By Lee Conrad
March 2nd, 2016 started for many IBM workers like any other work day, except there was more than the usual tension and misgivings in the air. Some had heard the drumbeat that bad news was on the way. Rumors of job cuts after another bad quarter had made its way into the offices, to the work from home people and out in the field at a customer site. The cut in severance pay to only 1 month was certainly a bad sign. Workers who had witnessed many years of relentless job cuts hoped the axe wouldn’t swing their way. But it did.
It didn’t take long for the reports to start coming into the Watching IBM facebook page, formally the Alliance@IBM site. And let’s be clear, if IBM employees hadn’t posted job cut information at Watching IBM the news of this mass firing would have gone mainly unnoticed. After Watching IBM alerted the media of a job cut at IBM they came in droves to see what was going on and to report what they saw. It took IBM a long time to admit that yes, a job cut was taking place, but in its usual practice it was a sterile response devoid of any compassion for the thousands losing their jobs.
There was no compassion or apology from CEO Rometty or the Board of directors for these workers who said:
“ I got the RA notice on Wednesday. I’ve worked for the company for 18 years and always received 1 and 2+ on performance reviews. The same week I got the RA notice I got a Manager’s Choice Award and ACE recognition for two separate projects.
Our entire remaining US team, including our manager, are RA’d and our six jobs are being moved to Costa Rica. Lucky me, as team lead, I am now tasked with hiring and training the new team members.
One month severance pay versus the six months that I would have received in any prior RA. This is the “reward” IBM gives those of us who have had the best performance reviews and avoided prior cuts and took on all the extra work as a result of prior massive RAs.”
“I am an SO casualty, after 17 years of service, & a 2+ review, my mgr told me that my job function will no longer be performed by a US resource. And I am to stay professional, continue working my projects and smoothly transition them to the next GR PM… I also happen to be retirement eligible but not actually ready… I am sure that though we get our minimalist 1 month severance, Ginny will still get her big bonus!”
“14 yr employee with IBM in the U.S., 4 yrs with Development with what is now Cloud Managed Services (CMS) Cloud. I was sent an email earlier today by my manager, followed by a phone call. She said effective today I was RA’d due to continued poor performance of the entire Cloud organization, specifically the CMS unit. I was to be allowed 90 days as a remediation period, followed by a 30 day severance.”
“The layoffs are hitting GTS sales teams. I will hit my 19th anniversary with IBM on what is scheduled as my last day of employment, June 2, 2016. I am totally disgusted by the severance change that takes what should be 26 weeks at my 36 mo. average earnings (which means commissions are included) down to 4 weeks of my reference salary (no commissions included). And they expect me to stick around and work for 90 days to get such a pathetic “parting gift”. I have spent my entire career at IBM (I was hired straight out of college) and this is what I get for almost 2 decades of loyalty. I am still sick to my stomach at the lack of decency that this company has.”
Hundreds of similar comments were posted. Many older employees seemed to have been singled out for termination sparking a warranted concern that IBM was still practicing what many believe is age discrimination in job cuts. Numerous comments were written about losing a job and work offshored or H1b visa workers stayed. Others took the cut in severance pay to task and many expressed outrage at the bonus CEO Rometty received, the cashing in of stock options by executives and the “rewarding” of the Board of Directors for keeping a blind eye to the destruction of employee jobs and the company.
Even retirees jumped in and said it was a disgrace what was happening at IBM. But IBM wrote off retirees long ago. No raise in the pension for 15+ years and if they can get away with it IBM execs will figure out a way to get retiree pensions off the books too.
To IBM employees, retirees and ex-employees the continued destruction of the IBM US workforce, while the CEO and her blind followers in the Board of Directors enrich themselves is a disgrace.
To IBM’s morally bankrupt executives it is simply just another day at the office.