IBM lays off 500 workers at Vermont plant; 3,000 more to take unpaid week

Monday, August 18th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. (AP) _ IBM, the world's largest provider of computer hardware, laid off 500 workers at its Vermont plant Monday and said an additional 3,000 will be required to take a week off without pay next month.

Spokesman Jeffrey Couture said the layoffs would take effect immediately. ``Essentially we're doing this because we have not seen a turnaround in our industry,'' Couture said.

While IBM posted profits for its second quarter, it lost money on its microelectronics business as the industry suffered a sharp downturn.

Many of those laid off were in higher-paying positions, the company said. IBM is Vermont's largest employer, with more than 6,000 workers; thousands of others rely on the company for contracts and other business.

Employees learned of the layoffs in an e-mail from John E. Kelly III, senior vice president for the technology group. Kelly said he also would take a week without pay.

Many people at the plant had been expecting bad news, but still took it hard.

``I put all my hopes in this place and it's gone,'' said Joe Pellitier, who said he had worked in engineering for five years until he was laid off Monday.

The workers who were laid off will remain on IBM's payroll for 60 days and will be provided with career counseling, Couture said.

Rick Schwartz, who worked in the supply department, took some comfort in his severance package.

``It gives me an opportunity to move to Florida,'' Schwartz said.