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Highlights—July 12, 2008

  • Austin American-Statesman: State audit finds startup problems with $863 million IBM project. Consolidation of state agency data slowed by lack of experienced workers, high turnover, report says. By Kate Alexander. Excerpts: An $863 million state project with IBM Corp. to streamline the information technology operations of 27 Texas agencies has been hampered by difficulties getting experienced state workers for the startup effort, state auditors said. The project has also been slowed by high turnover among IBM rank-and-file employees as well as nine key management positions, the Texas state auditor said in a report released Wednesday. Both factors might have contributed to a delay of the project, which was 273 days behind schedule as of April, the audit said. ...

    As part of the project, the Department of Information Resources identified 560 state agency positions that were responsible for the work undertaken by IBM. IBM faced a skills gap because 41 percent of those positions were vacant and only 52 percent of the employees that were most skilled and knowledgeable in their respective tasks jumped to IBM, the auditor determined. ...

    IBM and its partners were required to offer jobs to all the employees, who were offered pay raises of up to 10 percent. But the employees were not required to take the private sector jobs, which would have affected their retirement and other benefits. "The employees have to make the right decision for their lives," Coffer said.

  • Triangle Business Journal: IBM layoffs hit RTP. Excerpts: IBM has laid off about 30 workers in Research Triangle Park, a company official confirmed Wednesday. The job cuts were part of a round of 150 cuts IBM made across the country. ...

    Spokesperson John Buscemi declined to provide details about the laid-off workers. "IBM continually evaluates its skills and needs and balances them against the needs of our customers," he says. "And so a resource action" - IBM's corporate term for layoffs - "was part of that."

  • InformationWeek: New York May Pay IBM To Not Fire Workers. By Paul McDougall. Excerpts: IBM, which made more than $10 billion in profits last year, reportedly wants state aid from the Paterson administration in exchange for expanding its facilities in upstate New York and a no-layoff pledge.

    The Albany Times Union and Poughkeepsie Journal have both reported that the Paterson government is mulling tens of millions of dollars in grants to help IBM expand its East Fishkill chip plant and develop a new generation of microprocessors there.

    In return, Paterson wants IBM to promise it won't lay off workers in New York state, according to the Times Union.

    Now, IBM is a for-profit, publicly held corporation whose job is to make as much money as it can for its shareholders. So you can't blame company executives for trying to get what they can get out of Albany. But why is Paterson, who presides over a state that is beyond broke, willing to give away taxpayer dollars (including some of mine), just to keep Big Blue around?

    If IBM doesn't see the value in expanding operations in one of the country's most important states, one that is home to the world's financial center and top engineering schools like RPI, without having to be bribed to do so, then something is clearly wrong.

  • Los Angeles Times opinion: Working without a net. The shift of economic risk to ordinary families has them staring into a financial abyss. By Peter Gosselin. Excerpts: Working Americans and their families arrived on the doorstep of the current economic crisis uniquely ill-equipped to cope with its consequences. Rather than having gained a financial protective coating during the period of growth that preceded it, working families up and down the income spectrum were actually nudged further out on an economic limb and therefore were primed for being picked off once problems emerged.

    It's not that the growth of the last generation wasn't real; it was. The U.S. economy doubled in size between 1980 and last year. It's not that all of the benefits of the just-past era went to those at the top (although a very substantial chunk did); millions upon millions of Americans prospered right along with the super-rich.

    But the prosperity we enjoyed was purchased at a price of diminished security for our families and ourselves. Even as our incomes went up, economic risks -- the costs of being laid off, of suffering a work-stopping illness or of a catastrophe like a house fire -- that were once largely borne on the broad shoulders of business and government were being shifted onto the backs of ordinary families, from the working poor to the reasonably rich. ...

    The changes that have made Americans more vulnerable have occurred in the struts that hold up working families and that have held them up for generations. Jobs, benefits, housing, health coverage, college and retirement savings, even bought-and-paid-for insurance all played crucial roles in maintaining families' economic stability during the second half of the 20th century. But the protective value of each has been weakened over the last generation. ...

    ERISA's congressional authors intended the law to protect employee benefits. We know this because they said so right in the law's preamble. But over the last generation, the Supreme Court and increasingly conservative federal appeals courts have rendered a series of decisions involving ERISA that have made it easier for employers and their agents to deny benefits to workers and their families.

    Diane Andrews-Clarke learned exactly what these decisions meant when her husband (and father of the couple's three daughters), Richard Clarke, began drinking heavily. Under Andrews-Clarke's employer-provided family health insurance policy, and under Massachusetts law, anyone covered by the policy who needed alcohol treatment was due 30 days of inpatient care paid for by insurance.

    However, when Andrews-Clarke tried to collect, the insurer refused to cover more than a handful of days. When she tried a second time, the insurer refused again. Richard Clarke eventually died, and Andrews-Clarke sued. But because the Supreme Court and appeals courts have limited employees' rights under employer-provided health policies such as hers to essentially getting the benefits that were originally denied, and because Clarke, being dead, wasn't available to receive any benefits, Andrews-Clarke got nothing.

    "People who try to claim their employer-sponsored benefits are worse off than they were two or three decades ago," said Judge William Acker Jr., who was appointed by President Reagan to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama in Birmingham and who has written extensively about ERISA. "The law that was supposed to protect them has been turned on its head." ...

    ...working Americans and their families are operating on an economic high wire -- only one or two missteps from a steep financial fall. Little wonder people are so bleak about their prospects now that times are tough.

  • CNN: Gay adoption by IBM heir goes to high court. Excerpts: An adult adoption involving lesbian partners and a claim to a share of a family fortune built on IBM has been annulled, bouncing the case to Maine's highest court. At issue is whether it was legal for a judge to allow Olive Watson to adopt Patricia Spado in 1991 in Knox County, where the longtime partners spent several weeks each summer on an island in Penobscot Bay. Watson was a daughter of Thomas Watson Jr., who took International Business Machines Corp. from punch cards into electronic computing. The relationship between Spado and Watson ended a year after the adoption was approved, and in 2005 -- after Thomas Watson and his wife had both died -- the adoption was challenged in court by other heirs to the Watson fortune.
  • Huntington, W. Va. Herald-Dispatch: Bob Brown: Teacher pension plan a win for West Virginia. Excerpts: On June 3rd, to a chorus of cheers, the results of the teacher pension transfer vote were announced. With more than 78 percent of the eligible participants selecting to transfer from a defined contribution pension plan to a defined benefit pension plan, over 15,000 teachers and school service employees will be moving into a bona fide retirement plan. For my members, many of whom have to work two jobs just to make ends meet, this is a signature moment in their working lives.

    Let us also recognize that this is a win for West Virginia. On a human level, the result of this vote means that we have finally corrected an injustice to the thousands of employees who were placed in a flawed retirement plan, one doomed to fail from the start. For these employees, retirement is now no longer a pipe dream; rather, it is a viable option.

  • Computerworld: Why women quit technology careers. More than half of the women in science, engineering and IT leave the field at mid­career. Here's the reason. By Kathleen Melymuka. Excerpts: Your research shows that there are more women on the lower rungs of science and technology fields than most people suspect. Women are actually excelling in science, engineering and technology, despite the fact that the schools are not very good at encouraging them. Many don't just survive the educational process but get some distance in terms of careers. The story is very encouraging in the early run. Between ages 25 and 30, 41% of the young talent with credentials in those subject matters are female. It's a more robust figure than many suspect. That's the good news.

    What happens later? The bad news is that a short way down the road, 52% of this talent drops out. We are finding that attrition rates among women spike between 35 and 40 -- what we call the fight-or-flight moment. Women vote with their feet; they get out of these sectors. Not only are they leaving technology and science companies, many are leaving the field altogether.

  • Yahoo! IBM Retiree message board: "Re: IBM Retiree Reunion Atlanta" by "ladtdino1". Full excerpt: Bart I was starting to wonder if there was anyone on this site and a few others that are enjoying their retired life. I came on this site a little over a year ago after I retired with 41 years. I had a super career and now am enjoying my retirement. IBM check on the 1st and SS check on the 15 and still can't spend all of it. I think it is sad that so many people on this board live a bitter life and find no enjoyment in retirement. I would think that they would be spending time with their families or enjoying sports and hobbies. I also can't understand how they can spend most of their day posting on this board. It appears they have a lonely life. So it sounds like you have your act together and are enjoying what you have earned. When I left my plan was to never get another job and to enjoy life and family. I'm doing it and having a hell of a time at it. So good luck and continue to have fun. If anything this site can be used for entertainment purposes.
  • bNet Business Network: The Hidden Costs of Layoffs. By Carlos Bergfeld. Excerpts: Think downsizing will solve your company’s financial woes? Before getting out the ax, take a look at what experts and researchers have discovered about the unexpected consequences of layoffs. These harsh realities may make you think twice: ...

    Your best employees might bolt after a round of cuts. The top performers who survive a layoff won’t necessarily feel obligated to soldier on. A 2000 study by Roderick Iverson and Jacqueline Pullman from the University of Melbourne, and a 2003 study by Sarah Moore, Leon Grunberg, and Edward Greenberg from the University of Colorado at Boulder, both confirmed that employees were far more likely to quit jobs in environments of repeated downsizing. The likelihood that an employee will quit actually increases the more layoffs he or she “survives,” the CU-Boulder study found. ...

    Researcher and author Cascio compared cost-cutting strategies with several companies’ performance on the S&P 500 during an 18-year period. His findings showed that the most successful companies didn’t rely on layoffs to improve performance. “Over time, the only firms that really outperformed their industries were those that found ways to grow revenues,” Cascio says. “You can’t just shrink your way into prosperity.” ...

    Employee retention is linked with customer retention. Negative public perception of a layoff can be another unexpected cost. “If you’re buying from a company that treats its people badly, you’re going to try and buy from someone else, even if it’s not overt,” Phillips says. “This is the only reason Whole Foods survives — because people want to do what’s right — and so they buy more expensive food that doesn’t taste as good from Whole Foods.” Convincing customers that layoffs are absolutely necessary is probably impossible, since most companies that lay off employees aren’t actually in dire straits. “In any given year, we tend to think the firms that do downsizing are in rather desperate situations and are battling to survive,” says Cascio. “The data just doesn’t confirm that.”

  • WashTech: Love the Work, Hate the Job: The following is an excerpt from David Kusnet's latest book Love the Work, Hate the Job. Excerpt: As Microsoft grew, it relied more on temporary workers who were hired to work on developing one software product and were let go when the project was completed. As its temporary workforce grew, Microsoft began to see the temporary workforce as a business necessity, even as a visionary business model. During the 1990s, celebrity CEOs such as GE's Jack Walsh called for a new corporate model. Cut your permanent workforce down to the workers who are best at your basic functions. Outsource everything else to freelancers, staffing agencies, or outside contractors.
  • The Huffington Post: Into The Abyss: Millions Face Old-Age With No Savings. By Jonathan Tasini. Excerpts: It was probably pretty obvious but there is a damning report out yesterday that paints a stark picture: the collapse of the housing bubble has created a savings and retirement crisis for millions of Americans who face a bleak future. ...

    Baker was one of the few voices warning of the dangers of the housing bubble--but, back then, the traditional media had no interest in sounding like a downer in the go-go enthusiasm for the torrent of cash unleashed by over-inflated home values, and few political leaders wanted to "talk down" the housing value "boom" because, in some respects, it gave cover to the grim reality that no one was seriously dealing with the assault on peoples' wages and standard of living by corporate America. And bankers like Robert Rubin, who inexplicably still maintains his perch as economic statesman in the Democratic Party, were happy to inflate the bubble because their financial institutions were, in theory, building huge holdings (well, we know how that turned out). ...

    Now, some scolds will wag their fingers at people who did not save more money. But, the fact is the lack of substantial wage growth, the rising cost of health care, the rising cost of caring for elderly parents, the rising cost of school tuition, the rising cost of food and other necessities, and the lack of real pensions (more on that in a moment) made it impossible for most people not in the upper income brackets to save. (note to ABC's Charles Gibson: we are not talking about people making $250,000 a year) ...

    Which leads to an important point. As the authors point out, in some respect their study understates the crisis facing most people. If we had a real pension system in the country, things would not be so scary. By real, I do not mean a 401(k), which is a phony pension. By real, I mean a defined benefit pension system that provides security for the vast majority of people who do not gamble in the stock market: a pension that you can count on delivering a secure amount of money to you each month.

    Thanks to the screw-you-once-we've-used-you-up philosophy in corporate executive suites, since 1978, the number of defined-benefit plans plummeted from 128,041 plans covering some 41 percent of private-sector workers to only 26,000 today, according to the independent Employee Benefit Research Institute. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that only 21 percent of workers in the private sector have defined-benefit pensions. In 2005, only 55 percent of full-time and part-time private sector workers worked at firms that sponsored a retirement plan. Of those, only 45 percent participated in an employer-sponsored plan. This compares with a 60 percent employer sponsorship rate and 50 percent employee participation rate in 2000.

    And, by the way, the pension crisis you often read out about is not the fault of average working Joes and Janes. As I pointed out sometime ago, General Motors, General Electric, Bell South, Exxon, IBM, Bank of America, Pfizer and many big corporations have pension funding problems because of executive pensions, not rank-and-file workers' pensions.

  • CNN/Money: Why pension funds beat mutual funds Understanding the edge enjoyed by people who run pension money can make you a smarter investor. By Jason Zweig. Excerpts: Experts have long struggled to explain why pension funds - the big pools of money run for traditional corporate and government retirement plans - tend to outperform mutual funds even when they're run by the same people investing in the same stocks. The simple explanation: Mutual funds charge more because they cost more to run. A pension fund doesn't have to advertise how great it is, maintain a 24-hour toll-free phone bank or mail out tens of thousands of prospectuses.

    Mutual funds do, and that gives them higher expenses than pension funds - depending on how you count, between 0.03 and 0.3 percentage points a year, or up to an extra $3 on every $1,000 you invest. ...

    A new study led by Rik Frehen, a Dutch finance scholar, looks at the stock-investing records of pension and mutual funds in the U.S. - and the findings are fascinating and alarming. Comparing the returns of 700 pension funds against those of 4,000 mutual funds between 1992 and 2004, Frehen found that both categories had underperformed the broader market but that pension funds had killed mutual funds. ...

    Now we're no longer talking about three dollars. Over the period that Frehen and his colleagues studied, $10,000 in a mutual fund would have returned just under 9% a year, giving you $30,000. But the same amount invested in a pension fund would have grown to $36,000, or 20% more. If the stock market returns an average of 6% annually after inflation, you'll give up more than a quarter of your gain by being in a mutual fund - and that's before you pay your annual expenses. ...

    What accounts for this huge gap? Much of it lies in how mutual fund managers are compensated and judged. Managers get paid on the size of the portfolios they run and on the basis of quarterly and annual performance - pressure that pension fund managers don't generally face. That incentive scheme can lead to behavior that hurts you. To goose short-term results and make a mutual fund appear to own the "right" companies when it reports holdings to investors, managers trade stocks too frequently. Trading doesn't cost the manager anything, and it's not reported as an expense to the fund, but the resulting brokerage costs erode your return by up to 1% a year.

  • New York Times: Feeling No Pain. By Bob Herbert. Excerpts: Something similar might be said about today’s economy, although Phil Gramm, a remarkably out-of-touch former senator from Micheal Ray’s home state of Texas, would beg to differ. You may have lost your job or the family home. Or maybe you’re behind in your car payment or your health insurance premium. Perhaps you can’t afford the gas to get to work. Phil Gramm will have none of your complaints: Get over it! Stop whining and eat your gruel. This recession’s all in your head. ...

    “We’re the only nation in the world,” Mr. Gramm once said, “where all our poor people are fat.”

    During one of the many Republican assaults on Social Security, the issue of cutting back benefits for the elderly came up in the Senate. “They are 80-year-olds,” howled Mr. Gramm. “Most people don’t have the luxury of living to be 80 years old, so it’s hard for me to feel sorry for them.” ...

    In the real world, somewhere outside of Phil Gramm’s field of vision, increasing numbers of Americans are working two and three jobs to make ends meet; struggling families are worried sick in July about what it will cost to heat their homes in January; food costs and home foreclosures are soaring; the job market has tanked; and the stock markets are running with the bears.

    In that kind of atmosphere, it’s beyond obscene to have to listen to some platinum-card-carrying fat cat tell us, in a tone dripping with condescension: “You’ve heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession.” ...

    The biggest failing of both parties in this presidential campaign has been the unwillingness to be forthright with the public about the true extent of the crises facing the country. The federal government and ordinary Americans are up to their eyeballs in debt. Much of the financial sector is in deep trouble, with previously blue-chip companies wobbling along on legs as rubbery as a bad check.

    Perpetual war in Iraq and oil prices spiking toward the moon are adding to a sense of national paralysis. Where is the money to invest in ventures that will create good new jobs, that will chart new directions in energy self-sufficiency, that will revitalize the public schools, rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, put New Orleans back on its feet? ...

    We should be getting chapter and verse about how badly the war in Iraq is hurting us here at home. We should be seeing charts and graphs explaining how ordinary Americans, now the hardest-working people on the planet, have been cheated out of their share of the extraordinary productivity improvements they’ve racked up over the years.

    There should be a sense of urgency coming from the Democrats in this campaign, a clarion call compelling enough to rally the legions who have been treated unfairly and badly hurt in the nation’s other undeclared war: the class war.

News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • Detroit News: McCain's health plan: A threat to employer plans? By Kevin Freking and Nedra Pickler. Excerpts: There's a great unknown about Sen. John McCain's health plan: How many employers would drop insurance coverage for their workers because of his tax policies? The Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting has proposed that everyone buying health insurance get a refundable tax credit, $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families. At the same time, he would treat employer contributions toward health insurance like income, meaning workers would have to pay income, but not payroll, taxes on it.

    McCain's Democratic rival, Barack Obama, says the plan would "shred" the employer-based system that provides health insurance to about 158 million workers. Most health analysts won't go that far, but both liberals and conservatives say McCain's approach would strengthen the individual and small-group insurance market. And by strengthening that market, it will pull in workers now covered through their jobs.

    The workers most inclined to make that transition will be younger, healthier ones who most likely will be able to buy a policy on the individual market for less than their tax credit, said Paul Fronstin, a senior research associate at the Employee Benefit Research Institute, which studies employee benefits. To the degree that happens, the employer-based market will become less healthy as sicker, older workers stay with their employer-based coverage while more of the healthier workers move to the individual market.

  • New York Times: McCain Plan to Aid States on Health Could Be Costly. By Kevin Sack. Excerpts: If Senator John McCain’s radical plan for remaking American health care is to work, he will have to find a way to cover people like Chaim Benamor, 52, a self-employed renovator in this Baltimore suburb. Mr. Benamor never found it necessary to buy insurance before having a mild heart attack last year and now, 13 years shy of Medicare, has little hope of doing so.

    The heart attack left Mr. Benamor with a $17,000 hospital bill, $400 in monthly prescription costs and a desperate need for insurance. After being rejected by a number of commercial carriers, he turned to the Maryland Health Insurance Plan, one of 35 state programs for high-risk applicants whom no private company is willing to insure. He decided that the annual premium — $4,572 for a plan with heavy deductibles — was more than he could handle on an income of about $35,000. Yet his earnings were too high for him to qualify for state subsidies. ...

    Though high-risk pools have existed for three decades, they cover only 207,000 people in a country with 47 million uninsured, according to the National Association of State Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans. Premiums typically are high, as much as twice the standard rate in some states, but are still not nearly enough to pay claims. That has left states to cover about 40 percent of the cost, usually through assessments on insurance premiums that are often passed on to consumers.

    Health economists say it could take untold billions to transform the patchwork of programs into a viable federal safety net. The McCain campaign has made only a rough calculation of how many billions would be needed and has not identified a source for the financing beyond savings from existing programs. Finding the money will only get more difficult now that Mr. McCain has pledged to balance the federal budget by 2013, which already requires a significant reduction in the growth of spending.

  • Hudson Valley Times Herald-Record: St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital refuses to accept its own employees' health insurance. Management says it's a business decision; workers say it's spite. By Christian Livermore. Excerpt: In what hospital officials say is a financial decision but union members chalk up to spite, St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital has stopped accepting its own employees' health insurance. The hospital stopped taking SEIU 1199's National Benefit Fund health insurance just before the hospital's 800 or so service and tech employees were scheduled to switch to it, even though the change had been negotiated into the 2004 contract, union officials said. "It's insulting to work at a hospital you can't get sick in," said environmental services associate Brandon Weygant. Many of the workers have had to find new doctors, since their previous physicians are affiliated with St. Luke's and would not be able to treat them in the hospital, union members said.\
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Hospital won't accept its own employees' insurance" by "Neal Watkins". Full excerpt: A couple of years ago, my wife was in the ER. She is a nurse at that hospital too and was in her scrubs. When we checked out (paid), I handed over my IBM insurance card. The clerk took one look at it and said to my wife "Oh, you don't have St. David's insurance! Lucky you!". Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. My wife went to her Dr. and got grief for IBM's insurance. She may now have to find another doctor. Boy! That free-market health insurance is really working...
  • Workforce Management: New Jersey Extends Age Gap for Children on Parents’ Coverage. Since the enactment of New Jersey’s original law, other states also have bumped up—generally to age 25 or 26—the maximum age employees’ older dependent children can retain coverage through their parents’ group plans. Excerpts: Legislation signed into law Monday, July 7, by New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine will allow employees' children to retain coverage through a parent's group health insurance plan until age 31. That provision, included in a broader health reform measure, S. 1557, amends a 2006 law that had allowed older dependent children to continue coverage through a parent's group plan until age 30. ...

    Because of federal preemption of state laws and rules that relate to employee benefit plans, the New Jersey measure does not apply to employers that self-fund their health care plans. (Editor's note: IBM's medical insurance plans are self-funded.)

  • New York Times: Kennedy’s Big Day. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: Ostensibly, Wednesday’s vote was about restoring cuts in Medicare payments to doctors. What it was really about, however, was the fight against creeping privatization. Democrats finally took a stand — and, thanks to Senator Kennedy, seem to have prevailed.

    The story really begins in 2003, when the Bush administration rammed the Medicare Modernization Act through Congress, literally in the dead of night. That bill established large de facto subsidies for Medicare Advantage plans — plans in which Medicare funds are funneled through private insurance companies, rather than directly paying for care.

    Since then, enrollment in these plans has been growing rapidly. This has had a destructive effect on Medicare’s finances: the fastest-growing type of Medicare Advantage plan, private fee-for-service, costs taxpayers 17 percent more per beneficiary than Medicare without the middleman. It also threatens to undermine Medicare’s universality, turning it into a system in which insurance companies cherry-pick healthier and more affluent older Americans, leaving the sicker and poorer behind.

  • NPR, in series titled "Health Care for All," recently examined the health care systems in five European nations, which have lower health care costs than the U.S. and provide a higher quality of care on several measures. Summaries of the stories in the series appear below.
    • "Britain Weighs the Social Cost of High-Priced Drugs": The story examines how the British health care system limits coverage for certain treatments based on cost effectiveness to keep costs down and provide universal access to care (Silberner [1], NPR.org, 7/2).
    • "MS Patient Falls Into American Insurance Gap": The story examines the treatment and coverage of multiple sclerosis in Britain and the U.S. (Silberner [2], NPR.org, 7/2).
    • "France at Forefront of Free, Innovative Cancer Care": The story examines how the French health care system, which covers all residents, provides a broad range of cancer treatments, such as home care and experimental medications (Shapiro, "All Things Considered," NPR, 7/9).
    • "France's Model Health Care for New Mothers": The story examines how the French health care system provides women with generous paid maternity leave, in-home nurse visits at no cost and subsidized child care, a model with which the U.S. system cannot compete, according to two mothers featured (Shapiro, "Morning Edition," NPR, 7/10).
    • "Health Clinic Treats Germany's Few Uninsured": The story examines how German health clinics can meet the demand for care because only 0.2% of residents lack health insurance, compared with 18% of U.S. residents (Collins Sullivan, "Day to Day," NPR, 7/4).
    • "History of Tinkering Helps German System Endure": The story examines the history of the German health care system (Knox, NPR.org, 7/3).
    • "Keeping German Doctors on a Budget Lowers Costs": The story examines how the German health care system provides access to physicians, medications, technology, dental care, nursing homes and home care at a lower cost than the U.S., in part because the government requires physicians to adhere to a budget (Knox, "All Things Considered," NPR, 7/2).
    • "Most Patients Happy With German Health Care": The story examines how German residents have generous health insurance and often do not have to wait for elective surgeries or diagnostic tests (Knox, "Morning Edition," NPR, 7/3).
    • "In the U.S. and Holland, Diabetes Looks Different": The story examines how, although the Dutch health care system has similarities with a large HMO, the nation provides health care for all residents, with a focus on preventive care for those with chronic illness (Neighmond, NPR.org, 7/2).
    • "In Switzerland, a Health Care Model for America?": The story examines how the Swiss health care system could serve as a model for efforts by the U.S. to require the purchase of insurance while providing subsidies to those who cannot afford to purchase coverage (Rovner, NPR.org, 7/2).
New on the Alliance@IBM Site:
  • Is IBM offshoring the IBM Payroll Help Desk to Manila, Philippines? If you have documentation please send to: Allianceibmunion@gmail.com
  • From the Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comment 07/10/08: I don't know why but I am still amazed to see people asking if anybody else knows when the next layoff will be??? Is this any way to live? All you need to know is that it's coming, and believe me it is. You have 3 choices, get it in gear and make the union a reality, sit and wait for your layoff, it is coming, or move on to another job now. -Ra'd man-
    • Comment 07/11/08: Just heard from my manager that most/all US global services jobs are going to be going to India. He kept telling me over and over that he"couldn't tell me if it would happen within 60 days or not...". Lovely -WLP_IBMer-
  • General Visitor's Comment page:
  • Pension Comments page
  • Raise and Salary Comments
    • Comment 07/06/08: To -spiderman- Yep. I hear ya. Here's my .$.02 (it's coming out of my 0% 2008 raise): Here are direct verbatim quotes from Jack Kuehler and John Akers in a canned IBM presentation in the late 80's/early 90's: Akers: "If IBM does well you'll do well!" Kuehler: "You bet!" This was not played to just CHQ Armonk either I swear. Sam Palmicrapo: did you ever hear this? If so, why were the raises so friggin' nonexistent? Maybe Sam the Sham thinks this quote only applies to the blue pigs in Armonk now. Don't you friggin dare tell us Sam how GREAT we are if you make 2nd QTR numbers in a memo to the resources later this month when 2nd QTR is announced. You can just shove it! Just like you shoved it to all of us with a 0% or damn close to it raise. If 2nd QTR does suck then look in the mirror Sammy boy. You suck. You messed up. Not us. If you know 2nd QTR was gonna suck then that explains why we all had to wait to June 30th to find out what our raise was or wasn't. Coincidence? I don't friggin' think so! If 2nd QTR sucks then where is your and your blue pigs at least a 15% base pay remix cut with forfeited stock options??? Lead by example you I-diot, B-astard, and M-oron! -anonymous-
    • Comment 07/06/08: Where are the "7600"? Now that IBM gave out little if any real raises to the resources you think you as one of the 7600 will still be able to make up the pay with OT that was taken away with the pay remix crap that gave you a 15% pay cut for the rest of this year at least? IBM is saying flat out now with the recent raises they somehow CAN"T AFFORD IT now despite a past year of RECORD PROFITS, EARNINGS, and REVENUE growth in 2007. So almost all of you stood around like sheep in a pasture and read this site but have largely done NOTHING. Well wait to the second half of the year. IBM will not sit around and do nothing. They will limit or end OT chances or even worse by further accelerating offshoring I/T Specialist and Admins. You can do something about. Organize now! It is your only chance in this IBM. If you don't fight for what you had or what you want it will be taken away from you. -I/TnotsoSpecial-
    • Comment 07/07/08: Salary = 95000; Band Level = 7; Job Title = Senior Business Consultant; Years Service = 8.5; Div Name = GBS; Location = California; Message = I want to know the competitive salary and banding info. I checked with a couple of people and came to know, for this skill set they were offered a higher band and salary -raja-
    • Comment 07/08/08: Ben: Could you share your raise percentage and what IBM division do you work for? I'll share mine: I work in GBS and got 1.9%, PBC 2+. Supposedly I did better than most. I am also an Alliance member since I got a much better raise last year and can't see why if can't be close to that same amount as last years. At least if I can get a union contract I'll have a real good idea what I can expect for a raise. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/08/08: Salary = 35% less then my new HW development job outside IBM; Band Level = 7; Job Title = Staff Engineer; Years Service = 8; Hours/Week = 60 - 70 (42 at the new job...); Div Name = STG; Location = Poughkeepsie, NY; Message = "IBM is not the place it used to be..." That is what I was told when I started with the company 8 years ago, in 2000. That statement is even more true now then is was in 2000. I survived several rounds of layoffs, re-orgs and the occasional %0 raise. Earlier this year, faced with the notion that raises were effectively slim - to - non-existent. I woke up one morning and came to greatest conclusion of my life...."IBM’s just not worth it anymore....". That day, I found a good technical recruiter... and a month later.... I was happily working at a better (smaller) company, making 35% more.... (that is compared to the %1 or %0 raise I might have gotten...). Bottom line… we ARE all worth more and there are other companies out there aside from IBM that WILL acknowledge your worth (having IBM on your resume is plus too...). Don't wait until your energy and enthusiasm is gone, and then they move you. If you’re facing "financial resistance" from good ‘ole IBM management, and you KNOW you’re worth more…. It’s ok… move on. You’ll be glad you did. -A-
    • Comment 07/08/08: Salary = 85000; Band Level = 8; Job Title = IT Specialist; Years Service = 15; Hours/Week = 48.5; Div Name = GBS - Application Services; Location = RTP, NC; Message = I work in Division 6C (SEA&T). I have no confidence in my management in this practice group. I have notice a steady amount people retiring and leaving the practice. I am a Test Manager. We had an extremely slow start this year with numerous people on the bench. It seems everyone in the group is suffering because of this fact. Business deals could not get closed in time along with the IGA Account being reduce along with projects being cancelled. Systems Engineering is also draining this practice along with the organization (nice pie in the sky theory but it doesn't translate with project teams). -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/09/08: Salary = 107500 when I left; Band Level = 8; Job Title = Advisory PM; Years Service = 17; Hours/Week = 55+; Div Name = IGS - Global Application; Dev Location = Atlanta - WFH; Message = I feel really bad for IBMers now. I've been out of IBM for not even two years now and I've making 42K more than I was when I left. I don't know why I didn't leave sooner. I truly believe that IBM execs have a master plan to push people out without actually letting firing them. Small layoffs go under the radar, bigger ones do not. By taking away benefits, forcing more billable time, and not giving raises even with record earnings, people will eventually either quit, retire or get laid off. i think this is a long term scheme to remove all the long time IBMers (more than 5 years) and replace them by offshoring or eliminating the work. Hey, if they don't fire you and you don't like it, it's YOUR problem, right? It's your decision to stay then, not theirs. There is life after IBM. A good life in fact. Step outside the Blue box from hell! This ain't your Daddy's IBM anymore! Just another greedy bunch of execs. -ms-
    • Comment 07/10/08: Salary = 66000; Band Level = 8; Years Service = 9; Hours/Week = 40-50; Message = Thinking that the leave and come back method will be the only way to jump ahead. Except - doubt I'll come back. -phishedin-
    • Comment 07/10/08: Got a 0% raise this year? Getting mad will not do anything now but consider this: IBM advertised in their retirement modeling planner tool for the 401k plus an average annual raise of 2.75%. So... Work 66 minutes less a week for a 40 hour work week. Take that time to do other things that IBM takes your time away from. That is a way to get even. Also better enable yourself to get a raise. Get a contract. Join the Alliance! -lower_the_bar-
    • Comment 07/10/08: Salary = not quite 80K; Band Level = 08; Job Title = I/T Specialist (not one of the 7600); Years Service = too many for this big blew; Hours/Week = 40 and no more now; Div Name = 1K; Location = CT; Message = No MBA this year. Got one last year. With record IBM profits and earnings in 2007 what the %$#@ now? and I'm under the midpoint by about $20K. PBC 2+ since I can remember. Over a decade in band . Raise was less than 2%. I hope my 3rd line mgr. enjoys his bonus for relying on cheap offshore labor to try to make the targets. -some1nGERS-
    • Comment 07/11/08: Salary = 75,000; Band Level = 7; Message = Ben, I hope you realize you have been grossly underpaid for your band if this is the current salary after a really big pay increase. You've been screwed for the 3 years you have been here. Stop boasting. You've been had. Also, I have seen those who had promotions (I know someone who went from 6 to 7) and that caused them to be very very low in their new band, so a pay increase would make sense. -Anonymous-
  • PBC Comments
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