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March 29, 2017

IBM Trump protests demand change from CEO Ginni Rometty

A petition demanding change was delivered to the New York IBM Watson office.

By Ellie Burns

IBM employees descended on the New York IBM Watson Center to deliver an anti-Trump petition. The letter sets out five clear demands drawn up by Big Blue employees, with one specifically targeting new President Donald Trump.

The specific demand targeting Trump relates to the demand that IBM avoid using Trump-owned assets – a demand which sits in stark contrast to the glowing letter CEO Ginni Rometty wrote Trump after his inauguration as 45th President of the United States.

ginni rometty davos world economic forum

Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President and CEO of IBM

“I know that you are committed to help America’s economy grow in ways that are good for all its people,” said Rometty in her open letter.

The response to Rometty’s letter was less than positive to say the very least, with one senior content strategist quitting and submitting a scathing open letter of her own.

“Last Tuesday, you shared with the world your open letter to president-elect Donald Trump, outlining ways for his administration’s success to conveniently dovetail with that of IBM products. Your letter offered the backing of IBM’s global workforce in support of his agenda that preys on marginalized people and threatens my well-being as a woman, a Latina and a concerned citizen,” wrote Elizabeth Wood.

Calling Rometty’s letter a ‘tactit endorsement’, Wood’s comments were again echoed by this most recent petition in New York.

“In response to your open letter to Mr. Trump, we are disappointed that you did not reaffirm the core values which differentiate both IBM as a company and us collectively as IBMers,” the petition reads.

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“While we understand your willingness to engage in constructive dialogue with the president-elect, we believe our shared culture and values remain not only constant, but also central to our transformation underpinned by cloud and cognitive initiatives.”

Leading the petition outside the IBM Watson New York offices was Daniel Hanley, a cybersecurity engineer at IBM, who led an impassioned speech about why an IBM-powered Trump presidency is so dangerous.

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Alongside the call for IBM to desist with plugging Trump assets were further demands to allow IBM employees to recuse themselves from unconstitutional work, to increase diversity programs, to shore up severance pay policies and to increase the company’s contributions to employees’ retirement funds.

Although the march on the IBM offices did not draw a large crowd, Mr Hanley is trying to start a movement among IBM employees. In addition to New York, he has also staged Trump protests in Atlanta where he delivered another IBM petition signed by over 1,000 employees.

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