IBM to Lay Off Workers at Essex Junction Plant

A new round of layoffs has hit the IBM plant in Chittenden County.

After several weeks of speculation, Governor Peter Shumlin announced yesterday that IBM has told the state it is laying off workers at its Essex Junction facility.

The exact number isn’t known and the company said it will not discuss the layoffs.

“Change is constant in the technology industry, and transformation is an essential feature of our business model,” IBM said in a prepared statement. “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.”

“Our understanding is that layoff notifications will be issued today,” said Vermont Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan. “Whether it’s more than today, I don’t know. We’ve just been notified that they will be announcing layoffs today.”

Employers are required to notify the state within 24 hours when 25 or more workers are laid off. Noonan said she anticipates IBM will do that today.

The job cuts in Essex Junction are part of cutbacks nationwide. IBM announced there would be layoffs earlier this year when company earnings were lower than anticipated.

The labor department has mobilized personnel and resources to help displaced workers, Noonan said. Vermont’s low unemployment rate and a strong job market should help cushion the blow for those who have lost their jobs.

“With Vermont employers telling me that they are consistently looking for workers, we have a pretty extensive inventory of current job openings,” she said. “I think the IBM workforce as a whole is considered to be skilled so I think they will be highly desirable for those Vermont employers that are looking.”

IBM employs approximately 4,000 people at the Essex Junction facility. That’s about half the number of people once employed there.

In a statement released this morning, Shumlin said the company has told him it remains committed to Vermont.

“Vermont’s partnership with IBM is very important, but our state is not immune to the forces that are driving this decision in the larger organization,” Shumlin said.