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    Highlights—February 24, 2007

  • MS-NBC: IBM could face class action over OT. By Todd Wallack. Excerpts: A former IBM Corp. salesman from Framingham claims the tech giant failed to pay overtime to sales representatives across the country in violation of federal law.
    In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, Marc Barowsky says he and many other sales representatives around the country were paid a base salary and commission to sell maintenance plans for IBM computers over the past three years. IBM is one of the Bay State's largest employers, with roughly 6,000 employees.
    Barowsky argues that he and the other employees routinely worked more than 40 hours per work and deserved to be paid overtime for the extra hours.
    The lawsuit alleges that an IBM executive admitted as much last year. According to the complaint, IBM's vice president of software, Karen Donnally, told Barowsky and other salespeople last June that IBM had "misclassified their position as exempt from overtime and that they were entitled to overtime." The suit claims Donnally also told workers they needed approval to work overtime and that there was no budget to pay them overtime.
  • Channel Register: IBM preps UK job cuts. By Mark Ballard. Excerpts: IBM is expected to announce redundancies in at the UK arm of its service delivery business, Integrated Technology Delivery. The firm refused to comment this afternoon. A spokesman said: "IBM is constantly rebalancing its workforce to meet evolving client needs."
  • InformationWeek: Indian Outsourcers Target U.S. Defense Contracts. By Paul McDougall. Excerpts: The controversy over outsourcing U.S. technology and back-office jobs to India has been fairly heated. But that may pale in comparison with what's surely coming, given what some major Indian service providers are now chasing. According to Monday's edition of the Indian daily Business Line, Tata Consultancy Services is in talks with Boeing and Lockheed Martin for pieces of the defense and aerospace contracts held by those companies. Related to that, the paper says TCS is set to increase the headcount in its aerospace engineering vertical at a clip of about 50% to 60% per year. [...]
    The controversy over outsourcing U.S. technology and back-office jobs to India has been fairly heated. But that may pale in comparison with what's surely coming, given what some major Indian service providers are now chasing. According to Monday's edition of the Indian daily Business Line, Tata Consultancy Services is in talks with Boeing and Lockheed Martin for pieces of the defense and aerospace contracts held by those companies. Related to that, the paper says TCS is set to increase the headcount in its aerospace engineering vertical at a clip of about 50% to 60% per year.
  • USA Today: Pension gap divides public and private workers. By Dennis Cauchon. Excerpts: As the first wave of 79 million baby boomers heads to retirement, the nation is dividing into two classes of workers: those who have government benefits and those who don't. The gap is accelerating in every way — pensions, medical benefits, retirement ages.
    Retired government workers are twice as likely to get a pension as their counterparts in the private sector, and the typical benefit is far more generous. The nation's 6 million retired civil servants — teachers, police, administrators, laborers — received a median benefit of $17,640 in 2005, according to the Congressional Research Service. Eleven million private-sector retirees covered by traditional pensions got $7,692. [...]
    Contrary to a widely held notion, the extra government benefits aren't compensation for lower pay. Most government workers are paid more than private employees in similar jobs, and the wage gap is growing.
    A typical full-time state or local government worker made $78,853 in wages and benefits in the third quarter of 2006, $25,771 more than a typical private-sector worker, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. The difference was $7,604 in 2000. The compensation advantage holds true for all types of public workers, from teachers to laborers and managers. Better benefits for government workers is the biggest reason for the growing compensation gap.
  • Corvallis Gazette-Times: HP cuts costs with changes in retirement benefits for many employees; early-retirement offer issued again. By Nicole C. Wong. Excerpts: Hewlett-Packard this week announced three initiatives to reduce workforce costs even as it reported strong growth in revenue and profit because of brisk holiday sales of consumer products such as laptops and photo printers. [...]
    The company will no longer contribute to U.S. employees’ defined-benefit pension plan — a freeze that already hit most U.S. workers in July 2005. The freeze is now being extended to the rest of the company’s U.S. workforce. Instead, HP will increase its 401(k) match from 4 percent to 6 percent.
    Similarly, HP further narrowed the pool of workers eligible for its subsidized retirement medical program to employees who by May 31 are within five years of qualifying, which requires retirees to be at least age 55 and have worked at least 15 years at HP. The company already stopped offering this benefit to most U.S. employees. In the future, employees will be eligible for a retiree medical program in which retirees pay the full costs of coverage but can use their Retirement Medical Savings Account to help pay premium costs.
  • Pension Rights Center: Companies That Have Changed Their Defined Benefit Pension Plans. Excerpt: Below is a list of employers that have announced significant changes to their defined benefit pension plans since December 2005. Changes include plan terminations, plan freezes for new and/or current employees, and changes to the formula by which pension benefits are calculated. For specifics, click on the employer's name to see the company's press release, SEC filing or news story announcing the change.
  • Wall Street Journal: The Upside of Aging. New research finds some brain functions actually improve with age. Our reporter on delayed retirement and how to stay sharp. By Sharon Begley. Excerpts: An emerging body of research shows that a surprising array of mental functions hold up well into old age, while others actually get better. Vocabulary improves, as do other verbal abilities such as facility with synonyms and antonyms. Older brains are packed with more so-called expert knowledge -- information relevant to your occupation or hobby. (Older bridge enthusiasts have at their mental beck-and-call many more bids and responses.) They also store more "cognitive templates," or mental outlines of generic problems and solutions that can be tapped when confronting new problems. [...]
    One of the most robust cognitive abilities is semantic memory, which is recollection of facts and figures. "Semantic memory is relatively resistant to the effects of aging," says psychology professor Arthur Kramer of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Semantic memory includes vocabulary, which increases with age so reliably (at least in people who continue reading) that a younger person should never challenge a sharp 75-year-old to a crossword puzzle. [...]
    The longevity of expert knowledge and cognitive templates lies behind the finding that air-traffic controllers in their 60s are at least as skilled as those in their 30s. When Prof. Kramer of Illinois and a colleague at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology gave older controllers standard lab tests for reaction speed, memory, attention and the like, they found the usual: Performance declined compared with that of 30-somethings.
    But on more fast-paced, complex -- and hence realistic -- tests in which they juggled multiple airliners and handled emergencies, the senior controllers did as well as or better than the young ones. They kept simulated planes safely away from each other, and when they ordered planes to change their altitude, heading or speed to avoid a collision, they used fewer commands than younger ones. It was as if their experience had equipped them with the most efficient algorithm for keeping the planes safely spaced. [...]
    While younger brains solve problems step-by-step, older brains call on cognitive templates, those generic outlines of a problem and a solution that worked before. It's the feeling you get when you see that a new situation or problem belongs to a class of situations or problems you have encountered before, with the result that you don't have to attack them methodically. Yes, older people forget little things, and may have occasional attention lapses, but their cognitive templates are so rich that they more than hold their own. Their brains can keep up even with a diminished supply of blood and oxygen. [...]
    The benefits that come to the mind and brain with age extend beyond thinking. They also include a greater ability to put yourself in another person's mind, empathizing and understanding his thought processes -- emotional wisdom. Civil engineer Samuel Florman, 81, remains active in his Scarsdale, N.Y., construction company and says that as he has grown older, he "has gotten better with people, more understanding of young people and more patient with aggressive ones. I'm more savvy about when to rush and when not to."
  • The Project on Global Working Families: The Work, Family, and Equity Index. How Does the United States Measure Up? [PDF]. Excerpt: When it comes to ensuring decent working conditions for families, the latest research shows many U.S. public policies still lag dramatically behind all high-income countries, as well as many middle- and low-income countries. This report is based on updated and expanded research used in the first Work, Family, and Equity Index: Where Does the United States Stand Globally?, released in 2004.
  • Wall Street Journal: 'It Says Press Any Key. Where's the Any Key?' India's Call-Center Workers Get Pounded, Pampered. By Jared Sandberg. Excerpts: When there is hell to pay, Mitul Pandey is part of the team that pays it. On the graveyard shift here at Wipro, one of India's larger customer-service outsourcing firms, Ms. Pandey, 22 years old, is a specialist on the escalation team. The group deals with the angriest customers of a U.S. computer maker when their problems remain unresolved after many phone calls.
    On her computer screen, she reviews the log of an exchange with a frequent caller from Mt. Pleasant, Pa., whose memory-card reader is still broken: "I wish to not have anyone from India or any foreign country or anyone with an Indian accent or foreign accent continue handling my case," he told her. Calling him back is tougher than, say, coping with the woman who, instructed by her computer to "press any key to continue," was upset that her keyboard didn't have an "any" key. Because Ms. Pandey doesn't have an American accent, he rebuffs her help. When she and her manager later call him back, they only reach his answering machine and leave a message offering to conference in an American specialist.
  • Yahoo! message board post by "sby_willie". Full excerpt: "IBM IS CONSTANTLY REBALANCING ITS WORKFORCE TO MEET EVOLVING CLIENT NEEDS" What it really means is "IBM is systematically terminating its experienced employees to maximize its profits"
    This "rebalancing" (it's at least a layoff, actually it's terminations) has NOTHING to do with meeting evolving client needs!!! IBM is always in REACT MODE trying to meet client demands: they are great at throwing human bodies at a client hoping the contract can be fulfilled (especially if a problem develops with the contract) instead of knowing what the client really needs before the contract is signed. This also shows IBM does a lousy job of assessing present and future client needs if it has to do these continuous "rebalancings" as an integral business practice.
    It has all to do with replacing experienced employees with cheap and inexperienced employees if IBM chooses in fact to hire replacements for the experienced fired workers.
    Don't believe this wordspeak from IBM. It's all spin: it's all false propaganda.
    If we can get our union we can do a much better job of satisfying our customers and we can do it without these continuous and mass "rebalancings" of employees. We will do it by making sure IBM agrees to INVESTING in TRAINING, re-TRAINING, and EDUCATION of every employee to continuously grow SKILLS in each and every employee! It's no secret IBM is always cutting or restraining it's education budget. If the employee is "IBM's most prized asset" why aren't they willing to invest in the education of the employee so they can really wow the client with delivery?
  • BusinessWeek: Outsourcing's Uneven Impact. A new study says sending jobs overseas hits some areas of the U.S. much harder than others. By Peter Elstrom. Excerpts: The mere mention of outsourcing and its impact on the U.S. is enough to elicit strong emotions on either side of the issue. Proponents argue that relocating low-skill service jobs, like those in customer service or data entry, to foreign shores is necessary to ensure the productivity and competitiveness of the U.S. economy. Detractors say American companies are betraying their own workers and destroying the middle class, all in the name of the almighty dollar.
    Where might job losses be the heaviest? At the top of the ranking are San Francisco; San Jose, Calif.; Boulder, Colo.; Lowell, Mass.; and Stamford, Conn. The five cities are expected to lose between 3.1% and 4.3% of their jobs to outsourcing between 2004 and 2015. The next tier of metro areas is forecast to lose 2.6% to 3.0% of their jobs. It includes Boston, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, Seattle, and Washington (see the slide show for more details on individual cities).
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • New York Times: The Health Care Racket. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: Is the health insurance business a racket? Yes, literally — or so say two New York hospitals, which have filed a racketeering lawsuit against UnitedHealth Group and several of its affiliates.
    I don’t know how the case will turn out. But whatever happens in court, the lawsuit illustrates perfectly the dysfunctional nature of our health insurance system, a system in which resources that could have been used to pay for medical care are instead wasted in a zero-sum struggle over who ends up with the bill.
    The two hospitals accuse UnitedHealth of operating a “rogue business plan” designed to avoid paying clients’ medical bills. For example, the suit alleges that patients were falsely told that Flushing Hospital was “not a network provider” so UnitedHealth did not pay the full network rate. UnitedHealth has already settled charges of misleading clients about providers’ status brought by New York’s attorney general: the company paid restitution to plan members, while attributing the problem to computer errors.
    The legal outcome will presumably turn on whether there was deception as well as denial — on whether it can be proved that UnitedHealth deliberately misled plan members. But it’s a fact that insurers spend a lot of money looking for ways to reject insurance claims. And health care providers, in turn, spend billions on “denial management,” employing specialist firms — including Ingenix, a subsidiary of, yes, UnitedHealth — to fight the insurers.
    So it’s an arms race between insurers, who deploy software and manpower trying to find claims they can reject, and doctors and hospitals, who deploy their own forces in an effort to outsmart or challenge the insurers. And the cost of this arms race ends up being borne by the public, in the form of higher health care prices and higher insurance premiums. [...]
    To put these numbers in perspective: McKinsey estimates the cost of providing full medical care to all of America’s uninsured at $77 billion a year. Either eliminating the excess administrative costs of private health insurers, or paying what the rest of the world pays for drugs and medical devices, would by itself more or less pay the cost of covering all the uninsured. And that doesn’t count the many other costs imposed by the fragmentation of our health care system
  • New York Times: Some Employers Are Offering Free Drugs. By Milt Freudenheim. Excerpts: For years, employers have been pushing their workers to pay more for health care, raising premiums and out-of-pocket medical expenses in an effort to save money for the company and force workers to seek only the most necessary care.
    Now some employers are reversing course, convinced that their pennywise approach does not always reduce long-term costs. In the most radical of various moves, a number of employers are now giving away drugs to help workers manage chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and depression.
  • Washington Post: Bush, in Talk-Show Manner, Promotes His Health Plan. By Sheryl Gay Stolberg. Excerpts: Mr. Bush held forth for nearly an hour, cracking jokes about everything from the age of one of the participants — “You don’t look a day over 34,” he said after learning that she was 35 — to “the hair follicle benefit,” a wry reference to what he views as luxury health plans. The participants had been carefully selected, the tone was confessional, and the president, describing himself as the “educator in chief,” sounded more like talk-show host in chief.
  • New York Times: Hospitals Outline Plan for Health Care for All Americans. By Milt Freudenheim. Excerpts: Joining the national debate over the 47 million people without health insurance, a group of the nation’s largest for-profit hospital chains plan to propose on Thursday that individuals be required to have basic health coverage. The proposal, which the hospital group hopes might eventually find its way into federal legislation, would require individuals to take coverage through employers, when health benefits are offered; purchase it on their own, or if they are eligible, to receive it through existing government programs.
  • New York Times: Health Care Spending Seen Doubling in 10 Years. Excerpt: Despite relative stability in recent years, nearly 20 cents of every dollar spent in 10 years will go toward health care, National Health Statistics Group economists said in their projections looking at 2006 to 2016.
  • Wall Street Journal: Government Pays Growing Share Of Health Costs. By Jane Zhang and Vanessa Fuhrmans. Excerpts: As pressure grows for the government to pick up more of the nation's health-care tab, new data show its contribution is already at 45% and is expected to approach 50% within 10 years.
    The government's widening role in financing health care stems from the recent expansion of Medicare to include prescription drugs, the growth of relatively new initiatives like the State Children's Health Insurance Program, increased spending by enrollees in programs like Medicaid -- which covers many of the sickest patients -- and cutbacks in employer-sponsored health coverage. [...]
    "We are moving incrementally away from traditional sources of insurance, such as employer-based coverage, to a system comprising more federal and state government-provided health care," said the study's authors, who work for the agency that runs Medicare, the federal health program for the elderly and disabled. Their projections are being published today in the journal Health Affairs.
  • The San Francisco Chronicle, courtesy of The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights: Beware what the medical-industrial complex loves. By Jamie Court & Judy Dugan. Excerpts: A strange thing happened on the way to health-care security -- the goal of universal health care morphed into the cause of mandatory health insurance purchases.
    Nowhere is the change so dramatic as in California, where Democratic Senate leader Don Perata, D-Oakland, has adopted Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to require Californians to buy insurance, regardless of its cost and without premium regulation.
    The "shared burden" proposals of both Schwarzenegger and Perata would require Californians who don't have health insurance through an employer or incomes low enough to qualify for government subsidies to buy it on the open market, or face punishment at tax time. Yet the yearly income cutoff for a subsidy would be $52,000 to $60,000 for a family of four, and the average annual cost of market-rate insurance for that family today is about $11,000, not counting co-pays and deductibles. Mom could take a night job, but there's no other way to squeeze almost an extra $1,000 a month from an already tight family budget.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site:

  • From the Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comments 2/18/07: I got the axe in Nov (East Fishkill). I looked and interviewed a lot, and was finally able to find work in a different region of the US doing the same thing for 15% more for a small company. The main thing I would say is that life outside of IBM is infinitely better. I am working harder than I ever did at IBM and the job is pretty intense and even stressful, but not because of idiotic/clueless managers and the constant threat of being laid off. Now it is for real reasons: deadlines, technical problems, real business needs.
      My work is now recognized and appreciated. I feel like part of a real team. My manager is intimately involved in the technical aspects of the project and does "real work". I wake up every day and want to get to work. I come home and want to work some more from home after the kids go to bed. I enjoy my job, my life. I feel productive and competent again, just like I did at one point (pre-2000) at IBM.
      IBM has simply lost its way and is now run by utterly incompetent and clue-disabled managers. Management is completely out of touch with reality. Your PBC ratings very simply have *no* correlation above randomness with reality. My only advice to anyone still there who is unhappy in their job or feels insecure is to get out now. The transition is difficult (moving sucks) and it is tough being the new guy again, but god, does it feel good to be out of that hellhole.
      I wish you all the very best. I feel deeply for all the good people which this company is chewing up and spitting out, and can only hope that you all find some way out of there. Make your own destiny, start looking now.
    • Comments 2/20/07: Another layoff? What a shocker (not). In my 10 years with IBM, most of those in management, there was some sort of RA every year. What I found when I started looking outside was multiple offers and landed with a near 20% salary increase. There's a lot of Baby Boomers retiring now and the demand for experienced IT professionals is getting stronger. All those years of IBM's "market competitive" 1-2% salary increases gets you further behind the salary curve folks. There's a much better life outside of IBM, so either go out and find a new job, or quit complaining. -Outta there-
    • Comments 2/21/07: ITD in the UK today announced a voluntary separation program running - expressions of interest can be made up to 9 March. Details of terms of offer to follow later. -Anonymous-
    • Comments 2/22/07: Two contractors at our site were let go this week. IBM sent termination lists to their respective agencies. Less people to do the work now. The client will suffer because we won't kill ourselves. We know that IBM does not care. -Anonymous-
    • Comments 2/22/07: To "RTP GUY" 2 Contractors from my team in Southbury and 2 in Poughkeepsie from 2/2 to 2/22. Since we only have 1 contractor left I suppose the IBM'ers will start getting let go even though there are not enough people to possibly do the work at this point. The manager told us they just don't care anymore if we get the work done or not. Typical IBM Management thinking. -constantlayoffs-
  • From the General Visitor's Comment page:
    • Comment 02/18/07: "Management at IBM would rather sink the ship than know that there was a hole in the boat and it needs to be fixed. " This is so true! I work in the ASTC in East Fishkill and my management doesn't want to hear about problems. I'm afraid to speak up on problems for fear of losing my job. Screw doing the right thing. I'll end up like this poor guy who fixed the software code. I'm going to play the game and keep my mouth shut to keep my job. I've come to the conclusion that a Union would provide a check and balance in IBM. Creating a Union doesn't mean an uncompetitive IBM. It means a fair and balanced IBM for the employees. I'm joining the Alliance to show my support for a Union. -CountMeIn-
    • Comment 02/22/07: Jim Cramer on CNBC's Mad Money Thursday called for Palmisano to resign immediately and rates the company a big fat sell. -SammyInSellBlock-
    • Comment 02/23/07: Thursday, February 22 Cramer Bearish On International Business Machines Corporation On tonight's Sell Block segment Jim expressed that he is bearish on International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) as long as CEO Samuel Palmisano is running the show. IBM is part of a group of stocks that Jim thinks would move higher if their CEO's would retire. Jim has put Palmisano on his CEO Wall of Shame. He wants people to stay away from this stock until Palmisano leaves IBM. Jim bashed IBM saying since Palmisano has became CEO in 2002 the stock has gone from $103.02 to $98.50 and is now just getting back to a bit under $100. Compared to the S&P 500 since 2002 IBM is underperforming the average market index i.e. the S&P 500 Index. Jim also sees decelerating growth at IBM which is just one more reason that Palmisano isn't doing his job and this stock should be avoided. -IBMbadForMyFamily-
  • Pension Comments page
    • Comment 02/21/07: As a result of the Cooper vs IBM pension trial, don't employees with the cash balance pension plan get a one time payment to their account? Does anybody know when and approximately how much? -Anonymous-
      Janet Krueger replies: Active employees will not receive their share of the Cooper settlement until they leave the company. When they receive their retirement selection package after they leave the company, it will include a new set of options for how they want to receive their share of the Cooper settlement; they will be able to receive it as a lump sum or as a monthly pension amount. The size of their share will be dependent on their age, years of service, and average annual salary. Beginning at the end of April, if they go to NetBenefits to request an estimate of their pension benefits, the site will also give them an estimate of what their share of the Cooper settlement will be.
    • Comment 02/23/07: Part of the reason why IBM was successful in bygone years was that employees were treated with respect. They then worked very hard because they were motivated properly. Now all the motivation (little that there is) comes from external forces such as $$$. Many people I know have stopped voluntarily giving of their time on weekends and nights because there is no point anymore, it makes you feel stupid to give so much and get so demotivated in other ways on a daily basis. Those who are still standing have given up. The ones who are new to IBM do not know enough yet, they will as they get older. As long as people are treated as disposable and replaceable assets, the organization continues to weaken. Customers be aware you are paying big bucks and getting shoddy work. -cramerisright-
  • Raise and Salary Comments
    • Comment 02/18/07: I can understand why band 1-5 might not want to post. I can empathize with them since I was once a level 03 trainee in 1984 so I know the lousy hourly salaries IBM gives: even back then they stunk (college coops were making $2 an hour more than myself who was making a little over $8 an hour as a college grad) but at least you had paid medical benefits, a promised pension, O/T inconvenience meal pay, real shift differential pay, etc. and also had something offered that IBM used to believe in: a career. If bands 1-5 post I'm sure most folks who will read your post will consider you just a person that IBM pays low. Except for bands 10, D,C,B,A, AA it seems all the other bands have folks not paid equitably. I reckon it is more the norm now than the exception. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 02/18/07: Salary = 55,000.00; Band Level = 3; Job Title = Deskside Support; Years Service = 8; Hours/Week = 40; Location = FL; Message = Use to be band 6, we went through 2 rebandings 4 and now a 3, never a cut in pay. Now the big brains on top have decided to do away with deskside across the US. All going to India -Anonymous-
    • Comment 02/19/07: Salary = 110k; Band Level = 7; Job Title = Senior Consultant; Years Service = 1; Hours/Week = 45-50; Div Name = 5; Message = -Anonymous-
    • Comment 02/21/07: Although I am generally happy with IBM after many years, I am dismayed by zero increase for all sales plan employees. Even if you qualified for the 3% at midyear, it still doesn\'t compound year to year which is how your base grows over time. Not only do they save the 3% this year but for every year afterwards. I also don\'t understand why it targets sales only...kind of puts us at a disadvantage to straight salary folks. And of course, we lost the variable pay a couple years back. -nomoremoney-
    • Comment 02/22/07: Salary = us200; Band Level = c5; Job Title = hro; Years Service = 2; Hours/Week = 40; Location = zim; Message = need information for research purposes -dorothy-
    • Comment 02/22/07: wow - good for you - 110K with a year's service -obviously not the 1 year employee-
  • PBC Comments
    • Comment 02/18/07: Prior Yr PBC = higher; This Yr PBC = lower; IBM's statement about PBC's: "The cornerstone of how IBM manages performance is trust and personal responsibility. At IBM, there is no forced distribution of ratings. Under the PBC program, employees can trust that the ratings they receive are an accurate reflection of their contributions for the year, compared to their peer group. There should be no pressure - financial or otherwise - on first-line managers to identify a certain percentage of employees to receive one rating or another."
      If this is the TRUTH then how come there is clearly more PBC "2" employees who were PBC "2+" in previous years?
      We hear that the IBM stock price is up, our business is fundamentally strong and our earnings and growth are real solid but the year end IBM 2006 Scorecard reports that most business units were rated improvement is needed. Something does jive here.
      So that sure seems like some pressure to justify for giving lowering PBC ratings.
      There "..should be no pressure.." is saying there COULD be pressure which I believe is the case this year. -sby_willie-
    • Comment 02/19/07: Prior Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr PBC = 2; Message = It was a joke - the reasons for my 2 instead of 2+ were that I didn't do enough for my manager but did too much for my customers/clients.??? -gr8asst-
    • Comment 02/19/07: Prior Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr PBC = 2; Message = Although my last year's PBC was higher, my manager wrote such negative statements on my review that I left the office feeling totally "slimed". When I spoke to the second line about the comments, I was told that with a 2+, there should have been no derogatory comments at all. The excuse my first line gave me for the nasty remarks was that "everyone can improve". Thus, because I brought this to a higher level, my immediate manager did not speak to me for one year. So you can say I won the war and lost the battle. For that entire year, I was never acknowledged by this manager for any awards or contributions to the organization as I became totally invisible. There was also a subtle shift in attitudes by my friends and a definitely feeling of isolation...in retrospect, the demotivation and emotional suffering; because I spoke up was definitely not worth it. This year I received my lower rating but thank god no nasty comments; I just kept quiet thankful that I had not been again humiliated. It is unbelievable that some managers can get away with this type of guerrilla warfare. You can certainly fight but do not be surprised if you are ostracized or back-stabbed by your peers....sort of like kicking a guy when he is down. If you want to fight...stay strong and positive and understand that you will be lonely and ultimately blamed for the predicament you are in. Also, be ready to leave but it is better than the psychological damage of these crazy people. -Damaged-
    • Comment 02/20/07: I just read the managed out presentation and found the following subtitle on the ESI Trends page, "The Global Pulse Survey ESI is stable, except for Southwest Europe were significant progress was achieve". Kind of ironic that the Senior VP of Human Resources gives a major presentation on performance and does such a lousy job of proofreading the material. I don't know but this seems like poor performance to me. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 02/20/07: Prior Yr PBC = ?; This Yr PBC = ?; Message = The difference is bonus payout between a PBC "2+" and a PBC "2" will be miniscule. The bonus pay this year, for most LOB's, divisions; or whatever you want to call this IBM organization mess, is a plain sad joke. It will be lower than last year or the year before!! But you can be assured that Sam and his boys will be richly rewarded for solid and strong business results...and you'll get basically a slap in the face. -it_don't_mean_a_thing-
    • Comment 02/21/07: To Damaged: I really identify with your post. The same thing happened to me. IBM management has a very evil way to ignore and isolate you and make you fail. It is a mind controlling technique. There is no excuse for this abusive management behavior. It starts at the top with the moron Sammy Palmacrapo (pronounced Palm-A- Crapo). I sincerely believe that IBM will fail with this so called"leadership".. and I use that term loosely. Sammy Palmacrapo and leadership is an oxymoron and Sammy is a moron. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 02/21/07: Your first mistake was that you did too much for your customers and clients. In the future, you should only care about how to please your manager. Then you will get a 1 PBC rating. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 02/22/07: I read all the postings in this section and came away with a couple of thoughts. First, PBC's mean nothing. Second, the majority of people realize that this is just a tool to intimidate people and usher them to the door (if your seniored in the corporation). I'm not sure if this is the way it is all over but where I work it seems like all the managers are extremely young. Did you ever wonder why? Let me tell you. At the end of WWII Hitler organized the youths into his Youth movement and they were some of the most fanatical of all the german fighters. They would do whatever Hitler commanded, right or wrong. Get the picture? Our "Youth" managers are so eager to climb the corporate ladder that they will stoop lower than imaginable to do what their superiors want. All in the name of what they perceive to be the best interest of the corporation. Hogwash! There needs to be someway that we can get one of these kids and prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law. -Anonymous-

Modern-Day Robber Baron Corner
Today's highly compensated executives face many difficulties, including figuring out how they can possibly spend all of the rich rewards they've earned on the backs of ordinary workers. Take a look at the insider trading of many of our IBM executives—spending the cash from all that stock "acquired at $0 per share" must be a real challenge! Or, imagine the difficulty IBM CEO Sam Palmisano will face spending his $10,000 to $20,000 a day pension when he retires!
As a way of helping out our beleaguered, modern-day robber barons this site will periodically feature "spending opportunities" that the "upper crust" of our society may want to take advantage of!
  • Wall Street Journal: One 'World's Biggest Jet,' Please. Airbus to Sell Giant A380 To a VIP Customer; $300 Million, Interior Extra. By Robert Frank and Daniel Michaels. Excerpts: The super rich are launching the next wave in air travel: the wide-body private jet. With some 10,000 private jets flying in the U.S., a few billionaires are signing up for something roomier -- jumbo jets that can be outfitted as mobile mansions. Boeing says it has taken orders for 11 wide-bodies -- planes typically configured with two aisles, such as the 747 series or the new 787 Dreamliner -- over the past two years for "VIP use." The price of a Dreamliner, interior not included, is about $150 million.
    Now an individual customer is raising the bar, signing up for the largest passenger plane in history. European jet builder Airbus has signed a letter of intent with a Middle East buyer for one of its new A380s, which sell for about $300 million, according to John Leahy, Airbus's chief commercial officer for customers. Commercial versions of this plane can be configured to seat as many as 853 passengers on two decks. But this buyer, whom Airbus declined to identify, will spend an additional $100 million to turn the craft into a more exclusive conveyance Airbus calls The Flying Palace. [...]
    Perhaps the biggest problem with the biggest private jets: They're too big to land at many of the world's high-end jet ports, including Nice, France; Aspen, Colo.; and New Jersey's Teterboro. Many facilities have runways too short for the huge planes, or lack the ground equipment to handle them. Teterboro blocks any planes heavier than 100,000 pounds, about one-third the weight of the A380. And Aspen is limited to planes with wingspans of 95 feet, a fraction of the A380's 350-foot spread. That means owners of big jets have to pick their spots. Asked whether an A380 could try to fly into Aspen, Airbus's Mr. Leahy responded: "Only once."
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. A sample post follows:
  • "Got an offer from IBM BCS Today" by "GhurkaGhurkaGhurka". Full excerpt: Hmm.. having read through the boards, all the way to message 500 or so, I'd thought I'd post.
    I'm graduating from a major university. I walked into an interview with IBM BCS last week. Took about fifteen minutes, said "we'll send you an offer basically because you are awesome and your resume is great."
    So I got my offer a couple days later. Really good salary, in the mid 60s, for someone with no work experience. They're paying me a whole lot more than the other kids I'm graduating with that are working for BCS.
    No start date, as I see is typical here. No starting location. But it is public sector, so I assume D.C. I suppose I shall call the recruiter tomorrow and grill her.
    So this is where you tell me to run away screaming. Or, maybe, tell me if I can negotiate salary because D.C. is expensive.
    Are other IBM divisions as bad as you say this one is? I had a similar experience with Technical Sales, they immediately took a liking to me but the process is much more complicated than what I just "went through" (very relative) to get "hired" by BCS.
  • "Well, they certainly know how to sell" by "civilliberty". Full excerpt: If there is one thing about IBM they know how to pitch a good line, but I never thought they would go so over the top with a candidate as they have done with you - they must indeed be desperate (no reflection on you).
    From what others on here are saying IBM is struggling with man-power (I'm ex-IBM so I'm not as much on touch with that aspect )so have to work harder to get people.
    60K sounds good if you are starting out, but you really should take a good hard long look at the posts here before you jump in (look in particular at 'consultgal's' post under the negativity topic), because what you are pitched is likely to very different to what you experience.
    My own experience matches very closely what others here post, namely:
    1. An unfair appraisal system (PBC)
    2. Regular lies about compensation
    3. A system that deliberately inhibits your progress within the company rather than aids it.
    4. A bloated bureaucracy that stands in the way of more intelligent solution design and the compensation that should ensue from 'working smarter, not harder'.
    Your progress in the company is closely tied into your popularity with your immediate management regardless of how well you do your job. You basically have to network (euphemism for 'sucking up') to get somewhere - a good job is not nearly enough to progress.
    If you are technical you will ultimately face competition from IBM's burgeoning collection of world-wide off-shore resources for a dwindling source of funds from the salary pool. I'm convinced these days that IBM be-grudgingly employ technicians as they cost them so much more than off-shore resources - so that will limit your prospects.
    As others have posted here, the company is basically a technology company though it works hard at branding itself as a one-stop shop that offers consulting services. I worked as a consultant and my experience corroborates that. So you need to ask yourself if you want to work as a low-paid technician without a skill-set that will carry you forward in your career - because that is the real concern in joining IBM.
  • "Interesting" by "GhurkaGhurkaGhurka". Full excerpt: Interesting. The interview was with two people very high up in the practice. No HR BS, no asking me what color I best represented. Everyone I talked to from IBM, all three divisions I talked to last week, were very, very transparent and honest-seeming. GBS was very forward about the job and actually described it with accuracy given what I have read here.
    This is what they told me:
    1. First assignment is luck of the draw. You might get stuck doing spreadsheets for a project manager.
    2. People don't take the tools to advance their careers seriously and just write "i made a difference" and hand it in.
    3. There is a lot of disillusionment. The job is good for people that can network and who are pushers and not for people who need coddling. People don't take advantage of networking opportunities with managers.
    and so on..
    They told me all of this straight up during the interview and were able to answer *any* question I had not with an HR answer but with an honest one.
    I have no problem with politics, "networking", taking my managers out to nice restaurants every night, etc.
    I do appreciate this message board and its negativity. It has given me another perspective, at least that of a maximum .42% of the GBS workforce.
  • "Take it; you can always quit" by "no_ky". Full excerpt: You might fit in the group. No idea what you are talking about, but quoting statistics on the topic. Unless you are already employed as a "mole" you wouldn't have access to these numbers. You may be in India already, based on your id, Ghurka, but I doubt it.
    **** But I would WANT a start date in my employment offer or they may just put you into a waiting group and may NEVER get back to you. Without a contracted START date in the very near time period, like the start of next month, I would want a substantial SIGNING BONUS and a expiration, with NO RETURN of the SIGNING BONUS of 60 days maximum. That way it will be a BONUS and NOT A BONU (pronounced BONE U ).
  • "Hmm" by "GhurkaGhurkaGhurka". Full excerpt: Ah, that is some good advice. Yes, I have to call my recruiter and "discuss" the start date. I'm actually upset over the lack of a date, so we'll see where that gets me.
    I just made something up completely for my username. I am in the U.S. As for those "numbers" I simply calculated, that there's about 20 regular posters here, and Dose of Reality says "hundreds" of people that have come back to say they should have heeded his advice. So, if we say 200 disgruntled employees total, out of 47,000 employed by GBS who don't choose to post here for whatever reason, then you get my percentage. Very simple, no inside information whatsoever.
  • "Compelling IBM offer,a Dose pof practicality needed" by "XCapper_Bg4hter". Full excerpt: Just got an offer from IBM , also have one from HP and ACN , all in the SAP area. IBM seems to be pursuing me the most, looks like they have a project waiting for me so they're offering me slightly more than ACN. IBM 102K BAND 7, ACN 100K, HP 90K. In terms of quality assignments + job security (relative to the other 2, HP and ACN) how does IBM fare?
  • "If that is your criteria" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: then it is between between ACN and IBM.
    Our SAP practice is well grounded in the PwC days - not saying it is good by industry standards, just that we have a lot of history, and push it harder than we push Oracle. That being said, we run the projects the same way as we do all our other implementation pseudo-process improvement projects. We under-leverage them in terms of skills, pad the roster with COSTH’s (Clueless Off-Shore Tech-Heads), and hope for the best. ACN is not exactly a process and client-satisfying juggernaut, but they do tend to have a better caliber of staff, who lean more functional than technical as compared to us. If you want to become a functional expert, do not come to IBM.
    Job security is never really an issue at IBM, if you are competent. We have a shortage of competent staff, so we just can't afford to get rid of them. You will always have a home here. Of course, you would always have a home on the street, or in a homeless shelter, but I wouldn’t use that as a reason to choose it.
    Now, for the questions you didn’t ask.
    • Compensation – IBM = curve clustering socialistic appraisal system (translation you will get a nondescript grade and low single digit raise)
    • Promotions – IBM lumbering, molasses like progression – designed to keep you running on the treadmill. ACN – Not much more fair, but the HR function doesn’t have the same “keep ‘em down” philosophy that we do. You can work your way up through the ranks there, but the culture is more overtly political.
    • Administrative – it’s IBM, enough said.
    I will issue the standard advice – a boutique is much better than any of the three, but if you had a choice between IBM and ACN, go to CAN. As for HP, 11% is too much ground to make up in salary. Good Luck.
  • "Starting at ACN vs IBM" by "jeeee4". Full excerpt: Over a long period, ACN seems to me to have more of a tendency to hold on to good people and faster career growth. They have more of a tendency to staff jobs with good people, even at higher rates. This keeps the good people growing and chargeable - and employed thru downturns. If you are content to be a drone at work and get satisfaction elsewhere in life then I would recommend IBM.
  • "I hoped I'd never be saying this..." by "consultantgal83". Full excerpt: I'll start this post with saying I HATED the people on this board who would respond to genuine questions about BCS with "run away" and "i'll pray for you". As a naive undergrad, I thought it was just a few responses from some bitter employees. As a year and a halfer, I am running away.
    I'm basically writing this for the naive undergrad who sees IBM on campus and thinks "ooh good company and brand recognition-great fit!". That was me. Very ambitious, motivated, quick learner thinking IBM was the right shoe to try on for my first "real" job. Well I was very wrong.
    First 6 months of my first project were pretty good. Decent amount of responsibility, met lots of great people. Then all hell let loose. The project started to fail big time, the Band 6's were given virtually no work so the higher ups could "do it right". 100% travel coupled with no career development = misery and self hatred. Basically life was hell. But still optimistic I thought, let me get on another project so I can judge IBM from another angle.
    Well my dream came true and I was staffed on another project. Much smaller than the first, I started out motivated, ambitious and willing to do whatever it took to get the job done! Yea that lasted for 2 weeks. Then the work stopped. And by "work" I mean data entry or something impossible no one would explain to you. So I became apathetic when I realized, wow I really should have listened to those guys on Vault.
    Today, my last day on this horrible project, I get rolled off and sent packing with not a "thanks for your help" or any positive feedback but "so and so said you doodle during meetings" and "it seems like you hate consulting". Yea no joke. I drew a picture for 10 minutes during an 8 hour meeting and get scolded for it and told I hate consulting.
    Young innocent people: If you want a job with career development, in an aggressive and ambitious atmosphere where learning is harped upon and valued, where your quality of life is taken into serious consideration and where you are not an IT monkey doing things you never imagined doing in your worst nightmares- DO NOT come to IBM. I am more than willing to recognize the good qualities of this company. I do have a decent salary, received 2 pretty good raises and a bonus. People are nice too. But money and a few smiles won't make you happy. Neither will the miles and hotel points. If you genuinely want a CAREER and not a job, if you have an aspiration to get a great MBA, I can say with confidence, IBM is not for you.
    I'm all for people learning from their mistakes but I strongly believe if I had the relevant information from someone who wasn't so forceful as to why IBM is worse than hell, I wouldn't have taken this offer. I needed someone a little less biased, but who was honest and willing to present the facts. Well here they are. Don't say you weren't warned.
  • "Thanks" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: This was a post that would certainly be worthy of being put in the stick category, if this board had one.
    The controlled passion that you exhibited in the post makes it very convincing, and it is so typical of the entry level experience here. Your allusion to the Brand-image-based recruiting dynamic should be enough to get any current applicant's attention.
    As I have said many times in the past, posts like yours do much more for the credibility of the message than anything the regulars on this board could say. Thanks for taking the time.
    Regarding your last paragraph, were you exposed to this board before you made your decision to join? I am not sure what you mean by: "...if I had the relevant information from someone who wasn't so forceful as to why IBM is worse than hell, I wouldn't have taken this offer. I needed someone a little less biased, but who was honest and willing to present the facts..."
    In light of your current epiphany, do you still find the information on this board biased? Or rather is it just a matter that it is too difficult for anyone on the outside to accept that things are this bad, so they appear to be biased?
    Good luck with your job search. I have a feeling that you will be fine. BTW, keep up the doodling - it shows creativity and an aversion to boredom - two good qualities for a consultant to have.
  • "Thank you" by "consultantgal83". Full excerpt: Thanks to everyone for their encouragement. It means a lot.
    I was exposed to the vault BCS board senior year of college. What I meant from my previous comment is that I basically chose not to believe what was being reported on the board. Partly due so many employees sounding upset over not getting promoted, receiving raises etc. (i figured they were slackers), and mostly bc I didn't want to believe IBM could be such a negative place to work. (come on it's ibm!)
    It was an especially difficult decision for me due to family members and friends encouraging me to take the offer- once again it's ibm, you are young great opportunity you can't go wrong. People are blinded by what they think they know of the co. but in reality they don't know much at all. Note: My uncle actually works for IBM in Phoenix, not in BCS however and HATES it. But I was like hey, he isn't doing consulting. So different story. I should have listened to him though.
    So yes, I was warned but I guess I couldn't believe that things were SO bad. Especially with the same people posting over and over and saying unhelpful things like "run away". I will say that you Dose, always went into a great amount of detail. I think I just told myself your experience wouldn't be relevant to mine bc you did have a lot of exp. and I was just an undergrad new hire. I mean come on, I was signed on to work for "the other IBM"! But yea I screwed up big time. I have received an offer from Deloitte's Securitization practice but don't know if it's for me. I really want to work for an investment bank but I don't think they like me bc I don't have relevant work experience :(
  • "It's a fine line" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: There is a tremendous burden of proof on anyone that attempts to expose IBM, for all the perception and ignorance issues there out in the general public. That's what makes it necessary to refrain from sugarcoating or equivocating on the facts.
    However, when the situation is presented accurately, it can almost seem like a caricature of a dysfunctional corporate environment. It can come across as incredible.
    That's why I have to go into such detail, and keep the presentation in the third person, on an abstract level.
    The key point is that a company's culture is pervasive, especially one as centrally controlled as IBM. It doesn't matter where you are in the organization. The philosophy of "deceive and screw the staff" will find you.
  • "Forgive Me Gal" by "GTS Grunt". Full excerpt: Forgive me. I know as a Band 10 I am one of those "higher ups" that is a "Utilization Vampire" who's only interest is to suck up all the ambrosia (I love that word r2) of utilization from a project. I usually ask for 125% of actual hours I perform to induce more pain to these PM executive wannabes. Never fixed price on the DOU, always cost plus or I walk away and watch you slowly weaken of a death by a thousand cuts. Oh God help me because I love the smell of burning MBA's, PMs and lost careers on Monday mornings!
    You wrote a great classic here, gal. As Dose said, doodling is the sign of a creative person trying to claw out of this organizational nightmare called the Blue Pig. You have potential, but please, leave the large consulting world and go where you can make a difference and be proud of what you do.
    On the other hand, since you're a gal you ought to know that one of the new female GTS general managers used to be called (in my youth) "peanut butter legs" by some older execs in her native geography.
    Leave! Don't let your good mind go bad in this slave shop and don't consider going the route of "Peanut Butter Legs". You have potential.
  • "Or specialize in fixing bad projects" by "jeeee4". Full excerpt: Like GTSgrunt, you can actually specialize at IBM in fixing broken projects. I think this is a great long-term career choice in this company, as the causes of broken jobs are not being addressed - getting worse in fact. Realistically the company isn't going under, just failing to live up to its potential (in a big way). Sad, really.
  • "That is one heck of a good suggestion" by "civilliberty". Full excerpt: We need to work on the title and job description though. How about: Title: Terminal Project Corrective Officer. Job Description" IBM is one the biggest consultancies in Asia, sorry, the West, and Asia, oh, and also Eastern Europe, and soon South America as well. They are seeking the services of a highly qualified terminal project coordinator, fix-er-upperer. Your duties will include:
    • bowing and scraping to the client
    • making them cups of coffee when you miss your deadlines again
    • ability to withstand constant verbal harassment from an irate client
    • yelling down the phone at off-shore resources when they deliver something completely unrelated to their objectives
    As a part of working for our fast paced, leading edge consultancy you can expect the following:
    • stroke
    • heart attack
    • loss of hair
    • loss of libido
    • loss of sleep
    • poor appraisals for missing your deadlines
  • "Downside to a TPCO Career" by "GTS Grunt". Full excerpt: There is a definite downside to making a career out of the position of TPCO.
    First of all, even as an oldie I know that today there are no careers, just a series of assignments. Any youngster that thinks there is any career except in your own mind is dreaming. The new career exists only in your mind, you execute on a career plan with a series of assignments.
    Back to TPCO. When you live in the swill of the Blue Pig (ABC where are you? - I read your posts) and the detritus of IT projects you begin to smell, just like any good septic tank cleaner. Showing up at internal meetings you notice the young MBA types moving away from you because you "smell reality" and it hurts the credibility of their powerpoint presentations.
    You also begin to see through the senior pig BS and become inadvertently cynical so execs will fear you and although they want you to help them, they'll never bring you into their fold. That's the kiss of death for moving up in a company where connections, not skills and performance are what you need to succeed.
    TPCO, a good terminal growth job, not a place for anyone with potential for bigger and better things.
  • "Agreed" by "civilliberty". Full excerpt: I'm not really as green as what my post may have implied. Yes, I also see that there is really no such thing as a career these days, so I feel contracting is more of a natural progression.
    I'm no longer with IBM and I'm thankful for that. And definitely having the contacts at IBM is what counts. I know I could never function in an environment that required me to suppress what common sense and experience has taught me about projects and their problems - but the company and it's individuals don't like weaknesses in their practices or their methods exposed and that's not a good recipe for success and ultimately IBM can only fail through a lack of introspection.
  • "ISC to GBS" by "pok123". Full excerpt: I'm currently in the ISC and will probably be promoted to a band 8 this year. I'm thinking that I'd like to take my next job as a consultant in GBS and then leave to a more reputable firm in a couple years. Will it be difficult for me to transition to a GBS consulting position as a band 8 with no consulting experience to this point?
  • "Advice: Read the above, below, etc." by "jeeee4". Full excerpt: "Leadership in IBM" or any of several other discussions: read them. They really are an accurate picture of the culture at IBM. We really are not making this up.
    I have no idea of what goes through the minds of IBM's top executives. Everyone I worked with at IBM is either burned out or on the way there. I think those who post here either hold out some hope the executives can be educated or just want to warn others as to what they are getting into.

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