IBM leadership notifies Shumlin of layoffs

MONTPELIER -- IBM leaders notified Gov. Peter Shumlin on Thursday morning that they would announce layoffs at the company's microchip plant in Essex Junction on Thursday.

The job cuts are part of a $1 billion global workforce reduction that has been anticipated in the first quarter of 2014. Business Insider reports that 13,000 jobs may be eliminated in the United States and at manufacturing plants around the world.

Last year, IBM laid off 2,800 workers in the U.S., according to Business Insider. The Essex Junction plant lost 419 workers last year.

The number of workers eliminated in this round of cuts has not been released. Shumlin said the cuts were expected to be roughly one-third of last year's number, which would be about 140 jobs.

IBM has been reluctant to release job cut numbers in the past and Alliance@IBM, a website of the IBM Employees' union, says the company is making it even more difficult this time around.

Lee Conrad, the group's national coordinator, said information given to severed employees is less complete this time, making it difficult to determine the number of job losses.

He said IBM resource action (RA) documents issued to affected employees used to include the an Older Workers Benefits Protection Act (OWBPA) report that lists age, title and number of employees selected for the job cut. Conrad said the RA's given to workers this time did not include that information.

Published reports have said more than 3,000 IBM workers in other countries have been laid off during the current restructuring.

The Poughkeepsie Journal reported Wednesday that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had struck a deal to add IBM jobs in Buffalo and preserve 3,100 jobs in the Hudson Valley

In Vermont, Shumlin pledged to "work with my team to help in every way we can" to "offer all of our resources to help find good Vermont job opportunities as soon as possible for those who will face layoffs as quickly as possible."

"I understand the number of workers affected in this round of cuts is significantly lower than the last round of reductions, only about one-third the size, although we will not know the exact number of affected workers until the process is completed and a state notice is filed by the company next month," Shumlin said.

The governor said Vermont has diversified its economy in recent years, and he touted the state's low unemployment rate and "recovery and job growth across many sectors."

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott said the recent rash of layoffs is a bad sign for Vermont's economy.

"The trend of job losses over the last two years is concerning," Scott said in a statement. "This month, Plasan Carbon Composites in Bennington also announced triple-digit layoffs. In addition, the impending closure of Vermont Yankee means even more high-paying jobs will disappear from our state. I fear we in Montpelier are simply not doing enough to grow our economy, create high-paying jobs, or make it easier to do business within our borders. Today's news is proof we cannot wait another second to turn our full focus to rectifying this economic situation we find ourselves in."

Republican Party Chairman David Sunderland blamed the layoffs at Plasan and IBM on the policies of the Shumlin administration.

"We call on Governor Shumlin to take immediate action that will ease the burden on Vermont's businesses and individuals by; reducing Vermont's tax burden to encourage growth, easing Vermont's regulatory burden by reducing bureaucratic red tape, and lowering our state's energy costs for individuals and small businesses," he said in a statement. "This is the type of reform that has proven time and again to be effective and has been decidedly absent from this administration."

Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan said IBM said it will comply with the state's layoff reporting regulations.

"IBM has stated that they will be complying with Vermont law, which requires notification to VDOL within 24 hours after the separation has occurred," Noonan said in an email. "VDOL will have our Rapid Response team involved with assistance to the dislocated workers in the same manner as we did this past summer."

Updated at 12:05 a.m. VTDigger's Hilary Niles and Tom Brown contributed to this report.


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions