IBM layoffs: 'Rock bottom' morale at Rochester campus

Rochester's IBM campus employs about 4,000 workers. Documents submitted to union officials at IBM show that roughly 1,100 people have been laid off at company facilities across the country.
MPR Photo/Sea Stachura

Union officials say cuts to the IBM workforce made Monday and Tuesday are affecting employees at the Rochester facility.

IBM officials would not comment on the cuts, and it's unclear exactly how many of the jobs were in Rochester.

"Morale is pretty much rock bottom," said Lee Conrad, the national coordinator for the Alliance@IBM, a labor union at the company. "It's like IBM no longer values the expertise of U.S. employees. Going to work everyday for IBM is a challenge for a lot of people."

Documents submitted to the Alliance@IBM indicate roughly 1,100 people have been laid off in facilities across the country.

Conrad said workers have been telling him the cuts are a result of moving jobs out of the country.

"The work is being moved offshore to places like Bratislava, India, China, Philippines, all around the world," Conrad said. "This is frankly, what IBM calls its re-balancing. They're re-balancing from here in the United States and moving the work out of the country."

Conrad estimates IBM has about 97,000 employees in the U.S., down from roughly 135,000 five years ago. The company has nearly 450,000 employees worldwide. IBM reported 4,000 employees in Rochester in 2008, the most recent official count.

"This kind of pain inside IBM is going to continue," Conrad said. "We believe IBM is going to get down to around the 40,000 employee mark. We've been seeing the trend all along that it's been decreasing. And frankly, IBM employees and communities should say 'enough is enough.' "

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