Layoffs at IBM in Essex Junction - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Layoffs at IBM in Essex Junction

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ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. -

It was a gloomy day for many IBM employees in Essex Junction, as what they've feared for weeks came true.

"Honestly, I saw it coming," one laid-off worker said. "All of my friends are there. It's like a second home."

For this IBM electrical engineer who wants to remain anonymous, the past 15 years were dedicated to Big Blue.

"It's hard to deal with the fact that the layoffs are basically saying the shareholders are more important than the employees," the worker said.

And with two kids at home something has to give.

Reporter Gina Bullard: What does this mean for your home life?

Laid-off worker: Major lifestyle change. We're going from two incomes to one.

After a dismal first quarter earnings report, Big Blue announced there would be layoffs in the second quarter.

Wednesday, IBM notified Gov. Peter Shumlin that companywide cuts would hit Vermont, but did not disclose how many people are being laid off here.

The governor was out of state Wednesday, but released this statement: "We heard from IBM today that sites around the United States, including the Essex facility, will be notified of a workforce reorganization that will result in layoffs. I am always concerned when we learn that Vermonters face job losses. Our hearts go out to the affected workers and their families, and I pledge my administration's resources to help their transition. The Vermont Department of Labor has mobilized its rapid response team and is prepared to assist all laid off workers."

The Department of Labor mobilized to handle hundreds of job seekers. Normally its rapid response team is made of five to six people, but Vt. Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan says for these cuts they have 12 people ready. The state also has local job training offices on standby if more assistance is needed.

"Whenever a bigger employer gives us notice, our rapid response team is larger because in essence we're generally anticipating the layoff could be larger," Noonan said.

Noonan says the state's latest numbers have IBM employing about 4,000 workers. IBM would not say what type of jobs are being cut, but workers tell us Vermonters are being cut in engineering, design and management, and the production line seemed to be spared.

IBM gave no specifics but released a statement, saying, "Change is constant in the technology industry, and transformation is an essential feature of our business model. Consequently, some level of workforce remix is a constant requirement for our business. Given the competitive nature of our industry, we do not publicly discuss the details of staffing plans."

Even with high level jobs like engineers and managers being laid off, Noonan says there are job openings around the state.

"I think most employers will feel IBM employees are a well-respected, well-skilled workforce and they will become sought after candidates for employers looking to fill vacancies. And we do have vacancies in the state of Vermont," Noonan said.

As far as the laid-off employee we spoke to, if the job search doesn't go well, the whole family may be leaving Vermont for good.

Gina Bullard: How do you feel?

Laid-off worker: Not good, not good. It's hard. There were so many good technical people that were let go today.

That worker and many others were given 30 days before they lose their jobs, so the layoffs are not all immediate. We have not heard about severance packages so far.

As far as other job opportunities around the state, Noonan says if IBM employees do need more specific training there are federal funds available for that.

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