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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—September 29, 2007

  • Slashdot: IBM Seeks US Patents For Offshoring US Jobs. Excerpts: "IBM and other corporations are seeking patents for inventions covering the offshoring of US jobs. The USPTO is considering IBM's patent application for Outsourcing of Services, a 'method for identifying human-resource work content to outsource offshore of an organization' to 'countries where cheaper labor prices and/or cheaper materials are available.'

    Then there's Big Blue's Electronic Marketplace for Identifying, Assessing, Reserving and Engaging Knowledge-Workers for an Assignment Using Trade-Off Analysis, which provides a handy-dandy IBM calculator that drives home the point that you'll pay less for IGS India workers, whether onshore or offshore.

    And with its System and Method of Using Speech Recognition at Call Centers to Improve Their Efficiency and Customer Satisfaction, IBM describes how to operate in 'low cost foreign countries' with 'support people not having good English language skills, or having an accent that makes it difficult to understand them' by exploiting technology developed for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as other accent reduction techniques."

  • USA Today: Tech traveler's fingers do the walking. By Roger Yu. Excerpts: Chris Perrera, a business development executive for IBM, knows well the relationship between the business traveler and technology. The Colchester, Vt., resident travels up to 120,000 miles a year, hopping from one client to another to pitch his employer's engineering services for the health care industry. To get a glimpse of technology's pervasive influence in travel, USA TODAY asked the 44-year-old executive to chronicle all his digital encounters in a single trek, a round-trip jaunt on Sept. 5-6 between his home and Rochester, Minn. Before and during the trip, Perrera noted every encounter with the technology of travel, judging what helped and what didn't.

    As befits a Big Blue executive, Perrera is a do-it-yourself technologist when it comes to travel. As much as he can, he avoids the 800-numbers, travel agents and airport employees, and instead relies on the modern tools of mobility: his trusted BlackBerry World Phone 8830, IBM ThinkPad, an iPod Nano, airport kiosks and a GPS system. [...]

    To improve bargaining power, IBM (as do many large companies) requires employees to use a designated agent or website for booking travel. Perrera is not a fan of IBM's system, which was developed by an outside travel services vendor. "I hate the system. They only give a few choices based on cost rather than convenience," he says. "I've used it long enough that I can sit there and manipulate it. But it can often take up to an hour to find the right flight, and I don't have an hour." [...]

    Unable to find an ideal return flight that wouldn't make him wait too long at the airport, he gives up and calls an agent for IBM's travel vendor. The agent finds an early-morning departure flight from Burlington, Vt., on United, and a return flight on Northwest from Minneapolis. [...]

    Perrera likes United.com for its ease of use, particularly a function that allows him to upgrade his seat to business class using frequent-flier miles. He waits until the night before to upgrade so he can get an instant confirmation. "If I did it three or four days before the trip, it wouldn't confirm the upgrade," he says. "Often, it just tells you you're wait-listed" behind passengers with more mileage credits. [...]

    With 10 minutes until boarding, Perrera sits at the gate and taps his BlackBerry's Internet browser to download directions from his hotel in Rochester to a nearby restaurant. He's scheduled to meet a client there that evening. The wireless data network, provided by Verizon Wireless, is an indispensable tool, he says. For about $100 a month for voice and data service, he uses it often to perform small tasks, such as looking up maps and addresses.

    "It has a very fast downloading speed," he says. Another bonus: For an extra $15 a month, using a service called Verizon Wireless BroadbandAccess, he can connect his BlackBerry to his laptop and use the phone as a modem for Verizon's wireless network. "I wouldn't do it for huge files," he says. [...]

    The rental car facility at Minneapolis-St. Paul International is within walking distance from the terminals. Since he's a member of Hertz Gold, he can find his name and the car location on the company's electronic display board located adjacent to the rows of cars. "My name is in lights." A full-size car with a Global Positioning System called Hertz NeverLost awaits him.

    Editor's note: Perhaps as an IBM executive, Mr. Perrera is exempt from the travel reimbursement policies that IBM's other lesser road warriors must adhere to. Or, perhaps, he is picking up the costs of the following non-reimbursable expenses himself:

    • IBM does not cover the cost of a Blackberry, nor the cost of Blackberry monthly service

    • IBM does not cover the cost of cell-phone based wireless broadband service
    • IBM employees are strongly discouraged from contacting the "IBM travel vendor" by phone since a transaction fee is charged for telephone contacts
    • IBM employees are discouraged from traveling on United Airlines and other "non-preferred" airlines.
    • IBM does not reimburse the cost of the Hertz Neverlost GPS system.
  • Union Network International (UNI): "Real" success for "Virtual" IBM Protest. Excerpts: More than 1’850 - real- people protested behind their computers in over 30 countries to show solidarity with IBM Italy workers. The protest took place at 7 IBM locations, and in particular at IBM Italia and the IBM Business Centre in Second Life. Many Italian IBM workers joined the event after work, from 7pm to 10pm Rome, Italy time. It was reported that Second Life was having some technical difficulties, which is why we believe we could have reached an even higher number of participants.

    IBM did not officially react to our protest so far. However, they did shut down parts of their Business Centre to visitors (or really, protesters). A number of participants managed to crash an IBM staff meeting during the afternoon - where they were immediately asked to leave and to "protest outside". Instead, they demanded to speak to Management. But the staff meeting, which seemed to be about the new IBM website functionalities, was called to an end.

    The media coverage for this event was impressive. The news about the protest was covered by blogs, radio and TV stations, newspapers and podcasts in numerous countries. Italy's national TV station highlighted the event in the evening news during 5 minutes, showing screen shots from Second Life and its almost 2’000 protesters.

  • Union Network International (UNI): Protesters crash IBM staff meeting at Virtual Business center. Excerpts: Remember the IBM Business Center I was telling you about? The one that closed down some parts so protesters couldn't enter anymore? Well I don't know what miracle happened, but my avatar got in...to a real staff meeting!

    They were discussing the corporate website's new functionalities, it seems. So since I managed to get in, why not call some of my protester friends?

    Minutes later, some 20 participants and staff teleported to literally crash the meeting. We had people saying slogans, some beeping sounds, horns and again, the jumping up and down with our banners and flying fish...It was the most disrupting event I've witnessed so far...! The poor IBM staff were quite confused and asked us to go protest outside. We, in return, demanded to speak to IBM management to put forward our requests. They ended up canceling their meeting.

    Editor's note: A couple of images captured from the Second Life union protest are available at the link above.

  • The Canadian Press: IBM, Scotiabank expand relationship in $480-million IT outsourcing renewal. Excerpts: Scotiabank is expanding its relationship with IBM Corp. in a new IT outsourcing deal that's expected to cost $480 million over the next six years. Under the arrangement announced Thursday, IBM will manage the big Canadian bank's information-technology operations, including its data centres, branches and automatic banking machines. The deal extends a contract signed in 2001, when IBM began to manage Scotiabank's IT operations and will provide a new "international" framework that will adapt to the bank's needs as it expands abroad. [...]

    IBM Canada's Mark Wilson, who led the computer company's negotiations with Scotiabank, said a lot of work went into creating a "whole new global framework" for the relationship to the bank's growth. In addition, IBM is bringing to the bank a new range of capabilities, including a centre in Brazil that will deliver select services to Scotiabank over time.

  • The Register (United Kingdom): IBM helps Chicago keep an eye on its citizens. By Dan Goodin. Excerpts: Next time you're in Chicago, say cheese. Chances are good your likeness will be captured on a futuristic video surveillance system the city is rolling out with the help of IBM and several other tech companies. [...]

    While IBM officials refused to say how much the system will cost, they were quick to say it would be boon to the city. "Cities are faced with ever-increasing threats such as routine crime or terrorist activity and the only way to preventively protect citizens is through a truly sophisticated security surveillance system," IBM vice president Mike Daniels said.

  • Associated Press, courtesy of CNN/Money: Chicago Video Surveillance Gets Smarter. Excerpt: A car circles a high-rise three times. Someone leaves a backpack in a park. Such things go unnoticed in big cities every day. But that could change in Chicago with a new video surveillance system that would recognize such anomalies and alert authorities to take a closer look.

    On Thursday, the city and IBM Corp. are announcing the initial phase of what officials say could be the most advanced video security network in any U.S. city. The City of Broad Shoulders is getting eyes in the back of its head. "Chicago is really light years ahead of any metropolitan area in the U.S. now," said Sam Docknevich, who heads video-surveillance consulting for IBM.

  • Business Wire via NewsEdge Corporation: Working Mothers Want to Stay on the Job, Reporting Favorable Work/Life Balance, Accenture Survey Finds. Excerpts: An overwhelming majority of working mothers report that, if there were no obstacles, they would continue working, and most say that their work/life balance is always right or is right most of the time, according to the results of new Accenture research. In an online survey of more than 700 working mothers in mid- to senior-level management positions, nearly 90 percent of the respondents reported that, if there were no obstacles, they would work either full-time, part-time or under a flex-time arrangement (reported by 31 percent, 26 percent and 33 percent of respondents, respectively). Just 11 percent said they would not work at all.
  • YouTube (video): Hillary Clinton Pushes For More H1B Visas and OutSourcing.
  • YouTube (video): Lou Dobbs: Hillary Clinton's Hypocrisy (Part 1)
  • New York Times: Outsourcing Works, So India Is Exporting Jobs. By Anand Giridharadas. Excerpts: Thousands of Indians report to Infosys Technologies’ campus here to learn the finer points of programming. Lately, though, packs of foreigners have been roaming the manicured lawns, too.

    Many of them are recent American college graduates, and some have even turned down job offers from coveted employers like Google. Instead, they accepted a novel assignment from Infosys, the Indian technology giant: fly here for six months of training, then return home to work in the company’s American back offices. India is outsourcing outsourcing.

  • CNN/Money: Chief Execs Group Paid Lobbyist $120,000. Business Roundtable Lobbied on Port Security, Immigration and Energy in First Half of 2007. Excerpt: Chief executives W. James McNerney Jr. of Boeing Co., Samuel J. Palmisano of International Business Machines Corp. and Rex W. Tillerson of ExxonMobil Corp. are some members of the group.
  • Mental Health America: Depression Influences Retirement. Excerpt: A provocative study suggests middle-aged men and women are more likely to retire early from their jobs if they are depressed. Middle-aged men who suffer with symptoms of depression are more likely to retire early, while retirement-age women often take the leap even if their depressive symptoms are mild.
  • Financial Week: Senator seeks to make companies use one number to record stock options for taxes and accounting. By Nicholas Rummell. Excerpts: Corporations would no longer be able to record different amounts of executive stock options for tax purposes than they do for accounting reasons if a bill introduced today by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) succeeds. The bill would realign the tax code to match updated accounting rules, as well as cap corporate executive stock option tax deductions at $1 million. By reducing the so-called book-tax discrepancy, Mr. Levin is taking a shot at stock options, which he says are the main reason for the huge pay gap between corporate executives and rank-and-file employees.

    Outdated tax laws from 1969 that are inconsistent with accounting standards are the reason most companies award executives large stock options, Mr. Levin said. “It makes no sense to have two sets of rules for expensing stock options for accounting and tax purposes, and it makes no sense for taxpayers to be subsidizing stock option pay for corporate executives,” he said in a statement.

  • Financial Week: Next SEC target: Exec stock sales. Ever since securities and Exchange Commission enforcement chief Linda Chatman Thomsen dropped a bomb last March about potential abuses in SEC-sanctioned stock-trading plans for corporate executives, compensation experts, corporate counsel and brokerages have been waiting for her next explosive move.

    Circle those calendars, folks. On Oct. 10, Ms. Thomsen participates in a discussion panel on those 10b5-1 plans at the annual conference of the National Association of Stock Plan Professionals in San Francisco. All eyes will be on her because some lawyers believe that apparent manipulations of the trading plans could expose hundreds if not thousands of executives to potential insider trading liability—triggering an enforcement response from the SEC that could rival its moves on stock option backdating.

  • Human Resource Executive Online: As GM Goes... By Dallas Salisbury. Excerpts: Workers and employers can gain some insight from the settlement between GM and UAW -- mainly that the days of yore are gone. Forget retiring with a gold watch and a pension. It's every man, and woman, for him- or herself. [...]

    And as GM goes ... so, too, is it notable that such programs are commonly unavailable to most workers in the private sector, regardless of employer size. There will be exceptions by companies in some industries that are unionized, or still seek to use benefits to retain workers for full careers. Some companies may still seek to facilitate retirement with adequate life income with health protection, and some smaller organizations may take advantage of the more generous tax deferral available when funding a defined-benefit plan, particularly at later ages.

    But the new rule or most common practice for most employers today is, clearly, defined-contribution retirement plans, with either no retiree health, or limited retiree health.

News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • New York Times editorial: The Battle Over Health Care. Excerpts: One of the enduring frustrations of presidential elections is that candidates and their parties sound like Tweedledum and Tweedledee on many issues. In 2008, when it comes to health care, which is emerging as a defining domestic issue, voters will find stark differences in philosophy and commitment between Democrats and Republicans.
  • Chicago Tribune: Plan may not cure rising health costs. Clinton adds options, which come at price. By Bruce Japsen. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's proposal to extend health coverage to all Americans by giving them choices gets high marks from businesses because their employees wouldn't have to give up what they have, and studies show workers are satisfied when they have more than one option.

    But the former first lady and current U.S. senator's plan won't be without losers among large employers who could end up paying more in the long run, given her pledge to provide choice, choice and more choice, analysts and employers said.

    The reason: Her plan, like those of some of her rivals, builds on the existing employer-based system that for years has been unable to rein in medical-care costs, which have annually soared more than double the rate of overall inflation as companies shed restrictive HMOs for more access to providers.

  • South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Uninsured Americans traveling to Panama for health care, Excerpts: U.S. residents are trimming exorbitant medical bills by visiting Panama clinics. By Doreen Hemlock. Excerpts: PANAMA CITY, Panama - Americans are traveling abroad for medical care like never before and now looking to Panama as a destination to cure their insurance woes, high prices and delays for treatment back home.

    This Central American nation touts U.S.-trained doctors, high-tech hospitals and costs far below U.S. rates to attract Americans for services from dental implants to hip replacements. It also promotes its location near U.S. shores. [...]

    With roughly 47 million Americans lacking health insurance, millions more underinsured and U.S. health care costs skyrocketing, many can no longer afford medical care in the United States.

    So far, Panama attracts only hundreds of U.S. patients a year, doctors estimate, but the potential for growth is huge. With roughly 47 million Americans lacking health insurance, millions more underinsured and U.S. health care costs skyrocketing, many can no longer afford medical care in the United States. About half a million Americans traveled overseas for more affordable health care in 2006. And that number is rising at double-digit rates, spurred by easier travel, Internet communications and a growing support network from health travel agencies to blogs, according to the recently formed Medical Tourism Association in West Palm Beach.

  • Wall Street Journal health blog: Arming Doctors Against Insurers Becomes Big Business. Posted by Jacob Goldstein. Excerpts: Athenahealth went public yesterday and had the best first-day stock performance of the year, with shares up 97%. (Shares were off a bit this morning, but still way above the initial offer.)

    The company’s in the “denial management” business, which sounds like a kind of therapy — and in a way it is. It’s an emerging field devoted to helping doctors get more money out of insurance companies. (If you want to know why this is like therapy, ask a few doctors about the depth of their issues with insurers.)

    The strong open for Athenahealth’s stock is a testament to how hot the field is. Some 30% of physician claims are denied on the first go-round, the WSJ reported earlier this year, prompting many docs to buy software and services to fight back. Hundreds of small companies are rushing into space, and big players are getting in, too. [...]

    Bonus Bush: Athenahealth’s co-founder and CEO is Jonathan Bush, a cousin of the president.

  • ABC TV News' Good Morning America, courtesy of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights: When Insurance Won't Pay.
  • Wall Street Journal: What Might GM Trust Fund Mean for Workers Elsewhere? By Ellen E. Schultz and Theo Francis. Excerpts: General Motors Corp.'s new trust fund for retiree health benefits has workers at other companies wondering what it might mean for them -- particularly on two important questions.

    Are retirees at GM and other companies that have set up minipension funds to pay for retiree health coverage more likely to continue receiving health benefits? And, will the funds keep retirees' share of benefit costs from rising substantially?

    The quick answer is that most employers aren't setting up so-called voluntary employees' beneficiary associations, or VEBAs, to make life easier for their retirees. They are doing it because it makes financial sense for the companies themselves. Under pension accounting rules, company-run VEBAs can improve a company's bottom line.

    Whether a VEBA leads to more affordable health coverage for retirees is anything but certain. Here are the basics:

  • The Commonwealth Fund: The Presidential Candidates' Health Care Plans: A First Look. By Karen Davis and Sara Collins. Excerpt: Health care is the top domestic issue in the 2008 presidential campaign, with rising costs and the growing ranks of the uninsured putting pressure on candidates to offer concrete plans for health system reform. According to a recent Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive poll, providing health coverage to the uninsured is the top-rated health policy issue, with slowing inflation in health care costs a close second. The public's views are echoed by those of health care opinion leaders, including experts, those providing health care, business, consumers, and government officials. So far, the three leading Democratic candidates have offered health care reform proposals. Two Republican candidates have also unveiled elements of their health plans. The Commonwealth Fund and its Commission on a High Performance Health System will analyze candidates' ideas as they are introduced and as additional details become available. The proposals offered to date are a welcome development and promise to trigger an important national debate on our values, and on our commitment to achieving a high performance health system.
  • The HR Capitalist: Wal-Mart Medical Plans - Better, But Still Not Competitive... Excerpts: It's easy to beat up on Wal-Mart from an "employer of choice" perspective. They churn through employees, use as much part-time labor as possible to keep total costs down, and generally haven't offered much in the way of benefits for their workforce.

    For a great rundown of the historic attitude towards employee benefits at Wal-Mart, take a look at this memo. It's a confidential memo that was leaked out from a board meeting in 2005, when a VP of Benefits gave a "state of the state" address on benefit costs to the Wal-Mart board. If you haven't read this before, it's a must-read. Among the brainstorming to keep health care costs down in 2005? To discourage unhealthy job applicants, the VP of Benefits suggests that Wal-Mart arrange for "all jobs to include some physical activity" (e.g., all cashiers do some cart-gathering). Seeing that in print makes me say, "yikes"...

  • Colorado Springs Independent: About single-payer insurance. By Michele Swenson. Excerpts: Perhaps the greatest conceit of health-care reform debates is the notion that free-market competition among private insurance companies will lower costs. Instead of a free market, the insurance industry is increasingly a monopoly market, now dominated by three national firms: UnitedHealth, WellPoint and Aetna.

    Inflationary premium rates have increased more than 70 percent in just the past six years. Even as we pay more for coverage, we experience less access and denial of free choice of providers and hospitals.

    Abandoning the principle of shared risk, private insurers maximize profits by insuring the healthy and excluding everyone else with pre-existing conditions, denying or delaying provider reimbursements and peddling high-deductible policies with Health Savings Accounts that shift greater out-of-pocket expenses to individuals. [...]

    Commercial insurances carry high overhead costs — 20 percent of health care dollars go to administration, marketing and profits — compared to 1.8 percent overhead cost for Medicare. Another 12 percent administrative cost is imposed on providers and hospitals, due to different paperwork, medication formularies and requirements of multiple insurers. Add to that the cost of resubmitting denied claims, and the annual ritual of provider re-credentialing by each insurer.

  • New York Times: The Socialists Are Coming! The Socialists Are Coming! By Philip M. Boffey. Excerpts: The epithet of choice these days for Republicans who oppose any expansion of government’s role in health care programs is “socialized” medicine. [...]

    No one has the nerve to brand this country’s purest systems of “socialized medicine” — the military and veterans hospitals — for what they are. In both systems, care is not only paid for by the government but delivered in government facilities by doctors who are government employees. Even so, a parade of Washington’s political dignitaries, including President Bush, has turned to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., for checkups and treatment, without ideological complaint. Politicians who deplore government-run health care for average Americans are only too happy to use it themselves.

    Nor are they eager to tar the vast array of government hospitals and clinics that serve our nation’s veterans. For one thing, the veterans’ hospitals, once considered a second-rate backwater, now lead their private sector competitors in adopting electronic medical records and score well for delivering high quality care at relatively low cost. Even when the veterans’ hospitals were rightly criticized this year for their part in the disgraceful failure to care adequately for soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, there was no clamor to junk or privatize the system, only demands to make it better. [...]

    The country’s vast Medicare program is one step less socialized — a “single-payer” program in which the government pays for the care and sets reimbursement rates, but the actual care is delivered by private doctors and hospitals. When Medicare was launched in 1965 it was routinely denounced as socialized medicine, but it has become so popular that politicians deem it the third rail of American politics, sure to electrocute anyone who tries to cut it or privatize it. No politician is eager to brand 43 million beneficiaries as socialists at heart. [...]

    The take-home message for voters is this: Look behind the labels to judge health care proposals on their merits. Whenever you hear a candidate denounce something as a step toward socialized medicine, it probably isn’t. More likely the politician is demagoguing the issue or is abysmally ignorant of the inner workings — and real, not ideological, failings — of the country’s multifaceted health care system.

  • Washington Post: Some GM Workers Uneasy About Health-Care Shift. By Sholnn Freeman. Excerpts: For nearly a decade, Michael Mineer followed an unwavering script at his job at General Motors. "I shot the same three screws for nine years, 60 to 65 times an hour, five days a week," said Mineer, 57, a retired United Auto Workers member. "Three screws doesn't sound like a lot. It was a whole lot of screws."

    Just as Mineer's day was planned for him at work, his retirement -- and that of 270,000 other retired GM workers -- had been set in stone for half a century: a lifetime, gold-plated health-care package that included full benefits not only for retired workers but also their families, with minimal payments for prescriptions and doctor visits.

    Now, that security is being rattled. Yesterday, union leaders approved a new labor contract and sent it to the UAW's rank-and-file for ratification, which is expected by Oct. 10. The contract for the first time would shift the management of retiree health benefits from the company to the union.

  • Workforce Management: Health Care Cuts a Dicey Move for Retailer Pier 1. Excerpts: Pier 1 Imports soon will learn whether cutting health care benefits for the very employees who deliver what the company calls its signature in-store shopping experience will help resurrect the failing retailer or exacerbate its multimillion-dollar losses.

    The predicament of Fort Worth, Texas-based Pier 1, which reported losses that widened to $56.4 million in the first quarter from $23.2 million a year earlier, reflects the quandary of employer-sponsored health care for service businesses whose low-wage employees are the face of the company to customers.

    Analysts see reducing health care costs as a short-term savings that would likely harm employee morale, increase attrition rates and lead to deteriorating customer service.

    “When you actively reduce costs at a company where the selling environment is such a big part of the brand, you have to be careful that you don’t damage the brand,” says Bryan Gildenberg, chief knowledge officer at retail research and consulting firm Management Ventures. “There’s a much greater risk in the high-touch, high-service model of retail of disenfranchised employees hurting business performance.”

    Part of what Pier 1 CEO Alex Smith is calling a “cost-efficiency mission” is to cut employees’ hours in some stores to disqualify them from health benefits.

  • National Underwriter: IBM: Health Insurance Will Change. Excerpt: Market analysts at International Business Machines Corp. have come to the conclusion that the U.S. health insurance industry might look different in 2015 than it does today. Rising costs will lead to a shift away from private employer-sponsored plans, toward individual coverage and government-sponsored plans, according to the analysts at IBM, Armonk, N.Y. [...]

    The shift also may lead to increased use of “health, wealth and value coaches” who will help consumers buy health coverage, manage health savings accounts, and shop for health care and wellness services, the analysts write.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site:
  • From the Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comment 09/24/07: I too was RA'd in May by a manager who did not even know me, has only been a manager a year and has no idea what my accomplishments were in this company the past 9 years . This person was the biggest idiot I have ever seen, gets locked out of their own email every week, and when in it never even responded to my emails. I got countless read receipts for months and this idiot tells me they never even got my emails? This is one tragedy that happens with a reorg and you go to a new manager. All my hard work and projects and progress down the drain because of an IDIOT. Keep looking until you can get out. You're next. This moron of a manager had nothing on their mind but to cover their own a** by having the team lead do all their work while trying to hang on until they can make it to their own retirement. Oh yeah, the team lead was worthless also. -Free_From_Big_Blow-
    • Comment 09/24/07: Can someone on this board please explain, in succinct terms, why the corporate argument; "lack of skills in the USA results in off shoring and H-1B visas" is a BIG FAT LIE? Governors (both parties) of several states have signed a document supporting the increase of H-1B visas to the USA. Their request comes from an argument that we don't have the skills, in this country, to compete in the global marketplace. How is it possible that this lie is perpetuated across party lines?

      How is it that ordinary working Americans; sit by quietly and allow their representatives to continue to 'buy in' to this crap? Am I wrong, or did several thousand qualified and seasoned IT workers, i.e. IBMers, lose their jobs because of COST cutting... NOT lack of skill? Is it not clear enough for these governor morons to see that this corporate lie continues to frustrate perfectly qualified individuals right out of their jobs? To paraphrase Bush: Is our American working people learning? WTF!!?? Someone out there must be able to specifically argue this crap, point for point..no? Please ANYONE! -Someone-

    • Comment 09/25/07: It will be interesting to see if the decline in the dollar makes off-shoring less attractive. Maybe this will stem the tide of loss of jobs. As our dollar decreases, the Indian Rupee increases. -miss understanding-
    • Comment 09/25/07: I'm currently set up for a resource action. I swear my service area manger set me up for failure. My RDM placed me on a project with only a couple day training course when clearly someone had to thoroughly know this piece of software. The project also had a go live of less then 3 weeks which was no where near the time to do my own independent learning especially with the client bearing down on me.

      I got thrown off this project and then they canceled these weeks of training I was supposed to have to learn the software package I couldn't do. The following week my service area leader sends me an ISAP offer? If I take this pitiful excuse does this mean I am ineligible for unemployment compensation should they officially lay me off? Is there anyway I can go up the management chain and file some kind of official complain to not lose my job? -wasteoftimeposition-

    • Comment 09/26/07: to: -wasteoftimeposition- There is probably very little you can do. RA's are not usually supposed to be based upon your PBC rating although it is a significant factor when one is selected. When I was selected in May of the 1500+, only 2 were able to secure other positions in the company of which I knew one. It took a VP approval to pull him off the list so he could take another job in IBM. I knew other employee's with stellar PBC's who were let go in the March/April/May/June programs. Don't take it personally - it sucks! -RA'd bear-
    • Comment 09/26/07: Anyone hear of a possible sale of Network Services to AT&T? Rumors are going around it will happen on 10/1. -Exit Stage Left-
    • Comment 09/27/07: I've been hearing rumors of an NS/AT&T buyout for years now. Personally I think the rumor is just BS. Besides, I doubt AT&T could afford the price tag. On the other hand....any one know if AT&T has a union? Maybe we can get some sweet discounts on some long distance plans. -eh-
    • Comment 09/28/07: You are 100% correct. I have been part of the deal. To sell network services to AT&T. Expect 20% to 23% layoffs by the end of year 1. -Seen purchase agreement-
    • Comment 09/29/07: Just a note to say that I, too, left a couple of years ago and if you know you are going to leave, definitely begin to look outside, per post from ex-IBMer. It is VERY difficult to find another job within IBM. I had a last-minute offer from a manager, and a day later she had to reneg so I'm guessing because management said no, I was slated to leave.

      On a positive note, after you get through the initial few months after leaving and find something else, I think that most of you will find yourself much happier. I went into education--along with a lot of other IBMers, some who were RA'd and others who just quit (even executives) because they couldn't take it. My salary is now only slightly lower than what I made at IBM and there is nothing like getting home at 2:45 and having time to spend with your families, friends, do errands, etc. And having summers off is wonderful!!! Just an idea because they do need more teachers in NY state and you WILL retire with a pension and health benefits!! Also, since we're unionized, you get pretty decent raised yearly and also when you complete a certain number of courses your salary automatically is increased. Being in a union gives you a much better sense of security! -Anonymous-

    • Comment 09/29/07: Both my husband and I were laid off, me in '93 during first big swipe, him a couple of years ago. Life has been hell since my layoff and double hell since his. We are almost completely different people in that bitterness, distrust and cynicism has replaced hope and an overall love of life. When you realize that you can be displaced and lose everything, and I am talking the bare necessities of life, at any moment, at any job, you begin to crawl into yourself and become self-protective. No one can stop this - it is a natural response to repeated fear and stress. We were both told many times by our managers after performance reviews that we would have an IBM job for life. I would never have had a child had I known that this could have happened. How many lives has IBM and other companies ruined in the name of bold-faced greed. I hope those responsible rot and I hope I get to see it. I used to be a kind person, not anymore... -staggered by greed-
  • General Visitor's Comment page:
    • Comment 09/25/07: From the USATODAY state briefs yesterday: Monday, September 24 Essex - Local officials estimate town residents will see their property taxes increase by an average of $535, while the taxes in the Village of Essex Junction could go up $1,040. Officials say the increases are due mostly to a 30% loss in value of the local IBM plant that followed the community's first reappraisal since 1990. -marty-
    • Comment 09/26/07: The problem with the H1B is the way the H1B works. This visa should be eliminated and instead, a highly skilled worker from abroad should automatically get a green card. This would solve the problem with the H1B holders getting paid less, which increases the demand for them by the corporations. If the workers had green cards instead of H1B's, they wouldn't be afraid to demand more money or go to another company without fear of losing their visa status and being deported. Hence, the salaries would go back up across the hi-tech industry, and we would all be on an equal footing. The demand for these workers would suddenly not be as high as it is. Also, if a student comes to the U.S. and obtains a masters or PhD degree, they should automatically get a green card. -h1bdireness-
    • Comment 09/27/07: The UAW was smart to take ownership of the health plan from GM. At IBM we have seen it deteriorate from paying practically everything to sometimes paying nothing. When my first child was born, more than 40 years ago, I had been with IBM only three weeks and yet my wife was covered and the hospital was impressed with the level of benefits I had. Now, in order to get a dental procedure we have to spend a day making phone calls to the insurance company and various providers in order to find a dentist who participates in the plan and then has a charge that comes close to what the insurance will consider "reasonable and customary". Ultimately we pay more than 50% and drive to another city to get it done. -Screwed_Blued_and_Tattooed-
    • Comment 09/27/07: A response to 9/21's post from justme...Abe Lincoln saw this coming years ago: "I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed." - Abraham Lincoln- -Wraith-
  • Pension Comments page
    • Comment 09/22/07: What part of frozen pension do I not understand? Having just got off of the Net Benefits pension calculator, and been given data for monthly pension benefit for working: 1,2,3,5... more years and seeing the monthly payout rise, I am completely confused. For the record: age 53, old plan, and 21 years. -Completely baffled-
    • Comment 09/22/07: Where's the NEW retirement tool?? It's almost October. Still hearing the 'leave in 2007 if you have 30 yrs in, get the old plan... Leave in 2008 and after everyone gets the Cash balance" rumor...... -Ole d. Guy-
    • Comment 09/24/07: When I left my state job in 1984 I was told that IBM benefits were the best in the industry. We were given a benefit booklet that showed your age and years of service versus pension revenue returns. Its a sorry day when the rules of the game change ! Sorry thing is that most major companies still offer pension and 401K plans. specially state and government career positions. Time to move on! IBM, thanks for wasting 23 years of my life !! -Been Screwed-
    • Comment 09/25/07: For Completely Baffled: I haven't looked at NetBenefits recently, but that calculator used to say that it was not accurate going forward after 2007. If it's still giving you estimates for post-2007, you can play around with them and see how badly you've been screwed, as long as you understand that it's for entertainment purposes only. One useful thing you may be able to figure out, though, is your early-retirement "bump" if you stay for 2 more years ('til full-retirement eligibility at age 55).

      Last year, when Randy McD. came around for Q&A's about the announced freeze, he said that the exception to the freeze would be that there would still be a bump to the otherwise frozen benefit for second-choice employees who stayed until age 55 or 30 years. This was confirmed in the online Q&A...subject to change based on needs of the business, I'm sure. Janet K. or Kathi C. might contradict this (they'd know better than me), but I don't think this "bump" is considered to be earned at the time of the program change, so it may not be legally mandated in any way. -alreadyGone-

  • Raise and Salary Comments
  • PBC Comments
    • Comment 09/25/07: I hear rumors that many IGS orgs are doing interim reviews of their employees. I suppose this is an indicator that more cuts are coming. -fred-
  • International Comments
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.

  • "Reflections" by "oldcopw". Full excerpt: So, I left IBM 3.5 years ago. I joined OldcoPW in the late 90's, stayed through PwC and left early 2004 after 6 years. As a consultant, I liked the people I worked with and the challenging projects.

    As an employee with a FS company, I like the fact that I do not have to travel and I have been able to make my job interesting. The amazing part is that today, I am making 3 times more (no exaggeration!!) than I was at IBM. I love it!! So if there are any Oldco PW or Oldco C&L people left (which I doubt), unless you are already Partner or VP, you should quit ASAP and try life on the other side. It is worth it.

  • "Is it True?..." by "GreenconneXion". Full excerpt: I am currently a senior in college and will be interviewing with IBM GBS in a couple weeks. I've been reading a lot posts on the message boards, and I would say 95% of the posts are negative (e.g. Ibm does not put you in decent places when out of town) . This makes me feel a little uneasy about this firm... Is it really that bad???
  • "Absolutely" by "Frank_Reality". Full excerpt: Yes. Look at the recent Fortune 100 best companies to work report. Notice where IBM's competitors are rated. Note IBM is not on the list.
  • "Yup" by "pork". Full excerpt: The best assessment are the ones who left and reported back where they are now.
  • "Yes it is" by "Frank Cary". Full excerpt: As has been reported ad nauseam on this Board, workload expectations purposely are set so high you will break your heart trying to achieve them, you will be lied to at every turn on the subject of education, advancement, certification, salary increases, etc. This will be done to every new recruit without fail.

    Do you hear anything you like in this? As Richard Pryor says in "That N----r Is Crazy" about conditions in the New Mexico Penitentiary, they will f$ck you blind just to see the funny look in your eyes. What else do you need to know?

  • "It is. But can you face the facts?" by "civilliberty". Full excerpt: Many just think that we're all an old bunch of cynics, that no company can be as bad as IBM is portrayed here. Had I not worked there I may have felt the same.

    The reality of course is that it is an appalling company to work for. Consider it as the archetypal workplace that you would never=e in your wildest dreams want to spend time at, and one you wouldn't even foist on your enemies, then you'll have a standard by which you can judge how a good company should function and treat employees by merely being the opposite of what IBM is.

  • "Caveat emptor" by "wonderaboutibm". Full excerpt: Beware of what you are told .. on this board and by IBM HR. Now I certainly do not mean to slight the perspectives you can get on this vault message board. I merely state that you need to evaluate all statements carefully. But with the proper perspective, you will find a gold mine of information here.

    Now as for IBM HR ... well, it's their their job to make you-know-what shine. You may have great rapport with hiring managers, etc. in the interview process, but remember this: in the last few years,IBM has shown itself to be ruthlessly capable of cramming centralized policy down everybody's throat. Nobody can take, or even wants to take, any initiative here. And, of course, these from-the-top, rigidly centralized HR policies have been anti-employee. This approach is already boomeranging on IBM, but that is another story.

  • "Doing the math" by "jaywalk". Full excerpt: For those without a spreadsheet handy: 2080 hours = 100% utilization. If you take the six mandatory holidays (the ones where the office shuts down) you're down to 2032 (97.69%). Now take off two weeks vacation and that's 1952 (93.85%) Congratulations! You've missed your target.

    Three weeks is 1912 (91.92%). Four is 1872 (90%). And then there are the six "optional" holidays to bring it to 1824 (87.69%). We won't go into what happens if you do something "bad" like get sick, take a class or (heaven forbid!) spend any time on the bench.

  • "Minimum 15% overtime" by "bluedngone". Full excerpt: 256/1824 hours = 15% overtime. In my group that was good enough for a 3 rating. Most people put in an average of 50 hours a week. The top performers put in 60 hours. Of course nobody counted the actual work produced. You just had to claim billable hours.
  • "If you can get overtime" by "jaywalk". Full excerpt: Making up hours by working fifty and sixty hour weeks is problematic if you're on a capped project. Or one with no meaningful work to do.

    Of course, most of the folk I met who regularly worked 60 hours a week were either incompetent or on incompetently managed projects. Ticking in 45 or 50 hours a week on a regular basis isn't a problem, but anything more than that and the quality starts to degrade.

    I once took over for a guy who was clocking 80 hours a week. He really hadn't accomplished much and a lot of what he had done was wrong. I think he made a lifelong enemy of that client too. But I suppose IBM would have considered him "successful".

  • "It's all about the Brand and Image" by "bluedngone". Full excerpt: IBM isn't about the people or customer, it's about the brand and forcing that brand down the public's throat. What I can tell you is that while IBM is wining and dining you, they are currently trying to purge thousands of senior qualified people. IBM says they are about their people while at the same time making the lives of those employees unbearable. Law firms will work new associates to death, CPA firms will do it, IBM will do it also. The difference between the two former types, they and the employees know why they are doing it: the firms provide contacts for them to move on after their initial gig is up. In IBM they sell you on the brand and let you burn yourself out without providing you the professional benefits and reputation the other firms give. After you've been there 3 years and you expect to start making a income, they come out with insane processes like LEAN.

    IBM HR is to be laughed at. IBM HR is really Fidelity. It's only function is to process IBM HR polices. At that they don't really do anything for you. They don't advocate for IBM employees. They only advocate for IBM Corp Policy.

    Bottom line. If you have two competing offers and your name doesn't end will a vowel, don't work at IBM.

  • "Wow Your (sic) right" by "GreenconneXion". Full excerpt: Even though im being HRed...I am starting to notice that HR acts like robots..just going through the motions. Ive also read that IBM dosent take good care of their consultants on the road. (E.g.= No direct flights, Low-Budget Lodging.)I was shocked (bad) to discover the hotel that they are putting me in....Oh jeez!
Modern-Day Robber Baron Corner:

noneToday'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!

  • Forbes: Ultimate Toys For Super-Rich Boys. By Emma Lind. Excerpt: It's said that money can't buy happiness. But some of the billionaires on our list of America's richest 400 might argue it can get you pretty much anything else. Take S. Truett Cathy. The Chick-fil-A founder's collection of cars and motorcycles includes the Batmobile used in the 1992 movie Batman Returns. Price tag? $250,000.

    Cathy is just one of a handful of America's most wealthy with itches only the most unusual toy can scratch. For these guys, money actually isn't everything: It's about saying you have something that no one else does.

  • Forbes: Homes Of the Billionaires. By Matt Woolsey. Excerpt: When you have it all, you need a place to put it all. Multimillion-dollar yachts need to be docked. The de Koonings have to be hung. And you've got to park the Rolls somewhere. That's where the billionaire's house comes in.
If you hire good people and treat them well, they will try to do a good job. They will stimulate one another by their vigor and example. They will set a fast pace for themselves. Then if they are well led and occasionally inspired, if they understand what the company is trying to do and know they will share in its sucess, they will contribute in a major way. The customer will get the superior service he is looking for. The result is profit to customers, employees, and to stcckholders. —Thomas J. Watson, Jr., from A Business and Its Beliefs: The Ideas That Helped Build IBM.

This site is designed to allow IBM Employees to communicate and share methods of protecting their rights through the establishment of an IBM Employees Labor Union. Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act states it is a violation for Employers to spy on union gatherings, or pretend to spy. For the purpose of the National Labor Relations Act, notice is given that this site and all of its content, messages, communications, or other content is considered to be a union gathering.