|CWA: IBM Assaults Employees' Retirement Security - Media Statement by CWA President Larry Cohen
|The announcement by IBM Corp. that it is freezing the pensions of some 120,000 employees is outrageous, even by the "Gilded Age"
standard of today's corporate executives.
Just over the past few weeks, we've seen some of the richest corporations eliminating pension benefits wherever they can, just
because they can. Verizon recently froze pensions for tens of thousands of management and unrepresented workers. IBM's action
sends an equally chilling signal not just for current workers, who now have lost their retirement security, but to the future generation of
workers who are penalized before they ever start their first job.
In the United States, increasingly, workers are required to bear the costs and the risks for their retirement and health care security.
But they're also forced to pay the costs for the bad business decisions that push companies into bankruptcy, like United Airlines and
Delphi, not to mention the misdeeds of corporate lawbreakers whose actions have wiped out 401 (k) retirement savings at
companies like Enron, WorldCom, and others.
Curiously, the retirement packages of most top executives remain untouched, as we've seen at United and scores of other
companies. It's not yet clear that the IBM change affects the executive supplemental retirement plan at all.
Meanwhile, as defined benefit pensions go by the wayside, we have a White House that wants to kick away another pillar of
retirement security by radically changing Social Security from a guaranteed social insurance program to a risky Wall Street-based
If Congress is interested in real pension reform, it will begin by encouraging the establishment of defined benefit pension plans that
provide true retirement security for working families.
This downhill sled ride for U.S. workers will continue until the United States joins the mainstream of global democracies and ends
the attack on workplace democracy and workers' rights. When IBM makes this kind of announcement in Europe, and now much of
South America and Asia, it must negotiate with employees. Contrast that to the United States, where IBM employees have no
bargaining rights and therefore no voice. CWA encourages our thousands of members at Alliance@IBM to speak out to elected
officials at every level of government.
More than 6,000 IBM employees are members and associate members of CWA Local 1701, Alliance@IBM, an association that fights
for workplace, benefit and bargaining rights for IBM workers.