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Highlights—February 16, 2008

  • ComputerWorld: Wage cut prompts online protest at IBM. IBM lowers the pay for a large chunk of workers, who voice their opposition online. Excerpts: Labor protests in the high-tech industry are rare, but IBM is in midst of one -- and it's unfolding entirely online. Instead of waving protest signs outside the company gates, affected workers are airing, in comments accompanying an online petition, disappointment, anger and bitterness with the company over a salary cut affecting 6% of IBM's U.S. workforce.

    Since its announcement last month, more than 1,200 people have signed a petition sponsored by the Alliance@IBM, protesting pay cuts to 7,600 technical support employees.. Whether all these signatures are from affected employees is not certain, but many of the comments seem authentic, and often heartfelt.

    Comments such as "11 years on call ... Now less money than when in started in 97," "Previous loyal employee ... No more," and "This is not fair. I did not deserve this after all my hard work," are typical. ...

    Last month, IBM told workers that it was reclassifying technical services and IT specialist jobs to nonexempt positions, making them eligible for overtime. But the company said it was also making a 15% base salary adjustment -- down. ...

    Lee Conrad, a former IBM employee who is now national coordinator of the Alliance@IBM in Endicott, NY, said he believes globalization may be a factor in the pay cut decision and suspects other companies will be looking at how IBM manages the pay cut. "If IBM is an indication of what's ahead, it's going to be a rough ride for American workers," he said.

  • PBS: I, Cringely. By Robert X. Cringely. Excerpts: And speaking of undermining, many readers have been asking me to put in context IBM's recent move to cut pay for almost 8,000 service and support employees. I have resisted commenting to this point mainly because I see my job here as covering stories that AREN'T being handled well (or at all) elsewhere. But in the case of this story the Associated Press and others have done a good job of explaining the problem from the perspective of the employees, so I haven't had to.

    But readers keep asking and there does seem to be an arm's length view of the situation that hasn't been well explained to date, so here goes.

    If you aren't familiar with the story, IBM was sued several years ago by employees who were classified as exempt and therefore not entitled to overtime pay, yet those employees felt that had they worked at some other company their duties would have been considered non-exempt. IBM lost the case, paid a $65 million settlement in 2006, but took until now to decide that it ought to reduce by 15 percent the base pay of the affected employees in order to keep the settlement revenue-neutral for the company. If IBM had to pay overtime, it would tie that overtime to a lower base pay, thus keeping its costs steady.

    While this probably makes total sense in the IBM accounting department, the change was a surprise to the affected workers, who say they are hurt by the lower base since it also cuts their vacation pay and IBM's contribution to their 401K. It might be easy to point to that $65 million settlement as making up for some of this, except that many IBM employees who were eligible to participate in the settlement for some reason didn't sign up for it and no longer can. Now there's a communication problem that needs exploration.

    What the big picture shows here is the apparent end of IBM's tradition of respect for the individual. For most of its corporate history IBM has been a pioneer -- a model -- for corporate responsibility, but that era seems to be over. Maybe there is no more fat left to trim so the company is cutting muscle, instead. But I think there is more to it than that. I think this is a logical eventuality of IBM becoming a truly global corporation, not just an American company that does business abroad.

    Despite the dark stories I have written about IBM over the last couple years, the company's latest financial reports were very good and the earnings guidance it gave to Wall Street was positively glowing. This makes little sense looking at the company from a U.S. perspective, where customers are upset and profits appear to be fleeting. Cutting through the recent IBM financials shows, in fact, that the company makes little or no money in the U.S. and quite a bit of money internationally. Nearly all of IBM's current profit, in fact, can be attributed to a single condition -- the weak dollar. International sales and profits are bigger mainly because the dollar is so much smaller than it used to be -- a condition that is likely to continue, hence the glowing earnings forecast.

    Maybe what IBM is doing is turning itself into a business that is mainly NOT in the U.S. Those rosy forecasts could be based on an active plan to essentially abandon the bottom of the U.S. market in favor of the top of every international market. It hurts the U.S. employees (especially those in services) but makes sense in so many ways. The model it scarily reminds me of is Tyco, which went so far as to switch its incorporation to Bermuda.

  • CNN/Money: Doing Well by Doing Good: IBM Study Says Businesses Seeking Growth Through Social Responsibility. Excerpts: Companies believe that when they are more open with stakeholders and place social responsibility at the core of their business strategy they will be more competitive, attract and retain the best talent, and gain access to new business opportunities, says a global study released today by IBM.

    Many companies now see corporate social responsibility as a growth opportunity rather than just a regulatory compliance or philanthropic effort, with 68 percent of those surveyed focused on generating revenue through CSR activities. In addition, 54 percent believe CSR initiatives contribute to giving their corporations a competitive advantage.

    Driving these beliefs is the rising influence of customers who, thanks to their ability to research and share information on the Internet, have become highly sensitized to a broad range of issues -- everything from concerns about climate change, to product safety issues, to labor practices, to corporate financial accountability, to questions about whether corporations are returning enough of their profits to the community.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board post: "Re: Bands/Levels" by "bits_bytes_and_bugs". Full excerpt: Yes, and the fact of the matter is that because of the ranking system, everyone is competing against everyone else in their organization for the precious few 1's and 2+'s, for promotions, for raises and for bonus payouts.

    Competition is fine to a degree - as long as it doesn't devolve into pure ruthlessness and selfishness, which it has in parts of IBM.

    Corporate society breaks down when the number of 1s/2+s, the number of promotions, the funding of salary plans etc. are severely and chronically starved in an anorexic desire to minimize costs. Add decreased job security, increased job demands and for some pay cuts.

    At that point, everyone is looking out for themselves - teamwork and cooperation die, sabotaging of others becomes the norm. Pretension, misleading, cheating and lying become standard operating procedure. Infighting among employees and groups of employees becomes common. Organizational results plummet in a freefall.

    In short, everyone starts acting like executives. Everyone and the business itself is doomed.

  • Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine: Pension Payouts Are Shrinking. New calculations will reduce lump-sum distributions. By Mary Beth Franklin, Senior Editor. Excerpt: Retirees who planned to take the money and run may find themselves with less than they expected. New rules that take effect in 2008 change the way pension plans calculate lump-sum distributions. The impact will be relatively small this year. But the reduction in future payouts, particularly for younger workers, could be substantial as the new formula is fully phased in over the next five years. And that could make the alternative -- regular monthly pension checks -- far more attractive.
  • Forbes: Indian IT Firms Facing Employee Wage, Quality Pressures. By Ruth David. Excerpts: Mumbai - Fears of a U.S. recession notwithstanding, India's software services industry is dealing with another pressing matter: companies are attempting to grow fast but cannot find people with the right skills and have to deal with high turnover rates.

    At the industry's annual meeting in Mumbai, executives from one company after another spoke of "the growth pangs" of rapid expansion. "Growth in our sector is linear, so if a company grew by 30%, often so did employees. When you rapidly hire, some people not suited for the job come in," said Som Mittal, president of the National Association of Software and Service Companies. ...

    Since the start of the year, India’s largest IT company, Tata Consultancy Services, has asked 500 employees to leave after a performance appraisal, while IBM did the same for about 700 employees.

    "A couple of years ago, employee cost structures in India were a lot lower than in other countries. So there weren’t as many firings. But now, with costs per employee rising, a company cannot afford to keep on employees who aren’t performing to par," Girish Wardadkar, president and executive director of KPIT Cummins Infosystems, told Forbes.com on the sidelines of NASSCOM’s annual conference.

    And that isn’t all. "Client demands have changed as well. Five years ago, Western clients were more tolerant of the employees at Indian outsourcing companies because they were relatively new to the process. Today, if clients aren’t happy with employees at an outsourcer, they say so," he said.

  • Washington Post: GM offers all U.S. union workers buyouts, retirement. By David Bailey. Excerpts: General Motors Corp will offer buyouts or early retirements to all 74,000 U.S. hourly workers represented by the United Auto Workers in a sweeping deal with the union intended to clear the way for GM to hire lower-cost replacements. The cost-saving agreement follows a program launched in January for about 5,200 workers at GM's service parts and operations facilities across the United States and five other facilities, and comes with better terms than GM offered to UAW workers in 2006. ...

    GM said it would offer better terms and more choices for its already-retirement-eligible UAW workers, including increasing payouts to $45,000 for production workers and $62,500 for skilled trades workers. ...

    Workers may choose a lump-sum payment, an annuity, or roll part or all of it into an individual retirement account or a 401K to postpone the tax hit and potentially make the offer worth much more than those on offer for UAW workers at Ford. ...

    GM factory workers who retire after 30 years currently have pensions of about $3,100 per month, plus health benefits.

  • New York Times: Totally Spent. By Robert B. Reich. Excerpts: We're sliding into recession, or worse, and Washington is turning to the normal remedies for economic downturns. But the normal remedies are not likely to work this time, because this isn’t a normal downturn.

    The problem lies deeper. It is the culmination of three decades during which American consumers have spent beyond their means. That era is now coming to an end. Consumers have run out of ways to keep the spending binge going.

    The only lasting remedy, other than for Americans to accept a lower standard of living and for businesses to adjust to a smaller economy, is to give middle- and lower-income Americans more buying power — and not just temporarily.

    Much of the current debate is irrelevant. Even with more tax breaks for business like accelerated depreciation, companies won’t invest in more factories or equipment when demand is dropping for products and services across the board, as it is now. And temporary fixes like a stimulus package that would give households a one-time cash infusion won’t get consumers back to the malls, because consumers know the assistance is temporary. The problems most consumers face are permanent, so they are likely to pocket the extra money instead of spending it. ...

    The underlying problem has been building for decades. America’s median hourly wage is barely higher than it was 35 years ago, adjusted for inflation. The income of a man in his 30s is now 12 percent below that of a man his age three decades ago. Most of what’s been earned in America since then has gone to the richest 5 percent.

    Yet the rich devote a smaller percentage of their earnings to buying things than the rest of us because, after all, they’re rich. They already have most of what they want. Instead of buying, and thus stimulating the American economy, the rich are more likely to invest their earnings wherever around the world they can get the highest return. ...

    We also need stronger unions, especially in the local service sector that’s sheltered from global competition. Employees should be able to form a union without the current protracted certification process that gives employers too much opportunity to intimidate or coerce them. Workers should be able to decide whether to form a union with a simple majority vote.

    And employers who fire workers for trying to organize should have to pay substantial fines. Right now, the typical penalty is back pay for the worker, plus interest — a slap on the wrist.

News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • The Telegraph (United Kingdom): Healthcare in the US: great if you've got cover. By Elizabeth Webster. Since moving to the USA, I have found the system of health care here to be one of the most eye-opening, confusing and unfairly fantastic enterprises I have ever experienced.

    Rather than having a National Health Service as exists in the UK (courtesy of the socialist vision of Nye Bevan in 1948), funded through taxes where everyone - and I mean everyone - can have a consultation and receive treatment if deemed necessary, you have scant chance here of being treated properly for anything unless you have sufficient health insurance.

    This said, however, in my experience the treatment, if you can afford the insurance cover, is first rate. There are no waiting lists, appointments can be made for the day you call (so that you actually get to see a doctor whilst you are ill and not a week later) and surgeries are pleasant and well stocked with current copies of People magazine - my gossip rag of choice. (Editor's note: In England, doctor's offices are called "surgeries."

    But it really is a minefield. The first hurdle occurs when choosing insurance cover. There are many forms of insurance, which range from the all-singing-all-dancing cover which we receive as part of our expat package, where we are covered from tip to toe with just a limit on dental claims, to different schemes, including Co-Pay where the patient is liable for a certain percentage of costs incurred.

    Do you take the chance, have limited cover and still be able to afford to go on vacation or do you insure yourself up to the eyeballs and no longer wear shoes? Television commercials for health insurance are prolific - it really is a big deal and worth billions of dollars a year.

    It is extremely commonplace here for employers to provide health cover as part of a salary package, which is why the rumour goes that Americans fear losing their jobs more than they fear much else.

    Monthly cover for a family can be horrifyingly expensive. The husband of an American friend of mine, for example, has recently become self-employed and his monthly family health insurance premium now costs more than their monthly mortgage repayment. We Brits don't think about that alternative when we are complaining about the NHS.

  • National Public Radio's Morning Edition (audio): N.Y. Attorney General Accuses Insurers of Fraud. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is suing United Health, one the nation's largest health insurers, and demanding information from more than a dozen others. He accuses the industry of manipulating data so it can charge patients an unfairly high portion of the bill for out-of-network doctors.
  • TomPaine.com, courtesy of Physicians for a National Health Program: 10 Myths About Canadian Health Care, Busted. By Sara Robinson. Excerpts: 2008 is shaping up to be the election year that we finally get to have the Great American Healthcare Debate again. Harry and Louise are back with a vengeance. Conservatives are rumbling around the talk show circuit bellowing about the socialist threat to the (literal) American body politic. And, as usual, Canada is once again getting dragged into the fracas, shoved around by both sides as either an exemplar or a warning — and, along the way, getting coated with the obfuscating dust of so many willful misconceptions that the actual facts about How Canada Does It are completely lost in the melee.

    I’m both a health-care-card-carrying Canadian resident and an uninsured American citizen who regularly sees doctors on both sides of the border. As such, I’m in a unique position to address the pros and cons of both systems first-hand. If we’re going to have this conversation, it would be great if we could start out (for once) with actual facts, instead of ideological posturing, wishful thinking, hearsay, and random guessing about how things get done up here.

    To that end, here’s the first of a two-part series aimed at busting the common myths Americans routinely tell each other about Canadian health care. When the right-wing hysterics drag out these hoary old bogeymen, this time, we need to be armed and ready to blast them into straw. Because, mostly, straw is all they’re made of.

    Editor's note: This is a must read article!

  • Consumer Reports: On their own. Far from a remedy, individual health insurance is a world of pain. Excerpts: Imagine that shopping for a new car worked like this: If you really didn't need the auto and lived two blocks from work, any dealer would sell you a car for a song. If the commute was 50 miles, much too far to walk, no one would sell you a car at any price.

    You wouldn't get to see a full contract until you plunked down your cash. Your monthly car payment would go up 20 to 30 percent every year, and, by the way, the steering wheel might be extra.

    The auto industry doesn't work like that, of course, but the market for people who buy their own health insurance does.

    "I have been living with a dark cloud over me, thinking I am one illness away from poverty," says Kathie Baughman, 57, a self-employed title searcher, of Howard, Pa. She couldn't get individual health insurance because she takes medication for high blood pressure and once had a lab test that detected slightly high blood sugar. ...

    People who consider themselves in fine health can be declined insurance because of previous treatment, even for conditions such as hay fever and acid reflux. ...

    Reforming the health insurance system and reducing the ranks of 47 million uninsured Americans have emerged as major issues in this year's presidential race, with some candidates proposing to use tax breaks and the individual insurance market to solve the problem. But the stories of many consumers who struggle with high costs and a lack of access to individual health insurance because of medical conditions underscore the hurdles that must be cleared.

  • Huffington Post, courtesy of California Nurses Association: The New Bailout: Individual Health Insurance Mandates and Greater Personal Debt. By Rose Ann DeMoro. Excerpts: Behind the escalating debate on the health care between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on individual mandate -- she's for it, he's against it -- is a critical policy battle that not only cuts across health care reform but also the neo-liberal privatization dreams, the home mortgage crisis, and the recession that is no longer looming, it's here.

    Sound far-fetched? Take a closer look, starting with the millions of Americans staring at the loss of their homes due to the sub-prime loan debacle. It's not a loan or a mortgage crisis for those families; it's a debt crisis being forced upon them by the banks, hedge funds, and insurers who are desperate to shift their own mammoth debt onto someone else.

    Banking, other financial institutions, insurance and real estate which make up the finance sector, now account for about half of U.S. corporate profits. And, they are in trouble with more than $2.5 trillion in outstanding consumer credit, $800 billion of that in credit card debt, and another $10.1 trillion in domestic mortgage debt.

    Being thrifty won't solve that problem. The financial planners have identified two lucrative pots of money. Trading carbon credits for industries and employers that want to brand themselves as green while continuing to pollute. And, making a killing in health care, currently 16 percent of our national economic pie and rapidly growing. ...

    Compelling people to buy insurance, however, is not the easiest sell. Big insurers and HMOs have a well deserved bad reputation for heartless denials of care - that's how they make money. And, it's pricey. Premiums the past decade have gone up 87 percent, not to mention the ever climbing bills for deductibles, co-pays, and a host of other transaction fees.

    The finance industry is over the moon with this scheme. For insurers, it means millions of new customers marched into their offices with the force of law. With no controls on costs, many consumers will just add on more debt. That's a boon for the credit card companies and other financial institutions, but a heavy new burden on many of the same people now losing their homes or struggling with other financial hardship. ...

    But "having" insurance is not the same as being able to use it. You're only being mandated to purchase the premiums; they're not mandating the insurance companies to make sure you get the care you need. Nor does "having" insurance protect you from financial ruin. ...

    It accelerates the dismantling of group insurance plans with individuals forced to go it alone in the individual market, and institutionalizes risk and cost shifting on to the backs of individuals and families. It distorts the role of government, which should be to protect people, not act as an insurance agent.

  • Dallas Morning News: Baby boomers may find bridge to health insurance. By Bob Moos. "Making it to Medicare" has become one of the biggest challenges for baby boomers who retire or are laid off before 65. Individual health insurance can be expensive. More than half of the pre-65 boomers on such policies spend at least $300 in monthly premiums for single coverage, according to the Commonwealth Fund, a Washington-based policy institute. And those with a chronic medical condition may be denied coverage related to that condition or turned down altogether. ...

    But there may be hope on the horizon. Lured by the baby boomer generation's size and affluence, a number of insurers have begun to market policies specifically geared to the 50-to-64 age group. Some of the nation's largest health insurers – Aetna, Humana and WellPoint – are introducing more comprehensive products designed for people who were used to benefit-rich plans in their jobs.

    Consumer advocates are cautious about the new individual plans, wondering whether they will do any good for older adults who haven't been able to purchase affordable coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Prices will remain high, the advocates predict, and many chronic conditions will still be excluded. ...

    Early retirees without employer-subsidized coverage can expect to spend an average of 40 percent of their pre-retirement income for their medical expenses, according to the Commonwealth Fund. "For the pre-Medicare crowd, one serious illness or injury could wipe out their savings and drive them into bankruptcy," said Sara Collins, a health insurance expert with the group.

  • Physicians for a National Health Program: Wyden's "Healthy Americans Act" is Wrong Model for Health Reform. By Dr. Walter Tsou. Excerpts: The bipartisan authors of the Healthy Americans Act, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Bob Bennett (R-UT) were in Philadelphia today for a two hour session to explain their bill. Their purpose was to build public support for their bill with the goal of having most of the disagreements worked out by the time a new president takes office in January 2009. The bill depends on the “mandate” model of private insurance. The potential problems with this approach have been extensively written about by PNHP.

    Nevertheless, it was a unique meeting to have both Senators explain their bill and to sit with an audience for an hour to answer questions. The first tip off was that the forum was sponsored by AmeriHealth, a large Medicaid HMO. The Mayor of Philadelphia (who will be featured this Wednesday on ABC News with Charles Gibson) came to thank them for coming and stating his gratitude that someone in Washington was working on this problem. He came short of actually endorsing the bill however and conveniently left. ...

    Despite these rumblings, I think it is pretty clear that the American people want single payer. It is the politicians who are out of tune with this. We will need to do a lot more educating about this. The impending recession may cause millions more Americans to lose their health insurance. Simply requiring them to buy insurance is not a solution in the face of a recession and we should demand that Congress create a real safety net, not one based on the fantasy that everyone buy overpriced for profit private insurance with huge deductibles.

  • The Century Foundation: Will Consumer-Driven Medicine Really Cut Health Care Costs? By Niko Karvounis. Excerpts: One of the most common justifications for consumer-driven medicine is reduced health care costs. The reasoning here is two-fold:
    1. Since they’re high-deductible and low premium, consumer-driven health plans require more out-of-pocket spending. Consumers are more cost-conscious when they have to actively shell out for purchases. As a result, they will user fewer health care services—and thus overall health care costs will fall.
    2. If consumers are in the driver’s seat, competition in an open market will drive prices down. For-profit providers will want to offer the best deal to get the most business. Consumers will also have better information thanks to the commoditization of medicine, which will translate medical jargon into universally comprehensible knowledge. Smarter consumers translate into less over-payment for services.

    This is standard-issue free market orthodoxy at its finest. Unfortunately, this isn’t the whole story. In fact, there’s an even stronger argument to be made that consumer-driven health plans could lead to higher health care costs.

    The Wrong Patients Forgo the Wrong Care. Research by the RAND Corporation’s health insurance experiment shows that when you shift costs to the consumer, patients forego both wasteful and effective care. And this is particularly true of the patients who cost us most in the long run—those suffering from chronic diseases.

    A 2007 paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research looked at retired California public employees on Medicare, and its findings contradict some of the basic assumption of the consumerist movement. The study’s authors--from Harvard, MIT, and the University of Oregon-- found that chronically patients who are asked to shoulder more of their health care costs deferred, neglected, or opted-out of doctor’s visits and drugs when the price got too high. This short-term cost reduction led to long-term catastrophe, as their hospitalization rates were significantly higher than other patients suffering from chronic diseases. Immediate savings ultimately led to a greater—and otherwise preventable—use of more expensive care. Oops.

  • Senator Bernie Sanders: Primary Health Care. Excerpts: The number of primary-care physicians and other health professionals trained in the United States is shrinking, according to Government Accountability Office findings announced at a Senate committee hearing chaired by Senator Bernie Sanders. The nonpartisan research arm of Congress was asked to assess the state of primary-care training in the United States by Sanders and Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), the committee chairman. “It is beyond comprehension that America is not able to graduate the kinds of health professionals we need, and it is morally wrong that we are depleting the number of health-care providers from the poorer countries of the world,” said Sanders. ...

    “The nation’s over reliance on specialty-care services at the expense of primary care," Steinwald added, "leads to a health-care system that is less efficient." The GAO official also noted that the U.S. lags in life expectancy, infant mortality and health-care quality measurements despite spending more per capita than other industrialized nations.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site:
  • Alert: Be aware that IBM is blocking e-mail from the endicottalliance address to IBM internal e-mail and filtering from employee to employee with the term Alliance@IBM
  • Tell IBM to rescind employee pay cuts. Effective February 1st, IBM unilaterally reclassified 7600 employees from exempt from overtime to non-exempt AND cut their pay 15%. IBM is also rebanding employees to lower bands which will also affect future wages. IBM Executives are meeting with employees around the country who are getting their salary cut. Is this simply damage control?

    Keep the Pressure on! Take a stand! SAY NO to Pay Cuts! Tell me more...

  • Plan Now! Make your voice heard at the IBM Stockholder meeting April 29th in Charlotte, North Carolina. Details to follow...
  • From the Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comment 2/11/08: Stand-by Pay: Just heard this from management. Backup on-call will not get Stand-by, as they are not restricted in movement. If Primary is getting Stand-by pay and does NOT respond within 15 min of page, possible (likely?) disciplinary action will be taken. Falsification of records... -*** BOHICA ***- Alliance reply: Doesn't that kind of nastiness sound like a good reason to organize?
    • Comment 2/11/08: To -*** BOHICA ***- Management tells CE's that they agreed to callouts when they were hired. As those rebanded did not then no standby pay, No availability. And organize yer butts off ! Do not allow them to force the kind of abuse on you that they have done to CE's for years. If you do it will only get worse for you. They will never hire enough people if you cover for them. They do not care if they wake your family up all night. They do not care if your spouse leaves you because of it. They do not care if you die of a heart attack. because some other sucker can be forced to do your work just like you are being forced.

      Organize and bend Sammy over for once. I like all IBMers from my generation distrusted Unions un till I realized they are my co workers. My buddies who are getting the shaft right next to me. When me and my team stick together against what is wrong and unfair in our workplace we are a union. How can that be a bad thing? God bless all in these trying times. -Exodus 2007-

    • Comment 2/11/08: GBS AIS - got a note last week from AIS management - they are removing PDM role in AIS and asking tech resources to do people management also. Got call from PDM today. He is asked to find another job in 30 days or else. Awaiting who will be my 1st line manager now !! -Anonymous in RTP-
    • Comment 2/14/08: I don’t get it folks? Membership costs just over 33 cents a day! You can’t buy a cup of coffee or even a bottle of water for less than 3 times that. Sure, we’ve all been hit hard by the 15% pay cut, not only financially but indignantly. My manager spouts his given line, that, I am of the same value to IBM that I was before the pay cut. Why then don’t I feel that way? Maybe, because I am not treated that way!

      Why are there only some 435+ members out of all of us that read and post here? Do you think for one minute that management will make it better? If you do, just look at the recent history behind you. I know there are thousands of you out there, sitting on the fence, wanting to join, but hesitating because you hope this will get better or at least level off on its own. Well that just is not going to happen, at least not until there are none of us left employed. I beg you to join us.

      Give it a year. That is just a measly $120 (less than dinner for two at some fancy restaurant). The more that join, the more that will join in the cause, as they see our numbers grow stronger. If after the year you are still not satisfied cancel your membership and drop out, because if we don’t do something we may not be here in another year! PLEASE THINK ABOUT IT !!!. -*** BOHICA ***-

      Alliance reply: Thanks for your support. Our total membership including members, associate members and subscribers is 6000. We need to build the Alliance into a strong force to challenge IBM. The recent pay cuts are not the last. We have an average of 50,000 visits a month to the web site. We need everyone who comes here to join the Alliance.

    • Comment 2/15/08: It seems to me that the Alliance numbers show you haven't been growing over the year. Why?-pro-union-

      Alliance reply: We are in the same situation that many other unions are. We lose members and supporters as the company sheds employees and when employees retire. Many members have also quit IBM to go to other companies. A lot of our base came into the Alliance during the pension fight and also are no longer with IBM. As anyone who has worked in IBM knows there has been a concerted effort to force US employees out of IBM and that impacts us as well.

  • General Visitor's Comment page:
    • Comment 2/10/08: I'm a SSR and am being leaned against to pick up my phone if IBM calls anytime! Myself and a couple other SSRs that have about 10 years service compared to the other 7 SSRs that have 25-30+ years have to take most of the call outs because we make less money per hour (cheaper)! Also, we don't get standby pay and if we don't pick up the phone then we get pointed at and publicly commented to about "Hey, You didn't take your call out last night!" I'm sick of this and feel discriminated against because of my age and time of service. NOR are we designated in any schedule to be on call. I suggested a plan that we ALL take our fare share of call outs and pretty much everyone liked the idea... Except those that don't take any now! I'm fed up with IBM... NOT the company they were. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/10/08: Yep! 15% cut and by god you better get management approval 3 levels high before you even think about doing OT! -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/13/08: I have a friend that works for CSC (an IBM competitor).I work for CSC, one of IBM’s competitors. CSC had the same situation a year ago he said and many of CSC employees were moved to the nonexempt status. However, CSC did not cut anybodies pay. CSC did start limiting overtime soon thereafter though (you can bet IBM will do so soon also). So IBM introduces a 15% base pay cut that was something it's competition (CSC) didn't do. IBM said something to the affect they need to do the base pay cut to keep employee salaries in line with the competition. We all know most IBM jobs pay below market average, now with a 15% base pay cut these salaries are well below market average now and are probably mostly below CSC's now. -CSC&IBM-
    • Comment 2/13/08: IBM global services is still retarded after all these years. Big surprise, I know. All the workers are smarter than the managers, who are yes men that like to be politicians instead of solving problems or being helpful. Then ibm is over budget, because they don't have enough mangers and not enough workers. GOOD JOB IBM, 1 more year in the retarded category, let's keep it going, and don't forget to hire a bunch of greenhorn DBA's from INDIA to really screw up the customer's systems. We love you IBM MORONS.. -The Hammer-

      Alliance Reply: Apparently, you are a customer of IBM, as evidenced by your email address (we won't print that). It's unfortunate that IBM doesn't listen to customers like you.. They might learn something. Thanks for your comment.

    • Comment 2/14/08: There will be a delay in the rebanding of the 08A family due to the perceived fall out of the 24A family. 15% is the minimum, there has been folks knocked down by 25% with the same ill perceived comments that OT will cover the cut. The plan is to use the band 8 folks to work the OT, because they were not rebanded. Very few folks will see OT in the lower band.. very few. There will be a TON of pressure on the management chain to cut OT. We are not dumb, just look at how they treated the contractors for OT, its the same for the ones rebanded. It will take a lot of political power, not customer sat, to get approval. Remember customer sat? That was the focus for us prior, but that is sooo 90's now.

      The PM family will feel the same pain very soon. Originally, it was scheduled to hit in mid to late 2nd Qtr, they will push that off until QT3 or QT4. There will also be the cut in the severance package. You have heard this from multiple sources. The package will now be the same as those who were forced out under the PBC3 "Work Plan" Remember the concept of forced attrition.. that's the whole effort here team.. forced attrition. They want you weak and willing to except any demands they push down. They plan on folks leaving on their own due to the piss poor work environment.

      Do you remember when management would have major announcements on fixing the morale issues ? The Spirit teams? That's gone.. forced attrition.

      Big changes coming up towards qtr4 of 08. Global Services is being shopped.. it has been. The overhead has been too high compared to the revenue, so they are doing what they can to get the numbers in line to market it effectively. The moral and impact to us is not on the radar screen. Doing this in a dignified way has been out the window as that would effect the bonuses and stock incentives that the certain few are receiving. Our wonderful management team will continue to put the square peg in the round hole, by hammering it in and shaving off the excess until its fits.. this is the mantra from the top team that has been empowered to make this happen.

      Expect wages comparable to those in Indian companies. Remember that article that set fire to the sametime system? about the massive layoffs and job shifts to India.. that's still on. That's the goal.. COTS COTS COTS make us look very good on the books.. keep the lawyers busy with the customer complaints.. they need enough time to sell this blue pig.Keep your eyes open and resume up to date. DONT QUIT they want you to do that.. milk it and look while you milk it.. that way when the RA hits you, you will get paid to leave -Anonymous-

  • Pension Comments page
  • Raise and Salary Comments
    • Comment 2/8/08: Salary = 49k; Band Level = 6; Job Title = accountant; Years Service = 2; Hours/Week = 40; Div Name = IMBPD; Location = duh ; Message = 24x7 support; 365 days a year; I can't leave office in the evenings or go away on weekends with freedom always having to worry if my phone or pager is going to ring. They cut my pay 15% and still want to own me after hours without paying me. -24x7x365-

      Sorry to sound calloused but being tied to a phone/pager on your off hours is your own choice. Your manager should know that when you clock out & go home, you're not reachable until the next day. I've told my manager that I'm a dad & husband first - IBM is farther down the list. I'll work hard when I'm here but when I'm gone, don't bother me. This is another reason to unionize so that being tied to a pager has a significant financial benefit to it. If management wants you available 24/7 then your pay should increase significantly as well as requiring that vacation time either be allowed (no pager) or get unused vacation time paid at year end. -Tulsa_member-

    • Comment 2/10/08: Salary = 61K; Band Level = 7; Job Title = Sales Rep; Years Service = 12; Hours/Week = Too Many; Div Name = 12; Location = Atlanta; Message = I've read some of the comments and I must say that experiences are similar even in Sales. I was once told that you could make money in sales but that hasn't been the case because IBM always finds a way to not pay you but constantly changing the sales plan. Either IBM gives you an outrageous quota or they change the plan to give you 2 quotas in a year. I've also not had a band increase or raise in 10 years. I dedicated myself to this company because it's always been a childhood dream and I work too many hours hoping it will make ends meet. At the end of the day, no one appreciates the work and our clients poo poo on us because we're not the services company we used to be in the 80's. It s now all about Wall Street and the Stock price, which we haven't been able to raise, but the concept has removed focus on it's people. I believe it's time to find out if the it's truly greener on the other side. -Jeanluc-
    • Comment 2/10/08: Salary = 82k; Band Level = 8; Job Title = DPE; Years Service = 11; Hours/Week = 55; Message = Dear Tulsa Member, I appreciate your statements, but I think being in the accounting area is different from most of us folks in delivery who are on 24/7. We are expected to respond within 15 minutes in most cases, and SLA impacts do now allow us to simply tell our managers we are gone for the day. That would never fly. IBM Mgt preaches Work Life Balance, but when you try to achieve it they page you! Do you know how many times I have been on a call where someone has been asked to be paged who is on vacation?? You know what the response is?? Page him anyways!!! Vacation? What vacation. If we can't get vacation without interruption how can we get a few hours off in the evening? With that said I think the accounting area, and I mean no disrespect, but it is just very different from the areas most are complaining about here. -ChiTownIBM-
    • Comment 2/11/08: I am aware that accounting is different from what many of my fellow IBMers in delivery (and other areas) experience. However, it still goes back to keeping management accountable. Since we don't have a union to keep IBM in check, then we have to do it individually. As outside-smiling-now said, if management doesn't have sufficient back-up to take care of your things when you're off the clock or on vacation then it's management's fault.

      Those of you who are tied to IBM 24/7 have created the monster yourselves (IMO) by bowing to managements demands all the time. Try it some time - take a weekend off & "forget" the pager at work, don't answer your cell phone or home phone. I can tell you the dividends at home are much sweeter and longer lasting than at IBM.

      I know that I am not on IBM's "go to" guy list as far as extra duty is concerned. When I was a go to guy my first year here, it didn't get men anywhere. My skill set is very marketable and there are plenty of jobs around that I can land a job elsewhere if needed. IBM has a poor enough reputation in Tulsa that they have a hard time recruiting anyone except college grads or retirees. So the likelihood of being let go is pretty slim. -Tulsa_member-

    • Comment 2/12/08: Randy Mac is visiting SBY on 2/19 and the other IBM exec stooges will be doing other IBM locations, doing an attempt at damage control now with the "reclassification + -15% pay thing": It is too late to work. IBM can't "smooth this over" now. Not no way, no how. The IBM execs didn't attempt to do this with the initial cash balance forced conversion before they back pedaled and gave some IBMers a pension choice. So why this? They still don't care. But they want to hear who bitches about it. These sick, demented IBM execs are just looking for revenge and vindication of some sort. But I will be at the meeting and I will be vocal. And I will point to facts. God help them if they RA me for expressing my true feelings. And these IBM execs can rot in hell!!! -SBY_IBMer-
    • Comment 2/12/08: hey Folks! IBM executives are holding meetings to re-propaganda-ize all of you. Don't give them the satisfaction they seek. Don't be silent. Ask them questions that you ask here on this board. Make your voices heard.. What an opportunity! Speak up! Show Randy Mac that you won't take any **** from him! Mention that you are organizing to build a backlash against IBM management's move to cut your pay. DO IT NOW! NOW is the TIME! -somebody-
    • Comment 2/12/08: From the Manager's PowerPoint presentation that is being withheld from employees: "Adding overtime compensation to already-competitive pay would quickly produce costs that exceed competitive levels -- an UNDESIRABLE RESULT FOR EMPLOYEES and our clients." Huh? How twisted is this thinking IBM? A 15% base pay cut is undesirable to employees. Employees already not being pay competitively and having base pay cut 15% is undesirable. Now these past two sentences are clear thinking IBM. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/13/08: IBM claims they have to work in a 15% base pay cut when moving the "7600" from exempt to non-exempt classifications to keep salaries COMPETITIVE. I'm f&%$#ing sick of IBM using COMPETITIVE to describe all it's resource (we used to be called employees) screw jobs: we heard the term with the cash balance pension, the introduction of the FHA (Future Health Account), the reason our pension got frozen this 1/1/2008, etc. They always say COMPETITIVE but they never elaborate on it and why it is. -competitive_BS-
    • Comment 2/13/08: From slide 18 of the Manager's Powerpoint introducing the reclassification and 15% base pay cut: "Remix is not a cost cutting opportunity, but the intention of the remix is an attempt to maintain overall competitive pay for employees while limiting financial impact to IBM" No wonder this was withheld from affected employees by IBM management. Respect for the individual. NOT! How about those employees on FWS or after the 15% base pay cut fall below the MINIMUM of their pay band competitive pay? Real nice spin IBM :( -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/13/08: Band Level = 8; Years Service = 33; Location = Atlanta; Message = The executive meetings will take place with the employees - my location has scheduled a whole hour - wow - so much time!!!! I want to know how much money Moffet and MacDonald are spending to make these visits? It would at least make up my 15% -Really Bummed-
    • Comment 2/14/08: "The executive meetings will take place with the employees - my location has scheduled a whole hour - wow - so much time!!!!" Why didn't they offer to do it after 5PM so we can get the OT that we all need now? :) Oh, and will they supply a CLAIM PID so it is considered billable work? All of us RESOURCES need every hour to make the ever increasing billable targets. :) -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/14/08: Salary = 51,000; Band Level = 6; Job Title = Consultant; Years Service = 9 months; Hours/Week = 40; Div Name = 16; Location = Washington DC; Message = I seriously doubt that I will get any raise in the foreseeable future, and I am also not doing anything, it's not my fault, but this is going to hurt my career in the long run, I am considering quitting IBM, because there simply isn't enough higher level work for someone doing management consulting. For those who are interested in Strategy consulting out of college, IBM is really a terrible place to work, I would stay away, I wish someone had warned me about this a year ago. -Eli-
    • Comment 2/14/08: I spoke to my old manager (he filled out the paperwork used to determine the reclass) and he said that he coded his entire dept basically the same and some got reclassed and some did not. He was just as confused as I was as to why a little less than half his dept reclass'ed and others were not. My new manager is supposedly taking this up to HR, but we'll see... -Anon-
    • Comment 2/15/08: Salary = 112k & change pre-reclass; Band Level = 8 (for now); Job Title = IT Specialist; Years Service = 17; Hours/Week = 45-50; Div Name = IBM Global Services; Message = I must say that I went into the IBM town hall meeting with low expectations and I was not disappointed. Listening to Randy MacDonald for an hour explains a lot about what is wrong with IBM today. If nothing else, he pushed me to join the alliance. -Anon-
    • Comment 2/15/08: Salary = 54K pre cut; Band Level = 6; Job Title = Systems Integration Specialist; Years Service = 7; Hours/Week = 45; Div Name = 7; Location = CT; Message = I sent actual letters to the government officials, with stamps and everything! (hehe). I will look in to doing those things soon. Thanks for the suggestions! -Doing my part-
    • Comment 2/15/08: Salary = 36576 after 15% cut; Band Level = 6; Job Title = IT Services Professional; Years Service = 7; Hours/Week = 40-45; Location = north east; Message = pitiful I know, don't even make the "range" for the band, but i'm sure IBM will change that too. -ibmental to still be here-
  • PBC Comments
    • Comment 2/12/08: Prior Yr PBC = 3; This Yr PBC = n/a; This Yr Bonus = 41000; Prior Yr Bonus = 2500; Message = Last year Salary, $110k; This year Salary, $140k; I got a PBC 3, took a package, and went to work for someone else. Wish I had left "a long time ago" -Anonymous-
  • 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.

  • "Is this typical?" by "kellerdog". Full excerpt: Does IBM put a lot of their IBM India resources in the US? Just curious ...I got an offer from GBS but when I interviewed with IBM few weeks back, all of the 3 people who interviewed me are all Indians - and I think the other two that didn't interview me are also Indians. Is that the typical resources mix nowadays in IBM? Is it because IBM put a lot of their IBM India resources in the US? I interviewed with the other major IT consulting companies, but that was a unique experience for me, and no, I didn't interview for a job in India but in the US.
  • "Either way I don't care" by "kellerdog". Full excerpt: but just imagine that I am interviewing for IBM US and there is NO other faces other than Indian faces, all of them, not a single white, yellow or black faces. How scary is that? I interviewed with Wipro US once a long time ago and I still met a white face, believe it or not, but not with IBM. I am just curious of what kind of company that I am joining. At least with Wipro, I know what I am getting into.
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: Eight Reasons You Need To Fly Private. By Rebecca Ruiz. Excerpts: For those who fly privately, price is often no object. Take, for example, a hedge fund manager who recently hired the Long Island, N.Y.-based Talon Air to fly him and five guests to Las Vegas on a Gulfstream IV. The party began their four-day trip with a catered meal from the exclusive Japanese restaurant Nobu. They relaxed in reclining leather seats and sped toward Sin City at 570 miles per hour. On the return flight, they again enjoyed a Nobu meal, this one prepared at the Las Vegas restaurant.

    The total cost? $86,000, which included a $5,000 bill for catering.

  • Wall Street Journal: Sugar Baron by the Bay. By Christina S.N. Lewis. Excerpt: What: Renovated 1912 mansion with five bedrooms, five full baths, measuring 7,500 square feet on 0.3-acre double lot Where: San Francisco Amenities: Earthquake-resistant; landscaped garden, five wood-burning fireplaces, sewing room, elevator, media room, laundry room, unattached two-car garage Asking Price: $25 million Annual Property Taxes: $36,000 last year.
  • Wall Street Journal: Kimmel Home Listed For $81.5 Million. By Christina S.N. Lewis. Excerpt: In Palm Beach, movie producer Sidney Kimmel, the billionaire founder and chairman of Jones Apparel, has put his oceanfront mansion up for sale for $81.5 million. ... The limestone villa's atrium has six 20-foot-high glass panels that can sink into the ground, opening up the house to the pool and ocean, according to Paulette Koch of Corcoran Group, the listing agent along with her son, Dana. There's a two-bedroom guest house, a five-car garage and two pool cabanas. The property, near the house of Netscape co-founder Jim Clark, has 316 feet on the ocean.
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.