Union: IBM layoffs now 4200 -- may go higher

IBM won't disclose plan, but union fears as many as 16000 may lose their jobs

IBM's not-so-secret layoffs may have reached 4200 Tuesday, according to Alliance@IBM, which believes that thousands of other employees will be loosing their jobs as well before the cuts end.

IBM isn't discussing its job actions and that has made the union the primary source of information about layoffs. The union's Web site has been so busy with traffic that its server was knocked offline this afternoon from the load, according to Lee Conrad, a former IBM employee who now is national coordinator of Alliance@IBM.

Conrad said that about 1200 employees who work in IBM's Systems Technology Group at sites around the county have been laid off, and about 200 in the research division were let go as well. These reports bring the total layoff count at IBM to about 4200.

Last week, the union said that about 2800 employees were laid off in two IBM units: its software group, and sales and distribution operations.

Conrad said IBM's level of secrecy was mystifying.

"IBM should be as forthcoming as all the other companies," said Conrad. "We just simply don't understand why they are keeping it a secret and neither do the employees."

IBM will confirm that more employees were notified today of cuts, but Doug Shelton, an IBM spokesman, says the firm will not be providing specific numbers or locations for the job cuts.

"This is an ongoing process that we do throughout the year to match skills and resources with our client needs," said Shelton. "We don't think its necessary every time we do that to make an announcement about it."

The number of job cuts may change as well because employee have the opportunity to try to find a job elsewhere in the company, he said.

The layoffs are occurring in a number of locations, say Conrad and local news reports. Fox News 44 reported layoffs in the US.

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Patrick Thibodeau

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