Terminated IBM employees express feelings of betrayal, disgust - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

IBM terminations leave long-time employees feelings of betrayal, disgust

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- IBM's latest wave of terminations is leaving scores of long-time "Big Blue" employees in shock, expressing feelings of betrayal and disgust.

"After 28 years of service I was layed off today. Zero retirement, zero medical benefits... What a truly Inhumane company IBM has become. I just finished training my YOUNGER replacements! I am glad that the 60 hr work weeks are over," wrote one IBM employee on Monday.

IBM says it is part of its business model to stage "resource actions."  On a web site maintained by the Communications Workers of America, which has been urging IBM employees to unionize, dozens of IBMers who have been selected to be part of the company's latest RA or "re-balancing" have been speaking out.  They are joining people who have been terminated in previous purges, putting in words how they feel about being dumped.

"31+ years and got the call at 9:15 AM ET....to say I was in a state of shock is an understatement..." wrote one who created the blog signature 'given my life.'

Tuesday is the second day of the fresh bloodletting at the global computer giant, which has created a method of grading its employees and then terminating a certain number of them.  One of those offering insight on the CWA blog says there is a conscious effort on the part of IBM executives to stagger terminations to avoid triggering the WARN Act to local government leaders.

"...the SWG cuts will start in April and will be on a product/project basis. Once they cut, the project or product maintenance/development will go offshore, as has been the plan for some time," writes the just-terminated employee from IBM's SWG unit.  "They are starting this process to avoid the WARN process in SWG. It also allows management to restrict RA packages to just a particular area, so no one will actually see how many in SWG are cut. Rumor says the cuts in SWG will be modest, about 18% of headcount per quarter for the next 3 quarters."

Enacted in 1988, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) protects workers, their families, and communities by requiring most employers with 100 or more employees to provide notification 60 calendar days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs.  Among those supposed to be notified are "the local chief elected official, and the state dislocated worker unit."  IBM has in the past said that its actions do not trigger the WARN Act. 

Since early Monday, employees of IBM in Rochester have been tipping us at KTTC on what is going on.  But no one has a complete picture of the RA impact in Rochester, or really, at any of the company's sites around North America.  Many IBM units are organized in different locations.

By carefully counting the numbers being reported publicly, here's the cumulative total of the purge now underway:

  • 100     BT/IT CIO
  • 4         M & TS Business Operations
  • 178     GTS Delivery Distributed Server Management
  • 21       GBS
  • 25       GTS Finance
  • 41       Software Group East Region Sales
  • 50       ISC
  • 112     HR Unit
  • 10       GTS BCRS
  • 179     GTS Delivery
  • 48       STG Systems Hardware
  • 139     AMS IBM Global Account
  • 11       Dallas Command Center
  • 116     AMS Commercial Delivery
  • 25       GBS Industrial

If these postings are accurate, and are not duplicative in some way, IBM's current RA amounts to at least 1,059.  And WRAL-TV in Raleigh says it has documentation of hundreds of cuts from people who work at IBM's Research Triangle Park site which seem to be different than those we've counted in the list above.

The cloak-and-dagger nature of IBM's personnel adjustments, which involve shifting some job functions to the far reaches of the planet, leave government and community leaders on their own to try to figure out the impact on a local community.

And that's nearly impossible.  The company refuses to divulge any information, and employees just terminated risk losing their severance packages for years of service by speaking out.

"Just received RA (resource action) at the Rochester MN site at 9:00 a.m... I am in shock but also a little happy to be out of the hell of "Big Blue," writes one worker who wanted to remain anonymous.  The posting is on a blog maintained to track such things by the Communication Workers of America.

A number of people affected by the layoffs at the sprawling IBM complex in northwest Rochester have shared what they know with KTTC NewsCenter, but it's difficult to measure the scope of the work force cuts since the company refuses to divulge details.

"Lay-offs and people losing their jobs this morning at IBM in Rochester. Not sure of the final count or #s," one Rochester-area resident emailed us.

"I work at IBM and a co-worker of mine was laid off today," another tells KTTC.  "He informed me that when they told him he would be done after his 30 days they were not terminating his position but rather replacing him with a Manpower position. (A company who hires cheaper labor to work at the plant.)"

From blog postings of those affected so far, significant layoffs are occurring in the Global Business Services (GBS) and Systems and Technology Group (STG) units of IBM.   But HR units and many other IBM segments are also taking a hit.

"Counted 178 in the packet for GTS Delivery Distributed Server Management organization," writes another IBMer on the CWA blog.

"RA's hit STG today. 20% of my dept gone. Work won't go away, our work will increase, and other groups work will get dumped on us. Survivor guilt, maybe. Just not in a situation where I can leave without big penalties."

Many of those who are losing their jobs have had 15 or more years on the IBM payroll and are bitter about being selected for termination.  Others are bitter that their jobs are being moved overseas.

"GTS Finance here...25 people on list, 24 over 40 years old, many in late 40s and 50s. Nice right? After surviving many layoffs over many years, I got the tap this morning. He read it from a script...how sad. This is my 3rd job that has been offshored or consolidated and I'm glad its over!" wrote one long-time employee.

"Our whole team of 1,2 and 2+ performers in Boulder was outsourced to Poland got the news today. (5 in all). Absolutely no regard for how this will impact service to our customers; it's all about the bottom line; I hope IBM bites it big time," writes one employee, referring to the point system used to identify those terminated.

"M&TS Bus Ops hit today. I am safe but 4 people got the axe. All of their work going to Brataslava," writes another. "More work for me, until they can expand that group and take all of my work as well I'm sure. Good to hear that the 4 did get the std severance pkg at least, since I had heard that may be going away as well."

Others have written that jobs are being shifted to China and India, but that cannot be independently verified.

Along with IBM employees being trimmed, we're also being told that vendors in Rochester are being made to go on "furloughs" for a week, in another cost-cutting move by "Big Blue."

Word started leaking out last week that a new "RA" was about to hit on Monday and Tuesday.  There's no question that a lot of people were looking over their shoulder with dread, or, jumping at the smallest of sounds.

"I feel terribly for the folks that received RA notices this morning," wrote one IBMer on Monday.  "My manager pinged me and asked if I had a minute... I was sure it was going to be me today. He said I was not affected. I can only say that I wish the best of luck to those that were affected today and read this. I hope that you find a better opportunity than what we have all been reduced to at this company. It is very sad. I am a member, but I feel very discouraged."

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