Selected comments follow:
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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."
“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.
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