A $1 billion “rebalancing” of its workforce as IBM describes its latest round of layoffs is expected to begin in the U.S. at any time, internal sources tell the union seeking to represent IBM workers.

One group was reported to have been hit in Tuscon, Ariz.

However, workers are saying that other “resource action” – IBM speak for layoffs – have been postponed.

“Today, Feb 26th has so far been quiet in the US. But that will change,” Alliance@IBM said in an email to members and followers.

“While there have been cuts in IBM Tucson STG [Systems Technology Group], some IBM employees are saying that management meetings scheduled for today are being moved to Thursday the 27th.”

In a later note, the union added: 

“It appears the job cuts that were supposed to happen today will happen Thursday. Speculation is that CEO Rometty is giving a speech today and didn’t want job cuts to overshadow it.”

Chairman and CEO Ginny Rometty was scheduled to deliver a speech at the Mobile World Congress in Madrid, Spain.

Meanwhile, the union has been told of more cuts in India and in Taiwan. Those reports are unconfirmed.

Layoffs in what IBM official calls a “resource action” already have begun overseas, an action confirmed by an IBM spokesman.

The moves are being made under a plan labeled as “Project Apollo,” workers have told Alliance@IBM, an affiliate of the Communication Workers of America.

Two previous layoff rounds were called Project Mercury and Project Phoenix.

“Someone likes ancient history,” said Lee Conrad, the head of the union efforts and a retired IBMer, sarcastically.

IBM has declined comment about if or when any U.S. layoffs will occur.

Big Blue employs some 9,500 people across North Carolina. Most of those are based in the Triangle.

Some 2,000 of those are expected to be transferred to Lenovo, which is seeking to acquire IBM’s x86 server business for $2.1 billion. Lenovo operates its executive headquarters in Morrisville.

IBM disclosed its planned workforce rebalancing in January after reporting a loss in revenue for the seventh consecutive quarter.

Overseas Reductions Underway

Doug Shelton, director of IBM Corporate Communications, confirmed to WRALTechWire on Feb. 14 that layoffs had begun overseas.

“As reported in our recent earnings briefing, IBM continues to rebalance its workforce to meet the changing requirements of its clients, and to pioneer new, high value segments of the IT industry,” Shelton told WRALTechWire via email. (Read WRALTechWire coverage of the “rebalancing” announcement online.)

“To that end, IBM is positioning itself to lead in areas such as Cloud, Analytics and Cognitive Computing and investing in these priority areas.

“For example, we have recently committed $1 billion to our new Watson [supercomputer] unit and $1.2 billion to expand our Cloud footprint around the world.”

Shelton said he had statement “to offer at this time” about any layoffs in the U.S.

“IBM’s total workforce has remained stable over the past three years, and IBM now employs more than 400,000 people worldwide,” he added.

A similar $1 billion plan in 2013 led to the layoffs of several thousand workers worldwide, including several hundred in North Carolina and some 3,500 across North America. The numbers were never confirmed publicly by IBM but were supported by internal resource action documents provided to affected workers and by a source well connected to IBM.

The resource action also could be delayed, at least in part.

IBM this week announced to retain more than 3,000 jobs in New York and also to replace several hundred positions that were cut last year.

“We are hearing that RA’s have been called off in some IBM NY departments,” Conrad said. “So some scrambling is going on.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reported today that IBM cut its global work force in 2013 by 0.7 percent to 431,212, based on information in a company filing.

IBM’s website has listed more than 434,000 jobs.

The reduction is the first in 10 years, according to Bloomberg.

Ginny Rometty, chairman and CEO of Big Blue, is determined to deliver $20 per share in earnings by 2015 even as revenues have declined.

Rometty is delivering a speech today at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Madrid, Spain. 

Global Layoff Reports

The layoff count as compiled by the Alliance based on reports from workers and affiliated unions in Europe:

  • Belgium, 105
  • Argentina, 600
  • Brazil, 1500
  • Netherlands, 240
  • Norway, 35
  • France, 480
  • Italy, 430

Conrad had predicted earlier this week that layoffs would start in Europe as soon as the company, unions and governments were able to strike agreements. Unlike the U.S., he said, many EU countries are very strict when allowing corporate cuts.

One employee describes the layoff process in India as a “slaughter.”