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Pink slips at Big Blue in Essex Jct. - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Pink slips at Big Blue in Essex Jct.

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ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. -

"We thought we had dodged a bullet," Edward Crewdson said.

Crewdson worried about going to work Thursday.

"I was nervous," he said. "It is to the point where we have seen some good workers let go in the past."

Crewdson is a test engineer at IBM. But by the time lunch rolled around, he knew his job of 33 years was safe.

"It is just a way of doing business these days," Crewdson said.

Some of his colleagues were not so lucky. Big Blue handed out dozens of pink slips at its plant in Essex Junction.

A source inside the company tells WCAX News the job cuts are between 110 and 150. And Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, released a statement backing those numbers. He says the layoff is about one-third the size of the last one in June, when 419 lost their jobs.

Vermont state economist Jeff Carr calculated IBM's impact for an economic forecast last spring. He found that 140 jobs lost at IBM would lead to 314 job cuts elsewhere in the Vermont economy over the next five years. That means a $430 million hit to the gross state product and more than $110 million in household earnings in Vermont.

"We usually get quite a few people from IBM," Tone Martone said.

Lots of IBMers lunch at Martone's in Essex Junction. News of another layoff doesn't sit well.

"It is a big chunk of people not to be around," Martone said.

But he says jobs on the chopping block at Big Blue are nothing new. And he expects it won't hurt his lunch crowd in the long-term.

"We always seem to bounce back," he said. "You know, this must be like the tenth one since I have been here."

"We used to shake in our boots every time they rattled their sword about making layoffs or cutting employment," Tim McQuiston said.

McQuiston tracks developments at IBM for Vermont Business Magazine.

"The numbers are clearly not as bad as we were all anticipating," he noted.

Most of the cuts are in engineering and IT. McQuiston says many can be absorbed by other companies looking for workers.

"The impact of IBM locally is so much less than it was when they had over 8,000 employees around 2000 than it is now," McQuiston said.

The most recent number puts IBM's workforce around half that at about 4,000.

The company issued a statement saying, "IBM continues to rebalance its workforce to meet the changing requirements of its clients, and to pioneer new, high value segments of the IT industry."

"We keep our head down and keep doing our job," Crewdson said.

Crewdson says he'll continue to work hard and hope.

"You really never know," he said.

Some reports indicate that IBM is looking to sell its plant in Essex Junction. McQuiston says Big Blue would like to seal the deal with chipmaker Global Foundries.

Recently New York's governor announced a deal with IBM essentially creating a layoff cap, keeping 3,100 jobs in the Empire State.

Vermont Republicans, including the Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, are pointing the finger at Montpelier and Governor Shumlin for not doing enough. But McQuiston argues Vermont doesn't have the bankroll to offer tax breaks and cash giveaways like New York.

The state is working to help laid off employees find new jobs.

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