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Highlights—January 26, 2013

  • Hudson Valley Times Herald-Record: IBM plans more layoffs. By Jessica Dinapoli. Excerpts: his year IBM will again rebalance its workforce, Big Blue jargon for layoffs, said senior vice president Mark Loughridge. Loughridge did not give specifics on where the layoffs would happen — most last year were focused outside the Unites States. But a slimmer workforce, along with selling businesses and research and development investments, would be part of the company's "2013 transformation," Loughridge said in a conference call with analysts and investors.

    "We're going to rebalance resources, align them to opportunities," he said.

  • AOL Jobs: IBM's 'Transformation': More Layoffs, Despite Earnings Surge. By Dan Fastenberg. Excerpts: When a company reports strong end-of-the-year earnings, workers might expect some positive news -- maybe a bonus, even. But that's not what happened at IBM. On Wednesday, the same day the Armonk, N.Y.-based technology corporation announced its net income "surge" 6 percent in the fourth quarter, reports came out that IBM was planning layoffs.

    Why would workers be laid off when total net income was $5.8 billion, better than what most analysts expected?

    "Transformation is a permanent feature of our business model," IBM spokesman Doug Shelton explained via email. "Technology evolves -- requiring new skills. Client needs shift -- requiring new capability. Consequently, some level of workforce remix is an ongoing part of our business model." ...

    Restructuring of IBM included layoffs in March of last year. In that round, some 1,100 workers were laid off in both the U.S. and Canada. ...

    Founded in 1911 as the Computing Tabulating Recording Company, IBM ushered in its first round of layoffs in 1993.

    Selected reader comments follow:

    • Can you say CEO bonus time?
    • The "job creators" are good at eliminating jobs or moving them to China. America prospered when the rich were actually taxed instead of having all these loopholes, deductions, off-shoring, and outsourcing options to evade taxes altogether while the middle class picks up the tab. Executives who move jobs out of America should be jailed. Companies that don't pay their fair share in taxes should be seized by the government, their operations and bank accounts frozen, their executives jailed. It's time to start treating the traitors and white collar criminals as harshly as we steal poor people who try to steal a loaf of bread to eat. The rich have been getting a free pass in this country since Dubya Bush entered office. Time to start holding them to the same incredibly high standards of accountability that they hold their workers to.
    • IBM is not interested in re-training their employees. Their business model requires the laying off of older higher salaried wage employees and the hiring of recent college and technical school graduates at a lower price point. The IBM executive want their employees to believe that "it's not personal, it's only good business", however they want you to work 24/7 as a demonstration of personal loyalty to the company while they (corporate management) determine if your skill set is going to become obsolete and when.

      American corporations like IBM need to encouraged by our tax system that in order to qualify for tax breaks you must retain your long-term employee and provide retraining whenever the technology changes and the "needs of the business" requires a new set of skills.

      It's hard to understand that smart, market driven and flexible employees at IBM cannot be taught new skills to build on skills that they have already acquired through knowledge, experience and wisdom.

      Shame on you IBM, Thomas Watson Senior would never have approved of this management business practice: he would have probably reminded all of you to "THINK".

      Repent and Rescind the upcoming layoff decision, your loyal employees have earned the right to determine when they want to leave. I am an IBMers and proud of it!

    • What this actually means is that the top levels of management want more money for themselves. As the spouse of a retiree, it would be great if the retirees got a small COLA. These are employees who worked during the 1960's to the 1990's and made IBM great. They got rewarded by having thousands laid off so that IBM could pay smaller pensions.
    • IBM thinks they can have unskilled workers like large parts of the industry do the work cheaper. Their downfall was Lou Gerstner who thought the shareholders were more important than the employee...they will find out over time he was wrong but he became a billionaire with his greedy thinking. IBM will fail because the parts being made overseas is just as cheap as the help they hired. Big Blue will be aq memory soon just like Apple since Steve Jobs is gone.
    • Wonder why IBM is laying off? Could it be because IBM paid past CEO Sam Palmisano $31.7 million in 2010 and $31.8 million in 2011? Annual compensation includes salary, bonus, stock awards and options. The financial pie is not infinite, those salaries would pay over 600 employees making $50,000. More class warfare by the 1%
    • If you think this would not have happened if Romney were elected, you are either ignorant, dumb or both. IBM has become one of the worst in the corporate world at laying off workers in the US and hiring them in India, but as long as the crooks in Washington keep letting this happen, the economy will just keep spinning its wheels. I can't imagine they have hundreds of people sitting at their desks or in the field doing nothing. This transformation BS is bunch of crap.

      To make the profit they make and they really needed to take away their employee's pensions? IBM is a disgrace. Still can't understand how people can go on these forums and blame the worlds woes on Obama and Unions. Our friend Bush is the one who wrote most of these laws that actually gave companies tax breaks for sending jobs overseas and give these corporations tax breaks that serve nothing more than to line the pockets of the CEO's and other executives.

    • Same old IBM layoff's in the US and move the jobs overseas. Then IBM is allowed to have those workers access to all the client information that IBM has such as Gov't installations, Technology centers, Power Plants, Critical infrastructure. Wow a treasure trove of information about all the US in the hands of people who would rather see us all done away with. Do not tell me that it does not happen I worked for IBM over 20 years and I reported the fact that that this sensitive information was in the wrong hands and could easily be misused. I am also upset that when IBM gets the Gov't contracts that they pay other countries workers to perform the work on these Gov't contract so we the American public are funding these folks in another country to preform work. Wake up America and tell your Gov't you do not want your hard earned tax dollars being spent on Foreign workers working on Gov't contracts.
    • "Transformation is a permanent feature of our business model," IBM spokesman Doug Shelton explained via email. "Technology evolves -- requiring new skills. Client needs shift -- requiring new capability. Consequently, some level of workforce remix is an ongoing part of our business model." Just another way to say more jobs going overseas. IBM India, China. Brazil, Argentina, Russia continues to grow.
    • What ever happened to IBM re-training it's current workforce to acquire the skills to handle new technology and the changing needs of its customers?

      Current IBMers, by and large, get no internal education from IBM. Nothing. None. IBM education budget is a joke. Just ask any conscientious IBMer who has been with IBM just a few years when they last went for internal training for the job they do or for the future "hot" skills they really want to learn to make a "smarter planet"?

      IBM doesn't want to teach grown ups new tricks. They just like to wean newbies on their customers whether they have the right skill mix or not.

      This rebalancing and remixing is more IBM wordspeak for systematically getting rid of the older, experienced workforce skill sets.

      Since IBM revenue growth has been dismal, the only way to raise the stock EPS is to cost cut, cut, cut... until their is nothing left but total inexperienced workforce, old bloated management ,and line of businesses to sell. Then IBM will be as extinct as a dinosaur.

    • IBM was not a good place to work, at all. The constant threats of PBC 3 ratings, should you not do something perfect, was used to cultivate an environment of fear. I will not go back to work at IBM. And the constant firing and removing older, US workers, to be replaced with imported Indian and Chinese labor, or farmed out to 3rd world countries, was the ultimate in un-American behavior and disloyalty to its employees. Its all about making money for the execs at IBM, nothing trickled down to the lowly employees. And when Palmisano gave out the 7 shares of IBM stock worth about $1,000 that was the ultimate face slap. Customers are leaving in droves, when IBM implodes it ought to be very interesting indeed.
  • Wall Street Journal: Remember Lotus Notes? It's Still a $1 Billion IBM Business. By Spencer E. Ante. Excerpts: International Business Machines Corp.'s vaunted software portfolio includes applications to help companies crunch huge amounts of data and manage their online storefronts. It also includes programs like Lotus Notes.

    "I go to a party, and I almost immediately get insulted," says Eugen Tarnow, a director of the consultancy Avalon Business Systems, which sells the aging email software to businesses. "They say, 'Lotus Notes, that's still around?' It's no fun." ...

    IBM has spent billions of dollars on dozens of software acquisitions in recent years, which have helped the company deliver a flow of steady earnings. Still, much of its software revenue flows from technologies like Lotus that it acquired or developed at least a decade ago. The company needs to modernize its portfolio for a new technology era by selling more software aimed at fast growing areas like social media, cloud computing and mobile. ...

    For IBM, Lotus is too lucrative to ignore but very hard to grow. While the company doesn't break out how much revenue the Lotus franchise generates, tech-research firm IDC estimates the software accounted for about $1.2 billion of revenue in 2011, the most recently available number.

    Meanwhile, that franchise is being eroded. The Federal Aviation Administration, which began using Lotus Notes as its main email program in 2001, announced in June a $91 million contract to switch its 60,000 FAA employees and contractors to a new Microsoft email and communications system that it says would allow it to work more efficiently. ...

    For now, the technology giant continues to milk its Lotus client base to win customers for its social-media software. For instance, the annual IBM Lotus conference to be held later this month was renamed Connect2013.

    IBM also continues to update and sell the aging program. IBM General Manager Alistair Rennie says the company is absolutely committed to Lotus Notes and related programs and is preparing to release new versions of them in this year's first quarter.

  • Seeking Alpha: IBM: Despite Shenanigans, Big Blue's Still Got It. By Daniel's Report. Excerpts: Despite the fact that management artificially inflates earnings per share, International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) is a fantastic company that makes a lot of money. I believe IBM is likely to continue to make a lot of money for a very long time. I also believe the current market price of the company is well below its intrinsic value. In a nutshell, IBM is a great investment. ...

    Does IBM Artificially Inflate Earning Per Share? Yes. The two main techniques used by management to artificially inflate earnings per share (EPS) are well-timed stock repurchases and inorganic earnings growth through high-risk acquisitions. These two techniques are common for large, cash-rich, companies struggling to grow and determined to meet internal EPS targets. The consensus, Wall Street, five-year, EPS growth target for IBM is 9.73% per annum (Yahoo! Finance IBM Analyst Estimates). For a company as large as IBM (over $200 billion in market cap), 9.73% growth is no easy task. Additionally, IBM has an internal goal of $20 operating EPS in 2015 (IBM Annual Report, p11), which is a 10.5% annual increase over the company's 2011 number of $13.44. It's no secret that IBM will use massive share repurchases and high-risk acquisitions to artificially inflate EPS (they discuss it throughout their annual report, for example p11). However, management spins these techniques as positives when in reality they are not.

    Share buybacks are a common way for companies to artificially increase earnings per share (if there are less shares outstanding, then earnings per share increases). IBM has done this in dramatic fashion in recent years. IBM has spent $111 billion to buy back shares of its own stock since 2000 (annual report, p11) which is not insignificant considering the total market capitalization is currently only around $220 billion. The company has internal EPS goals (discussed previously), and buying back shares helps the "big wigs" achieve those goals and earn their "fat cat" bonuses. The share buybacks are not concerning in the short term because they create value for shareholders (if you own stock, the price of your stock generally increases when EPS increases), and because I know IBM is a profitable business because free cash flow is strong. However, share repurchases cannot continue forever (eventually there will be no shares left to repurchase). And share repurchases are a signal that management doesn't have organic growth prospects because if they did they'd spend the cash on growing the business instead of returning it to shareholders through buybacks. In the near time, IBM doesn't have the growth prospects to meet Wall Street expectations or internal EPS goals, therefore they're using share repurchases to artificially inflate EPS. ...

    The management of huge cash-rich companies (such as IBM) frequently go on acquiring sprees because they can't grow fast enough organically to meet internal goals, so they start spending cash to buy other companies which makes earnings grow, albeit at a less than optimal rate of efficiency. IBM spent $1.8 billion on five acquisitions in 2011, $6.5 billion on 17 acquisitions in 2010, and $1.5 billion on six acquisitions in 2009. If questioned, management will explain these were "strategic" acquisitions that provide unique "synergies" enabling IBM to efficaciously increase profitability. I don't believe it. These acquisitions are the desperate work of a cash-rich management team that cannot generate enough internal growth, so they grow the business inorganically, and empirical evidence (for example, see previously cited research) shows acquisitions are a sign of weakness. IBM will point to the high profit margins of the software companies they acquire, and management will also proclaim these acquisitions allow them to grow tangentially-related services business. I know better. While I believe IBM will continue to be profitable for a very long time, I believe the acquisitions and the product (hardware and software) business in general are real weaknesses of the company.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "separation agreement and RAs" by "RoscoeinTown". Full excerpt: I learned this week that I am a "consecutive 3" in IBM-speak. I was given the option to accept the "minimized separation agreement" within 30 days or to undergo a formal performance improvement plan that would null the buyout I get from the agreement.

    I've been at IBM long enough to know that layoffs happen this time of year.

    My question is this: Should I worry that I might be laid off before the 30 days I have for consideration of the separation agreement? I'm inclined to accept the agreement but for various reasons I want to work through some of the 30 days. My fear is that a resource action would occur before 30 days are up, and that I would be let go with a less attractive termination package.

    Or perhaps the layoff package would be better? Not really sure if there is a way to know. Thanks.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: separation agreement and RAs" by "trexibmer". Full excerpt: Roscoe, sorry to hear about your situation. You really are caught in the IBM resource death grip which other IBM individuals before you have already experienced.

    You are being singled out when you are offered the minimized separation. You are essentially being separated due to performance by IBM.

    With the minimized separation package you get for consecutive 3's means you get only one week pay for each year worked and no more than 13 weeks pay, compared to the standard separation package normally given in any RA of two weeks pay per year of IBM service to max of 26 weeks pay severance.

    Not to be trite, but holding out for an RA for you to be included in the next 30 days will not give you a better severance payout. The consecutive 3's and the notification you were given means that you will not be rolled into a RA where PBC 1's, 2+'s, 2's, and IBMers with one PBC 3 in last two years are "selected to participate" in. IBM is not going to give you favored treatment or any more payout than what they offer. The only way to negotiate with IBM is to have a union in place to represent you and file a grievance with IBM management for you. This is what the Alliance has been trying to get across to IBM employees.

    You could try filing a formal performance review appeal to try to get your latest PBC 3 overturned and changed to a PBC 2, that might delay any departure date if they grant you the appeal. If you win the appeal, then you can probably could get the standard package if you are caught in a future RA. If you lose the appeal then you have to hope IBM still offers you the minimized separation package if it is at or after 30 days.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: separation agreement and RAs" by "lifeisacrapshoot05". Full excerpt: I also received my second '3' and I am on my way out the door. Do people have any suggestions on what I can do to get the Separation Allowance and not the minimized separation allowance?

    I have worked for IBM for 30+ years. My manager spent at most 5 minutes on my latest PBC and based it on an issue that was on my of 2011 not 2012.

    I am happy to leave IBM and start a new career and adventure. Life is a...

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: separation agreement and RAs" by "trexibmer". Full excerpt: You could try filing a formal performance review appeal to try to get your latest PBC 3 overturned and changed to a PBC 2, that might delay any departure date if they grant you the appeal. If you win the appeal, then you can probably could get the standard package and not the minimized one on the way out of IBM since your will be a PBC 2 for 2012. If you are caught in a future RA this year you would probably get the standard package as well. If you lose the appeal then you have to hope IBM still offers you the minimized separation package if it is at or after 30 days.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: separation agreement and RAs" by Sam Cay. Full excerpt: Trex he is in a no win situation. If he chooses the formal process it will be designed for him to fail . The result will be a win for IBM as they will fire him and give him 0 separation package. He won't get RA'd during the process but will get fired at the end. If he leaves now he will get a min. package but it will be something. There is no doubt in my mind that he will lose the appeal.

    I have developed and implemented these formal reviews and they are discussed and adjusted by upper management and HR. They are designed to be difficult to achieve. Since 1993 I have seen many of these review appeals and have not seen one overturned. As an interesting history prior to 93 I had seen very few appeals and when they were challenged almost all were won by the employee. This ain't your fathers IBM.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: separation agreement and RAs" by "bk2006pc". Full excerpt: I think this is a standard practice and almost became a routine. So many xIBMers have this experience. Why not all X and new "will be X" get together and consult good Law firm for a class action law suit to expose this stealth layoff policy and procedure. Do you know IBM corporation have testified on Capital Hill that there is a shortage of Engineers and Scientists? Are you one of these classes or belong to a hopeless slave class? Where is IEEE as your representative? May be IEEE is headed by the IBM Corporation.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: separation agreement and RAs" by Sam Cay. Full excerpt: bk2006pc, the lawyers have done their due diligence on this to assure there are no holes in the process. Performance issues are based on not only measurable results but also on subjective results. The ranking system was initially established using the lifeboat principle. That being the case someone will always be on top and someone will always be on the bottom. It may be possible but I doubt there will be to much of a possibility of winning a law suit. There also seems to be a fair amount of companies who claim that the US doesn't have the talent they are looking for. I can't judge this because IT wasn't my career choice.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: separation agreement and RAs" by "pvsutera". Full excerpt: I am involved in I/T and I am comfortable saying that the area colleges are churning out Information Science and Computer Science degrees. I saw a new hire in IBM Raleigh last year who was 22 years old, who was definitely American. It's a complete lie dreamed up by CEOs to justify both offshoring and the foreign worker visa program. The news media repeat the lie until it resonates with the public. I'll say it again, corporate revenues ALL depend on middle-class jobs and in the case of IBM, most of the great innovation comes from workers 10 or more years in their jobs. That's how we got a nearly 50 year run out of the IBM mainframe.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: separation agreement and RAs" by "ambassadoralvin". Full excerpt: My last few years were as a CIO architect on a corporate project involving GTS and GBS teams from around the world...I worked with GR folks from Argentina, Brazil, India, China, Mexico, Hungary, Slovakia, Vietnam, Philippines, Egypt, and Belarus. The level of talent varied greatly.

    The most matured talent was from China and Belarus. India, Hungary, and Slovakia were on the next tier. The rest were either completely raw or weak (The folks from Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina were the mostly likely to be ineffective).

    Over all the distribution of talent was weaker than in the US...an average US employee was significantly better than an average GR employee (we have better university systems that deliver better professional engineers, programmers, and IT folks and that head start matters). With respect to the company claims its all about the money.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: separation agreement and RAs" by "scaepio". Excerpt: Do not listen to Sam Cay. He is either lying or doesn't know what he is talking about, in which case he shouldn't be posting here.

    I was given a 3, appealed through the arbitration process and won. I posted about it earlier. As a consequence, I was removed from reporting to the bad manager. She was reprimanded. I have a new first line who is everything that is good and in with the world. I have since received a 2 and a 2+ and been given a very special project.

    It is your right to arbitration. It is stated in IBM's procedures.

    You will have to appeal to your 2nd line first. Be prepared that your manager will say your performance is relative to other workers. Ask for details. Make them make the case. You have the right to do this. It sounds like your first line was just being lazy. So give them some work to do. They'll have to do hours and hours of work to prepare. So will you, but it could be worth a lot to you.

    If they take action against you after the arbitration process then you have a legal case against them.

    You don't have anything to lose.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: separation agreement and RAs" by Sam Cay. Full excerpt: Sorry but you are one of the very few who has ever turned over a rating. It appears that your previous manager didn't cover her butt. Neither her or her manager either did their job or did what was expected of them. One of them got ding'ed on their PBC. Whether you want to believe it or not you now have a target on your back . There is no written notes in your file but the word of mouth will follow you around until next time. They will not make the same mistake.

    I post to inform and I see some do not like to see the dark side of the business (management).

    The old school managers changed in 93 and as the years go by the new breed are more cut throat. In the old days you could trust your 1st line but today you can't even trust your co-workers.

    You can take my posts as a grain of salt but all I offer is some of my 20 years of different management assignments. By the way a bad manager is someone who doesn't execute the "needs of the business".

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: separation agreement and RAs" by "thirty3andcounting". Full excerpt: Of course there was always a bell, curve, that is normal statistics. No team was evert full of 1 performers, or had more than one or two at the bottom end of the curve. But I believe that in previous years (maybe as few as 3 or 4 ago) there was no mandate to rate a member of your team a poor performer. Given the blood letting in the ranks of the past years, NONE of the older employees I see around me are 3 or even 2 material. Perhaps their particular patch is not doing so well at any given point in time so the arbitrary IBM measurements (in my case, territory revenue) make it LOOK like they are not performing, but they are not 3's in reality.

    In the 80's I worked with IBM'ers that were in the bottom of the rankings, and even in the 'good old days' I saw some 'let go'. What is different now is that they are using the PBC system to both control payroll expenses and provide fodder for the next layoff. That means a mandate to 1st line managers that there MUST be a 3 on their team each appraisal period (that was absolutely not the case in those days) and no more than a single 1 performer.

    While there were always controls on a managers ability to give out high ratings, I have experienced a number of departments where everyone was rated high (not necessarily 1's of course), and managers had discretion about it with justification.

    Today there is no way to justify an entire team making 2 or above, even if they deserve it. In that fashion, bonus dollars are reduced, only a tiny number of people qualify for raises, and they do not have to promote people. All in the hidden agenda of reducing the expense of us 'resources'.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: separation agreement and RAs" by "pvsutera". Full excerpt: Well if it makes you feel better to believe the company line, I can't help you there. We are hosting and training many people from the "growth" economies on a rotating basis. Most of them are under 40 years of age. Most of us are over 50. Now I know this shatters your world to believe that IBM Executive management might confabulate, but for whatever reason, we're training them.

    As far as the few young people hired in the USA, the evidence is abundant that they were the 3.8 GPA average and above folks that IBM hired. The growth geography trainees are bright too, naturally they only send the best to us to learn from us. But with the abundance of 3rd world labor, in general, IBM is not getting the best people because since jobs are abundant, they ditch their $14K a year job at IBM for a better position elsewhere. Hence the best and brightest in the 3rd world do not stay for long at IBM.

    Any prospective USA graduate who reads the Glassdoor reviews of IBM as an employer may also decide to go elsewhere.

    I submit that my boots on the ground version of I/T Engineer reality is closer to the truth than statements from IBM Executives. And the company line is not synonymous with "what's good for IBM" either. We're in catch up mode on many fronts in the industry.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: separation agreement and RAs" by "maxxcurrey". Full excerpt: Do NOT play the game. ALWAYS complain about the rating and in writing if you feel it is incorrect. By definition it is subjective at best unless one is involved in sales. By being quiet you will put a target on your back as one with whom your manager can easily give a three (or lower) without effort. BTW, ALWAYS talk with a lawyer about any termination (misnamed "Resource Action [RA]). After all a three is "meeting expectations" it is not a bad rating. Make IBM at the very least work, after all you are working.

    Or, do what many of us have done and just resign from IBM since it is no longer a decent company. Take my word for it, other companies pay more and treat employees better, plus they do not request one to make phone calls to the other ends of the earth on one's own personal time. The simple word 'no' does work. Good luck, and yes the Sam Cay character is clearly a shill to my ears, it brings nothing to the table.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: separation agreement and RAs" by Sam Cay. Full excerpt: I have always known the Appraisal/PBC process to be the method to give salary increases , promotions and bonuses. The use of the bell curve was a good tool for that at the time. After 93 it was changed to be a tool to fire people using the performance excuse.

    Managers hold out 1's and 2+'s for their "special" people and the same is done with any salary increases.

    Usually the 2nd lines will tell the 1st line how much he wants held back. So the process today is more of a firing tool then a salary or evaluation tool.

    I venture to say there will always be some type of tool to measure people. Every company has one type or another to accomplish the same thing.

    By the way middle managers don't have to fight; they make the 1st lines justify their peoples ratings. The 3rd lines don't care as long as the numbers are made. Unless there is a small group, the 3rd lines don't know more then a handful of employees.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: separation agreement and RAs" by Sam Cay. Full excerpt:Paul sometimes there is a little management strategy here. All managers need to hand out some number of 3's . How they do it is by playing the system. They will give a good employee a 3 one year and comeback with a 2 the next year. I'm sure you've had internal talks with your team members and someone has said "OK who gets the 3 this year". It's all about who the manager wants to save.

    This works until an RA comes then it's a crap shoot. Remember the 2nd line has a larger number of people to play with the numbers. If they know the employees they can shield who they want. Two 3's in a row is a killer though.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "U.S. business executives call for raising retirement age to 70" by "fhawontcutit". Full excerpt: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/16/us-usa-fiscal-entitlements-idUSBRE90F1\ MY20130116. Excerpt:
    A business group of top executives on Wednesday proposed reforms to Social Security and Medicare that would raise the enrollment age for both programs to 70 but not raise Social Security taxes paid by upper-income Americans.

    It's being pushed by the Business Roundtable. You know who is a member of the Business Roundtable, don't you?

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: U.S. business executives call for raising retirement age to 70" by "trexibmer". Full excerpt: Yes, I know who! And will IBM have anybody on their payroll that is not middle, upper, or executive management that is 70 years old? IBM is systematically wiping out it's USA workforce who are less than 65 years old to the RA line. Actually those less than 55 years old are getting really pinched too. And you know why IBM is forcing the <55 years old crowd out? IBM wants to make most of the USA IBM employees extinct by 2015.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: U.S. business executives call for raising retirement age to 70" by "bk2006pc". Full excerpt: I am interested to find out why corporate executives are aggressive on cutting cost and increase profit every quarter? I think Wall Street investors are the real culprit. Who are these investors and why do they demand such unreasonable growth? To achieve that growth, the CEOs have to be ruthless and need help from a huge army of loyal higher, middle and lower lever managers. How do they build that team which do not hesitate to be like them?

    I think problem is in the mindset of our own society. We want consistent and unreasonable success at any cost. We have not defined the real threshold of satisfaction and happiness. We just keep running after some unknown goals but some how our life end first way before we realize the fact.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: U.S. business executives call for raising retirement age to 70" by "pvsutera". Full excerpt: So beautifully put. The last quarter has shown the limits of this cost-cutting philosophy. For years we did just fine, people bought stocks and held onto them for 40 years. I like how in Germany rather than laying people off, everyone agrees to take 1-2 days unpaid per month to save someone else's job. The current Fortune 500 philosophy is to reduce/eliminate the middle-class, and only hire 3rd world folks at 3rd world wages. The great prosperity of 1950-1990 came from paying folks well enough to keep the economy going. Even Henry Ford knew that.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: U.S. business executives call for raising retirement age to 70" by "teamb562". Full excerpt: This is more evidence of the fast growing class warfare in the U.S. and around the world. What the top 5%(I like to call them pigs) have miscalculated however is that 95 is a lot bigger number then 5. That's important at the voting booth.

    Last November was a classic example. So, until we have-nots start getting treated fairly, the 5% can spout off all they want but it's doubtful anything meaningful (like age 70 retirement) will come to pass. Those 5'vers are just so out of touch, it's unimaginable.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: U.S. business executives call for raising retirement age to 70" by "fhawontcutit". Full excerpt: But -- it's a classic "divide and conquer" strategy. If they set the cutoff at a certain age, many people who make the cut will adopt an "I got mine" mentality and won't care if it happens to someone else.

    People need to speak out and contact their Congress critters.

    (Don't think you are "safe" if you are over 55.)

    The issue is of particular concern because:

    • Those who have the FHA will have to stretch the FHA dollars even further to make it to Medicare. (And IBM can drop the FHA anyway.)
    • Those who don't have the FHA will have even longer to make it to Medicare.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "What a difference!" by "nyjints5". Full excerpt: Two years ago, my wife took a new job with an international company. They're a pharmaceutical firm, they did over 7 billion dollars of business in 2012.) She had never worked in a Fortune 500/big corporate environment, rather she spent close to 27 years working in various local healthcare institutions. She was approached out of the blue by a head hunter, and because the job sounded good to her, she felt she should at least explore it as she had nothing to lose by doing so.

    She interviewed with the employer, liked what she heard, a job was offered, and she took it even though she had some trepidation about working for a large corporate entity. (She understood all too well how some large corporations operate due to the fact we've been married over 30 years, and she went thru both the good and bad times with me while I was at IBM.)

    My wife has never looked back, she doesn't regret a thing. I'm absolutely shocked at how well her employer takes care of their employee's. For instance, she's going on a company cruise next August in Denmark. It's not a "fun" cruise, it's a working cruise, and spouses can not go. There simply aren't enough bedrooms on the boat to handle both employees and their spouses. Employees will be doubled up in staterooms. I can go and meet her after the cruise or we can go before it starts, which we're thinking about doing.

    Last week she flew to Las Vegas for training. Once again, no spouses could go. She was bumped from a flight she was initially booked on, so the airline upgraded her to a first class ticket for the flight she eventually did get on. Sitting immediately in front of her in first class, was her boss's boss's boss, a "Senior Vice President" of the company. My wife recognized the woman, and introduced herself to her, but she did not want to bother the woman. The SVP gives my wife a big smile, and a hug, and says "Are you going to Vegas for the training?" My wife simply said yes, and then moved to sit down in her seat in the row behind The SVP's seat. The SVP followed my wife back to my wife's row, and sat down next to my wife. My wife said she was "mortified" because she didn't want to bother The SVP. The exec was great, she talked to my wife for 15 to 20 minutes,and then moved back her own seat.

    Upon landing, my wife went to the first class baggage claim, where she saw The SVP had also arrived. The SVP got her own bags, and says to my wife, "Come with me." They find a driver who was standing by the baggage claim with a sign that had the SVP's name on it, and into the limo they go. They were staying at the same hotel, and all week, any time the SVP saw my wife, she came right over to her, said hello, and asked my wife how she thought the training was going. The best night in Vegas was the last night. The SVP took my wife with her down to the front row of the theatre they were in to watch "The Beatles" Cirque De Solay show.

    Think many IBM exec's would do that? I don't either.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: What a difference!" by "pvsutera". Full excerpt: I like when the story has a good ending! I'm happy for your wife. I'm sad for the IBM Employee - even the ones who are getting hired in the 3rd world. It sounds like your wife is working for a Smarter Corporation!
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: What a difference!" by "teamb562". Full excerpt: Yeah, I get your point and this is all wonderful. Problem is our high and unaffordable health care costs are affording your wife this type of employment. I say it's time to have that meeting at a Marriott stateside and lower my drug cost.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: What a difference!" by "pvsutera". Full excerpt: If it's Denmark it's probably Novo-Nordisk. In our country we pay far more for drugs than in any other country. And Medicare is not allowed to negotiate drug prices. Another gift to the drug companies. Then again, how many leave IBM and are able to reduce their medications?
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: What a difference!" by "nyjints5". Full excerpt: I don't think I a very good job with regard to making my point. I got too caught up in the details of my wife's interaction with her VP.

    The point I wanted to get across is that there definitely are company's out there that do value their employees and treat them with respect. I said in my original post that I was "absolutely shocked" at how well the company treats their employees. I think that's a direct result of how conditioned I became due to the kind of mistreatment I received from IBM.

  • Wall Street Journal: Companies Prepare for Health Law. With Much of the U.S. Overhaul to Take Effect in a Year, Companies Weigh Employee-Benefit Options. By Anna Wilde Mathews. Excerpts: The large segment of employers that already provide relatively rich benefits—a group that includes many of the largest companies and firms with higher-income or unionized workforces—will feel only limited immediate impact from the law. These companies likely won't take radical action this year, though they could weigh longer-term changes, depending on how the exchanges and other provisions of the law play out.

    "They want to measure twice and cut once," said Bryce Williams, managing director for exchange solutions at consulting firm Towers Watson & Co. One first step may be trimming or eliminating coverage for retired workers, particularly those who aren't old enough for Medicare and will have many more insurance options in 2014 than today.

  • Yahoo! IBM Retiree message board: "Re: Companies Prepare for New Health-Care Law - WSJ.com" by "lastdino1". Full excerpt: This should be a wake up call for everyone. As for me I am going to start an assessment using a couple of different scenario's making the assumption that IBM will be getting out of the retiree health plan in 1-5 years. This would only be a supplemental plan for me but for others who have retired and won't hit 65/66 they would have a different set of ground rules. We all know that IBM will take the less expensive way out but the guess is what year they will do it. So be forewarned it is time to do the planning. I know you'll not want to complain when the change happens so head it off now. Life is Great
  • Yahoo! IBM Retiree message board: "Re: Companies Prepare for New Health-Care Law - WSJ.com" by Jim Askew. Full excerpt: IBM has already taken steps to get out of the retiree health plan. If you retired prior to 1999, you're fortunate to be in the old plan...although you continue to pay higher premiums every year, you're in far better shape than those of us in the Future Hell Account. And those of in the Future Hell account are in better shape than more recent retirees who get absolutely no retiree health insurance at all.

    It's hard to know if IBM will make cuts to those of you in the "old" retiree health plan. It hardly seems necessary because a) the company's annual contributions are fixed; b) you all are dying off.

  • Yahoo! IBM Retiree message board: "Re: Companies Prepare for New Health-Care Law - WSJ.com" by "topcatone". Full excerpt: Plus, I bet they stand to lose going on to the Obamacare state exchanges. I know I sure will take a hard look later this year, as I expect the exchanges (and the bidding process and care standards to gain entry for the companies) will offer better plans than the IBM old health plan, which I'm on, but whose co-pays, deductibles, are very crappy compared to any other good company I'm aware of.
  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • Former Client Exec...glad I left...enjoyed and leveraging the experience gained!” Former Client Executive in New York, NY. Pros: Wonderful people, breadth of opportunity to develop your skills and build a resume. Decent benefits. Wonderful 401k match. Cons: Too many managers not really selling but reporting up. Pay compared to competition is really low for enterprise sales. Lack of focus on client success. Comp plans don't really align well with what you do. Advice to Senior Management: "Road-kill 2015" is not about the client or the employee—too bad. ELAs are purely financial transactions and a book keeping shell game...make them about driving business and IT value for customers. Better develop a true SaaS strategy and solutions as you guys are going to lose enterprise business customers fast!
    • Level 1 server support” Current IT Specialist. Pros: Modern building with a relaxed atmosphere. Plenty of chances to learn and improve via E learning. Cons: Utterly insulting pay, virtually no benefits including no meal vouchers which are a basic here in Brno. No formal training; just a 1.5 day welcome meeting. Considering this is a company that prides itself on being international I have found this hard to come by as everyone speaks Czech. This sucks I might as well just have my headphones in all day. New to the company but feeling very disappointed. Advice to Senior Management: Encourage people to speak English which is the international language of the company, well apparently anyway. Offer real training not on the job training. Id you do insist on having on the job training at least have systems ready for new starters without keeping them waiting weeks with nothing to do!
    • My view of IBM ISC in Bratislava” Former Unit Adviser in Bratislava (Slovakia). Pros: A lot of job opportunities, good for starting a career. Your happiness will greatly depend on the particular position you'll end up in. However be careful, most jobs in Bratislava are just copying Excel sheets from one to another. The only thing you'll learn in these positions is how to live in a super-formalized environment. Cons: Once you learn how to do your simple daily tasks, you will become constrained by IBM formal culture. The company in BA is everything but innovative (e.g. still using office 2003 if you can get your hands on one) and it is hard to come up with initiatives. But, again, this all depends on the position you're in. I would not recommend doing a career in IBM's International Services Centre.
    • Not what it use to be, but still good.” Current Employee. Pros: Good to have IBM on resume, some opportunities still exist. Cons: Becoming a burn and churn company. Has become a company run by accountants; use to believe in respect for the individual; no more. Advice to Senior Management: Realize the people are your best resource.
    • Not the company it used to be” Current Information Security Consultant in Phoenix, AZ. Pros: Intelligent, hard working colleagues. Challenging work. Cons: Too much executive management. Off shoring done at such a rapid rate that it affects customer satisfaction.
    • 2-cents on IBM” Current Employee. Pros: Diverse and world-wide services and technology set that is unmatched by competition. Cons: Overly driven by the bottom line at the expense of the real business purpose and promise of technology. Advice to Senior Management: Prioritize client satisfaction over stock price. One feeds the other, not vice-versa.
    • IT Architect for IT Service Management in GTS (Services)” Former Associate IT Architect (Band 8) in Poughkeepsie, NY. Pros: Work with very professional colleagues. Good teamwork ethic. Large, enterprise-scope projects provides excellent exposure and experience. Good benefits, health, vacation, 401(k) match. Typically long-term employment if you're not a contractor Cons: No upward mobility. Long, stressful hours. Stagnant pay for professional, non-managerial employees. Constant crisis management. Zero investment in training; no college program any more. Advice to Senior Management: Take care of your American employees. You've squeezed them so hard that you've killed morale in Global Services. Remember that the recession is over and good employees will repay your lack of loyalty in-kind. You can't manage cash flow to the quarterlies forever without investing in your people and infrastructure.
    • Management sees people only as resource” Current Employee. Pros: Famous company; excellent colleagues; covers nearly all topics in the IT world. Cons: Upper management is only thinking about their careers; culture of blaming others.
    • Great company” Current Communications Manager in Somers, NY. Pros: Such a big company, you will never get bored. Cons: Hard to move up and even harder to get decent salary increases. Advice to Senior Management: Stop making policies that erode employee benefits.
    • S&T is horrible, MBAs stay away” Current Senior Consultant in New York, NY. Pros: If you are an MBA with an offer from S&T, I would urge you to keep your options open. The "consulting" they sell you on is basically a hogwash. You will be doing some system implementation stuff, the only value that IBM services brings these days. Majority of partners have massive targets to meet and get oppressive on their employees. The whole 'virtual' management makes for poor career progression. Networking-heavy culture is suited for the IBM veterans who have been around forever and know what strings to pull. Not worth the effort for young people. Cons: Too many honestly. Poor career progression; zero office culture; zilch benefits and increments/bonuses; resistance to ideas; tall poppy behavior accorded to new hires from younger generation; ambitious MBA hires are severely looked down upon, and the whole system congeals to fail you. Advice to Senior Management: Please don't sell lies on campus when you come in for hiring. You are ruining some hard working, ambitious people's careers and lives.
    • A large corporation has its ups and downs” Former Marketing Campaign Manager in Boston, MA. Pros: Great framework for those starting their career off. You will receive a lot of training, and the company is very structured and organized. Cons: Company is very bottom line and this affects raises, promotions, and layoffs. Sometimes things can take a really long time because there is too much process and bureaucracy. It is really hard to get a good promotion. Advice to Senior Management: Don't be too process focuses. Sometimes things just have to get done.
    • Looks great from the outside, but different story on this inside” Current IT Specialist. Pros: Allows for flexibility in how time is worked. Cons: No salary increases, want you to exceed 60hr/wk to maintain targets and yet somehow maintain work/life balance. Advice to Senior Management: You are painting everyone with the same brush; a single work-oriented person can work 24 hours a day, but a parent of young children cannot be pushed that hard and still be able to enjoy their family.
    • Good company to start your career” Current Employee. Pros: - Many learning opportunities; - Good benefits. Cons: - Super bureaucratic environment; - Brutal travel (consulting) with no geographic preference for project allocation; - Remote work culture (both pro/con); No community feeling/bonding.
    • Watch out for the PBC reviews” Current Industry Architect in London, England (United Kingdom). Pros: Great technology across the board. Hardware and Software plenty of areas you can work in at all levels. Cons: Technical staff are treated like dog food. IBM focuses on sales and those who are sellers. PBC is a yearly review and managers have 20% targets to give their direct reports a PBC 3. If you get a 3 then you'll be put on a performance improvement plan which lasts 3 months. If you don't get off it then you get another. If you fail that then you are out. No matter how well you do, or your team does, your manager has a PBC 3 target so great employees get managed out for no reason other than the manager had a target. Advice to Senior Management: Drop the mandatory PBC 3 process. It is killing the enjoyment.
    • A good career with growth and a sense of accomplishment” Current Employee. Pros: Good benefits; traditionally was a good company to advance. Cons: Current financial roadmap causing extreme cost pressures; opportunities for advancement are becoming scarce. Advice to Senior Management: Remember that individuals and talent are the core reason for a companies success.
    • IBM review of work environment and salary” Current Senior Systems Engineer in Calcutta (India). Pros: Flexible working hours, work from home. Cons: Negligible or no salary hike; highly demotivated and unethical middle management. Advice to Senior Management: Monitoring of favoritism and unethical practices of middle management.
    • lies, lies and excuses when it comes to raises or promotions.” Current IT Specialist in Chicago, IL . Pros: Stay away. IBM sucks big time. The only good thing is coworkers. Cons: Management. IBM milks clients dry. Lies to its employees. Advice to Senior Management: Stop being useless and just do what you are told. Try to have more control.
    • Good” Former Employee. Pros: Challenging work, flexible timings, more career opportunities within varied business units. Cons: Nothing I can think of. Advice to Senior Management: none
  • Forbes: The Three Surprises in 401(k)s. By Hedrick Smith. Excerpts: Most people assume they’re savvy about 401(k)s, but here are three surprises for Boomers counting on 401 (k)s as their future financial life jackets: (1) how it got started – accidentally; (2) how much they should regularly save to build a safe retirement nest egg; and (3) how big a bite mutual funds take out of their gains.

    The fact is that the 401(k) has not worked out well for millions of average Americans and one big reason is that Congress gave birth to the 401 (k), it was never intended to become a nationwide retirement system.

    The main political push for the 401 (k) came from Kodak and Xerox, which wanted a tax shelter for profit-sharing bonuses for their executives and managers. But the Internal Revenue Service had previously ruled that profit-sharing plans must include rank and file employees. Irving Trust of New York and a dozen other companies had such plans. So when the 401 (k) was written into law in 1978, it followed the Irving Trust model. It covered only a small circle of companies. Not until several years later was it opened up to nationwide use by the Reagan Treasury Department. Then it took off. The mutual fund industry, spotting a financial bonanza, sold do-it-yourself 401 (k) retirement as “power to the people,” and millions of Americans took the bait, thinking they could beat the market. ...

    The hard truth is that building a proper nest-egg takes much more ambitious savings than virtually any 401(k) plan envisions. The best plans typically let rank-and-file employees sock away 6% of their pay and provide a 3% company match, for a total of 9%. But EBRI’s experts suggest the combined target should be about 15% and Dallas retirement consultant Brooks Hamilton said 18%. Most plans, says Hamilton “are half what they need to be.”

    One reason for bigger contributions is that you don’t actually reap the full benefits of your long-term gains. Mutual funds or financial managers take a big bite – much bigger than you think. Their fees for handling stock transactions, setting up funds, doing the paperwork and managing your account are listed in the fine print in investment brochures that most people don’t bother to read. ...

    “Where did the nearly $4 difference go?” Bogle asks. “It went to the fund or to Wall Street in fees. So you the investor put up 100% of the capital. You take 100% of the risk. And you capture about 37% of the return. The fund or Wall Street puts up none of the capital, takes none of the risk and takes out 63% of the return.”

New on the Alliance@IBM Site
  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 01/15/13: Rule of Acquisition No. 261: "A wealthy man can afford everything except a conscience." -Sam Palmisano-
    • Comment 01/17/13: What's this I hear that folks are receiving a PBC of 3 this year, which many have always received 2 or 2+ throughout their time with IBM? -Just Left- Alliance Reply: This is not news. This has been happening for years. It will keep happening until IBMers do something about it. Step 1: Join Alliance@IBM. Step 2: Organize co-workers if you're still there. If you have been RA'ed; then help to spread the word that IBM will continue to reduce PBC ratings and RA whomever they wish, because IBMers won't stand up. Tell them to Stand up, just like the rest of us do, that are Alliance@IBM members and supporters.
    • Comment 01/18/13: I laughed, IBM not even listed in the Fortune's top 100 companies to work for. -anonymous-
    • Comment 01/18/13: I don't know how widespread this is, but as a contractor to IBM, I just got my hours cut and had to take a 7 percent rate cut, too. Happy Freaking New Year! -Dreck-
    • Comment 01/19/13: Of course Sam uses corporate jets. A prop plane lacks the lift he needs to carry all the money he took out of your pockets because you didn't organise. Ginny is trying to buy a C130 cargo plane to carry your money away in the 2013 401k heist. What are you going to do about it? If track record counts, you will buy her the fuel and service the plane for her so it doesn't crash. -Exodus2007-
    • Comment 01/20/13: Just Left - I was with IBM for 16 years. In that time I received top PBC ratings on the old and current system (1's for 6 years in a row). Suddenly I went from a 1 to a 3 in a single year. Needless to say the handwriting was on the wall. I went to HR to get the PBC reviewed but once I was RA'd they told me that they would no longer continue reviewing it. I protested on the basis of no prior warning through the year and no valid documented reason for such a rating drop. This isn't the IBM many of us knew. -ExIBMer-
    • Comment 01/21/13: 21 years of 2+ or 1 and now suddenly 2 for two consecutive years. How many others received a 2 after years of always getting a 2+ or 1? I had never previously received a 2 in all those prior years. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 01/21/13: Thank you for the information. Is there a way to join alliance paying annual membership fee, vs monthly and automatic. I do not allow anybody to charge my credit "automatically" on monthly basis..perhaps there are others out there similar. thanks -UniteTheOnlyWay- Alliance reply: Yes you can join by check or money order. See the form on the main page. Thanks!
    • Comment 01/22/13: I got my review today. I was told I was one of the lowest performers. Then continued to review me on items I did poorly on in 2011 (when I got a 2). I had to stop her to ask what year and months this review was for. She confirmed it was only for the calendar year 2012 (Yes I was aware of this). I then asked why I was being reviewed for things in 2011. Her response, "oh it's just so hard to keep everything straight". She's rewriting them now. My bet I still get a 3. In years past all the work I did would have gotten me a 1. I was constantly a 1 and 2+ performer my entire 10 years at IBM. -John-
    • Comment 01/23/13: I was RA'd in 2001. Only two were laid off from our department; myself who was over 50 at the time, and a very young guy with not many skills or smarts. They provided a nice statistical presentation to show they were not "age discriminating" -- the young guy balanced the old guy. In theory. I later deduced how IBM manages to layoff the older folks who may have higher medical bills, salaries, etc. Very simple, and very sneaky. And 100% legal. What they do is hire a lot of college grads "first job" young folks -- that's right MORE THAN THEY NEED -- having planned it all along to lay off many of the young ones in order to legally balance the layoff of older ones.

      Do you all fully grasp the nefarious planning going on here? The take-away here -- aside from IBM having NO loyalty whatsoever, is that when you see a lot of ads for "recent college grad" on their hiring board, you can be 100% sure that they are planning a RIF in short order, probably about 6 months. Not too hard to see the self-serving evil logic here. -OlderAndWiser-

    • Comment 01/23/13: How are the severance packages being handled in conjunction with the RA's these days. Is that something that is negotiated between manager/employees privately? -Curious_Short_Timer-
    • Comment 01/23/13: to -Curious_Short_Timer- Packages are not negotiated. They are determined by HR. You take what they give or take nothing. -RA Packages-
    • Comment 01/23/13: I am a Band 9. Just had my 1-1 with my manager who first read me a glowing review that stopped just short of "walks on water without splashing" - and then delivered a PBC rating of 2.0. I know that 1's are rare as hens' teeth - but if THAT performance did not warrant a 2.5, then I really question what distribution of 1.0_2.5_2.0_3.0 we are going to see this year. The whole scale has apparently taken a pretty major whack, across the board. He told me that after all of the decision making was completed, the # of 1 and 2.5 ratings was set at the Senior VP level and sent back to the organizations for necessary adjustments. -TheyHurtMyFeelings-
    • Comment 01/23/13: My manager just confirmed that there will be a RA this year. My whole department will be gone. He would not confirm the exact month. If you are a NON DIRECT (i.e. not a practitioner) in GBS be prepared for a RA sometime in 2013. As soon as I receive my package, I'll forward to the Alliance. -Good Bye Yellow Brick Road-
    • Comment 01/23/13: to -Anonymous- with 21 years. I also went 16 years 1 and 2+ then last year a 2. Bottomline is IBM wants to rid (and has to rid for 2015) 1/3 to 1/2 of US workforce. -US workers-
    • Comment 01/23/13: I got my review today. It seems like 2 is the best rating given out within my group. The PBC rating system is a joke. I didn't even protest because it is a waste of time and effort. It means nothing to me at this point. I know that the cards are stacked against the US worker. A very sad state this company is in. I bet those numbers reported yesterday are misleading. Note the disclaimer at the beginning of the call. The numbers were reported non-GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles). -CookThoseBooks-
    • Comment 01/24/13: My PBC meeting: Got an amazingly glowing review. Told how great I am, how I'm so valuable to the team, that I am a role model for all team members. And then a rating of 2. My manager actually apologized for the rating saying something about how he (and his peer managers) can only give out a certain # of 1s and 2+s across the entire organization. So we have managers evaluating us whom we don't even report to. lovely. Good luck to all! -Lemmiwinks-
    • Comment 01/24/13: I am a 3 yr. ibmer with straight 2+ buff this year my manager rated me a 3...I am not convinced but am wondering whether to go for review. Does it help really? What is life in IBM after a 3? Urgently need feedback. -Anon-
    • Comment 01/24/13: I think the whole pbc system is a farce, designed to just control costs and payouts, increase profits for shareholders. Question is how long can a demotivated workforce deliver? -Anon-
    • Comment 01/24/13: I was RA'd in March '12 with 15 years including my time with a subsidiary. Pension said I had 15 years in March, but Health Care said I would not have 15 years until August, and they conveniently got out of providing $40,000 in FHA money.

      I joined the subsidiary in March of 1997 and joined IBM in August of '97. I appealed and showed a fellow employee who got a bridge and therefore is able to receive the FHA money. She is younger than me. I was not entitled to a bridge because I am over 55 with 14 years of service, depending on which department you talk to. So I am discriminated against because of my age.

      I have been through 6 levels of appeals all the way to Randy who passed it off to Barbara Brickmeyer (sp?). She said she couldn't overturn the decision of the Plan Administrator even though there is a different administrator now.

      There are no leaders in IBM anymore, no decision makers unless they want to layoff. Whomever monitors this site from Health Care will write that the FHA money is "notional" which isn't even a word, so please don't bother. Your excuses are lame and insulting. It was bad enough to lose a job I loved, then to be cheated out of money that was given to a younger person was just too much. There will be another RA and you need to be aware of the all pitfalls IBM will put in your way. Join the union. -Maesey1-

    • Comment 01/26/13: -Anon- Regarding contesting your 3 rating, twice in the past I was rated a 3 despite my excellent performance / customer feedback. I challenged it both times and had it reversed. My recommendation would be if you choose to challenge it, prepare for a lot of sleepless / stressful nights until it's all over. Ensure you can provide proper documentation / customer / peer feedbacks on your performance that shows you did not deserve a 3 rating for 2012. Also did your manager have a mid-year PBC meeting with you explaining you need to improve your performance. If not, then he / she is in the hot seat for not doing their job. You may also consider leaving the department after it's over. Your manager can make you life a living hell if they choose too. Again, you can always report him / her to HR if he or she crosses the line. Good Luck. -PBC_feedback-
    • Comment 01/26/13: To -Anon- re your PBC 3: If I were you I'd be working on an exit strategy if you are not already doing that. IMO a 3 after a string of 2+ reviews is a telltale sign you are targeted for termination--and maybe not an RA with separation benefits. One of my co-workers in Software S&D was just terminated without warning. He had received a 3 rating in 2011 but no warnings about his performance in 2012. He was called in by his manager in early January for his PBC review and was given the choice of resigning with minimal severance or being fired with no severance. He's 62 but does not have enough service time to retire from IBM. A good rep, client focused, who had a lousy territory the past 2 years. -JustLeftUnderMyOwnPower-
    • Comment 01/26/13: Quote from January 25th Journal News (Westchester, NY Local Paper)regarding Social Security - 'Raising the retirement age to 70, and cutting cost-of-living increases for current Social Security recipients are priorities of the Business Roundtable, an association of 203 CEOs whose roster includes IBM's Virginia Rometty. Their plan did not include taxing higher earners beyond the $113,700 cap'. So while our esteemed CEO is laying off people and cutting benefits she wants us all to work till 70, contribute more, and get less while this plan will not effect her at all. Good grief. There is absolutely no compassion or even transparency of compassion left. -No Compassion at IBM-
    • Comment 01/26/13: When is everyone who is resigned to being caught in the next or future RAs going to try to do something REAL to stop it? When is everyone who is not happy with a PBC 2 or 3 now going to do something REAL about it, like join the Alliance as at least an associate member? It is the only way to do anything with IBM and it's practices. -IBMUnionYES-
    • Comment 01/26/13: For those invested in this company with their own loyalty, however, have to stay for some reason and survive,or even worse, have a crappy manager to work for...I wonder if you read the book "The Help" ...about a white female journalist who decides to interview black maids in the 50's, asking them if they want "change"? The maids needed a job, so they WILLINGLY went to work for "uppity rich white folk", and were expected to do all the shopping, cook all the meals, wash/dry/iron the laundry, clean the house, dress the children & be their nanny, & take orders, yet they had no voice in the household. They're essentially the lowest life form present, yet they clearly run the place.

      Their white "captors," er, employers expect loyalty and feign the same, yet look down on them as if they're second-class, dirty, substandard, undeserving, lowly, etc. etc. (You're not qualified, you cannot speak above your rank or address those in authority, and you HAVE no authority....) Unionizing is one way to have a voice as maids. Are we to the point like "the maids" yet? -LoyalEmployee-

News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • Wisconsin State Journal: Health Sense: Rise in health insurance premiums due to competition? By David Wahlberg. Excerpts: In most types of markets, competition lowers prices. But health care is different, the reports says, because “consumers are often shielded from the direct cost of care.” In many ways, health care providers control the supply and the demand.

    Here’s why the eight factors matter: U.S. health care spending was estimated at $2.8 trillion last year, or 18 percent of gross domestic product. It is expected to climb to $4.8 trillion, or 20 percent of GDP, by 2021. In an increasingly global economy, in which most countries spend much less, this is unsustainable.

    A summary of the report’s seven other factors:

    • Payments: We reward doctors and hospitals for doing more, not for being efficient. The federal health reform law is starting to change this.
    • Population: We’re getting older, sicker and fatter. Nearly half of Americans have chronic diseases, many of which are preventable.
    • Technology: Our assumption that new technology is always better leads to its unnecessary use.
    • Insurance: Employer contributions are tax deductible, and employees’ minimal cost-sharing encourages too many services — though high-deductible plans are changing this.
    • Transparency: Consumers and providers don’t have enough information on how one treatment compares to another.
    • Legal barriers: Laws discourage cost-effective reforms, malpractice lawsuits encourage “defensive medicine,” and Medicare and Medicaid fraud cost $50 billion to $100 billion a year.
    • Workforce: Nurse practitioners or physicians assistants should be used more for basic care, and the U.S. may have too many costly specialist doctors.
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.

  • New York Times: Inequality Is Holding Back the Recovery. By Joseph E. Stiglitz. Excerpts: Politicians typically talk about rising inequality and the sluggish recovery as separate phenomena, when they are in fact intertwined. Inequality stifles, restrains and holds back our growth. When even the free-market-oriented magazine The Economist argues — as it did in a special feature in October — that the magnitude and nature of the country’s inequality represent a serious threat to America, we should know that something has gone horribly wrong. And yet, after four decades of widening inequality and the greatest economic downturn since the Depression, we haven’t done anything about it.

    There are four major reasons inequality is squelching our recovery. The most immediate is that our middle class is too weak to support the consumer spending that has historically driven our economic growth. While the top 1 percent of income earners took home 93 percent of the growth in incomes in 2010, the households in the middle — who are most likely to spend their incomes rather than save them and who are, in a sense, the true job creators — have lower household incomes, adjusted for inflation, than they did in 1996. The growth in the decade before the crisis was unsustainable — it was reliant on the bottom 80 percent consuming about 110 percent of their income.

    Second, the hollowing out of the middle class since the 1970s, a phenomenon interrupted only briefly in the 1990s, means that they are unable to invest in their future, by educating themselves and their children and by starting or improving businesses.

    Third, the weakness of the middle class is holding back tax receipts, especially because those at the top are so adroit in avoiding taxes and in getting Washington to give them tax breaks. The recent modest agreement to restore Clinton-level marginal income-tax rates for individuals making more than $400,000 and households making more than $450,000 did nothing to change this. Returns from Wall Street speculation are taxed at a far lower rate than other forms of income. Low tax receipts mean that the government cannot make the vital investments in infrastructure, education, research and health that are crucial for restoring long-term economic strength. ...

    Our skyrocketing inequality — so contrary to our meritocratic ideal of America as a place where anyone with hard work and talent can “make it” — means that those who are born to parents of limited means are likely never to live up to their potential. Children in other rich countries like Canada, France, Germany and Sweden have a better chance of doing better than their parents did than American kids have. More than a fifth of our children live in poverty — the second worst of all the advanced economies, putting us behind countries like Bulgaria, Latvia and Greece. ...

    Market forces don’t exist in a vacuum — we shape them. Other countries, like fast-growing Brazil, have shaped them in ways that have lowered inequality while creating more opportunity and higher growth. Countries far poorer than ours have decided that all young people should have access to food, education and health care so they can fulfill their aspirations.

    Our legal framework and the way we enforce it has provided more scope here for abuses by the financial sector; for perverse compensation for chief executives; for monopolies’ ability to take unjust advantage of their concentrated power.

  • The Smirking Chimp: Exposed! How the Billionaires Class Is Destroying Democracy. By Thom Hartmann and Sam Sacks. Excerpts: Yes, over the last hundred years, average American people have voted themselves benefits like Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid. But at the same time, they've also supported tax increases to pay for all of these things. Remember, the Social Security tax only applies to the first $113,000 of wages - earned income. People like Paris Hilton and Mitt Romney, when they get all their money from capital gains, dividends, and carried interest, don't pay a penny of Social Security taxes on their millions of income. And the average top CEO in America, with an income of $13.7 million a year, over a million a month, only pays Social Security taxes on his first few days of income every year - every other day is Social Security tax-free. Quite literally, as Leona Helmsley famously said, only the "little people" pay such taxes. The safety net program for working class people is exclusively paid for by working class people.

    On the other hand, when the Billionaire Class extracts benefits from the government for themselves, the generally don't pay higher taxes. The billions in taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil, trillions in bailouts and bonuses for Wall Street banksters, and hundreds of billions for war profiteers are always accompanied by demands for more tax cuts at the top.

    And, truth be told, billionaires aren't even receiving these benefits by voting for them. Instead, they always get them through the simple process of buying politicians. For example, Sheldon Adelson spent $150 million in the last election. That's more than any American spent in any election in American history. And he spent all that money to give himself the "benefits" of derailing an Obama Justice Department investigation into his casino in China and to get his taxes cut even further.

    Billionaires also corrupt democracy to get their benefits through billionaire-funded think tanks, like the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council that writes legislation to benefit Corporate America, and then has Republicans state lawmakers introduce and pass laws in state after state, across the nation.

    But despite this very clear reality of who is demanding largesse from our government, it's still working people and average voters who are targeted by right-wingers and their viral emails as the selfish "takers." That's the reason why the Business Roundtable is saying the best way to fix insurance programs like Social Security and Medicare is to raise the retirement age to 70 and voucherize Medicare.

  • The Financial Times: America’s fiscal policy is not in crisis. The urgent challenge is to promote economic recovery. By Martin Wolf. Excerpts: The US confronts huge challenges, at home and abroad. Its fiscal position is not one of them. This is a highly controversial statement. If one judged by the debate in Washington, one would conclude that the federal government is close to bankruptcy. This view is false. Yes, the US does confront fiscal challenges in the long term. But these are largely caused by the soaring costs of its inefficient healthcare. Yes, the US is engaged in a fierce debate on fiscal policy. But this is due to philosophical disputes over the role of the state. Yes, the US has been running large fiscal deficits in the short run. But these are a result of the financial crisis. ...

    In the long run, then, the federal government must raise receipts above historic averages; slow the rising costs of healthcare; or, more plausibly, do some of both. To non-Americans, neither should be difficult. This is because of two salient features of the contemporary US economy: extreme income inequality and health inefficiency.

    First, the CBO has noted in another paper that “the share of total market income received by the top 1 per cent of the population more than doubled between 1979 and 2007, growing from about 10 per cent to more than 20 per cent.” Taxing these huge winners a bit more heavily seems a politically obvious move.

    Second, behind these forecasts for government spending lies a dramatic prospect for overall private and public spending on health, which would rise “from about 17 per cent of GDP now to almost one-quarter by 2037”. Already, the US spends a far higher share of GDP on healthcare than other high-income countries. In 2010, its total health spending was 17.6 per cent of GDP. The spending of the next highest, the Netherlands, was just 12 per cent. Even the US public sector spent a higher share of GDP than the UK. Yet US life expectancy, to take just one indicator, was a mere 78.7, against 80.6 in the UK (see chart). ...

    The federal government is not on the verge of bankruptcy. If anything, the tightening has been too much and too fast. The fiscal position is also not the most urgent economic challenge. It is far more important to promote recovery. The challenges in the longer term are to raise revenue while curbing the cost of health. Meanwhile, people, just calm down.

  • Kaiser Health News: Americans Want Deficit Addressed Without Medicare Cuts, Poll Finds. By Mary Agnes Carey. Excerpt: Most Americans want quick action to reduce the deficit, but almost six in 10 oppose cutting Medicare spending to achieve that goal, according to a new poll released today.

    Lawmakers should examine other alternatives, including requiring drug makers to give the government “a better deal” on medications for low-income seniors (85 percent) and making higher-income seniors pay more for coverage (59 percent), according to the survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.)

  • PBS's Frontline: The Untouchables (video and related articles and blogs). Frontline investigates why Wall Street’s leaders have escaped prosecution for any fraud related to the sale of bad mortgages.
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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