The IBM layoffs that began earlier in 2009 started anew on March 26, called Black Thursday by Alliance@IBM, which is pushing for greater union representation at IBM. By the time this round of layoffs is done, IBM will have cut nearly 10,000 jobs, according to the union.
It's on again at IBM.
As expected, the
layoffs that began earlier in 2009 started anew on March 26, which Alliance@IBM,
an organization pushing for union representation at IBM,
is referring to as "Black Thursday."
And black, or bleak, it has been for IBM
employees, with Alliance@IBM identifying
nearly 1,700 workers cut in one division alone. The IBM
cuts are coming across the board in areas such as IBM
Global Business Services, Global Technology Services and Application
Services-the division where 1,674 jobs were eliminated.
Lee Conrad, national coordinator of the Alliance@IBM,
said the organization expects job cuts in the range of 4,000 to 5,000. If IBM
hits that larger number, the company will have cut almost 10,000 positions
since the beginning of 2009.
With nearly 400,000 workers, that number as a percentage comes out to
smaller cuts than have been proposed by other large companies such as Sun Microsystems
and Microsoft, which have proposed job cuts of 6,000 and 5,000 workers,
respectively. Sun employs around 33,000 workers and Microsoft around 90,000.
But how do you make that comparison mean anything to someone who has worked
decades at one of America's
stalwart companies and has just lost his or her job? You don't. And you can't.
As one former IBMer who lost his job on March 26 said on the Alliance@IBM
Just got whacked today. Let's call it
what it is, a firing. A layoff means that at some time we'd be hired back, and
that ain't going to happen. I have 35 years of service but 19 was grandfathered
in when IBM bought the company I had worked for. I just
turned 57. For most of my career I was rated above average (2+) and some
average (2), but never in all my working years was I rated below average (3),
and on my last review that's what I received, so I knew the target was on my
back. I make less than 70k so money is not the issue. But, like other people
have written, ratings, skills, length of service, 60 hr work weeks don't mean
anything, when upper mgt says heads have to roll, lower mgt has to roll the
dice to see who gets whacked because all depts are at bare bones cream of the
crop workers. I will at least have some money coming in from the pension but
not a full pension because it is offset from the other company I once worked
for. And that pension I can't touch until I'm 59 for partial, and 65 for full.
I guess now I'll have time to go back to school and learn the Indian or Polish
or Spanish or....... language and set up a company that will translate helpdesk
calls. Or maybe I'll just join the circus. A real circus not the IBM one I got canned from.
One commenter listed a group where IBM
workers who have been laid off-or caught in what IBM
refers to as an RA (Resource Action)-can go for advice:
There is a Yahoo Group for RA'ed folks
at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RAed2009/ Browse through it and you can see
some good advice/comments from the folks hit in the previous RA batch, in Feb.
Another commenter weighed in calling for IBM
employees to further organize:
For those of you who didn't get the
call today, the worst thing you can do is sit back and say 'Whew - missed that
bullet.' That's what all 10,000 of us laid off in Jan and today have said in
the past. It's only a matter of time. Your chances of retiring from IBM are about nil. You've got two choices -
either find another job with a company with integrity or organize to protect
your job at IBM.
That is a key issue being raised time and again amid the onslaught of job
cuts. The recession has been a monster, and the technology sector has not been
spared. Unionization will give the workers representation and a more powerful
voice. Yet, in this economic and political environment, just how much can a
union do? Just look at what is happening to daily newspapers across the
country, where unions are certainly helping employee causes but can only do so
much in light of falling revenues and outright losses.
However, IBM does not have that problem.
has been among the tech sector standouts,
garnering profits of $4.4 billion
in its fourth-quarter earnings announced in January, an increase of 12 percent
over the same period a year before-which some claim was earned on the backs of
laid-off workers and offshored jobs.
So the folks at Alliance@IBM see
organization as vital for the IBM workers. Alliance@IBM
is affiliated with CWA (Communications Workers of America) and is an
organization representing IBM employees but
does not have collective bargaining power.
letter discussing the organization's goals
Conrad said, "One of the
most common questions asked of the Alliance@IBM
by IBM employees is, 'When are we going to
have a union and when is the vote?'"
In the letter, Conrad acknowledged the difficulties with labor laws and the
political climate regarding unions, and added:
But regardless of all the difficulty IBM workers and workers throughout the US still believe in the right to form Unions
and have a voice in the workplace.
So what do we do? We build the
Alliance@IBM site-by-site, office-by-office,
worker-by-worker. We organize for the long haul and when roadblocks are
erected, we find a different path.
One of those different paths is what
is called a non-majority union, and that is what the Alliance@IBM is. Even with that definition there is
still a lack of understanding of who and what we are. The confusion lies in the
Describing the Alliance@IBM organization,
The IBM union- Alliance@IBM/CWA Local 1701- is a nationwide membership
organization of IBM employees, retirees as well as
outsourced/sold off IBM employees and contractors. Our members are
IT specialists, manufacturing workers, engineers, programmers, software
developers, SSR's, and even scientists. Many of our members are mobile or work
from home. We are part of the Communications Workers of America, a 700,000-member organization. The Alliance has 6000 supporters and 450 dues paying
members located in every State and we can proudly say that IBM has employees with union cards in their
wallet. We are a democratic organization, governed by Officers and a council of
chapter delegates, all elected by our dues paying members. Our basic principle
is that only by standing together with your fellow employees can you hope to
keep the benefits you still have, restore the benefits you lost and address key
concerns in the workplace like off-shoring, job security and working hours. We
believe that organizations like the Alliance and similar non-majority unions are in the
forefront of re-defining the word union and employee activism, while also
expanding the Labor Movement.
Getting to the crux of the issue, Conrad said, "While our ultimate goal
is a union contract, there is much that can and must be done right now. Our
message to our co-workers in IBM is that
there is no need to be discouraged that we have not sought or won a union
recognition vote through the NLRB. Simply put, we are a union as defined by Section
7 of the NLRA [National Labor Relations Act] and we will act accordingly. We
believe that workers standing together can be very effective."
Another description of the organization on the Alliance@IBM
The Alliance@IBM is a union, because 'union' simply means an
organization of employees who seek to improve their conditions at work. There
are however, two simultaneous strategies which the Alliance is pursuing to improve work at IBM. One is to immediately press IBM management, Congress, and the courts to
correct injustices at IBM. For example, efforts over the pension plan
and overtime policies are two examples of this type of strategy. The second
strategy is to build support for collective bargaining which will enable us to
eventually win an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board and
to ultimately guarantee all our rights and benefits in a legally-binding