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Highlights—April 12, 2013

  • The Register:

    IBM was wrong to force UK workers off final salary pensions – judge. UK High Court rules Big Blue breached contract with staff. By Brid-Aine Parnell. Excerpts: A UK High Court judge has said that IBM breached its duties to Brit workers with a company pension by kicking a quarter of them off its final salary scheme in 2009.

    IBM's "Project Waltz" was implemented in 2009 to help the company meet its 2010 target for earnings per share (EPS) and cut costs. ...

    The scheme cut benefits to thousands of workers in the UK, some of whom sued the company for breaching its duties to its staff. ...

    "I consider that the consultation was not carried out in a way which was open and transparent," he wrote in his decision. "It did not, in my view, accord with the approach which ought - in accordance with IBM's own philosophy as set out in the Business Conduct Guidelines and Core Values - to be followed." ...

    "My judgment is that [IBM] was in breach of its contractual duty of trust and confidence in imposing the Project Waltz changes and in presenting the members with the choice of signing non-pensionability agreements or receiving no pay increases in the future," he said.

    "In the light of all the evidence… it is my view that no reasonable employer in the position of [IBM] in 2009 would have adopted the Project Waltz proposals in the form which they took," he added. ...

    Project Waltz shelved IBM's “defined benefit” scheme, which guaranteed retired employees a predefined portion of their final salary. Staff were left with the “defined contribution” plan, which many of them were already on, where they paid part of their wages into a pension fund with no guarantee of what they might get out of it. The move effectively shifted all financial risk for pensions onto the workers instead of the company.

    Mr Justice Warren said that a future hearing would consider what remedies the court could, or should, impose on IBM for the breaches.

    Selected reader comments follow:

    • Read between the lines:

      IBM's "Project Waltz" was implemented in 2009 to help the company meet its 2010 target for earnings per share (EPS) and cut costs, and

      "IBM <snip> remains committed to providing its employees and retirees compensation that is competitive and in line with market conditions."

      Should read as:

      IBM remains committed to paying its employees and retirees as little as we can get away with so we can pay our shareholders more.

    • It has become increasingly common for the employee to be considered a resource and dealt with in a pretty poor way in many companies. However, if you look at history, you soon realise that treating employees badly often results in the company doing rather badly, as has been said in earlier replies. So, now, some more enlightened companies are beginning to realise that treating employees reasonably and doing things like honouring contracts is actually good for the business in the long run, even if the short term is affected. Additionally, more shareholders are realising this as well.

      After all IBM and HP (both companies that have treated their employees pretty poorly in the past) are doing so well now? Both seem to be heading downwards rapidly. Even if they can keep shareholder returns good for a few more years, it will come to an end at some point.

    • Re: Read between the lines. The primary duty of a director is to maximise their bonus at all costs.
    • In this case it would appear that those responsible forgot that they were dealing with a work-force based in the UK and treated them as if they were in the US. A common mistake made by many Americans, they seem unable to realise that laws differ and that laws of the USA are not universal.
    • The gulf in differences in quite staggering...effectively in the US an employee has no rights whatsoever compared to the UK. AFAIK many of these rights come from contract law where both parties have to agree to contractual changes, rather than a company just making changes as they feel fit.
    • Exactly, people speak about "the shareholder" as if they have a single mind and set of goals. If you are a short term speculator looking for quarter or two stock price bump, you would be pleased to see IBM or other companies destroy their long term viability as long as the near term price hits the sell target and you can move on to the next deal. If you are a long term investor, that is not in your interest. The distinction is between the speculator (short term, non-fundamental related price fluctuations) and the investor (long term, interested in ROI through appreciation in value over decades through improving the fundamentals).

      Increasingly what is meant by "shareholder value" is short term speculator value which also aligns with the quarterly bonus culture. CEOs really don't have a lot of incentive to set the company on a 10-20 year growth path with large up front investments that impact short term profits. They are not going to be around in 10-20 years and it benefits them, personally, to focus on short term objectives with no long term vision (or only vague long term vision without investments). If the company falls apart in 10 years, that is someone else's problem and they will not be impacted.

      The fundamental problem is that "professional managers" do not have a significant stake in the company, relative to founders. There is no way Larry Page, for instance (insert Bezos, Zuckerberg, etc), is going to hack Google to pieces to get short term profits. He 1) could care less about short term cash in bonuses, he has enough cash... the bonuses are chump change. 2) owns more stock than he could sell off in the short term without tanking the share price, so he is in for the long term 3) he doesn't care if Wall St is happy or not happy in the quarter because no one can fire him as he still owns huge blocks of equity.

      The people brought in as professional managers want the short term cash, don't own enough stock, even if it is tens of millions, that they could not dump it all at a moments notice, and are concerned about being replaced if they don't hit short term goals.

    • I must be one of those funny shareholders that thinks happy and well paid employees work harder and will make more money for me. You know, they go that extra mile. Quite how you expect to run a successful profitable company with say 80% of the workforce not giving a sh*t I don't know. I guess at that point you get rid of the 80% and replace them with £800+ a day contractors who whilst they still don't give a toss about your company, some still feel they have to give value for money.
    • I left IBM a few years ago when it was clear that IBM Global Services in the UK was taking the piss in terms of reduction of benefits for employees and a strangulation of department budgets.

      I'm now happily working for a competitor, winning business from IGS with a reassuring degree of regularity.

      While I don't pretend to have been one of the best or brightest at IBM, they certainly lost a valuable employee and I wasn't the only one to walk.

    • Treating employees like s**t seems to be an IBM trademark. I spent 18 months working for them between 2004-2006 and I can honestly say never again. Productive, committed members of staff harried and hounded to the point where the majority of them would go and get better jobs somewhere else...leaving the managers that did the harrying sitting there, scratching their arses and wondering why they can't hang on to any decent staff. Cretins all.
  • The Register:

    Why won't you DIE? IBM's S/360 and its legacy at 50 Big Blue's big $5bn bet adjusted, modified, reduced, back for more. By Gavin Clarke. Excerpts: IBM's System 360 mainframe, celebrating its 50th anniversary on Monday, was more than a just another computer. The S/360 changed IBM just as it changed computing and the technology industry. ...

    CIOs now predict they will depend on the mainframe for least another decade, while 89 per cent reckon their mainframes are running new and different workloads to those they ran five years ago, in 2009. Mobile computing is the driver, as companies' customers want to access accounts and information held on those legacy systems. ...

    As it entered the 1970s, IBM claimed 70 per cent of the world's mainframe market – with customers including Ford, Volkswagen McDonnell Aircraft Corporation and NASA. On the latter, a total of five S/360s had helped run the Apollo space programme, with one of IBM's mainframes being used to calculate the data for the return flight of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins - the team that put boots on the Moon for the first time. ...

    The original six S/360s were succeeded by newer models and eventually the S/360 line by the S/390 and zSeries. The rise of the x86 PC and server bred a belief about the "inevitability" of the death of the mainframe. Typifying these was venture capitalist and former editor-in-chief of InfoWorld Stewart Alsop, who in 1991 said: "I predict that the last mainframe will be unplugged on March 15, 1996." ...

    On the 50th anniversary, should we expect just one more decade for the mainframe as some CIOs are now saying? Will it be lights out in 2024? No.

  • The Register:

    IBM Hursley Park: Where Big Blue buries the past, polishes family jewels. How the internet of things has deep roots in the English countryside. By Joe Fay. Excerpts: Would you like to work in a cross between Downton Abbey and Silicon Valley? For a small selection of IBMers, that’s the only way to describe their working environment, although the place we’re talking about is officially called Hursley Park.

    You can get there by turning off the M3 and rattling through some pretty English village-hood before hitting Hursley, a high-end hamlet straddling the A3090. Cross over, skirting the stone bench built around a tree trunk, and you’ve entered the gateway to the Hursley Park estate, home to an IBM R&D lab since the late '50s. ...

    The site has been instrumental in the development of IBM’s software technologies since the 1950s, as well as displays and disk-based storage, though those lines have now departed. It is still the home of development for CICS MQ Series technology. Or, put another way, the software that probably runs transactions on the mainframe underpinning your retail bank, and ensures the oil finds its way along the pipeline to your local petrol station. ...

    The museum’s story begins well before the birth of IBM as we know it. Muldoon shows off the original Hollerith product range - weighers, punch clocks and the like. This was IBM’s bread and butter before it became the Computing Tabulating Recording Company - the firm’s name before it rebranded again as International Business Machines in 1924.

    Time flies, and before you know it you’re looking at punch card machines, and remembering those two summers you spent working at a market research firm in the 1980s, where results were still processed on an armful of heavyweight paper. We see early circuit boards which look more like the innards of 1940s radiograms rather than a PC motherboard, complete with bulbous glass valves. There are plenty of typewriters, of course, to spark any deep-seated Mad Men-type fantasies. ...

    There is plenty of heavyweight veteran storage. Storage was one of the site’s areas of expertise, and Hursley delivered many storage firsts. However, the estate was not the birthplace of the Winchester drive. While the Ancient English capital is just up the road, the Winchester was so named because it had two storage modules of 30MB each, recalling the 3030 Winchester rifle cartridge. All the same, Muldoon has both the storage and the ammo versions on display. ...

    Through another room, and we hit the PC era, with racks of beige boxes along one side, from the first IBM PC through PS/2 and beyond. The range extends at least as far as 2005, when the x86 client business was offloaded to Lenovo. Facing off against them are the vendor’s erstwhile notebook offering, ThinkPads, including keyboard-free touchscreen devices dating back as far as 1993. Like that was ever going to catch on.

  • ZD-Net:

    IBM ups bet on user experience, design consulting. By Larry Dignan. Excerpts: IBM on Thursday said it will spend more than $100 million to expand its design and engagement consulting business and hire 1,000 workers.

    The move highlights how user experience (UX) is becoming increasingly important to enterprises and businesses that are trying to become digital. IBM has had a user experience design lab and consulting business, but now appears to be melding analytics, data, and strategy.

    IBM said it has 10 new labs in Bangalore, Beijing, Groningen, London, Melbourne, New York, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Mexico City and Tokyo that combine design, marketing, and mobility. Four user experience labs are already in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, and Toronto. IBM launched its Interactive Experience unit in January. ...

    Shannon Miller, head of global strategy at IBM Interactive Experience, said Big Blue plans to bring research, data, consulting, and design together. "There are new uses of data and that's driving the design," said Miller. "The reverse is true as well."

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • “I can´t wait to leave this company”

      Anonymous Employee (Current Employee), Buenos Aires (Argentina). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 3 years.

      Pros: Looks good on your resume that's it.

      Cons: I´m really disappointed at IBM after 4 years, especially after an awful 2014 in numbers; repercussions have been across the company especially laying off people, not paying bonuses, and overall bad working conditions, with no work security.

      After 4 years, with less than average managers, and hard people to work, with no sense of professionalism or accountability for their work, or teamwork; you end up fulfilling lots of roles and duties of others in order to keep the clients and manager happy.

      There is an absurd abundance of managers, they sprout like yeast. I have 4 managers to respond, which not only have different interests, but no one really contributes to the business just to keep the bureaucratic inefficient machine, that IBM has become, working.

      When a client tells us a need it takes IBM 3 weeks to have a solution, 2 months to have a price, and 5 months to deliver, no wonder why they buy elsewhere.

      There is no real career development in the company; once you are in it's nearly impossible to move up, all the managing positions are filled with friends, not by skills or accomplishments; lack of education and new opportunities; of coarse you have the e-learning but no real time to take them, and there is no value in an internal IBM course; rather than a certification provided by a third party.

      I've tried really hard to succeed in here, working 90+ hours a week for some time (with no overtime), even hit some great trophies in this year's and recognition from clients and peers, but at the end all I have the same paycheck as 4 years ago, even less with inflation, bad working conditions and a really bad taste in my mouth.

      Advice to Senior Management: Fire some managers, get the structure in shape, and listen to your employees.

    • “They are far from the company that they once were”

      Technical Consultant (Former Employee). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 5 years.

      Pros: Very good in most areas about working from home, work/life balance, 401k contributions (match dollar for dollar to 6%).

      Cons: No education. IBM was once a company that would give you education and skills to help your existing career and help further your career. No more. They don't even give you education to help you be more efficient on the technology that you work on today. Even the CEO (Ginny) recognized this, and required that ALL employees get a minimum of 40 hours education a year. The only problem is, that like everything else in IBM, it is not taken seriously and it is just simply a numbers game. You can document CONFERENCE CALLS toward your 40 hours of education. It is a TOTAL JOKE.

      Yearly reviews are called "PERSONAL Business Commitments". Don't let the name fool you. There is NOTHING personal about them. You write your own commitments every year, and then you are rated against people that are NOT EVEN YOUR PEERS! They say that they rate you against peers, but you know that isn't possible, when nobody does what you do. System is very unfair. It should be called GROUP Business Commitments, and your manager should write your goals, and all of your "peers" should have the same goals to work toward. That way, it would be at least fair.

      Sadly, layoffs are part of the IBM culture, and are not a rare event. Expect layoffs AT LEAST twice a year every year. This is very demoralizing, and causes the environment to be unproductive.

      Lastly, while the amount that they match on the 401k is very nice, there is a big problem. They no longer put their share of the money into your 401k each pay period. What they do is put that money aside, then on December 15th they make one lump sum contribution totaling what they would have put into your account each pay period. The problem is that while they hold your money, it isn't working for you. The other problem is that if you leave the company for any reason (fired, quit, laid off) prior to December 1st (I believe is the date), you get NONE of that money they put aside for you. So even if you worked 10 months, you don't get any contribution for them for the entire 10 months that you worked.

      This company is not the company it once was, and it REALLY is a shame, since they were one of the best.

      Advice to Senior Management: Stop being so top heavy. It feels like there are 3 managers for every employee. Stop the constant numbers game.

    • “Average pay, difficult to get past bureaucracy”

      Research Staff Member (Former Employee).

      Pros: In IBM Research you will in general find smart, above average PhDs. Flexible schedule most of the time, and the possibility of extra vacation at partial pay. IBM Research is usually open to academic collaborations and encourages publications.

      Cons: Bureaucracy and lack of resources to achieve your goals are the biggest problems. IBM Research model is on the one hand individual-oriented, but it is hard to get resources other than your salary. On the other hand, when teams are formed, they are usually big and scattered around the globe, so more often than not, credit for success goes to a very small number of high-rank managers.

      Advice to Senior Management: Create more concise teams, make roles and responsibilities clear, inspect and not simply expect outcomes, recognize employees' achievements in a just and timely manner.

    • “IBM is struggling to innovate and grow”

      Associate Partner (Current Employee), Irvine, CA. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 3 years. Pros: Great teams and qualified individuals. Cons: Company struggling to innovate and grow. Compensates by cost cutting to keep Wall Street happy. Advice to Senior Management: Need to get more inputs from rank and file.
    • “Furlough days, crazy work overload”

      IT Specialist (Former Employee), Austin, TX. I worked at IBM as a contractor for more than a year.

      Pros: Flexible work schedule. Get to use and develop skills.

      Cons: Crazy all-hours work. Once the offshore operations techs get your phone number, they call all hours of the night even if you have nothing to do with the issue. It got to the point that I unplugged my house phone overnight and turned down cell phone volume. I got tired of them calling and asking who they should call for the issue. Dealing with offshore teams was very frustrating due to lack of skills. It would take months to get a simple task done by the offshore system admins and you would have to tell them how to do most everything.

      Advice to Senior Management: Quit trying to save money offshoring work. It costs more in the long run.

    • “SWG TechSales - the ivory tower”

      Technical Sales Specialist (Current Employee), Ehningen (Germany). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: Great technology; like working with customers; pay is still OK. As a knowledge worker, I can ignore some of more negative things. I have a good manager who shields from some of the negativities possibility to make a technical career; you can show a certain amount of leadership without switching into a management role. There are great people at IBM.

      Cons: Many internal processes are a joke; organization wants everyone to become a sales person, does not account different personality types; managers rising up the career path become corrupted; lots of reporting, when management feels helpless. Cost reduction instead of investing in people bureaucratic career system.

      Advice to Senior Management: Invest to win! Listen to people!

    • “Not your parents' IBM”

      Advisory Software Engineer (Former Employee), Austin, TX. I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: IBM offers fair salaries, acceptable benefits, reasonable (but declining) vacation time, and a huge internal network to explore positions. There are some very bright people who work for IBM, and they are an inspiration for what is possible.

      Cons: Morale is generally in tatters after years of offshoring and 'resource actions' (euphemism for layoffs). My team went from 9 people eventually to 4 with no change in total workload. Reductions only take into account short-term company bottom line, not quality of work that can be produced, and cut decisions happen at such a high level that I've seen very valuable people eliminated.

      Culture is often tied up in older ways of doing things ("Because that's how we've always done it!"). New ideas are welcomed, but rarely acted upon, or take years to make even minor changes.

      Shifting positions internally is often difficult as employees with seniority tend to just...stay in one position, leaving no room for advancement without drastically shifting teams.

      Advice to Senior Management: Go back to putting employees first and Wall Street second and you'll end up with a better overall company. The short-term gains of mindless employee reductions are cutting some dead wood, but are also eliminating extremely valuable people who are going to end up working for your competitors and harm IBM on both fronts: the loss of the non-executive thought leadership, and the increase in skills of your competition.

    • “My experience at IBM was great in the early years...now...not so much.”

      Project Manager (Former Employee). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: Smart people, great products. IBM is a global company and have laid off people, not just in the US. Cons: Greedy execs! Bad morale with resource actions each quarter. Advice to Senior Management: IBM has too many VPs. Every year is a take-away on a benefit or no raises or no variable pay.
    • “I love this company”

      Professional Services Senior Consultant (Current Employee), Chengdu, Sichuan (China). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 8 years. Pros: Great perks and benefits. Peers can start to become like family when a board is formed. International travel opportunity. Hands on experience with new products or technology. Cons: Under resourced in IT tools...but the company is investing in this area so that is encouraging. Advice to Senior Management: Continue to invest in IT resources and new technology. People are located in over 100 countries around the world and we need to work together to deliver on the exciting vision.
    • “IBM Hardware is in decline”

      Advisory Engineer (Former Employee), Rochester, MN. I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: Nice work-life balance and lots of resources because of its large size. Good place to start working...they usually only hire new college graduates, anyway. Usually at the state-of-the art in terms of hardware design, but that is in decline. Nice co-workers but the company pits everyone against everyone for performance reviews.

      Cons: If you are going into IBM hardware, be careful. Hardware earns money but unfortunately costs money. The amount it earns is not as much as the top dogs think it should, so I would expect it to sell off or lay off more people in this area. The company is top heavy; lots of senior people so you can get some early promotions, but then there are too many top dogs (due to experience) so you are stuck. Its EDA tools are out dated—at least it should try harder to use industry standard ones—and that can be a problem if you ever leave. Lots of regulations from the top down.

    • “Disappointing”

      Senior Project Manager (Former Employee), Columbia, MO. I worked at IBM full-time for more than a year.

      Pros: Training opportunities; company pays for (approved) certifications. Lots of new ideas and products if you can figure out how to get on one of those teams (typically reserved for Ph.D. applicants).

      Cons: Pay is about 2/3 national average. Negative politics are common. Unpaid overtime is expected, 10% to 20% at a minimum. That's an extra 1/2 day or more per week lost family time. The Peter Principle is prevalent. Bad managers are kept in place even with literally dozens of complaints against them. Reviews are heavily subjective, and good luck appealing an inaccurate one. Attrition rate is high—100% of my team was looking for another job, a common activity in our center. Tons of talent was allowed to walk out the door and couldn't be talked into staying.

      Advice to Senior Management: Value employees; move from HR managers to functional managers with a span of no more than 10 to 12 people; recognize that not every job can be routinized and staffed with replaceable robotic employees. Live up to your stated values, especially displaying integrity toward employees.

    • “Don't do it”

      Anonymous Employee (Current Employee). Pros: Fantastic life-work balance, work with fantastic people who are intelligent. Cons: Top heavy and no future. Advice to Senior Management: Layoffs should start at the top and not focus on the employees at the bottom.
    • “Excellent job. Until they started to offshore the work.”

      IT Specialist (Former Employee). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: The people I have worked with are hard working, knowledgeable, and friendly. Work-life balance. Telecommuting. Cons: Upper management has no idea that offshoring work is not working. All they see is the money saved. They don't see how much the customer hates it. Advice to Senior Management: Bring the work stateside.
    • “Too much Politics preventing employees from moving forward”

      Technical Sales Specialist (Current Employee), Orlando, FL. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 8 years. Pros: Flexible hours, work from home. Cons: Stress can come down anytime from management and the politics behind the scenes are beyond anything I've seen working for three previous Fortune 500 companies. Advice to Senior Management: Treat the employees well, and compensate them for their hard work. Stop hiring more and more managers, and decreasing your sales and technical sales force.
    • “A real profession and employment satisfaction firm”

      . Technical Service Specialist (Former Employee), Noida (India). I worked at IBM full-time for less than a year.

      Pros: Easy to share time between office and family. Work from home and other advantages.

      Cons: None. Very satisfied. Even is less time spent wit company I achieved very good position for management because I got opportunity and chance to grow. No cons with full satisfaction. Thank you to Mr. Tamal Bhadra.

      Advice to Senior Management: Great regulation of rules. I have learned a lot from my management. It's perfect specially my reporting manager.

    • “A good place to work, but no longer great.”

      IT Architect (Current Employee), London, England (UK). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: Lots of software firm acquisitions mean vitality of people and technology; excellent work-life balance, with lots of scope to work from home; very good collaborative culture—easy to access expertise and network.

      Cons: Cutbacks in everything as we try to meet our 2015 market EPS target payrises: training, team events, promotions all severely limited thanks to cost-cutting. Expense policy is draconian. Hard to get promoted as there are many career IBMers waiting in the pipeline. Direct to market model under much pressure and Cloud changes the economics of IT. Many, many processes—learning curve on these is steep. Culture often favours those who know the process, or know the right person rather than talent.

      Advice to Senior Management: Start rewarding people what they deserve or you will be left with low-calibre staff. Stop chasing short term targets and really deliver the agenda set by senior management.

    • “Great people delivering innovative products and services, but...”

      Anonymous Employee (Current Employee). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 5 years.

      Pros: Most people at IBM are smart, collaborative, dedicated and enjoyable to work with. Working remotely allows for flexibility and convenience for both the employee and the company. Many of the products and services are innovative and keep the work varied and interesting. Most of the day-to-day tools and technology are helpful in efficiently doing one's job.

      Cons: The organization is too middle heavy with 2-3 levels of management spending too much time "managing up". Increases in salary don't come easy and there is a review/rating process that is cumbersome and not balanced to contribution. Many managers and directors are not familiar with the work their team does, so they are unable to train, mentor and sometimes appreciate the efforts. Much time spent by managers telling up the chain what they want to hear vs. what they need to hear (and advocating for the people who work for them).

      Advice to Senior Management: Senior management should look at balance of "doers" vs. those who "talk about what was done"; top-middle heavy and not efficient and those carrying the weight are frustrated. Senior management should talk to people quite a few levels down to get perspective.

    • “Let's build a lifeless moon”

      Anonymous Employee (Former Employee). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: Breadth and depth of products and skills. Flexible working options (work from home, etc.) Great co-workers.

      Cons: Management micro-focus on quarter to quarter earnings targets—no long term investment. Employees = expendable. No management accountability—business not going well? We'll promote the executives (GM's and higher; some VPs), and lay off everyone else.

      Advice to Senior Management: Manage your talent. You've taken your only talent management tool (PBC ratings) and turned it into a process to make sure you don't have to pay any bonuses.

    • “The Ups and Downs of IBM”

      Senior Hardware Engineer (Current Employee), Research Triangle Park, NC. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: Great place to work if you're a software engineer; you will have a job for life. Work/life balance is great. Pay is fair. Lots of vacation and paid time off. Good benefits.

      Cons: If you're a hardware engineer you will have to be in the right group or you will always have to worry about the next layoff, which happens every year like clockwork. Upper management is lost and appears to have no clue what they are doing. Apparently the only way they can make money is to lay people off.

      Advice to Senior Management: You have 15 layers of management; that is insane. Bring back respect for the individual. Your people are your backbone and your future; trying taking care of them.

    • “Advisory IT Specialist”

      Advisory IT Specialist (Former Employee) Washington, DC. I worked at IBM full-time for more than 5 years.

      Pros: There are lots of opportunities to be exposed to different technologies if you have a great people network to be able to jump between projects.

      Cons: Every year there will be a different goal or focus area, and most of them are in addition to what you expected of your job description. Performance review process is always on need-to-know base, and most of the time you have to go through a complex petition in order to have a reasonable compensation adjustment.

      Advice to Senior Management: Understand the technologies and methodologies will truly enable yourself to manage your employees and tasks and set up expectation.

    • “Painful”

      Anonymous Employee (Former Employee). Pros: Good culture, good benefits, but are being cut. Cons: Outdated company. Managed by very old models
    • “Hard labor. Boss, I wish you stop being so good to me...”

      Senior Managing Consultant (Current Employee) Richmond, VA. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 3 years.

      Pros: There's a great deal of prestige and resources. The consultants you work with are knowledgeable and friendly. The pay is fair and reasonable. You can work from home or office (when you are in town).

      Cons: I saw a pattern of under-bidding projects and under-estimating man-hours. It resulted in a typical work week being 55+ hours. Sales people knew they could make up for lost revenue in following quarters in the customer billing cycle. In my role, I had to travel, and travel time to customer site was treated as personal time, and did not factor into my reported work hours. Expect long hours every week.

      Also, I found management to be hands off and most employees are encouraged to be self manage in all aspects of your employment. If you have any questions about time sheets, expense reports, training, performance assessments, and so forth, then you'll leverage your network of co-workers to learn what you need to get done. Your manager will be a full time consultant on another project, and your manager will NOT know you. And do not expect to your manager to take an interest, given they need to manage you AND their job. The middle managers are good people, but over burdened.

      Travel is challenging. You will schedule and build your trip itinerary. Hotel, air, and car must be in policy. Policy means you are taking the cheapest airfare (you're offered no non-stops and Sunday travel for east coast assignments); and, IBM's preferred hotel is Holiday Inns (no Hiltons or Marriotts); and expect to be audited every 6 months—ALWAYS save your receipts—I did and never had an issue.

      And IBM's mantra is STAY BILLABLE. If you're asked to work on a bid and proposal, you're asked to do it on your own time. The directors and VPs are demanding everyone be 110% billable meaning NO VACATION and MANDATORY OVERTIME. Forget your family and community involvement.

      And given our company is losing money (5 consecutive quarters) and how can it maintain its level of revenue. You can cut cost only so much. And you see it selling hard assets. Many of us are wondering where the new revenue will be coming from (so are Wall Street analysts). Watson has been a failure. There's initiatives for Cloud and Big Data, but they are heavily reliant on self training. And where can you find time to train when we are expected to always be billable? And IBM hourly rates (IBM bills me at $250/hour), can be found locally at lesser rate.

      Advice to Senior Management: My advice to upper management. We need to return to being managers of people, instead of processes. You can see it in the way middle management/project management, etc. handle their resources by being hands off. When IBM conducts layoffs, VPs make decisions based on numbers. It's not run like a business, but like a spreadsheet.

    • “Has lost it's charm and prestige”

      Account Manager (Former Employee). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: High job stability. Lots of options (if you beg hard). Cons: Very low career growth potential. Pay does not follow performance. Managers exercise favoritism and hide behind processes. Advice to Senior Management: IBM was glorious and was a market leader in technological advances, until you started focusing more on shareholder's priorities. Forget the shareholders for a few years and revitalize the creative gene within the company.
    • “Senior Project Manager”

      Senior Project Manager (Former Employee), I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: Good benefits, WFH opportunities, great People to work with!

      Cons: IBM has turned into a company that treats their employees as just a number. This is the worst company to work for. If you want to be treated like a number, work 24 x 7, get called on vacation and holidays to work, work 60 plus hours a week, get screamed at by executives, then work for IBM. Employee morale is extremely low, while people question if they are going to have a job tomorrow. Most of the projects are in the red, and everyone is running around like a chicken with their heads cut off, not knowing what is going on. I have wasted many years at this place and I am glad to be gone and will never to return to this toxic environment.

      Advice to Senior Management: Quit treating people like numbers. Stop the RA of talented resources. The PBC evaluation is demoralizing. Train your employees to be able to keep up with the current technologies; don't just lay it on them without any training.

      Train your DPEs, PEs, XMs, TTIMs to know and follow all the Project Management Office systems. Every one I have ever worked with, ran the programs differently.

      Give your DPEs, PEs, XMs and TTIMs anger management classes. They all seem like you just hired them out of the military.

      Have your technical SME's involved with engagements, so they can give you a real timeline of what it will take to complete the transitions; don't just say you have to get this done within 6 months or else.

    • “Great people to work with.”

      Computer Programmer (Current Employee), Costa Mesa, CA. I have been working at IBM as an intern for less than a year. Pros: Competitive pay for the location I worked with challenging job tasks to keep my day interesting. Supportive management with opportunity for job growth. Cons: There really were not any cons or working at IBM. They probably could have used more company outings, but like I said the job was great and paid well with flexible hours.
    • “IBM was an overall good experience for me.”

      Anonymous Employee (Former Employee). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: Opportunities for advancement. Benefits are good. Large educational opportunities.

      Cons: I found it hard to avoid cut throat competitive culture within the work force. I think there'd have been a larger amount of work, innovation and imaginative solutions offered by employees had they not been engaged in clamoring to the few top ratings offered. Teams are much more productive when members aren't competing with one another to achieve the same goal.

      Advice to Senior Management: Observe carefully how managers are leading their departments. Are they leading using fear as a motivator? If so, how could changing that fear climate to one that is less wasteful energetically benefit business? Fear and anxiety are powerful motivators but ultimately contribute to employee discomfort, quashed aspirations and a general sense of unwellness. Joy and peace, on the other hand, permeate effortlessly and energy isn't wasted in that climate. I don't believe it's healthy for anyone to excuse, foster and practice anxiety and fear.

    • “Service areas want client money and employees can be replaced.”

      Senior IT Specialist (Current Employee), New York, NY. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than a year. Pros: Flexibility, Smart people, Working from home. Cons: long hours, work life balance, management support
    • “Where Innovation goes to die”

      , Product Manager (Former Employee). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 3 years.

      Pros: There is a great deal of flexibility in where you work and the hours you work. As someone with a family, it's easy to step out for an appointment or help out when my wife is sick.

      Cons: There is no innovation. What was once a strong suit, job security, is no longer because of the outrageous focus on Earnings Per Share at the cost of all else. Ridiculous amounts of bureaucracy and hierarchy makes getting anything done dang near impossible. I joined through an acquisition 4 years ago and couldn't wait for the day to leave. Talking to friends who are still there, it is only getting worse.

      Advice to Senior Management: Stop it with the stupid EPS focus. Focus on your customers and your employees. The EPS will increase if you are able to improve your bottom line, and you can't improve your bottom line without strong customer relationships and a strong team to build those relationships.

  • Glassdoor IBM Canada reviews
  • Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert. This week's topics include:
    • U.S. House Approves Ryan Budget that Slashes Medicare
    • Sebelius Steps Down as Secretary of Health and Human Services
    • GOP Pursuing New Voter Restrictions in Swing States
    • Ohio Alliance Holds its Convention
    • Fiesta Travels to Mass. and Michigan to Discuss a New Chapter, Attend Convention
    • Alliance’s National Convention is April 28 – May 1, 2014 at Bally's Hotel Las Vegas
  • New York Times:

    Sliver of Medicare Doctors Get Big Share of Payouts. By Reed Abelson and Sarah Cohen. Excerpts: A tiny fraction of the 880,000 doctors and other health care providers who take Medicare accounted for nearly a quarter of the roughly $77 billion paid out to them under the federal program, receiving millions of dollars each in some cases in a single year, according to the most detailed data ever released in Medicare’s nearly 50-year history.

    In 2012, 100 doctors received a total of $610 million, ranging from a Florida ophthalmologist who was paid $21 million by Medicare to dozens of doctors, eye and cancer specialists chief among them, who received more than $4 million each that year. While more money by far is spent for routine office visits than any other single expenditure, one of the most heavily reimbursed procedures — costing a total of $1 billion for 143,000 patients — is for a single treatment for an eye disorder common in the elderly.

  • New York Times:

    Political Ties of Top Billers for Medicare. By Frances Robles and Eric Lipton. Excerpts: Two Florida doctors who received the nation’s highest Medicare reimbursements in 2012 are both major contributors to Democratic Party causes, and they have turned to the political system in recent years to defend themselves against suspicions that they may have submitted fraudulent or excessive charges to the federal government.

    The pattern of large Medicare payments and six-figure political donations shows up among several of the doctors whose payment records were released for the first time this week by the Department of Health and Human Services. For years, the department refused to make the data public, and finally did so only after being sued by The Wall Street Journal.

    Topping the list is Dr. Salomon E. Melgen, 59, an ophthalmologist from North Palm Beach, Fla., who received $21 million in Medicare reimbursements in 2012 alone. The doctor billed a bulk of his reimbursements for Lucentis, a medication used to treat macular degeneration made by a company that pays generous rebates to its doctors.

    Dr. Melgen’s firm donated more than $700,000 to Majority PAC, a super PAC run by former aides to the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada. The super PAC then spent $600,000 to help re-elect Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, who is a close friend of Dr. Melgen’s. Last year, Mr. Menendez himself became a target of investigation after the senator intervened on behalf of Dr. Melgen with federal officials and took flights on his private jet.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site

Job Cut Reports

  • Comment 04/06/14:

    Just received a random survey from IBM called "Global Integrity Survey"...
    "Dear IBMer, You have been randomly selected for participation in the IBM Global Integrity Survey. This survey is voluntary and, as all surveys are in IBM, it is completely anonymous - all personal information submitted becomes anonymous at time of submission. This survey is conducted in accordance with IBM Employee Survey Review Board guidelines and IBM survey policy, and is being hosted on an IBM approved external website. Your opinion is very important to us. Survey results will be used to identify areas for improvement within our compliance programs..."

    There is no integrity at the executive level or even 2nd line management and up. Do they really need a survey to find a clue?? omg - Clueless in Armonk-

  • Comment 04/07/14:

    Let me give you an insider view of IBM Burlington where I work and what's been happening amid recently job cuts. We've loss a good portion of our staff, due to the last "Resource Action", and with talks about another Resource Action coming on April 15, 2014 (I'm surprised there hasn?t been more talk of it). I'm told this RA is being performed to reduce the headcount for the eventual GlobalFoundries sale.

    I can't handle working here anymore, each day living in fear as to whether I'll keep my job. Many of my colleagues have also resigned or like myself are looking for new jobs outside of IBM. I was shocked to see so many subject matter experts leaving the company for new opportunities. I discourage any new hire from taking a job in Burlington, because they don't raise your salary very much each year since our market doesn't have many engineers and they use that to justify 0-1% raises. Everyone in Burlington is demoralized and morale is reaching 0%.

    Management during the resource action has been appalling. They have tried to justify it with every excuse you can think of. From what I can tell many people are RAed because management is trying to silence employees that speak up and question their aimless strategy. A second line manager (formerly a third line) in the Fab had an employee RAed because of a personal vendetta against him. The employee was a above average 2+ performer, and complained to IBM HR, but despite the manager behaving unethically and breaking the business conduct guidelines he will go unpunished. I often wonder to myself why he is not RAed he routinely shows up late to meetings, he is clueless on most matters that impact our clients, and he doesn?t know anything about the Fab processes.

    Clients have said that they prefer not to deal with our second line manager because he has zero credibility. He also tries to shift the blame to other employees in his organization, and hides the mismanagement in his area from the director of the 200 mm fab, and the VP of semiconductor operations.

    My first line managers drink the Kook-Aid and will do whatever upper level management wants them to do. I wouldn't want to be in their position, because any manager that speaks ups is immediately punished. During our recent layoffs the only manager to get the ax was one that spoke up to our directors and told them their strategy was wrong. Working in this division of IBM is just absolute punishment. -BTV Nightmare-

  • Comment 04/07/14:

    Received a call this (Monday) morning from "Joelle," who "represents a financial and regulatory investigatory firm" seeking to file some sort of class-action suit against IBM, and is seeking information from former employees of same. Caller ID returned "Operator 0" on my phone. Is this legit? And, if legit, is it related to the weekly link posted previously? -SimpleMath-
  • Comment 04/07/14:

    Filed with EEOC today for age discrimination. What are the odds that anything will come from it. We all know IBM wants and does Ra Older workers with time in the company to save money. Also can IBM come back at me? I did have to sign the document on my last day in order to get paid. -Over55-
  • Comment 04/07/14:

    To Over55: I believe the EEOC process is a two step process, but I could be wrong. The first step is to file a formal complaint against IBM for age discrimination. Filing a compliant is different from an actual age discrimination lawsuit, which you aren't suppose to do if you signed that agreement and took the severance package. - Retired/RA-
  • Comment 04/07/14:

    -Over55- I tried but my papers disappeared during 9/11 since they went to the EEOC there... If you file with EEOC I don't think it carries much weight legally unless you have a so-called "slam dunk" case. It can't hurt to try though. -I'veBeenMaligned-
  • Comment 04/08/14:

    I really think if the US government does its due diligence on the Lenovo deal they will kill the deal. First, IBM got rid of all the experienced high-priced technical people to make the numbers look good; they could care less about the people, Lenovo, the customer base, or national security. It was primarily to make Q2 system x look good.

    Finally, forget about the Chinese putting in back doors in firmware, all they need to do is delay some patches and/or bug fixes during a critical time and they could cripple the capabilities of the large clusters of x86 systems and thus indirectly control some of these key systems that the our government agencies depend on. Do you think the US will get higher priority than the North Korean friends when it comes to support calls? -Concerned-

  • Comment 04/08/14:

    The Jan 2014 OSHA notice in building 001 in RTP shows 5171 employees. The 500 complex may be separate. I'm sure OSHA expects those notices to be placed in a prominent location, such as near the main entrance or cafeteria. IBM puts it in by a back door near the computer center. -Anon-
  • Comment 04/08/14:

    @SoonToGo, I left voluntarily in September 2013, after 30+ years (no package), and had quite an ordeal getting my 401K match. I called Fidelity after I didn't get it in 30 days as I was originally told. They said to wait until 12/31...nothing. Then started an inquiry and found I was listed in IBM system as terminated, not retired.

    I had a retirement letter from Ginni, a gold watch, and had a retirement dinner. Fidelity was able to get this corrected and I finally got my match, plus a true up on lost gains during that period. So don't trust them to get it right without "help". I suspect my manager did something wrong when I left, because she hadn't ever handled someone leaving voluntarily...only RAs. -GoneIn2013-

  • Comment 04/08/14:

    I can't believe I've been gone 7 years and nothing has changed on this site. Everybody still talking about their PBC rating which is a sham, how badly they are treated, and low morale. 7 years and nothing has changed. For those left at IBM, you only have 2 choices. If you really want to stay at IBM, you have to stand up and fight for your rights. The only way is to organize and unionize. Otherwise you have no chance. Your second choice is to leave before they throw you out onto the street and find a job some place else. Those are your two choices. What's it gonna be? -Gone_in_07-
  • Comment 04/08/14:

    I remember in the separation docs that you can file an EEOC sit but wave the right for any monetary damages. -samtheman-
  • Comment 04/08/14:

    BTV employees have been sent a note that Cadigan will be onsite 4/9/14; no agenda was given for the talk. One can only assume he will dodge questions and claim that he is being kept in the dark by the corporation and not answer any RA questions. -Anonymous-
  • Comment 04/09/14:

    To -GoneIn2013- how did you get a gold watch? I retired last year and all the retirement gift choices I saw were pretty underwhelming. -Anon-
  • Comment 04/09/14:

    Thank you for the "Anonymous" post on 3/4/14 regarding unemployment benefits in CT. I learned that CT does not reduce unemployment due to severance pay IF it required signing an agreement foregoing your rights. With respect to reducing unemployment due to pensions, it depends on whether the employer contributed anything in the "base period" in which they calculate potential unemployment benefits. In my case, IBM stopped contributing to the old plan in 2007, years before the base period. As a result, I received 26 weeks of retroactive benefits. Every state is different, so check details carefully, appeal if necessary, and provide a copy of the 2006 IBM press release: http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/19090.wss -Anonymous-
  • Comment 04/09/14:

    I voluntarily left the nightmare after almost 15 years. After giving two weeks notice and staying an extra two weeks to help my manager, I found out that my two checks prior to departing were held back, pending determination of whether I owed money--payment was stopped AFTER I received the pay stub. Seriously?? What company withholds two paychecks after an employee volunteers to stay longer than they had to? Without warning, I might add! Not a problem for me, fortunately. Be aware that your paychecks may stop immediately once IBM knows you're leaving...even though you're still working. -SoGrim-
  • Comment 04/10/14:

    -@Anonymous- in BTV. Mike Cadigan (general manager of IBM Microelectronics division (makes chips for STG in Fishkill and Burlington), a part of the Systems and Technology Group (STG) which makes the Z and P series mainframes, had a town hall in Fishkill, NY on 4/8. The town hall was preceded by an all managers meeting, with HR topics on the agenda. In the employee town hall Cadigan brought up how Ginny made mention in the annual report that IBM is committed to hardware. He mentioned the 'rumors' that were in the media about the microelectronics business being up for sale. He even poked fun at the NY Times saying that there was even a story that said that Facebook was going to by IBM Microelectronics.

    One brave soul asked him a very pointed question. I'll paraphrase the best I can remember: 'Mike, you said that IBM is committed to hardware, but IBM said that they were 100% committed to the x86 business right up until 2 weeks before they sold the business to Lenovo. I tend to trust what I read in the NY Times more than what I hear from our CEO'. Cadigan's reply was something along the lines of "I wouldn't" , which I took to mean that he wouldn't trust the NY Times more than he would trust Ginny.

    I don't have any idea what was discussed in the manager-only meeting other than it was billed as a preview of what the employees would hear in the Town Hall and that HR would be filling in managers on something. I do think that the last piece of info that I got out of IBM HR that made my life better was in the previous century, BOHIC again. He ended by saying that if it should turn out that we get sold it would be good for us to be in as strong a position as possible, so let's execute and don't be "distracted" by the media stories. Anything notable in the Q&A in Burlington? -Blue_Flu_Lou-

  • Comment 04/10/14:

    Was it ever determined (or estimated) how many US based people were affected by the RA the end of February? -curious-
  • Comment 04/10/14:

    Based on Bluepages since Jan 2014—down 4238 full-time US employees. Since Jan 2013—down 12,053 full-time US employees. This does not count contractors. -the sky really is falling-
  • Comment 04/10/14:

    To -GoneIn2013- Gold watch in 13? I was let go and forced to retire at that point last June. I Googled just about all of the gifts in the catalogue and they ran about 100 bucks. "big deal". -joe-
  • Comment 04/10/14:

    IBMs compensation is designed for top executives. All top executives in IBM have a contract which their compensation and benefit structure based on their contract. All IBM employees have no contract without a union. Without a union contract, IBM will continue to shaft their employees in all areas of salary and compensation and benefits. Lou, Sam and Ginny will continue to screw the IBM employee. Join the union. -ANA-
  • Comment 04/10/14:

    My manager just told me another RA in GBS 2nd quarter. I don't know any other details. -Anon-
  • Comment 04/11/14:

    @anon and @joe, The gold watch I referred to is not solid gold...probably just $100-200. I wasn't trying to say it was a big deal. It was just one of several indications that I did retire, yet IBM had me recorded in their system as terminated, so I didn't get my 401K match. With Fidelity's help, we got it fixed so I was able to get the $xxK I was owed. That was a big deal to me. -GoneIn13-
  • Comment 04/11/14:

    -joe- I agree! I looked at the gift catalogue before I left, and the gifts are CHEAP. After 30 years is that all you are worth to IBM? $3.33/Year. Those gifts would be more appropriate for IBMers celebrating their 10 year anniversary. I wonder what gift Adkins picked? Ha! -Retired/RA-
  • Comment 04/11/14:

    -Info- I was told by NC Unemployment to file after my six month severance period is over. $350.00 a week. Was $550.00 a week last year. New Law in NC. -Over55-
  • Comment 04/11/14:

    Watch IBM's 1st quarter earnings closely. If they have a soft or just above quarter expect another RA. The only way IBM knows how to INNOVATE to create earnings! It's $20 EPS or bust. -nostradamus-
  • Comment 04/11/14:

    Please tell us more about the RA in 2Q in GBS. How credible is this? When exactly will it happen? End of May? I am really hoping for an RA package and wondering if I can trust my manager enough to ask for one. I don't have another job lined up yet. It's just that I can't take it anymore. -Anon-
  • Comment 04/11/14:

    Next week another RA. Either 4/15 or 4/16. They will just stay under the New York WARN act for East Fishkill (250 minus the small number laid off in February as the number is cumulative for 90 rolling days. BTV won't fair as well. RA will be 500—the February number. So much for the Poughkeepsie Journal breaking news headline banner claiming Cuomo struck a deal to save jobs. Cuomo tried to take credit for a deal struck last June.

    Onward to $20 by 2015 Ginny! And don't forget your bonus for ridding the company of the x86 low-end servers. Sammy got a bonus for ridding the company of the low-margin PC business. I know that I'm not as smart as all the IBM executives but I thought you get a bonus for turning around a division—like making X86 more profitable. The best of luck to all those affected next week. Hold your head high; you are better than these people. -Hold Your Head High-

  • Comment 04/12/14:

    I was laid off from BTV in last summers layoff. Was retirement eligible; didn't see much in the gift catalog that appealed to me; picked a gold diamond ring that looked nice in the picture. When I received it I was quite surprised; it looked like a ring from a gum ball machine. I could have squished it with two fingers. Threw it in a bedside drawer; been sitting there ever since. -Retired2013-
  • Comment 04/12/14:

    I thought the retirement gift was "cheesy" as well; sent a note to HQ personnel...was told IBM focuses their "nice" gift at quarter century time; smaller, modest gift at retirement...just sayin. -Thefielder-
  • Comment 04/12/14:

    Found in a fortune cookie: "The axe soon forgets, but the tree always remembers". Sleep well Ginny. And to all the 'trees' out there, may you find better opportunities than the ones IBM offered. -dun-4-
  • Comment 04/12/14:

    Anon, I was the person who submitted the info on the RA in 2Q. My first line manager told me and I consider it pretty reliable. I tried to ask questions, but he clammed up. The folks under George Metz (GBS operations exec) are always on the chopping block. Just a guess, but once that 2015 target is met, you'll see a slew of execs cash out and leave. -Anon2-
  • Comment 04/12/14:

    Executive Pay: Invasion of the Supersalaries http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/13/business/executive-pay-invasion-of-the-supersalaries.html Browse the proxy statements of the nation's largest corporations and you'll find the instruction manuals for this apparatus explaining how to finely calibrate the pay of top executives with company performance. -Anon-

IBM Retiree Issues Comments

  • Comment 03/01/14:

    Where do I go to and how do I get my retirement funds from IBM? Thanks, -Rickey-
  • Comment 03/04/14:

    @Rickey - Go to http://netbenefits.com/ibm click on the "register now" link. They will have information on how to access your retirement funds from IBM. -anonymous-
  • Comment 03/05/14:

    I just inquired at Towers Watson about reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses and was told everything must be done by paper. They mail me application forms which I submit with paper receipts by mail and maybe I'll get reimbursed. I retired from IBM over 27 years ago and we did business in a more modern way back then. Some one should welcome OneExchange to the 21st century. -Robert-
  • Comment 03/06/14:

    Watch Towers Watson closely, real closely, retirees. They brought many IBMers the cash balance pension heist. I suspect the retiree health insurance heist is in full swing. -BeWiseBeamers-
  • Comment 03/07/14:

    @Robert, There are other options if you have access to a PC/Mac and a scanner. I scan my bills and cancelled checks or redacted credit card bills for my out-of-pocket expenses, my Medicare Part B, and my Medigap policy. The scanner creates PDF files which I put on my Mac and then upload using the computer interface Towers Watson provides. You can also fax the documents to them. Works fine for me. No mailing paper. -SoftKirty-
  • Comment 03/08/14:

    @SoftKirty, Thanks for reading and responding to my comment. When I inquired about computer interface, I was told there were no online capabilities. I could not even print off the application form. Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated. -Robert-
  • Comment 03/11/14:

    Towers Watson is not to be trusted. Read Ellen Schultz's excellent book "Retirement Heist". If you haven't read it you are fooling yourself...It IS THE TRUTH. LIFE@IBM IS NOT GOOD. LIFE AFTER IBM IS NOT GOOD EITHER. -trexibmer-
  • Comment 03/18/14:

    I have been getting the run-around from Extend Health since December. Have called them dozens of times and spent hours and hours on the phone. I was told in December that IF both me and my husband (he is the IBM retiree) signed up for the (most expensive) Medigap plans and Part D prescription plans through Extend Health then we would get funding for the HRA account. I've been calling every couple of weeks since Jan. 1 to find out why the EH website shows no funding and everyone keeps passing the buck.

    EH says I need to call IBM. When I call IBM I am really talking to Fidelity. One guy at Fidelity said that since Jan. 1 Fidelity has NOTHING to do with IBM. Another call to Fidelity on the SAME DAY said that EH administers the HRA. On one call to the Fidelity number a woman said that we WERE eligible and she got EH on the phone and they both agreed everything was AOK and funding would appear within a short time. Then the woman at EH called me back and said she was looking into it and there was a problem. She then wanted ME to call IBM (Fidelity?) back and get something in WRITING stating that we were eligible for the HRA.

    I've never experienced anything so frustrating in all my life. Retirement, Medicare, and health insurance issues are my new FULL time job! -Elaine-

  • Comment 03/23/14:

    Elaine you'll have to start at the beginning here. First when your husband retired he should have been told in writing how much he had in his HRA account. That is the available funds that should have been transferred to EH. Also there should not have been a gap in coverage after he retired. EH only monitors the account so IBM has to recognize your husband as approved in order to transfer the money. So sorry to say you need to get back to IBM to fix this and make sure he is eligible. -lastdino1-
  • Comment 03/23/14:

    I'm confused by multiple comments, so besides the Cooper decision that gave us another chance to choose the OLD defined benefit plan, has anyone been successful arguing about being mislead into accepting the new 1999 plan and then losing LOTS of $$ at early forced (RA) retirement? Why was I so gullible to not think the new plan would NOT give me the same or more money at retirement (unless perhaps if interest rates had skyrocketed...)? -mislead-
  • Comment 03/26/14:

    I am an IBM retiree. Wished I joined the Alliance when I was an employee. But I was just an unbeliever for so long (sorry). Can I join or should I just make a contribution? This ExtendHealth thing needs to be worked out in a contract! Can it be worked into a union contract? -anon-

    Alliance reply: As an IBM retiree, you can join as an associate member for $5.00/month or send a donation if you prefer. Yes, the employee benefits could be changed *dramatically* to favor future IBM retirees in a union contact, and that includes pensions and medical. It all depends on IBMers organizing, getting enough IBMers to call for a union election, winning that election, and then negotiating a contract with IBM that is approved by the unionized IBMers. We have a way to go to get there; but your support and the support of retirees and active IBMers will make that journey much shorter.

  • Comment 03/26/14:

    I wonder if anyone has asked Dr. Ryu (sp?) about Towers-Watson's "Exit Solution" for Retiree Medical. See http://www.towerswatson.com/en/Press/2014/03/towers-watson-launches-turnkey-retiree-medical-exit-solution. One thing we all should have learned over the years is that anything that IBM management pursues is bad for the employee and retiree. -John Both-
  • Comment 03/29/14:

    It is so unbelievably difficult to get reimbursed from my Extend Health HRA on a manual claim. It took me two months of back and forth phone calls to EH and MetLife Dental to get reimbursed for my dental premiums, and now it starts over again with my Medicare Part B premiums. Even though they issued me a Medicare supplemental medical policy, and EVERYBODY pays a Part B premium, and it is $104.90 for EVERYBODY, I sent in the claim WITH the letter of SS Award that they requested. The claim was, of course denied, and now they want the Annual letter from SS stating HOW MUCH my Part B premiums are for this year.

    It is easy to so why so many people would just give up on it, and I suspect that this would be just fine with IBM, since any monies not used go right back to them. -Gary P.-

  • Comment 03/30/14:

    The reason why it is difficult with Extend Health is because Towers Watson is behind the curtain pushing the buttons and operating the levers. The Great Pension Heist was orchestrated with the wizard behind the curtain pressing the buttons and manipulating the levers for IBM. You know who that was? Watson Wyatt which morphed to Towers Watson. Repeat after me: Towers Watson is not our friend. -anon-
  • Comment 04/03/14:

    If I retire before 65 and have a future health account balance, is Extend Health where the future health account dollars are used? -anon-
  • Comment 04/05/14:

    "Comment 04/03/14: If I retire before 65 and have a future health account balance, is Extend Health where the future health account dollars are used? -anon- " I retired from IBM in 2013 at age 61. My FHA account is used to pay the IBM Retiree Medical premiums (medical with United Healthcare and dental with MetLife). Any FHA account balance at age 65, when you are covered by Medicare, can be used to pay the premiums for Medicare supplemental coverage via Extend Health. -dja-
  • Comment 04/05/14:

    Has anyone had the misfortune to have Aetna low ball a claim for medical coverage out of network. If so were you able to resolve it, or did you need an advocate. If the later, can anyone recommend one from NY/CT? Thanks -Anon-
  • Comment 04/11/14:

    "OneExchange" finally got around to doing some reimbursements. Strangely, though, the one that should be easiest has not happened. One policy only is on automatic reimbursement. They just can't seem to make that one work. This despite a two hour phone call in which they traced everything down and supposedly injected a record into the file which would make it begin paying. Anyway, it looks like I will use all the money up even if that one never starts. -Rochestrian-
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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