According to multiple reports, IBM has laid off thousands of workers in the past few weeks, including in Rochester, but has been able to circumvent federal laws about reporting those layoffs by scattering them throughout its various locations over a period of time.
Alliance@IBM, an IBM employee organization that doesn’t have official union status because it can’t get enough members, has speculated that IBM will fire 4,000 workers today, mostly in the services department. But System i developers are seeing the hit as well, with reported layoffs ranging from 400 to more than 800 in Rochester, Minn., the long-time stronghold location for System i development. Many of them are older software engineers who will have a tough time finding another job, especially in that area.
At the same time IBM is firing U.S. workers, it is hiring in China and India, a fact that rankles the laid-off employees. The New York Times reported that IBM has fired about 4,600 North American workers in the past few weeks. IBM calls this the normal course of doing business, and has often managed to keep these layoffs quiet by circumventing the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. By keeping the layoff numbers relatively small compared to its total workforce, and scattering them across multiple sites, IBM can avoid having to notify local and state officials of the firings.