It's No Secret: 1,600 IBM Workers Lose Jobs and Six Months' Pension Accrual

Yet another wave of layoffs hits IBM's domestic operations, and once again, the multinational corporation is being completely tight-lipped about the cutbacks. However, it is apparent that dozens of Vermonters (at least) have lost their jobs at Essex Junction. Alliance@IBM, a union group, estimates this week's layoffs at over 1,600 nationwide — and it expects the total to go higher.

This is said to be part of a global reorganization and/or a response to a disappointing earnings report. But really, it's one more step in IBM's steady abandonment of America. According to Alliance@IBM, the corporation employed more than 134,000 people in the U.S. in 2005; by the end of 2012, that number had fallen to 91,000. And obviously, it's still trending downward. IBM won't give any layoff or employment figures nationally or for any individual location for what it calls "competitive reasons," but you know what the truth is: they're trying like hell to avoid bad publicity.

So, nobody outside of IBM knows how many people are employed at Essex Junction, and nobody outside of IBM knows how many are losing their jobs this week. Is this what it means to be a good corporate citizen? In his written response, Governor Shumlin seems to be discreetly backing away from what is presumably the largest employer in the state:

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.

In other words, "Don't put your eggs in a Big Blue basket." And "Don't blame me if IBM walks away."

IBM spokesflack Jeff Couture was shoveling the rhetorical manure as fast as he could:

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.

Nice and neat. Antiseptic, almost. Just a simple "workforce remix."

The actual humans who comprise said workforce in need of a remix, they're take on the situation is slightly more anti-antiseptic. Here's what some firsthand accounts from Alliance@IBM website which were were posted Tuesday and Wednesday by laid-off IBM workers in Vermont. With a liberal sprinkling of —[sic], of course.

RA'd this am @ BTV. 34 years.... Mixed emotions - relief, humiliation, anger...wanted to leave on my own terms but I guess I'll take their blood money. Company is F'd any way. ... Re-evaluating my IBM stock holdings. Good luck and good riddance! --Anonymous

I was RA'd today from STG Burlington with 31 years of service. --Vermonter

Today, IBM Essex Junction, VT. 93 layoff from Engineering department.. I am lucky one of them.. Bye Bye.. IBM.. Hope my manager will be in 3rd Qtrs.. lay off .. --Tintin

Let go today after 26 years of service. 80% of my dept gone, as well as 80% of sister dept. These cuts were in Essex Junction, Fishkill, and Austin. --Anonymous

Invited to leave this morning. 28 yrs engineer at IBM. And now for something completely different... --anonBTV

Hearing from a friend who works in the Essex Jct. VT, plant that dozens of engineers have been told they no longer have jobs. --Anon-Essex VT

STG Vermont affected today. Standard 30 day notice, 1 week pay per 6 months up to 6 months pay. --Hit Today

Adding insult to injury, the laid-off workers won't get any pension accrual for their last six months on the job. That's because IBM now pays into its pension once per year (on December 31, natch) rather than monthly. Slick.

Earl Mongeon summed it up best, in remarks to VTDigger. He's a 35-year IBMer and an Alliance@IBM organizer:

"It's like the bully at the schoolyard," Mongeon said. "He comes one day and takes your lunch money, he comes the next day and takes your lunch, he comes the next and takes something else."

. . . "There's really not a future for people who want to build a career there," he said.

Damn straight.  

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