Massive layoffs at Rochester IBM plant in 2009 - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Massive layoffs at Rochester IBM plant in 2009

ROCHESTER, MN (KTTC-TV) -- KTTC has confirmed that significant numbers of layoffs have happened at the Rochester IBM plant.  The "resource actions" had been scheduled by the computer firm for days, and had been the source of anxiety for many workers whose personnel reviews had been set for this week.

An inside source tells the NewsCenter the number is as many as 800.  Most of the cuts happened in the Systems and Technology Group.  The Rochester Chamber of Commerce says about 4,400 people work inside the sprawling IBM complex along U.S. 52 in northwest Rochester.

It is IBM's company policy not to confirm how many "resource actions" took place.  However, IBM spokesman Doug Shelton told KTTC last Thursday that the company "continually evaluates its mix of resources and skills and makes changes as needed. It is the nature of our business to constantly assess the resources we need to satisfy the needs of our clients."

KTTC has been told many employees will have until February 26th to find another position within the company.  Some shared that they are considering posting for new jobs opening up soon at an IBM facility in Dubuque, Iowa, and then car-pooling to their jobs from homes in Rochester. 

"At least he won't have to be looking over his shoulder any more," said the wife of one long-time IBM worker. 

What she was referring to was an environment of fear inside the ranks at IBM, perhaps widely known by those who work there, but rarely described on the outside.

One laid-off IBM employee told us that everyone is rated against other employees on something called "Personal Business Commitment" levels.  A PBC-1 is outstanding on-the-job performance, for example, while a PBC 2+ is good, a PBC-2 represents a "solid contribution but not outstanding," and a PBC-3 is akin to "you need improvement."  This laid-off worker said that IBM cultivates a highly competitive environment, and said he had never in ten years had he gotten anything other than excellent marks.

"I had never gotten a 3, this was the first time in ten years, when I was called in and given my review and laid off," he told the NewsCenter.  "Years of service mean nothing."

While Tuesday was a terrible day for some IBM employees, for others it was a relief.

One phone conversation between friends went like this:  "He says it's commencing now, and I survived," reported one man.

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