“It’s kinda like sheep going to the slaughter!!” – IBM veteran on fellow workers’ reactions to spreading layoffs.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Having escaped recent rounds of layoffs, longtime IBM veteran I. B. Gone could have felt survival was his destiny. Then came Thursday, March 26 – the day Big Blue said I.B. was truly gone.

I.B., soon to be I. Wz., was “RA’d,” or resource action-ed. I.B. has until May 26 to find another position within Big Blue or catch on with the company that is to benefit from the outsourcing of I.B.’s job, along with hundreds of others.

What mystifies I.B. (a fictitious name to protect the vet’s identity) beyond losing a job with a very profitable company is how fellow Big Blue workers are reacting.

Is there a sense of outrage? Frustration?

“Yes, on both counts, but amazingly (at least to me), they aren’t doing anything about it!!” I.B. told The Skinny. “Just waiting for it to happen to them!!

“It’s kinda like sheep going to the slaughter!!”

And worse news may be coming.

“Most people that I’ve spoken with expect more to happen,” I.B. said. “The rumor is that more RAs [resource actions] could happen around June.”

IBM is cutting some 5,000 jobs from its steadily shrinking U.S. workforce, outsourcing or offshoring jobs to less-costly contractors or other countries. So what’s it like working at Big Blue right now for those still standing?

“Morale is in the toilet!!,” I.B. stressed. “People in some areas have been working weekends for months, and worry that once they’re done, then it will be their turn in the June RAs. They were exempt from the RAs back in January!!”

What alternatives do workers have other than trying to make themselves more valuable? Look elsewhere for jobs, which is hardly a bright prospect in the current economy. Another is to join Alliance@IBM, the fledgling union that is seeking to organize Big Blue’s work force. The union is calling for more openness by IBM in disclosing job action information and also calling for a halt to the overseas job exodus.

The fear is that more cuts are coming that will make previous U.S. cuts look small.

“Everybody assumes there’s more to come,” I.B. says. “The main rumor going around is that IBM wants to drastically lower the population in the U.S. I’ve seen numbers like down to 70,000 from last year’s 115,000.

“This is how IBM is coping with the downturn in the economy, by cutting the population in the U.S. and sending the work to low cost countries like the BRIC countries [Brazil, India, Russia, China], and Poland I’ve also heard about.”

So are more people joining Alliance as a result?

"I think some new people have joined," I.B. said, "but not as many as you’d expect."