Reader Feedback on Colonizing Endicott and As I See It: A Novel Idea
March 2, 2009 Timothy Prickett Morgan
In my rant last week about Colonizing Endicott, I forgot the most obvious thing to suggest if IBM‘s president, chief executive officer, and chairman didn’t take me up on the opportunity to visit Big Blue’s stomping grounds and take some responsibility for the economic carnage that the absence of IBM in that upstate New York region has created. Send Sam himself to India or China!
My thanks to the reader below for suggesting that in feedback. Let’s go one further, just as a thought experiment. What if we took the entire executive team in Armonk and the marketing team in Somers and exported them to India? Yeah, I know it could decimate real estate values in Westchester County and western Connecticut, but maybe the idea would shake some good sense into the executives of America’s major corporations that if we don’t have jobs, they don’t either in the long run. Unless we want to have gated enclaves of civilization that look like the 2000s and the rest of the country looking more like something out of Mad Max.
The world is still pretty messed up, but I remain hopeful–especially now that I have 150 pints of homebrew stocked up and I am working on another 150 or so. It makes a man feel just a bit safer, should civilization collapse, that a drink will be close at hand to mull things over as I decide whether or not to live in a cave near the river or in a treehouse deep in the woods. . . .
By the way, Sam has not taken me up on the offer. And I don’t expect him to. He’s got too much to do getting IBM in line for the IT portions of the stimulus bill and making sure IBM hits that $9.20 earnings per share goal for 2009. As if making money was all that mattered.
Great article. . . . I hope Sam takes you up on the offer. Tell him to swing by Rochester sometime and we’ll arrange the same trip through the Zumbro River counties. I’ll bet even the folks in San Jose would participate in the education attempt.
Why not go one step better and demand Sam to take his job and move to India? And oh yeah, don’t forget to mention that he will also get the prevailing wage in India instead of his U.S. wage. Let’s see how he likes it.
Nice piece and also brave.
IBM does not like to talk about what it has done to its employees and retirees, with good reason. It likes Americans to think of the color Blue in the flag as being provided by Big Blue. But, as you pointed out, if all the truth be known, you could color the new IBM as anti-American and the best example of a poster child for corporate greed and offshoring as one can get. I have no problem with China or India, but IBM should not get one benefit from the U.S. government while it is out supporting other nations to the detriment of the U.S.
Who’s left in Rochester, Minnesota? There is no more Rochester Lab and there has not been a lab director for years. It shows. Rochester finally got punished for being renegade. Now, it is like a hotel for parts of IBM that are still in America awaiting orders.
Though Tom Watson was no George F., many of us at the time liked his basic beliefs and for a time while I was with IBM (23 years), IBM practiced what it preached. In 1993, when I left on the ITO II plan, many of us felt that it was more risky to stay than to collect our gains and get out. Just a year later and IBM stopped giving the bridge and stopped giving the same payout. At the time that I left, I got a bridge to retirement that added five years of service and permitted me to retire on my 30th anniversary with IBM for 28.5 / 30 times what would have been my full retirement number. I got paid for all my vacation time and I got two weeks pay for every year I was with the company.
In the meantime, while I was on the bridge, IBM paid all my benefits as part of the bridge to retirement and when I hit 25 years, they gave me the same customary honors as all who had made the “Quarter Century Club.” Eventually however, IBM began to shove some of the cost of what most of us had come to believe was a cradle to grave full health benefits policy onto the backs of the retirees. For years, IBM managers had preached that IBM healthcare was for life, but this was declared a practice by IBM HR and not a policy and so the fight continues. In other words, IBM managers were only kidding. . . . Sorry!
Now, my healthcare contribution is half of my pension amount and growing by thousands each year. There are many pensioners in IBM who were not as fortunate as I to have had a great job as a Systems Engineer for so long and who still have employment opportunities. These poor souls, many blue-collar workers from plants in New York and Pennsylvania, now write IBM a check for benefits since their pensions do not cover their portion of the IBM healthcare plan. I would call that a negative pension. Thank you, IBM, for being a great American citizen.
In the wind is Sam Palmisano and Company lobbying the Federal government so IBM can get at the huge nest egg of funding of the IBM pension plan. For years, they have been taking money from the fund for executive compensation and now they want to use our Congress to help them reduce the oppressively lucrative pensions their already retired former employees continue to enjoy. Hah! What a great company! Sure IBM will help recolonize Endicott. Sure! But, not until the tin man finds his heart.
It is not often I can relate to articles on a geographic basis. Having started with IBM in 1968 and leaving in 1998 as part of RIF, I never left the Southern Tier. I started in the Elmira office, eventually reported to Syracuse, and then Endicott, etc., until 1998. The Blue Dolphin. If the farm was west of Corning, did you ever go to Rambler’s Rest (Victory Highway) near Corning West High School?
On a serious note, I agree with your article. Thanks for localizing it for me as I think of the empty Glendale Labs (IBM), empty North Street labs, and other upstate empty buildings.
I have never been to Rambler’s Rest, but I will check it out next time I head north. Thanks for the tip.
I love to rant, and also to read them. Yours today was a classic. Let’s hope some candy-a–ed MBA AA shows it to Sam.
To read the IBM press you would think Sam was in the cabinet already. Kitchen cabinet minimally.
Why thank you, Jim.
I am busting my hump to keep people in their jobs, and IT companies are gonna take our money and outsource it where? I don’t freaking think so.
All employers have responsibilities to their communities. If that was the way we rewarded companies, maybe they would behave that way. Instead, we reward them to do financial engineering to drive up the stock market instead of actually making things here that people buy and sell here as well as exporting to the rest of the world for a net gain for the entire country. That financial engineering, in theory, was our retirement. I think we can all guess now how well that is going to work out.
Gosh, I do enjoy your writing.
This time, I do believe we should call these very companies out. IBM, HP, and others have fattened their corporate wallets (and those of the execs at the top) by methodically decimating the domestic IT industry via wholesale foreign outsourcing of every IT job that they could. As a longtime IT pro, I have advised my kids against a career in IT for this very reason.
And now these very same companies come whining in to complain about the lack of U.S. brains and wanting never-ending supplies of H-1B folks; IBM as you know, has sunk to the new low of offering its U.S. employees lower-paying jobs in Bangalore. Give me a break.
I don’t believe that we will ever of course see an American corporation with anything faintly resembling a moral compass. I do believe, though, that the aformentioned companies have apparently been around long enough to turn to complete rot. We would be much better off if we ignore their plaintive pleas for help, let them finally abscond to the foreign shores completely and hope they are replaced by new companies that, although without conscience, are at least new enough that they won’t already have sunk to the deplorable levels as IBM, HP, and others.
Yes I’m an angry IT pro. Thanks for listening.
–CC, still (but not for long) employed IT pro
It’s a good sign, I think, that people are getting mad. Think Network. . . .