Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – The documented number of layoffs among IBM’s North American workforce surged past 10,000 on Wednesday when union officials received documents about two more “resource actions” within Big Blue.

Resource actions is IBM speak for layoffs. IBM seldom comments about layoffs other than in general terms.

Earlier this week, Alliance@IBM reported that IBM had laid off nearly 9,300 workers, most of whom are in the U.S., based on resource action documents leaked to the union. The union is sticking by its forecast that IBM will lay off 16,000 U.S. workers this year – some 10 percent of its American employee base. IBM also did open a new operation this week in Iowa that will add hundreds of jobs.

However, those additions are more than offset by the continuing confirmations of layoffs.

Wednesday, the union reported two more “RAs” in March: One affected 998 employees in a consulting services group and another 97 in a managed business process services group.

The resource action documents break down job cuts by group with workers’ ages and job title information.

The additions bring the resource actions total to 10,403.

However, the number of job cuts does not include contractors, and Alliance@IBM believes the ranks of contractors have also been cut.

“[A]n anonymous employee stated that 13,000 names have been removed from the IBM US internal employee/contractor e-mail database so far this year,” said Alliance@IBM Director Lee Conrad.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that layoffs in North America and offshoring of jobs leaves IBM with a non-U.S. workforce of 70 percent. The company employs some 400,000 people.

In 2008, according to an IBM spokesperson, Big Blue employed 115,000 people in the U.S. Some 10,000 of those are based in the Triangle area. In 2006, IBM had 127,000 U.S. workers. That total fell to 121,000 in 2007.

The RA documents provided to the union reported the following cuts by business units:

  • Systems Technology Group – 1,213 cut (January)
  • Software Group – 1,419 (January)
  • Sales and Distribution – 1,449 (January)
  • IBM HR – 92 (January)
  • Marketing and Communications – 147 (January)
  • IBM Research – 193 (January)
  • IBM Finance – 307 (January)
  • GBS Consulting services – 998 (March)
  • Managed Business Process Services – 97 (March)
  • US CIO – 411 (March)
  • Services Delivery – 985 (March)
  • GBS Application Services – 1674 (March)
  • Global GTS – 181 (March)
  • Systems Technology Group – 37 (March)
  • GBS Application Services – 462 (April)
  • ISC Global Supply – 245 (April)
  • Services Delivery – 87 (May)
  • Services Delivery – 222 (July)
  • GBS Industrial – 184 (Aug)

For the record, here’s what Local Tech Wire was told earlier this week when asked about the resource actions:

“IBM has acknowledged notifying employees in N.A. of job reductions,” Doug Shelton, director of IBM Corporate Media Relations, said.

“IBM manages resources across a base of nearly 400,000 employees,” he added. “Because we are one of the largest knowledge-based businesses in the world, we rebalance some part of our skill base throughout the year as client demands evolve. Jobs are eliminated in one part of the business and created in other parts of the business as clients demand more focus, a new skill set and/or new resources.

“IBM however, remains the largest tech employer in the U.S. and the world. We learned in the early 90’s that those who wait to address business and competitive issues in this industry don’t survive. We have succeeded as a technology leader for nearly a century, managing the business to best meet the needs of our clients.”

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