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IBM Says 'Couldn't Fire 150K US Workers If We Wanted To'

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the big-blue-responds dept.

Businesses 219

theodp writes "In an e-mail worthy of the Dilbert Hall of Fame, IBM execs responded to Robert X. Cringely's Project LEAN layoff rumors, reassuring employees by pointing out that they've already wiped out too many U.S. jobs to be able to lay off another 150,000. Big Blue's employment peaked around 1985, when it had about 405,000 workers who were acclimated to a long tradition of lifetime employment. IBM puts its current global workforce at 355,766, with a 'regular U.S. population' of less than 130,000."

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We're Hiring! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19104991)

Silly Cringley! We're Hiring negative 20 thousand employees!

IBM Town (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19104997)

I've always wondered why they don't just move all of the IBM employees and their families into one big town.

Re:IBM Town (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105075)

Many years ago they did just that in Armonk, NY. Then the entire town swallowed itself.....(see the movie).

Re:IBM Town (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105279)

I've always wondered why they don't just move all of the IBM employees and their families into one big town.

It's called "Bangalore".
     

Re:IBM Town (4, Insightful)

megaditto (982598) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105641)

Well, at least it's not Auschwitz. You gotta be glad it hasn't come to that yet.

Seems pretty silly that in this 21st century the billionaires can move their funds and trade across the globe in milliseconds... But the ordinary people still need some silly visa permit from the king to move their skills likewise. Trade at the post-industrial level, immigration at the Napoleonic law level?

Kind of a sweet deal for the industry: move your production to whichever country has cheaper citizen slaves knowing the people cannot follow in kind.

Great Napoleonic Law (4, Insightful)

andersh (229403) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105765)

Excuse me but the Napoleonic Law [wikipedia.org] was innovative and revolutionary - so much in fact it remained the legal code of choice for the countries formerly-occupied under Napoleon. If anything the French Code Civil was and is a very good system of law. And today most of the world's legal systems are based up on the Civil Law legal system [wikipedia.org] with deep French roots. The US legal system however is mostly based up on Common Law..

Re:Great Napoleonic Law (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105805)

No, people adopt the napoleonic code because it's simple - fits in two volumes.

Re:Great Napoleonic Law (1)

notamisfit (995619) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105841)

Don't know if I'd call it innovative; the basic idea goes back to the Twelve Tables in the Roman days. Common Law, OTOH, is like a vestigal sixth finger on the hand of the US criminal justice system.

Re:Great Napoleonic Law (2, Insightful)

megaditto (982598) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105987)

The French Code was great for its time given the period's low mobility, localized economy, and universal illiteracy.

Since then, personal rights have remained where they were while the property protections have gotten a lot better (see patents/IP/MAFIAA, WTO/World Bank, banking laws, trade treaties, etc.)

Two hundred years later your status and rights are still at the whim of the sovereign and depend entirely by where you your mother pushed you out. It's high time us humans got something better, wouldn't you say?

Immigration etc. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19106461)

...
Because goods are free to move, but not people.
Jobs are free to move, but not people.
Oil is free to move, but not people.
Money is free to move, but not people ...

New Model Army - Another Imperial Day

(honestly, great song)

Re:IBM Town (1)

Sapphon (214287) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106527)

That's nonsensical: industry has to move their production, precisely because labour is (predominantly) immobile. If labour was fully mobile, workers from cheap-labour countries would flood to expensive-labour countries to get the better wages, leading (eventually) to equalised wages in both countries. Basic international labour economic theory - and removed from reality, of course.

However, you seem to be suggesting that the relocation of production from a high- to a low-wage country (the "America to India" example seems to leap out) would cause people -- if they were mobile -- to follow the production i.e. move from America to India... so they can work their old job, at the new, lower market wage.

Poppycock!

Duh (4, Insightful)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105001)

Is this evidence enough that Cringley's stuff can never appear on Slashdot ever again? He's a complete hack of a "journalist". I'd rather see blogs written by 12-year-olds than "articles" by Cringley.

I'm ashamed that he is funded in part by non-profit funds from US taxpayers and makes a bad name for PBS in general.

Re:Duh (4, Interesting)

nacturation (646836) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105047)

Is this evidence enough that Cringley's stuff can never appear on Slashdot ever again? He's a complete hack of a "journalist". I'd rather see blogs written by 12-year-olds than "articles" by Cringley.
Looks like he's taken a page from Dvorak [youtube.com] . First, incite them with a ridiculous story which generates tons of traffic. Then, post a follow-up explaining how they mischaracterized what he wrote. Rinse and repeat.
 

Re:Duh (3, Informative)

Caradoc (15903) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105333)

I don't see how IBM could fire 150,000 regular employees.

I can easily see how they could dump that many combined regulars, long-term supplementals, and contractors.

Re:Duh (4, Informative)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105131)

As a follow up, PBS has an internal, independent ombudsman. You can contact the current ombudsman, Michael Getler, at pbs.org [pbs.org] or call him at 703-739-5290. You can also find and contact your local PBS member station [pbs.org] as they control your local content schedule. The less stations that maintain Cringley programming, the less likely it is that PBS will retain him, and the less relevant he becomes.

Re:Duh (5, Informative)

Amiga Trombone (592952) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105133)

I have no problem with Cringley being called a hack. But like the old saying goes, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Whether or not he's got his numbers exactly right, if you've got any doubt there are massive layoffs occuring at IBM, read the comments attached to Cringley's articles:

http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2007/pulpit_200 70504_002027_comments.html [pbs.org]
http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2007/pulpit_200 70511_002058_comments.html [pbs.org]

Not to mention reports from other IBMers here:

http://www.allianceibm.org/jobcutstatusandcomments .php [allianceibm.org]

Also, consider that IBM's employee headcount doesn't include contractors. I don't know how much including them would effect the headcount, but it's certainly by a substantial amount.

Being an idiot doesn't necessarily preclude his occasionally being somewhere in the ballpark of the truth.

Re:Duh (5, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105243)

Whether or not he's got his numbers exactly right, if you've got any doubt there are massive layoffs occuring at IBM...

It appears IBM didn't dispute claims of mass layoffs either. They only discounted Cringley's numbers. IBM seems to be using Cringley's number problem as a red herring agaist the existence of coming layoffs.
         

Re:Duh (3, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105297)

Being an idiot doesn't necessarily preclude his occasionally being somewhere in the ballpark of the truth.

No, but what's the good of the analogous "stopped-clock" that is wrong most of the time? You certainly can't depend on it, so even if occasionally correct, you have no way of knowing that until after the fact, so it's completely worthless.

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105345)

Um... Wow.

Re:Duh (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105301)

even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

That might have been true when most clocks used hands, but in the digital age a stopped clock is just off...

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105421)

Get the clock offa my lawn.

Re:Duh (1)

Wolfrider (856) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105635)

Outsourcing is a HUGE clock bite. :b

As an IBMer... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105485)

...I do know that some American jobs are currently being moved to India. I also know that some Indian jobs are currently being moved to the states. In an industry like this, nothing stays the same for long, and things are always being moved around. A prediction like 'IBM is going to move around some jobs around' is too vague to be meaningful. And one that says they are going to move overseas more jobs than they currently have is too dumb to be worth repeating.

Re:Duh (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105719)

So if we stop him doing his "journalism" he actually WILL be right two times a day? That's win for everyone.

Re:Duh (1)

CanadaIsCold (1079483) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106555)

There is no doubt that there are layoffs going on at IBM but by misreporting the numbers you can misrepresent the purpose. The size of layoffs that Cringely reported suggest a massive change in policy that would represent Global outsourcing all of the US Workforce. Smaller layoffs may represent departmental consolidation or response to market forces.

Re:Duh (5, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105205)

One can only wish, but I wouldn't hold my breath. After all, we still see Dvorak drivel making the front page. One would have thought that after the "my idle process is hogging 95% of the CPU cycles" whine, that would have been the last any tech-savvy site ever links to Dvorak, right? Well, dream on.

TBH, though, much as Cringely _is_ just a hack, I'd rather /. gave up on the whole class of "computer pundits" entirely. It's an easy job, and it's really about entertainment not computer expertise, ok? It's just a glorified SF version of the astrology columns in some newspapers. It just requires a thick enough skin to pretend it never happened, or that you were misunderstood, when 99% of the predictions don't come to pass. Better yet, phrase your predictions in a way that (A) gives them a time or an event, but never both, so it can't really be disproved, and (B) in the tried and tested "why X should do Y" way, so if it doesn't happen, it's obviously only because X is more stupid than you.

Briefly, it's not just about Cringely, but the whole caste is little more than a bunch of entertainers, and not one iota more reliable than astrologers. Linking to any of them, not just Cringely, as if they actually predicted something about to happen, is akin to linking to an astrology site. "The great Mr Psychic says this is your lucky day, go do an interview for a job if you're a Capricorn. [Read more...]" No more, and no less.

Re:Duh (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105551)

One would have thought that after the "my idle process is hogging 95% of the CPU cycles" whine, that would have been the last any tech-savvy site ever links to Dvorak, right?


Did Dvorak really write that? Come on, if he did, it HAD to be tongue-in-cheek.

Sadly, he did write that (5, Informative)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105807)

Sadly, he did write that, and no, it doesn't look tongue in cheek at all. Catch: XP Decay [pcmag.com] .

Genuine quote from the great pundit: "When I hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete, I see that the System Idle Process is hogging all the resources and chewing up 95 percent of the processor's cycles. Doing what? Doing nothing?"

I've read the article again, just in case there might be some subtle sarcasm I've missed before, but it looks as serious as it gets, if anyone asks me.

The whole list is framed between:

- "This week's column is about exploring the commonly observed problems that crop up with each new release. Maybe Microsoft should patch the patches once in a while. Here are a few of my gripes - most of them a result of excessive patching." which doesn't really sound like the start of a joke, and

- "And please, will the characters who "have never had a crash or blip" in 10 years of "heavy use" not contribute. I'm sick of these people. They're full of it." Which, again, would indicate that not only he's not joking, but he thinks that anyone who hasn't had those newbie problems is, in his own words, "full of it."

Speaking of which, the rest of the complaints sound... shall we say, computer illiterate. And that's putting it mildly. He sounds like the average Uncle Osric or Aunt Emma, who are terminally stumped as to why would their computer suddenly be sluggish or takes a while to connect on the network. It must be all those MS patches, really. Not like the kind of expert who fixes such things for fun, and/or knows exactly what worm was hogging the network.

Believe me, I've tried finding some trace of tongue-in-cheek irony there. I've hoped it would be an April 1st article. Nope.

But, hey, judge it for yourself. If you can detect some trace of sarcasm there, please tell me.

Well of course they are entertainers (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106277)

Everything in the media is driven by its ability to attract eyeballs. Eyeballs == paying viewers/readers and advertising dollars. This means that accuracy is very low in priority and entertainment value is much higher. Even "hard news" and photos (The camera can't lie, but zooming and cropping can) gets spun to be more dramatic/whatever to attract those eyeballs.

Boring but technically correct writers will not attract eyeballs and will not get published.

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105363)

Dude PBS doesn't need any help looking bad. They are perfectly able to do it themselves!

Firing 150k employees (0, Redundant)

InitHello (858127) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105051)

I guess it would be kind of hard for them to fire more employees than they have...

You Miss the Point: Hire Plus Fire (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105141)

What Cringely is saying is that IBM will both fire and hire, resulting in minimal change to the number of employed robots. IBM will fire the highly paid employees in Europe and the USA and will hire cheap labor in India and elsewhere.

So, Cringely's scenario is entirely plausible. IBM could fire 150,000 Western employees and hire 130,000 Chinese and Indian employees. Certainly, most outsourcing work is in India. So, putting the core of Global Services in India makes economic sense.

I am a former IBM employee. When I was axed in a layoff in 2003, I had worked at IBM for about 2 years after just graduating from college. Upon receiving my pink slip, I visited the job fair at my old college and saw a big IBM table recruiting new employees. IBM was hiring and firing on the same day.

Re:You Miss the Point: Hire Plus Fire (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105749)

Upon receiving my pink slip, I visited the job fair at my old college and saw a big IBM table recruiting new employees.

Back in my days there (90s), the thing to do if you were an old time Beemer was to take early retirement, severance package, or just get canned if that was your only option, and then come back as a higher paid contractor. But even then, we were seeing more and more workers from India who were here in the States "temporarily" from the IBM India division.

It sounds like those days are gone too.

Globalization! Got to love it! Consumer items are cheaper than ever, but it takes more of my pay.

Re:You Miss the Point: Hire Plus Fire (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106569)

It's not "your" pay. The days of being entitled to a job with constantly increasing salary due to time of service are long gone.

Re:You Miss the Point: Hire Plus Fire (2, Insightful)

etnu (957152) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106011)

Where in the hell do you think IBM is going to find 150k qualified people in India? Maybe if you're ignorant of the realities of employment there. The labor market is very tight and salaries are skyrocketing as a result. There aren't 150k engineers on the market in the entire country right now. They could try sniping people from the big companies already present there (Google, Microsoft, etc.), or from the local companies (Infosys and the like), but it's going to be tough. The average salary for a software engineer in Bangalore has gone from a little under $10k 3 years ago to over $20k now. If IBM started trying to pull in another 150k heads, they'd see the average shoot over $30k as competition for talent gets fierce.

Re:You Miss the Point: Hire Plus Fire (2, Insightful)

partenon (749418) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106335)

*Who* said every job is going to India? To avoid this kind of skyrocketing in wages, *if they are really going to layoff that many jobs*, they will distribute them among many countries... Hungary, Romania, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, India, China, ... There are lot of countries with competent IT professionals out there.

How many plants can they close? (4, Insightful)

Cassini2 (956052) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105259)

I used to work at a company, where the standing joke at headquarters was if a plant (factory) did anything wrong, they would close it. The big boss would say: "Either they make target, or I'm going to close the plant!" Of course, the targets were completely unrealistic, so the next meeting would be: "Well close the plant dammit!!! Close the plant!"

The people at HQ would keep a running tally of how many divisions (plants) were closed that week. 15 plant closures was a bad week, as the company only had 13 plants. At one point, things got so bad they had to purchase a few more plants to make up for the plants they really did close. I'm glad I'm not working for that company anymore.

Yes, it is possible for management to discuss closing more plants than they have, and to fire more employees than they have hired ...

Nobody Owes You a Job for Life (0, Troll)

aquatone282 (905179) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105059)

Nobody

Re:Nobody Owes You a Job for Life (2, Interesting)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105147)

I think you'll find that "security of tenure" has valid arguments for it in some situations. Perhaps you were not referring to these, but I take issue with mindless blanket statements.

Re:Nobody Owes You a Job for Life (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105199)

If enough voters get screwed by offshoring, the politicians won't have long careers either. How long before people realize trading good jobs for cheaper Wallmart trinkings has big downsides? Free trade is gonna turn us all into either salesmen or Wallmart greeters.

Re:Nobody Owes You a Job for Life (1)

partenon (749418) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106389)

No. Actually, the jobs will get back to US when the salaries goes down. You know, economic laws... If there are too many workers for a position, the salaries goes down. If there are few workers for a position, the salaries goes up.

Re:Nobody Owes You a Job for Life (2, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105357)

I'm sure the King of France said the same thing to the angry crowd outside his palace gates.

Of course no one owes anyone anything... But if you don't bother to take care of the people, they tend to "take care" of you. We could have quite easily became another Nazi or Communist country had FDR not instituted his New Deal reforms during the great depression. Free market capitalism works... up until a point.

Good. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105457)

All too often the people who say as you have either 1) have a job from which they haven't been fired, or 2) fire their "inferiors" and need a maxim to assuage the guilt over the damage theyt've done, or 3) are sociapaths who really don't deserve jobs.

As they say in reality television: "You're fired". Two years from now when the market turns up, you'll wait in line to hear the potential employers in your field say "If you had been good; you wouldn't have been let go. Someone would have hired you." and ask, "Are you an alcoholic?"

I haven't had the above said to me, but I've heard accounts from many others. They weren't alcoholics. They chose the wrong initial employer. That is their only "sin".

You should expect a job and expect to be retained; if you do the work assigned. You shouldn't be promoted, but you should be retained. What's happening now is that even those who do good work are not retained and treated like dirt if retained.

Re:Good. (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106475)

You should expect a job and expect to be retained; if you do the work assigned.

This is the problem with globalization. Congress should act now to stop companies from off-shoring jobs and get rid of the H1B visa workers. Keep American jobs for Americans even if it means our products are more expensive than those from other countries. Ban importation of products made by companies in countries that employ sub-standard labor at ridiculously low wages like China, Korea, and Vietnam. That's not enough though... we need Americans to collectively stick together and pledge to only buy American-made products! It doesn't matter if they're more expensive and maybe even inferior, this is a fight for our very survival as a superpower.

Re:Nobody Owes You a Job for Life (1)

pooh666 (624584) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105681)

Thats what my wife always tells me..

"they've already wiped out too many" (2, Interesting)

Thaidog (235587) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105063)

Yep sure did. Including my job to cheap out sourced labor at $16hr to people who know absolutely nothing about computers. Thanks IBM... morons.

Re:"they've already wiped out too many" (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105123)

$16/hr?! I'll work for that!

Re:"they've already wiped out too many" (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105173)

I'll work for $12/hr. CS degree from Carnegie Mellon is barely worth the paper its written on. Everyone wants experience.

Re:"they've already wiped out too many" (1)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105223)

A recent CS degree from CMU and you can't find a job? Then you either:
  1. Have a really low GPA.
  2. Have *zero* social skills (not surprising for a CMU student).
  3. Insist on working on a location that doesn't have a software industry.
I just read an article today about how recent graduates are being snapped up left and right, even liberal arts majors, with most receiving multiple offers. Bookings at job fairs are at record levels. Graduates are getting huge signing bonuses. If you can't get a job, then it means that there's something wrong with *you*.

Re:"they've already wiped out too many" (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105295)

A recent CS degree from CMU and you can't find a job? Then you either:

1. Have a really low GPA.
2. Have *zero* social skills (not surprising for a CMU student).
3. Insist on working on a location that doesn't have a software industry


4. Are trying to find a CS job in Pittsburgh, a city that does have a software industry, but also has a ton of unis churning out the degrees.

Re:"they've already wiped out too many" (1)

etnu (957152) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105883)

You think pittsburgh has a significant software industry? Are you high or something? If you want a good job, and have a CS degree, and aren't completely retarded, move to Silicon Valley. You will get a job within a month. Once there, work at the company you get hired at for a year or two. Now you'll never have trouble getting hired elsewhere again.

Re:"they've already wiped out too many" (1)

Josh Triplett (874994) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105935)

If you want a good job, and have a CS degree, and aren't completely retarded, move to Silicon Valley.


Or Silicon Forest, particularly if you want to work on Free and Open Source Software.

Re:"they've already wiped out too many" (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105239)

take a non-CS job but get into a hot open source project in your hobby time, then put a couple years of that on your resume

Re:"they've already wiped out too many" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105529)

Everybody wants experience because a university degree usually means very little. Granted, CMU is a great school (and I wish I'd gone there), but it's still a big risk to hire somebody with no real-world experience.

If you're good, come to Buffalo. It's very difficult to find competent people here.

"Experience" is the new catch-22 (2, Interesting)

fuego451 (958976) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105729)

Mod Crazyjim1 up. He is absolutely correct.

My daughter is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with bachelors and masters degrees in human resources, criminology and psychology. Her overall GPA for both degrees was 3.8. By the way, she did all of this while raising three children as a single mom.

Prior to graduating from the masters program she sent out over 50 resumes and responded to many letters of interest from major corporations and government agencies. Every one ended up requiring more experience than you could reasonably expect a recent college graduate to have. It makes one wonder what the point of contacting recent graduates is; better annual reports perhaps. I can just hear these companies and agencies complain that they can't find qualified candidates to fill their positions and have no choice but to out-source.

Don't give up Crazyjim1. My daughter finally found a job, although the pay wasn't quite what she had hoped, across the street from the university no less.

Re:"they've already wiped out too many" (1)

Wolfrider (856) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105665)

If you whore yourself out to work for anything less than $20/hr, you're farking the rest of us over, n00b... :P

Re:"they've already wiped out too many" (1)

partenon (749418) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106601)

And you wonder why jobs are going to India...

Re:"they've already wiped out too many" (2, Insightful)

Falladir (1026636) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105217)

I hope you realize that there's a catch-22 preventing me from sympathizing with you, because it's impossible for IBM to have victimized you without repercussion. If IBM was wrong to let you go (i.e. if the $16/hour guy does a lousy job) then they'll hurt for it (a repercussion). If they were right to let you go, and your job can be done for $16/hour, then they haven't victimized you, they've just been responded to a force in the market.

That said, I hope you find a good new job, and I hope they didn't try to screw you out of part of your severence package.

Re:"they've already wiped out too many" (3, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105315)

then they haven't victimized you, they've just been responded to a force in the market.

These are not mutually exclusive. Our huge trade deficit is a political issue created by international corporations who want to do things their way and hire top lobbyists to get it. The huge trade deficit is not good for Americans, but the international corporations don't give a sh8t.

(By the way, maybe IBM hired 2 guys at $14/hr to do the job of one American at $30. Even if the replacement is lousy, they get an extra one to clean up the first one's booboo's. They thus would save 2 bucks.)

Re:"they've already wiped out too many" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19106191)

Good points, but when Microsoft cut my job to oursource it my customers suffered greatly. I still work for Microsoft but I had to apply for another job. I now make less than half what I did for much harder work and work that is even more profitable for Microsoft. I still run into a few of my old customers, and they're suffering with the poor job that the low paid nearly illiterate morons that Microsoft hired. So yes Microsoft is just responding to a "force in the market," but it still bothers me to see people I know suffer just so Microsoft can make a few percentage points more money.

With that said, I'm waiting on an interview at Google in Kirkland. With the money Google has it's going to be years before they start screwing customers and employees to make a few more cents. When they start doing that,if I'm not retired by that time then,I will move on again.

Re:"they've already wiped out too many" (1)

partenon (749418) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106547)

"Know absolutely nothing about computers"... Dude, you are wrong... Not to be rude, but with US$ 16hr you can hire an architect in India which probably knows more than you :-)

IBM Global Services New Tasks (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105119)

Recently IBM Global Services has been fighing for its life on many fronts especially when they are competing with IBM Partners.
It used to be the case that the Sales Execs didn't care where the revenue comes from. Partner or GS it didn;t matter. Now GS is walking all over Partners in attemts to wrest business away from partners and as a consequence several partners I work with are getting right pissed off.
Once the quote/order info get put onto the Internal Siebel System, it becomes visible to GS who then walk mob handed into the Parner and take the biz away from the partner.

I see this as a last ditch attempt to save their jobs. Therefore IMHO a reduction in GS headcount is long overdue.
There are a lot of really good people in GS but the metrics in which they are having to work are awful. Many are good ones voting with their feet leaving the dross.
This ends up with the customers suffering as the people left in GS to actually deliver the solution can't.

This is nothing new. I saw this 10+ years go in DEC with their services division. It got even worse when Compaq came in a bought the show. Try fitting a services business model into a volume PC business model. They just don't fit.

Just my 2$ worth.

Re:IBM Global Services New Tasks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105339)

Oof. IBM use Siebel internally? Poor schmucks.

It IS reassuring... (2, Insightful)

ebcdic (39948) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105143)

... because it shows that Cringely's claim is not based on real IBM figures.

Re:It IS reassuring... (1)

k1980pc (942645) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105285)

It is still possible,at least theoretically, to arrive at that figure if you consider the count of contractors with IBM at any given point.
That said, I still think he grabbed the figures from thin air...

The dollar is dropping. (4, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105183)

Americans are getting poorer and cheaper. They're 25% cheaper than just a couple of years ago. The urgency to outsource to cost effective workforces is reducing.

 

Re:The dollar is dropping. (2, Insightful)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105453)

Americans are getting cheaper in the very very short term... but how are Americans poorer? Americans are consuming goods and services at record levels. American have far more goods and services today than they did in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s. Home ownership is at an all time high. Unemployment is low.

Are you using some wierd definition of "poor" that I don't understand?

Re:The dollar is dropping. (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105575)

He probably means "level of disposable income", and we used to have a lot more of it than we do now. A lot of people are spending money that they shouldn't be spending in order to maintain whatever lifestyle to which they are accustomed. "Unemployment is low" is meaningless if you don't account for type of employment: the fact that more of us are gainfully employed in lower-level, lower-paying jobs is not good. A much better metric would be the level of personal savings, and that is not a pretty picture either. Too many people are barely getting by and don't have anything left to put away for a rainy day.

Worse yet, many of those goods and services of which you speak are being paid for out of funds that, in previous generations, would have been saved or invested, not squandered. We've been convinced, as a people, that spending every dime to "stimulate the economy" is somehow good. We certainly are stimulating the economy ... China's economy. We'd be better off dropping our cell phones, cable TV and satellite dishes, buying less useless crap at Wal-Mart, forgetting that V8-powered SUV this time around, and saving that money or investing in American manufacturing.

Re:The dollar is dropping. (2, Insightful)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105767)

He probably means "level of disposable income", and we used to have a lot more of it than we do now.
Consumption of goods and services in increasing. Clearly, people have much more disposable income now than they did in the past. Have you ever talked to people about what life was like in the 1950s, or 1960s? Chances are they didn't have 2 cars, a TV in every room, and didn't eat out 3 nights a week, like your typical middle class family now. The kids didn't have a bedroom filled with toys like they do now.

"Unemployment is low" is meaningless if you don't account for type of employment: the fact that more of us are gainfully employed in lower-level, lower-paying jobs is not good.
Are you telling me that a higher proportion of workers where educated professionals back in the 1950s, or 1960s, or 1970s, than today? You are very mistaken!

A much better metric would be the level of personal savings, and that is not a pretty picture either. Too many people are barely getting by and don't have anything left to put away for a rainy day.
That is a social change, that has nothing to do with free-trade. Making consumer goods MORE EXPENSIVE by banning their import most likely would reduce savings, not increase savings (as people would spend way more money in order to maintain the same standard of living).

We'd be better off dropping our cell phones, cable TV and satellite dishes, buying less useless crap at Wal-Mart, forgetting that V8-powered SUV this time around, and saving that money or investing in American manufacturing.
U.S. manufacturing output is at an all time high. The U.S. manufactures more goods now than they ever did. The U.S. exports more goods and services now than they ever have. A trade imbalance (we buy more than we sell) does not mean that the U.S. doesn't manufacture stuff.

However, enviornmental laws, liability obligations, and high labor costs make many types of manufacturing impossible inside the U.S... Restricting imports of those goods would not mean that those goods would be produced in the U.S., it would simply mean that we wouldn't have those goods. You would put the people working at the Best Buy out of work selling Chinese DVD players, but you wouldn't create any jobs making DVD players in the U.S., because making consumer electronics in the U.S. is not possible legally or economicly.

Re:The dollar is dropping. (2, Interesting)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105587)

Americans are consuming goods and services at record levels.

Actually, no. Plus, quality-made goods are becoming far scarcer - so that appliance that once lasted for 10 to 20 years, now usually lasts under 1 year - but costs the same or higher. Ditto services....

Re:The dollar is dropping. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105745)

Please name a couple. Are you saying that things are more expensive over the lifetime of the product?

Re:The dollar is dropping. (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106017)

I'll give you a couple of examples. Ten years ago I could get a pair of New Balance shoes that would last me five years before I absolutely must get a new pair. Today, a pair of New Balance shoes may last 18 months at the most. I could get a manual typewriter 20 years ago that would last ten years. Today, the same manual typewriter is so poorly made I'm not sure it will last a year. Why worry about long-lasting quality when you can keep pumping out cheaper replacements every year.

Re:The dollar is dropping. (2, Informative)

megaditto (982598) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106197)

Most people don't demand the shoes that last years, so the market responds to the demand by offering a lower cost lower quality product. For me, keeping shoes for five years is not a big plus since my feet sweat and my sneakers start to stink after several months, so today I save much more money on my shoes than I would 20 years ago.

Today you can get a computer that will serve you much better than an olden typewriter, for half the cost.

I saw an old add for an electronic watch: the cheapest was about $50; today they are basically free.

You can get a TV for $70 bucks that's the same screen size but better colors, functions, and remote, whereas 20 years ago you would have a hard time even finding a crappy TV for under $400. Also consider that the $70 TV is more like a $20 TV in the inflation-adjusted dollars.

Today's stuff you are supposed to throw out and not repair. This is the price you pay for compact design and other cost-cutting measures such as automated or low-skill line production (seven layers of circuit boards can fit in one laptop what was formerly housed in a closet, though it's now hell to repair). Valve radios lasted decades (my uncle still listens to one) but costed 100 times the IC version of today (that fits in your pocket), I can repair my uncle's radio and I cannot even look at the circuit of mine, but that's the price you pay for low cost and portability.

Sorry to go off on a rant like that but the "good ol' day" people really piss me off, maybe because I remember my poor parents thinking about buying a washer or a TV or a hoover as a major investment.

Re:The dollar is dropping. (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105677)

Disposable income is actually decreasing in both US and UK. As you have correctly noted, people are buying more and more, but this by borrowing more and more. I do not know the exact US numbers, though I know that they are ahead of the UK on that one. AFAIK, the average unsecured debt per household is now approaching the average salary which is outright scary. All it takes is a percentage point or two of interest rate increase and this house of cards will go tits up.

Re:The dollar is dropping. (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105619)

Unfortunately, that is incorrect. The outsourcing (or more accurately, offshoring) has increased exponentially and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. As long as there are traitorous Americans - who will do anything to screw their fellow citizens for a cheaper dollar - then give that dollar to the Chinese government to view the preserved remains of murdered Chinese dissidents (the Bodies Exhibition) - the offshoring shall continue. Boy oh boy, are those Chinese getting the last laugh (their elites, that is...).

Re:The dollar is dropping. (1)

etnu (957152) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105921)

Very few "tech" companies are outsourcing. Non-tech companies (banks and the like) are outsourcing, but they've been outsourcing for decades. Banks aren't tech companies, and it's not unreasonable to expect that they'd pay an outside firm for their technical needs. "Tech" companies do, however, have facilities all over the world. Microsoft, Google. Yahoo, etc. all have huge businesses in India. Unfortunately for the nay-sayers, the Indians are too busy working on products for the Indian market, and (surprise, surprise!) they're having trouble finding qualified people to work in India! The job market for people with useful skills and a proven track record in the U.S. is great. Post a resume on monster or hotjobs that says that you know web technologies and you will be fielding multiple offers within a few days. Yeah, I know -- there isn't a good market for jobs if all the skills you have are C++ and Java. Tough shit! How do you think the FORTRAN and COBOL developers were feeling in 1995?

Look on the bright side (2, Insightful)

Ritorix (668826) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105349)

IBM stock has reached a 52-week high and is set to go higher. After a quick look, it seems the job cuts are a balance vs their investments in future growth. Gotta have good quarters and making the Street happy.

Re:Look on the bright side (1)

Amiga Trombone (592952) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105437)

IBM stock has reached a 52-week high and is set to go higher. After a quick look, it seems the job cuts are a balance vs their investments in future growth. Gotta have good quarters and making the Street happy.

Um, look a little closer at those results for the quarter. They're largely the result of taking advantage of exchange rates due to a weak dollar. As per the stock price increase, that's largely due to raising the dividend to $.40 a share (from $.30), and announcing a massive stock buy back plan, both tactics known for making Wall Street very happy. Unfortunately, they do nothing to increase the bottom line.

Re:Look on the bright side (1)

Ritorix (668826) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105501)

IBM is hardly the only company taking advantage of exchange rates. As a global company, they can and should reposition jobs to whichever region has the advantage. This will be an ongoing trend as developing countries mature and rates shift.

Re:Look on the bright side (1)

Amiga Trombone (592952) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105577)

IBM is hardly the only company taking advantage of exchange rates. As a global company, they can and should reposition jobs to whichever region has the advantage. This will be an ongoing trend as developing countries mature and rates shift.

I'm not talking about shifting jobs, I'm talking about how many units of a foreign currency a dollar will buy. Since the dollar is relatively weak now, when profits earned in foreign countries are converted into dollars they can appear to be increased, when all that's occured is that the foreign currencies will purchase more dollars. Since IBM reports it's earnings in dollars, a weak dollar is making their results appear more optimistic than they actually are.

Re:Look on the bright side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19106243)

Cutting workforce almost always causes the shares to get higher price. The same with outsourcing and offshoring plans. Usually this is short term situation.
Whether this is the case in IBM remain to be seen. //

IBM/Amazon patent dispute (1)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105415)

Looks like IBM is getting some money from Amazon [blogs.com] (via thenewsroom) to settle some patent disputes, maybe they can hang on to a few of those employees after all....

In defense of Cringely (4, Informative)

Angelwrath (125723) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105447)

I find it interesting that people have clung to the "US" bit so much that they feel the need to point out that IBM doesn't have 150k US employees, instead of pointing out that IBM does have well over 300,000 workers internationally, which is more relevant.

I worked at Nortel Networks, a company that had 105k - 110k employees in 2001. In the first 4 months of 2001 the company fired 27k people. In the rest of the 8 months of the year, they fired another 26k people. They fired even more in 2002. Overall, the company fired 57,000 people, over half the company.

IBM has 150k people to fire, and it can do so with ease. The "US" reference is irrelevant, since even 50,000 US workers would be a huge amount of people, but possible.

As for Cringely, he isn't a journalist. He's never claimed to be one, and his 9 years of weekly articles speaks to this. Cringely is a tech insider and writer who writes about interesting topics, and wrote this article not to report it, but in the hopes that IBM employees, and the publicity his articles garner, could help to prevent IBM from making a mistake. And he is right to do so - at Nortel the CEO wiped out half the company and walked away with a 9-figure compensation for inducing mass unemployment and wiping out billions of value and spinoff value when the tech sector of the TSE crashed.

The effects of 150k layoffs in the US would be very bad, and that's what he hopes to stop, because the way they do it is slow and steady, and if people don't figure it out ahead of time, they find out when it's too late. So in that respect, his article is very worthwhile and commendable.

Re:In defense of Cringely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105695)

I find it interesting that people have clung to the "US" bit so much that they feel the need to point out that IBM doesn't have 150k US employees, instead of pointing out that IBM does have well over 300,000 workers internationally, which is more relevant.

More relevant ... to whom? The article was about IBM's US layoffs, to say that something else is "more relevant" makes me think you're the CEO of IBM.

Bah! (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105609)

Just send a preemptive pink slip strike in on all the prospective employees.

The top 40 people at IBM (1, Flamebait)

gelfling (6534) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105647)

Were compensated damn close to 800 million dollars last year if not more. I hope all the Libertarians here starve in the freezing cold this year.

Why hate the libertarians? (1)

WrongMonkey (1027334) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106035)

What's your point? Are you saying those top 40 employee's should be taxed more? That the government should enforce a salary cap? Really what's your solution? And really what's the problem that needs to be solved? Are you you saying that Americans should be guaranteed jobs in perptuity?
If we assume an average employee compensation cost the company about 100,000 a year (salarly, benefits, taxes, etc.) then that 800 million could only save 8,000 jobs out of a possible 50,000. That's not much more than a good will gesture.
I wouldn't normally reply to a flip little comment like this, but you seem to be pretty confident that you have a point and I honestly don't see it.

Also on his numbers... (2, Insightful)

nwbvt (768631) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105655)

That 130,000 number is total US employees. Cringely's previous estimate supposedly just included Global Services employees, which only represents a fraction of the total workforce. So if we assume half of all US IBM employees work for global services, that still means IBM needs to hire 85,000 new employees before his estimate is even mathematically possible.

This whole thing reminds me of a scene from the South Park episode, "Two Days Before The Day After Tomorrow".

Reporter: Tom, I'm currently ten miles outside of Beaverton, unable to get inside the town proper. We do not have any reports of fatalities yet, but we believe that the death toll may be in the hundreds of millions. Beaverton has only a population of about eight thousand, Tom, so this would be quite devastating.
Anchor: Any word on how the survivors in the town are doing, Mitch?
Reporter: We're not sure what exactly is going on inside the town of Beaverton, uh Tom, but we're reporting that there's looting, raping, and yes, even acts of cannibalism.
Anchor: My God, you've, you've actually seen people looting, raping and eating each other?
Reporter: No, no, we haven't actually seen it Tom, we're just reporting it.

Isn't journalism so much more fun when you don't have to worry about those damn things called 'facts'?

Some new terms for your lexicon (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105663)

We said when we released 1Q results we would be putting in place a series of actions to address cost issues in our U.S. strategic outsourcing business. We have undertaken efforts toward that, and recently implemented a focused resource reduction in the U.S. While any such reduction is difficult for those employees affected, these actions are well within the scope of our ongoing workforce rebalancing efforts.

I dunno, if I ever get "resource reduced" or "workforce balanced" I'll probably still feel like I was laid off.

IBM will lay off about 350k employees worldwide (0, Troll)

etnu (957152) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105705)

...as they go out of business over the next decade. IBM has lately become nothing more than an overpriced version of Infosys. Their tech innovation has died, and the only worthwhile projects that they're still involved in are their open source contributions. Tech companies simply shouldn't have so many god damned employees. Once you spread yourself too thin, you're bound to become useless.

IBM doesn't really deny it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105727)

The memo that supposedly refutes Cringley's claim doesn' really deny it.

It say, "recently implemented a focused resource reduction in the U.S." Sounds like layoffs to me, and it doesn't say there won't be more in the future. And notice there are no numbers at all.

If Cringely really were wrong, IBM would say so. The fact that it doesn't leads me to think he is right and they just don't want to admit it.

He apparently hates LEAN (2, Insightful)

hazem (472289) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105791)

But has no idea what it's about.

He wrote: It has to be since the very essence of LEAN is foreign hiring.

LEAN http://www.lean.org/ [lean.org] has nothing to do with foreign hiring. It's a philosophy for process improvement that focuses on eliminating wastes in that process. Such wastes include: excess inventory, re-work, moving things around more than needed. It's about redesigning the process so that there is as little wasted effort and material as possible.

LEAN is well-executed when the culture of a company is changed to empower workers to have more control over the way they do their work - and those employees are encouraged to find better ways to do what they do. For example, Toyota is often held up as a prime example of LEAN. There, an employee who finds a better way to improve a process is rewarded with cash bonuses.

Now it may be that a company has hired a consultant to tell them do do layoffs and they call it LEAN, but that's not what it is.

But, everyone here seems to be of the opinion that Cringley's full of shit. I'll have to agree.

Re:He apparently hates LEAN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105933)

Now it may be that a company has hired a consultant to tell them do do layoffs and they call it LEAN, but that's not what it is.

If you read the comments from IBMers in response to Cringley's columns, you'll see that that's exactly what they've done. It has nothing to do with LEAN as you understand it.

Fired != Change in Status (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19106033)

Silly IT people, IBM will not 'fire' them, they will simply change their status from Employee to Contractor, or 'Temporary Full-Time Employee'.

Say bye-bye to all your benefits, so more low-cost employees can be hired.

But if you count IGS' employees everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19106037)

In addition to laying off US employees of IBM Global Services there are contractors, that I believe don't ever get into "we laid off N people" reports (because they are not employees but just a "resource"). And, in addition, there is a BIG turnover of employees in India. Because as soon as they get training they understand that IBM pays them peanuts. And HP or any other outsourcer will have bigger peanuts, so they move on. And IGS needs to train a new batch etc etc. So yes, with high turnover you can lay off in a year 2x or even more employees. Easy as that.

LEAN Methodology (2, Informative)

pcardno (450934) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106061)

I've never read Cringely's stuff before, but he does seem to have missed a key point in his article. He calls it "IBM's mysterious LEAN program" as if LEAN itself is the project. If you read the reply from IBM, they point out that they're using the LEAN methodology and not that this project is called LEAN. He also says that "the very essence of LEAN is foreign hiring", which is tripe.

He's deliberately scaremongering by using the term out of context to suggest that it is the title of a project that's synonymous with cutbacks, knowing that most people won't be aware that LEAN means something else entirely. Maybe he should read up on the LEAN methodology first before he starts worrying people by writing all this nonsense.

And here's the obligatory Wikipedia article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lean_manufacturing [wikipedia.org]

Orwellian language (1)

DebateG (1001165) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106133)

Orwell was right. The English language is dying. From IBM's e-mail:

We said when we released 1Q results we would be putting in place a series of actions to address cost issues in our U.S. strategic outsourcing business. We have undertaken efforts toward that, and recently implemented a focused resource reduction in the U.S. While any such reduction is difficult for those employees affected, these actions are well within the scope of our ongoing workforce rebalancing efforts.

Mysterious Lean Project? (2, Interesting)

bmo (77928) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106407)

Lean isn't mysterious. It's popular, especially in manufacturing.

It ain't about laying off people. Not if you do it right.

However, for many companies, it's a radical re-think of the corporate culture and hard to implement because far too many managers can't wrap their heads around some of the concepts and think it's just simpler to get rid of people. That's not Lean. That's just stupidity.

--
BMO - "I'm not anti-business. I'm anti stupidity" - Dilbert

On the plus side ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19106531)

I am learning shed loads of hindi.

such as "no problemo" koi baat nahi and "that's so funny" hansane wali baat, don't try to pronounce it.

I'm so looking forward to the next ones such as Chinese that I've actually recorded the learning chinese in ten steps from Sky.

You gotta luv this stuff, I look forward to every new day and challenge ahead.

Working and helping the customer is what makes my day. If I can help our Indian contingent become more effective at this, from the experience I have, then why not.

rgds

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