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Friday, March 23, 2018

American Suicide Is In The Cards

image: the end is near

The New Color Line: American Suicide Is In The Cards

By Dr Paul Craig Roberts
March 12, 2018

Identity Politics is turning white people into a delegitimized group that it is permissible to hate and to discriminate against. WHITE AMERICANS are being TURNED INTO undesirables and are being delegitimized just as Jews were delegitimatized in Nazi Germany. Curiously enough, as I understand it, the Identity Politics being used to delegitimize white people has its roots in the Jewish cultural Marxism of the Frankfort School.

Most Americans are unaware of Identity Politics, and those who hear about it dismiss it as something silly. But it is the core politics of the Democratic Party and the liberal/progressive/left that is rivaling the neoconservatives for control over the American psyche.

I wrote about the article in the Texas Tech student newspaper that declared WHITE DNA TO BE ABOMINABLE. We should all take notice that Identity Politics has reached into a deep South technical school. The article was approved by the papers editors and also perhaps by the faculty advisers. An article that declared black or Jewish DNA to be abominable would most certainly not have been approved, and anyone who wrote such an article would at a minimum have been sent for sensitivity training.

The situation appears to be far worse in the prestigious, formerly WASP universities, such as Yale and Stanford. I don’t know the website, but THIS ARTICLE seems truthful and not a spoof.  Both universities, along with top rank state universities such as the University of Wisconsin and many other universities and colleges teach that white people, not global robber baron corporations or Wall Street crooks or corrupt politicians (unless they are white) are the source of evil, of oppression, of racism and enslavement of women.

Curiously, white women are considered simultaneously to be oppressors and enslaved by men. But this inconsistency does not trouble the Identity Politics ideology that is now a powerful political movement in America that has placed a target on the back of every white heterosexual male and every statue of a white male. Even plaques commemorating the attendance of George Washington and Robert E. Lee at Christ Church, Alexandria, Virginia, have been removed because they are דoffensive. Identity Politics has succeeded in obliterating the memory of America’s first president, who won the War of Independence from the British, from the pre-revolutionary church that he attended.

Twenty-three years ago Lawrence M. Stratton and I predicted in our book, The New Color Line, that the racial and gender quotas established by Alfred W. Blumrosen, compliance chief of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in blatant violation of the 1964 CIVIL RIGHTS ACT, which explicitly prohibited quotas, would destroy the American goal of equality before the law by establishing legal privileges that would exclude white men. No prediction has ever been more correct. see: THIS.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed in order to give a legal basis to the 14TH AMENDMENT to the Constitution requiring equality under the law. Congress understood that equality under law precluded special privileges, such as quotas for university admissions, employment and promotions based on alleged past discrimination.

However, Alfred Blumrosen, a Jew, who found himself in control of the regulatory agency designated as the enforcer of the Civil Rights Act, decided to ignore the law and to create a quota regime that violates equality under the law. Blumrosen reasoned, and turned out to be correct, that, based on the New Deal experience, Federal courts would defer to the regulatory authority, which was him, in place of the intent of Congress.

In place of equality under law, Blumrosen went for equality of result. To Blumrosen that meant that the same proportion of blacks had to have middle class educations and incomes as whites. The consequence was federal lawsuits against universities and employers that did not have quotas that advanced less qualified blacks and women over white men.

Stratton and I have heard that Blumrosen praises us for designating him as the person who made second class citizens out of white males as he regards it as a high achievement.

The next step in the delegitimization of white people, especially heterosexual males, occurred following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the transformation of Maos China to capitalism. This destroyed the ideological basis of the Western leftwing. The exploitative, imperialist capitalist had been the target for decades, but now that history had proved Karl Marx wrong, revealing that there was no alternative to “democratic capitalism,” the need to hate that is concentrated in the liberal/progressive/left had to find a new target. They found it in Jewish cultural Marxism’s analysis of institutions associated with the Frankfort School, which moved from Germany to Columbia University in the 1930s. The Frankfort School placed the source of oppression in the institutions of Western society.

Members of the Frankfort School saw themselves as analyzing REAL PROBLEMS. Identity politics, seeing the institutions of Western society as white, male-dominated institutions, simplified the analysis by defining the problem as whiteness. Thus, white males became the oppressive force to be overthrown. The working class, redefined by Hillary Clinton as the Trump deplorables, has been abandoned by the liberal/progressive/left.

Just as with Marx truth is “class truth,” with Identity Politics, truth is race, gender, and sexual preference truth, and just as the capitalists didnt have objective truth, under the Identity Politics form of Marxism whites do not have truth. Even science is being unmasked as a tool of white oppression. Truth resides with the “racial minorities” (actually a large majority in the world) and the LGBTQ+ minority in America.

The effect of this hostility toward whites, especially white boys in the American public school system, is devastating. Essentially, the public school system is committing genocide against white males. Tucker Carlson reports the effects HERE

It is extraordinary that the US military/security complex, which regards the US as a hegemonic superpower, sits silently while Identity Politics destroys the confidence and self-esteem of the warrior class. Is the Pentagon going to field armies of feminists and self-pitying LGBTQ+ who see themselves as society’s victims against highly motivated and trained Russians?

What is going on here? The suicide of the United States of America?

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Posted by Elvis on 03/23/18 •
Section Revelations • Section Dying America
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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Returnship

image: old fart

I read an uplifting article like this A FEW YEARS AGO.

But I’m a little CAUTIOUS TO START JUMPING FOR JOY because only two long term unemployed/underemployed people I know - found a good job, or recovered financially - since starting this blog 14 years ago.

Everyone else - like me - LOST EVERYTHING.

There’s a thing called SURVIVOR BIAS - a human condition that CAUSES ONE to remember the few who succeeded, and forget the countless others who didn’t.

Whatever glowing report the story below describes, may be a glimmer of hope, and immerse some people in POSITIVE THINKING.

But FOR ME - thousands of resumes - and no job offer YEARS LATER - that’s all it is.

A glimmer.

Nothing more.

Nothing less.

FORTUNATELY OR UNFORTUNATELY - a LITTLE HOPE is all it takes to keep HUMPTY DUMPTY from falling off - or JUMPING OFF - THAT FENCE.

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The Suddenly Hot Job Market For Workers Over 50

By Julie Halpert
CNBC
March 18, 2018

Michele Meagher, age 66, appreciates the way she’s treated as an older worker by her employer, Tufts Health Plan, a nonprofit health insurance organization in Watertown, Massachusetts.

A corporate communications specialist, she was hired when she was 61. She’s able to telecommute three days a week. She participates in a weekly “Fit Over 60” exercise class at the office. Her employer has allowed her to take classes to learn new skills. Meagher said that when she previously worked at a high-tech public relations firm, she was one of the oldest workers. But at Tufts “I see me everywhere. I’m not a minority,” she said.

Indeed, Meagher is part of a fast-growing segment of those remaining in the workplace well into their golden years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR THOSE AGES 55 AND OVER is just 3.2 percent as of February 2018. That’s lower than the current unemployment rate of 4.1 percent for the entire U.S. population and a steep 14.4 percent for teens. Now, as the job market lurches back to life while the demographic of aging workers grows, companies in all types of industries from banking and health care to insurance - are wooing the silver set with a variety of programs.

Two decades ago less than a third of people ages 55 and over were employed or looking for work. Today the share is 40 percent, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve, up 10 percent from 1990. “There are a lot of those ages 55 to 70, and each of them is more likely to work now than in previous generations,” said Matt Rutledge, a research economist for The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

He says that many boomers facing longer live expectancies feel they DON’T HAVE ENOUGH SAVINGS YO RETIRE AT AGE 65. That’s in part due to the dwindling number of companies providing defined benefits; lack of pensions have caused many to hang in longer, said Amanda Sonnega, an associate research scientist with the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study. Rutledge says boomers also are better educated and these types of workers tend to stay in the workforce longer because they usually enjoy their jobs.

“In a tight labor market, creating a climate attractive to older workers is essential,” says Lydia Greene, chief human resources officer for Tufts Health Plan. The company’s 401(k) program includes a supplemental match of 3 percent each year on top of the standard 4 percent match for employees contributing 6 percent or more of their income. Individuals ages 50 and over make up 34 percent of the company’s workforce. They’re hired at all levels, from physicians to clinical-care managers and administrative assistants. “They bring so much experience to the table,” Greene said. “They’re very stable and very reliable and help us develop and mentor our younger workers.”

GOLDMAN SACHS’ RETURNSHIP program allows the company access to a new type of talent pool: mature workers, said spokeswoman Leslie Shribman. It provides a 10-week training and mentoring program for those who have taken a career break of more than two years, equipping employees with skills to reenter the workplace. Of the 350 people who have completed the program, roughly half have returned to work at Goldman.

At FCCI, a Sarasota, Florida-based company that provides commercial property and casualty insurance through independent agents, 34 percent of the workforce is age 50 and older. Lisa Krouse, the chief HR officer, said that with the insurance industry losing many of its mature workers over the ensuing years, there’s merit in bringing on older workers. Their seasoned perspective serves the company well in both evaluating risks and building relationships, a fundamental tenant of the insurance business.

She said FCCI fosters a culture of wellness and pays 80 percent of all employees’ health insurance and 100 percent of short- and long-term disability. The company offers its 825 workers technology coaching and hosts sessions on such issues as caregiving for aging parents and Social Security 101 and retirement planning.

Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston regularly recruits from a local organization called Operation A.B.L.E., which provides job opportunities for older individuals. Megan Bradley, the director of recruitment services, said snowbird retirees can pick up work when they return in the spring through a temporary agency owned by the hospital, BulFinch Temporary Services. A retiree medical plan allows eligible employees a more affordable way of paying the cost of medical coverage after retirement. The company provides a small financial subsidy and access to a private Medicare exchange, which has brokers who work individually with employees to find the most affordable Medicare plan that meets their medical needs.

Bradley believes being viewed as age friendly will serve the hospital well as it competes for future workers.

Some organizations are helping boomers wishing to change careers. A survey conducted last year of 2,078 adults by The Workplace Group, a recruitment firm in Florham Park, New Jersey, along with Lyon College and Rutgers University, found that 34 percent of those ages 53 and older defined themselves as being in the early or mid-career stage. “This suggests they’re switching professions or starting new careers, doing something they maybe always wanted to do,” said Steve Lindner, The WorkPlace Group’s executive officer.

The Encore Fellowship offers a six-month to one-year opportunity for those ages 50 and older to work at a nonprofit for $20,000 to $25,000. It’s provided more than 1,600 fellowships to date, including 957 in 2016 and 2017. Roughly half of the fellows go on to work in the nonprofit sector.

Anne Kirwan, the fellowship’s managing director, says nonprofits are under-resourced. Fellowships allow these organizations “to get an experienced person who would [ordinarily] command a high salary but who wants to create meaning and purpose in their work life.” Fellows, in return, learn about the nonprofit world.

After more than two decades working as a top executive for major banks, including J.P. Morgan Chase and Deutsche Bank, Sefi Shliselberg, now 61, wanted to devote her time to a pursuit that contributed more to society. She became a fellow with the Girl Scouts of America in New York in October 2016 as director of business development. “It was a remarkable opportunity to have an impact and really transfer my for-profit skills into a nonprofit in a big way,” she said.

This month she’ll start working at Change For Kids, a nonprofit that provides resources to underserved New York City elementary schools. Katrina Huffman, Change for Kids’ executive director, said Encore fellows “have such an archive and wealth of information that nonprofits like ours can leverage. They can bring those skills to us and avoid pitfalls.”

But there are still obstacles for some older workers. Laurie McCann, senior attorney at AARP Foundation Litigation, which represents low-income older individuals, said that while there are some “enlightened” companies that recognize the value of experience, age discrimination is still rampant. She points to 18,376 age discrimination complaints filed with The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2017. “We haven’t done enough to challenge those stereotypes,” that older people won’t stay long before they want to retire and don’t want to learn new technology. “Until we do, AGE DISCRIMINATION is not going to go away.”

Despite that hurdle, The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that those ages 65 and over will experience the fastest rates of labor force growth by 2024. Meagher expects to be one of those workers. “I love my job. I’m getting better every year, and my writing skills have improved. I could do this well into my seventies.”

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Cutting Old Heads at IBM

image: unhappy it guy

As it scrambled to compete in the internet world, the once-dominant tech company cut tens of thousands of U.S. workers, hitting its most senior employees hardest and flouting rules against age bias.

By Peter Gosselin and Ariana Tobin
Pro Publica
March 22, 2018

For nearly a half century, IBM came as close as any company to bearing the torch for the American Dream.

As the world’s dominant technology firm, payrolls at International Business Machines Corp. swelled to nearly a quarter-million U.S. white-collar workers in the 1980s. Its profits helped underwritea broad agenda of racial equality, equal pay for women and an unbeatable offer of great wages and something close to lifetime employment, all in return for unswerving loyalty.

But when high tech suddenly started SHIFTING and companies went global, IBM faced the changing landscape with a distinction most of its fiercest competitors didn’t have: a large number of experienced and aging U.S. EMPLOYEES.

The company reacted with a strategy that, in the words of one confidential planning document, would “correct seniority mix.” It slashed IBM’s U.S. WORKFORCE by as much as three-quarters from its 1980s peak, replacing a substantial share with younger, less-experienced and lower-paid workers and sending many positions overseas. ProPublica estimates that in the past five years alone, IBM has eliminated more than 20,000 American employees ages 40 and over, about 60 percent of its estimated total U.S. job cuts during those years.

In making these cuts, IBM has flouted or outflanked U.S. laws and regulations intended to protect later-career workers from age discrimination, according to a ProPublica review of internal company documents, legal filings and public records, as well as information provided via interviews and questionnaires filled out by more than 1,000 former IBM employees.

Among ProPublicas findings, IBM:

· Denied older workers information the law says they need in order to decide whether they’ve been victims of age bias, and required them to sign away the right to go to court or join with others to seek redress.

· Targeted people for layoffs and firings with techniques that tilted against older workers, even when the company rated them high performers. In some instances, the money saved from the departures went toward hiring young replacements.

· Converted job cuts into retirements and took steps to boost resignations and firings. The moves reduced the number of employees counted as layoffs, where high numbers can trigger public disclosure requirements.

· Encouraged employees targeted for layoff to apply for other IBM positions, while quietly advising managers NOT TO HIRE THEM and requiring many of the workers to train their replacements.

· Told some older employees being laid off that their skills were out of date, but then BROUGHT THEM BACK AS CONTRACT WORKERS, often for the same work at lower pay and fewer benefits.

IBM declined requests for the numbers or age breakdown of its job cuts. ProPublica provided the company with a 10-page summary of its findings and the evidence on which they were based. IBM spokesman Edward Barbini said that to respond the company needed to see copies of all documents cited in the story, a request ProPublica could not fulfill without breaking faith with its sources. Instead, ProPublica provided IBM with detailed descriptions of the paperwork. Barbini declined to address the documents or answer specific questions about the firms policies and practices, and instead issued the following statement:

“We are proud of our company and our employees ability to reinvent themselves era after era, while always complying with the law. Our ability to do this is why we are the only tech company that has not only survived but thrived for more than 100 years.”

With nearly 400,000 people worldwide, and tens of thousands still in the U.S., IBM remains a corporate giant. How it handles the shift from its veteran baby-boom workforce to younger generations will likely influence what other employers do. And the way it treats its experienced workers will eventually affect younger IBM employees as they too age.

Fifty years ago, Congress made it illegal with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA, to treat older workers differently than younger ones with only a few exceptions, such as jobs that require special physical qualifications. And for years, judges and policymakers treated the law as essentially on a par with prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation and other categories.

In recent decades, however, the courts have responded to corporate pleas for greater leeway to meet global competition and satisfy investor demands for rising profits by expanding the exceptions and shrinking the protections against age bias.

Age discrimination is an open secret like sexual harassment was until recently,” said Victoria Lipnic, the acting chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, the independent federal agency that administers the nations workplace anti-discrimination laws.

Everybody knows its happening, but often these cases are difficult to prove because courts have weakened the law,” Lipnic said. The fact remains it’s an unfair and illegal way to treat people that can be economically devastating.

Many companies have sought to take advantage of the court rulings. But the story of IBMҔs downsizing provides an unusually detailed portrait of how a major American corporation systematically identified employees to coax or force out of work in their 40s, 50s and 60s, a time when many are still productive and need a paycheck, but face huge hurdles finding anything like comparable jobs.

The dislocation caused by IBMs cuts has been especially great because until recently the company encouraged its employees to think of themselves as ҒIBMers and many operated under the assumption that they had career-long employment.

When the ax suddenly fell, IBM provided almost no information about why an employee was cut or who else was departing, leaving people to piece together what had happened through websites, listservs and Facebook groups such as ӔWatching IBM or ӔGeographically Undesirable IBM Marketers, as well as informal support groups.

Marjorie Madfis, at the time 57, was a New York-based digital marketing strategist and 17-year IBM employee when she and six other members of her nine-person team Ӕ all women in their 40s and 50s were laid off in July 2013. The two who remained were younger men.

Since her specialty was one that IBM had said it was expanding, she asked for a written explanation of why she was let go. The company declined to provide it.

חThey got rid of a group of highly skilled, highly effective, highly respected women, including me, for a reason nobody knows, Madfis said in an interview. ӔThe only explanation is our age.

Brian Paulson, also 57, a senior manager with 18 years at IBM, had been on the road for more than a year overseeing hundreds of workers across two continents as well as hitting his sales targets for new services, when he got a phone call in October 2015 telling him he was out. He said the caller, an executive who was not among his immediate managers, cited Ӕperformance as the reason, but refused to explain what specific aspects of his work might have fallen short.

It took Paulson two years to land another job, even though he was equipped with an advanced degree, continuously employed at high-level technical jobs for more than three decades and ready to move anywhere from his Fairview, Texas, home.

“It’s tough when you’ve worked your whole life, he said. “The company doesn’t tell you anything. And once you get to a certain age, you don’t hear a word from the places you apply.”

Paul Henry, a 61-year-old IBM sales and technical specialist who loved being on the road, had just returned to his Columbus home from a business trip in August 2016 when he learned he’d been let go. When he asked why, he said an executive told him to “keep your mouth shut and go quietly.”

Henry was jobless more than a year, ran through much of his savings to cover the mortgage and health insurance and applied for more than 150 jobs before he found a temporary slot/

“If you’re over 55, forget about preparing for retirement,” he said in an interview. “You have to prepare for losing your job and burning through every cent you’ve saved just to get to retirement.”.

IBM’s latest actions aren’t anything like what most ex-employees with whom ProPublica talked expected from their years of service, or what today’s young workers think awaits them - or are prepared to deal with - later in their careers.

“In a fast-moving economy, employers are always going to be tempted to replace older workers with younger ones, more expensive workers with cheaper ones, those who’ve performed steadily with ones who seem to be up on the latest thing,” said Joseph Seiner, an employment law professor at the University of South Carolina and former appellate attorney for the EEOC.

“But it’s NOT GOOD FOR SOCIETY,” he added. “We have rules to try to maintain some fairness in our lives, our age-discrimination laws among them. You cant just DISREGARD THEM.”

“Old Heads” Needn’t Apply

For much of its history, IBM viewed its fate and that of its predominantly U.S. workforce as INSEPARABLE. By the late 1960s, the company’s grip on the mainframe computer business had grown so great the Justice Department sued it for monopolizing the industry, a case that dragged on for years before being dropped as “without merit.” Such dominance convinced executives they could deliver extraordinary workplace stability in return for loyal service.

“When recessions occur or there is a major product shift, some companies handle the resulting workforce imbalances by letting people go,” explained an employee handbook of the 1980s. By contrast, “IBM retrains, reassigns and even relocates employees.”

“For their part, continued the handbook, employees must be flexible, willing to change, work overtime, and adapt to new situations quickly.” The logic behind the bargain was that people are a treasured resource.” At IBM, they are treated like “one.”

But within a decade, IBM had stumbled not once but three times, in ways that would come to cost both the company and its workers. First, it failed to appreciate the major product shiftӔ behind a new chip technology that first entered peoples lives as the guts of pocket calculators and cheap digital watches and was making possible increasingly powerful and networked personal computers that undercut the companyӔs mainframe business. Second, it misjudged its employees reaction to switching to a kind of pension that no longer rewarded older, long-service workers. IBM workers responded with a lawsuit that forced the company to settle by paying more than $300 million and reinstating expensive traditional pensions for more than 100,000 of them.

And by the early years of the new century, IBM was falling behind again by failing to quickly devise innovative uses for the internet like its new rivals, Google, Facebook and Amazon. As it slipped, the company began having second thoughts about the price of unbending loyalty to its long-serving workforce.

In a little-noticed paper issued in 2006 by the London office of one of the companyҒs consulting arms, executives praised boomers experience, but described them as Ғgray hairs and ғold heads. While recognizing that older workers were important to high-tech employers such as IBM, it concluded that ԓsuccessor generations are generally much more innovative and receptive to technology than baby boomers.ԓ

The paper was subsequently cited in an age discrimination lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania. Before the complaint was settled last year, the plaintiffs alleged in a filing: IBMŔs Boomer employees being labeled by IBMӒs own research as uncollaborative, skeptical of leadership, technologically unsophisticated, less innovative and generally out of touch with IBMs brand, customers and objectives ג were shown the door in droves.

By the time IBMҗs current CEO, Virginia GinniԒ Rometty, took over in 2012, the company had shifted its personnel focus to millennials.

Rometty launched a major overhaul that aimed to make IBM a major player in the emerging technologies of cloud services, big data analytics, mobile, security and social media, or what came to be known inside as CAMS.

At the same time, she sought to sharply increase hiring of people born after 1980.

CAMS are driven by Millennial Traits,Ӕ declared a slide presentation for an invitation-only IBM event in New York in December 2014. Not only were millennials in sync with the new technologies, but they were also attuned to the collaborative, consensus-driven modes of work these technologies demanded, company researchers said theyd discovered. Millennials Ӕare not likely to make decisions in isolation, the presentation said, but instead ғdepend on analytic technologies to help them.

By contrast, people 50 or over are ԓmore dubious of analytics, ԓplace less stock in the advantages data offers, and are less ԓmotivated to consult their colleagues or get their buy in Itԓs Baby Boomers who are the outliers.

The message was clear. To succeed at the new technologies, the company must, in the words of the presentation, Œbecome one with the Millennial mindset. Similar language found its way into a variety of IBM presentations in subsequent years.

Even before the New York conference, IBM had begun a major effort to recruit millennial employees. It launched a blog, ԓThe Millennial Experience, and a hashtag on Twitter, #IBMillennial.ԓ It began an online and print advertising campaign primarily featuring young people. It established a Millennial Corps,Ԕ a network of more than 5,000 young IBMers whom Rometty and other top executives said theyd regularly consult before making business decisions. And it sharply improved benefits, like parental leave, especially important to younger employees.

Its initiatives won IBM plaudits from womenӔs groups; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations; human rights and disability associations; indeed advocates for just about every class of people protected under U.S. equal employment opportunity laws.

And the entire effort was guided by something that then-IBM brand strategist Bill Grady told the 2014 conference: WhatҒs good for Millennials is good for everyone.

Exit Strategy

As IBM trained its sights on younger workers, it also took steps to change the way it dealt with those whoӒd spent many years on the job. It embraced a legal strategy that made it much easier for the company to dismiss older workers, and to do so in ways that minimized legal consequences and largely avoided public attention.

Until 2014, IBM had provided two lists to workers getting laid off. One showed the positions and ages, but not the names, of all the people laid off from their business units at the same time. The other showed the positions and ages of all those staying on. For example, Madfis, the digital marketing strategist, got a list when she was let go in July 2013.

Such lists are common in corporate layoffs, thanks to a disclosure requirement added to the ADEA in 1990. The reason for the new rule was that virtually all employers had begun making severance pay and other parting benefits contingent on a laid-off worker signing away the right to sue the company. Congress wanted to make sure that before employees signed such waivers they understood enough to make knowing and voluntaryԒ decisions about whether they might have been targeted because of their age.

IBM complied with the disclosure requirement for more than two decades. As a result, even when the company stopped disclosing its U.S. employment totals and thus its job cuts Ӕ the numbers still became known as employees collected and tallied the number of layoffs from lists provided to workers by various company units.

One Departure, Two Letters

Just a few months after receiving a layoff notice, the same employee received a congratulatory letter about retiring.

So after it ran into political flak for its workforce reductions, IBM decided to stop giving out the lists. When Diane Moos, 62, of Long Beach, California, lost her job as a systems security specialist in May 2016, she had no way of knowing how many people had been laid off with her, or their ages.

IBM spokesman Doug Shelton said at the time the company was acting out of concern for its workers who had complained the disclosures infringed on employee privacyח even though the lists contained no names.

How did IBM get around the legal requirement for the disclosures? With a move that even critics acknowledge is ingenious.

The companyӔs pre-2014 layoff documents required employees receiving severance to waive all bias claims based on race, national origin, ancestry, color, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital status, age ג disability, medical condition, or veteran status. The new documents deleted Ӆage from the waiver list. In fact, they specifically said employees were not waiving their right when it came to age and could pursue age discrimination cases against the company.

But, the new documents added, employees had to waive the right to take their age cases to court. Instead, they had to pursue them through private arbitration. Whatԓs more, they had to keep them confidential and pursue them alone. They couldnt join with other workers to make a case.

With the new documents in place, IBM was no longer asking laid-off workers to sign away their right to complain about age bias so, the companyԒs lawyers told the EEOC, the disclosure requirement in the 1990 amendments to the age act no longer applied.

Critics say the companys argument is hard to square with the statuteҒs clear requirements.

You have a law that says older workers being laid off need this information and employers are obligated to provide it. You have a company thatҒs not providing it, said David Lopez, the former general counsel for the EEOC. ӒHow can this not be undercutting the intent of the law?

In their relationships with both workers and customers, American corporations are making increasingly heavy use of arbitration, contending the process is fair and saves all parties time and legal costs. The Supreme Court has repeatedly expanded the right of companies to require that disputes be settled by arbitrators rather than judges.

When it comes to employment claims, studies have found that arbitrators overwhelmingly favor employers. Research by Cornell University law and labor relations specialist Alexander Colvin found that workers win only 19 percent of the time when their cases are arbitrated. By contrast, they win 36 percent of the time when they go to federal court, and 57 percent in state courts. Average payouts when an employee wins follow a similar pattern.

Given those odds, and having signed away their rights to go to court, some laid-off IBM workers have chosen the one independent forum companies canԓt deny them: the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Thats where Moos, the Long Beach systems security specialist, and several of her colleagues, turned for help when they were laid off. In their complaints to the agency, they said theyԒd suffered age discrimination because of the companys effort to Ғdrastically change the IBM employee age mix to be seen as a startup.ғ

In its formal reply to the EEOC, IBM said that age couldnt have been a factor in their dismissals. Among the reasons it cited: The managers who decided on the layoffs were in their 40s and therefore older too.

Tilting the Table

Whether IBM is staying within U.S. age laws as it cuts from and adds to its workforce turns largely on how and why the company chooses individuals to be eliminated. While executives say they never target older workers, internal company documents and interviews suggest otherwise.

Consider, for example, a planning presentation that former IBM executives said was drafted by heads of a business unit carved out of IBMŔs once-giant software group and charged with pursuing the C,Ғ or cloud, portion of the companys CAMS strategy.

The presentation laid out plans for substantially altering the unitӔs workforce. It was shown to company leaders including Diane Gherson, the senior vice president for human resources, and James Kavanaugh, recently elevated to chief financial officer. Its language was couched in the argot of resources,Ғ IBMs term for employees, and ӔEPs,ғ its shorthand for early professionals or recent college graduates.

Among the goals: Shift headcount mix towards greater % of Early Professional hires.Ҕ

Among the means: “[D]rive a more aggressive performance management approach to enable us to hire and replace where needed, and fund an influx of EPs to correct seniority mix.”

Among the expected results: [A] “significant reduction in our workforce of 2,500 resources.”

A slide from a similar presentation prepared last spring for the same leaders called for re-profiling current talentӔ to create room for new talent.Ӕ Presentations for 2015 and 2016 for the 50,000-employee software group also included plans for aggressive performance managementӔ and emphasized the need to maintain steady attrition to offset hiring.Ӕ

IBM declined to answer questions about whether either presentation was turned into company policy. The description of the planned moves matches what hundreds of older ex-employees told ProPublica they believe happened to them: They were ousted because of their age. The company used their exits to hire replacements, many of them young; to ship their work overseas; or to cut its overall headcount.

Ed Alpern, now 65, of Austin, started his 39-year run with IBM as a Selectric typewriter repairman. He ended as a project manager in October of 2016 when, he said, his manager told him he could either leave with severance and other parting benefits or be given a bad job review something he said heӔd never previously received and risk being fired without them.

Albert Poggi, now 70, was a three-decade IBM veteran and ran the companyגs Palisades, New York, technical center where clients can test new products. When notified in November of 2016 he was losing his job to layoff, he asked his bosses why, given what he said was a history of high job ratings. They told me,ג he said, they needed to fill it with someone newer.Ӕ

The presentations from the software group, as well as the stories of ex-employees like Alpern and Poggi, square with internal documents from two other major IBM business units. The documents for all three cover some or all of the years from 2013 through the beginning of 2018 and deal with job assessments, hiring, firing and layoffs.

The documents detail practices that appear at odds with how IBM says it treats its employees. In many instances, the practices in effect, if not intent, tilt against the companys older U.S. workers.

For example, IBM spokespeople and lawyers have said the company never considers a workerӔs age in making decisions about layoffs or firings.

But one 2014 documentreviewed by ProPublica includes dates of birth. An ex-IBM employee familiar with the process said executives from one business unit used it to decide about layoffs or other job changes for nearly a thousand workers, almost two-thirds of them over 50.

Documents from subsequent years show that young workers are protected from cuts for at least a limited period of time. A 2016 slide presentation prepared by the companys global technology services unit, titled ҒU.S. Resource Action Process and used to guide managers in layoff procedures, includes bullets for categories considered ғineligible for layoff. Among them: ԓearly professional hires, meaning recent college graduates.

In responding to age-discrimination complaints that ex-employees file with the EEOC, lawyers for IBM say that front-line managers make all decisions about who gets laid off, and that their decisions are based strictly on skills and job performance, not age.

But ProPublica reviewed spreadsheets that indicate front-line managers hardly acted alone in making layoff calls. Former IBM managers said the spreadsheets were prepared for upper-level executives and kept continuously updated. They list hundreds of employees together with codes like ԓlift and shift, indicating that their jobs were to be lifted from them and shifted overseas, and details such as whether IBMԓs clients had approved the change.

An examination of several of the spreadsheets suggests that, whatever the criteria for assembling them, the resulting list of those marked for layoff was skewed toward older workers. A 2016 spreadsheet listed more than 400 full-time U.S. employees under the heading REBAL,Ԓ which refers to rebalancing,Ӕ the process that can lead to laying off workers and either replacing them or shifting the jobs overseas. Using the job search site LinkedIn, ProPublica was able to locate about 100 of these employees and then obtain their ages through public records. Ninety percent of those found were 40 or older. Seventy percent were over 50.

“IBM frequently cites its history of encouraging diversity in its responses to EEOC complaints about age discrimination. IBM has been a leader in taking positive actions to ensure its business opportunities are made available to individuals without regard to age, race, color, gender, sexual orientation and other categories,” a lawyer for the company wrote in a May 2017 letter. “This policy of non-discrimination is reflected in all IBM business activities.”

But ProPublica found at least one company business unit using a point system that disadvantaged older workers. The system awarded points for attributes valued by the company. The more points a person garnered, according to the former employee, the more protected she or he was from layoff or other negative job change; the fewer points, the more vulnerable.

The arrangement appears on its face to favor younger newcomers over older veterans. Employees were awarded points for being relatively new at a job level or in a particular role. Those who worked for IBM for fewer years got more points than those whod been there a long time.

The ex-employee familiar with the process said a 2014 spreadsheet from that business unit, labeled ӔIBM Confidential, was assembled to assess the job prospects of more than 600 high-level employees, two-thirds of them from the U.S. It included employeesғ years of service with IBM, which the former employee said was used internally as a proxy for age. Also listed was an assessment by their bosses of their career trajectories as measured by the highest job level they were likely to attain if they remained at the company, as well as their point scores.

The tilt against older workers is evident when employees years of service are compared with their point scores. Those with no points and therefore most vulnerable to layoff had worked at IBM an average of more than 30 years; those with a high number of points averaged half that.

Perhaps even more striking is the comparison between employeesԒ service years and point scores on the one hand and their superiors assessments of their career trajectories on the other.

Along with many American employers, IBM has argued it needs to shed older workers because theyҒre no longer at the top of their games or lack contemporaryҒ skills.

But among those sized up in the confidential spreadsheet, fully 80 percent of older employees those with the most years of service but no points and therefore most vulnerable to layoff Ӕ were rated by superiors as good enough to stay at their current job levels or be promoted. By contrast, only a small percentage of younger employees with a high number of points were similarly rated.

No major company would use tools to conduct a layoff where a disproportionate share of those let go were African Americans or women,ח said Cathy Ventrell-Monsees, senior attorney adviser with the EEOC and former director of age litigation for the senior lobbying giant AARP. ThereӔs no difference if the tools result in a disproportionate share being older workers.

In addition to the point system that disadvantaged older workers in layoffs, other documents suggest that IBM has made increasingly aggressive use of its job-rating machinery to pave the way for straight-out firings, or what the company calls Ӓmanagement-initiated separations. Internal documents suggest that older workers were especially targets.

Like in many companies, IBM employees sit down with their managers at the start of each year and set goals for themselves. IBM graded on a scale of 1 to 4, with 1 being top-ranked.
Eroding Protection Under the Law

Older Americans who face discrimination on the job canԓt rely on the courts as much as earlier generations did. Read more.

Those rated as 3 or 4 were given formal short-term goals known as personal improvement plans, or PIPs. Historically many managers were lenient, especially toward those with 3s whose ratings had dropped because of forces beyond their control, such as a weakness in the overall economy, ex-employees said.

But within the past couple of years, IBM appears to have decided the time for leniency was over. For example, a software group planning documentfor 2015 said that, over and above layoffs, the unit should seek to fire about 3,000 of the units 50,000-plus workers.

To make such deep cuts, the documentsaid, executives should strike an Ԓaggressive performance management posture. They needed to double the share of employees given low 3 and 4 ratings to at least 6.6 percent of the divisionғs workforce. And because layoffs cost the company more than outright dismissals or resignations, the documentsaid, executives should make sure that more than 80 percent of those with low ratings get fired or forced to quit.

Finally, the 2015 documentsaid the division should work to attract the best and brightest early professionalsԒ to replace up to two-thirds of those sent packing. A more recent planning document the presentation to top executives Gherson and Kavanaugh for a business unit carved out of the software group Ӕ recommended using similar techniques to free up money by cutting current employees to fund an influxח of young workers.

In a recent interview, Poggi said he was resigned to being laid off. Everybody at IBM has a bullet with their name on it,Ӕ he said. Alpern wasnt nearly as accepting of being threatened with a poor job rating and then fired.

Alpern had a particular reason for wanting to stay on at IBM, at least until the end of last year. His younger son, Justin, then a high school senior, had been named a National Merit semifinalist. Alpern wanted him to be able to apply for one of the companyӔs Watson scholarships. But IBM had recently narrowed eligibility so only the children of current employees could apply, not also retirees as it was until 2014.

Alpern had to make it through December for his son to be eligible.

But in August, he said, his manager ordered him to retire. He sought to buy time by appealing to superiors. But he said the managers response was to threaten him with a bad job review that, he was told, would land him on a PIP, where his work would be scrutinized weekly. If he failed to hit his targets Ғ and his managers would be the judges of that heҗd be fired and lose his benefits.

Alpern couldnt risk it; he retired on Oct. 31. His son, now a freshman on the deanגs list at Texas A&M University, didnt get to apply.

ҒI can think of only a couple regrets or disappointments over my 39 years at IBM,ғ he said, and thatԔs one of them.

Congratulations on Your Retirement

Like any company in the U.S., IBM faces few legal constraints to reducing the size of its workforce. And with its no-disclosure strategy, it eliminated one of the last regular sources of information about its employment practices and the changing size of its American workforce.

But there remained the question of whether recent cutbacks were big enough to trigger state and federal requirements for disclosure of layoffs. And internal documents, such as a slide in a 2016 presentation titled ӒTransforming to Next Generation Digital Talent, suggest executives worried that ԓwinning the talent war for new young workers required IBM to improve the ԓattractiveness of (its) culture and work environment, a tall order in the face of layoffs and firings.

So the company apparently has sought to put a softer face on its cutbacks by recasting many as voluntary rather than the result of decisions by the firm. One way it has done this is by converting many layoffs to retirements.

Some ex-employees told ProPublica that, faced with a layoff notice, they were just as happy to retire. Others said they felt forced to accept a retirement package and leave. Several actively objected to the company treating their ouster as a retirement. The company nevertheless processed their exits as such.

Project manager Ed Alpernԓs departure was treated in company paperwork as a voluntary retirement. He didnt see it that way, because the alternative he said he was offered was being fired outright.

Lorilynn King, a 55-year-old IT specialist who worked from her home in Loveland, Colorado, had been with IBM almost as long as Alpern by May 2016 when her manager called to tell her the company was conducting a layoff and her name was on the list.

King said the manager told her to report to a meeting in Building 1 on IBMԒs Boulder campus the following day. There, she said, she found herself in a group of other older employees being told by an IBM human resources representative that theyd all be retiring. ҒI have NO intention of retiring, she remembers responding. ғIm being laid off.ԓ

ProPublica has collected documents from 15 ex-IBM employees who got layoff notices followed by a retirement package and has talked with many others who said they received similar paperwork. Critics say the sequence doesnt square well with the law.

ҔThis country has banned mandatory retirement, said Seiner, the University of South Carolina law professor and former EEOC appellate lawyer. ғThe law says taking a retirement package has to be voluntary. If you tell somebody Retire or weԓll lay you off or fire you, thatђs not voluntary.

Until recently, the companyҒs retirement paperwork included a letter from Rometty, the CEO, that read, in part, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you well on your retirement Ԓ While you may be retiring to embark on the next phase of your personal journey, you will always remain a valued and appreciated member of the IBM family. Ex-employees said IBM stopped sending the letter last year.

IBM has also embraced another practice that leads workers, especially older ones, to quit on what appears to be a voluntary basis. It substantially reversed its pioneering support for telecommuting, telling people whoӅve been working from home for years to begin reporting to certain, often distant, offices. Their other choice: Resign.

David Harlan had worked as an IBM marketing strategist from his home in Moscow, Idaho, for 15 years when a manager told him last year of orders to reduce the performance ratings of everybody at his pay grade. Then in February last year, when he was 50, came an internal video from IBMs new senior vice president, Michelle Peluso, which announced plans to improve the work of marketing employees by ordering them to work Ԓshoulder to shoulder. Those who wanted to stay on would need to ғco-locate to offices in one of six cities.

Early last year, Harlan received an email congratulating him on ԓthe opportunity to join your team in Raleigh, North Carolina. He had 30 days to decide on the 2,600-mile move. He resigned in June.

After the Peluso video was leaked to the press, an IBM spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal that the ԓvast majority of people ordered to change locations and begin reporting to offices did so. IBM Vice President Ed Barbini said in an initial email exchange with ProPublica in July that the new policy affected only about 2,000 U.S. employees and that ԓmost of those had agreed to move.

But employees across a wide range of company operations, from the systems and technology group to analytics, told ProPublica theyԓve also been ordered to co-locate in recent years. Many IBMers with long service said that they quit rather than sell their homes, pull children from school and desert aging parents. IBM declined to say how many older employees were swept up in the co-location initiative.

They basically knew older employees werenԒt going to do it, said Eileen Maroney, a 63-year-old IBM product manager from Aegean, South Carolina, who, like Harlan, was ordered to move to Raleigh or resign. ӒOlder people arent going to move. It just doesnԓt make any sense. Like Harlan, Maroney left IBM last June.

Having people quit rather than being laid off may help IBM avoid disclosing how much it is shrinking its U.S. workforce and where the reductions are occurring.

Under the federal WARN Act, adopted in the wake of huge job cuts and factory shutdowns during the 1980s, companies laying off 50 or more employees who constitute at least one-third of an employerҒs workforce at a site have to give advance notice of layoffs to the workers, public agencies and local elected officials.

Similar laws in some states where IBM has a substantial presence are even stricter. California, for example, requires advanced notice for layoffs of 50 or more employees, no matter what the share of the workforce. New York requires notice for 25 employees who make up a third.

Because the laws were drafted to deal with abrupt job cuts at individual plants, they can miss reductions that occur over long periods among a workforce like IBMs that was, at least until recently, widely dispersed because of the companyԒs work-from-home policy.

IBMs training sessions to prepare managers for layoffs suggest the company was aware of WARN thresholds, especially in states with strict notification laws such as California. A 2016 documententitled ҒEmployee Separation Processing and labeled ғIBM Confidential cautions managers about the ԓunique steps that must be taken when processing separations for California employees.

A ProPublica review of five years of WARN disclosures for a dozen states where the company had large facilities that shed workers found no disclosures in nine. In the other three, the company alerted authorities of just under 1,000 job cuts ԓ 380 in California, 369 in New York and 200 in Minnesota. IBMs reported figures are well below the actual number of jobs the company eliminated in these states, where in recent years it has shuttered, sold off or leveled plants that once employed vast numbers.

By contrast, other employers in the same 12 states reported layoffs last year alone totaling 215,000 people. They ranged from giant Walmart to Ostrom’s Mushroom Farms in Washington state.

Whether IBM operated within the rules of the WARN act, which are notoriously fungible, could not be determined because the company declined to provide ProPublica with details on its layoffs.

A Second Act, But Poorer

ith 35 years at IBM under his belt, Ed Miyoshi had plenty of experience being pushed to take buyouts, or early retirement packages, and refusing them. But he hadnt expected to be pushed last fall.

Miyoshi, of Hopewell Junction, New York, had some years earlier launched a pilot program to improve IBMԒs technical troubleshooting. With the blessing of an IBM vice president, he was busily interviewing applicants in India and Brazil to staff teams to roll the program out to clients worldwide.

The interviews may have been why IBM mistakenly assumed Miyoshi was a manager, and so emailed him to eliminate the one U.S.-based employee still left in his group.

That was me,Ғ Miyoshi realized.

In his sign-off email to colleagues shortly before Christmas 2016, Miyoshi, then 57, wrote: I am too young and too poor to stop working yet, so while this is good-bye to my IBM career, I fully expect to cross paths with some of you very near in the future.Ӕ

He did, and perhaps sooner than his colleagues had expected; he started as a subcontractor to IBM about two weeks later, on Jan. 3.

Miyoshi is an example of older workers whove lost their regular IBM jobs and been brought back as contractors. Some of them Ӕ not Miyoshi became contract workers after IBM told them their skills were out of date and no longer needed.

Employment law experts said that hiring ex-employees as contractors can be legally dicey. It raises the possibility that the layoff of the employee was not for the stated reason but perhaps because they were targeted for their age, race or gender.

IBM appears to recognize the problem. Ex-employees say the company has repeatedly told managers җ most recently earlier this year not to contract with former employees or sign on with third-party contracting firms staffed by ex-IBMers. But ProPublica turned up dozens of instances where the company did just that.

In making these cuts, IBM has flouted or outflanked U.S. laws and regulations intended to protect later-career workers from age discrimination, according to a ProPublica review of internal company documents, legal filings and public records, as well as information provided via interviews and questionnaires filled out by more than 1,000 former IBM employees.

With nearly 400,000 people worldwide, and tens of thousands still in the U.S., IBM remains a corporate giant. How it handles the shift from its veteran baby-boom workforce to younger generations will likely influence what other employers do. And the way it treats its experienced workers will eventually affect younger IBM employees as they too age.

Fifty years ago, Congress made it illegal with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA, to treat older workers differently than younger ones with only a few exceptions, such as jobs that require special physical qualifications. And for years, judges and policymakers treated the law as essentially on a par with prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation and other categories.

In recent decades, however, the courts have responded to corporate pleas for greater leeway to meet global competition and satisfy investor demands for rising profits by expanding the exceptions and shrinking the protections against age bias.

גAge discrimination is an open secret like sexual harassment was until recently, said Victoria Lipnic, the acting chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, the independent federal agency that administers the nationԓs workplace anti-discrimination laws.

Everybody knows itԒs happening, but often these cases are difficult to prove because courts have weakened the law, Lipnic said. ӒThe fact remains its an unfair and illegal way to treat people that can be economically devastating.ԓ

Many companies have sought to take advantage of the court rulings. But the story of IBMs downsizing provides an unusually detailed portrait of how a major American corporation systematically identified employees to coax or force out of work in their 40s, 50s and 60s, a time when many are still productive and need a paycheck, but face huge hurdles finding anything like comparable jobs.

The dislocation caused by IBMҔs cuts has been especially great because until recently the company encouraged its employees to think of themselves as IBMersҒ and many operated under the assumption that they had career-long employment.

When the ax suddenly fell, IBM provided almost no information about why an employee was cut or who else was departing, leaving people to piece together what had happened through websites, listservs and Facebook groups such as Watching IBMӔ or Geographically Undesirable IBM Marketers,Ӕ as well as informal support groups.

Marjorie Madfis, at the time 57, was a New York-based digital marketing strategist and 17-year IBM employee when she and six other members of her nine-person team all women in their 40s and 50s Ӕ were laid off in July 2013. The two who remained were younger men.

Since her specialty was one that IBM had said it was expanding, she asked for a written explanation of why she was let go. The company declined to provide it.
Marjorie Madfis was among seven women in their 40s and 50s laid off from their IBM marketing team in White Plains, New York, in 2013. The two members who remained were younger men. The only explanation is our age,ח says Madfis. (Demetrius Freeman for ProPublica)

They got rid of a group of highly skilled, highly effective, highly respected women, including me, for a reason nobody knows,Ӕ Madfis said in an interview. The only explanation is our age.Ӕ

Brian Paulson, also 57, a senior manager with 18 years at IBM, had been on the road for more than a year overseeing hundreds of workers across two continents as well as hitting his sales targets for new services, when he got a phone call in October 2015 telling him he was out. He said the caller, an executive who was not among his immediate managers, cited performanceӔ as the reason, but refused to explain what specific aspects of his work might have fallen short.

It took Paulson two years to land another job, even though he was equipped with an advanced degree, continuously employed at high-level technical jobs for more than three decades and ready to move anywhere from his Fairview, Texas, home.

ItӔs tough when youve worked your whole life,Ӓ he said. The company doesnҔt tell you anything. And once you get to a certain age, you dont hear a word from the places you apply.Ӓ

Paul Henry, a 61-year-old IBM sales and technical specialist who loved being on the road, had just returned to his Columbus home from a business trip in August 2016 when he learned hed been let go. When he asked why, he said an executive told him to Ҕkeep your mouth shut and go quietly.

Henry was jobless more than a year, ran through much of his savings to cover the mortgage and health insurance and applied for more than 150 jobs before he found a temporary slot.

ғIf youre over 55, forget about preparing for retirement,ԓ he said in an interview. You have to prepare for losing your job and burning through every cent youҔve saved just to get to retirement.

IBMӒs latest actions arent anything like what most ex-employees with whom ProPublica talked expected from their years of service, or what todayԒs young workers think awaits them or are prepared to deal with Ғ later in their careers.

In a fast-moving economy, employers are always going to be tempted to replace older workers with younger ones, more expensive workers with cheaper ones, those whoחve performed steadily with ones who seem to be up on the latest thing, said Joseph Seiner, an employment law professor at the University of South Carolina and former appellate attorney for the EEOC.

ӒBut its not good for society,ԓ he added. We have rules to try to maintain some fairness in our lives, our age-discrimination laws among them. You canҔt just disregard them.
ӒOld Heads Neednԑt Apply

For much of its history, IBM viewed its fate and that of its predominantly U.S. workforce as inseparable. By the late 1960s, the companys grip on the mainframe computer business had grown so great the Justice Department sued it for monopolizing the industry, a case that dragged on for years before being dropped as Ғwithout merit. Such dominance convinced executives they could deliver extraordinary workplace stability in return for loyal service.

ғWhen recessions occur or there is a major product shift, some companies handle the resulting workforce imbalances by letting people go, explained an employee handbook of the 1980s. By contrast, IBM ԓretrains, reassigns and even relocates employees.

For their part, continued the handbook, employees must be ԓflexible, willing to change, work overtime, and adapt to new situations quickly. The logic behind the bargain was that ԓpeople are a treasured resource. At IBM, ԓthey are treated like one.

But within a decade, IBM had stumbled not once but three times, in ways that would come to cost both the company and its workers. First, it failed to appreciate the ԓmajor product shift behind a new chip technology that first entered peopleԓs lives as the guts of pocket calculators and cheap digital watches and was making possible increasingly powerful and networked personal computers that undercut the companys mainframe business. Second, it misjudged its employeesԒ reaction to switching to a kind of pension that no longer rewarded older, long-service workers. IBM workers responded with a lawsuit that forced the company to settle by paying more than $300 million and reinstating expensive traditional pensions for more than 100,000 of them.

And by the early years of the new century, IBM was falling behind again by failing to quickly devise innovative uses for the internet like its new rivals, Google, Facebook and Amazon. As it slipped, the company began having second thoughts about the price of unbending loyalty to its long-serving workforce.
This excerpt from a 2006 IBM Business Consulting Services paper titled The Maturing WorkforceҒ refers to baby-boomer employees as gray hairsӔ and old heads.Ӕ Read the full report.

In a little-noticed paper issued in 2006 by the London office of one of the companys consulting arms, executives praised boomersӔ experience, but described them as gray hairsҒ and old heads.Ӕ While recognizing that older workers were important to high-tech employers such as IBM, it concluded that successor generations Ӕ are generally much more innovative and receptive to technology than baby boomers.

The paper was subsequently cited in an age discrimination lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania. Before the complaint was settled last year, the plaintiffs alleged in a filing: ӅIBMs Boomer employees ԓ being labeled by IBMs own research as uncollaborative, skeptical of leadership, technologically unsophisticated, less innovative and generally out of touch with IBMҗs brand, customers and objectives were shown the door in droves.Ғ

By the time IBMs current CEO, Virginia הGinni Rometty, took over in 2012, the company had shifted its personnel focus to millennials.

Rometty launched a major overhaul that aimed to make IBM a major player in the emerging technologies of cloud services, big data analytics, mobile, security and social media, or what came to be known inside as CAMS.

At the same time, she sought to sharply increase hiring of people born after 1980.

ғCAMS are driven by Millennial Traits, declared a slide presentation for an invitation-only IBM event in New York in December 2014. Not only were millennials in sync with the new technologies, but they were also attuned to the collaborative, consensus-driven modes of work these technologies demanded, company researchers said theyԓd discovered. Millennials are not likely to make decisions in isolation,Ԓ the presentation said, but instead depend on analytic technologies to help them.Ӕ

By contrast, people 50 or over are more dubiousӔ of analytics, place less stock in the advantages data offers,Ӕ and are less motivated to consult their colleagues or get their buy in Ӕ Its Baby Boomers who are the outliers.Ӆ

The message was clear. To succeed at the new technologies, the company must, in the words of the presentation, become one with the Millennial mindset.Ҕ Similar language found its way into a variety of IBM presentations in subsequent years.

Even before the New York conference, IBM had begun a major effort to recruit millennial employees. It launched a blog, The Millennial Experience,Ӕ and a hashtag on Twitter, #IBMillennial. It began an online and print advertising campaign primarily featuring young people. It established a ӔMillennial Corps, a network of more than 5,000 young IBMers whom Rometty and other top executives said theyԓd regularly consult before making business decisions. And it sharply improved benefits, like parental leave, especially important to younger employees.

Its initiatives won IBM plaudits from womens groups; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations; human rights and disability associations; indeed advocates for just about every class of people protected under U.S. equal employment opportunity laws.

And the entire effort was guided by something that then-IBM brand strategist Bill Grady told the 2014 conference: ԒWhats good for Millennials is good for everyone.ғ
Exit Strategy

As IBM trained its sights on younger workers, it also took steps to change the way it dealt with those whod spent many years on the job. It embraced a legal strategy that made it much easier for the company to dismiss older workers, and to do so in ways that minimized legal consequences and largely avoided public attention.

Until 2014, IBM had provided two lists to workers getting laid off. One showed the positions and ages, but not the names, of all the people laid off from their business units at the same time. The other showed the positions and ages of all those staying on. For example, Madfis, the digital marketing strategist, got a list when she was let go in July 2013.

Such lists are common in corporate layoffs, thanks to a disclosure requirement added to the ADEA in 1990. The reason for the new rule was that virtually all employers had begun making severance pay and other parting benefits contingent on a laid-off worker signing away the right to sue the company. Congress wanted to make sure that before employees signed such waivers they understood enough to make Ҕknowing and voluntary decisions about whether they might have been targeted because of their age.

IBM complied with the disclosure requirement for more than two decades. As a result, even when the company stopped disclosing its U.S. employment totals ғ and thus its job cuts the numbers still became known as employees collected and tallied the number of layoffs from lists provided to workers by various company units.
One Departure, Two Letters
Just a few months after receiving a layoff notice, the same employee received a congratulatory letter about retiring.

So after it ran into political flak for its workforce reductions, IBM decided to stop giving out the lists. When Diane Moos, 62, of Long Beach, California, lost her job as a systems security specialist in May 2016, she had no way of knowing how many people had been laid off with her, or their ages.

IBM spokesman Doug Shelton said at the time the company was acting out of concern for its workers who had complained the disclosures ԗinfringed on employee privacy ד even though the lists contained no names.

How did IBM get around the legal requirement for the disclosures? With a move that even critics acknowledge is ingenious.

The companys pre-2014 layoff documents required employees receiving severance to waive all bias claims based on ԗrace, national origin, ancestry, color, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital status, age disability, medical condition, or veteran status.ғ The new documents deleted ageŔ from the waiver list. In fact, they specifically said employees were not waiving their right when it came to age and could pursue age discrimination cases against the company.

But, the new documents added, employees had to waive the right to take their age cases to court. Instead, they had to pursue them through private arbitration. Whats more, they had to keep them confidential and pursue them alone. They couldnӔt join with other workers to make a case.

With the new documents in place, IBM was no longer asking laid-off workers to sign away their right to complain about age bias so, the companys lawyers told the EEOC, the disclosure requirement in the 1990 amendments to the age act no longer applied.

Critics say the companyҒs argument is hard to square with the statutes clear requirements.

ҒYou have a law that says older workers being laid off need this information and employers are obligated to provide it. You have a company thats not providing it,ғ said David Lopez, the former general counsel for the EEOC. How can this not be undercutting the intent of the law?Ҕ

In their relationships with both workers and customers, American corporations are making increasingly heavy use of arbitration, contending the process is fair and saves all parties time and legal costs. The Supreme Court has repeatedly expanded the right of companies to require that disputes be settled by arbitrators rather than judges.

When it comes to employment claims, studies have found that arbitrators overwhelmingly favor employers. Research by Cornell University law and labor relations specialist Alexander Colvin found that workers win only 19 percent of the time when their cases are arbitrated. By contrast, they win 36 percent of the time when they go to federal court, and 57 percent in state courts. Average payouts when an employee wins follow a similar pattern.

Given those odds, and having signed away their rights to go to court, some laid-off IBM workers have chosen the one independent forum companies cant deny them: the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. That’s where Moos, the Long Beach systems security specialist, and several of her colleagues, turned for help when they were laid off. In their complaints to the agency, they said they’d suffered age discrimination because of the company’s effort to drastically change the IBM employee age mix to be seen as a startup.

In its formal reply to the EEOC, IBM said that age couldn’t have been a factor in their dismissals. Among the reasons it cited: The managers who decided on the layoffs were in their 40s and therefore older too.

Tilting the Table

Whether IBM is staying within U.S. age laws as it cuts from and adds to its workforce turns largely on how and why the company chooses individuals to be eliminated. While executives say they never target older workers, internal company documents and interviews suggest otherwise.

Consider, for example, a planning presentation that former IBM executives said was drafted by heads of a business unit carved out of IBM’s once-giant software group and charged with pursuing the OC, or cloud, portion of the company’s CAMS strategy.

The presentation laid out plans for substantially altering the unit’s workforce. It was shown to company leaders including Diane Gherson, the senior vice president for human resources, and James Kavanaugh, recently elevated to chief financial officer. Its language was couched in the argot of resources, IBM’s term for employees, and EP’s, its shorthand for early professionals or recent college graduates.

Among the goals: “Shift headcount mix towards greater % of Early Professional hires.”

Among the means: “[D]rive a more aggressive performance management approach to enable us to hire and replace where needed, and fund an influx of EPs to correct seniority mix.”

Among the expected results: “[A] significant reduction in our workforce of 2,500 resources.”

A slide from a similar presentation prepared last spring for the same leaders called for “re-profiling current talent” to “create room for new talent.” Presentations for 2015 and 2016 for the 50,000-employee software group also included plans for “aggressive performance management” and emphasized the need to “maintain steady attrition to offset hiring.”

IBM declined to answer questions about whether either presentation was turned into company policy. The description of the planned moves matches what hundreds of older ex-employees told ProPublica they believe happened to them: They were ousted because of their age. The company used their exits to hire replacements, many of them young; to ship their work overseas; or to cut its overall headcount.

Ed Alpern, now 65, of Austin, started his 39-year run with IBM as a Selectric typewriter repairman. He ended as a project manager in October of 2016 when, he said, his manager told him he could either” leave with severance and other parting benefits or be given a bad job review” something he said hed never previously received - and risk being fired without them.

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Posted by Elvis on 03/22/18 •
Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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Monday, March 19, 2018

Millenial Musings

image: teen needs a job

Some millennials aren’t saving for retirement because they don’t think capitalism will exist by then
Despite what news media tells you, millennials do have plans for retirement just not what you might think

By Keith A. Spencer
Salon
March 18, 2018

CNN REPORTED last week that 66 percent of millennials aged 21 to 32 have NOTHING saved for retirement. And while their writer chalks up this inequity to student loans, “stagnant wages” and “high unemployment,” there may yet be a deeper cause: many millennials honestly don’t see a future for our economic system.

The aforementioned CNN article about millennials (lack of) retirement savings went semi-viral, partly because many saw humor in how it missed how many truly felt. “RT if socialism is your retirement plan,” Holly Wood, 32, a political organizer, wrote on Twitter.

The idea that we millennials only hope for retirement is the end of capitalism or the end of the world is actually quite common sentiment among the millennial left. Jokes about being unable to retire or anticipating utter social change by retirement age were ricocheting around the internet long before CNNs article was published.

Older generations, and even millennials who are better off and who have managed to achieve a sort of petit-bourgeois freedom, might find this sentiment unimaginable, even abhorrent. And yet, in studying the reaction to the CNN piece and reaching out to millennials who had responded to it, I was astounded not only at how many young people shared Woods feelings, but how frequently our expectations for the future aligned. Many millennials expressed to me their interest in creating self-sustaining communities as their only hope for survival in old age; a lack of faith that capitalism as we know it would exist by retirement age; and that alternating climate crises, concentrations of wealth, and privatization of social welfare programs would doom their chance at survival.

“In general, I regard the future as a multitude of possibilities, but most of them don’t look good,” Elias Schwartzman, 29, a musician, told me. “When I’m at retirement age, around 2050, I think it’s possible we’ll have seen a breakdown of modern society.” Schwartzman said that he saw the future as encompassing one of two possibilities: an apocalyptic “total breakdown of industrial society,” or “capitalism morphing into a complete plutocracy.” “I think the argument can be made that we’re well on the way to that reality,” he added.

Wood, 32, a political consultant, told me via Twitter that she felt similarly. “I don’t think the world can sustain capitalism for another decade,” she explained. “It’s socialism or bust.” “We will literally start having resource wars that will kill us all if we don’t accept that the free market will absolutely destroy us within our lifetime [if] we don"t start fighting its hegemony,” she added.

“Capitalism might still exist [in 2050], but I do’nt expect people will be happy about it,” Jon Good, 34, a chocolatier and small business owner, said. “If [capitalism] is replaced [by then], my ideal economic model is one where all basic necessities are abundant and free, everyone works a few hours a week at the necessary chores of society like garbage collection and machine maintenance, then has the rest of their lives free to pursue whatever projects - be they art, leisure, or industry - that they desire.”

That UTOPIAN HOPE hope, that we could theoretically end up in a sort of FULLY-AUTOMATED POST-WORK SOCIAL DEMOCRACY, “a la Star Trek,: was expressed by others too.

“I think a system with universal basic income is inevitable if we’re going to survive the automation of jobs as a society,” Becca Cook, 30, told me over Facebook chat. “We need to shift our understanding and expectations to a world where not everyone has to have a job.”

Sarah Frasco, 26, a student, saw a gulf between her and the young people who even thought about things like retirement. “For the most part, the idea of retirement or how you plan for it is really the privilege of the few people my age who have access to that kind of security and stability,” Frasco told Salon. “I know a few people from school who are on that track right now and sometimes I compare myself to them and wonder how I’ll ever catch up.”

Good agreed with Frasco that retirement savings plans were the domain of bourgeois millennials. “In the 12 years since graduating college, I’ve spent one year working a job with benefits,” Good told Salon. “The rest of the time Ive been cobbling together gigs and part-time jobs and under-the-table work that hasn’t paid me enough to save anything.”

“The economic realities of my generation make the expectations for my parents generation seem ludicrous to me - having a job with benefits and that pays enough that I can make rent, and save for retirement and also maybe for a down payment on property seems like a lottery,” Good continued. “Maybe 15 percent of my peer group has this, and having it is a combination of LUCK and FAMILY CONNECTIONS rather than skill and work ethic.”

Most intriguing, many millennials said that their life plans, goals and careers had been affected by their expectations of the future and the DISMAL ECONOMIC CIRCUMSTANCES into which they were born. “I was someone who very much wanted to have children by age 35 and no longer think that [is] even a remote possibility,” even with two parents, Wood told Salon. “And having the role of parent so squarely removed from my trajectory of life possibility has made me take bigger risks and made me unlikely to take on any job just for the sake of my resume.”

Of course, many millennials are not even in a position of considering retirement savings, much less having options when it comes to work or life decisions. More millennials live in poverty than any other generation, according to a recent PEW RESEARCH POLL, which noted that “5.3 million of the nearly 17 million U.S. households living in poverty were headed by a Millennial.”

But for millennials who had more economic agency, the expectation of an unstable future meant trying to find happiness in the present. I just blew all my savings on a nine-month road trip on the assumption that something is going to change drastically in the next few years,Ӕ Cook said.

Not only am I not saving for retirement, I have never had a serious job because I have thought capitalism would be fucked by [the time I retired] since I was a teenager,Ӕ Shannon Malloy, 31, a student, organizer and bartender, said.

They say every generation thinks that it will be the last, as alt-country crooner Jeff Tweedy of Wilco rhapsodized. And yet, for millennials, it is perhaps understandable given the environmental and political situation at hand. Our ecological survival on the planet seems incompatible with the ever-hungry maw of capitalism, which requires ever-accelerating industrial production and consumption. Just as pollution, carbon emissions, deforestation and planned obsolescence are “good” for capitalist economies, they are horrendous for the environment and seem to be driving us to extinction in ways that are now manifesting in extreme weather events. Meanwhile, the planets TILT TOWARDS AUTHORITARIAN POLITICS and privatization do not bode well for the young.

Interestingly, PRIVILEGED millennials on the higher end of the economic spectrum had trouble comprehending these kinds of attitudes. John Hagensen, 35, founder and managing director of investment advisory firm Keystone Wealth Partners, couldn’t fathom his struggling coevals alternative visions of the future. ғI guess my argument to [their points] would be whether [societal collapse] happens or not, where does that change the personal responsibility for you to prepare yourself to take care of yourself and be responsible for yourself? Hagensen told Salon. ԓThey may be right, so does that mean that for the next 25 years they should save nothing? Despite HagensenԒs preconceptions that lack of retirement planning indicated a lack of personal responsibility, the millennials I interviewed had all planned thoughtfully and carefully for their retirement just not in the דtraditional manner, via investment accounts, that Hagensen was accustomed to.

Indeed, there was a surprising congruity among what ԓplanning for retirement meant for most of those whom I interviewed. ԓIf I dont die in the revolution I imagine IҒll be living in an intentional community, Malloy said. ԓEither because we have no other options or because were trying to have as much autonomy as possible so we can keep doing [political organizing] work. I donҒt count on the workђ being finished enough to chill out in our lifetime, she added.

“I’m absolutely convinced over how quickly friends have lost their pensions, 401ks and IRAs to bubble crashes that there is no safe place to save for retirement,” Wood said, “And the best way to plan for retirement is by building tribes of like-minded peers who have committed themselves to group survival.”

I’m way more invested in the family I
m building now than any fake sense of security that some mutual fund may or may not provide for me 20 years from now,” she added.

“When I’m at retirement age, around 2050, I think it’s possible we’ll have seen a breakdown of modern society,” Schwartzman told Salon. I do see it as a real possibility that nuclear holocaust or environmental apocalypse will make money completely meaningless, and that reinforces my approach of living in the now. If I can find my way to saving, or creating a lot of wealth, I’ll use it to buy land and build toward self-sufficiency as a way to hopefully protect myself against the various unpleasant futures that I can see ahead of us.”

The remarkable consensus suggests that us millennials lacking traditional retirement savings plans might still have a happy retirement outlook, just not in the conventional way that previous generations did. If political organizers and mass movements succeed, we’ll have a post-work, post-scarcity future to look forward to; and if not, it seems that many are committed to building their own solidarity networks, intentional communities, and like-minded cooperatives to carry us through the darker years of the 21st century.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 03/19/18 •
Section Dying America
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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Failure

image: failure - when yourbest isnt good enough

I OPENED THIS SITE back in 2004 WRITING ABOUT the EROSION of MIDDLE CLASS AMERICA and MORE PERSONALLY - long term unemployment/underemployment - that DESTROYED my hope for any kind of happy RETIREMENT - and replaced it with PRAYERS for an early DEATH.

14 years later I’m still wondering HOW MUCH FURTHER down a hole A LOT of AMERICANS can SINK.

image: bls table A-12 march 2018

Long-term Unemployment, Its Causes and Effects
Why 1.4 Million Can’t Find Work Even After Looking for 6 Months

By Kimberly Amadeo
March 9, 2018

Long-term unemployment is when workers are jobless for 27 weeks or more. To be counted as such by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they must have actively sought employment during the previous four weeks. That means the number of long-term unemployed is probably under-counted. Most people become discouraged and DROP OUT OF THE LABOR FORCE AFTER SIX MONTHS. They are not included in the labor force participation

Long-term Unemployment Statistics

In February 2018, there were 1.397 million long-term unemployed individuals. There are 20.8 percent of the unemployed who have been looking for work for six months or more. That’s better than the record high of 46 percent in the second quarter of 2010. The number of unemployed first dropped below 2 million in May 2015.

The rate is also better than the darkest days of the 1981 recession. At that point, 26 percent of the unemployed were out of work for more than six months. Total unemployment then was also worse than it is today. The overall unemployment rate was 10.8 percent. Although the Great Recession initially created a higher percentage of long-term unemployment, it has subsided.

Causes

The two causes of long-term unemployment are CYCLICAL UNEMPLOYMENT and STRUCTURAL UNEMPLOYMENT. Cyclical unemployment itself is often caused by a recession. Structural unemployment occurs when workers’ skills no longer meet the needs of the job market.

Long-term cyclical and structural unemployment feed off of each other. A recession causes a massive rise in cyclical unemployment. Those who can’t find jobs become long-term unemployed. If out of work long enough, their skills become outdated. In time, this contributes to structural unemployment. They have less money to spend, resulting in reduced consumer demand.

It further slows economic growth, leading to more cyclical unemployment.

Many say that there are three other reasons for long-term unemployment: welfare, unemployment benefits, and unions. Government assistance programs require the recipients to look for work. It inflates unemployment statistics by 0.5 percent to 0.8 percent because not all would be actively looking. Those people really shouldn’t be considered part of the labor force. Benefits may also encourage people to hold out for better-paying jobs, further extending unemployment.

Unionization creates classical unemployment by forcing companies to offer higher wages than they otherwise would. These companies must lay off workers to maintain budget and profit goals. These workers may only have skills suited for a particular industry and may be unwilling to take lower wage jobs. That can result in structural, and ultimately long-term, unemployment.

Effects

Only 10 percent of the long-term unemployed find a job each month, according to a report by the San Francisco Federal Reserve. It is worse than the 30 percent per month of the short-term unemployed who are successful.

The situation is not hopeless though. The report also found that half of the long-term unemployed find a job in six months, and 75 percent do so within a year.

Even those who hadn’t found a job in 18 months find something in the end if they keep looking. The San Francisco Fed found that the chances of finding a job didn’t decline even though they had been unemployed for so long.

Being unemployed for six months to a year will almost always strain personal finances. A Pew Research study found that recession affected the long-term unemployed worse than others in the areas of personal relationships, career plans, and self-confidence. In particular, the long-term unemployed reported the following:

· More than half (56 percent) saw their income decline, compared to 42 percent of the short-term unemployed and 26 percent of those who kept their job.

· Almost half (46 percent) experienced strained family relations compared to 39 percent of those who weren’t unemployed as long. 43 percent lost close friendships.

· Almost one in four (38 percent) lost self-respect, and 24 percent sought professional help for depression compared with 29 percent and 10 percent of the short-term unemployed.

· The recession has had a “big impact” on their ability to achieve career goals for 43 percent of them compared to 28 percent of their short-term peers.

· More than 70 percent say they changed careers. Almost a third (29 percent) became underemployed with lower pay and benefits than their previous job. It’s no surprise that they became very pessimistic about their chances of finding a good job. Only 16 percent of the short-term unemployed were worse off.

A a SWEDISH STUDY found that the long-term unemployed began losing their ability to read. On average, a person who had been unemployed for a year dropped 5 percent on reading comprehension test scores.

How Long-term Unemployment Benefits Extensions Help

Federal unemployment benefits extensions assisted the long-term unemployed in their job search efforts.  Congress approved the extensions in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. They were re-authorized every year till 2013.

The benefits provided the long-term unemployed with up to 99 weeks of unemployment checks. It helped support them until they could find decent jobs. Without the extensions, they would have had to take any job they could, leading to underemployment. This might preclude them from ever catching up as their skills became more outdated.

Unemployment benefits only help those who were laid off, though. Some employers fire workers for cause or ask workers to resign in return for a severance package so that they don’t have to pay benefits. Workers who quit, part-time workers, the self-employed and students or mothers just entering the workforce aren’t eligible for benefits.

Also, not all of those eligible for benefits received the entire 99 weeks of unemployment checks. They had to live in a state that meets a minimum unemployment rate.

How to Calculate the Long-term Unemployment Rate

The long-term unemployment rate is easy to calculate because the BLS breaks down the statistics each month in the EMPLOYMENT SITUATION SUMMARY. The number of people who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more is in TABLE A-12. It also calculates the percentage they make up of the total unemployed. This table gives you the data for the previous three months, seasonally adjusted. It also allows you to compare the last two months and year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 03/15/18 •
Section Dying America • Section Workplace • Section Personal
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