A $1 billion “rebalancing” of the IBM work force is underway, and one of the first groups to report taking a hit is in Research Triangle Park.

The $1 billion “rebalancing” was promised by CFO Mark Loughridge back in April is underway, according to reports being sent to Alliance at IBM, the union seeking to represent IBM (NYSE: IBM) employees.

The Storage and Technology Group’s “Storage Systems Development” group in RTP told Alliance that a “resource action” – IBM speak for layoffs – is starting with one-on-one meetings today.

“STG 2nd lines sending out invites for tomorrow in storage at RTP,” a post at the Alliance website reads.

WRALTechWire is seeking comment from IBM.

Recent media reports also have noted layoff plans involving 13 percent of its work force in France plus smaller numbers in Israel and other countries.

Big Blue is normally very reluctant to talk about layoffs, and many RAs take place across scattered locations to avoid mass layoff notifications as required by federal law.

“IBM resource action has started,” the Union’s National Coordinator Lee Conrad tells The Skinny. “The first group is a unit in STG. Expect many more.”

The Alliance says it has received information from a “resource action packet” that indicates 121 STG layoffs.

Here’s what Loughridge said in April after a first-quarter earnings report that soon sparked talk IBM would sell off all or part of its server business, which has a high-profile RTP lab:

“Now remember, last year we had about $800 million in workforce rebalancing charges spread across the year. This year we expect the workforce rebalancing charges to be closer to $1 billion and concentrated in the second quarter.”

Plans at that time were evolving. ”So we really haven’t finished the work for a specific action yet,” Loughridge said.

“Like last year, we expect the bulk of that charge to be outside the U.S., and with that on an all in basis including all gains and charges, we’re confident we can achieve at least $16.70 of operating EPS for the year just as we said in January.”

Earnings for the first quarter were $3 per share.

However, an IBM executive told WRALTechWire back in April that a “rebalancing” didn;t necessarily mean big job cuts.

“It could be restructuring, such as shifting one business from location to another,” he said on the condition of not being identified. Noting the move of a business group in one country last year, he noted “some people moved and some didn’t.”

The rebalancing news, especially for IBMers in North Carolina where the company employs an estimated 10,000 people. Most of those are in the Triangle.


As we reported in April, more than a dozen times in a conference call with analysts Loughridge used the word “workforce” along with “balancing” and “rebalancing.”

“Though we certainly don’t have a specific approved action, this [rebalancing] will result in a charge that will additionally impact the operating EPS we report,” Loughridge explained. “Like all years, we have a number of actions planned to improve the business for the long-term, acquiring and divesting businesses and rebalancing our resources. This results in charges in the second quarter and gains in the second half, which we expect will roughly offset for the year.”

Based on RA documents and other information, IBM laid off an estimated 2,000 U.S. employees alone last year – at least.