IBM’s one-month severance offer means a bitter end, say laid-off workers

The company is engaged in a new round of cuts to rebalance its workforce

layoffs laid off downsize job cuts
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IBM has been a bellwether employer that has often embraced workplace trends, sometimes good, sometimes ominous.

It was, for instance, an early adopter of equality measures and same-sex benefits. It also became a leader in globalizing its workforce, hiring aggressively overseas as it reduced its U.S. headcount.

IBM may be starting new trend: Reduced severance.

The company is now conducting a layoff of its U.S. employees, something it does routinely as it rebalances its workforce. But laid-off workers say that instead of leaving with as much as 26 weeks of severance, they are getting only a month's pay under a recently initiated company policy.

"I just can't believe that a company this size offers a one-month package -- it's a disgrace," said one longtime IBM employee who was told yesterday he was being laid off and requested anonymity. There was no explanation for the layoff, he said.

The reports of the job cuts have been emerging on the Watching IBM Facebook page. The page was started by Lee Conrad, the former national coordinator for Alliance@IBM, a Communications Workers of America union local that closed its doors earlier this year. The new site is functioning similar to the old one by allowing IBM employees to share news about the company.

IBM does not disclose the size of its layoffs or the size of its U.S. workforce.

"IBM is aggressively transforming its business to lead in a new era of cognitive and cloud computing," said IBM spokesman Ian Colley in emailed comments. "This includes remixing skills to meet client requirements."

The last day for some of the workers is May 31, and the laid-off worker speculated that the three-month notice may be IBM's way of compensating for the shortened severance. The employee also noted that a one-month severance offers little incentive to stick around until the end date.

Another IBM employee being laid off said long-time workers were upset with the severance change and recent reductions in matching contributions to workers' 401K accounts. The reduced severance, this worker said, may make it harder for IBM to attract future job candidates -- although many new hires now arrive through corporate acquisitions.

According to Colley, IBM hired "more than 70,000 professionals in 2015, many in these key skills areas, and currently has more than 25,000 open positions." Although the company won't disclose how many of the job openings are U.S.-based, "a significant number of the open positions are in the U.S.," he said.

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