A stream of employees pours into IBM's Essex plant every day.
"Somebody needs to speak out because a lot of people feel the way I do," Earl Mongeon said.
Workers like Earl Mongeon-- who's been in manufacturing here for 35 years-- are bracing for possible layoffs after an unexpectedly low first quarter earnings report. He's part of Alliance@IBM, an employee organization supported by the Communications Workers of America union.
Reporter Gina Bullard: Do you think layoffs are imminent?
Earl Mongeon: Yes, I do.
Gina Bullard: Why?
Earl Mongeon: From the rumors, because I've been through this many times and when the rumors are as strong as they are right now then we're going to have layoffs.
Mongeon says when or how many employees IBM may lay off is unknown, but the feeling in the facility has changed.
Gina Bullard: What's the mood right now at IBM?
Earl Mongeon: It's dismal. Morale is low. People don't know what to do. Are they going to be cut? There's that fear factor.
Under federal law IBM must give notice to the U.S. Department of Labor if 500 or more employees lose their jobs. Since 2003, IBM in Vermont has had several layoffs. Each time the number of job cuts was less than 500-- not triggering government notification. But there is no state law requiring IBM give advance notice to state officials. Instead, IBM has 24 hours after a layoff of more than 25 employees to notify the state.
We wanted to talk to Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, about IBM rumors and the notification process. He referred us to Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan. Despite several attempts for an interview, we were told late Tuesday afternoon Noonan was unavailable and would not be available for an interview until Thursday.
"They're afraid. They keep working and try to keep their head down and hopefully they don't get selected, but it's going to happen," Mongeon said.
IBM does not release employment numbers for individual plants or locations, but the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce estimates 5,500 people work at the Essex plant as of Tuesday.
IBM tells WCAX News it does not comment on workforce issues.
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