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

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Lee Conrad, the former longtime IBM (NYSE: IBM) employee who is spearheading efforts to unionize Big Blue workers, will be manning the “picket” protest set for Tuesday afternoon at IBM’s campus in RTP.

Conrad is the designated “captain” for the Triangle effort, which is one of several scheduled across the U.S. today to protest the off-shoring of IBM jobs to other countries.

Based in New York, Conrad directs efforts for Alliance@IBM, which is the Communication Workers of America  Local 1701 of the AFL CIO.

Conrad acknowledges facing a daunting task in convincing IBM workers to join the union. Alliance currently has “around 300 dues paying members” with “about 4,500 supporters,” he told The Skinny before leaving to visit the Triangle.

Alliance has 20 dues paying members and some 75 supporters in the Triangle. However, the Triangle doesn’t have a leader “right now” for local unionizing efforts, Conrad noted.

The dues-paying numbers are just a fraction of some 10,000 IBM workers across North Carolina and around 95,000 across the U.S.

Alliance called for the pickets after the latest round of IBM job cuts that further reduced its U.S. work force to well under 100,000, based on union estimates. IBM no longer discloses its work force numbers by location or country.

Based on “resource action” – IBM speak for layoffs – documents provided to the union, IBM has cut nearly 1,900 workers so far this year. However, the number is believed to be as high as 2,500 according to Conrad and information IBM workers have sent to the union.

Asked why Alliance has scheduled the pickets, Conrad said the “hope” is “to raise awareness and show opposition to the continued destruction of IBM jobs as work is shifted offshore.”

The picket is set to begin at 4 p.m. at the main entrance to IBM’s campus.

Conrad is hoping that IBM workers and others will participate.

“This is open to all, especially those that have lost their jobs recently to offshoring. We are also contacting local labor and community supporters,” Conrad said.

He also “absolutely” encouraged former IBM workers to attend, noting: “They are the ones most impacted by the job cuts and offshoring.”

The latest layoffs have sparked a boost in Alliance recruiting efforts with some 40 people signing on, Conrad noted.

“Employees are concerned that IBM doesn’t care about them or are listening to them,” he explained.

Here’s a breakdown on where the union pickets are scheduled:

  • Poughkeepsie, N.Y.: Sidewalk in front of Spackenkill Plaza, Rt 9 4pm-5pm

Picket Captain: Tom Midgley

  • Endicott, N.Y.: Corner of North St and McKinley Ave 4pm-5pm

Picket Captain: Rick White

  • Boca Raton, Fla.: 8051 Congress Ave

4pm to 5pm.

  • Burlington, Vt.: Corner of Park St and IBM exit, Essex Junction 4pm to 5pm

Picket Captain: Earl Mongeon

  • Boulder, Colo.: Diagonal Highway (Rt 119) and Mineral Road (shoulder) 4pm to 5pm

Picket Captain: Jim Askew

  • Rochester, Mn: Peace Plaza 4pm to 5pm

Picket Captain: Edith Lueke

  • RTP: IBM Main site front gate (intersection of Davis Drive and E Cornwallis Road)

4pm to 5pm

Picket Captain:Lee Conrad

[IBM ARCHIVE: Check out a decade of IBM stories as reported in WRAL Tech Wire by clicking here.]