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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—July 11, 2009

  • Associated Press, courtesy of Forbes: IBM on notice over Ind. welfare deal. By Ken Kusmer. Excerpts: A top Indiana official says the state's privately run welfare project has so many problems that Indiana could begin taking steps to cancel its $1.16 billion contract this fall. Family and Social Services Administration Secretary Anne Murphy says she asked lead vendor IBM Corp.to prepare a "corrective action plan" as part of a process that could result in canceling the 10-year deal if improvements don't occur by the end of September. ...

    Lawmakers and clients say the project has led to lost documents, slow approvals and severed eligibility for Medicaid and food stamps. Texas canceled a similar project in 2007.

  • The Register (United Kingdom): IBM UK snuffs 'final salary' pensions. Bow to the 'Productivity objective'. By Cade Metz. Excerpts: IBM UK has shelved its "final salary" pension plan, pulling this prime benefit out from under about 28 per cent of its workforce. With an email sent to employees at about 5:30pm UK time - after most employees had likely gone home for the day - IBM UK and Ireland general manager Brendon Riley announced the end of the company's Defined Benefit pension scheme, which would have guaranteed retired employees a predefined portion of their final salary. ...

    According to an IBM UK employee speaking to The Reg, IBM UK has already reduced the final salary percentage the Defined Benefit plan would pay out. "This was supposed to make the scheme 'safe,'" says this employee, who's under the final salary plan, "so they've effectively gone back on their word." "I'm fuming," he adds. "It has totally thrown our futures into doubt."

    But IBM sees this as a future upgrade. "I understand that the proposed changes that I am announcing today will be sensitive and difficult for many," Riley writes. "However, I believe that these proposals are both responsible and necessary for IBM UK at this time, in order for us to achieve sustainable progress against our Productivity objective, strengthen our long-term competitiveness and ensure our future industry leadership." Earlier in his email, Riley blames the change on a "recent trends in the economic environment." But Big Blue is one of the few tech giants still churning out profits on par with with pre-Meltdown financials.

  • The Register: Reader comments concerning the above article. Selected comments follow:
    • What kind of pension plan do the executives get? By Anonymous Coward. Do the IBM UK executives still have a defined benefit pension plan? I bet they do, in which case that's the kind of plan that the workforce are entitled to. End of story.
    • Epic Fail. By KarmicRetribution. "But Big Blue is one of the few tech giants still churning out profits on par with with pre-Meltdown financials." Isn't this proof that the 'profits' they're churning out are coming from short sighted cost cutting exercises, not from being the best? As soon as the markets realize this, and the share price takes a dive, IBM will regret this kind of action - but it will all be too late for the loyal employees they've f***ed over.
    • Shite Stirrer. By Anonymous Coward. I am pleased IBM UK has taken this sensible action, ensuring the continued payment of my final salary pension. Grabbing an early retirement package was a great move, which also enabled me to take my pension at 50 (unless you were born on the 6th of a month, but that's another matter). What's even better, I never put a bean into any scheme.
    • Public Sector. By Anonymous Coward. So the only people who will have a nice retirement are the senior bosses and the public sector. I'm guessing the rest of us will be called "slaves" and will work for nothing to pay for the above plus their client base. ~Time to leave?
    • Pension != Big Blue. By Diddlbiker. Let me start with saying that this a betrayal towards its employees - employees who might have accepted other jobs for higher wages but... IBM had the better pension plan. Somehow this seems deceitful to me. However, in BB's defense: "Earlier in his email, Riley blames the change on a "recent trends in the economic environment." But Big Blue is one of the few tech giants still churning out profits on par with with pre-Meltdown financials" - their pension plan has more to do with the stock market than with their profits, one might hope, it called "not putting all your eggs in one basket" But that doesn't change the fact that it is treason towards their employees. Don't offer it to new-hires, but don't rob people from a pension who missed out on (possible) higher wage opportunities because of -basically- promised loyalty awards.
    • Grabbing All They Can Get. By Anonymous Coward. Companies around the world are seeing a golden opportunity to screw their employees. Most companies are freezing or reducing wage increases, which makes a huge difference to their bottom line for years going forward. Scragging the pension plan is almost orgiastically good. Pension plans are increasingly becoming a thing of the past, anyway, and I think that as many companies as possible will be using the threat of layoffs to strongarm their employees into signing off on losing their pensions. When the economy improves, of course, there will be hell to pay, as all the good employees will leave. The mediocre ones will remain, and take it in the shorts. But the bottom line will look great, and the post-recession bonuses will be SWEEET!
    • Never believe IBM propaganda. By Anonymous Coward. On the one hand the company is continuing to make Pre GFC profits (of the back of record revenue), but on the other hand they are telling their employees that the GFC means they can't give payrises and have to remove benefits like this pension scheme. For some reason BB management think the employees won't notice this discrepancy (they obviously think we're all idiots... I guess we are if we stay).
    • What do you expect? By Anonymous Coward. IBM wants you high costing wankers to quit and move on. This way they can do an 'intra company' transfer of some poor Offshore bloke in to your role. Why else do you think IBM can still make its profits. Note: IBM revenues down, margins up it means that they're shafting their employees, except for the senior execs who'll be retiring in the next year or two ... If I was on Wall St. I'd take a long negative look at IBM.
    • Chipping away at the costly onshore. By Anonymous Coward. The *stated position* is that attrition is too low and the way to get it up is to make it "less comfortable" for people to stay. i.e. when we shaft you its because we want you to leave. As for the line in the story "with an email sent to employees at about 5:30pm UK time - after most employees had likely gone home for the day" made me laugh, its only the overpaid executive apparatchiks and assistant spreadsheet trolls who get to go home to their families. The rest of us are stuck in hotels miles from home, sacrificing our real lives in exchange for chasing non existent pay rises which are dangled in front of us as part of the so called "performance culture". This year's performance culture invites us to *fight* for promotion this week even though there will be no pay rise associated with it. Mmmmm, no thanks.
    • Thin end of the wedge. By KarmicRetribution. To answer Mr 'WTF' up there - it's not about the deal on the table (I agree, 8% company contribution is great... even if not as great as the deal offered previously to switch...) it's about pulling the rug from under their loyal employees - these are, after all, by definition the people who joined the company when Lou Gerstner was at the helm, i.e. the ones who helped turn it's fortunes around. How would you be feeling if, outside of your control or influence, your company executives turned around and said: "Hey, David, you know that deal you signed up to when you joined the company and we promised to honor? Well, forget it, we've decided we need to make it look like we're making more profit so that the share price goes up and we can line our own pockets with stock options. But, don't worry, dear valued employee that you are, here's a nice yellow banana. Oh? You don't like bananas? Well - I know some mexicans that love 'em"
    • I used to be a proud IBMer, those days have long gone. By Anonymous Coward. No pay rises despite excellent business results "because we have to prepare for tough times ahead". When tough times arrive "can't afford pay rises this year". Despite this the CEO got $21M last year - obscene! A "high performance culture" so each year managers need to identify 10% of each team as poor performers, some of these are managed out. Next year it's the same again. At the end of 2008 the 10% became 15% without warning so some of those who thought they were OK were suddenly not OK. Following this insane process eventually leaves one person in each team! Pension promises which are then broken. DB pension scheme becomes too expensive at a time when the business results are good. Does the new (Australian) UK CGM think we're dumb? There hasn't yet been a comment by Larry Hirst (the ex-UK CGM and current European Chairman) - it would be interesting for the Register to make contact with him. Because early retirement is likely to become more expensive with this change, many of the 28% of the workforce will probably choose to retire before March. That should stuff the odd development and service contract!
    • Retirement and pensions...whats the point? By jason 7. I started overpaying my pension from the age of 24 in the hope I could retire early at 55 (i'm 38 now). However, the more I look at things I reckon by the time I hit 55, retirement wont exist as an option for 90% of the workforce. You'll have to work till you drop as there will be no framework in place to support it whether govt or private sector. My pension planning might get me out at 70! Someone will have to keep all those sodding smug 90 year old babyboomers in their 25th+ year of SAGA holiday retirement. I still reckon there might come a day when the Govt gives in and lets the corporate just plunder the pension funds Maxwell style to keep them going.
    • Long term... By Anonymous Coward. I loath nothing more than managers using short-term conditions, like recession, to justify the steady reduction of long-term rights & benefits, while executive compensation steadily rises (which means it rises as a proportion of company costs). Could it be that they actually look for bad times to push through unpopular moves? Never. . ,
    • Here we go again. By Anonymous Coward. IBM made staff an offer a couple of years back who were still on the Defined Benefit (DF) basically they would sweeten the deal (much like they are now) if you moved to the Defined Contribution (DC). The persuader was that if you remained on the DB scheme only 50% of your future pay rises (laugh) or bonuses (more laughter) would contribute to the final calculation. Many people jumped to the DC because they could see the writing on the wall. I am not completely anti to the move, but the DB scheme was part of the reason I signed up with IBM and stayed for so long. To have it removed now is frankly outrageous. If IBM told Palmisano we are going to cut your massive stock bonuses from next year because of the uncertainty of how much they are going to cost, what would happen? He would sue the company for breach of contract and probably leave. I guess if you have earned millions per year you can afford such actions. The rest of us have to consider paying for food, roof and clothing. White man as its IBM stealing the money from my pocket!
    • Shafted. By Anonymous Coward. Thanks IBM. First you re-define the DB pension to turn it from one of the best to one of the worst (in terms of increases of pensions in payment), then you increase the contribution rates, then you reduce the accrual rates, then you scrap the thing all together and hike the penalties for early retirement (redefining today's norm as "enhanced") from 3% pa before 60 to an unknown figure (likely to be 6 - 7%) for each year before 63.

      Anyone in the DB scheme who is old enough to take their pension next March / April will probably elect to do so, otherwise they will be stuck with being unable to afford to go much before 63. Clearly this was part of the deal - it's a way of offloading a lot of the more highly paid employees, without having to fund any separation packages. It will be interesting to see if the retirement option is an open door (in which case it will be bloody tough being an IBM Customer) or whether some people will not be accepted (in which case they are likely to be people who will readily find alternative employment and will no longer have their pension holding them back, so again it will be bloody tough being an IBM Customer).

      Anyone in the DB scheme who will not be old enough to retire next Spring (like me), is faced with all their retirement plans being cast aside. The feeling of utter powerlessness is the most frustrating aspect. The one good thing is that I will no longer have any reason to stay with this dreadful company, so once the recession starts to receded and the job market picks up, I'll be putting a lot more effort into finding another job than I'll be putting into my current one.

      This is one utterly amoral company which only operates on the basis of staying within the law (or at least making sure the execs can blame someone else when it crosses the line, even if their bullying management style caused the transgression in the first place), not on the basis of any moral compass. All the public statements about leading the world to a better place should be treated as the utter bullocks which they surely are. It is a company that adopts a single management style: bullying. HR push out shed loads of crap about work / life balance etc, but the reality is people are forced to work longer and longer hours under more and more difficult conditions to try and avoid being placed in the bottom 15% and managed out. It's really bad news being in a good team, you can easily over-achieve all your targets, make loads of money for IBM and still get poked up the rear end.

      See if you can guess how motivated I feel?

    • Retention of earned pension. By Anonymous Coward. The issue is not that IBM is removing the benefits accrued so far, it's that they are 1) stopping any new benefits from being accrued (this is disappointing and not unexpected, given the opportunistic nature of execs feathering their nests) and 2) changing the rules about how the accrued benefit can be tapped - practice to date has been to levy a 3% pa reduction in pension for every year before 60. This meant that at 55 the reduction was just 15%. IBM has announced that it plans to end this "enhancement" (typical IBM inability to be honest, this is "standard" practice), but has not given too many details. Currently a deferred pension (e.g. if someone leaves to work for another company) attracts a reduction around 7% pa and the belief is that the new arrangements for the closed DB scheme will be similar - 6 - 7% pa for each year before 63 (IBM's "normal" retirement age). On this basis, someone retiring at 55 will replace the 15% penalty with a 48 to 56% penalty.

      As well as the recently announced plans, IBM has been progressively diminishing the value of its pensions. For example, any pension earned before 1997 is not subject to any statutory indexation floors (which IBM has adopted as caps). Over the years IBM has become less and less generous with the indexation for pensions in payment of the pre '97 "discretionary" element, eventually settling on a practice of 70% of RPI. More recently this has changed to a committed payment of 60% of RPI, reducing to 50% of RPI with RPI capped at 2.5% - clearly a great deal less useful (especially if inflation is greater than 2.5%) than the discretionary approach it replaced. However, this committed indexation is only committed until 2020, after which I expect IBM will cease to offer any increases.

      So, rather than the rather excellent pension scheme which I joined, I now have something which will pay out a great deal less at a much later date and any significant inflation once in payment will rapidly erode the value. In effect IBM has shifted the burden of funding me in old age, assuming I survive more than a few years after retirement, to the state. This is the same state that has enacted post-Maxwell pension reforms and a tax-grab which have encouraged companies to abandon DB pensions and done nothing to stop them. The same state that allowed the banks to muck up the economy and which is now so in debt (in our name) that the economic future does not look all all good. The prospects of making up the pension gap through investments or pay rises look very remote indeed.

    • Morale? wassat? By Anonymous Coward. Morale in IBM UK has been dreadful for the last few years and this action is going to damage it further for years to come. Who is going to "go the extra mile for the customer" in an organisation where the Execs can reward its long term staff like this?
  • Financial Times: IBM UK pension under review. By Norma Cohen. Excerpts: IBM’s UK subsidiary became the latest employer to announce that it is considering closing its final salary pension scheme to existing workers, a step it would take in April 2010 after a period of legally-mandated consultation. ...

    But IBM has sought for years to reduce its exposure to pensions risk in the US and abroad. It closed its UK scheme to new employees in 1997. Also, it fought legal battles for years in the US after moves in the 1990s to convert its defined benefit plans to what is known as a cash equity plan, and ultimately to a hybrid form of plan known as a cash balance scheme. The latter is a form of defined contribution plan in which a percentage of each worker’s pay is set aside each year and earns a predetermined rate of interest, providing a minimum underpin against investment losses. ...

    However, employees challenged IBM’s process of converting from one form of pension to another, arguing that it constituted a form of age discrimination. In 2003, the Federal District Court in the Southern District of Illinois agreed, and that decision was not overturned until mid-2006. At the end of 2007, IBM ceased most of its US defined benefit schemes as well as closing its schemes in Japan.

  • Yahoo! IBM Retiree message board: "IBM ID for retirees" by "netmouser". Full excerpt: I am a new retiree. Does IBM give retirees any kind of ID card or something to show to get discounts at museums, etc.?
  • Yahoo! IBM Retiree message board: "Re: IBM ID for retirees" by "madinpok". Full excerpt: The retiree ID card is a white, glossy paper card with the IBM logo and your name printed on it. It looks like something you could have made up on a PC printer at home. I think you can call the Employee Services Center and have them send you one.
  • Yahoo! IBM Retiree message board: "Re: IBM ID for retirees" by "anonymouse1935". Full excerpt: Don't blink, netmouser, or you'll miss it. It will be late coming to you in the mail. Formerly a laminated card like you would get in a supermarket, they had to downsize because they are apparently giving the lamination and heavier cardstock money to the executives. It is now a card, as madinpok said, perforated on a sheet of paper that looks as if they paid the offshore resources to print at home. If you want it laminated, you'll have to spring for it. Also, mine has three of the seven IBM logo bars scratched off. I find that fitting, don't you?
  • BusinessWeek: IBM Reinvents the 401(k). By Amy Feldman. (Editor's note: Although Ms. Feldman has the by-line, this article *may* have been written by Randy MacDonald and IBM Corporate Communications.) Excerpts: Back in January 2008, IBM (IBM) replaced the last of its pensions with a new-and-improved 401(k). The plan came with plenty of enticements, befitting a company that earned more than $10 billion on $99 billion in revenue the previous year. There were generous matching contributions, super-low fees, custom-designed portfolios, free access to financial coaches, and more. Even so, critics hammered IBM's move as one more sign of retreat from the secure retirement benefits of the past.

    Today, hardly anyone is complaining about IBM's 401(k), least of all the participants. The plan is sumptuous compared with offerings from most companies. Across the U.S., 401(k)s have been bludgeoned by the financial crisis. Balances have shrunk to a fraction of their former value, and many companies have slashed matching contributions. Yet IBM is sticking with its plan—one of the largest in the U.S., with $27 billion in assets. "In my job, I often hear horror stories," says J. Randall MacDonald, senior vice-president for human resources, who led the shift from pension to 401(k). "I don't hear horror stories about the 401(k)."

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: IBM Positive article about 401k" by "finitewisdom". Full excerpt: This is little more than a fluff piece to give IBM some badly-needed positive PR. Gee, if the 401K is *that* good, why do the executives need their own defined benefit plan? There's some commentary on the article (as well as other IBM foibles) here: http://hrside.blogspot.com/
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: IBM Positive article about 401k" by "ignatz713". Full excerpt: Don't forget, the press also subverted the fact that 10,000 employees have been fired since January.
  • HR On Your Desktop: IBM Does What? Excerpts: A recent Business Week article entitled "IBM Reinvents the 401(k)" caught my eye. It's a piece about IBM's new 401(k) plan that replaces the defined benefit pension plan that was dumped (poorly) in 1999. It talks about IBM's match, participation rate, average employee balance, and cost of fees. It goes on to portray the HR folks as visionary in imagining the 401(k) contributions and medical being based on performance someday. ...

    IBM pulled the rug out from their older workers in 1999 by removing the defined benefit plan they promised workers years ago. It didn't work well and many protests followed leading to restoration of the plan. (Where was the visionaries when that plan was installed?) The writer claims hardly anyone is complaining about IBM's 401(k) these days - perhaps because they have laid-off all the older workers that were impacted by the change and/or moved a large portion of their workforce offshore?

    Performance-based benefits are a great idea in theory but if you are a company that is predisposed to think of older workers as declining in performance by virtue of their age, then with a performance based total comp package, older workers will fare poorly under such a concept. I've had managers tell me that during their ranking and rating process everyone knows the older workers will gradually move down the ranking ladder because of their age and their productivity - they are just not as knowledgeable or quick or flexible as those younger people. Honest, I've had people in high tech companies like IBM tell me that. Those workers would automatically lose in a performance based benefit system. ...

    The IBM 401(k) is certainly not visionary nor have they reinvented the 401(k). There are big name hi-tech companies who have been dumping 12.5% of pay in their employee's 401k accounts for 15 years. We set up a 401(k) plan 20 years ago with a generous match like IBM and a more potent company contribution at the end of each year. We've offered more than 100 investment vehicles for employees to chose from, free investment counseling, our participation rate is higher than IBM as is our average account balance per participant. I don't believe our costs are any higher either. I guess we reinvented the 401(k) 20 years before IBM did but no one realized it.

    Not sure what the purpose of this article is frankly - perhaps an attempt to bolster an image of a company that's been taking its lumps in the press of late? On Amy's website she has a quote from Einstein - "Never stop asking questions" - I think she did. This is a fluff piece, not worthy of an Einstein.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site
  • Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comment 07/05/09: "Heard from IBMers used to work with that business in the US is terrible. Expenses are frozen and they are expecting 2nd quarter numbers to be terrible. This person said they are begging for work and no one is buying IBM. This might be the beginning of the end for IBM. -Anon-" Palmisano and his hench men will kill this company sooner or later not to worry. There is no R&D anymore, they rely on stock buybacks and acquisitions. Only thing that matters is getting to the 10-11 EPS by 2010. If the lack of R&d doesn't kill this company off, the AGR (Accounting & Governance Risk) eventually will, it will eventually catch up to this senior management team who lacks the vision and strategy to truly run a company like IBM. -EPS_11-
    • Comment 07/05/09: "Comment 07/03/09: Heard from IBMers used to work with that business in the US is terrible. Expenses are frozen and they are expecting 2nd quarter numbers to be terrible. This person said they are begging for work and no one is buying IBM. This might be the beginning of the end for IBM. -Anon-" No surprise. Customers are being impacted by the decrease in support quality using offshoring and/or simply cutting staff with no backfill. I saw this first-hand on the last two sinking-ship accounts I worked on before I quit IBM. Customers were outraged... IBM management attitude was along the lines of "it's cheaper to pay SLA penalties then decrease profit margin using correct resource and skills allocation". But there are lots of chump customers out there who will still believe the b.s. slung by IBM sales teams. -Amazed-
    • Comment 07/06/09: Just heard from a former Teamleader. He said his manager let it slip in a meeting with all department Teamleads that ITD SSO will be partcipating in a September RA. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/09/09: Has anyone else noticed how IBM's strategy to justify eliminating a program is based on participation? Elimination of the UK pension was based in part on "only 25% participation." How did they get to that low a percentage? Probably by eliminating much of its older workforce. Doing so killed 2 birds with one stone: it justified eliminating the program and reduced the number of workers who might protest the change. I'm sure it was easier to freeze the US pension plan after IBM dumped so many older workers here, too. In 1999, when they first tried meddling with pensions, there were too many of us old folks around. By 2006, when the freeze was announced, they'd sold off some divisions heavy in gray hair and laid off enough gray haired folks to "justify" the change. I guess management's philosophy is, "if you can't beat 'em, dump 'em." -Think-
  • General Visitor's Comment page
    • Comment 07/07/09: I poked my head in Boulder Building 10, 3rd floor while the reconstruction was going on. There was a sign warning the contractors to not grind, I think, on the flooring. Something about asbestos. No, I'm not kidding. Anyone else know anything if Building 10 contains asbestos and how much? -Shame on Sam- Alliance reply: 'Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me'... I think Sam has reached his goal of shame. Now it's the employees turn for not speaking up about it. You need to contact OSHA, the Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Department of Health, and determine what exposures may be present in the building. Has anyone done that?-
    • Comment 07/07/09: My dad passed away, as an active employee, after 29 years 360 days of service at IBM. He was 5 days short of 30 years, which would have made him and his wife, my mom eligible for subsidized health care, through the IBM group plan, for the rest of their lives. He also had four weeks of un-used vacation time. The HR department has been unwilling to bridge this five day gap. What do you all think? -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/07/09: Is there any word on how IBM will look next week when they report quarterly results? A lot of customers are not happy with the poor service they are getting following the RAs and offshoring to untrained centers. Their reputation is taking a beating despite the reluctance of major news outlets to say a negative word about IBM. Oracle is looking good in comparison. Should be interesting... -PurplePeopleEater-
    • Comment 07/11/09: Not surprised about Boulder. I remember a phone call I got from an IBM environmental specialist years ago when I questioned the dangerous level of lead found in water in IBM E. Fishkill where I worked briefly. The person assured me that lead levels in the plumbing in E. Fishkill buildings was "safe" since our bodies naturally excrete the lead in the water through our kidneys. I mentioned, then why is lead in the water different than lead in paint chips; which it has been determined, is toxic and had a lasting affect. I also wonder how kidneys and livers fare after exposure to lead levels; but I'm no scientist or medical person to determine. However, the exposure has to cause at least some effect. -sby_willie- Alliance reply: I bet the "environmental specialist" reply to your comparison to lead paint chips was something like "oh..that's not the same thing". What ever they said, wouldn't surprise me. They were instructed to defend IBM at every turn.
  • Pension Comments page
    • Comment 07/08/09: I was unaware of the Pension Freeze. But I would, however, like to know that since I was forced to take early retirement because of health reasons. I don' t get enough to live on. Is there a way to get retirement pension increased. Some tell me yes and some tell me no. What is your take? Thank you -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/09/09: I doubt you will get even an additional penny from IBM. The assistance of a lawyer who specializes in disability cases may get you SSI benefits if you do not get enough to live on. Your disability would have to meet Social Security guidelines for this I believe. A free consultation with a lawyer would be in order most likely. -Exodus2007-
  • Raise and Salary Comments IBM CEO Sam Palmisano: "I am pleased to announce that we will not only be paying bonuses to IBMers worldwide, based on individual performance, but that they'll be funded from a pool of money nearly the same size as last year's. That's significant in this economy -- and especially so, given the size of the 2007 pool. Further, our salary increase plan will continue, covering about 60 percent of our workforce. As always, increases will go to our highest performers and contributors. We should all feel good about the company's ability to invest in people in these very concrete ways."
    • Comment 07/05/09: Salary = £27k; #Yrs Since Raise = 2; %Raise = 0; Band Level = 6; This Yr-PBC = 1; Years Service = 8; Div Name = GB;S Location = UK; Message = Dunno what to make of it really.. New Grads earn more than me! -AnonUK-
    • Comment 07/05/09: Any PBC "2+" in USA not getting a raise? I am a PBC 2+ and haven't heard a thing about a raise yet. My manager always tries to look "busy" but is protecting their a$$ all the time. I'm tired of this sorry a$$ company. -anonymous-
    • Comment 07/06/09: Funny, my manager tried to change the subject quickly after sametiming me my "increase" *rolls eyes*. I suppose I'll do the same after telling him I've found a better paying job. I'm preparing my resume now and see this as a much better alternative than to organize. My allegiance is not to the company, but to myself and my family. I worry not if Big Blue fails once I'm gone. -anonymous-
    • Comment 07/07/09: Salary = £44k; #Yrs Since Raise = 3; %Raise = %1.3; Band Level = 8; This Yr-PBC = 2; Job Title = Unix/AIX consultant; Years Service = 11; Hours/Week = 45; Div Name = GTS; Location = UK; Message = Last two PBC Ratings 2 plus and 2. Dropped from 2 plus to 2 as I appear to have lost motivation (my managers words) Well what do they expect, no pay raise after a 2 plus and no pay raise this year. From being an employee who has always wanted to help have decided no point as no salary raise , no bonuses, Taken away broadband and dropped the mileage rate. Just been told that now doing away with disturbance rates when working away form home. What is the point, Will now become a difficult employee i.e will not volunteer for any work be disruptive and hang around until I eventually get laid off. -steve_UK-
    • Comment 07/07/09: Salary = 80K; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; %Raise = 0; Band Level = 8; This Yr-PBC = 2+; Job Title = IT Specialist; Hours/Week = does it matter?; Div Name = MBPS; Location = USA; Message = That's right.. NO RAISE. Not even 1%. IBM had RECORD PROFITS IN 2008. Why was I not given a raise when supposedly all PBC "2+" and "1"'s were told they would get one from Sam Palmicrapo???? IBM Invests in it's employees. Well, where? And what employees? It's a LIE. 60% of IBMers got a raise. It's a LIE..a LIE..a LIE.. -anonymous-
    • Comment 07/07/09: #Yrs Since Raise = 1; %Raise = 1.2; Band Level = 7; This Yr-PBC = 2+; Job Title = Junior PM; Years Service = 11; Hours/Week = 45; Message = Just received an incredibly small raise which does nothing to offset the pay cut received 2 years ago now... I'm sure Sam will get his usual multi million dollar raise. What a joke... -nameless1-
    • Comment 07/07/09: Salary = 68500; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; %Raise = 0; Band Level = 7; This Yr-PBC = 2; Job Title = IT Architect; Years Service = 6; Hours/Week = 45; Div Name = IGS; Location = US; Message = Definitely no raises for PBC 2 this year.
    • Comment 07/07/09: Salary = 105k; Years Service = 15; Message = No info from mgmt and no talk of raise yet in my group. Total crap. US work force is like a cancer to IBM. Their are hoping another year of no raises will discourage us; force us to die off as they continue to replace us one by one. "we are being exterminated" Happy 4th Of July! -OldTimer-
    • Comment 07/08/09: #Yrs Since Raise = 4 %Raise = 1.5 Band Level = 6 This Yr-PBC = 2.5 Job Title = Security Focal Years Service = 6 Hours/Week = 40 Div Name = SSO Location = CT Message = Re: July 2009 Raises: I was given a 1.5% increase on a job I perform that is rated as a band 7, but i am conveniently slotted as a band 6........ in addition to this in May ’09 IBM no longer approves my remote access reimbursement. In addition I had a 6% salary decrease which I was told I could make up in 5 hours OT which we were told we all do anyways….. but now i am no longer approved for OT because we have to watch out for the company.

      Don’t even get me going on the changes in the retirement plan. These current times have taught me “Its no longer the benefits of working at IBM, it whether or not you can endure the pyramid scheme on a corporate playing field. Piracy/Rape with a suit on. It is however our own fault. Our culture has allowed big business to behave this way and now WE as weak pawns let them brainwash us into condoning their actions allowing it because its the nature of the business mind. Oh come on... give me a break. That sounds like something a teenager would say when they don't want to be accountable. However...we let business govern themselves, we didn't watch their every step....and they took full advantage of the ungoverned playing field. But who knew we had to watch them too.... we were all too busy trying to get 'career educated', 'experienced' and work at personal life too. -Anonymous-

      Alliance reply: We have been telling IBM workers this and warning them of the consequences of not fighting back; since 1999. Apparently, not enough IBMers have listened. You may be right about 'WE as weak pawns let them brainwash us'; but you can recover from it, if you seek help from your co-workers; to get up off the ground and stand up with your co-workers and organize.

    • Comment 07/09/09: #Yrs Since Raise = 1; %Raise = 2; Band Level = 3; This Yr-PBC = 2; Job Title = Manufacturing specialist; Years Service = 27.5; Hours/Week = AWS-12 hr days; Div Name = IBM Systems & Technology Group; Location = Fishkill, NY; Message = PBC ratings have always been very political in the manufacturing areas of IBM. I am a college graduate with a degree in Business ,have worked hard AND smart for 27.5 years here and in Poughkeepsie, NY. I have about 15 sick days in these 27.5 years.That's about 1/2 day per year! I am an exemplary employee and a veteran I , as have others , have seen the wrong employees get the top ratings. Ask just about anyone here and they will tell you this as well. This year I was rated a 2 (solid contributor). and was told , as were many others, I was not eligible for a raise. I can understand not getting a raise but I can not understand the unfairness of the system that determines who gets them. It is totally political and IBM is in total denial of it and they have everyone too scared to say anything -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/10/09: Salary = 85K; #Yrs Since Raise = 2; %Raise = 1.5; Band Level = 8; This Yr-PBC = 1; Years Service = 29; Hours/Week = 55; Message = Mgr said I was one of the lucky ones. Average raise in my group for 1's was 1%. I am not paid for OT, just have to do it to get my work done. Pervious year was 2+, but no raise. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 07/10/09: Salary = $73K; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; %Raise = 1.5%; Band Level = 7; This Yr-PBC = 2+; Job Title = Bus. Analyst; Years Service = 12; Hours/Week = 45+; Div Name = ITD; Location = Boulder; Message = I made more money in 2001 when the variable pay amount was higher! Had about a 5-year glut with NO raise -frustrated-
    • Comment 07/11/09: Salary = 65K; #Yrs Since Raise = 1; %Raise = 0; Band Level = 6; This Yr-PBC = 2; Job Title = Software Engineer; Years Service = 1; Hours/Week = 70; Div Name = SWG; Location = MA; Message = -Anonymous-
  • PBC Comments
    • Comment 07/08/09: Prior Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr Bonus = 0; Prior Yr Bonus = 1000; Message = From this year's USA salary and compensation presentation: -Top Contributor Reward (TCR) increases will cover ALL PBC 1 and 2+ rated employees, regardless of their individual pay competitiveness. Ok, then how come I as a PBC 2+ will get a 0% raise? No kidding here. I have proof come July 15th. -IBM_lies_about_pay-
  • International Comments
    • Comment 07/06/09: Country = UK; Union Affiliate = IBM; Job Title = AM; IBM Division = Sales; Message = Keep an eye out for some pension plan announcement coming out soon for the UK, apparently people of over a certain age might have their salaries affected? -Floyd-
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • New York Times op-ed: HELP Is on the Way. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: The Congressional Budget Office has looked at the future of American health insurance, and it works. A few weeks ago there was a furor when the budget office “scored” two incomplete Senate health reform proposals — that is, estimated their costs and likely impacts over the next 10 years. One proposal came in more expensive than expected; the other didn’t cover enough people. Health reform, it seemed, was in trouble.

    But last week the budget office scored the full proposed legislation from the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). And the news — which got far less play in the media than the downbeat earlier analysis — was very, very good. Yes, we can reform health care.

    Let me start by pointing out something serious health economists have known all along: on general principles, universal health insurance should be eminently affordable. After all, every other advanced country offers universal coverage, while spending much less on health care than we do. For example, the French health care system covers everyone, offers excellent care and costs barely more than half as much per person as our system. ...

    So fundamental health reform — reform that would eliminate the insecurity about health coverage that looms so large for many Americans — is now within reach. The “centrist” senators, most of them Democrats, who have been holding up reform can no longer claim either that universal coverage is unaffordable or that it won’t work. The only question now is whether a combination of persuasion from President Obama, pressure from health reform activists and, one hopes, senators’ own consciences will get the centrists on board — or at least get them to vote for cloture, so that diehard opponents of reform can’t block it with a filibuster.

  • New York Times: In Health Reform, a Cancer Offers an Acid Test. By David Leonhardt. Excerpts: It’s become popular to pick your own personal litmus test for health care reform. For some liberals, reform will be a success only if it includes a new government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers. For many conservatives, a bill must exclude such a public plan. For others, the crucial issue is how much money Congress spends covering the uninsured.

    My litmus test is different. It’s the prostate cancer test.

  • Daily Kos: How I lost my health insurance at the hairstylist's. So you’re chugging along doing all the things you do as a responsible citizen, you work, and pay your bills and your taxes, you are there for your children, and fighting for your marriage, you even volunteer. It’s spring, 1998, and gradually you just become so tired it’s a struggle merely to climb a flight of stairs. Oh, well, you do have two daughters in college, another nearing the end of her senior year in high school, a son in middle school, a full-time job, a house to take care of, are back in college, and have two dogs, two cats, and oodles and oodles of marital strain.

    Fatigue sort of goes with the territory, and like many working moms, you just push past it. You get up, you get the family off in various directions, you go to work, you go to class, you cook dinner, you help with homework, go to games and track meets, do housework, set boundaries for the two kids at home and field frequent counseling-like calls from the two who are not, you try to work through problems with your husband, and you collapse exhausted into bed, get up the next day, and do it all over again – it’s a routine you dare not interrupt with reflections on your fatigue – there is no time. Then one day...

  • Washington Post: Familiar Players in Health Bill Lobbying Firms Are Enlisting Ex-Lawmakers, Aides. By Dan Eggen and Kimberly Kindy. Excerpts: The nation's largest insurers, hospitals and medical groups have hired more than 350 former government staff members and retired members of Congress in hopes of influencing their old bosses and colleagues, according to an analysis of lobbying disclosures and other records.

    The tactic is so widespread that three of every four major health-care firms have at least one former insider on their lobbying payrolls, according to The Washington Post's analysis.

    Nearly half of the insiders previously worked for the key committees and lawmakers, including Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), debating whether to adopt a public insurance option opposed by major industry groups. At least 10 others have been members of Congress, such as former House majority leaders Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) and Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), both of whom represent a New Jersey pharmaceutical firm.

    The hirings are part of a record-breaking influence campaign by the health-care industry, which is spending more than $1.4 million a day on lobbying in the current fight, according to disclosure records. And even in a city where lobbying is a part of life, the scale of the effort has drawn attention. For example, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) doubled its spending to nearly $7 million in the first quarter of 2009, followed by Pfizer, with more than $6 million. ...

    A June 10 meeting between aides to Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and health-care lobbyists included two former Baucus chiefs of staff: David Castagnetti, whose clients include PhRMA and America's Health Insurance Plans, and Jeffrey A. Forbes, who represents PhRMA, Amgen, Genentech, Merck and others. Castagnetti did not return a telephone call; Forbes declined to comment. Also inside the closed committee hearing room that day was Richard Tarplin, a veteran of both the Department of Health and Human Services and the Senate, where he worked for Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), one of the leaders in fashioning reform legislation this year. Tarplin now represents the American Medical Association as head of his own lobbying firm, Tarplin Strategies. ...

    Overall, health-care companies and their representatives spent more than $126 million on lobbying in the first quarter, leading all other industries, according to CRP and Senate data. PhRMA led the pack in spending and employs 49 former government staff members among its 136 lobbyists, according to The Post's analysis. Dozens of other former insiders are employed as lobbyists by Pfizer, Eli Lilly, the AMA and the American Hospital Association, each of which spent at least $3.5 million on lobbying from January through March.

    The aim of the lobbying blitz is simple: to minimize the damage to insurers, hospitals and other major sectors while maximizing the potential of up to 46 million uninsured Americans as new customers. Although many firms have vowed to help cut costs, major players such as PhRMA, America's Health Insurance Plans and others remain opposed to the public-insurance option, a key proposal that President Obama has endorsed. Several major Democratic bills include such a plan, but Baucus's committee -- which is acting as the central broker in the debate -- has not committed to the idea. Instead, the Finance Committee has focused recently on private-insurance cooperatives and other proposals seen as more palatable to the insurance industry and centrist Democrats. More than 50 former employees of the committee or its members lobby on behalf of the health-care industry, records show.

  • Reuters, courtesy of the New York Times: For Many Americans, Health Cover Is Key to A Job. Excerpts: Real estate agent Lisa DeWaal serves coffee at a Starbucks outlet for four hours every morning before she goes to the office to start her "day job." The reason has little to do with the state of the housing market and everything to do with the one big perk that 20 hours a week at the coffee counter provides: affordable health insurance for her and her three children. While health experts say there are no statistics available, analysts say there are many Americans like DeWaal: people who have taken or stick to a job just for the health insurance.

    It is a situation most Europeans, Canadians and others who enjoy national health services would find bewildering if not appalling and is one factor fueling the drive to reform the hugely expensive U.S. healthcare system. "People will even stick with a job they feel boxed in on because of the healthcare benefits, especially if those benefits cannot be matched elsewhere," said Andrew Sum, a labor economics professor at Northeastern University. ...

    The need for affordable health insurance has forced some Americans out of retirement, especially if they left the work force before they reached an age where government programs like Medicare are available. Patti Sutton, 58, used to work with the City of Phoenix and came out of retirement to whip up espressos at Starbucks for the same reason as DeWaal -- the health insurance. Her husband Scott, who was laid off by the construction company he worked for, is awaiting a heart transplant.

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.

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