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IBM Layoffs Impact Nation, Hundreds Could Be Cut In NC

9:06 AM, Jun 13, 2013   |    comments
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A sign marks the entrance to IBM Corporate Headquarters March 20, 2009 in Armonk, New York. International Business Machines Corporation is a multinational computer technology and IT consulting corporation founded in 1896 as the Tabulating Machine Company. AFP PHOTO/Stan Honda

Westchester, NY -- Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM slashed jobs across the country Wednesday.

The labor organization Alliance@IBM was compiling individual reports of layoffs in New York as well as Vermont, Massachusetts and North Carolina, including two posts from workers saying they worked in Somers.

CBS-affiliate, WRAL, reported, "A source familiar with the cuts said 'hundreds' of jobs among IBM's 10,000 work force in North Carolina would be cut."

Cuts in New York included more than 700 in Westchester and Dutchess counties.

While the total number of jobs cut in Westchester was not immediately known, a staffer in the Somers office who got a layoff notice said she saw 83 eliminations in the marketing and communications departments.

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said the company cut 697 jobs there - 328 in Poughkeepsie and 369 in East Fishkill.

Molinaro said the news "is further indication that the national and state economy remains uncertain. What is certain is that too many families will have been given devastating news today."

It appears to be the largest downsizing at IBM in Dutchess County in years.

A number of workers told The Poughkeepsie Journal that they or people they know had been dismissed.

Tom Midgley, president of Alliance@IBM, who works for IBM in Dutchess County, said Wednesday afternoon that details of the downsizing were still coming in, but he was sure of two things: "It's big, and it's agonizing for employees to go through this."

IBM spokesman Douglas Shelton issued a statement that neither confirmed nor denied the downsizing, but spoke of a "workforce remix."

Companies with more than 50 employees must warn New York state 90 days in advance if they are laying off 33 percent of their workforce or 250 workers from a single site. There was no such letter from IBM on file in the state's online database.

State Labor Commissioner Peter M. Rivera said in a statement that he directed a rapid-response re-employment team to help all of the workers find new jobs as quickly as possible.

"These specialized teams will work with each worker to help connect them with job openings in the Hudson Valley region and many more throughout the state," he said.

The Poughkeepsie Journal received a document issued by IBM to an affected worker that confirmed a major downsizing in the microelectronics area. The document showed 113 people slated to lose their jobs.

That number would be within that division across the United States; it did not give site-specific information.

A package given to dropped employees in the Semiconductor Research and Development segment, which includes people in Dutchess County, covered 165 people.

"Change is constant in the technology industry and transformation is an essential feature of our business model," Shelton said in the IBM 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.

"IBM is investing in growth areas for the future: Big Data, cloud computing, social business and the growing mobile computing opportunity. The company has always invested in transformational areas, and as a result, we need to remix our skills so IBM can lead in these higher-value segments in both emerging markets and in more mature economies," Shelton said.

The company had warned about possible layoffs earlier this year during a teleconference with brokerage analysts.

The warning was a result of a less-than-desirable first quarter during which profits were down 1 percent using standard accounting.

IBM Chief Financial Officer Mark Loughridge told the analysts that the company expected to take "workforce rebalancing actions" in the second quarter, which ends June 30.

IBM, the largest private employer in the mid-Hudson, has seen repeated mass layoffs, huge ones in the 1990s and lesser ones in recent years.

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