RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – IBM’s decision to offload 100,000 pension plans in September is not the only benefit change affecting retirees. The company also is requiring them to “change their current benefit providers to IBM selected plans,” thus angering some former employees. They see it as an “outright attack” and a “heist.”

One retiree, Steve Bergeron, has launched a petition at, outlining his complaints. More than 600 people have signed on in support.

“In September IBM announced an outright attack on our defined benefit pension programs and further humiliated many/most US IBM Retirees to change their current benefit providers to IBM selected plans. Essentially, we are losing our freedom to select our benefits for our families,” he says.

“And if we don’t change our medical benefit plans by December 18, IBM will take away the monies in my FHA/HRA savings accounts. My account balance is over $39,000. There is no better time for all employees/retirees to band together and tell your employer to keep their promises. These changes are depleting savings accounts used to pay for deductibles and co-payments not to mention hurting the budgets of our senior citizens.”

Tech news site The Register first reported the story, noting that the changes coincide with the pension plan transfer for which IBM will report a $5.9 billion charge.

A second former IBMer who asked not to be identified “likened the situation to ‘a heist,'” The Register reported. “He says he stands to lose his $46,000 HRA balance if he fails to sign on to one of the new plans.”

One irate IBM retiree earlier reached out to WRAL News, complaining about IBM’s sale of the pension plans.

IBM has not commented, The Register noted.

IBM operates one of its largest corporate campuses in RTP and employs thousands of people across North Carolina.

IBM offloads pension obligations for 100,000 workers, beneficiaries – will take $5.9B charge

IBM’s explanation

At a website, IBM explains the changes this way:

“We are excited to welcome you to our new retiree benefit offerings – designed exclusively for IBM retiree benefit participants eligible for Medicare. You will have a choice of two IBM-sponsored Group Medicare Advantage Plans– the Enhanced Plan and the Essential Plan. These plan options provide broad protection and unique features not available to you today through individual plans. You may also remain enrolled in your current plans, but will no longer receive IBM’s subsidy.

“Take time to weigh your options and make the best choice for you. Read the communications that you receive from IBM and UnitedHealthcare in the mail, explore additional information on this website, and if you have questions or are ready to enroll, contact the IBM Retiree Call Center, administered by UnitedHealthcare, which is open now.

“Knowledgeable UnitedHealthcare Customer Service Advocates are ready and waiting to assist you with enrollment and help answer any questions you may have. The deadline to enroll is December 16, 2022.”