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Highlights—February 5, 2011

  • Fortune: Flexible vacation policies are here to stay. By By Shelley DuBois. Excerpts: You're an adult. You know how to prioritize your time to do your job. So why should your company ration out vacation reluctantly and monitor when you spend it? Wouldn't it be nice to do away with vacation-day limits entirely, so you could leave work whenever you want for as long as you feel you need? It sounds like a dream come true for many employees, but a growing number of companies are doing just that, adopting so-called flexible vacation policies that shift control over deciding when to take time off to employees and in many cases eliminating an allotted number of vacation days entirely. Netflix made headlines for this last year when the press got word of the company's flexible vacation policy -- there are no "days," employees can take what they want -- but a swell of other companies have let go of the reins on vacation time. Those that have say not only is the open policy rarely abused, it actually makes the work environment better. ...

    But this isn't merely a flash fad for startups. IBM is said to have had flexible vacation time for every employee since 2003. People who work for the company simply give their supervisors a heads up, but otherwise, take time off when they want it.

    Selected reader comments concerning this article follow:

    • IBM does *not* have limitless vacation time. It tops out at 4 weeks (unless you're an exec) and you can't carry it over year to year. Company-wide I am not aware of any restrictions on when you take it.
    • Within IBM vacation policy is a joke in some divisions. For example consider Global Business Systems (GBS). Sure you can take vacation whenever you want provided not more than you are entitled to. But you are expected to make up all your time away hours. In other words if you take off for a week, i.e., forty hours, you will have to work an additional forty hours when you are back. That goes for all time away including holiday hours, sick hours, etc. At IBM you might just as well not take off at all because then you don't have to make up "lost hours." There are many reasons IBM never shows up on lists of best places to work. This is only one of them.
    • IBM does not have the policy as erroneously described in this article...your yearly vacation time is based on the number of years worked.. 4 weeks after 10 years and 3 years when hired on..There used to be 5 weeks vacation after 20 years but that is not available for hires in the last 5 or so years.. so the career cap is 4 years..You also can not defer yearly vacation unless there is an exceptional situation and approved by your manager..(IBMer for 27 years and now retired)
    • I can tell you IBM still doesn't have that policy. In fact there are pretty clear guidelines on who is eligible for 3, 4, and 5 weeks vacation plus floating holidays. Now vacation logging is pretty much solely done by the manager, so he can be as flexible as he wants for his employees. But there are no HR guarantees that you can take as many days as you want. I don't know where this article got that information from.

  • Bloomberg Newsweek: Obama Confers With Xerox's Burns, IBM's Palmisano. By Kate Andersen Brower. Excerpts: President Barack Obama discussed jobs, education and trade today with chief executive officers of U.S. technology companies, including Ursula Burns of Xerox Corp., Michael Dell of Dell Inc. and Samuel Palmisano of International Business Machines Corp. The president held a private White House meeting with the executives, who are members of the Technology CEO Council, an advocacy group representing the biggest U.S. information technology companies. ...

    Palmisano said the group pledged support for the administration's work to get free-trade agreements passed in Congress, citing the council's support for the Korea Trade Agreement. "Seventy percent of our industry is outside the United States and most of the growth is outside of the United States, so we need a competitive playing field," he said.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Woo Hoo !! $1000 stock bonuses" by "alwaysontheroad4bigblue". Full excerpt: In Palmisano's letter to the troops this week: I want to thank you for everything you did to achieve these results, in the fourth quarter and over the past four years. Our long-term success is the product of the work, innovation and superior execution of more than 400,000 IBMers. In recognition of this, I am delighted to announce that all non-executive IBMers who performed consistently over the 2010 Roadmap period will receive a grant of $1000 of IBM stock, where permitted, which will vest at the end of the next roadmap, in 2015. Terms will be forthcoming from your leadership team.

    It's interesting to do some calculation to see how much of an insult this $1,000 "bonus" is. Let's assume that you, as a loyal IBM employee, work 2080 hours per year for 5 years. (We'll err on the side of IBM here and assume you don't work any overtime.) The $1000 bonus works out to just under ten cents an hour!

    Now let's figure out how long it takes our esteemed leader to earn a $1000 given his current compensation. According to http://www.forbes.com/lists/2006/12/AQXZ.html, Sam's total compensation in 2009 was $21.3 Million. Let's assume Sam works 70 hours a week, and never takes time off for vacations, holidays, or illnesses. That's 3640 hours or 218,400 minutes per year. That works out to pay of $97.53 per hour.

    So, Sam earns his $1,000 in just a few seconds after his first ten minutes of the year!

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: 100 Best Companies to work for - IBM not" by Hugh Laubis. Full excerpt: You guys are too much with your complaints about ‘my’ company which treated us all like ‘gold’ for our careers. Yes, it is not the same anymore, but what is? Look at the world around you.

    Take a look at this historical video about IBM by IBM and reflect upon the period of years that you served in its history.

    Mine was 1960 â€" 1988 and I loved (almost) every minute of it. The ‘almost’ part of it was the few times (3) that I worked to a real A--H---. The beauty of the company was that all I had to do was make contacts with a past ‘rabbi’ and get a new position elsewhere, usually a promotion. BTW, eventually those three were discovered and finally got what was coming to them!

    When I retired in 1988, I took the famed FAP buyout at age 49. Every promise made to me by IBM about my medical in the future has been kept, albeit not as lucrative as it was 22 years ago. I still love the memories of my career at IBM, 10 years in domestic, 9 years in AFE and 9 years in EMEA. FAP gave me 5 & 5 to age and service, two years salary and medical for life and I went out, did other things and made some real money besides.

    Please appreciate what you have & had and stop looking for more or you will become a ‘part’ of the problem we have here in America today, gimme, gimme gimme!

    WATCH THIS and enjoy it. It is memorable and great! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39jtNUGgmd4

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: 100 Best Companies to work for - IBM not" by "davlanta". Full excerpt: So what you are saying is that you LEFT BEFORE Gerstner removed "respect for the individual" and fired half the company? And you missed it when they have fired 80,000 US workers and replaced them with incompetent Indians the last decade? Oh that explains your head in the sand attitude. You know what, Eastern Airlines was good to work for in 1980s.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: 100 Best Companies to work for - IBM not" by "madinpok". Full excerpt: Re: If you have been out of IBM since 1988, you have no idea what it is like working there today. Yup... IBM was a good company back then. That isn't true anymore, and hasn't been for quite a while. Enjoy your memories... that is all that is left of the once great IBM.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: 100 Best Companies to work for - IBM not" by "JohnP". Full excerpt: Hugh, You undoubtedly have a different view of IBM than most of us here, since you bailed out before things *really* started going downhill (although by 1988, Akers was well along the path of totally destroying the company). Things were starting to go south as of 1980, but didn't really get institutionally bad until TJW Jr. died in 1993, and it was open season on the basic principles (such as "Respect for the Individual"). The real a-holes started getting promoted instead of fired, and benefits (such as pensions and retirement medical) were summarily discontinued. I'm one of the lucky ones to still have a pension, although the benefit amount was slashed by about 50% somewhere along the way.

    No medical, no dental, and half of my promised pension. Treated like gold my @$$.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: 100 Best Companies to work for - IBM not" by "teamb562". Full excerpt: "But please stop comparing the 'apples' of today (pun intended) with the 'oranges' of yesterday. This is "not your father's IBM" because it needs to survive." I'm sorry but I think you are missing the points. There are plenty of companies surviving today that treats their employees with respect and dignity. IBM is NOT one of them.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: 100 Best Companies to work for - IBM not" by "ibmretiree2006". Full excerpt: Thank you!!!! There are some who do not think employees deserve anything more than their paycheck. And these same people talk about the "great years with IBM" and the dreaded UNTIL some year in time. And it was great for the respect and dignity IBM demonstrated.

    How about the wonderful way of having a conference call and telling people they are gone. Very respectful, eh? Or having people work for a full year and THEN have a manager tell you that your work was not acceptable. Very respectful, eh?

    No one loved IBM more than me. I was a very proud employee even when this started "changing" but when IBM lost respect for me, I lost respect for it. I am happy to receive my retirement payment each month, but I EARNED it. 40+ years in a variety of jobs and divisions. So, while some of you are still enamored it appears, that on this list, many many more are not. Life is still good.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: 100 Best Companies to work for - IBM not" by "ibmretiree2006". Full excerpt: I don't think anyone expected IBM to remain static. But nor did we expect IBM to lead the way in outsourcing and offshoring. We did not expect people to be let go and watch IBM complain there were not enough qualified people in the US, hence the need for H1Bs.

    I have worked with many LARGE corporations who, while conscious of the need for change, did not do it entirely on the backs of US employees. So, while change was necessary, unfortunately we did not have executives with any creativity other than sending 100,000+ jobs offshore.

    I did not ask for a lot of perks. Just to be paid for the results I provided to IBM. Your post makes it seem like, as employees, we did not want change. WE wanted to be part of it and not just the "fat to be cut". Personally I do not care anymore. I am out and enjoying my life but I also recognize that with a bit more brainpower at the top change might have been a positive thing.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: PBC 3 to a 2" by "Al". Full excerpt: While I can't speak to the current financial status, I did get to watch (participate?)in the the 1990's debacle.

    I realize that there are IBM executives over the years that are very polarizing, but some had to play the hand they were dealt. Lou Gerstner's book "Elephants can Dance" is very enlightening. When Lou took over, IBM was 2-3 weeks from not making payroll. Keep in mind that I've been here 40+ years so I've seen some interesting events in this Company.

    My observation is that the problems being discussed really started back in the early 80's after T.J. Watson Jr. stepped down. The leadership started to change but where I see the biggest change was in 1986 (the forced march of PSR's to marketing & then out the door), and then in 2000 with the note that came out that utilization was king over all.

    A number of us were involved in skills and resource utilization studies done in the mid-90's after utilization had been put in place for a bit. Early on, Professional Services and Consulting had that to deal with. Data we provided then (1989 or so) indicated that it would take about 3-4 years and Services would no longer have the skills to compete or deliver. We didn't miss far. There was a world-wide study on Skills & Resource Utilization done in 1995 of employees from line delivery thru country managers. Across the board, the results came back that utilization was killing the company but we were not allowed to present those to the Executive Committee (seems we gored someone sacred ox).

    We started the Knowledge Management project to help spread knowledge from more experienced people to those trying to learn. Contrast that with Utilization and it just doesn't work. Working smarter (more efficiently) always takes a back seat when you have to fill 40 or more hours regardless of how productive you might have been.

    As far as gong from a PBC 3 to a 2, congratulations. Usually a PBC3 is to move you out. I can say that with some degree of certainty as I got on that many years ago as a 4 with an improvement plan (seems I caught my manager altering time cards in violation of federal labor law and called him out). It didn't last long as the powers that be a the time realized that to back him would get them all in a bunch of trouble.

    Fast forward to John Akers. He did away with the Resident Managers (think of them as the IBM Supreme Court with the power to relieve anyone up to a division president), the Quarter Century Club, IBM Club, and a number of other ideas such as making all divisions compete with each other (that resulted in some very interesting sales calls). The list is endless of the things he did to screw up this great company.

    Now consider the overall employment picture out there as this has been brewing for a bunch of years. CEO's lobbying Congress for concessions on labor law to eliminate pensions, etc. Corporations looting pension funds to further stock growth, and my overall favorite, using pension income to inflate corporate profit figures to enhance executive bonus potential.

    That, coupled with the social structure of "it's all about me" is one of the feeders to the situation we all find ourselves in now.

    This problem has been brewing a long time and will take a while to straighten out. Unfortunately, it won't be done until we have honest leadership in our Government, our Corporations, our schools, and we are honest with ourselves. The overall question I'd ask is "how do I do my best every day so I can be an example to my family, community, and co-workers". Additionally, we all need to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions.

    This is a problem born of complacency and by not questioning what is going on. There is nothing wrong with questioning a decision made by a manager as long as it's done respectively. A non-answer ("I told you so!" is indicative of an abuse of power and needs to be called out immediately.

    I guess the bottom line is that I was looking for a job when I came to IBM and found a career. I always knew that I could be gone at any moment so the only thing I knew to do was be ethical, moral, and do the best job I could.

    All that said, I retired in 2010 after 40+ years. I took very seriously the responsibility to my family to plan for the future in the event that the company and government failed to do their part. When I retired, I took the lump sum and annuity because I wanted to make sure that I had protected as much as I could against corporate malfeasance.

    Will I be able to do all that I wanted to do in retirement? I have no idea for sure but as plans stand now, I think so. My heart goes out to those stuck in either the cash balance or second choice plans as I think they got screwed, but again, it was a greed issue (again back to ethics and morals, I'll leave it to you to figure out where that failed) that has the corporate executives making some really bad decisions. That and the fortitude to tell the stock analysts that we're no longer playing the quarterly/monthly return game. The only CEO out there with the guts to do that is Warren Buffet. He doesn't play that anymore.

    My best to all of you still there. I do miss the people, the daily discussions, the customers, and the projects, but I do not miss plane flights, and the constant project direction changing caused by managers afraid to tell those above that we need a clear direction and a plan that lasts longer than a month or quarter.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: PBC 3 to a 2" by "TBGG". Full excerpt: I hear that. I hired on in 1979 and managed to hang on until March, 2010, when I was R/A'd (after receiving a 2 rating for 2009) and just retired rather than try to find another position in an IBM that was laying off folks left and right.

    I, too, loved IBM at first, but when that PBC garbage was implemented, it just went downhill year after year. Like you guys, the pay is missed, but they can have that stupid PBC and utilization mess.

    When our manager announced the program that was the lead-in to a utilization quota, I told the guy next to me, "My TBMC just went up." He said, "What is TBMC?" I replied, "Time Between Mouse Clicks. I moooooooovvvve the mouse, I cliiiiiiick the mouse, I moooooooovvvve the mouse, I cliiiiiiick the mouse,..."

    I applaud you folks who received a 3 and got it overturned or brought it up to a 2. There are still good people managers in IBM, but they are being ruined because of the manage-by-numbers-only mentality. I think if Tom Watson came back from the grave, half the managers today would be walking around with knots on their heads from Tom's cane.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: PBC 3 to a 2" by "scaepio". Full excerpt: I was given a 3 in 2009. I took it to the appeal process and won. If getting a 2 for almost killing oneself with work can be considered winning. I found out later that all managers were made to chose one person to get a 3. I was chosen from my department because I have an on-going conflict with my manager based on her bullying and the amount of work that has been made my responsibility. In the appeal process one must first appeal to your second line. My second line had been responsible for someone having to get a 3 so I was appealing to someone who was actually behind the decision. So much for a fair process.

    The appeal committee overturned my 3. I had an incredible amount of documentation proving that I was not a 3. My manager was given reprimands about the 3 from this process. I don't know what they were because I have just heard through the grapevine. One that I know for sure was she was told she had to give a warning. I received no warning mid-year. I think she knew if she gave me a warning that I would defend myself.

    I am now branded and am having to work to save my reputation because the manager has gone around bad-mouthing me. But I'm not the only one she bullied so her actions with others are coming to light.

    IBM does not expect you to defend yourself. There is a mentality that the boss is all-powerful. They get discombobulated when you defend yourself. If you get a 3, you have been marked in some way anyway. The rating system is unfair and is just a way to stop giving good bonuses and to identify people to lay off. You have nothing to lose by defending yourself and everything to gain. If the decision is overturned you will have gained some credibility.

    The appeal team is made up of 5 people - 2 managers, and 3 at your band level. Don't go to an arbitrator. I feel that my appeal team was very fair. Probably because they were made up of other employees who are feeling the pinch. I've heard that even stars have gotten 2's this year.

    You also need to find an option or plan b for when the layoffs do happen. Sorry if this is rambling. But the main message I want to get across is DEFEND YOURSELF!

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: PBC 3 to a 2" by "S. Beryl Walker". Full excerpt: The 2nd line was given a target number of "3"s within his/her org - a quota. The quotas come down from the executives. They are supposed to discuss the relative contribution of entire teams at the 2nd or 3rd level and then choose "3"s within teams. Some lazy/poor/ignorant 2nd lines just push that quota down to the 1st lines. If that happened in your situation, I hope the 2nd line was also reprimanded.

    You were right to fight it via the panel. It works when bad choices were made no matter how the PBC process is carried out. That is one thing that I'm glad I'll never have to do again. Retirement is wonderful.

  • Wall Street Journal: When Negativity Infects Your Office. By Sue Shellenbarger. Excerpts: In my experience, few factors have a bigger impact on the juggle than the emotional climate where you work. At a previous employer years ago, the prevailing employee attitude was ceaseless, simmering resentment and cynicism over ever-rising workloads and a lack of recognition to us for shouldering the burden. I tried to keep an optimistic attitude there, but a fierce desire to get out drove me to work weekends and holidays to land a better job at a better place to work. When I did, my energy for family and personal life soared. ...

    ...it's easy for people … to become cynical, which leads to politics, which can create a cancer that can topple even the greatest companies. Cynicism is that first cell, so to speak, that can metastasize within an organization." One "recipe for cynicism," she says, is for bosses to fail to acknowledge other employees' great ideas or ignore big issues raised by employees.

  • The Economic Times (India): IBM to offer $1,000 Esops to India staff. Excerpts: Coming out of recession, nearly 100,000 IBM India employees are set to receive a $1,000 stock bonus each before June 16, the day when the Big Blue celebrates its hundred years of existence, in a move that will force other multinational and Indian tech firms to dole out more incentives to check attrition.

    Sam Palmisano , chairman of IBM, is expected to visit Bangalore during the second week of February and trigger the company's centenary celebrations by addressing employees apart from holding other meetings with IBM's customers and scientists at Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science, at least three people who have been invited to attend these meetings confirmed to ET last week.

    Not all of IBM's India staff will be eligible for this incentive, as the company has laid down several criteria. "Only those who are IBM employees as of December 31, 2010, are eligible — full-timers and part-timers included," the spokesman added. Also, since these stock incentives will not vest until 2015, anybody quitting the company before June 16 of 2015 will lose the eligibility.

    Over 150 reader comments were posted for this article. The following are a few of them:

    • IBM GBS India is a bad place for talented people to stay. They are hoping that by throwing peanuts they are doing a generous task that will motivate employees. Sad state of affairs.
    • I am with IBM for more than 3 years now. These are all gimmicks. You will not get anything this is to be underlined. There is a heavy brain drain in IBM now. Because there are no hikes and you can not expect any good hike even this year. You will always be receiving the news letter that company is performing well and profits have grown up but when it comes to rewarding the employees, it is the other way round, "we have just recovered from recession". In INDIA the inflation is shattering the ceilings, but the income is not growing, IBM never realizes that, rather it expects its employees to be loyal and accepts its gimmicks. Why does not IBM be true to itself and show some loyalty to itself and its employees?
    • I am working with IBM for almost 6 yrs now. It;s almost rubbish strategy applied by IBM now. They are really do not want to award employees on this year only but paying for a four years retention amount only for talented person. If they really wanted to award employees then it should be one instantaneous award and not a four years tie planning. There was some retention bonus already in practice by many companies. IBM too had this for only select employees.
    • This is not going to deter those IBMers who are going to write what is known as the shortest resignation letter of this world.
    • This is a big joke. Leave IBM and join another company you will get double amount through joining bonus.
    • first ask the billion dollar companies to provide at least tea or coffee to the employees...
    • true during recession times tea and coffee vanished,,,and even stopped the exhaust fans in bathroom to save cost
    • Not just exhaust fans... soon for water in the bathrooms they will ask you to buy a Smart Card and pay
    • This company is not good for ladies either. If you dare take a maternity leave then rest assured that you will get a PBC rating 3 because your utilisation have gone down. What an irony that such a company proclaims itself as a women friendly organisation !!
    • IBM's main problem is to not reward the deserving candidates. Grading system is most corrupted and whatever increment IBM gives it goes to them who are not deserving. Due to this reason, satisfaction level is so low that talented guys don't want to stay in this company. During recession they stop free tea, no company can do this in this world. We're sure someone is there in HR who takes in-human decisions. Earlier on-site guys get one free tip in a year back to India, that also not there now. IBM will keep making profits by violating all rules and giving nothing to employees. Basically, IBM's great values only apply for IBMers, the same values does not apply for the company itself. IBM management can play unfair games with the employees without thinking twice. At present lot of employees who spent 3-4 yrs. are confused what to do? Probably we'll leave in next opportunity.
    • Spent 5 yrs with this organization. Ruined my career n job prospects with no work or hikes. Now rendered useless .. Quit due to mental unrest and frustration. These gimmicks of hiring and retention would not last once the resource spends time within the organization.
    • I agree, 3 years, no hikes, No tea/coffee, no bonus,Inflation is at an all time high and our salary hasn't grown by a single rupee. Its very hard for us to manage. They need to realise that, no amount of stocks or incentives are going to motivate the frustrated employees to stay back. Our work needs to be recognized and we need to grow.
    • IBM at present is not the same organization what it was known for. Company policies were employee oriented but the they have manipulated them all and started exploiting. The company is full of worth less managers and resulting so much of damage to the employee. Top IBM management need to look into this. There is no support or encouragement for the employees. If you are really talented then you need to get out of the organization to get your proper value. If some one from IBM top management is reading this please understand the ground condition other wise as other mentioned IBM will loose the reputation what it was known for.
    • IBM GBS has deteriorated over past 3 years. Overall, a sad place to work.
    • $1000 USD (ie about 44000INR )retention bonus for 4 years is pathetic. Uncle Sam, you can take that money, I don't need this. THINK! 100 years of greatness going down the gutter. ~An IBM employee

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Supplemental cuts happening soon" by "ottawadude2000". Full excerpt: I work in the software division. I have heard (but can't believe it yet) that the company cannot conduct an RA program for full time employees in Q1 as they have nothing to write off the expenses (severance) against. Instead at least one of the software brands is getting rid of all supplemental employees, which means they only have to give 2 weeks working notice and no severance (supps sign a contract that they can be dismissed with 2 weeks notice).

    In my department we have been hiring supplementals for the past several years as we cannot get approval for full time hires. Now in a couple days I have to tell at least 2 people (I am a manager) that in 3 weeks they are out on the street. This will be a tough message given IBM's messaging around how successful 2010 was financially. I better get back to working on my resume - its only a matter of time before my turn comes.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Supplemental cuts happening soon" by "workforlife". Full excerpt: Supps have a contract.. hot damn. IBM can let me go with no notice. The message should not be to tough. How many years have we heard that we are doing great but, heck, we have to cut some more?

    BTW: Supps were supposed to be a cushion to insure full employment for full time employees. In hard times they were supposed to be the first to go. Perhaps you are too new to have heard that great lie we were fed. It was included in the lower pay but great benefits speech we all heard for years. For me it was 1993 when I watched good IBMers pushed out the door while low paid supps and sub-contractors kept their jobs.

    Smart move on keeping the resume well oiled. I can not wait to Global Foundries to get tooled up and watch the brain drain from Fishkill and Burlington.

  • Yahoo! IBM Retiree Information Exchange message board: "Aetna PPO for 2011 is a nightmare" by "larryreader". Full excerpt: I was surprised not to find posts regarding problems with this plan as I have been told (by Aetna) that other IBMers are encountering the same situation. We signed up for the PPO for 2 reasons: (1) We could go to out-of-network providers. (2) The annual deductible is only $500/Ind versus $5,000 last year for UHC.

    My wife has been going through a nasty infectious disease problem since last July. She had 3 operations in 2010 and was scheduled for her 4th and final on 12/28/10. Unfortunately she acquired an infectious disease on 12/27 and the operation had to be postponed

    She is now undergoing daily infusions via a PICC line for 6 weeks.

    The doctor recommended the medication and a home-health provider to assist. I was surprised to find out that my Aetna PPO would not cover either, even though the medication is in their formulary and although the care-giver is not in their network I had signed up with a "PPO" with Out-of-Network benefits. The Aetna PPO literature I received says "No deductible" for out-of-network caregivers.

    We are now in the position of having IBM Benefits and Aetna arguing with each other. Aetna is saying IBM does not know the plan they had offered employees and IBM is saying we should be covered and we should talk to Aetna. The people at Aetna are not familiar with this plan. Catch-22!!

    It is currently in the Aetna "Appeal Process" which they say could take up to 17 days.

    In the meantime we must keep the treatment going by promising to pay for it ourselves if Aetna does not agree that it is covered.

    Not sure what to expect from this plan in the future and thought I would alert others that might run into a similar situation. Will definitely not go with this plan next year.

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • IBM Sales Specialist: (Past Employee - 2009) "High pressure-you either produce or you're on the next layoff list" Pros: Benefits are good. Looks good on a resume. Pay is OK for the amount of work you do but below the industry average. Their vacation policy is good. Cons: Management puts high pressure on people to meet goals. They tout work and home balance but that is a pipe dream. The hours expected are incredible and the first line managers are overworked. They expect you to be on a conference call at 6:30 in the morning to review your pipeline. Advice to Senior Management: Start to respect your employees. Focus on the people more and the numbers less. Treat employees with respect and you will get more out of them.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Past Employee - 2010) "Long career with IBM, in the beginning it was a family with great team work, in the end we were too disparate" Pros: intelligent co-workers, most of whom cared about the job they were performing. Good benefits, good pay, a lot of vacation time. Management sensitive to employees's personal issues so time off was granted, if needed. Ability to work from home. Cons: Highly stressful at times. Complex environment and at times there were new hires thrown into resolving complex problems when the new hires did not know the customer's environment or needs well enough to resolve problems and achieve proper customer satisfaction
    • IBM Staff Software Engineer in Atlanta, GA: (Past Employee - 2009) "Average Big Company" Pros: Fairly good pay, benefits and a very good match on the 401k. Compensation is average for a very big company. Cons: Process trumps creativity. Management is much more concerned with paperwork than innovation. Professional growth is more about filling out your review than doing your job.
    • IBM Anonymous in London, England (United Kingdom): (Current Employee) "Pyramid selling gone mad" Pros: If you like being in a civil service environment. Cons: Too many chiefs not enough Indians. Advice to Senior Management: Strip out management layers
    • IBM Recruiter in Durham, NC: (Past Employee - 2010) "Take it from a Recruiter" Pros: You get to put IBM on your resume. Cons: It's not that the people aren't well meaning, but the entire company goes out of its way to obstruct the business process. The company is so compartmentalized that there is no teaming across organizations and you are made to feel incredibly small, despite your contributions. They don't give rewards to the employees for profit growth--only revenue growth. Try growing on 100B revenue. No incentives...as close to a government job as you can get, except without the job security. The company is stripping away at its mobile employees and moving them to onsite locations for 2/3 of the salary. Really not a healthy place to be. Advice to Senior Management: lol - no.
    • IBM Software Engineer QA in Costa Mesa, CA: (Current Employee) "Lots to do, lots to learn but you get stuck quickly." Pros: - Ability to work at home provides some good flexibility. - Good vacation accrual. - 401k plan is decent. - Lots of prepackaged process. Cons: - Once you reach a certain level in your band, you won't make any more money. If you're a band 8 like me, you're expected to work about 60+ hours a weeks with no possibility of increasing salary. To increase salary you need to work 80 or more hours a week and get into band 9--sell your soul at that point. -Bonuses are a joke--a good bonus for someone that completely killed themselves is about 5k. -Not able to move around like you once were -Look out, your job may and will be outsourced next. Advice to Senior Management: - It's clear in the US that if you want to be in IBM you will need to be a leader or manager of some type and expect to put in huge hours often. There is starting to be a fair amount of people leaving, too, as the wages are stagnant and the job market is picking up. Not much to say to management as they are not interested in what you have to say, or really even care. Get er done jim!
    • IBM Senior Systems Engineer in Pune (India): (Current Employee) "Mixed Event" Pros: 1. Work from home available. 2. Flexible working hours. 3. Great talent pool. 4. Great people. Cons: 1. Same as other Indian companies. Have to work on whims of client 2. You have to work 24x7 on weekends. Advice to Senior Management: Consider working on cons
    • IBM Applications Developer: (Current Employee) "OK" Pros: Flexible work time. No swipe in swipe out tracking. Unlimited sick leaves. Cons: Growth path not clear. Too much of confusion internally. Just treated as one among 100s,
    • IBM Anonymous: (Past Employee - 2009) "IBM has a great brand name, but the way they treat their people, perhaps, is not so great." Pros: Great brand name, exposure to high technology, good camaraderie, opportunity for advancement, good compensation package, opportunity to travel, competent coworkers. Cons: Limited face time with management, too much bureaucracy, company size might be too big for some people, very subjective performance reviews.
New on the Alliance@IBM Site
  • 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 1/29/11: IBM is just a cost cutting dinosaur. It is devouring it's own roots in the place it was born. It is devouring the places where it expanded internationally in Europe. We get word of USA RA's, IBM Canada RAs, IBM Ireland RAs, etc. Why do we NEVER hear of an IBM China or IBM India RA? So everyone they hire there is not a PBC 3? Or is being a PBC 3 in a BRIC you get special immunity from the USA (North American) and European RAs? Another issue of RA's is that we never hear of any major IBM contract signings coming in China, India, Brazil, etc. All the major contract signings are in the USA and in Europe, with a scant few in Australia. I hear no mega yuan or rupee IBM deals do you? Now if IBM is really growing it's business where are mention of these signings in those countries? Do we have to wait that those contracts will be offshored elsewhere to find out? -Thinkboutit-
    • Comment 1/29/11: -RA'ed in 2009- I agree with you totally and can empathize with you: I was let go too in 2009 after health issues forced me to take short term disability and when I returned to work got the 30 day IBM career death march. I would like to know the percentage of those folks that had serious health issues that might have been on IBM short term disability that were then summarily RAed. I bet it is much higher than the general IBM employee population that has been blessed so far with relatively good health. Of course IBM is totally committed to obfuscating it just like IBM obfuscates how many employees in the USA it actually has. If you worked at a fab, in computer tape operations, etc. you definitely came into contact with known harmful and toxic substances despite whatever precautions IBM thought could minimize risks. A current case in point: anyone drink the water in East Fishkill (EFK) lately? Not to think that IBM knows that they harmed us healthwise based on our medical issues perhaps? -anonymous-
    • Comment 1/30/11: When I was RA'd in early 2009, I requested a meeting with my 3rd level manager. As expected, the jerk wouldn't accept it, deferring me to my 2nd line. I was rated a 2 consistently throughout my career even on my final PBC before my layoff. THE RATINGS MEAN NOTHING. During the telephone meeting with my 2nd level, I asked why I was RA'd. Now, I never expected to get a real answer, but his response? There were other 2 Performers that did more than I did. Excuse me? I didn't know there were different variations of a "2". I thought if you were rated a 2, you were the same as every other 2. Apparently not. Not that it made a difference, I told him then that the whole PBC process is flawed and needs to be revamped. Whatever. What comes around goes around and I hope he eventually gets what he deserves. As for me? I'm a lot happier and thankful for not being there anymore. Blessing in disguise. There IS life after IBM after all. -Glad2BGone-
    • Comment 2/01/11: I am resigning voluntarily, having submitted my resignation with my signature. My manager wants me to sign "separation papers" on my last day. I don't know why I need to sign anything else since I gave my resignation letter. I wasn't offered a severance package or otherwise. Does anyone have advice for me? -on-the-out- Alliance Reply: Ask your manager why you need to sign separation papers. Don't leave it open to wonder.
    • Comment 2/02/11: to on-the-out, Do not sign anything that has a covenant to not do business outside of IBM or the right to sue. Tell your manager you need a few days to discuss the paper with your Lawyer and even if you do not get a lawyer, do your own research on the laws. -Do-Not-Trust-Them-
    • Comment 2/02/11: To on-the-out: The papers to be signed may be for items such as receipt for returning the laptop, acknowledging the balance when closing the credit card, acknowledging receipt of final paychecks which will be handed to you, etc. -BeenThere-
    • Comment 2/02/11: I recently left Big Blew and if we're talking about the same paperwork it really is just you verifying that you've turned in all your IBM property and that you don't own any money on your corporate card, things like that. If you have vacation pay coming to you, they probably also won't pay until you sign. Be that as it may, there's no reason to get worked up about signing off on this, again, if that's what it is. -gj-
    • Comment 2/02/11: "I am resigning voluntarily, having submitted my resignation with my signature. My manager wants me to sign "separation papers" on my last day." Your manager is just protecting him/herself and IBM. Probably trying to make you sign a covenant not to sue. Don't sign anything to give away any rights you might still have. Just return all IBM property (laptops, office keys, badge, corporate credit cards, etc.) to your manager. If you are resigning voluntarily just walk away on your last day you agree to work for IBM and don't look back. Your resignation letter should be sufficient. -anonymous-
    • Comment 2/01/11: IBM Dallas Is having a huge ice storm, and I work at the Diplomat location. Just received a call from my boss that if I do not come into work, that could be grounds for dismissal. I asked him if he was going to come to work and he said that he will be working from home today. This company sucks.. Join the union -ANA-
    • Comment 2/01/11: As for pension changes, what leaked out was an admission on what is being discussed among executives,aka: pension-changes. Once the leaker realized that what is past tense in Armonk, isn't common knowledge among the victims, the conversation ended without details being disclosed. We will all see soon enough, most here are prepared for sammy-the-slayer and his vampire executives at least at the thinking level. Know one knows for sure how blood thirsty these anti-American slave loving vampires really are until they unveil the next round of plans. -pension-roulette-on-the-table-
    • Comment 2/02/11: To pension-roulette; So basically nothing leaked out. Everybody knows that pension changes have been discussed, and that the timing has slipped three times - assuming there was a timing. -Curious-
    • Comment 2/02/11: To -Glad2BGone- : On my last day, I asked my manager why myself and certain people were chosen. I was told it's just numbers, whatever that means. Less experienced people stayed while I left. What these people I worked with told me later, is in a meeting, they were told, that I and others were "disgruntled" and that's why we left. So my manager tells me one thing, and tells them something else. In the end, it worked out better, because the next day after I left I started a much better job, plus had 4 months of severance, and then got 8k from the OT lawsuit. If I didn't get RA'd, I would of left because of the timing of finding this new job and not get that severance, so getting RA'd was the best thing to happen to me. Who's laughing now? -Gone_in_07-
    • Comment 2/03/11: Sorry to bother everyone, but I have a question. If I am a band 7 and get RA'd, is there any issue with my taking another position that is a band 9 or 10? I have been told that it depends on the hiring manager as whether or not they will take you and move you up a band level. Others have told me that you can only apply to a position that is in your band. Any thoughts? Thanks in advance! -Band 7- Alliance Reply: If you've been RA'd, the likelihood of you getting another job within IBM is bleak.; no matter what level or band. The reality is, that only a few people have survived past RA's and actually have been able to get a job in another area within IBM.
    • Comment 2/03/11: "How many PBC 2+ and PBC 1 get RAed? These folks should be safe based on their performance right?" This is absolutely not true. I went in for a performance review where I received excellent feedback and a 2+. Several days later I was RA'd along with 60% of the people under my second line - including many 2+ performers and some 1's as well. If management decides that your function is no longer needed for whatever reason (in our case jobs were moved to BRIC countries) then your performance doesn't matter. I had twenty years of loyal service with extremely high ratings (including a number of 1's over the years), many patents and a number of articles published. All the jobs were frozen - so it didn't matter that I was a good fit for a number of other positions. Join the alliance before it's too late! -Gonein09-
    • Comment 2/03/11: Had a very strange 1-1 with my manager in DB2 development. He said there was a great need for skilled band 9 employees in GTS. When I asked if my current job was going away he would only say that management is prioritizing resources on high value development. He forwarded some slides on GTS opportunities and a spread-sheet of technical sales job postings. We will have regular meetings on how I am doing with the interview process. Another year of paychecks would be helpful before retiring after 37 years. -HereForNow-
    • Comment 2/03/11: If you want to get ra'd it is pretty simple. Managers love when someone comes in and says "if I can save another employee by getting ra's , I would consider that". You now are a life saver for your manager who usually has a hard time picking the bottom of the rankings. As for 1's and 2+'s getting ra'd here is a little thing to look for. Watch for the manager suck up. He/she will usually be moved (saved) into another group a few months before the department gets axed. As said when the department gets closed and shifted to BRIC all people in the group get fired. Last, I assume the Alliance is correct and does not disclose their members. The problem is people talk and the mgr spy gets info back to the manager. Also if you go on a picket line you can bet someone is taking pictures. They know, so proceed with caution. Trust is no longer in the IBM dictionary.
    • Comment 2/03/11: I was RA'ed in 2009. Haven't been here for a while. $1000 bonus for 4 years of suffering at that hell hole? Chump change is more insulting than nothing at all. It's just another way for Sam and his cronies to piss on the serfs and laugh about it. A retired IBM manager I know said that the rumor is DB2 development at SVL will be taking a big hit this year as a lot more work is sent to China. -ByeByeBlue-
    • Comment 2/04/11: "What if you want to get on an RA list? What is the best strategy? -Curious" I asked my manager. It took a couple of years for the opportunity be RAd to come, but with severance, unemployment, training money, COBRA, etc. it made retirement possible and was well worth the wait. Training a replacement seemed to help too. Becoming unnecessary was key. -Lou_Jr-
News and Opinion Concerning the "War on the Middle Class"
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.

  • truthout: Happy Days Are Here Again - as Long as You Ignore the Jobs Crisis. By Imara Jones. Excerpts: Wall Street may be signaling that the economy is on a pre-recession roll, but in actuality most Americans will not see a return to prosperity for years, due to the ongoing jobs crisis. America is not built for long-term, structural unemployment (and the events in the Middle East show what happens when economic stagnation festers). In order to create employment and opportunity for everyone, the country's political leaders need to accept that the interests of average people and the top 1 percent are divergent, not convergent. Unfortunately, there is every indication that they will continue to do the opposite. ...

    But an improved business climate and a more competitive economy are already underway. That's how we got to 2.9 percent growth. The existing economy is more productive—"competitive" to use the president's frame—precisely because it shed 8 million jobs. The jobless recovery is necessarily so—companies are "growing" by laying off employees and paying those they keep less.

  • Wall Street Journal: On Street, Pay Vaults to Record Altitude. By Aaron Lucchetti and Stephen Grocer. Excerpt: When it comes to paychecks, Wall Street's law of gravity is back in full force: What goes down must come back up. In 2010, total compensation and benefits at publicly traded Wall Street banks and securities firms hit a record of $135 billion, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal. The total is up 5.7% from $128 billion in combined compensation and benefits by the same companies in 2009.
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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