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    Highlights—January 6, 2007

  • Austin American-Statesman: Fired Penney COO gets severance deal. Excerpts: Department-store operator J.C. Penney Co. will pay a fired executive about $10 million in severance even though she worked at the company for only a few months. Penney said the severance for Catherine G. West, who was hired as chief operating officer last summer, was outlined in her employment contract.
  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution, courtesy of the Houston Chronicle: A golden exit at Home Depot. Critics are furious that CEO Bob Nardelli received a $210 million departure package after resigning. By Patti Bond. Excerpts: Home Depot investors cheered the end of the Bob Nardelli era on Wednesday, but they had to pay dearly to usher out the chief — $210 million. [...]
    Nardelli's separation package was an amount decried by some lawmakers as a golden parachute that sends the wrong message to investors. "It's a sign of being totally out of touch," said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the incoming chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. "They don't understand the extent to which they make the American public angry." [...]
    The total package is seven times the $30 million Home Depot set aside last June for stores and employees that provide good customer service. Home Depot has 2,127 stores and 355,000 employees in the United States, Canada, Mexico and China.
  • New York Times: Gilded Paychecks. Compensation Experts Offer Ways to Help Curb Executive Salaries. By Eric Dash. Excerpts: Nothing, it seems, can put the brakes on runaway executive pay. [...]
    Despite the growing attention over the last 25 years, the average chief executive’s compensation at big companies has increased more than 600 percent, to $8 million dollars a year after adjusting for inflation. Meanwhile, the ratio between the average pay for a top executive and a worker, which held steady in the 30 years before 1980, has more than quadrupled, to a multiple of 170, according to recent academic research.
  • Bloomberg: In Planning for Retirement, Don't Neglect Old Age. By Chet Currier. Excerpts: Most of the countless discussions I hear plunge into the subject without defining what is meant by "retirement." The atmospherics in a typical financial-services advertising pitch suggest it is a stage of life devoted mainly to world travel, golf and fly fishing. [...]
    That's the fun part of the deal. From a distance at least, it looks wonderfully flexible and strictly voluntary. If I cannot afford to retire at age 62 or 65 or whatever, no problem -- I'll just keep working a while longer.
    This misses some vital parts of the matter. In its most compelling meaning, "retirement" is a euphemism for "old age." There is nothing optional about old age, nor about many of the expenses, burdens and other liabilities it may bring.
    A common mantra these days is "I'll never retire -- I enjoy my work too much." That only serves, however, until some medical problem or other infirmity renders one unable to do the job as it must be done.
  • ComputerWorld: As Democrats take control of Congress, a new H-1B fight looms. Anti-offshoring legislation may find new life this year. By Patrick Thibodeau. Excerpts: With a new Congress taking office today, Elena Park, the immigration practice leader at Cozen O'Connor in West Conshohocken, Pa., has this advice for clients who want to hire H-1B visa holders: Move quickly.
    "The fact of the matter is there is an H-1B blackout," said Park. Demand was so high for H-1B visa holders last year, that the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reached the 65,000 visa cap less than two months after it began accepting applications -- a record. And an additional 20,000 H-1B visas limited to graduate students was gone in four months. [...]
    With Democrats in charge, anti-offshoring legislation efforts could find new life. For instance, in the House and Senate last year, Democrats -- including U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) -- introduced the Call Center Consumer's Right to Know Act of 2006. The legislation, which was never passed by either chamber, required call center employees to disclose their physical location at the beginning of the call, something its legislative backers hoped would prompt companies to think twice before offshoring call centers.
  • AARP, courtesy of Benefits Link: AARP Calls for 2007 'Best Employers for Workers Over 50 Applications. The application deadline for the annual AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50 list is fast approaching. Employers that offer workplace practices and policies that greatly benefit workers aged 50+ are encouraged to apply at www.aarp.org/bestemployers before the February 22, 2007 deadline. [...]
    The AARP Best Employers program rewards innovative employers that offer policies that appeal to workers 50+, including flexible work options, training/learning opportunities, competitive health and retirement benefits and age-neutral work environments. Now entering its seventh year, the AARP Best Employer search honored 50 employers last year, including major firms such as Volkswagen of America, Inc., Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., Principal Financial Group and Busch Entertainment Corp.
  • New York Times: And Now, a Word From Chile... Excerpts: Everyone who followed the debate about privatizing Social Security back in 2005 has vivid memories of the Chilean model. Sometimes it seemed impossible to get through any discussion of fixing Social Security without hearing a free-market paean to the way Chile had given its workers control over their own retirement investments, followed by a demand that the United States get on the same boat.
    Therefore, it seems worthwhile to note that the Chileans are now bailing water.
  • Louisville Courier-Journal: Social Security lessons. Excerpts: Of all the efforts made by George W. Bush to impose his version of crony capitalism, none was dearer to the hearts of economic conservatives than privatization of the Social Security system.
    This was, after all, proposed in 1962 by free market godfather Milton Friedman. [...]
    Mr. Bush and many other advocates pointed to Chile's privatized system, imposed by the rightist dictator Augusto Pinochet, who, years before Mr. Bush promoted an "ownership society," wanted Chile to become "a nation of proprietors."
    Now, however, as reported in The New York Times, "Responding to growing complaints that the privatized pension system is failing to deliver adequate benefits, the Chilean government has recommended that it be supplanted by a system in which the state would play a much larger role."
    In describing government under Gen. Pinochet, Mr. Friedman once used the phrase "the Miracle of Chile." As it turns out, the miracle is that good sense is returning before too many of Chile's citizens have been victimized. [...]
    As things now stand, about half of the Chilean labor force will not qualify for a pension or will receive only a minimum payment, for a variety of reasons that include not having paid into the system for the minimum 20 years.
    Commissions to the pension fund industry, according to some studies, have run as high as one third of workers' total contributions, and yield the funds a return on assets of as much as 50 percent annually.
  • Wall Street Journal: Wal-Mart Seeks New Flexibility In Worker Shifts. By Kris Maher. Excerpts: The nation's biggest private employer is about to revamp the way it schedules its work force, in a move that could shake up many employees' lives.
    Early this year, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., using a new computerized scheduling system, will start moving many of its 1.3 million workers from predictable shifts to a system based on the number of customers in stores at any given time. The move promises greater productivity and customer satisfaction for the huge retailer but could be a major headache for employees. [...]
    But while the new systems are expected to benefit both retailers and customers, some experts say they can saddle workers with unpredictable schedules. In some cases, they may be asked to be "on call" to meet customer surges, or sent home because of a lull, resulting in less pay. The new systems also alert managers when a worker is approaching full-time status or overtime, which would require higher wages and benefits, so they can scale back that person's schedule.
    That means workers may not know when or if they will need a babysitter or whether they will work enough hours to pay that month's bills. Rather than work three eight-hour days, someone might now be plugged into six four-hour days, mornings one week and evenings the next. [...]
    Unions have criticized Wal-Mart for its scheduling changes, saying the company is forcing people to be available to work more hours each week but to sacrifice a more regular schedule. Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com, funded by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, says the new scheduling system has "devastating implications" for employees. "What the computer is trying to optimize is the most number of part-time and least number of full-time workers at the lowest labor costs, with no regard for the effect that it has on workers' lives," he says.
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • New York Times: A Healthy New Year. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: A scathing article in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times described how insurers refuse to cover anyone with even the slightest hint of a pre-existing condition. People have been denied insurance for reasons that range from childhood asthma to a “past bout of jock itch.”
    Some say that we can’t afford universal health care, even though every year lack of insurance plunges millions of Americans into severe financial distress and sends thousands to an early grave. But every other advanced country somehow manages to provide all its citizens with essential care. The only reason universal coverage seems hard to achieve here is the spectacular inefficiency of the U.S. health care system.
    Americans spend more on health care per person than anyone else — almost twice as much as the French, whose medical care is among the best in the world. Yet we have the highest infant mortality and close to the lowest life expectancy of any wealthy nation. How do we do it?
    Part of the answer is that our fragmented system has much higher administrative costs than the straightforward government insurance systems prevalent in the rest of the advanced world. As Anna Bernasek pointed out in yesterday’s New York Times, besides the overhead of private insurance companies, “there’s an enormous amount of paperwork required of American doctors and hospitals that simply doesn’t exist in countries like Canada or Britain.”
  • Los Angeles Times: Healthy? Insurers don't buy it Minor ailments can thwart applicants for individual policies. By Lisa Girion. Excerpts: Selective insurers: Consumer advocates see the practice as cherry-picking — a legal form of discrimination that is no longer tolerated in schools, public accommodations or workplaces — and a way to guarantee profits.
    "The idea is to avoid all risk," said Bryan Liang, executive director of the Institute of Health Law Studies at California Western School of Law in San Diego.
    Jerry Flanagan, an advocate with the Foundation for Consumer and Taxpayer Rights, said it wouldn't take much to be left out of the private-insurance market. "A minor asthma condition or a surgery 10 years ago that requires no further medical care is enough to get you blacklisted forever," he said.
    As a result, some people forgo treatment so as not to tarnish their health records. Others withhold information from doctors or ask them to leave details out of their records. For those who are uninsurable, healthcare often is the chief reason they stay in or take a certain job. [...]
    Insurers declined to disclose the underwriting guidelines that lead to rejection or higher premiums. But a review of public records, as well as rejection letters sent to individuals, shows that California carriers turn people away or charge them higher premiums for conditions that range from the catastrophic to the common. Cancer, epilepsy and AIDS make the list, along with breast implants, ear infections, varicose veins and sleep apnea.
    Jeffrey Miles, a vice president of the California Assn. of Health Underwriters, a trade group for independent insurance agents, said one of his clients — a 27-year-old woman "in perfect health with absolutely nothing wrong" — was rejected because she had seen a psychologist for three months after breaking up with a boyfriend.
    "I call it hangnail underwriting," Miles said. "If a person has taken virtually any medication, they are going to be turned down. If people have had any psychological counseling at any time in recent history, they are going to get turned down." [...]
    According to regulators' postings, rejection letters and interviews with brokers, conditions that can lead to outright rejection or a higher premium include:
    • AIDS, allergies, arthritis, asthma, attention deficit disorder, autism, bed-wetting, breast implants, cancer, cerebral palsy, chronic bronchitis, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic sinusitis, cirrhosis, cystitis, diabetes, ear infections, epilepsy, gender reassignment, heart disease and hemochromatosis (a common genetic disorder that causes the body to absorb too much iron).
    • Other conditions are hepatitis, herpes, high blood pressure, impotence, infertility, irritable bowel syndrome, joint sprain, kidney infections, lupus, mild depression, muscular dystrophy, migraines, miscarriage, pregnancy, "expectant fatherhood," planned adoption, psoriasis, recurrent tonsillitis, renal failure, ringworm, severe mental disorders, sleep apnea, stroke, ulcers and varicose veins.
  • New York Times: Health Care Problem? Check the American Psyche. By Anna Bernasek. Excerpts: What’s more, as demonstrated in France, Britain, Canada, Australia and other countries with functioning single-payer systems, significant savings can come without hurting the overall health of the population.
    There’s only one catch. Most Americans just don’t believe it can be done. The health care crisis may turn out to be more of a problem of ideology than economics.
    The economic case for a single-payer system is surprisingly strong. Start with what we already know. Countries with single-payer systems have long records of spending less on health care than the United States does. The United States spent an average of $6,102 a person on it in 2004, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, while Canada spent $3,165 a person, France $3,159, Australia $3,120 and Britain just $2,508.
    At the same time, life expectancy in the United States, a broad measure of health, was slightly lower than it was in those other countries in 2004, the latest year for which complete figures are available. And the United States had a higher rate of infant mortality. [...]
    “The story never changes,” said Gerard F. Anderson, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “The United States is twice as expensive with about the same outcome.
    “As a consumer, I don’t mind paying more if I’m getting more, but that’s just not the case in the U.S.,” said Professor Anderson, who publishes an annual review comparing the American health care system with those of its peers.
    What may be less well known is the level of administrative waste in the United States health care system, versus that of well-designed systems elsewhere. Although Americans tend to equate efficiency with private enterprise, that’s not the case with the current system.
    The American system, based on multiple insurers, builds in more unnecessary costs. Duplicate processing of claims, large numbers of insurance products, complicated bill-paying systems and high marketing costs add up to huge administrative expenses. Then there’s an enormous amount of paperwork required of American doctors and hospitals that simply doesn’t exist in countries like Canada or Britain. [...]
    One of the first major studies to quantify administrative costs in the United States was published in August 2003 in The New England Journal of Medicine by three Harvard researchers, Steffie Woolhandler, Terry Campbell and David U. Himmelstein. It concluded that such costs accounted for 31 percent of all health care expenditures in the United States. [...]
    Despite everything that is known about the economic benefits of a single-payer system, there’s one big stumbling block: many Americans don’t believe in it. They have heard horror stories from abroad, often spread by partisan advocates, focusing on worst-case examples. Such tales play upon the aversion of many Americans to government involvement in the economy. [...]
    Judging from other countries, many features that Americans really like — being able to choose their own doctor, for example — would remain available in a well-designed single-payer system. And a single-payer system need not mean government-provided care: it often means government-provided insurance that encourages competition among providers.
  • New York Times: First, Do Less Harm. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: Universal health care, much as we need it, won’t happen until there’s a change of management in the White House. In the meantime, however, Congress can take an important step toward making our health care system less wasteful, by fixing the Medicare Middleman Multiplication Act of 2003.
    Officially, of course, it was the Medicare Modernization Act. But as we learned during the debate over Social Security, in Bushspeak “modernize” is a synonym for “privatize.” And one of the main features of the legislation was an effort to bring private-sector fragmentation and inefficiency to one of America’s most important public programs. [...]
    The inability of private middlemen to win a fair competition against traditional Medicare was embarrassing to those who sing the praises of privatization. Maybe that’s why the Bush administration made sure that there is no competition at all in Part D, the drug program. There’s no traditional Medicare version of Part D, in which the government pays drug costs directly. Instead, the elderly must get coverage from a private insurance company, which then receives a government subsidy.
    As a result, Part D is highly confusing. It’s also needlessly expensive, for two reasons: the insurance companies add an extra layer of bureaucracy, and they have limited ability to bargain with drug companies for lower prices (and Medicare is prohibited from bargaining on their behalf). One indicator of how much Medicare is overspending is the sharp rise in prices paid by millions of low-income seniors whose drug coverage has been switched from Medicaid, which doesn’t rely on middlemen and does bargain over prices, to the new Medicare program.
  • Los Angeles Times, courtesy of Physicians for a National Health Program: Insurance is enough to make you sick. Private health insurance is a drag on the economy the government must fix. By Patt Morrison. Excerpts: It’s a good thing I have health insurance, because I thought my ticker was going to give out when I read this: Health insurance companies will not sell policies, at any price, to hale and healthy people who have, or had, some pretty trifling ailments. Hemorrhoids. Varicose veins.
    A woman who’d gone to a psychologist after breaking up with her honey was denied. So was a guy with jock itch, and a 40-year-old man with asthma.
    Lisa Girion’s front-page Times article the last day of 2006 leaped off the page and grabbed me by the throat, which is pretty much what health insurers are doing to millions of Americans — strangling them. If they don’t work for a company with health benefits and they want individual health policies, they pay huge premiums for skimpy benefits, if they can get a policy at all. For health insurers, it’s a seller’s market, and they ain’t selling.
    Business, which has a firm grip on the legislative joystick, hits the panic button at talk of single-payer healthcare or universal healthcare, and it hauls out its own boogeyman phrases, such as “job-killer” and “drag on the economy.”
    I’ll tell you what’s a drag on the economy. Healthcare insurance that’s impossibly expensive, or impossible to get. If the United States wants a vital economy of personal enterprise and risk-taking, then it needs to guarantee health coverage, period. Americans are willing to take chances in business and careers, but not with their families’ health, or their own.
    Dan Luke is an Oregon insurance broker. He told me that he runs into this “all the time — people staying in jobs they don’t like. People have dreams about going into business for themselves that they can’t fulfill because they don’t want to lose medical coverage, and they can’t pay a lot of money for [individual policies] even if they are healthy.”
New on the Alliance@IBM Site:
  • IBM Pay for Skill, Performance, Retention, Merit? By a North East IBM employee
  • Rebuild the Middle Class—with Unions. By John J. Sweeney. Excerpts: Maybe the loudest message from the recent congressional election was that regular folks have had enough and are ready to take back economic power from the corporate elite and radical right wing.
    Working America has seen wages stagnate, costs soar and wealth and privilege become more concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people. This has not been an accident. The pro-corporate and anti-union policies of the Bush administration and its congressional rubber-stampers have deliberately favored the wealthy and corporate interests over working people.
  • From the Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comments 12/28/06: I am an over 40 employee (a protected class) and was recently offered the option of taking a separation allowance of 6 weeks pay and leaving the company in 30 days or go on a performance improvement plan for the next 90 days. My boss told me in May that I was getting a 3 this January (even though he didn't know me at all). Any suggestions on what course of action I should take? How do I know I won't be canned the day after I go on the plan if I do? Any advice greatly appreciated. -Anonymous-
    • Comments 01/1/07: Hey, over 40. I've heard several times that it's impossible to succeed on a performance improvement plan. They have already made up their minds. To offer you this is a mere legal formality to cover IBM's butt. I'd suggest you negotiate a fat package (6 weeks is a joke). Tell (don't ask) them you want a years salary and a years medical or shove it. Mention age discrimination and "see you in court". -Anonymous-
    • Comments 01/1/07: To over 40: Assuming that you may be out in either case, this is 70 days pay vs 90. 70 day case: you use the whole ten weeks looking for a new job. 90 day case: you spend three months on the measured mile leaving no energy for a job search. (Maybe, maybe, in your state you would get unemployment payments after the 90 days?) -Anonymous-
    • Comments 01/1/07: Anything new on the PSD/Ricoh situation? Like a few others, I would like to stay 1 step ahead of this. -Anonymous-
    • Comments 01/1/07: To Comment 12/28 going on performance plan: I am not aware of anyone who has gone on performance plan who was not later terminated. In my experience, performance plan in the kiss of death. In today's environment at IBM, I feel fairly certain that you will not survive the performance plan. Sorry for the bad news and good luck. -Anonymous-
    • Comments 1/3/07: Over 40. You are screwed. It is impossible to be successful with the game IBM plays. Here is what I would do. The next time you see your manager fall on the floor and fake a heart attack. Have him call an ambulance and make a big scene. When you get to the hospital you can say it is related to the emotional stress IBM is causing you. You will probably be in a much better position to negotiate something from this slime ball company. Play their same game IBM is playing with you. Good Luck. -Anonymous-
    • Comments 1/3/07: Hi over 40: I did manage to survive a performance improvement plan. Just thought I'd let you know in case you'd like to consider that option, since the other responses are negative. Another poster did offer good advice about having a detailed list of items to accomplish to prove that you met the challenge. -Anonymous-
  • From the General Visitor's Comment page:
    • Comment 1/3/07: Congratulations to someone! My IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad failed so I called> tech support. The recorded message assured me that I would talk to someone in "Atlanta Georgia", and while I can't say for certain that the respondent was in Atlanta, his accent was definitely American. Not certain either whether he works for IBM, Lenovo, or some other company, but whichever it was, he did the job. He was very> professional, to the point, and had solid answers to my questions. Eventually he (and I) concluded that the problem was the hard drive. He promised a warranty replacement to be delivered to me in three to five days. In actuality, it arrived in 24 hours. Somebody out there is doing it right. -Retiree-
    • Comment 1/4/07: Reply to Comment 12/15/06: Spare no holiday party expense for Armonk and Somers, eh? IBM has always been know for its double standards. At the East Fishkill site employee based PREC suggestion program by years end saved IBM millions of dollars. We were also told that the scheduled pizza party was cancelled due to budget restrain spending measures. While over in manufacturing some employees received Sony Play Stations and were even taken out to dinner! When to work at IBM for a while you will find that policies differ from one division to another. This also includes salary, band ratings, PBC, and along with your recognition. That's why we need to have a standard at IBM and form a Union. Hey IBMers send your views about your own personal experience regarding the IBM "double standard" Should be interesting! -Anonymous-
  • From the Pension Comments page:
    • Comment 01/1/07: Unions do work .... Goodyear ultimately agreed to put $1 billion into a health care fund for retired union workers' medical benefits, higher than the company's previous $660 million offer but less than the union's call for roughly double that amount. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070102/ap_on_bi_ge/goodyear_steelworkers -PensionCop-
    • Comment 01/3/07: I believe that unions do work. I spent many years in non-union IBM and now am in the teacher's union in NY--along with a bunch of other ex-IBMers who decided that having monthly pensions and health benefits post retirement (not to mention better hours and much more time with our families) would be far more valuable than the few extra pennies IBM was paying those of us who were in non-exec positions. On top of that, all of us are having fun and actually finding the work rewarding. It's a good feeling to think you might change the lives of a few kids and make a difference to the future. I don't think I ever had that kind of good feeling once in any position I had at IBM, and I had several. It was all about greed, screwing people, more greed, and screwing more people. Unions are not what most non-union people think. Our admin and the teachers work tremendously well together. I don't regret leaving one bit--only that I didn't do it sooner. -Anonymous-
  • IBM employees on employee raises
    • Comment 12/30/06: Salary = 52K; Band Level = 4-6; Job Title = Tech Serv Professional; Years Service = 5; Hours/Week = 40+; Your Gender = M; Div Name = IGS; Location = CA; Message = Started as Band4 (non-exempt) making 56K, 57K, and 60K over 3 years. Moved into exempt position Band 6 (exempt) making 52K ever since. Loss of overtime and NO raise despite consistent PBC 2 scores. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 1/2/07: Salary = 41k; Band Level = 3; Job Title = ssr; Years Service = 12 (5 with TSS, 7 with IBM); Hours/Week = 55-60; Your Gender = M; Div Name = ITS; Location = SE USA; Message = Ridiculous low amount for the responsibility and type of work I was expected to do before being cut loose and moved to Qualxserv (brokerage and server SSR). Raise-ettes the last 4 years (500-750/year). Consistent 2+performer. Usually made close to $60K with o/t and bonuses but in talking with my former co-workers this is a thing of the past. No more standby pay and mgt expects people to be available 24/7 and take comp time (both highly illegal). Then they wonder why there's no team spirit and cooperation. Just after leaving IBM I interviewed NCR and was told that an SSR wasn't worth more than $30K to them, told them where to stick their job. Things ok so far at Qualxserv, no management gripes about overtime and standby pay exists, just do what you need to and get the job done. Only complaint is little possibility for advancement. Don't miss the atmosphere and constant pressure at IBM and their asinine bureaucracy, still have to deal with it on IBM calls but my mgr has to deal with the IBM desk jockeys and their complaints. -Anonymous-

Vault Message Board Posts
Vault's IBM Business Consulting Services message board is a popular hangout for IBM BCS employees, including many employees acquired from PwC. Some sample posts follow:
  • "Bonus" by "SouthRoute55". Full excerpt: mltman, Someone else have asked about this already, but do you intend to hand in your resignation at this time of the year? and how would that affect your bonus? am asking because I also have had a good offer from another company, but would like to hang on for a while so that I get the bonus - does anyone know when is the right time to hand in a resignation? is early /mid Jan when I get my PBC rating, or should I wait till mid/end of Feb??
  • "Wait for it..." by "OhTheHumanity". Full excerpt: To receive your bonus, you must be "active" on payroll on the date the bonus is PAID. If you leave before you receive that check, no bonus. You could be hopeful and give notice two weeks before the expected bonus pay date - and then hope the bonus pay date does not change as it has once or twice in the past. Safe bet is - bonus in hand, then resignation in manager's hand.
    Alternatively, tell your new employer that you would love to come earlier but your bonus of $x does not pay until (date) and would they a) wait or b) consider an equivalent hiring bonus.
    It's just business. Be smart. And finally, as a 5 year IBM, former PwC, 20 years in industry before that worker...the grass isn't always greener these days. I have seen people leave for the 10% or even 20% bump and then get let go when the project du jour ends. Get real - consulting is white collar prostitution. You have what somebody is willing to pay for. When they have all they want, you are back on the street. It's just business. If you don't like it, find a cushy corporate job and then hope you don't get outsourced...
    Not trying to be nasty, just introducing some pragmatism. It's just business.
  • "can't wait" by "SouthRoute55". Excerpts: Thanks for the reply OhTheHumanity, the bonuses in the UK do not get paid till end of Feb / early March, I can't wait that long, as I am leaving to be an independent consultant, I already got my first client and need to start soon, so am hoping they?ll release me soon (if they didn't I will suddenly develop some kind of illness or have some kind of family circumstances that will prevent me from being around - btw am on the bench at the moment finished my prev project by Xmas and deliberately did not apply for a new proj).
    As am ditching my pimp :-)) I should be able to make the equivalent of my bonus within a week.
  • "PBC" by "SouthRoute55". Excerpts: I had a PBC review last week my manager really pi$$ed me off, he was really attacking me, all my results were (1's &2's i.e. exceeded expectation and outstanding) but he still gave me a very hard time, I was really annoyed with his stupid questions: What did you do to increase IBM revenue generation (FFS they charge a fortune for me every day) Why is utilisation so high?? (Cuz, I didn't take any hols this year !!) Is my give backs good enough (I do graduate selection, review CVs, participate in all the women in blue meetings, publish a newsletter as givebacks .. and he still want more??? When am I supposed to do my job if I do any more give backs !!
    Then he summed it up by saying we have to compare your results to everyone who is your grade and see if you are worth these ratings .. that really annoyed me and I just snapped I just told him exactly what I thought of this PBC process (not a good thing I know but as I am leaving I didn't care)!!
    I thought having excellent client feedback and high recommendations from my colleagues I should sail this review, stupidly enough I was even hoping for a pat on the back, or a little thank you for my efforts, but all he manage to do is make me feel very small- insignificant and not good enough !!
  • "4th Quarter cost cutting measures extended" by "IGS_Consultant". Full excerpt: GBS has extended its fourth quarter expense restrictions indefinitely. These restrictions include a ban on all travel unless a client foots the bill, plus no reimbursement for miscellaneous expenses such as paper, inkjet printer ink, and the like. The beginning of the year, of course, also sees a permanent end to the reimbursement of home broadband expenses or cell-phone based network access for employees who are customer facing.
    How does IBM rationalize this imposition of expenses on its employees in light of all the positive news it's been feeding the press, and with the recent run up in the stock price. Can't Wall Street see that the emperor has no clothes?
  • "Think like a bean counter" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: IBM is run by bean counters who can only justify their existence by cutting costs.
    Here is the classic way to manage a business:
    • Staff performance generates profits
    • Profits generates reward
    • Reward generates staff performance
    • Rinse and repeat.
    You can jump in at any point in the cycle, and it still works. That is the beauty of a closed loop system.
    Here is the IBM business model:
    • Promise reward to staff
    • Expectation of reward generates profits
    • Profits further enhanced by cutting of costs and benefits
    • Profits temporarily move stock price
    • Turnover staff
    • Ratchet down and repeat
    That is how they rationalize cutting costs when the stock price is moving up.
    As far as the Wall Street view, see my post in the “Differing views of the IBM world thread. The bigger the company, the more “currency” and weight they have to influence the analysts. IBM also gets a disproportionate bounce when the market is going up, as it has the last few quarters, since people and funds tend to buy IBM in order to buy the “market”.


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