following a penny-pinching outsource exercise which took a brilliantly run IT team of about 30 on-shore individuals from a large telecoms operator and offshored most of the roles to India. A year later, two thirds took the money and ran, a quarter are still there (deeply unhappily so) and a three of us took up new IBM placements. Predictably, outsourcing has now stopped at the operator as a result of poor feedback.

      The feeling of belonging does not exist at IBM. The only reminder I have that I work for IBM is when you see advertising boards at tennis matches saying 'IBM'. They couldn't give a damn about employees as long as they bring in revenue and keep their clients quiet. I could go on and on all day. Suffice to say, if IBM threatens to outsource your job, take the money and run.

      Advice: Start caring genuinely about your key asset, i.e. your delivery employees. Without them IBM is nothing but expensive suits talking a good game, chasing ever larger salaries. The market for IT experts is picking up all the time and your staff are voting with their feet. I feel zero loyalty to IBM and will happily move on when the right opportunity comes along.

      IBM only works for those gifted in self promotion. The promotion process relies on you spending 60+ hours of your own time typing in evidence into a ridiculously cumbersome home-made system to give the business some idea what you actually do. Seriously. That's how well they know you.

    • “I loved the opportunity to drive my work and career in almost any direction I desired.”

      Former Employee — Client Technical Specialist in Glendale, CA I worked at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros: From a technical point of view, your learning opportunities are unbounded. Through training and job experience, even an "off" day can provide a chance to learn. With solutions focus, working on one product area will almost certainly lead to learning about some other area. People are great! People are helpful and have a willingness to mentor, or be mentored.

      Cons: With mobile offices, you may be separated physically from a team, so be ready to use tools to feel connected. Still a huge bureaucracy, so getting through or following processes can be frustrating. The elephant is still learning how to dance. No longer is being good at your job a guarantee you will be able to keep that job.

      Advice: It is very frustrating to see resource actions, followed relatively soon by hiring. Try to be more aware of moral in the field.

    • “Crash and Burning”

      Current Employee — Security in Boulder, CO. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros: At the time I left, the "Pros" had evaporated under inept senior management. The company used to value employees by giving bonuses, pay raises and other events.

      Cons: Bad hours, low to no pay raises and bonuses. Extensive outsourcing of positions to under-qualified Indians. The company also required many former work-at-home employees to move across the country or no longer have a job.

      Advice: 1st and 2nd line management need to stand up as a group to executive leadership that is running the company into the ground.

    • “There was a time...but not any longer”

      Current Employee — Senior Marketing Manager in Armonk, NY. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros: Exposure to some of the best IT talent in the world: developers, researchers and sellers. Global responsibility drives a big picture mentality — you have an important role in shaping the business, working with colleagues from all over the world.

      Cons: Elitist executive culture, lacking the 'how to' achieve the vision they have defined. Concerned more about 'the street'; little or no regard for the rank and file employee — shareholder myopia.

      Advice: Being an executive does not mean you have all of the answers — listen to and value your employees. Ratchet down the arrogance.

    • “Needs change in direction and measurement”

      Former Employee — Anonymous Employee. I worked at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros: Great capabilities and great people but that won't last.

      Cons: Collaboration within a service line and amongst service lines used to be what makes IBM special. Now neither is happening. In fact you are competing not only with your peers within one group but with your up line partner who can call the shot on who gets the lead signing or revenue credit. So you make the sale, negotiate it, sign it and at the end you may or may not get credit for it.

      Direction is set in Armonk and no empowerment to local teams or localization of those decisions. One size fits all.

      People are not getting raises and are frustrated with the extreme utilization targets. Always an excuse to rank you lower and to pay you less bonus, if any. The feeling is that the company is building a negative environment to make people leave without severance. And that's what I did once I found the right opportunity after almost two decades with IBM.

      The shift into CAMS (cloud, analytic, mobile, security) is sudden and also late so clients and employees don't know how to go from here to there with IBM.

      Advice: There has to be a local view to each country and each market/sector. One size fits all will drown a brand that used to be great.

    • “Could care less about people. The goal is about EPS, not customer SAT or revenue growth.”

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

      Pros: Great place to learn and grow your skills. I learned a LOT, and worked with some of the smartest people on earth.

      Cons: It's a big company, so you don't matter. Compensation for sales people is a joke...no accelerators, no club trips, no recognition for top performers. They are losing top talent everyday and could care less about how this affects their customers. Read IBM 100 year book...what would the Watsons think about where IBM is going? Who invested during the depression? IBM. Spend some of that cash you bank every quarter in helping America, vs. cut to drive stock price.

      Advice: Somehow try to find a way to make a difference. Be bold as you may be the reason IBM turns back to what the Watsons wanted.

  • Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alerts. This weeks headlines include:
    • Health Experts: Sequester and Other Budget Cuts Left us Vulnerable to Ebola
    • Alliance Members Join Latest Tele-Town Hall Calls with Candidates
    • Texas, Wisconsin Voter ID Laws go to U.S. Supreme Court as Election Approaches
    • Strange Opening to Florida Gubernatorial Debate
  • InsureBlog:

    AT&T Cancels Retiree Insurance Coverage. Excerpts: Thousands of AT&T retiree's have been notified their company provided health insurance plan is ending as of 12/31/2014. The existing retiree plan will be replaced with an HRA (health reimbursement arrangement) for QUALIFIED purchases only.

    AT&T has hired Aon consulting to coordinate the termination of the "old" plan and help retiree's move forward with their new options. ...

    The HRA money is currently $2700 for the retiree plus an additional $1500 for their qualified spouse. This is your 2015 deposit. AT&T literature indicates future contributions are not guaranteed.

  • CFO:

    Companies Move Cautiously on Private Health Exchanges. Usage of the exchanges ticks up again, but strong growth is not expected until at least 2016. By Matthew Heller. Excerpts: Companies are taking a cautious approach toward using private exchanges to provide health insurance to active employees next year, according to two recent surveys.

    Private health exchanges, some of which predate the Affordable Care Act, allow employees to choose the group coverage they want from a range of plans, usually offered by different insurers. In that case, the competition between insurers for that business, at least in theory, helps contain health-care costs.

    While a number of companies signed up for private exchanges last fall, a National Business Group on Health survey of 136 large U.S. employers showed just 3% plan to use private exchanges for active employees next year, although 35% said they were considering doing so in 2016 or later.

    (Editor's note: Starting this year, the decreasingly fewer IBM retirees still eligible for retirement health insurance were forced into a private health exchange.)

  • Mother Jones:

    Survival of the Richest. The recession left the middle class treading water. But it's been smooth sailing for the 1 percent. By Dave Gilson. Excerpt: The Great Recession officially ended five years ago, but that's news for millions of Americans: A stunning 95 percent of income growth since the recovery started has gone to the superwealthy. If an average household currently earning $71,000 had enjoyed the same gains as the 1 percent since 2000, it would now make more than $83,000. And the widening income gap is not just about the 1 percent anymore: Take a closer look, and you'll see that it's really a tiny fraction—the 1 percent of the 1 percent—that hoovers up the lion's share of the nation's wealth. With Washington paralyzed on bread-and-butter issues and the midterms ahead, we put together a primer on the state of America's frozen paychecks.
  • BuzzFlash:

    Why We Should Be Seething With Anger Over Inequality. By Paul Buchheit. Excerpts: It was recently reported that Americans greatly underestimate the degree of inequality in our country. If we were given proper media coverage of the endless takeaway of our country's wealth by the super-rich, we would be infuriated. And we would be taking it personally.

    Each of nine individuals (Gates, Buffett, 2 Kochs, 4 Waltons, Zuckerberg) made, on average, so much from his/her investments since January, 2013 that a median American worker would need a quarter of a million years to catch up. For the most part it was passive income, new wealth derived from the continuing productivity of America's workers. ...

    A big reason to get angry: Our country's wealth grew from $64 trillion to $80 trillion (a 25 percent increase!) in two years, reflecting the unprecedented surge in America's productivity and wealth over the past few years. But there was little if any new innovation or job creation by these big takers over the past two years. The simple fact that they were already incomprehensibly rich allowed them to sit back and collect more and more and more.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site

Job Cut Reports

  • Comment 10/13/14:

    For those of you still left at IBM, for goodness sake, wake up. The senior executive team, in their quest to stumble and successfully destroy IBM, while mounting their own fortune, will come and get you. Unless you join together and unionize, they will get you. Nothing to stop them and they do so seeing you all as helpless and dumb. Unless you join together soon, prepare for your last day in the company coming sooner than you plan. -Wake Up Everybody-
  • Comment 10/13/14:

    After several years with IBM I have come to the following conclusion it is CEOs and Executives practice at IBM to have massive RAs between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is done so CEOs and executives can get their bonuses at the end of the year. IBM US employees need a union to stop this corrupt practice. -ANA-
  • Comment 10/14/14:

    Changes coming...announced in an executive blog. It seems that services groups are being "consolidated". Not sure what this means yet but expect more axe work in time for earnings announcement. -time_to_move_on-
  • Comment 10/14/14:

    So, I don't smoke, but saw notice that for 2015, IBM is imposing a $600 surcharge on smokers for health care premiums. Not really job-cut related, but what's to stop them from surcharge on any manner of private, lawful lifestyle choices? What's next? A BMI premium? Is it fraud for people who deny they smoke and are later "outed" by information contained in medical records, what Doctors put in your electronic records or the profiles on WebMD or health rebates? This is creepy. -non-smoker-
  • Comment 10/15/14:

    This is from an IBM job posting on LinkedIn: "At IBM we're developing new ways for people to think, interact, manage their businesses and govern their lives. But first and foremost, we're about people. Discover Life@IBM" I find it very sarcastic — first and foremost, we're about people. Yeah maybe shareholders. -CanadianStaff-
  • Comment 10/15/14:

    I don't see anything in this forum about the two week furloughs imposed upon U.S. employees. Has no one reported, on this? -dinotwo-
  • Comment 10/16/14:

    "But first and foremost, we're about people. Discover Life@IBM" IBM has not been about people since Lou was CEO. He destroyed the entire culture of IBM. Sam and Ginny have followed in his steps. We need a union. Respect for the individual no longer exists in IBM. -ANA-
  • Comment 10/17/14:

    "How exactly can they put a surcharge on smokers if they don't know you smoke? - bennythebouncer-" This is not an IBM policy but rather the policy of the stricter health insurance plans IBM has made available. Whether or not you choose to disclose your smoking habit, it is between you and the health insurance provider. IBM does not care. If you lie about your smoking and later on need medical attention that could be associated with smoking, the insurance company can deny benefits. It has nothing to do with IBM. -The Doctor-
  • Comment 10/17/14:

    -waitingforRA- My contacts are hinting next RA round will likely be in early November with early December departure. SWG to be most heavily hit — STG was cut to the core earlier this year and is barely functioning. Many STSMs and DEs are finding it easier to join other companies, business partners, or strike out on their own that hang around and fight for a union. Unfortunately these folks, along with customer facing marketing and tech sales (*NOT* services or manufacturing, they are seen as a commodity) are the ones that have to be convinced to allow the union to get any traction in IBM. -Anonymous-
  • Comment 10/17/14:

    Bless their withered hearts! Management just sent out their utilization requirement email for 4Q quarter, three weeks into 4Q. Leaving nine weeks left to get to 110% utilization overall. Oh, by the way, Saturday the 18th of October was declared a work day (on Wednesday the 15th). And, how can we forget the QIS Summit on Saturday November 15th! (Is QIS Latin for "it will hurt when you sit down"?). Plus, plus, we get the privilege the actual privilege of making up all holidays in 4Q in addition to any vacation days shifted into 4Q (at their request to make numbers in earlier quarters) to meet their goal and get their bonus! Wow, aren't we all just so fantastically lucky!? Maybe we will be asked to make bricks without straw! I would ask for God to have some mercy on their corrupted souls but I don't think he will be able to as they sold them to the Devil. -Joshua-

IBM Retiree Issues

  • Comment 10/15/14:

    I began working for IBM in January of 1983. I was pushed into the cash balance pension plan missing staying in the old pension plan by 2 weeks (born 7/19/59). In Sept of 2004 I was put on long term disability following a severe automobile accident. I am still on long term disability which likely I will be until I am 65. So at the time of the accident in 2004 I was under the then new cash balance pension plan with an understanding that my pension would continue to accumulate at then stated rates and IBM would continue to contribute to my pension as an inactive employee on long term disability.

    Then IBM did away with pension plans and went to a 401K pension however I was unable to participate / benefit under the new pension plan because inactive/disabled employees were excluded from making contributions.

    I am pretty sure the current plan has deprived me of much of the expected pension benefits that were in place for me at the time of the accident in 2004 when I went on long term disability.

    Can anybody help me understand how the 2006 pension changes impacted my future pension benefits as it relates specifically to my situation (an employee who went out on long term disability prior to pension change in 2006. As an inactive employee unable to participate in the 401K program I think I am getting totally shafted as I have had no means of benefiting/participating or growing my pension between now and the time I turn 65.

    Can anyone advise of what provisions if any were made for inactive employee at the time of the plan change in 2006. What recourse do I have and who can I discuss the specifics of my situation with to get further insight. Again I am pretty sure I got shafted but don't appreciate how badly as I have been away from what has been going on in the pension arena for 10 years since the accident. All feedback/insight/suggestions welcome. -CP-

  • Comment 10/15/14:

    Can anyone advise where I might obtain a copy of the Cash Balance pension plan that was in place in Sept of 2004. -Chris-
  • Comment 10/15/14:

    To -CP- Per the 2008 document for the Cash Balance (CB) plan, persons on LTD (Long Term Disability) receive "pay credits" and "transition credits" (if any) for up to 5 years. Monthly "interest credits" are continued before and after the 5 year limit. I don't know if these are original provisions of the Cash Balance plan, or if they were introduced later as a change to the CB plan. I also don't know if these provisions were changed after the 2008 document, since I retired under the "prior plan" and no longer have access to IBM documents on the CB plan. The information above is taken from ... About Your Benefits: Personal Pension Plan, December 1 2008, Document number "USHR108" as found in the "files" section of the Yahoo group "IBMPENSION". Some relevant quotes from that document:

    ... "1.5.2 If You Are Receiving Long-Term Disability Benefits ...

    If you begin receiving LTD benefits prior to 2008 and have vested rights to your Personal Pension Account, you will receive pay credits and transition credits, if any, for up to five years. However, pay credits and transition credits will stop once any distribution is taken. Your account will continue to earn monthly interest credits until your account balance is distributed to you in its entirety."

    "LTD Benefits That Begin After June 30, 1999 ...

    If your LTD benefits begin after June 30, 1999, and you have at least five years of service at the time you begin receiving LTD benefits, you will continue to receive pay credits and transition credits, if any, for up to five years from the date your LTD benefits begin."

    -Paul Bergeron-

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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