Workers say IBM layoffs hit RTP; company has confirmed cuts in U.S. have begun
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Research Triangle Park, N.C. — A $1 billion "rebalancing" of its workforce as IBM describes its latest round of layoffs is now reportedly hitting workers in Research Triangle Park.
The Global Business Services group has begun notifying workers who are on the layoff list, internal sources tell the union seeking to represent IBM workers.
No details are available yet about how many employees are being cut.
IBM (NYSE) confirmed a in a statement earlier today that the "rebalance" effort is underway.
More WRALTechWire coverage:
- IBM stops disclosing ages, numbers in layoff documentation.
- Workers vent about layoffs, from "Liberation Day" to sadness.
- The job force "rebalancing" is called Project Apollo; it began in U.S. on Wednesday.
- Analyst estimates layoffs worldwide will number in thousands.
According to Lee Conrad, the national coordinator for Alliance@IBM, other IBM sites in the U.S. that have been hit include:
- Essex Junction, Vt.
- Rochester, Minn.
- Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
- Dubuque, Iowa
- Columbia, Mo.
- Endicott, N.Y
- Littleton, Ma.
- Tulsa, Okla.
- Tucson, Ariz.
An unconfirmed report said cuts also were made in San Jose, Calif. Overseas, other reports - also unconfirmed- said cuts were made in Australia and Hungary.
IBM makes semiconductor chips at its plant in Burlington, and servers in Rochester, according to its website. It has a delivery center in Dubuque, Iowa, that was to create as many as 1,300 jobs when it opened in 2009. Bloomberg news noted that the facility provides services including outsourcing-client support, server-systems operations, security services, and maintenance of hardware and software, according to the website.
In a statement, IBM confirmed that layoffs had begun.
“IBM continues to rebalance its workforce to meet the changing requirements of its clients and to pioneer new, high- value segments of the IT industry,” the company said.
The full statement from IBM spokesperson Doub Shelton follows:
"As reported in our recent earnings briefing, IBM continues to rebalance its workforce to meet the changing requirements of its clients, and to pioneer new, high value segments of the IT industry. To that end, IBM is positioning itself to lead in areas such as Cloud, Analytics and Cognitive Computing and investing in these priority areas. For example, already this year we have committed $1 billion to our new Watson unit and $1.2 billion to expand our Cloud footprint around the world. In addition, just this week IBM announced a $1 billion investment in platform-as-a-service Cloud capabilities, as well as investments in areas such as nanotechnology which will bring hundreds of new jobs to New York State. This also creates new job opportunities at IBM. At any given time, IBM has more than 3,000 job openings in these and other growth areas in the US.
"IBM’s total workforce has remained stable over the past three years, and IBM now employs more than 400,000 people worldwide."
Information scarce so far
Meanwhile, the Alliance@IBM website has been overwhelmed by traffic.
"The Alliance web site is being hammered," Conrad says. "That means people can not get to our job cut section and report."
However, he says Alliance is remaining in touch with workers.
"Our emails are getting through," he says.
IBM employs most of its estimated 9,500 workers based in North Carolina.
"Very few details right now," Conrad told WRALTechWire.
"No RA packages to count yet."
RA refers to "resource action" documents that tell affected employees how many individuals in specific work groups are being let go if they don't find another job within IBM.
Conrad expects the layoff reports to come in from employees over several days.
"As usual, it takes a few days to receive all the numbers and business units," he said.
One group was reported to have been hit in Tuscon, Ariz. on Wednesday.
Workers said Wednesday that other "resource actions" had been postponed from the expected start on Feb. 26.
"Today, Feb 26th has so far been quiet in the US. But that will change," Alliance@IBM said in an email to members and followers.
"While there have been cuts in IBM Tucson STG [Systems Technology Group], some IBM employees are saying that management meetings scheduled for today are being moved to Thursday the 27th."
In a later note, the union added:
"It appears the job cuts that were supposed to happen today will happen Thursday. Speculation is that CEO Rometty is giving a speech today and didn't want job cuts to overshadow it."
Chairman and CEO Ginny Rometty delivered a speech Wednesday at the Mobile World Congress in Madrid, Spain.
Meanwhile, the union has been told of more cuts in India and in Taiwan. Those reports are unconfirmed.
Layoffs already have begun overseas, an action confirmed by an IBM spokesman.
The moves are being made under a plan labeled as "Project Apollo," workers have told Alliance@IBM, an affiliate of the Communication Workers of America.
Two previous layoff rounds were called Project Mercury and Project Phoenix.
"Someone likes ancient history," said Lee Conrad, the head of the union efforts and a retired IBMer, sarcastically.
IBM has declined comment about if or when any U.S. layoffs will occur.
IBM disclosed its planned workforce rebalancing in January after reporting a loss in revenue for the seventh consecutive quarter.
Overseas Reductions Underway
Doug Shelton, director of IBM Corporate Communications, confirmed to WRALTechWire on Feb. 14 that layoffs had begun overseas.
"As reported in our recent earnings briefing, IBM continues to rebalance its workforce to meet the changing requirements of its clients, and to pioneer new, high value segments of the IT industry," Shelton told WRALTechWire via email. (Read WRALTechWire coverage of the "rebalancing" announcement online.)
"To that end, IBM is positioning itself to lead in areas such as Cloud, Analytics and Cognitive Computing and investing in these priority areas.
"For example, we have recently committed $1 billion to our new Watson [supercomputer] unit and $1.2 billion to expand our Cloud footprint around the world."
Shelton said he had statement "to offer at this time" about any layoffs in the U.S.
"IBM’s total workforce has remained stable over the past three years, and IBM now employs more than 400,000 people worldwide," he added.
A similar $1 billion plan in 2013 led to the layoffs of several thousand workers worldwide, including several hundred in North Carolina and some 3,500 across North America. The numbers were never confirmed publicly by IBM but were supported by internal resource action documents provided to affected workers and by a source well connected to IBM.
IBM's website has listed more than 434,000 jobs.
Global Layoff Reports
The layoff count as compiled by the Alliance based on reports from workers and affiliated unions in Europe:
- Belgium, 105
- Argentina, 600
- Brazil, 1500
- Netherlands, 240
- Norway, 35
- France, 480
- Italy, 430
Conrad had predicted earlier this week that layoffs would start in Europe as soon as the company, unions and governments were able to strike agreements. Unlike the U.S., he said, many EU countries are very strict when allowing corporate cuts.
One employee describes the layoff process in India as a "slaughter."
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