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Friday, September 11, 2015

GlobalFoundries Offers Buyouts to Employees in Vermont, New York

Posted By on Fri, Sep 11, 2015 at 2:35 PM

GlobalFoundries' Essex Junction manufacturing facility - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • GlobalFoundries' Essex Junction manufacturing facility
Updated at 5:47 p.m. on 9/11/2015 to include comments from a GlobalFoundries spokesperson.

Less than three months after it acquired IBM’s chipmaking division, GlobalFoundries is offering buyouts to employees at its Essex Junction and New York facilities.

During the months leading up to a long-rumored sale, Vermont employees and officials feared that a change in ownership could lead to layoffs at the Essex Junction plant, which employs 4,000-plus people. IBM, which had been losing money on its chipmaking division, paid GlobalFoundries more than a billion dollars to take over the operation. At a press conference held in Essex Junction in July, executives with the Emirate of Abu Dhabi-owned company made assurances that they had no plans to reduce the workforce.

That's since changed. Gov. Peter Shumlin's administration confirmed Friday that it was notified of buyout offers being made to employees at the Essex Junction plant. GlobalFoundries spokesperson James Keller said the "Voluntary Separation Program" was initiated Friday to save costs amid a downturn in the semiconductor industry. Each facility has an undisclosed "cost-savings goal," according to Keller, which, in the U.S. facilities, requires reducing the workforce.

Keller declined to say whether the company would pursue layoffs if not enough employees accept buyouts. "At this point, we are just focused on a 'voluntary' separation program. After this runs its cycle, we can assess the results and determine if further cost-savings actions are required," he wrote in an email.

In a statement, Shumlin remarked, “It’s important to note that this is a company-wide effort — not specific to Vermont — which is being driven by global market demands. As a state we cannot control the global marketplace. Our focus is on helping any employees affected and doing what we can to ensure the success of the Essex facility.”

In January, Shumlin proposed giving GlobalFoundries — one of the largest chip manufacturers in the world — $2.5 million from the Vermont Enterprise Fund, which was established to provide incentives to large employers to stay in or relocate to Vermont. That hasn't happened yet, according to his spokesman, Scott Coriell. Asked whether the governor would reassess his support for the allocation, Coriell responded, "We are constantly evaluating opportunities to use those funds to meet that goal but no allocations have been made to GlobalFoundries."




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Alicia Freese

Alicia Freese

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Alicia Freese is a Seven Days staff writer.

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