In fine AA form, "Hi, my name is XXX and I am a current IBM-aholic".
As an aside, this is nowhere near the first time that IBM has done this recategorization; I can think of three other instances in the last 5 years just off the top of my head.
The funny thing about this comes down to the overtime required to make up the difference. As someone pointed out above, the difference comes down to seven hours. As an exempt employee, one is required to put in 5% mandatory overtime to meet individual utilization targets. This works out to 8hrs that IBMers are required to do above and beyond their normal 40. Theoretically one would be required to work one less hour to achieve the same pay.
BUT with this 15% paycut and reclassification came an edict that no more overtime would be granted. Again- as someone above said, it takes approval up to VP level at this point to get overtime. Reclassified staff will be unable to get those needed 7hrs, and the work done in those now missing 8hrs of mandatory overtime falls to the members of the department who are still exempt. More work from fewer people, while paying the rest 15% less. Brilliant.
As another someone else pointed out, this reclassification/paycut only affected (theoretically) about 7,000 people. The reclassification did not affect entire departments or job categories, rather a PERCENTAGE of people in the given job category in a given dept. This would seem to be a way of cutting wages X percent in a given department without crippling already taxed staff. Again, brilliant.
A good number of these reclassifications came with a 'debanding' or change in job category to a lower family. This does three things- makes it harder to promote those people (then have to jump a few categories) and pay increases (fictional in any case) are even harder to obtain (more people in a given category). Aaaaand thirdly, it makes those people more likely to leave of their own accord in either the near (outrage) or mid (poor advancement opportunities) term.
IBM IS trying to force its US to other countries. This is not speculation. This is truth.
Unions? The IBM Alliance can't get anyone to join- its not even a union in the sense that it is officially recognized by IBM or the employees- nor gain any ground with influencing IBM policy. Frankly, IBM employees dont want a union and fundamentally side with IBM, regardless of how clear the writing on the wall. I can't even bring myself to hand out flyers at the gates anymore. Too much rejection from my peers.
Penultimate point: I am sure a good number of you have read the series of Cringley articles, and are familiar with the argument over the actual number of US layoffs. The number is accurate. Period. When you factor in contractor labor- which amounts to at least 60% of AFFECTED SUPPORT TEAMS. Yes, there is a smaller number of 'IBMers' in the US than mentioned, but at least 50% of IBM workers are contract employees and are not represented in any layoff/staff numbers! Ever! Contractors are laid off and receive paycuts in waves and are NEVER reported. Besides, what difference does it make if it is 50,000 jobs, and not 100,000?
Final Point: You say these affected people must be less skilled/talented/valuable workers- dead wood. Since 2000 IBM has been bleeding out people, and trust me, the chaff was long gone years ago. One of the people affected by the restructuring recieved the highest performance rating THREE WEEKS AGO, and less than two months ago worked so many hours straight (90+ in a week) that he fell asleep driving home and totalled his car. Then was apologetic about his concussion, broken bones, and hospital visit interfering with his work....6hrs after the crash and three hours after getting out of the hospital. Another colleague responded to a page while being prepped for surgery....and stayed on the phone as they wheeled him into OR. A gal reponding to pages three days after giving birth...In my own case, I had a an epileptic seizure onsite, was taken to the hospital, released, and was catching up on email a few hours later.
So I, like my team will go elsewhere, be paid more, work less, and ultimately be happier. Unfortunately, it will take us all time to get past 'bleeding blue' and rejoining the rest of humanity. I doubt however that I will ever find a work environment more interesting, or ever be as commited to another company....Its really too bad.
Final word of warning: What happens at IBM trickles down to the rest of the world. IBM has a large part in determining 'market value', and prevailing working conditions industry wide. Be vigilant in your own corners of the IT universe....