Editor’s note: IBM’s “Transition To Retirement” plan, which was disclosed Tuesday, has produced quite a bit of reaction. The comments section of the Alliance@IBM website is filled with anger, sarcasm, questions and more, but little in the way of positive feedback.

What follows is a lengthy post from “Joe:”

I am sending the original Transition to Retirement Email with my own annotated notes, each preceded by “Note:” -Joe-

Dear IBMer:

Note: Dear Dead American IBMer walking:

IBM is pleased to notify you of your eligibility to apply for a one-time, voluntary program for IBMers in the U.S. nearing retirement. Called Transition to Retirement, it offers a gradual way to retire, with advantages for both you and the company.

Note: IBM is pleased to notify you that it has found a way to quickly jettison even more American employees in a cost efficient way. It’s voluntary in so far as the employee has a month to decide, the decision is irrevocable once made, it’s a one-time deal and the employee has to agree to terminate their employment as of 12/31/2013.

Note: Of course, we added an implied threat to the employee but we decided to list this as a benefit of the program.”you’ll be exempt from any resource actions that may occur during the Transition to Retirement period”. We borrowed this technique from the FBI practice of granting witnesses immunity from prosecution if they agree to testify.

If approved to participate in the program, you’ll receive 70 percent of your current pay while working 60 percent of your current schedule. You’ll also receive the same benefits you do today, most at a full-time level, including health insurance and 401(k) Plus Plan automatic company contributions. Due to the experience and skills you possess and the business need to close the gaps your departure would create, you’ll be exempt from any resource actions that may occur during the Transition to Retirement period. You agree to retire on December 31, 2013 – or earlier, if you choose to do so.

Note: This is actually a cost saving for IBM. Separation packages can cost money. For example, if you have an employee with 26 years employment and give a week’s salary for each year of employment when we fire said employee we are actually paying 50% of their salary for 0 days worth of work for a year. By comparison with this program we have the employee work at least 3 days a week and pay them 70% of their salary. But if you eliminate the separation package it could be as low as 1 day’s pay for 3 days work. Not bad. Huh?

IBM is offering this program to address issues facing American businesses and employees alike.

Note: IBM is offering this program to lower cost and reduce its American employees , specifically the older ones with higher salaries. We really do not care about American Business or American employees. The less American employees we have the better.

In recent years, American workers, including IBMers, have been asking for ways to gradually ease into retirement – maintaining a certain  level of pay and benefits while freeing up time to explore what to do in their next phase of life.

Note: HR liked the above line so we put it in.

At the same time, businesses, including IBM, want the ability to forecast when employees may retire so they can better plan.

Note: This will allow IBM to fine tune future resource actions [layoffs].

The Transition to Retirement program was designed to address these issues. We believe it balances the needs of our U.S. retirement-eligible employees with the needs of our business.

Note: We believe it will be a cost efficient way to get rid of American employees

For you, it provides a way to scale back on IBM commitments so you can explore what to do when you retire, whether that involves a second career, volunteer work or other meaningful ways to fill your time.

Note: For IBM it provides a way to scale back on it commitments to employees. We thought the “meaningful ways to fill your time” line was over the top but again HR thought it had a nice ring to it.

For IBM, it provides advance notice of when IBMers will retire, giving managers time to work with their teams to identify key skills and knowledge, while maintaining commitments to our clients and the business.

Note: For IBM it provides advance notice so it can replace an American employee with cheap labor. It also provides time for the employee to train the Global Resource.

Financial planning and retirement resources – including MoneySmart seminars, individual coaching sessions and other programs — are available to help you decide if Transition to Retirement is right for you. Much more information, including eligibility requirements, start dates, resources and application procedures can be found on the w3 Transition to Retirement for Eligible IBMers resource page.

Whether you ultimately decide to participate, IBM encourages you to use the resources available to help you plan what you’ll do when you are ready for that next phase in life.

Note: And that next phase in life may happen sooner than you think.


Note: Again HR suggested it is always good to close with Sincerely.

Randy MacDonald

Note: “Cost isn’t everything. It’s the only thing”

Senior Vice President, Human Resources