IBM’s employees in RTP among those receiving layoff notices

A new wave of layoffs has struck IBM sites around the globe, including the sprawling campus in Research Triangle Park that makes the technology giant one of the area’s largest employers, according to a former IBM employee and union organizer who tracks the company’s job-cutting efforts.

The magnitude of the layoffs in RTP – and elsewhere – is unclear, said Lee Conrad, who for more than a decade was national coordinator for an unsuccessful union effort to organize employees at the company where he once worked. Conrad, who maintains a Facebook page where IBM employees can report layoffs, said he has received more than a half-dozen e-mails from RTP employees affected by the cuts.

Conrad said this is the third round of layoffs at the RTP site this year.

“All I know is it has been relentless all year and RTP is once again on the chopping block,” he said.

IBM couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. But it typically declines to comment on any specific layoff reports while acknowledging that that it has been “rebalancing” its workforce.

IBM’s chief financial officer, Martin Schroeter, noted the company took a pre-tax charge of $1 billion to “transform our workforce” when first-quarter results were released in April.

Schroeter, in his prepared remarks, said the move “is not about reducing our capacity, this is about transforming our workforce.” He added that, in addition to the planned job cuts, the company also was “hiring aggressively” and could end the year with about the same number of employees it started the year with – nearly 380,000 workers worldwide.

IBM’s revenue has declined for 17 consecutive quarters.

Conrad said that, based on reports he received from laid-off workers, employees in the global technical services, global business services and software groups are being affected.

Conrad said he has “heard a couple of different numbers” about how many employees are being laid off in RTP, but he can’t pinpoint what’s accurate.

Conrad said that IBM employees who are receiving the latest round of layoff notices will be departing in November, which means that they won’t be eligible for the company’s annual match of 401(k) contributions, which takes effect in mid-December. In addition, he said, IBM employees who once could receive up to 26 weeks of severance pay now receive just four weeks, regardless of how long they’ve been employed at the company.

“They are nickeling and diming people to death,” Conrad said.

David Ranii: 919-829-4877, @dranii