The IBM employees who suddenly discovered themselves divested to an unknown employer may find they are in for a far more difficult time than they expect, despite assurances from their present bosses {"When the Company Leaves the Employees," Business, Aug. 12}.

In a similar situation in 1984 the local Bell Operating Companies, as part of the agreement that broke up the Bell System, divested to AT&T hundreds of long-service employees, most who had no say in the matter. Those employees too were given assurance of continued employment with every opportunity to grow and prosper. Ma Bell, like IBM, was a maternalistic company in the treatment of employees who were there for their entire working life.

AT&T reorganized several times, and many of the divested employees who had grown up in one corporate culture found they were thrust into a new arena, starting all over with vital contacts and mentors gone. To make matters worse, in many instances they were viewed as outsiders. When downsizing started, guess which employees went first?

Loyalty (a two-way proposition) was once viewed as an important ingredient in successful businesses, but it seems to have been all but eliminated by corporate manipulations in the '80s and '90s. B. J. FEARSON Herndon The writer is a former employee of AT&T.