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Highlights—August 14, 2010

  • Wall Street Journal: IBM Drops Suit to Stop Oracle Hire. By John Letzing. Excerpt: International Business Machines Corp. has dropped its bid to prevent a former employee from joining Oracle Corp., ending a legal spat that underlined growing competition between the technology giants. In June, IBM sued Joanne Olsen in New York state court, alleging that she had been among an "elite" group of managers at the Armonk, N.Y., company, and that her intention to join Oracle would violate a noncompetition agreement. Oracle and Ms. Olsen later filed their own legal action, alleging unfair competition on IBM's behalf and requesting that the case be remanded to a California court. In early July, IBM voluntarily ended its case against Olsen, court filings show.
  • BankRate.com: 6 reasons not to roll over your 401(k). By Dana Dratch . Excerpt: Common wisdom holds that when you leave a company, you should take your retirement account with you. But common wisdom is sometimes wrong. Just as group medical insurance is generally a better bargain than individual coverage, a group retirement plan can offer advantages investors can't get if they roll the money into an IRA, says Wayne Bogosian, president of the PFE Group and co-author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to 401(k) Plans." The best retirement plan for you may be different than that for another. Before you move your account, look at the deal from all the angles.
  • Reuters, courtesy of the New York Times: PersonalFinance: The Retirement Process. Excerpt: Many workers and financial companies talk about retirement as if it's a day on which everything changes. The day you retire is the day you need X amount in the bank, an annuity, a Social Security check and an old person's portfolio, they suggest. It's the day you're done: with work, with commuting, with consuming and more. But that's far from the truth. For most people, retirement isn't a day, it's a process. You may lose a job and spent time seeking a second one before realizing you just got retired, involuntarily. Or you may leave a 9-to-5 government job and keep tinkering with an eBay business or other hobby. You may stop working one day, but wait several years before collecting Social Security benefits.
  • Escape From America Magazine: Ever Think About Retiring Overseas? Excerpt: Some 10,000 fans have been following published author, successful entrepreneur, and seasoned expat Michael Manville after he decided to pack his bags and search for the best place to retire overseas. Michael embarked on an eye-popping, 180 day whirlwind journey covering 6 countries and over 15,000 miles to reveal the most exciting, emerging, exotic and eccentric retirement lifestyle destinations on the planet. Previously interviewed by the New York Times and Newsweek, we had the opportunity to interview Michael about his journey…
  • LinkedIn: The Greater IBM Connection. Full excerpt: I have been following the IBM and IBM Global Services in Linkedin. Over the past 1 month or so, the number of people who have quit IBM are more than double the promotions or new hires. I know not all IBM employees follow Linkedin. But if we take this as a representative sample, the trend is very concerning. Is this something that occurs every year around this time (Promo / Sal hike time) or this is a new pattern this year?

    Selected comments follow:

    • Like Jack, I joined in 1975 after 3 summers as a co-op and was happy to be laid off in July of 2008. Fortunately, I never fell for the IBM "family" and "life" shtick and made a point of segregating my personal life from work. I saw too many lives destroyed of highly dedicated employees that gave so much of their lives to IBM to be then abandoned and rid like used tools in the late 90's when the "new IBM" and management came into existence. Today I am much happier and I believe much better off than when I worked for that company, thank God. I don't miss it at all.

      I don't know where those 75% figures come from and even the 65% of salary. The reality for most ex-IBM employees eligible for a pension is that those percentages are much less, especially when forced into retiring in their fifties.

      All of those lucky enough to have a pension should be cognizant of the fact that IBM's pension does not adjust for inflation. That's another of the hidden "financial features" of the IBM pension! In the case of at least one retired ex-IBM employee (who now refuses to be called an ex-IBMer) his pension never grew to match inflation and now is less than what he collects from social security!

      Beyond the pension, for most retired ex-IBM employees the loss of their medical insurance is if not greater, at least a major retirement expense they did not count on having to shoulder as a burden after being cast off the company. Although early 1990's retirees still have some of the old promised medical coverage, most recent retirees have only FHA and post-FHA (aka NONE) have huge expenses awaiting them.

    • and let me re-iterate again that for many ex-IBM employees who were eligible to retire, there is no medical. NADA. Even companies like HP have a better deal. The great IBM pension heist of 1999 was nothing compared to the medical heist. For most, the pension loss was speaking from an actuarial point of view in the neighborhood of 300-700K at that time. On the other hand, the medical loss, especially for those who lost it all by getting RA'ed before the new FHA requirements, is about between 280 -790K in lost benefits.
    • Collette, as I understand it, from an IBM non-executive point of view (I'm not going to go to the top hat plans, individual corporate funded HSA's, etc.) Bands 10 (old level 62) and below there are four basic retiree groups for medical.

      The first and oldest group is the retiree that retired in the early 90's (I believe from memory) who had the decision to retire or lose the free paid medical. For those, a basic medical plan is offered at no cost. It is my understanding from several parties that the benefits continually dwindle, but the program continues. Most of these folks are now in their 70's at the youngest side of the demographic range. They also get some limited medical after they enter Medicare, but to my knowledge there is no Long Term Care included in the packages.

      The second group has a basic medical paid for, but must pay a monthly amount like most current employees. They have guaranteed medical, as long as the pay the monthly co-insurance amount. Since retirees have been pulled from the base active employee insurance pool into another one for cost savings purposes for active employees, the rates and benefits are similar, but less and the monthly contributions are much higher than that for active employees, especially if the insured has family. These programs include Long Term Care, HSA, etc. features. My understanding from some parties is that IBM rates are very high and higher than the market but for those with pre-existing conditions it's not a bad deal. It is my understanding that once a retiree drops payments or doesn't sign up for the medical plan in any one year, they lose the right of access permanently.

      The third group is composed of those who still have the remnant defined benefit pension annuity and those who either were forced into the cash-balance or chose it voluntarily. They lost the lifetime partial medical insurance funding and were given the FHA (Future Health Account) instead. For these folks, there is a phantom (not real money) account called the FHA account in which there is a set amount of money that can be used to pay IBM medical and other benefits. For most retirees, this adds up to about 2-5 years of medical benefits in today's cost environment. This account earns interest, but it's been very little in the last few years. The retiree can only use the money in the FHA for IBM medical and other benefits. Once the money runs out, they must pay the benefits they choose 100% out of their own pocket. In addition, if the FHA balance is zero and they have opted to use other insurance, they lose the right to access any IBM benefits in the future. The strategy there is to never let your FHA go to zero, and then ask for permission to use another medical plan from another company with the option to go back to IBM at some later date because the FHA isn't empty. In any case, once you go to zero in your FHA and drop one payment you're out of IBM benefits from a medical and LTC insurance point of view. Once you get to zero in the FHA, you pay the full cost of benefits. You're only right is the right to access the benefits at a cost decided by IBM, not the market.

      The last group are the retirees that don't have FHA because they were RA'ed before age 55 or ineligible for whatever reason. For those, it is my understanding that you can still get access to IBM medical and LTCI, but once you don't make a payment or not re-up with IBM medical you lose access permanently.

      This is my understanding of the different groups, maybe some can help clarify or correct some of my comments. I'll be only on read mode for now because I'm trying to get a product out the door this month.

  • When Fridays Were Fridays: Another One Bites the Dust. By Colette Martin. Excerpts: Another senior executive has been ousted from Corporate America. This time it was HP’s Mark Hurd who resigned last Friday in the midst of allegations of sexual harassment. According to The New York Times, Jodie Fisher’s allegations against Hurd led to an HP internal investigation into the matter. HP found no violation of their own harassment policy, but uncovered some violations of standards of conduct. Bloomberg reported that Hurd failed to identify a personal relationship with Fisher, and repeatedly filed inaccurate expense accounts. ...

    But here’s the real rub; According to Fortune, Hurd is leaving HP with 12 million dollars cash, and an estimated total of 53 million dollars in stock and options. (Pause for impact.)

    Does anyone else detect a double standard here? Fifty-three million dollars is enough to keep 662 people employed, at an average salary of eighty thousand dollars, for a full year. Fifty-three million dollars is enough to keep twenty-two people employed for thirty years. Fifty-three million would go a long way to relief in Haiti or cleaning up the Gulf, or (pick your favorite cause). And I’m sure that fifty-three million is more than enough to provide a nice retirement for Hurd and his wife, complete with lavish summer homes, a yacht, and extravagant trips around the world.

  • ComputerWorld: Senator Schumer: H-1B use undercuts pay, discourages tech enrollments. By Patrick Thibodeau. Excerpt: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) says that the H-1B program has created "multinational temp agencies" that undercut U.S. wages and discourage students from entering tech fields. Schumer said the H-1B program has morphed into program used to hire foreign tech workers "willing to accept less pay than their American counterparts." He spoke on the Senate floor in advance of its approval Thursday of $600 million for border security that includes an H-1B visa fee increase. Schumer broadly called these firms "body shops," correcting a characterization he made last week describing firms that use large numbers of H-1B visas as "chop shops."

    The impact of the low-wage workers is also "discouraging many of our smartest students from entering the technology industry in the first place," said Schumer. "Students can see that paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for advanced schooling is not worth the cost when the market is being flooded with foreign temporary workers willing do to tech work for far less pay."

  • BusinessWeek: India Criticizes New U.S. Outsourcing Fee. By Bruce Einhorn. Excerpt: In the latest battle over outsourcing, the Indian government has fired back at the U.S. Last week, U.S. senators unanimously passed a proposal to nearly double the fees on work visas for Indian IT companies sending workers to the U.S. Indian Trade Minister Anand Sharma has called the move “highly discriminatory” in a letter to his counterpart, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. As Bloomberg News reports, Sharma writes that “it is inexplicable to our companies to bear the cost of such a highly discriminatory law.”
  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • IBM – “IBM Global Financing Financial Analyst.” BM Financial Analyst in Armonk, NY: (Past Employee - 2009) Pros: Great resume builder, every company will bring you in for interview with IBM experience work with very bright people Cons: Salary very low compared with industry. Low level management freezes up when discussing matters with upper level management, will not think twice about throwing own employees under the bus as long as they look good. Long hours and management grumbles when you take time off. Little to no guidance or feedback from sr. management until year review. Bonus is nonexistent not even think about salary increase. No room for growth, opportunities very limited unless you know someone. Too much delegation of work. Analysts don't understand information that is in the systems. Organization is very top heavy. Advice to Senior Management: Everyone who works there is so freaking bright but after a while they become beaten down with bureaucratic nonsense that does not even have to do with their job...please take a step back and recognize this
    • IBM Staff Software Engineer in Durham, NC: (Current Employee) “Mediocre pay, good work-life balance, slow job growth.” Pros: Great benefits - one of the best 401k plans, good healthcare options. Very good work/life balance - work from home options. Good place if you want to get into management path. Cons: Very big and slow moving company. Typically the last ones to try anything new and cool. on the verge of being obsolete in terms of software offerings and research. You can't just do good work and expect to be promoted, you need to work for the "right" people on the "right" projects, often grunge work to get recognized. Too many good people get overlooked while other unqualified people get fast-tracked in their careers. S/W engineers often switch to management path to get job growth as managers run the company rather than technical people. The technical career path is not as well defined as the management path is. Pay is mediocre compared to other big companies in the area, top management rakes in big bonuses and stock each year while individual depts get tiny amounts to distribute as raises...getting a 2-3% raise is considered as a big deal. Advice to Senior Management: Think of ways to retain and employ talent, while reducing dead-wood in the company. Improve pay and make it competitive with the market. Invest in the new areas of research, its been ages since IBM came up with something worthwhile and cutting edge. All the company seems to be doing is acquisitions and making money off of that.
    • IBM Advisory Software Engineer in Research Triangle Park, NC: (Past Employee - 2008) “Take your salary and run - this ain't your family, and they don't have your back.” Pros: I was paid fairly, and in the olden days (say before 1997) allowed a lot of leeway toward education and professional enrichment. Salary, bonuses, and even awards were more than fairly given in my case. The experience I had at IBM really launched my professional career, most of my experience before was in unrelated fields. Cons: Over time, management becomes more "metrics driven" - which is to say, short sighted. Oh how many things we did twice because they weren't realistic about the scope of the work, or how it fit strategically. Perhaps that's because much of the "boots on the ground" management has no idea what their underlings do. Also, those awards and bonuses seem pretty arbitrary when you look at the big picture, seems if your own management isn't strong, your dept will never get their share - no matter how hard they work. In the end, they'll either sell your division, move your job to India or China, or just plain lay you off. Everybody I know still in "the company" is watching their backs, just waiting for the axe to fall. Advice to Senior Management: Grow a pair, get rid of Palmisano before he bankrupts the company. But even more important; Decide what business IBM wants to be in. There's not a lot of call for "taking vast sums of money for poorly delivered offshored services" (yes I mean you IGS). So, figure out where the "family jewels" of IBM are, and take a management approach to exploit those that looks out past the next quarter, and past Palmisano taking his money and running.
    • IBM Consultant: (Past Employee - 2008) “Great company.” Pros: As a general rule, the employees are some of the brightest. Work flexibility / work from home. The IBM name still has some weight on resumes. Cons: Very unfair way of rating performance. Limited to no career advancement training. Utilization targets are impossible to achieve if you've been with the company for many years. Advice to Senior Management: Let the employees make the decisions, they know the job better than you. Guide them to success. Assist them to achieve their goals.
    • IBM Anonymous in Denver, CO: (Current Employee) “Great environment to build experience...but not a career.” Pros: Wide array of learning opportunities depending on your position. Having one of the largest client bases of any company on the planet, you will get a significant amount of experience in a short amount of time (once again, dependent on your role). The higher level architecture resources (on the technical side) are a dream to work with and a fountain of knowledge from which to draw, and some of the middle management is also passionate and will work hard on your behalf in building not just a better business, but a better career path. One area where IBM does exceed is in their telecommuting policies. Hands down one of the most organized large companies in managing work from home (a good portion of the company does so).

      Cons: Almost the exact opposite of the Pros listed above, strangely enough. If you're in the Microsoft competency, expect to be the "red headed stepchild" of the organization. Big Blue is slow to move, and slow to react - and even more so with products not their own. Be prepared for an uphill battle, depending on how forward thinking you are. Also be ready to be considered expendable, at the drop of a hat, if you're not in a niche field. Contractor hourly reductions are commonplace (upwards of 10-15% per week), including overtime restrictions (with the expectation you maintain client visibility anyway), with pay cuts an occasional happening (can see between 5-10% wage cuts with little to no notice).

      Travel policy is prohibitive, and needlessly so, with no per diem offered. Flying into a major metropolitan area? No more than $47 (at the high end) per DAY for meals. Not per meal - but per DAY. Get used to the hot dog vendors and fast food - maybe if you're friendly enough you can eek out a free soda!

      Turnover of quality resources, including some of the "lifers", is VERY high currently. In order to satisfy the investor need for growth, IBM is cutting it's own lifelines by performing "resource actions" on quality employees. This leads to decreased morale, productivity and poor communication across the board. Work suffers for fear of losing their job to a cost center...who will generally do it half as well, if at all. This is more a worry for fulltime employees than contractors. For the moment at least. If you're an existing contractor, or looking to be come one? Stay that way. The benefits, once the best in the industry, are no longer worth it.

      Advice to Senior Management: Less growth and performance based bonus system. Remove the lackey promotion rewarding process and put the focus back on merit and performance. Slim down middle and senior management, as well as project managers. There's about 6-7 "managers and project team members" for every 1 competent technical resource. That's not a joke - and for a technology company known for its expertise, is also a major problem. In short, take your own advice. Start building a better planet...not for management, but for your employees, vendors, and most of all, your clients. You'll be better off for it in the long term.

    • IBM Anonymous in Austin, TX: (Current Employee) “OK if you want to stay stagnant.” Pros - Flex work schedules - One could get by all the way until retirement by doing just enough - One could try anything from research to finance to sales to development without leaving IBM. Cons: - Very varied policies across the company. You could be a smart guy looking to for a promotion from band 7 to 8 in one area, while in another area, people half as smart as you could be on the way to becoming band 10s. - WAY too much politics - WAY too much process; needed to keep a large company in order, but often makes no sense at a micro level - You could climb up the career ladder by being at the right place, saying the right things, contacting the right people... without the need to actually be great at what you do. If you're the quiet type, forget growth here. Advice to Senior Management - Put some importance in taking genuine care of your employees. If they are happy, customers will automatically be happy. Classic examples from personal experience... - Management to employees: No, you cannot pool in money to keep sodas near your offices, because that will upset the contractor of the vending machines at the other end of the building, quarter of a mile away. THIS is not a good place to work. - Employee to manager: I can provide a temporary patch to the customer so he can get his system back up and running. Manager to employee: No, that's someone else's job. If you do his job, the system wont break and will hence never be fixed. Let the customer get upset, so that team can realize their mistake.
    • IBM Dot Com Sales Representative in Coppell, TX: (Past Employee - 2008) “good place to start - but not to finish.” Pros: GREAT benefits. Good training ground. Cons: get your 2-3 years in and then GET OUT. Mgmt has the stated goal of firing/laying off people as they become higher earners. IBM is no longer a place where you can begin and end a career. The IBM business model is to have high employee turnover Advice to Senior Management: get people, keep people and pay them what they are worth. The constant mass exodus of highly talented people is not a good long term strategy. This company makes $1 Billion of PROFIT per month. can some of it be spent on KEEPING employees?
    • IBM I/T Architect in Research Triangle Park, NC: (Past Employee - 2010) “Solid corporation to work for but upper mgt. seems to taking company down wrong track these last several years.” Pros: Solid corporation to work, good benefits, great training/learning opportunities, great experience, many smart and talented employees, potential for good work/life balance if on right team/area/discipline; Cons: potential for poor work/life balance if on wrong team/area/discipline; outsourcing U.S. jobs to lower paid overseas workers, trend towards not respecting U.S. employees and employees in general (i.e. taking away reimbursements for work at home, low cost awards, etc.), a somewhat secretive mgt. communication culture, lack of strategy for true growth/innovation (stock has been flat for 10+ yrs), only way they stay profitable is cutting more and more costs and cutting jobs Advice to Senior Management: The leadership team needs to consider stepping out of the 'bubble' (vacuum) board rooms, & get down on the 'ground floor' with the true workabees at IBM. They do not seem to be in touch with reality of how things really work in the field, and are making decisions based on theory, what Wall Street may think, cutting costs that may help short term but could hurt the company long term, & show much more respect for employees than they have been. Since Sam took over, the company has more and more gone down hill and the stock has gone no where but side ways, even with all of the cost cutting and 'outsourcing' initiatives.
    • IBM Senior Consultant: (Current Employee) “Don't come to IBM Market Insights if you have a second offer.” Pros: You can choose to work from home. Cons: 1. Very bad senior management team. Basically managers/directs are hired or promoted by how close they are to a big boss. Networking is much more important here than management ability and business expertise. 2. Treat the employees very badly. Some people are forced to work as slaves to produce deliverables ahead of time. More ironically, they are often ripped off the opportunity to present their work to their clients. Those so-called project leads (desiring to be promoted to a manager position) take away the work and claim that they did the work and they are the experts on this subject. Usually, they are not involved in the analytic process and have no clue how the work is done. So they asked (forced) the person who did the job to explicate every details to them before the presentation. The senior management team know such events, and actually they set up many team in this way. 3. Many managers care much more about how to thrive on the ladder--squeezing peers for promotion, than how to create a better working environment, how to motivate the employees and value their work. They don't care very much about how to make the subordinates grow and make career progress. Note. This is my personal interpretation (maybe biased) about IBM Market Insights, given what I saw and heard. Anyway, for the job hunters, if you have a second job offer, please choose one outside IBM Market Insights. Advice to Senior Management: Review the ability of the management team at IBM Market Insights (including VPs, Directors, Manager, and team leads). I think some people are not qualified for their jobs at all.
    • “IBM Strategy Consulting.” Pros: Provides an array of project types to work on. Peers are generally very good to work with. Benefits are solid. Opportunity to transfer outside of consulting. Cons: Few partners value people as much as they should. Staffing in locations is out-of-sync (sending too many people cross-country.) Travel and expense and reward policies are too cheap. Advice to Senior Management: Do a credible and consistent job of showing your employees you value them through your actions. Develop more flexible project staffing models to enable less cross-country travel. Don't sweat the small stuff so much (travel and expenses.)
    • IBM Product Manager in Cambridge, MA: (Current Employee) “Solidly good place to work overall, but lots of bureaucratic overhead and ossified systems.” Pros * Good people to work with, with some really stellar folks * Nearly any important company or government in the world is a customer * Good benefits * If you're on a good project that's doing well financially, it can be fun (and a lot of work) * Well known, well-respected company Cons * Expense tightening is getting a little too much * Committees for everything as a way to avoid personal decision making * Compartmentalization of roles can be extreme * Antiquated systems and processes (green screens, and Lotus Notes needs a serious overhaul) * Interruptions and crisis mode are a way of life * Politics can be soul crushing * It's a Big Machine Advice to Senior Management: It's ok to invest and take more internal risks. Have a planning horizon that's longer than 1 fiscal year for more internal investments.
    • IBM IBM Senior Software Engineer in Bangalore (India): (Past Employee - 2010) “IBM India Bad Place to Work.” Pros: 1. Brand Value 2. Internet Connection, no dress code 3. Some of benefits. if you working in some of the production support, project like shift allowance, daily convenience allows but they are going to scrap it last I heard. Cons: 1. Worst Package compared to any of the other IT companies although I joined as a lateral frustrated from my previous organization where I worked for more than 4 years. 2. No good project only maintenance and typical prod support project where you need to work on weekend or work from home as they will provide support laptop/mobile. 3. IBM India manager are puppet to their counterpart at Onsite. 4. No hike or career growth for the employees at the Organization as IBM believes in Hire and Fire policy. I was so much frustrated after joining IBM that I left in 4 months after having an impression of the IBM brand value. Advice to Senior Management: Nothing to say ...IBM India is doing the same work which other Indian IT companies are doing...getting the crap work in India from abroad...using human resources poorly until they get frustrated and leave and they will hire a new one and the same cycle...Also if market goes bad they will also fire the Senior Management along with the junior resources.
    • IBM Anonymous in Boca Raton, FL: (Current Employee) “STOP Offshoring U.S. Jobs.” Pros: pay, work at home, benefits. Cons: Rampant offshoring of US positions, rolling lay offs, management is pretty much useless. bogus performance evaluations (forced low performance ratings by HR) Advice to Senior Management: Somebody is making a lot of money in IBM, and it ain't the worker bee. The team at Armonk are making a mint off the backs of the average worker.
    • IBM Anonymous in Somers, NY: (Past Employee - 2009) “Good performance reviews don't guarantee continued employment.” Pros: IBM has many convenient locations. They allowed me to work from home whenever I wanted unless I had a "must attend in person" meeting. They provided good benefits and matching 401(k) funds up to 7%. They reimbursed employees for local travel. Cons: The AIRRP. The Annual Involuntary Resource Reduction Program. Corporate profits drive all actions at IBM. People are treated as commodities. There's always another person who can take your place, and oh, yeah, they can pay them 20% of what they were paying you by shipping your job to India or Slovakia. IBM insists on using Lotus tools, such as Notes, Sametime and Symphony, which are poor imitations of Microsoft products. By spending several years at IBM, you will lose touch with the rest of the world and when they lay you off, you won't have the skills and experience necessary to compete in the job market. Advice to Senior Management: Eliminate the Lotus products and join the rest of the word in using MS Office. Update your operating systems from Windows XP. Figure out how much profit and how much profit growth is really enough.
    • IBM Engineer: (Current Employee) “Ups and Downs.” Pros: Great benefits package, good diversity, great location (RTP, NC), strong IT infrastructure and intranet, good fitness center, potential for lateral movement to new jobs, good growth in software and services. Cons: Hardware design is fading fast: Far too many layers of technically incompetent management, too many floaters in the system that aren't contributing to the company, poor effort to retain top technical talent in hardware, increasing outsourcing, stockholders arguably get better treatment than employees. Advice to Senior Management: Don't expect hardware to make boatloads of money all by itself...use it to leverage the software and services cash cows and remember that your hardware technical staff are partially responsible for the windfall and market differentiation. Promote from within and get more technical talent in the management chain. You need more technically strong people making decisions about the products...less of the MBAs and calendar pushers that just dress nice, talk loudly, and forward email.
    • IBM Senior Manager in Shenzhen, Kwangtung (China): (Current Employee) “IBM. Pros: a very business oriented company who knows what it wants and how to execute. Always drive hard for the outcome. Cons: it's called 'to kill the hen to get the egg' in China. By forcing the execution of global moves and pressing issues underneath the global collaboration, IBM is losing talents. It's now focusing too much on packaging, creating new words and selling them. Advice to Senior Management: after Sam retires, sustainability has to be reviewed. If IBM continues in the way it's on today, all the short term good looks will lose color.
    • IBM Anonymous in Hursley, England (United Kingdom): (Current Employee) “Pay what people deserve!” 3 Pros: Interesting challenge and get to work with the worlds' biggest customers to solve their challenges in a good environment surrounded by good people. Cons: Do not pay the market rate, I am currently being paid a lot less what IBM considers a fair market rate for my band. Advice to Senior Management: IBM sets pay boundaries on the lower end of the pay scale for the IT sector and then doesn't even pay those
New on the Alliance@IBM Site
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  • To Alliance@IBM supporters: The Alliance is the only organization that advocates and supports IBM employees and ex-employees. In fact, there are few like it in the Information Technology field. It is always difficult to keep an organization like this alive, but as a supporter you know how important it is that we exist. We are calling on you today to help keep us alive another year by joining as a member or associate member. See our online forms below. As our membership has dropped, it is imperative that we gain new members or this organization and web site will cease to exist. Help us keep our organizing and advocacy work alive!
  • General Visitor Comments: Due to a lack of membership growth the comment sections will be closed until we see sufficient growth in full membership, associate membership or donations. Many of you that visit our site have not yet joined, but seem to value its existence. The only comment section that will remain open will be Job Cuts Reports. If you have information that you want the Alliance to know about please send to ibmunionalliance@gmail.com. Information of importance will be put on the front page of this web site. To join go here: Join The Alliance! or here: Join The Alliance!
  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 8/08/10: Got RA'd in March from ITD, new position with competitor at 35% increase in salary and a car... Folks,, IBM is not the end of the road... get out while while you have a life. IBM is for losers -Anonymous-
    • Comment 8/09/10: Wish I had a perk to take the fam with me when I fly "coach" for these losers.... Company: IBM Cash compensation: $7.6 million Stock and options: $13.5 million Palmisano's 2009 take includes $1.1 million in "other compensation," including $320,065 of personal travel on company aircraft. Because family members sometimes join him aboard IBM planes, the company adds,"Mr. Palmisano has contributed $63,000 to the IBM International Foundation to fund contributions to Columbia University." -sam_the_scumbag-
    • Comment 8/10/10: Re: Sam's personal travel on company aircraft... Why is it that when I was on business travel with IBM, and I modified the itinerary to take a personal side trip, but the ticket was based on IBM travel, and had to be paid for on the IBM Amex card, there was a specific spot on the expense account form for "personal travel" that got deducted from my reimbursement, yet when Sam does it, he donates 20% of the monetary value of his personal travel to a fund that is TAX DEDUCTIBLE!!!!???? And I'm sure it gets doubly "un-taxed" because he gives it to an IBM fund that donates to another fund, so I'll be he deducts it off his personal taxes, AND IBM takes it off corporate taxes with its other charitable contributions? Anyone see anything legally questionable about this? Different treatment for different employees? After all, Sam is just an employee. Does his contract (oops, contract? what's that? none of us have contracts - JOIN THE ALLIANCE) say that he gets personal use and gets to deduct his"charitable contribution" for using it??? Sorry for the rant, but gee, $320k... Can pay for 2 fully expensed (including benefits, office space etc) programmers! How much more of this goes on??? -RAed Jan 09-
    • Comment 8/10/10: -soontobegone- I was RA'd in 2009 and received 6 months severance.For NC, as long as you are taking a class - any class either on-line or in a class room, you can get unemployment as long as you apply to to jobs during the week and show that you registered and paid for the class. Even on-line classes class count. I got 20 weeks of unemployment and then landed another job. Check with the NCESCto make sure that nothing has changed. But as long as you are attending classes and actively looking (2 job applications a week) you get unemployment. -Dave in NC-
    • Comment 8/12/10: It may be nothing but I was chatting with a manager (not mine) the other day and after a rundown on how hard it has been for him to get enough staff to support his product he lamented "and now they've asked me to make more cuts". Just a heads up. -Anon-
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
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  • Los Angeles Times: Executives at health insurance giants cash in as firms plan fee hikes. Excerpt: Leaders of Cigna, Humana, UnitedHealth, WellPoint and Aetna received nearly $200 million in compensation in 2009, according to a report, while the companies sought rate increases as high as 39%. By Noam N. Levey. Excerpts: The top executives at the nation's five largest for-profit health insurance companies pulled in nearly $200 million in compensation last year — while their businesses prepared to hit ratepayers with double-digit premium increases, according to a new analysis conducted by healthcare activists. The leaders of Cigna Corp., Humana Inc., UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint Inc. each in effect received raises in 2009, the report concluded, based on an analysis of company reports filed with the Security and Exchange Commission. H. Edward Hanway, former chief executive of Philadelphia-based Cigna, topped the list of high-paid executives, thanks to a retirement package worth $110.9 million. Cigna paid Hanway and his successor, David Cordani, a total of $136.3 million last year. ...

    Most families are struggling to hang on. Employers are struggling to stay in business. And these guys were giving themselves huge raises," said Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care for America Now, a coalition of advocacy groups that prepared the report. A spokeswoman for WellPoint said executives' compensation reflects their effort to improve care and hit corporate goals. Representatives of the other four insurers either declined to comment Tuesday on the report or did not respond to questions.

  • truthout: Is Wall Street Making Life or Death Decisions? By Dora Calott Wang, M.D. Excerpts: Is your health insurance company traded on Wall Street? If so, is Wall Street deciding your medical care? It's hard to recall that for-profit corporations were once kept out of health care - in fact, for most of the 20th century. During this time, the nation's medical system was built largely by non-profit and charitable organizations, which is why so many hospitals are named for saints. Courts across the country ruled that for corporations to profit from medical care was simply "against sound public policy." In the early 1980's, however, when the financial and airline industries were deregulated, a similar process occurred for American medicine. For-profit corporations became newly encouraged to take leadership of health care. Deregulating health care into the free market was intended to drive down costs and to improve care. After all, medical care in 1980 consumed a whopping 9.1 percent of the nation's GDP.

    Never mind that after 30 years in the free market, health care costs have doubled to consume 18 percent of the GDP (with a third of these precious dollars wasted on bureaucracy). Never mind that health care has gotten increasingly inaccessible to the uninsured and even the insured, or that American health care has become an international poster child for reform.

News and Opinion Concerning the U.S. Financial Crisis
Minimize "It is a restatement of laissez-faire-let things take their natural course without government interference. If people manage to become prosperous, good. If they starve, or have no place to live, or no money to pay medical bills, they have only themselves to blame; it is not the responsibility of society. We mustn't make people dependent on government- it is bad for them, the argument goes. Better hunger than dependency, better sickness than dependency."

"But dependency on government has never been bad for the rich. The pretense of the laissez-faire people is that only the poor are dependent on government, while the rich take care of themselves. This argument manages to ignore all of modern history, which shows a consistent record of laissez-faire for the poor, but enormous government intervention for the rich." From Economic Justice: The American Class System, from the book Declarations of Independence by Howard Zinn.

  • The Hill: Study: Extending Bush tax cuts would be boon for wealthy individuals. By Jay Heflin. Excerpts: An analysis released this week by the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) shows millionaires will receive, on average, a $103,834 tax cut next year if Congress extends the breaks enacted by former President George W. Bush. The sizable refund would affect 315,000 returns out of the 161 million taxpayers who file, according to the JCT.

    Results from the committee prompted House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Thursday to renew the vow by Democratic leaders only to extend the breaks benefiting individuals earning less than $200,000 per year and couples making less than $250,000. "Democrats would stop the Bush tax increase on the middle class that Republicans scheduled to happen at the end of the year," he said in prepared remarks. "Instead, we would extend tax relief for the middle class."

  • New York Times op-ed: The Horror Show. By Bob Herbert. Excerpts: The employment situation in the United States is much worse than even the dismal numbers from last week’s jobless report would indicate. The nation is facing a full-blown employment crisis and policy makers are not responding with anything like the sense of urgency that is needed. The employment data for July, released by the government on Friday, showed that private employers added just 71,000 jobs during the month and that the unemployment rate remained flat at 9.5 percent. But as bad as those numbers were, if you look beyond them you’ll see a horror show. ...

    “We have a large number of people who have just given up hope of finding a job,” said Mr. McMillion. He pointed out that there are record numbers — “I mean lights-out record numbers” — of long-term unemployed people who are still looking for jobs. Of the 14.6 million men and women officially counted as unemployed, nearly 45 percent have been out of work for six months or longer. “We have a large number of people who have just given up hope of finding a job,” said Mr. McMillion. He pointed out that there are record numbers — “I mean lights-out record numbers” — of long-term unemployed people who are still looking for jobs. Of the 14.6 million men and women officially counted as unemployed, nearly 45 percent have been out of work for six months or longer.

  • Washington Post: GOP plan to extend tax cuts for rich adds $36 billion to deficit, panel finds. By Lori Montgomery. Excerpt: A Republican plan to extend tax cuts for the rich would add more than $36 billion to the federal deficit next year -- and transfer the bulk of that cash into the pockets of the nation's millionaires, according to a congressional analysis released Wednesday. New data from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation show that households earning more than $1 million a year would reap nearly $31 billion in tax breaks under the GOP plan in 2011, for an average tax cut per household of about $100,000.
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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