IBM to lay off 400-plus workers, alliance says

Employee group blames cutbacks on an IBM shift to offshore work

IBM has issued layoff notices to more than 400 workers, according to the Alliance@IBM/CWA Local 1701, an employee organization that has been the principal source of layoff information at the company.

The Alliance's online job cuts board was abuzz today with news from employees, all anonymous, who had received layoff notices.

The Alliance gets some of the paperwork involved in the layoffs and can typically pinpoint the number of job cuts. The layoff count is expected to grow beyond 400, said Lee Conrad, national coordinator of the Alliance.

IBM never comments on its job actions other than to say, as it did today, that it is a result of a remixing of "our skills and structure to meet the changing needs of our clients."

Conrad blames the cuts on a shift to offshore work. IBM has been reducing its U.S. workforce -- according to latest available numbers the company now employs 105,000 U.S. workers, versus 115,000 a year ago. It has been increasing its percentage of overseas employees.

The company employs about 400,000 globally.

Employees may be eventually be eligible for help under the Trade Act of 1974.

In a notice published last month in the Federal Register, the U.S. Department Labor said that IBM global services employees who were laid off in an earlier job action are eligible for assistance under the act.

That help kicks in based on a number of trade-connected issues, including "a shift by the workers' firm to a foreign country in the production of articles or supply of services like or directly competitive with those produced/supplied by the workers' firm."

Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov, send e-mail to pthibodeau@computerworld.com or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed .

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