(Note: Be sure to check out the May 31 TechTalk video, which also blogs about IBM’s layoffs.)
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Talk around the water coolers and through instant messaging at IBM contains a three-letter acronym these days.
More than 1,500 people – including close to 100 in the Triangle – were RA’d on Thursday.
RA is short for resource action, which is IBM’s term for people who are being laid off.
Employees added the apostrophe D to turn RA’d into a verb.
The latest layoffs bring to more than 3,000 announced in May alone even as IBM disclosed it hired 19,000 people. Thousands of those new jobs are offshored ones – that means sent to countries such as India, Brazil and China.
While IBM is cutting headcount across the United States and Canada, it also is buying back stock at the rate of $100 million a day.
Between stock buybacks and job cuts, IBM’s shares are increasing in value.
Fortunately, many of the IBMers who are being RA’d are long-time employees who have built up stock portfolios filled with Big Blue shares. That increase in value may help tide them through financially until they find another job.
More layoffs are coming, too, according to the Alliance@IBM, which is seeking to unionize IBM’s workforce. The union says 12,000 cuts are in store this year. With the 3,000 cuts in May, IBM seems to be well on its way to achieving that number.
The cuts are taking place as IBM continues a project known as LEAN. It is designed to make IBM workers more productive. But Big Blue employees have another meaning for it: Lay off Every American Now.
If you know someone who works at IBM and you hear the terms RA’d and LEAN, lend a sympathetic ear. They may need it.
Big Blue workers weren’t the only ones getting the heave-ho on Thursday. Motorola announced 4,000 layoffs.
And in Mount Airy, more than 500 textile workers are being let go this summer. Their jobs are being moved to Honduras where the employer, Gildan Activewear, says it has built a more modern plant.
The Mount Airy folks, who made socks, expressed similar feelings to IBMers getting cut who have voiced their anger and resentment at the Alliance@IBM Web site.
Here’s what one sock maker, 53-year-old Theresia Wilson said, according to The Associated Press:
"It was extremely hard. You go in, and you’re not expecting it. All of the sudden it’s like a bomb. You’ve built up your vacation time. You’ve built up your pay. You devote the better part of your life to that company, and it’s just devastating."
Ms. Wilson has worked 30 years for the company.
Oh, I forgot to mention something. IBM shares finished up 1%, or $1.02, at $106.93 on Wednesday. That’s close to its 52-week high of $108.05.