IBM restructuring leads to layoffs nationwide, as well as in Columbia

Thursday, June 13, 2013 | 7:34 p.m. CDT

IBM has laid off an undisclosed number of workers this week as the company intensifies its focus on some of some of the technology industry's hottest markets.

KOMU-TV8 reported Thursday afternoon that the layoffs included about 10 people at IBM's Columbia call center. It attributed that information to Lee Conrad, national coordinator of Alliance@IBM, the IBM Employees Union.

The cutbacks are part of a reorganization that IBM executives disclosed in April during a conference call discussing the Armonk, N.Y., company's first-quarter earnings. IBM said it would spend $1 billion reshuffling the types of jobs it needs in its workforce this year, with most of the changes coming before the end of June. The company indicated most of the layoffs would occur outside the U.S.

A company spokesman declined Thursday to provide further details about the staff cutbacks.

IBM employed about 434,000 workers at the start of the year.

But some of those employees didn't fit into the company's plans to expand into new frontiers such as social networking and mobile computing. It also is pouring more resources into data analysis and storage and cloud computing — a term that refers to the practice of storing software applications in data centers so they are available to anyone with an Internet-connected device.

With such a large payroll, IBM has been able to periodically lay off a few thousand workers without triggering rules that require disclosures about a "material" change to its business. The current round of cutbacks has affected IBM's operations in Vermont, according to a notification that Gov. Peter Shumlin on Wednesday said his office received from IBM. No numbers were provided in that notice either.

IBM established its Columbia operation in 2010 with the help of an unprecedented set of incentives from state and local government. The state government offered IBM more than $28 million in tax credit incentives that include the Missouri BUILD program ($8.6 million), the Missouri Quality Jobs program ($14.7 million) and the New Jobs Training program ($4.2 million).

The city of Columbia bought the building on Lemone Industrial Boulevard that IBM occupies and is leasing it to IBM for $1 per year.

State officials said when IBM came to Columbia that it would be required to create at least 600 jobs within three years and maintain that number for 10 years to qualify for all the state tax breaks it was promised.

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Richard Saunders June 14, 2013 | 3:34 p.m.

Yet they'll NEVER tell how many people are actually employed there.

Perhaps they got a waiver from the NSA in order to set the place up for data mining?

Nothing but another bunch of damn welfare queens!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith June 14, 2013 | 4:59 p.m.

Richard Saunders:

Something I've pointed out before is that having a local operation of some national or international corporation ain't the same as working for dear old ivy-covered (buildings, not faculty) "Podunk University."

Increases or decreases in facility employment by such corporations are often decided at some far away headquarters, and while concern for the impact on some local economy may NOT be absent, it isn't top piority. Columbia, Misouri may be the alpha and omega of the world to some Columbians, but to companies like Quaker, Square D, 3M and IBM it's just another "Siberia"(with somewhat better weather).

That's how the corporate cookie crumbles. Take it from someone who worked for four American corporations, worked on assignment with several times that many foreign ones, and has actually seen degreed engineers -good ones - laid off with essentially no prior notice (fortunately never this one).

How wonderful it must be to lead the cloistered existence! Not for me.

(Report Comment)

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