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Join your fellow employees who are fighting for your benefits - Join the Alliance!

Retirees, Vendors, Contractors, Temps, and Active Employees are all eligible to become members of the Alliance.

    Highlights for week ending February 15, 2003
  • ComputerWorld; H-1B Visa Count Down, Anger Up. Jobless protesting program despite a decrease in the number of H-1Bs issued. Excerpts: "According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 94,000 unemployed computer scientists in the U.S. That's an unemployment rate of 5.1% in that field, said George F. McClure, who chairs the IEEE's Career and Workforce Policy Committee. H-1B visa holders 'are all competing for the same small pot of jobs, and we don't think that is a good thing,' he said." ... "Nate Viall, a Des Moines, Iowa-based recruiter who specializes in finding candidates for IBM iSeries application development, said that although there's no shortage of qualified U.S. workers to fill those jobs, he has seen U.S. workers lose out to H-1B visa holders. 'It's always about the money,' said Viall."

  • Dallas/Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Hiring Hubbub. As technology layoffs increase, criticism of H-1B visas mounts. Excerpt: "Since losing his technology job more than a year ago, Gene Nelson has landed a handful of contracts but nothing with a steady paycheck. He has applied for countless positions, touting his doctoral degree and his varied work experience. But with the tech sector in an economic free fall, the Carrollton resident has found corporate layoff announcements far easier to come by than job openings. Yet at the same time, U.S. employers have been filling jobs with thousands of skilled foreign-born workers on temporary visas -- sometimes hiring in one department while workers are being laid off in others."

  • Business Standard (New Delhi, India): Bush’s party to raise funds via Noida, Gurgaon. Excerpt: "The US Republican Party now has a band of young and enthusiastic fund-raisers in Noida and Gurgaon. HCL eServe, the business process outsourcing arm of the Shiv Nadar-promoted HCL Technologies, has bagged a project to undertake a fund-raising campaign for the US Republican Party over the telephone. This is the first time such a project has been handed out to a company outside the US. The market research and public relations companies engaged by the party usually undertake such projects. HCL eServe has put in place a team of 75 people to work on the project out of its call centres in Noida and Gurgaon. According to industry sources, the number of seats could be ramped up depending on the success of the campaign. These operators are required to call up people in the US seeking their support for President George W Bush and a donation for the Republican cause."

  • H1B.info: Was your job application passed over in favor of an H-1B? (This database contains very interesting information, including titles and salaries of H-1B positions at IBM).

  • Business Week: When Active Duty Calls IBM'ers. Big Blue has one of the country's most complete policies for employees who are military reservists. Here's how it works. Excerpt: "IBM boasts one of the most comprehensive military-reservist policies in the country, from benefits to ways to keep in touch while on active duty. Business Week Staff Editor Jennifer Merritt spoke about the policy with IBM's vice-president for talent, Donna Riley, and IBM business consultant Michel Ellert-Beck, a reservist just back from active duty."

  • A person on a Yahoo! message board asks "I have heard a rumor that IBM will be converting all current employees pensions to the cash balance plan. I am a prior employee covered under the old pension which I had elected to defer until age 55. (i.e. I have not yet begun receiving the my monthly pension and will not be able to do so until age 55). Is my current pension plan protected ('grandfathered') from any such conversion? Is my option locked in by the fact that I left the company." Janet Krueger responds...

  • The latest round of correspondence to the SEC relative to Janet Krueger's shareholder resolution asking IBM to fully disclose all the compensation owed to its senior executives is available at this location [PDF] on the Cash Pensions Web site. Ms. Krueger comments: "Rather than addressing the proposal, IBM is still playing games about whether I'm a current shareholder -- and the SEC seems to be supporting their shenanigans!"

  • Newsday: Bush Seeks to Cut Boomers' Pension Rights. Excerpt: "Bush to Baby Boomers: You're on your own. The president did not say this, not in so many words. He said it in so many numbers. President George W. Bush's budget is a road map for a pension system with stripped-down security for future retirees. The budget would speed the shift of pension responsibility from employers to employees. It sets up the likelihood that fewer small and medium-sized businesses would offer pensions at all. It anticipates replacing guaranteed Social Security benefits with a hybrid in which the luck of the stock-market draw would have more to do with the comfort of life in old age than a lifetime of honest, if modestly paid, work. 'What the Bush administration is proposing for the private retirement system is to basically destroy it,' said Norman Stein, a tax specialist and visiting professor at the University of Maine School of Law. 'He's certainly not interested in preserving and expanding what we have now.'"

  • St. Paul Pioneer-Press: Prescription drug strategy under fire. Excerpt: "Many pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) that once earned most of their revenue by holding down drug costs for health plans now earn a large portion of their money from drug companies that pay them undisclosed rebates and other financial incentives for promoting certain medications. Sometimes, critics charge, those medications aren't the most cost-effective for the PBMs' clients." ... "The side deals and undisclosed payments may account for as much as 10 percent of the $161 billion that Americans are estimated to have spent on prescription drugs in 2002, said Purcell, who has worked as a consultant for plaintiffs in several lawsuits against PBMs."

  • Washington Post: DeLay Lashes Out at Unions. Excerpt: "Strong language in fundraising letters is hardly new. But House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) has rankled even some GOP colleagues with a fiery diatribe seeking money for the National Right to Work Foundation's legal defense fund. His six-page letter accuses 'Big Labor Bosses' of using the nation's security worries 'to grab more power,' a move that 'presents a clear and present danger to the security of the United States at home and the safety of our Armed Forces overseas.' Examples are 'as numerous as they are sickening,' he wrote, criticizing the president of the International Association of Fire Fighters union by name."

  • Communications Workers of America (CWA): Labor, Others Condemn DeLay Hate Letter. Excerpt: "'I am outraged, for myself and for every member, past and present, who served in our armed forces,' CWA President Morton Bahr said. 'From my personal viewpoint, I did my service in the U.S. Merchant Marine in World War II and resent the slur deeply. This display of "patriotism" came from a man who spent the Vietnam years fighting bugs and cockroaches as head of his exterminating company'."

  • Washington Post: Laboring to Eat Their Words. Excerpt: "Being Tom DeLay is supposed to mean never having to say you're sorry. But the House Republican majority leader known as 'the Hammer' decided it was impolitic to stand behind an outrageous letter he signed attacking the American trade union movement as unpatriotic."

This week on the Alliance@IBM Site:

  • Current and former IBMer's protest at Gerstner's Book Signing in RTP. Excerpts: "Alliance members, along with current and former IBM employees were in front of Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh today handing out copies of 'Think Twice' and their 'Alternate Memoirs [PDF--13 KB]', a timeline of slashed benefits and jobs. The last point on the timeline was a statement released today about exposure to toxic mold in an IBM building. (See Sick Employees at IBM RTP)." ... "One former IBMer bought a book, got in line, and asked Gerstner if he could have his job back. Gerstner said he wasn't at IBM anymore, but the former employee tried to hand him his business card. Gerstner wouldn't take it so the storeowner said she would and Lou told her she didn't have to."

  • San Jose: The Director of the EEOC San Jose office will be coming to the next Alliance@IBM meeting to discuss age discrimination claims in layoffs at IBM. This is a great opportunity to learn about your rights, the covenant not to sue, and what the EEOC can do for laid-off workers.
        Date: Thurs, Feb 20
        Time: 6:00pm
        Place: St Julie's Church (Cottle Road, corner of Curie)

  • Urgent Action! Stop the outrageous Treasury Proposal!


More on President Bush's Savings Plans (thanks to Janet Krueger for these links)
  • New York Times: New Savings Plans Wouldn't Be for Everybody. Excerpt: "(A) dollar in hand today is worth more than a dollar that will show up in the future. And some of the current tax-advantaged plans do offer that dollar now, when it's worth more." (One-time registration with New York Times may be required to view article).

  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Bush proposals for savings offer solid financial benefits. Excerpt: "The Lifetime Savings Account, the Retirement Savings Account and the Employer Retirement Savings Account ... are worth taking a look at since they hold the promise that saving could become easier and, at the same time, provide substantial tax benefits for those who sign on."

  • San Francisco Chronicle:Complex proposal to simplify savings. Excerpt: "Let's make the naive assumption that Congress approves all three accounts without imposing any income limits, phase-in periods or special rules for guys who wear polka-dotted boxers. People who are just starting to save would find the new choices far simpler than the exasperating array of options that exist today."

  • Dow Jones Newswire: Critics Say New Accounts Won't Boost Savings. Excerpt: "Critics of President George W. Bush's proposed new savings accounts argue they may not boost savings after all. The proposals may have the opposite effect of inducing small businesses to either drop or not sponsor new retirement plans."

  • Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: Proposed “Savings Incentives” Would Cause Revenue Hemorrhage In Future Decades. Proposal Also Would Heavily Benefit Wealthy Taxpayers, While Weakening Pension Coverage for Workers and Shifting Costs to Future Generations. Excerpt: "On January 31, the Administration unveiled a package of dramatic proposals that ultimately would shield from taxation a large share of all income earned on savings and investments" ... "While the proposal is being touted as a way to increase national saving and to help workers save for their retirement, in fact the proposal may have the opposite effects."

  • Washington Post: A Wealth of Qualms On Bush's Savings Plans. Excerpt: "Aside from the problems these accounts might create in funding the government -- hey, maybe you thought it was Karl Marx who wanted the state to wither away -- they would shift the tax burden dramatically toward wages and consumption. Much investment income would be left untaxed. And as these accounts grew over the years, the shift would become more complete, perhaps leading to some sort of national sales or value-added tax to make up the difference. Ultimately, we could end up with a Leona Helmsley tax code -- one in which only the little people pay taxes."

  • MSN Money: The $550,000 loophole in Bush's saving plan. Excerpt: "I like all three of the proposals. They’ll pump up the economy by putting more dollars in your hands. They’ll increase savings and investment, creating more wealth. They will greatly shrink the walls of convoluted IRS code requirements you have to crawl over to play the game. One big issue is their cost. Billions of dollars will not be collected in taxes in future years if these provisions are passed. Where would the government find replacements? Or, perhaps, where would government spending be cut? Another issue: who will get the most of these benefits from these accounts? The short answer: the affluent."

  • ICMA Retirement Corporation: Bush Administration Proposes Restructuring of Savings Plans. Included in this article is a comparison table of proposed and existing plans.

  • Contra Costa (California) Times: President's proposal to eliminate 401(k) plans doesn't make good sense. Excerpt: "The fact is that small employers who want to offer cheap, uncomplicated plans already have that option with the current no-brainer 401(k) plan for small companies that requires virtually no government reporting. These aptly named SIMPLE plans are aggressively promoted by financial institutions, but most small employers can't be bothered" ... "The simplest of plans still require automatic payroll deductions and a general hassle factor." ... "To be charitable, I would like to think that this proposal is just the work of some misguided Inner Beltway people who don't have enough to do. They remind me of the Hillary Clinton health care people who refused to talk with anyone from the health insurance industry for fear of becoming 'contaminated.' To be less charitable, it may be a deliberate smoke screen of happy talk to make us ignore that other tax proposal promising Vice President Cheney about $375,000 in income tax savings ... and about $250 each for the rest of us."

  • New Democrats Online: Tax Reform That Ain't. Excerpt: "On the first blush, the proposal sounds a bit like the 'Universal Pensions' idea put forth last year by the Progressive Policy Institute's Paul Weinstein. Like Weinstein's proposal, it would reduce the complex and confusing number of retirement savings accounts while consolidating the rules for a variety of employer-based retirement plans. But unlike 'Universal Pensions,' the Administration's proposal focuses on opening up an unlimited tax bonanza to high earners."

  • New Jersey Star-Ledger: In this case, simple also means unfair. Excerpt: "To make savings plans less complicated, the Bush administration cut out lots of words. Including, it turns out, a few rules that have been in place since 1984 to ensure tax-deferred contribution plans do not favor high-paid employees."

  • Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America (PSCA): President's Proposals Will Reduce the Appeal of Employer Plans. Retirement saving by lower and moderate-income workers will likely diminish. Excerpt: "PSCA believes that any proposal affecting retirement savings should address four questions. Will overall retirement savings increase? How will the at-risk population of lower paid workers be affected? Will leakage of retirement savings increase? Will non-savers be induced to save? While we are confident the administration believes their proposals will result in affirmative responses to these questions, we must disagree."

  • 403(b)wise: LSAs, RSAs, ERSAs and the 403(b) Marketplace. Excerpt: "Part of the Congressional opposition (to the Bush Administration proposal to revamp the structure of tax-advantaged retirement savings) appears to be simple pique that this plan was developed without the input even of the Republican leadership, and that the generalities of the plan have been announced but not the details. But there are substantive concerns as well. Among the more significant criticisms to date..."

  • Benefits Link: A Summary of Proposed Retirement Savings Reform. Excerpt: ""The RSA/LSA/ERSA scheme will disconnect taxpayers from the bargaining power and economies of scale that they enjoyed while participants in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, and they will have to deal one-on-one with brokers and asset managers."

  • National Review: The Bush Revolution. Excerpt: "The (Washington) Post also worries that the lifetime savings account 'could be raided at will, leaving workers without a cushion later.' It's true. A family would have to decide whether to 'raid' a savings account to pay for the children's college tuition, or to leave it in there for retirement and health-care needs. This is called freedom."

  • CNN/Money: Bush plan: What may actually pass. Congress may scale it back, but some parts of the White House economic plan should become law. Excerpt: "The savings proposals have generated a lot of excitement. But Laperriere, Edwards and Barry all think there's virtually no chance Congress will give them a green light this year, given their long-term costs and all the other legislation on the docket." ... "One retirement plan change Congress may make, Edwards said, is to accelerate the increase in contribution limits to 401(k)s and IRAs, currently scheduled to take effect by 2006 for 401(k)s and 2008 for IRAs."

  • BenefitNews: Portman clarifies comments regarding ERSA support. Excerpt: "Congressman Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is affirming his support for the Bush administration's retirement plan proposals and disavowing comments critical of the measure."

  • American Benefits Council: Testimony of Edward Rosic, Vice President and Managing Assistant General Counsel, Marriott International, Inc., on behalf of the American Benefits Council [PDF--16 pages]. Excerpt: "While we welcome the budget submission's emphasis on retirement savings and simplification of our pension laws, we remain concerned that the proposals for Lifetime Savings Accounts and Retirement Savings Accounts may come at the expense of the voluntary, employer-sponsored retirement plan system. American employers play a vital role in the success of the voluntary system."

  • Lifetime Savings Account Web Site: Why the Arguments Against Lifetime Savings Accounts are Wrong. Excerpt: "This article will focus on why the arguments made against Bush's proposed Lifetime Savings Accounts (LSAs) are not valid. It should be noted that many articles lump the three proposed plans (LSAs, RSAs, and ERSAs) together when discussing them. As such, points made against RSAs, for example, will be used to suggest that all the proposed savings plans are not a good idea. However, this article will primarily focus on the boldest proposal-- Lifetime Savings Accounts."

Note: Additional links to news articles concerning President Bush's proposed savings plans are available in the February 8, 2003 page of this site.


"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have too much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." — Franklin D. Roosevelt
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